A Nightmare Comes True
The Barn My Grandfather Built
Growing up in Indiana
In 1970 I was 16 years old. We lived in a small town in Southeastern Indiana, in a little neighborhood just across the river from town. Our house was at the main road, and we had horses in a barn and pen area on the other side of the neighborhood. To get to the barn, we walked along a path that led past our grandparents’ house. The path led from our driveway, all the way across the neighborhood to the back road.
On the way to the barn, our grandparents’ house was to the right, up a small hill past a yard with lots of trees and beautiful landscaping with flowers and shrubs. On the left side of the path was a huge flower garden with a grape arbor and many shrubs, small trees, and hundreds of flowers that bloomed in spring and summer.
Our Grandparents Loved Animals
When we were very little, our grandparents always had ponies and horses, and many other pets and animals. Grandpa used to take us for pony cart rides.
Grandpa Plowing the Garden
Grandpa takes us on a Pony Cart Ride
We inherited a Love for Animals
Our grandparents had passed away years earlier. From them, we inherited our love for animals. We usually had a couple of ponies and horses, as well as several dogs. I loved horses and everything about them, so one of my chores was to feed the horses every morning before school. In the winter, that meant that I had to walk along the path across the neighborhood to the barn in the dark. That didn’t bother me at all. I carried a flashlight so I could see, but I wasn’t afraid of the dark. We knew everyone in the neighborhood, and I always felt completely safe there.
One night I dreamed that when I went to the barn to feed the horses, there was a man in the barn. In the dream, as I was giving the horses hay, a man came up behind me. It scared me, and I usually woke up right away. I didn’t think too much about it at the time, but then I started having that dream every night. It started to scare me a lot, so I told my mom about the dreams. I told her that I was afraid to go over to the barn.
We had three German Shepherd dogs at the time, and Mom said, “Well, take the dogs with you.” So I started taking the dogs with me every morning. The dogs loved the early morning trek to the barn, and they were always eager to join me. Once I started taking the dogs with me, the dream stopped.
A few weeks later, I started having the dream again. In one of the dreams, when the man in the barn came at me, I grabbed a pitchfork and stabbed him. That only happened in one of the dreams. In all the other dreams, I just saw a man in the barn, it scared me, and I woke up right away.
After a few more nights of these dreams, I told mom that I was having that dream again and that I was afraid to go to the barn even though the dogs were with me. Mom said, “Take Randy with you.” Randy, my younger brother, was 14 years old at the time. He wasn't obsessed with horses like I was, and he wasn’t exactly thrilled that he had to go out in the dark early morning cold, but he went along anyway. He loved the dogs, and he enjoyed seeing how excited they were to go on our morning excursions.
My Horse When He Was Young
The Dream Stops for Awhile
After I started taking the dogs, and my brother with me to feed the horses, the dreams stopped, and all was good for a while.
Then one night I had the dream again. I didn’t tell Mom or Randy that I had had the dream again. I didn’t know what else could be done, and since I had been having the dream on and off for several weeks and nothing bad had happened, I wasn’t too worried about it.
That morning as we reached the barn, we noticed that the dogs were excitedly sniffing at the barn doors and running back and forth in front of the doors. I thought that they had probably just caught the scent of an animal, maybe a rabbit or something. I slid open the huge double barn doors, and the dogs immediately ran inside barking and growling. Inside the barn toward the back was the haystack.
A man jumped up out of the hay and yelled as the dogs were at his feet. I couldn’t tell if the dogs bit him, but they were loudly barking and growling. Randy and I screamed and ran as fast as we could back to our house. The back door of our house faced the south side of the neighborhood and it was closest to the barn. The back door opened directly into the kitchen.
Randy and I ran in through the back door, and we both screamed, at the same time, “There’s a man in the barn!” In the kitchen were our Mom, our older brother Chuck, and our little sister Faye. At this point, I didn’t know if the dogs were still over at the barn, or if they had followed us back home. Our older brother, Chuck, grabbed a baseball bat and said, “Let’s go.” I remember being very impressed that Chuck was so brave.
The dogs had come home, and they joined us as we returned to the barn. When we got to the barn, the man was gone. We could see where he had been sleeping in the hay, and where he had taken a leak on the floor. I fed the horses and we returned home. Mom said that she had called the sheriff, and he said that it was probably a bum just getting out of the cold. Then I felt sorry for the man. It must have been horrible to wake up with dogs attacking you.
I Had Told My Family and My Girlfriend About the Dreams
I only told my family and my girlfriend about those recurring dreams. My girlfriend lived just two houses down the road from our barn, and she loved horses as much as I did.
After school that day, I was walking over to the barn as my girlfriend was walking up the road. When she got to the little hill which was on the back road just in front of the barn, I said, "There was a man in the barn this morning." She said, "I just pinched myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming."
The Dream Stops for Good
I never had that dream again, and after a while, I no longer had to make Randy go with me to feed the horses. I did keep taking the dogs though since they loved going with me, and I enjoyed their company.
I will admit that even though I wasn’t afraid anymore, I think that I was more alert as to my surroundings after that. I often wonder what might have happened if I had not had those dreams and if I had not told my mom about them.
© 2018 Ron Grimes