If written down, my life in rural Lancaster, New Hampshire, would easily be a 500-page novel, even though I was only there for seven short months. At first, the idea of moving to this picturesque state in New England seemed romantic and exciting, and my wife and I were looking forward to living in a town reminiscent of a colonial era.
During our time in Lancaster, the town was also celebrating its 250th anniversary. It never saw any wars or battles in its history, so it is incredibly preserved. The first few days after arriving felt as if we were living on a movie set. Old buildings, reflecting stories of yesteryear, line the beautiful Main Street redolent of Normal Rockwell. The town’s neighborhood streets are steep and long, with their stately homes—full of grace and grandeur—welcoming you into their quaint world.
Sadly, this scenic “high” only lasted a few days, because reality hit us like a 250-year-old brick. It was going to be our first winter, and we wanted to be as close as possible to downtown Lancaster, just in case the weather turned so bad that we wouldn’t be able to get where we needed to be. Plus, my wife’s new job was in downtown, so it just seemed the ideal place to be. Although, due to the size of the Lancaster and the lack of any real construction in the past 50 years, there aren’t many rental opportunities there to choose from.
However, we were lucky enough to find a third-floor apartment in a 100-year-old building off Main Street. The owner advertised it as a two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment with 500 sq. ft. It seemed nice and cozy at first, but like a bad girlfriend all she did was cause you worry and misery. The whole place—a converted attic—was so small and restricted with pitched, narrow ceilings and tight, little corners that if you were too tall or too wide there was no way you would ever find a way to maneuver around.
My wife and I are not big people, but we felt as if we had moved into an apartment in Lilliput. We spent the whole time bending over to avoid banging our heads, and at times we actually crawled around on our hands and knees. To add insult to injury, the flight of ominous stairs that led up to our unit were like those you would see in a horror movie. The higher you climbed, the darker the staircase and the smaller each step became. It was tiring going up, but heading down with a small child in our arms was even trickier. Everyday was a small battle with those stairs, which appeared endless whether we were standing at the top or bottom. Most times we were the winners, arriving at the end without any injury, but on a few occasions we lost. By ‘we,’ I mean my wife. I cannot tell you how many times she had a sore bum that winter.
When moving into a new place, you always wish to have great neighbors. You have a friendly chat when you bump into each other, and you count on one another for simply being neighborly. The one below us, however, quickly snuffed out that flame of hope. Like a poster woman for a PMS advertisement, she was the nicest person you would ever want to meet one moment, but the next she was breathing fire and spiting acid at us with red eyes all aglow. If she and Freddy Kruger had to battle it out at Thunderdome, I would have placed my bets on her.
My wife and I would cringe when that dragon-lady showed up, banging on our door and insisting that our two-year-old was ruining her life because of the constant tramping of his tiny feet. She claimed that our son, and only our son, was making barbaric stomping noises across the floor. I admit he was just two at that time, but the way she explained it was as if the ceiling above her was cracking and breaking apart with each step he took. Now, here’s the disturbing part: She said that all this was happening during the times when our son was actually sleeping, or when we weren’t even in town.
Naturally, with an old house come the eccentric noises like a ragtag orchestra—pipes clang, radiators gurgle and door hinges creak. In our place, it all started with the floor moving, and I mean that in the literal sense. At first, we thought we were just imagining the fact that we were being ‘pushed’ into the back room. Then, we looked more closely and noticed the floor was actually slanted, but not all the time. That’s right, just sometimes.
To prove we weren’t losing our minds, we tested it with balls and various toys on wheels over and over again. They would either race across the floor, or they would stand still. To top it all off, there was a door in the back room that opened to a dark and drafty storage area. Have you ever entered a space and just knew it was haunted? That was this space, goose bumps and all.
There was something living there that was not alive anymore. Was it friendly or mean? We honestly never figured it out. We were simply aware that our lives were in a constant state of chaos, due to whatever was in there. Toys would disappear and then reappear later. Sometimes the floor in the bathroom would sound as if it were going to give way. Although the windows were closed when we went out, they were open when we arrived back at home. We always had the thermostat set to a comfortable temperature, but somehow it would become so hot inside that we could have defrosted a turkey in no time. We also found various items outside on the ground. Mind you, that could have been our son, but it’s more fun to blame that on the ghost.
There were even times when I could hear little voices laughing—at us, not with us. Yet, the creepiest was the impression that “someone” was in bed with me and my wife. A little extra cuddling at night is fine, but the ghost in our apartment was a total cover hog. We would wake up shivering, curled up into tiny balls, and found the covers bunched between us.
Believe it or not, we were handling it all pretty well. Then, one day my wife’s oldest son came to visit. Of course, we were eager to tell him about all of the eerie happenings, which convinced him to become our private ghostbuster. He ventured into the dark back room with his cell phone and began recording a video, all the while he was talking to the ghost. It seemed like he was back there for just a few minutes, but he said it felt like hours. He played back his recording for us and not only did we hear strong banging and a heavy slam, but there was one bright orb in the middle of the footage that never veered from view, teasing us if you will: “Yeah, I’m here. Whatcha gonna do ‘bout it?” To no surprise, we found the phone on the floor shortly thereafter, and it never turned on again. We talked to a few people in town about what we had seen, hoping someone could shed some light on our experience, but most regarded the story as completely natural. Perhaps it’s a right of passage upon moving to historical Lancaster.
Between the ghost, the dragon-lady, the bitter cold and lack of sun in winter, and the only places to eat in town being “Chinese food” and McDonald’s, we broke our lease early and ran out of town as fast as we could. We have never looked back, and we vowed never to return to Lancaster, New Hampshire again.