There was this creepy old house near where my grandparents lived, in a rural part of Alachua County, Florida,” recalled Jennifer, an elementary school teacher who is still a little nervous about her eerie experience as a kid. “My grandparents lived on a dirt road about ten miles outside of Gainesville. Across from this big cow pasture was another property where an old two-story farmhouse stood. It was dilapidated, unpainted, and had been vacant forever. I don’t know who owned it or why nobody lived in it, but there was a story about how a man had committed suicide thereafter killing his whole family with a butcher knife. My grandmother said it was just a yarn and that the house was vacant when my grandfather bought the five acres next to it many years before.”
That meant the light was coming from the inside — but no one lived there
Jennifer and her brother often visited their grandparents during the summer months and would hang out with their two cousins, who lived a short drive down the road. It was a night in the summer of ’76 that she first noticed something strange about the old empty house. “From the upstairs bedroom of my grandparents’ house, where I slept, I had a clear view of the deserted farmhouse across the pasture, and it looked like a dark silhouette in the moonlight.” On this particular night, Jennifer summoned her brother to take a look because there seemed to be a light in the upstairs windows of the house. They both squinted, trying to make sure it wasn’t just the moonlight reflecting off the windowpanes. “It definitely wasn’t a reflection,” she said. “Plus, my brother knew that the panes in the upstairs windows had been broken out. That meant the light was coming from the inside—but no one lived there. Anyway, we paid it no mind and went on to bed.”
The next morning, Jennifer and her brother asked their grandfather if they could explore the old house. Instead of granting permission, he sternly warned them to stay away. “Granddaddy seemed a bit upset that we even asked about the house,” Jennifer recalled. “I asked my grandmother why he didn’t want us to go, and she said my grandfather had a bad experience there and didn’t like to talk about it. I never did find out what she meant, but it only added to the weirdness of the place.”
Later that summer, Jennifer and her brother returned to spend another week with their grandparents. “It was just before school started, in early August, and that old house was still on my mind. On the first night, my brother and I looked out the window and, like before, saw a light on upstairs. This time, for some crazy reason, we decided to go against Granddaddy’s orders and go with my cousins to investigate.”
COLD BREEZE IN AUGUST
The next day, Jennifer and her brother teamed up with their two cousins for a clandestine adventure. “We laid low until Granddaddy pulled out of the yard in his pickup to get some feed for his cows. Once he was out of sight, the four of us hiked across the pasture to the back of the old house. It was all overgrown with weeds, with three or four tall palmetto trees in the yard, and it looked like it had been standing vacant for a hundred years.”
The four kids had planned to get a quick peek inside and leave. “The back door was barely hanging by rusty hinges and squeaked when we opened it. At the time, I was more afraid of seeing a snake or rat than a ghost. Anyway, we eased our way in, half expecting to see blood splatters or the butcher knife leftover from the suicide and murder we’d heard about. I kept trying to remind myself of what Grandmother had told me: that it was just a far-fetched yarn.”
Inside, the rooms were scattered with boards, broken pieces of wooden furniture, and musty remnants of clothing from an earlier time. From the windows, strands of shredded curtains hung like apparitions, adding to the spooky atmosphere. “Birds or bats had been roosting inside because their mess was all over everything,” remembered Jennifer with a slight shiver.
“It didn’t take long for something really strange to happen,” she continued. “I think we were in the front room or parlor or whatever when all of a sudden this ice-cold wind rushed down the hall that ran through the house from front to back. It blew my hair back, and there wasn’t even a breeze outside. It was a hot and humid Florida August, but inside the temperature was like forty-something degrees.
“One of my cousins wanted to go upstairs, so the rest of us followed. About halfway up the rickety steps, that mysterious cold wind started blowing again. This time it came down the stairs from the second-story hallway. We couldn’t figure out how wind could blow through the house downstairs and then blow down from the second story. It was like someone had opened the door to a giant refrigerator. It suddenly stopped, but we could still feel the chill.
“All of a sudden there was a knocking sound inside the wall along the stairs. It was like something sealed up in the wall was trying to bust out. Then, at the head of the stairs, a door to a room started opening and slamming shut. It just kept on while we stood there with our eyes bugging out. At that point, I was ready to leave, but my brother wanted to keep exploring that second floor.”
For some reason, the upstairs was not willing to accept any intruders, especially four nosy kids who were disobeying their grandfather. “In hindsight,” said Jennifer, “I think we should have listened to Granddaddy because what we saw next has been in my mind ever since. The door at the head of the stairs slammed shut and locked itself just as we got there. Then a very bright, glaring light—I mean really intense—seeped out through the cracks around the doorframe as the door started knocking and banging like you would knock on a door with your fist. I don’t know what it was, but you could feel it was evil.”
Jennifer described the sensation as an unnatural feeling that penetrated their souls. Needless to say, the four young intruders wasted no time exiting the old house. “It was like escaping from a refrigerator. I think we were lucky to get out of that place, and I shudder to think what could have happened if we’d stayed longer.”
Jennifer never did learn what her grandfather had encountered in the old house, which has since been torn down. Nevertheless, she believes it had to do with what they had witnessed as kids, or perhaps something far more sinister. What she did learn is a valuable lesson: that some things are best left alone.