Sunday, January 31, 2010

My first Poltergeist

This is just a similar looking house and basic set-up of the house in the following story.

Bethal, Gauteng, South Africa, 1980

I was 7 years old when we went to visit my uncle Jan and aunt Lizette on a smallholding in the old Transvaal (now called Gauteng) province. They had just moved there and I'll remember that weekend forever.
It was an overcast day and when we arrived I could not even see the house. It was enshrouded in dense trees and I remember the atmosphere being dark. Like the house was in another dimension.
It felt like time stood still there. The house was painted white and looked a bit run down, but inside it was vast and beautiful. It was virtually empty, because they had just moved from a regular sized 3 bedroom home and did not have nearly enough furniture to fill this huge house. Many of the rooms were empty which just made it feel more melancholy.

Maybe it was the overcast weather, but it seemed very dark in the house, even though a lot of rooms had massive windows with no curtains, so you'd expect a lot of light coming in. One of these rooms were at the very end of the house and resembled a ballroom of sorts. Either that, or it was an extremely large dining room. It had to base walls and the rest of it, were windows, like a giant bay window! The floors, you guessed it, were wooden and some of the furniture were very old, like a few wardrobes and side boards, that were already in the house when they moved in.

I overheard my aunt tell my mom that she hates the house and it scares the life out her, but they did not want to discuss it around me and sent me out to play. My dad and uncle were going out that night to go fishing, leaving the women home all night. There was a loud machine outside among the bushes next to the house and my uncle told me it was a generator, because they had no electricity. The immediate vicinity outside the house was ominously quiet --- no birds or crickets and such, just the horrid generator idling on and on. I stayed away from the various little out buildings, most of them filled with old farm tools and fire wood.

The men left at 8pm or so and it was getting dark, because it was summertime and the sun only set about that time.
This was hands-down the most terrified I had EVER been in my life. And although not much happened to me that night, I wish I could describe the terrifying atmosphere of rage and despair in the house. It was like walking into a wall and you could almost hear the static in the air.

I remember being quite bored, as they just sat in the kitchen all night.
In hindsight, I'd take the boredom over what was to come anytime!

We took baths in shifts, with the other two "standing guard" right by the door. It was a creepy old bath. I dunno what the real name for it is, but it was a beautiful old free-standing bath tub, but I remember it being very cold, like a winter crispness in the bathroom. They put me to bed in a makeshift cot in the ballroom of all places. I remember looking at the black trees outside the windows and thinking there is only glass between me and whatever was hiding out there! But I dozed off later.

I woke up when the generator was turned off for the night, the silence deafening. At once I felt dreadfully alone and listened to my mom and aunt whispering far off in the house. I dared open my eyes and vaguely saw the lamp light of the paraffin lamps they lit, wandering down the corridor to their rooms.

It was quiet. Dead quiet. So quiet that I could never sleep. It felt like time stood still. No stirring of anything.
Then I heard a door open and shut quite loudly and obviously.
My mom scared the shit out of me, coming racing down the corridor in hysterics with her lamp, sweeping me up in her arms and running back to my aunt's room as if the devil was at her back. More than anything I remember the pounding of my heart that night. Even while nothing happened, my heart was racing.

We all got into my aunt's bed together, and I recall the two women were adamant on keeping their lamps on all night. We settled to sleep, feeling as safe as we could. We were all together, in light, so there was a bit of comfort.
My aunt's voice cut the silence like a knife : "It feels like someone is looking at me"
I will never forget that. The words cut through my soul like an ice pick. I tried not to open my eyes as I got the sensation that someone was indeed looking at us and I was convinced that, if I opened my eyes, I would stare into the face of something evil. I opened my eyes slightly and all I saw was a calendar on the wall. The light in the room was yellow and in the mirror I saw my aunt get up briskly to shut the bedroom door off the corridor. My heart almost stopped as my 7 year old eyes caught sight of Lizette's shadow on the wall, distorted by the lamp's fire light, swiftly sliding along the old walls of the room like a witch intent.

She closed the door and literally ran back to the bed.
At once it felt like we were now fair game, as if we just made our presence known to whatever it was and it was on!
And it was on!

I listened to Lizette and my mom whisper hysterically to each other and Lizette kept saying : "It's him!!! It's him!!!!"
Apparently a farmer who owned the house shot himself when his crops failed a few years before.
Her high pitched hysterical whisper was hardly done when we heard a door slam so hard, as if it was coming off the hinges from the force!!!! They screamed next to me and I started crying.
The windows shuddered from the force of the door and my mom held me so tightly that her fingertips dug into my skin!

We could hear heavy boots walk down the corridor, towards the room. I thought I was gonna die when it paused in front of our door, my heart exploding with every beat. Then it continued onward as I listened to my mom and aunt's terrified whimpers.

Then it was quiet for a bit and the women decided to stay awake and chat to relieve their nerves. It comforted me somewhat and I fell asleep. Much later I awoke with a piss like a racehorse......which had been the cause of much of my distress in supernatural situations throughout the years. Many more stories there. LOL!!!!

I found my mom and Lizette fast asleep and did not know what to do. I was relieved to hear some crickets outside while I was contemplating peeing in my pants :-)
Eventually I worked up the courage to wake my mom and break her the bad news.
She was not angry or anything, but I could hear the fear in her voice when she said we should make it quick. We got up and as we neared the door, Lizette whispered :" No way I'm staying here alone" and grabbed her lamp.

Now, going down that corridor was something I will never forget. Just the feeling, the vibe. I had never been that scared since in my entire life! It felt as if Farmer John was following us with his half blown off head and a 12 gauge in his hands. There was that consistent tingling in my tummy as far as I walked. You know when you are so scared that you want to walk INSIDE your companions? You don't wanna be in front. You don't wanna be in the back. You don't wanna be in the middle. Hell, it could grab you from above, for all you knew. THAT is how I felt.
Our hair stood on end as far as we walked and when I finally got to pee, I already dreaded the walk back.

We did a brisk run-walk back to the room and I tried not to see how pitch dark, matte black the corridor was and I tried not to think about what would happen if Lizette's little flame went out from our rush!!!!
We cruised into the bedroom, slammed the door and jumped right back into bed. It was now 3am, I remember as my mom asked Lizette the time. Yeah, 3am......the real witching hour.

Farmer John must've woken up from our minor disturbance. Once more the boots trod down the wooden floor towards the room where I would have slept!! The ballroom with its wardrobes. We held our breath in shivering silence as we listened tot he footfalls going up the corridor, into the ballroom and then we heard him opening the wardrobe doors and drawers, as if to look for something. He was frantically looking for something, slamming the drawers shut and slamming the doors. Then he came thundering down towards the kitchen and proceeded to slam the cupboards violently, and shattering glass, smashing the dishes all over the floor with such violence that my aunt for some reason grabbed her shotgun and pointed it at the door.

It would not have helped, but I guess she was so spooked, she felt that she needed to protect us.
The ruckus continued in the kitchen and then we heard the back door creak open and slam shut, as if to rip it out of its hinges. A loud gunshot shattered the air and echoed away, and it made us jump. My mom and I both looked at Lizette, cause for some ridiculous reason, we thought it may have been her shotgun.

It was suddenly dead quiet.
Lizette sat with her shotgun, talking to my mom until the sun came up and I felt like my eyes were swollen and my entire body was exhausted. We went to the kitchen because we had to go and switch on the generator for some much deserved coffee. There was no evidence of any disturbance!!!
There were no smashed plates, no open drawers, no broken glass and the door was still LOCKED!!!!
Lizette seemed completely unfazed by the phenomenon and unlocked the door to go out. When the men returned my mom told them of our nocturnal ordeal. My dad, a skeptic, laughed and mocked the "hysterical bitches" all day long, but my unle remained silent and just laughed along, but the look in his face told all who beheld it that he was very well aware of the night we had experienced.

Research and heresay:
Years later my mom called me all excited and told me that she met some people at a party who lived in Bethal for years. They apparently knew about that house from word of mouth. Family of theirs knew the people who stayed in the house and there were stories in town about how the farmer had stashed some money in a secret drawer and apparently his wife took it with when she left him after the crop failures.

When he needed the money and frantically searched for it, and could not find it, he lost all hope and shot himself.

I never went to Bethal again.


  1. Oh. My. God. I was halfway thru this story, totally engrossed, and upstairs Sagan just lets loose with very loud barking and scared the PISS out of me. lol

    Are you sure it wasn't your dad and uncle messing with you guys?

  2. Even if it had been them fucking with you-that is just fucked up.No way.That photo looks like many a tobacco barn back home.I have stories that are passed down but nothing of my own that is super scary like that.Kinda sucks!

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  4. Lets try that again.....

    No, Jojo, my aunt told us about this nightly shit when we arrived there. It was a regular thing for them. Besides, how do you explain the guys breaking all the dishes in the kitchen and cleaning it all up and replacing it while we are in the house?

    Oh and btw, my dad would NEVER spend a whole night scaring us when he can go fishing and have a good piss-up :-)

  5. I think my heart would have stopped.

  6. AH! Found you again :0)

    My grandfather was a grave digger and my grandmother had all kinds of stories to tell that used to make me want to permanently live in a cupboard. She was also gifted (or cursed?!) with 'the sight' and often knew things had happened in the family before any one in the family had actually been told....