EDITOR’S NOTE: The following story was originally posted on Halloween, 2009. We’re re-running it again because we think it’s a pretty spooky, local tale:
By Laura Beth Peterson
The year was 1944 and five-year old Jeannette Manola was happy that the waiting was finally over. After living for a year in the little rental house on the beach, her family was moving into their own home they had just purchased right next door. Her father Joe and her mother Babe looked forward to raising their young family on Three Tree Point, then called Sunkist Beach.
For Jeannette though, she was just happy the waiting was over.
Or was it?
Built in 1933, the house was tall and strong. It braced itself against the southerly winds of Puget Sound. These were waters that Joe Manola would fish for many years, even having a fishing derby named for him for generations to come. Storms would rock the beach and pile up driftwood throughout the winters. The house stood solid, protecting its occupants.
All of them.
Every night Jeannette would climb the long staircase that led to her bedroom on the upper floor. What was it about the stairwell, she would wonder to herself but to no one else. The cold breath she felt there, and the movement. Always the movement that made her look up the stairs whenever she passed by. She had the entire upper floor to herself, as her brother Tommy had not yet been born. All by herself, Jeannette would get into bed and wait for either her mother or father to eventually come up, tuck her in and kiss her good night. Then, she lay alone to listen as the waves lapped the shore and she waited. She had become accustomed to what came next.
Lying in bed, her eyes transfixed on the wooden trap door above her bed, she knew it was there. Whoever it was, or whatever it was, was also waiting. The trap door led to the attic, or so she was told. Opening slowly and deliberately, the trap door raised up just enough for it to look down on her. It didn’t do anything but watch, and it did this almost every night for years. The opening it created was dark and Jeannette could not see what it looked like, but she wondered about it. Eventually she would find out.
One night Jeannette went to bed as usual, she was seven now. She lay with her eyes closed waiting to be tucked in. She knew that mother or father had come in the room, she could feel their breath on her. She opened her eyes and there he was, but it wasn’t her father. This man was not very big or tall, and he wore glasses. Gripped with fear, she pretended to be dead.
“If I’m dead he won’t hurt me,” she thought.
Gradually the breath stopped. He was gone.
In Jeannette’s bedroom there was a door in the wall, this was a makeshift closet. The door led to a space behind the wall that wrapped around the upper part of the house, going very far back. She knew there was something back there and was careful to never go all the way to the end. Jeannette surmised that whoever was in the attic also lived in the closet, or there were two.
Jeannette’s brother Tommy was born and eventually it was time for him to move into her room, and she would take the other bedroom. Jeannette never told anyone what happened during those years in her bedroom, or the feeling in the stairwell. Jeannette eventually married and moved to a house at the end of the street, but she would be back. When her brother Tommy was a teenager he had back surgery. He needed to recuperate in a house without stairs, so he and Jeannette temporarily switched houses. She returned to stay in her childhood home and the memories came flooding back. This time she had to say something and she started with her mother. She asked her mother if she had ever felt anything strange about the house. With eyes wide, her mother said yes, in the stairwell. The movement and the cold breath, always. Even when the house was hot both upstairs and downstairs, there was that cold space in between. Described as a breath on your skin. She knew.
Next she asked Tommy. He didn’t want to talk about it. All he would say is that he refused to sleep on his back, only on his side. He would not look up at that trap door in ceiling. There was something up there.
When Jeannette’s daughter Kathy was old enough for sleepovers at grandma and grandpa’s house it was difficult for her. It was hard to stay in that bedroom. It was a sense of unease, she was unable to feel comfortable there. Kathy would jump from the hallway onto the bed, trying to avoid whatever it was that was waiting under the bed to grab her. Years later when the opportunity came for Kathy to buy the house from the estate she came to realize she would never feel comfortable in that house. She had to pass on the opportunity.
Julie Burr and Marco Spani had always wanted to live on Puget Sound and they finally found the house on Three Tree Point that they could afford. It was 1981 and they had only been married for two years, they were in their twenties. Besides living on the water the house came with other benefits. Kathy and her husband Todd Anderson became close friends. It seemed to Julie that everyone on Three Tree Point was somehow related. They soon became friends with more of Kathy’s relatives, including her mother Jeannette. Still, nobody spoke about their experiences in the house.
Marco traveled for work at the time, leaving Julie in the house alone. One evening, shortly after moving into the house, Julie arrived home at dusk. While parking the car she glanced up at the house and saw a terrifying image.
There was a man in the upstairs bedroom window. He was watching her.
She sat motionless, not knowing what to do. She didn’t know any of her neighbors yet. An hour passed and still she sat in her car. Finally, she braved entering the house and found it empty. She dismissed this occurrence as a figment of her imagination. Not long after when Julie was in a row boat in front of the house she looked up to see the same man, in the same window. This happened several more times. Then, one night when Marco was again out of town, Julie awoke in the night to her bed shaking! There were no freighters going by, no trucks, no explanations for the shaking. She told Marco about it the next day, she was met with some indifference. The bed shaking happened a few more times and finally it happened when Marco was home. He was astounded!
One final time, when Marco was out of town, Julie awoke for some unexplained reason. The air in the room felt heavy, there was a presence there with her and she could see his shadowy figure. This was the same bedroom where the image had always appeared in the window. Without hesitation Julie spoke out to the figure. “This is my home now, you need to move on. I will take good care of it. Please move on and don’t bother me.” She never felt the bed move, or any presence in the room again.
Some time later, around a bonfire and after a few glasses of wine, Julie shared her story with Kathy, Tom, Jeannette and others who had at some point lived in the house. Instead of the laughter that Julie expected, she was met with stunned silence. They were shaken. Many present at that bonfire had experienced similar occurrences in that house. They were not alone.
My name is Laura Beth Peterson. My husband Scott and I lived in this house for a while starting on October 31, 2000. Yes, we moved in on Halloween. It was just myself, Scott and our Labrador Ruby.
Or so we thought…
Occurrences of paranormal activity are often associated with a drop in temperature, and a feeling of cold air that envelopes the person experiencing the activity. Experts surmise that pulling heat from the environment gives this entity the energy it needs to exist.