In The Walls
We moved out of our last house a week ago, and I’m glad we did. It was definitely not safe there, especially for a man like me who has a young family to take care of. I think if I hadn’t decided to get the hell out of there, I would have failed my family – and I would probably have lost them too, eventually.
There was nothing obviously wrong with the house, actually – I suppose it was just a regular detached family home in a suburban neighbourhood. I think the first thing that struck me as off about it is the fact that all the houses on that street had been built sometime in the 1980s. The odd bit about that is the fact that nobody had actually lived there – in almost three and a half decades, nobody had EVER lived in that house.
But what could be wrong with that? It didn’t ring any alarm bells, apart from the normal sort, like ‘does the electricity still work’ and ‘is the boiler outdated.’ On top of that, we had to check if there were any pests or squatters. Nope, nothing there – the house was well built and hadn’t let anything in – so it seemed, at least.
Once we were settled in, we were actually very happy there. I think, (although I find it hard to believe now), we wanted the house to be our home for a good, long time. Bizarrely, it just felt so perfect and right when actually there was something very, deeply, inherently wrong about the place.
The tension began on one typical grey London morning. My wife was going to drop off our four year old boy at school, which usually takes about half an hour. It was the oddest thing – as soon as she shut the door behind her and I was alone, I became aware of a feeling that I hadn’t felt before. You could describe it as a feeling of being watched, but I think it was something else – a feeling of tension and discomfort arising from, well – nothing. Nothing at all happened – no creaks, no bumps, and no whispers. I had the heating on (it was December) and was listening to Classic FM on the radio. On first inspection, it appeared to be a comfortable, peaceful environment – ideal for sitting down and getting on with my work.
But it wasn’t. I felt sort of agitated. I supposed it was just down to this being a new house that I had only slept in for a few nights, and I got on with my work. Except I didn’t. I couldn’t’ settle down and concentrate. I found myself wandering – around the house, walking slowly around every room. There were a few boxes of things that still needed to be unpacked, and some rooms that were still quite bare. I refused to accept it, but a tiny part of my subconscious expected that there was an intruder in the house. I was in the room farthest away from my study, so I could just about hear Bach’s Cello Suite or whatever the heck it was playing upstairs. I stayed at the window waiting for my wife to turn up in her car.
It was incredible how quickly the mood shifted as soon as my wife stepped into the house. As soon as I was no longer alone, the uncomfortable feeling lifted and I could actually feel the warmth of the central heating, and my tea with a tablespoon of honey in it actually tasted sweet. Even the rainclouds which had started to drizzle outside seemed friendlier.
The next morning, I did the school run, just as a little… experiment. I was driving back when I got a call from my wife. I don’t think she wanted anything in particular – apart from come company. Her tone was very casual – it almost sounded forced, and she was only asking when I would be back, but in a prolonged way, as if she wanted to keep the call as long as possible. I had some idea why she was calling – she was getting the feeling too. She probably felt it more, because women are more tuned in to these subtleties in an environment.
She didn’t mention anything when I returned regarding the feeling, but through her smile I could see that she was a tiny bit spooked. To be honest, it was nothing really – just a feeling that people get sometimes. The only odd things about it were that it happened when we were alone, and that it happened to both of us. Well, still – some places are just like that. A house that hasn’t been lived in for decades might take time to warm to its new owners, I guess.
The next day, while my wife was out getting the groceries, I made a little discovery. The strange feeling grew more intense in certain parts of the house. In the upstairs bathroom, it was particularly strong, and there was a corridor that connected the dining room and living room where it was also quite noticeable. The thing about these places is that they were the only parts of the house with mirrors in them. With time, I came to hate those parts of the house – and those mirrors.
Nothing new happened for about a week. I just avoided being in the house by myself, and I noticed my wife did the same, although we never discussed the fact that we felt uncomfortable being alone. It was a new house – we didn’t want to spoil our first days there with negativity.
But a certain negativity hung about the place nevertheless. It was not obvious, it was not intense – but it was always there. It felt somewhat hostile, as if we were sharing the home with … something – something that didn’t like us being around.
I read up online (while my wife wasn’t looking) that some places just have what they call ‘negative energy.’ Apparently this is the result of many things such as poor lighting, bad Feng-Shui, and bad things that have happened in the past in the place. Ironically, we installed brand-new high-power light bulbs, my wife had a whole book on keeping good Feng-Shui, and as for the whole ‘bad things happening in the past’ thing, nobody had ever lived in the house before. I mean, how could anything bad have happened there if nobody had lived there before?
At least our little boy didn’t seem affected. He was playing just as happily as ever with his toys. A work overload had preoccupied me and his mother lately, so we didn’t spend as much time with him as usual. He didn’t seem to mind. He even managed to invent an imaginary friend to play with.
There was this one night, however, when I came home from work late to find my son in bed and my wife waiting for me in the living room. As soon as I came through the front door, I was greeted with a thick, heavy presence. It gave me a bad feeling immediately – I knew at once that something was not right.
And yet, everything seemed fine. We ate dinner in front of the television, washed up, and then got ready for bed.
We both joined our son upstairs to sleep, and soon enough we had both dozed off – except, I was suddenly disturbed from my sleep. It was nothing unnatural – in fact, it was the very call of nature that woke me up. I needed to use the loo. I got up and put on my slippers and nightgown.
It was absolutely freezing, being a winter’s night. But when I stepped into the bathroom, I was shocked by how cold it was. It was not safe, how chilly it was in there. I looked at myself in the mirror for a bit, then sat on the toilet seat to do my business.
That mirror was giving me a bad feeling. I kept imagining that I could see something moving around in the mirror, and yet there was nobody else in the room but me – not even a fly or a bug. It happened at least three times, then I got up washed my hands, and just stared into the mirror for a while – just to… make sure. It eventually made me uneasy, so I hurried back to bed and actually found myself hiding my face with the duvet.
I think I saw something moving in the mirror again the next night, and the next. I think I even saw a face in the downstairs hallway mirror as I walked past, for a split second. Of course, I knew it was only my imagination. Definitely just a side effect of all the negative energy in the place.
It was getting more irritating than frightening, so I decided to ring up one of those priests – those spiritual sorts who know how to brighten up places with negative energy in them.
She turned up while our son was at school, a frail old Japanese woman who must have been eighty years old at least. Her son dropped her off since she was very weak and unable to walk the distance.
Anyway, she came in smiling faintly and telling us in broken English that she would just take a walk around the house to ‘get used to it.’ I and my wife sat quietly in the living room – personally, I don’t think she was all too happy about the house being checked out by what she referred to as an ‘exorcist.’ I showed her the webpages about clearing negative energy and she agreed with a sigh – after all, it was good Feng-Shui to have your house cleared.
The spiritual woman came downstairs after about ten minutes. In spite of how bony and old she was, she made the place feel very secure and comfortable. I almost wanted her to stay with us, so that we could be assured that we would have no negative energy. But something happened that made us wonder if it really was negative energies making our house the way it was.
Anyway, she came into the living room and told us that she had burnt incense in some of the rooms and that she was going to go over the rooms again just to clear out any remaining negativity. But then she suddenly went stiff and her quivering smile became a screwed-up scowl and her watery eyes hardened.
We thought she was having a stroke and reached for the telephone to call an ambulance. Turns out she was fine, she told us not to touch anything or move. We listened and watched, dumbfounded, as she rushed to the wall with impressive speed and pressed her ear against it. She whispered some words which we couldn’t hear, and she seemed to be receiving a reply as her expression changed and contorted. Whatever she was hearing can’t have been good because she gave a shriek and sprang away from the wall. The room darkened noticeably, like when a cloud covers the sun.
“You no live this house!” the old woman grabbed my wife by the shoulders and shook her firmly as she said this.
“Why not?” I asked, as my wife was too taken aback to reply.
“Man in the walls!” she shrieked, “There is man live in the walls! Bad man! Man in the walls!”
The old woman hurried through the hallway and, without even putting her shoes on, stepped outside the house and urged us to come out with her. She called her son to pick her up on a little Nokia phone, and refused to step back inside, even though she needed to sit down because of her frailty. I brought a chair outside for her and brought her shoes out too. We waited with her outside, and I can swear that when I went inside to fetch the chair, I was not the only one in that house. I cursed the old woman for making me so nervous – I was hearing whispers all over the house now.
Her son picked her up and when he saw her in a nervous state, he gave me and my wife an unfriendly look before driving away.
That had gone badly. We would have got mad at each other had it not been for what the old woman had said. ‘Man in the walls.’ It was chilling to hear that, and the look of terror on the old woman’s face convinced us that she was serious. But, being modern cosmopolitans, we just agreed after some conversation that she was doing that to frighten us, or that she was just old and batty. We didn’t want to believe her bullshit.
But the phrase stuck with me, ‘man in the walls.’ I even admit I put my ear to the wall to see if I would hear anything. Nothing. We were more uneasy now than we had been before the spiritual had come. The tension gathered all day until at bedtime, and the house felt unnaturally dark. As I was slipping into bed, relieved that the day was over, a cry from my wife got me out of bed. She rushed into the bedroom with a look of utter horror on her face.
“Man in the mirror!” she screamed, “Man – man in the mirror!”
I had enough sense to realise that she was not talking about the Michael Jackson hit. She was genuinely terrified.
“Bathroom. I saw it I tell you!”
“I believe you. I believe you!”
I had to believe her. I stormed into the bathroom and looked into the mirror. It was just a normal reflection. There was nothing there. I stood there for a while. Then I began to cry.
“What’s wrong with this bloody place!?” I cried, “Man in the wall? Tell me, is there a man in the wall?”
“No, no there isn’t.” my wife comforted me, “It was my imagination I’ll bet you. It’s just that damned old woman coming in here and telling us all this mumbo-jumbo about men in the walls. It’s nothing. Nothing at all.”
“Then what the hell have I been seeing? This place – it feels wrong. Just wrong.”
“Oh nothing. Don’t worry. There’s nothing here – there can’t be. Let’s just get some sleep. That’s what you need – sleep.”
I was too tired to carry on with this. I forced myself to believe that there was nothing funny going on – I didn’t convince myself. We went to bed and I was about to turn out the light when my wife told me something that made me shudder.
“You know, Daniel (our son), has been saying some weird things lately,” she said.
“Well, it might just be coincidence, but what that old woman said about a man in the walls – it seems to fit with something that Daniel has been talking about.”
“Oh – really?”
“Do you know anything about his imaginary friend?”
I chuckled, “Well, I know that Daniel spends an awful lot of time with it. What does he call it, again?”
“Oh yeah – oh…” I realised just then the creepy connection. ‘Wallman.’
“Daniel’s been saying things about his friend. He told me the other day that he’s got a round face with black eyes and a big smile and he’s really thin so that he can fit in the wall. I found it cute at the time, but now – I don’t know.”
I got the biggest chill I had got in a long time.
“Well, there’s more. We were in the park, just me and him. Nobody else was there. I asked him if he wanted to invite Wallman for a picnic. He said he couldn’t. He told me that Wallman is only in our house, and never leaves. That one made me laugh a bit when he told it to me, but then he gave me this serious, worried look and said. ‘Don’t laugh mummy. Wallman doesn’t like you and daddy. He hates you. He says he only likes me.”
I shuddered and took a deep breath. The air suddenly felt colder and more… hostile.
“You know,” I said to my wife after a period of silence, “I really do think we should move out. I don’t know if it’s just a bad feeling I get about this place, or if maybe that old Japanese woman was right. This stuff is creeping me the hell out. I don’t think I can sleep now. I don’t feel safe.”
Nevertheless, we both managed to sleep after a bit more conversation on where we could move to.
I had dreams – they were mostly just plain random dreams, but one thing stuck out as different. I dreamt I came home to find the house empty. I called to see if anyone was home, and turned on a few lights. I noticed very vividly that there was somebody standing in the living room. It was a man’s figure, very lean and about the height of a child. He was facing away from me, I could tell, but the light wouldn’t turn on in that room so I couldn’t see any more. I think he was naked. In my dream, I called out ‘Daniel?’ but I felt certain that this was not my son. I was scared of this figure in the living room.
The dream ended there and I woke up. I blamed all the weird events – they were affecting my sleep. I managed to get some more shuteye after that. No dreams this time.
It was a Saturday next morning, so we had a bit of a lie-in.
“I’m getting the kettle on. How many sugars would you like?” I asked my wife before going downstairs to the kitchen to make some tea. But as I waited for the kettle to boil, a voice caught my attention. It was Daniel, he was raising his voice. I found him looking up at the mirror in the downstairs corridor, in a heated argument with… somebody.
“No! If you don’t say sorry, I won’t be your friend anymore!” he cried.
“Hello? Dan? You alright there son?” I called to him. He ignored me outright.
“No! No! No!” he shrieked at whoever he was speaking to, and I saw tears on his cheeks, “I don’t want to! You’re not nice anymore!”
“Go away! Go away!” he began to screech, “I don’t want to go with you!”
I rushed along and lifted him up, carrying him away from that mirror. His mother came downstairs, roused by the shouting.
“What’s wrong dear?” she asked him.
“Wallman – Wallman wants me to live with him. In the wall. He wants to take me in the wall, but I told him I don’t want to.”
“Oh god,” I muttered, handing him to my wife, my voice shaking. “I can’t put up with this bullshit any longer. Wallman! Where the heck are you!? Come out you bastard!”
I had never spoken in front of my son like that before. But he didn’t seem unsettled – he seemed glad that I was angry at his imaginary friend. My wife took him upstairs while I raged on for a bit.
“Right.” I said, when my wife came back downstairs. “We’ve got to get rid of these goddamn mirrors. They’re creeping the shit right out of me.”
“It’s ok. It’s fine.”
“No it’s not fine. It can’t be fine. It’s like they’re portals or something. Like there’s evil coming straight out of them or some crazy shit like that.”
“Okay, okay. We need to stay calm.” She assured me, “let’s just get breakfast sorted, and we’ll see how things go.”
We had breakfast in silence, and after a while, it all seemed OK. And then something happened that was amazing – nothing. Nothing at all. There wasn’t even a weird feeling of anxiety anymore. It felt like a normal home should.
Weirder still, the next day was fine too, and nothing dodgy took place overnight. We kept the mirrors (I hadn’t been entirely serious about throwing them out, I had just been stressed out). Then a whole week went by and it was Sunday again, without a single weird thing happening. Our house was beginning at last to feel like a home. We had less work, so we spent more time with Daniel, and he seemed to forget about his imaginary friend, which was actually a relief to us. That imaginary friend had seemed like something else. It seemed… wrong… to be coming from the imagination of a four year old.
We thought everything was going to be fine. But then something made us think twice. Yellow mould had started to grow in circular patches around the house. The patches were about the size of footballs, and they gave off a rotten smell. We decided to leave it be for a while, but the patches turned up suddenly in more places, and they were too ugly and stinky to stay.
We called in a man to investigate and sort out the mould problem, and while he worked, the three of us paid a visit to my parents in law.
We got a call from the man dealing with the mould at about eight o’clock in the evening. He sounded troubled and he told us to come home quickly. We were very agitated throughout the car journey, and when we saw policemen standing around our home, my wife looked as though she would cry.
A tall, fat policeman stopped us in our tracks as we made our way towards the front door.
“Stop right there, sir,” he said, “I highly doubt that you and especially your wife will want to see what’s been found in your home. You ain’t suspected, don’t be afraid. But I tell you mate, it’s ghastly.”
He took off his hat and breathed out with disgust.
“Mummy, Daddy what’s happening?” Daniel kept asking, but we just led him back to the car. I went back to the policeman and the inspector came and told me I could come in. I went in to find that where the patches of mould had been, there were holes in the wall. Men in uniform and masks were carrying small objects in plastic bags out of the house. The mould specialist was sitting down with a cup of coffee on the sofa, his head in one hand. He seemed deeply troubled. I looked at him for a while, and thought it might be better not to ask him what had happened. But I didn’t need to.
“You ain’t seen what you’ve ‘ad in your walls yet?” he asked me, his eyes bloodshot, “I ain’t ever done a job like this one. Bloody shocking.”
“What was in my walls?” I asked, my voice shaking, “tell me please – I can’t bear it anymore!”
“Can’t tell you meself, mate. Bloody shocking!”
Suddenly, the world around me became a blur and I collapsed on the ground. I came to at my parents’ in-law house again. Had that all been a dream? No. it was now 2 in the morning. My son and my wife were upstairs, they told me. An inspector was waiting to speak to me.
“What happened inspector? What was there in my house?” I asked, as patiently as I could.
“Now, don’t take this the wrong way, sir. We’re not accusing you of anything. The things we found date back at least a decade, judging by the… state they’re in.”
“What did you find?”
Then I was told, once I had promised to remain calm, that behind each of the sixteen patches of mould, the bones of a small child had been found curled up inside the walls. The children were all between the ages of 2 and 5, and were recognised as children that had gone missing in the area over the past thirty or so years.
Now, hearing that shook me about as much as it would shake anybody in my position. There was something else in the walls of that house, something evil, and had things happened differently, it might have taken my son into the wall like all those other children. I and my wife still haven’t gotten over our experiences in that house, although our son seems to be indifferent to the whole thing. He never got told about the children in the walls, and hopefully he’ll never ask so we won’t have to tell him. He never mentions his imaginary friend ‘Wallman’ and he seems happy enough in our new home, as do all of us. I don’t want to tempt fate or anything, but our new place seems just right – nothing weird going on here.
But one thing bugs me, and I don’t think it’ll ever stop bugging me as long as I live. I still don’t know what the heck it was in our house. I refer to it as Wallman, because the name makes it seem less frightening, but I can’t get over the fact that I have actually had contact with a paranormal entity. I’m guessing it’s still there in that building. Fat chance anybody wants to buy that house now, after the discovery made the local headlines.
There’s one more thing. A few days after he made his dreadful discovery, the mould specialist arranged to meet me at my workplace. He seemed deeply disturbed, and told me that he had something ‘dead strange’ to show me. It was a picture he had taken on his mobile phone on the day he had been at our house. It was a picture of the mirror in the corridor. Although the quality was a little grainy, a face could be seen VERY clearly in the mirror. It just popped up at the bottom corner of the mirror – a white face with a wide, thin-lipped mouth and large black eyes. It had very clean, neat teeth. It didn’t appear to have a nose or any hair, but perhaps it was just because of the quality of the image. It was grinning broadly, and its eyes were wide open. The picture was taken from an angle so that the photographer could not be seen, only the face and the rest of the room.
But what scared me most about the face was the fact that it was there. It was actually there – real photographic evidence of something paranormal that had been in our home all that time.
“Saw the bastard in the mirror and I didn’t know what the bloody heck it was, so I snapped a shot and ran out the bloody house.” The man explained to me. He seemed shaken.
Now, I’m not sure why he showed that to me. Perhaps he was frightened and just wanted to get it off his chest. Perhaps it was just fascinating or incredible to him.
I don’t care, really, because now that I’ve seen that photographic evidence, I won’t stop thinking about it.
I never truly actually believed in the paranormal until then. But now, I’m open-minded. I say my prayers before going to bed every night. I’ve started being superstitious, and avoiding creepy places and walking under ladders and everything.
I only have one mirror in my house now, in the bathroom, and I avoid it like the plague. Not to mention that I practice methods designed to keep my home free of negative energies. My wife likes that – after all, it IS good Feng-Shui.
And sometimes, only sometimes, when I am alone at home and it is quiet, I press my ear to the wall and listen carefully. Then I look into my mirror for a while, just to make sure there… isn’t anything else in there.
Perhaps you should give it a go too. After all, some houses are strange and some houses have been there for a very long time. With enough time, I think things come into existence in empty places that shouldn’t be allowed to exist.
You may find that those walls that protect you from the elements every day are in fact home to something that you might need protection from.
And as for mirrors, I guess they are like doors into the wall. They show you not only what’s behind you, but what’s behind them.
Trust me, if you see any strange faces in the mirror, there’s a possibility there could be something in your walls.
My advice – just brush your teeth quickly.