The hair on my neck and arms was standing straight up. The bumps had just started to form and I shivered. It felt like fingers running up and down my neck. The cold began to reach my bones. It was the kind of cold you knew was going to take a fire, some hot chocolate and a blanket to even begin to warm. This wouldn't have been a problem if it had been winter and I was out in the snow, or even if it were fall and I decided to go swimming in the chilly waters of the lake, but it was summer, hot steamy summer and it was about 4 in the afternoon. The time of day when your clothes are beginning to stick because of moisture that is weighing heavy in the air. It was hot and I was freezing and that's what scared me.

Some people would have been scared before entering the old house and some would have been scared just hearing the tales of what was believed to happen there, but not me. As a matter of fact I didn't buy any of it. All I knew was it seemed like a treasure chest waiting to be opened. An old abandoned house with old stuff in it, maybe there was some fortune waiting to be found. To me it was like a pirates quest. I wasn't a thief by nature, but this seemed different. A house no one wanted with stuff that no one wanted. What was the harm of at least looking through it?

That's what I thought until I was standing in the middle of what used to be the living room of the large old house. I had entered through a half boarded up window from the front porch. I had cut my leg on some of the broken glass and when I landed on the floor I felt sick to my stomach. I figured it was just a reaction to having cut myself. But as I stood up and looked around the foyer, I sensed something more. I couldn't put my finger on it, but it was like someone was watching, it was like someone was watching me in the act of doing something wrong and I had the heavy sinking feeling in my stomach of being caught. "It is just the silly stories you have heard," I thought to myself. And shrugged it off as paranoia.

I continued forward and entered the living room. Dusty and filled with cobwebs, it smelled like the basement of my grandmother's house. My grandmother's basement had a dirt floor and was always filled with water. A completely musty smell, with a damp chilly after taste.

The stories of the house started to enter my mind. How could I keep them out, especially since the environment in it was completely conducive to haunted ghost stories? It was almost straight out of a movie it was so stereotypical. The stories were also typical. Stories about murder and madness and then of the ghostly return. And how anyone who entered the house was said to either have become ill, insane or couldn't remember anything that happened to them when they were in it.

The damp smell got stronger and the stories played more vividly in my head. The one of the inquisitive guest whose search for a young child ended at the murderous hands of a mad woman. The scene played in my mind like a picture show almost as familiar as my own memories.

Stupid stories...

I began to move forward and look around. It was almost as if everything was in its original place, pictures left on the mantel, knickknacks left on the tables, the furniture itself was covered with sheets and drop cloths but even through the layers it's pattern and even position seemed awkwardly familiar. As I turned to the windows I realized they had been boarded from the inside. "That's weird," I thought as my eyes shifted across a row a nails, my heart beating with the pounding sensation of a hammer nailing home memories of entrapment.

And that's when the cold settled in, that bone chilling cold, I was scared, but I continued anyway.

I approached the mantel to get a closer look at the pictures. They went from very old to more recent, the last one looked as though it was taken in the 70's. It was of a woman and a girl about 4 years old. The photo looked familiar and so did the woman. As a matter of fact all the women looked a bit similar, but the one from the seventies definitely held a curiosity and as I looked I began to see myself in her eyes- in the eyes of the child beside her.

At that moment it flooded in like a river over flowing from a busted dam. It was me who was in the picture and the woman was my mother! Was this true? Was it my mother that had gone insane? Oh god, I can remember now, she had boarded up the windows to keep me inside, she thought I was evil, she thought it was for my own good and when someone came to the house to ask about me she killed him. I remember the day the police came. They shot her in self-defense and I was taken away.

I can't believe I never remembered any of it until now, until the cold air seeped into my bones, until the sensation of being touched by a frigid hand. Through the cold, sweat began to form and…

I went running and running, how could this be. My childhood until now seemed to be a clear happy memory. This was like a mind game, some sort of nightmare. I had to get out. I ran to the doors and to the windows. I banged on them screaming for help but air was running short and I could barely breath. It was like the cold hands were pressing down harder and harder, squeezing. My throat began to hurt and the lights went out.

I awoke what seemed to be hours later on the grass of the front lawn. My friends were near by across the street, when they saw me they came over. They asked if I had been inside the house. I said yes. They were tense with anticipation to hear about what I had seen and what happened to me.

I began my story with how I entered the house and cut my leg, it was still bleeding a bit, but as I began to tell them about entering the living room, I realized I couldn't remember anything. All I could remember was the cold, and the feeling that I couldn't breath and the next thing I remember was waking up in the grass. They began to laugh and say we told you so, until one of my friends noticed the bruises on my neck, reddish circles in the shape of fingertips. The laughing stopped and we all ran. We ran off the property down the street and kept running, until we couldn't run anymore.

For the next few days I felt a heaviness, a sort of dark mood had over taken me and to others I was very short, even mean.

Since then, sometimes when I dream at night I see different images of the house and when I wake I can smell the dampness. I have talked to others who entered the house and they have the same situation, no definite memories, just bits and pieces of images in their dreams, in their nightmares. I don't know if they feel the same way that I do, but even though I still don't know what exactly happen in that house, I know even years later I feel different. Do they?

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© Melt Magazine 2004