So we used to live in this haunted house. Okay, let’s say creepy. I don’t have any real evidence that it was haunted, and I only believe that after a few glasses of wine and a good ghost story or two. While suggestible, in other words.
Anyway, you will recognise this house if you have read Indigo. It’s one of those shabby grand ones in Carlton (Melbourne, Australia for my OS readers), in Cardigan Street specifically. You can see a photo in the post below, although I haven’t specified which house, to protect its privacy (!). We lived there for a while when I was in primary school, and then my uncle lived there after that, so we had had quite a long history with the place.
So the first issue with this house was the cupboard under the stairs, a little like the one Harry Potter lives in, though without the twee. This cupboard was the locus for much anxiety to my childish mind. It was quite spacious enough to fit a big black clot of malice. Our bedrooms were on the next floor up, while the kitchen and living room were on the ground floor. That closet needed to be passed on many occasions. We developed a story to help with the creep-factor. The story was that Bill the friendly ghost lived under the stairs. Okay, we could have said the Easter bunny or something slightly less halloweenish, but no one was going to buy that.
The second issue with the house? The servants’ quarters. A little two-storey dwelling behind the main building, running alongside our narrow, bricked-in laneway of a garden. The doors were blocked up with junk, making the higher floor hard to reach and thus full of brooding mystery. Malevolent mystery, come night time. And there was a story attached to this place. The story was that a past inhabitant had committed suicide there. Only the length of the gun barrel involved had left questions as to whether it could actually have been a suicide. No idea of the veracity of this tale. When my friend and I went up there we found dusty old medicine bottles and not much else. Yes, we went up, of course we did. In daylight.
So the third issue with this house was that there was no toilet inside (an architectural detail I ended up changing in Indigo, not sure why, would’ve been spookier left like that). This meant that if, god forbid, you were absolutely busting to go to the toilet during the night, you had to sneak through the cavernous house, down the creaky stairs, past Bill the ‘friendly’ ghost, through the lounge and the kitchen (did I mention the trap door under there, leading to another hidden black space?) and past the servants’ quarters (eeeeeeek) to the outside toilet.
Actual ghost stories? None. Just that the house always seemed awake and watching you, like the back of your neck was always ready to start up with a crawling feeling, had cold parts (natural in this kind of place, surely) and once I distinctly heard my cat running up the stairs only to realise he was outside. And there was the time I stayed on my own to house mind (in a room that is the upstairs kitchen in Indigo) – bright moonlight pouring in all night, not much sleep, I can tell you. A few days later the paster ceiling collapsed over that particular bed. I had recurring dreams about the closet under the stairs, and the landing on the stairway where all the stairs branched off. This was generally agreed to be a place of prodigious bad-vibeyness. A friend tried to do a spiritual clearing there. She was too unsettled to finish it. I set a kissing scene there in Indigo. How odd.
Did I mention I loved that house? There is something special about a house that feels alive, even if its intentions are unknown.