Halloween Special: here's something spooky sent in by one of our investment banking readers.
'We'd just moved into a new house in a fairly fashionable part of London. Our first proper house, bought with the fruit of my ill-gotten gains (a few years-worth of bonuses).
We'd not been married long, but already had a 10-month old daughter, Claudia. And she was perfect - never cried, never any trouble. But that all changed as soon as we moved to the new house.
The house was on three stories, and we chose the room at the top at the back for Claudia. Although the first few nights passed without incident, things soon changed. First up, Claudia had a number of unsettled nights, and it got increasingly worse. Soon enough, I was up all night too, worried that my daughter might have something wrong with her.
And then there was the room itself, which seemed to be colder than the rest of the house. There was something hostile about that room, something that made me very uncomfortable. So uncomfortable, in fact, that I searched out my grandmother's old rosary beads (my grandmother had died only a year or so before), and tied them to Claudia's cot.
That night was another bad one, and when I entered the baby's room the following morning I noticed the rosary on the floor, far from the bed. And I knew that Claudia didn't have the strength to do that. But what to do ? Who do you call if you suspect that your house is haunted ?
After 2 weeks of all this, I was at the end of my tether. I hadn't told anyone what was going on - neither my wife, who I thought would end up scared stiff and want to move out, nor anyone else (who I was convinced would just think that I was crazy).
Concerned about what was going on, I had hardly slept at all. Then one Sunday, free from the demands of work, I crashed out in the room immediately below where Claudia slept. Two hours later, and it was early evening and dark now, I was woken by the sound of footsteps in the hall outside the door.
I was still rather groggy, and couldn't quite focus. But I thought that Claudia must have come into the room (clearly not thinking straight, as she hadn't even started to walk yet!). The bed I was in was about 3 inches from the wall, but Claudia somehow managed to push the bed - with me on still in it - right tight up against that wall.
I then became aware that Claudia was leaving the room and, concerned that she might go on to fall down the stairs, I jumped out the bed and ran after her down the hallway. Quickly catching up to her, I grabbed her and attempted to pick her up. But my, how heavy she was; so heavy that I was forced to drop to my knees. It was then that the child in my arms looked around and up at me. But it wasn't Claudia, it was a young boy with a devilish face. And then, as quick as a flash, the boy was gone, vanished in front of my eyes. And there I was, in the hallway, in the dark, all alone. Did I imagine all this ? Was I only half awake ?
I returned to the bedroom, not really sure what had gone on. But as I turned on the bedroom light and sat down on the bed, I looked over and noticed that the bed itself was pushed up against the wall. It wasn't a dream.
The next day I went in to work as usual, and decided to tell my story to a few of the team around the water cooler. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed one of the blue rinse brigade (the name we gave to our older support staff) was listening in intently. But I got no help from the trading floor, who clearly all thought that I was having them on.
So I headed back to my desk to try and focus on work, when the blue-rinser appeared.
'Was all that true ?', she asked. 'Or were you just larking about ?', she continued, peering down at me from her eyeglasses.
'It's all true', I replied, 'Unfortunately. I don't know what I'm going to do to be honest'.
She looked at me, smiled, nodded her head and returned to her desk. And that, I thought, was the end of that.
That night was the first calm night we'd had for weeks. Claudia didn't appear to wake up, and I slept straight through. When I went into the bedroom to check on Claudia, everything felt different; it was brighter, calmer and in no sense threatening.
I'd been a work an hour or so when blue-rinser appeared. 'How's everything at home', she asked.
I explained that everything seemed to have changed, and how relieved I was. The only problem, I said, was I didn't know if the problem would re-occur.
'Oh, don't worry, it won't', she asserted, 'We had a remote exorcism last night', she continued.
'Who did ?', I asked, recalling that this woman and her family were very religious.
'Me, my husband and two children. You had a troubled spirit there', she said, 'My husband and one of the kids saw it. It won't bother you anymore'.
'But where's it gone', I asked.
'We sent it back to Jesus', came the reply.
'But how come it chose my house ?', I asked, 'Why us ?'.
'It could be any number of reasons', she said, 'Sometimes it might be someone who used to live there, and for some reason is having trouble passing over'.
'Thank you', I said, 'And please thank your family for me'. Thank God for the blue-rinsers!
It must have been 6 years later that I was walking my dog in the park, when a stranger approached me and asked if I lived in Ashley Grove.
'Yes', 'I replied, why ?'.
'Number 28 ?'.
'Yep', I nodded, now intrigued.
'I had a friend who lived in that house', she continued, 'Do you know the recent history of the place ?'.
'Not really', I replied, 'But I know it was two flats before we bought it'.
'That's right', the stranger replied. 'An elderly couple lived upstairs, while their daughter and her husband lived below. But both men died fairly close to each other. My friend, the mother, was devastated. She used to get so depressed that in the end I had to stop going round there, as it was making me ill too.
'In the end', she continued, 'The mother spent all her time in just one room, refusing to come out'.
'And what room was that ?', I asked, in my heart already knowing the answer.
'Oh, the one at the top, at the back', came the reply.
Over 13 years have passed, and there's been no repeat of the problems I endured at that time. But there's still something going on in that room. The children (I have two now) believe it's haunted - even though they know nothing of what went on there. And we have had several builders in over the years, many of whom got freaked out if they entered that room.
And a couple of years back, we had some house sitters in while went on 2 weeks holiday. When we returned, the couple told us that they refused to go into the room, or even upstairs at all on some nights, as strange noises could be heard. They thought that furniture was being moved about.
Whatever is in that room today, however, isn't threatening - at least to me. On several occasions I have felt the presence of my grandmother in that room, and I can't help thinking that she, too, played some part in ridding us of that troubled spirit. And I think that my grandmother comes back to visit every now and again, just to check on us and make sure all is still fine.
image: © katmeresin