L O S T   D E S T I N A T I O N S:

Nodding, its great head rattling like a gourd, And locks like seaweed strung on the stinking stone, The nightmare stumbles past... (Robert Penn Warren)


N I G H T M A R E S   I N   K E A N E S B U R G

When I first moved to Jersey in the end of 2000, the first place that I lived in was a really old house in Keanesburg, right down the street from the beach. We (some roommates & I) were renting the upper floor. Although the place was slightly forbidding looking from the outside, we were excited cause the rent was cheap and it was so close to the beach, so we didn't pay it much mind... maybe this was a mistake on our parts! What follows is the story of my experiences in that house.

below, a few snapshots from the Keanesburg house. Notice the "orb" in the creepy living room near the ceiling, pic on right:



T H E   N I G H T M A R E S   B E G I N
The first night I slept in the house was kinda creepy; we didn't have electricity yet, so we had to navigate by flashlight. That night, as I slept on an inflatable mattress (no furniture yet either) I had a really bad nightmare. In fact, I woke up in a panic, drenched in sweat. I had dreamt that I was walking down the long, dark hallway which ran the length of the house, with nothing but the flashlight to light my way. There was a drop-down attic door in the ceiling, right in the middle of the hallway. As I moved under the attic door, it suddenly swung open and a ghastly pale, wizened old man with a maniacal face popped out of the opening, grabbing me from above and dragging me up toward the inky dark hole that lead into the attic. I was kicking and screaming, but unable to break free as I rose up into the darkness... it was terrifying. So vivid and real! I really couldn't sleep much the rest of the night, and I could've sworn I heard muffled noises from the attic a few times that night, although in my heightened nervous state, that could have been anything...

As morning came, I tried to put it out of my mind and enjoy the process of settling into the new place. This was easier said than done, though... as I always had this strange, nervous feeling anytime I was in the house. I didn't matter what time of day, the feeling was always there. Of course, it got more intense if I was there alone, and especially at night. At first, I chalked this up to being in a new, unfamiliar place as well as dealing with a lot of life changes. But, no matter how I tried to rationalize my feelings, they remained the same. The nightmares about the old man in the attic continued unabated. I just did not feel comfortable in that place. The worst parts of the house to be in for me were the living room and the hallway. I hated that attic door and hated walking under it. Unfortunately, the hallway lead to every part of the house- bathroom, kitchen, living room, bedroom... so I had to walk under it constantly. Passing under the attic door always made me feel as if ice water was being poured down my back. And there was a creepy closet in the corner of the living room that I didn't like either. It was always cold and drafty near the closet, and it also became the focus of another terrifying series of dreams. I would dream that I was wakened in the dead of night... I'd feel myself rising out of bed, walking down the dreaded hall toward the living room, where I could see the form of an extremely skinny, miserable looking old woman covered in bruises and standing motionless, staring at me from in front of the closet door. I would always wake up really freaked out from these nightmares.


F E A R   A N D   D R E A D
There were also lots of weird things happening constantly... certain doors would not stay closed, no matter how often we closed them... like the closet door in the guest room. The televisions would change channels, volume would go up and down, and the sets would even turn off or on... all by themselves. More than once we found the stove turned on by itself, flames burning high. And I was starting to feel like an extra in a Freddy Krueger flick, as I was afraid of going to sleep due to the awful dreams I would have. The nightmares about the maniacal old man in the attic persisted, joined by the recurring nightmares of the thin woman in the living room closet. My roomies said I was talking in my sleep, as well as tossing and turning fitfully, every night. I was beginning to feel fatigued and sick from these feelings, and the lack of sleep. The only time I felt better was when I was outside the house, so I liked to walk down to the beach a lot, day or night, just to get a break.

When I finally had my dog shipped to New Jersey, I was happy because I wouldn't be all alone in the house all day anymore. However, one of the creepiest things began to happen, as my dog would sit stiffly at the doorway of my room peering out into the hallway and growl, her body quivering with tension. Now, this dog is really mellow and gentle. She rarely barks or growls at stuff. And she had never exhibited behavior like that before Keanesburg, and never has since (she is now 12 years old) But, there was something she clearly didn't like about this place. I had to agree with her.

Once, we were putting some boxes up in the attic. My roommate asked me to hand him some of the remaining boxes, and I had to climb up and poke my head into the attic to do so (to my dismay!) The attic was cram-packed with a whole bunch of stuff that was left behind by generations of past tenants. Then, something caught my eye- a rather large hunk of long, grayed-blonde, seemingly human hair caught on the hinge of the attic door... almost like it had been torn from someone who had been dragged through the opening. It was super creepy- eeek. I got off that ladder fast, and told them I didn't want to go up there again, no way.


A P P A R I T I O N   I N   T H E   S N O W
One wintry night in January, we were watching movies in the living room. It was snowing heavily outside, and had been for days. I was cuddled on the couch with a blanket, and fell asleep. Sometimes around 4 a.m. I awoke. It was dark, the TV. was showing a blank blue screen and everyone had fallen asleep. I saw the snow had stopped, and went over to the window to see how deep it had ended up getting. When I pushed the curtains apart and looked down at the snowy yard below, my heart leapt in my chest. There, on the lawn just below our window, stood a skinny, pale old woman. Just like the woman in my dreams in fact... and she was staring directly up into our window. Her legs were bare and she wore no coat despite the snow, and her hair hung in stringy clumps around her haunted face. I called out to my roommate, I was really freaked. They woke and asked me what was wrong. I told them that there was a lady outside, and they rushed over to the window. But, when we looked back out there, there was no lady. And, that's when I noticed that there were also no footprints in the 6 inches of snow on the yard, or anywhere on the sidewalk or street, as far as I could see.

I was and still am reasonably sure that I was awake, and did see her standing in the yard. But maybe it was a nightmare? I don't know. It shook me to the core and really scared me, whatever it was.

Well, that was the last straw. I decided I wanted to move and started looking for apartments a few days later, and had the luck to get one of the first places I saw, in Jackson NJ. I moved out of that place as fast as I could, even though I still had almost a month of paid rent there. I was just happy to get out of there, to a place where we could sleep comfortably at night. And, I didn't have any nightmares in Jackson.

Photographs & article by Heather Shade. All Rights Reserved.




O W N   A   P I E C E   O F   L O S T   H I S T O R Y:

All of my pics are available for purchase as high-quality prints on Kodak glossy paper, in 5x7 or 8x10 size; framing is available. Click here to order!



Lost Destinations is a trademark of Brainchild Graphics. Copyright 2003 Brainchild Media. All rights reserved. All materials on this site are protected by US copyright law & may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without prior written permission. Disclaimer