July 15, 2024

So I lived in a haunted house

Abandoned Home
So, I lived in a haunted house. There are two types of reactions to this. One camp finds it scary – most people fall into this. The other camp finds it so exciting that they foam at the mouth, and then get that leg twitch that Austin Powers had in that scene with the hot tub. I’m in the latter.

I loved absolutely every minute if it. Granted, I was a kid that watched Unsolved Mysteries, Beyond Belief:  Fact or Fiction, and the X-Files. My family wasn’t into that as much, but they experienced things on their own individually and a few things collectively as well.

The house resides in Des Moines on what used to be the original Des Moines Golf and Country Club. Great house. It was older house with a lot of character, but mostly in a good way. Most older homes had a receptacle for coal, and this was no different.  There were also some weird quirks to the basement. There was a hutch/shelving unit in one part of the basement. I distinctly remember my mom, my sister, and I pointing to it, almost in unison, and saying “THAT needs to go.” This was the first time we looked at the house, before my parents bought it. I can’t tell you what it was, but it gave us all a really bad feeling.

The basement also had a shower with tiny white tile. It had a window that went to the rest of the basement. It was kind of odd because nobody had ever added onto the house, and if you do, you don’t add more basement. But it used to be a torture test to see how long people could stay in the room before they had to leave. I never made it more than a couple of minutes. It just felt like a gas chamber. You never felt comfortable in it. In the years we lived there, the bathroom was never used once as a shower and the toilet was only used a handful of times.

The basement had a family room at one point. It was where I would watch TV,  probably Beavis & Butthead or the State on MTV. I had made myself some popcorn – movie theater butter of course. I went downstairs to watch TV. I get a couple bites in and then look at my bowl.  A giant millipede comes crawling out.  I HATE, absolutely HATE millipedes. A thing that is a worm and a bug at the same time should not exist on this planet. I freak out.

The TV was on an entertainment center that I actually still have in my house today. There is maybe half an inch, between the ground and the bottom of the entertainment center. I was watching TV another time, and I notice something moving towards me at a high rate of speed from underneath the entertainment center. I look down and it was like a combination of that walking hand from the Adams Family and those little crabs you see in fish tanks that have the one claw that’s way bigger than the other one.  It disappeared under my couch. That was the last time the family room existed in the basement. Heck, that’s pretty much the last time I spent any time in the basement.

The family room was relocated to the main floor, or rather, I relocated myself to the family room on the main floor. It was a couple steps below the rest of the house where the stairs, dining room, and hallway met – by the front door. The TV was on the fire side of the room. I was watching TV and I think I was talking on the phone to a buddy and I looked up and saw a dude standing on the landing. He was in dark grey clothing – almost black. He had long hair and long bangs that covered his eyes.  He just stared at the floor, not moving a muscle. His clothes appeared to be old, dirty, and faded. “Oh my God, it looks like the Undertaker,” I thought. I stared at him for a solid ten seconds, or at least what seemed like it. I felt if I blinked, he would disappear. And I was right. He was gone. I ran into the kitchen to tell my family and that’s when we all realized we had experienced things.

My dad would hear screens tearing as if someone was trying to break in. He’d leave the room with a crowbar or other weapon and there would be…nothing. Nothing, downstairs. The house would be dark, empty, and quiet.

My sister’s room was on the southern part of the house, by the garage. A light would flicker in her room and she would say “knock that off, I know you’re here.”  The light would stop flickering. At least one time, she saw bloody fingerprints on her bathroom wall and some cabinets.

My room was on the northwest corner of the house. It had two large windows that faced in those directions. I had a fish tank in the southwest corner of the room, right next to a shared bathroom. At times I would hear a splash and there would be a couple of fish, flopping around the floor.  The lid never opened and there is no way they could have jumped out of the small opening in the back and landed in front of the tank where they did. They never died because I was there to return them home but still, it happened a few times.

I mention the windows because I used to have a lot of shadows. Large trees in they yard would cast odd shadows but nothing paranormal. Two distinct shadows were definitely paranormal. My ceiling had a rounded edge to it. Two shadows would seemingly race each other around the entire perimeter of the room. They really had no discernible shape or form. They would just do this for hours. They would get to every possible corner of the ceiling. Despite the trees outside, it didn’t seem to be coming from outside. They moved in straight lines, as if they had a purpose, not some random outside force. It was as if they had intelligence behind them. It also could not have come from outside because there is no way that light and shadows could reach EVERY part of the ceiling at that velocity. It’s not physically possible.

The other shadow thing, was weirder. We’ve all seen the “behind the scenes of Pixar” videos where they show a wireframe of a character’s hand or body as it spins in 3-D on a computer screen. It kind of randomly rotates on one axis in free space.  A 3-D shadow of a hand would do that on my ceiling.  It would look human or very much human-like. It would just sit there and spin, on the ceiling. I had seen it numerous times before a buddy came over to sleep one night. Then it happened that night. The next morning he says “what the heck was THAT?” I play dumb, knowing what I had seen but not saying anything. “Duuuude, it was like a shadow of hand but it wasn’t a shadow.  And it was 3-D but it wasn’t 3-D.  It was….weird.” My buddy was a lot more skeptical than I ever was.

Another time I was in my room and talking on the phone. For you young folk, they used to be tethered to the head set that used to be tethered to the wall. The cords sucked, but it’s what we had. I’m talking to a friend and my sister walks past in her Culver (summer camp) sweatshirt and gives me a funny face. There’s only one problem, she was actually AT Culver, which was a camp near Valparaiso, Indiana.

My mom and I swear that ghosts rode in the car with us a couple times. We’d be driving down the road and the doors would start locking and unlocking at a machine gun pace. It happened in both the black Chevy Suburban (my Aunt called it “the assault vehicle”) and white Suburban. It only happened once in each vehicle.

The weirdest experience involved a tape from Blockbuster. This is back in the days of not only VHS tapes, but serious late fees if you didn’t return it on time. Lord have mercy if you didn’t rewind it. So we watched Independence Day in the family room. The “Undertaker” dude didn’t join us, he was busy. We put the movie in the case and set it by the back door so we would remember to take it back the next day. I get up the next morning, the tape isn’t there. I look around and find the empty case in the dining room, on the table. I go to the family room and the tape is in the VCR randomly halfway through the movie. Nobody got up that night. We all sleep with box fans but the stairs were very loud and someone would have woken up.

These occurrences weren’t a constant but they were consistent. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to when they happened, but they differently did. We never felt threatened or like we were in danger, and I loved every minute of it…that wasn’t in the basement. In fact, we all enjoyed it. It was part of the house. We felt it was the spirit of a young person, perhaps a teenager. It never tried to hurt you, it just liked pranks. We moved out and never told the new owners because they were a-holes.

Several years later, I end up graduating from UNI and working with a local ghost hunting group. This was when Ghost Hunters was at its peak in popularity. One of the gals on the team had a friend that had a house with a bunch of weird things going on. We eventually found out that they had bought the house from the people who had bought it from us. They didn’t believe much in ghosts before moving to the house, but definitely did after moving there. Unfortunately, they never wanted us to come investigate the house. There was enough happening at that house that they may actually have been able to get TAPS to come all the way to Des Moines for it.

To quote Conan O’Brien after a Norm McDonald ‘moth joke’, “congratulations to anyone who stuck it through to the end.”  Like I said, I lived in a haunted house, and loved every single minute of it. I’m tempted to knock on the door and see if the current owners have any experiences but haven’t done so yet. If I get a chance to go back in there, I’m bringing a camera with me.
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J.T. Nutt
J.T. Nutt 35 Articles
Staff Writer

JT "the" Nutt graduated from UNI in 2006 and worked at WHO-TV for a few years including Soundoff. JT then spent the past five years covering UNI most recently for On Press Row. He works as a cameraman for the Iowa Wild, Iowa Energy, and Iowa Barnstormers. JT loves the Cubs, UNI, Avalanche, Chargers, beer, hockey, the WWE, and cat memes.

1 Comment

  1. As always JT top notch writing and story telling,
    i always wondered about your house,
    and loved every line of this story…
    I am so glad you joined DIEPART you were always a
    great asset to our team Sir…!!!

    Joe Leto
    founder diepart
    Iowa ghost hunters…

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