I Heard Someone Upstairs When No One Else Was Home

the-purge-movie-poster

It was about 10 p.m. last night when my friend dropped me off at home.

I unlocked my back door, kicked off my shoes, turned on a light, and lounged on one of my couches, half-watching an NBA playoff game while reading a book.

I live in a two-story cape cod. Sometimes my son wakes up at night, gets out of bed and walks to a bathroom or to find me. So, it’s usually not that weird when I hear the floor creak several times above me.

The problem was: No one else was home.

Every hair on my arms stood up.

Investigate? Ask who’s there?

I’d like to tell you I boldly walked upstairs like a badass ready to take out any threat that might be waiting. I did the opposite of that.

I grabbed my wallet, keys, shoes, and walked out to my Jeep without putting them on.

I backed out of my driveway and parked across the street with the engine running, trying to go over my options.

There were three possibilities.

  1. An intruder was in my house. That was the scariest.
  2. For the first time in more than nine years of living there, I was experiencing a haunting. Also scary.
  3. My house made some noise because it’s 65 years old and I’m being a wimpy spaz. The most likely.

My brain was telling me it was highly unlikely there was someone in there. I live in a safe neighborhood. Plus, there were no signs of forced entry, and I hadn’t seen any visual evidence on the first floor of anything looking out of place, with the caveat being I’m not all that organized sometimes, so it’s not always immediately obvious whether something that shouldn’t be there anyway had been moved to another place it shouldn’t be.

I sat in the Jeep across the street staking out my own house like an insane person. I was looking for movement in the upstairs windows, or in my brightly lit living room. I hadn’t shut off the TV and it was casting constantly moving light and danger onto the walls.

I have only a few viable self-defense weapons in the house. All of them are in my bedroom. I’ll need to rethink that strategy.

My mind was racing. I have a Sheriff’s deputy friend who lives relatively close. He’s a single dad like me. He was the only person I could think to reach out to. If he was free, maybe he’d come sweep the house with me.

“You around sir?” I texted.

I just sat there behind the wheel staring at all the windows, wondering what an intruder WOULD do if he (or she?) was in there, almost certainly realizing I was in an idling car across the street.

The Possible Intruder Profiles

I’m no genius. But there are really only a few types of people who could conceivably break into my house and creep around upstairs while I’m downstairs.

Thief

I don’t own anything of great financial value, like jewelry, fine art or precious metals. Televisions and computers are really the only obvious things to steal. I quickly ruled out thieves.

Homeless Tweaker

It’s not unheard of for someone like me (a single guy with a predictable schedule) to have someone borrow my house when I’m away. Homeless person sneaks in. They use toilets and showers and eat and drink, but expertly cover their tracks. I added the word “tweaker,” for the element of danger. A threatened, cornered, mentally unstable person can be a physical threat.

Psycho Murderer

Creepy murderer lies in wait in your dark bedroom for the sole purpose of killing you when you come home. It’s REALLY irrational to fear this, but I’d just had a conversation about Charles Manson and the cult killings associated with him over lunch that day, so it was floating around the back of my head.

A Sexy Stalker

Gorgeous, sultry stalker lies in wait naked in your dark bedroom for the sole purpose of sleeping with you when you come home. There’s a decent chance the psycho murderer scenario is more likely to happen.

A Ghost

Ray Parker Jr. sang “I ain’t afraid of no ghost” in one of my all-time favorite comedies, but I actually am afraid of ghosts. I’ve seen and experienced exactly ZERO hauntings in my life. Perhaps if I had a bunch of ghost encounters, they wouldn’t bother me. I didn’t like the idea of going to sleep in my bedroom with a footstep-generating specter hanging out in there.

This is bullshit. I can’t just sit here, I thought. I’m sure it was nothing.

I pulled back into my driveway and turned off the Jeep. Just then, my law-enforcement friend texted me back, including in it the fact he had his young daughter at home.

I decided I just needed to go upstairs and deal with whatever.

“How ya doing?” my friend texted.

“I don’t know yet,” I replied. “If I don’t write back, really bad. And if I do, everything will be fine.”

His cop alarm went off.

“You need to call me,” he said.

So I did. And I told him what was going on. He said he would come over but I’d have to stay outside with his daughter. I didn’t think that was in her best interest, so I declined.

He then suggested the police. “I’ve been on those calls before. They do it all the time.”

I was a little bit more afraid of calling the cops and it turning out to be nothing than I was being attacked by a stranger.

“It’s probably nothing. Seriously,” I said. “The only thing I’ll say in defense of myself is that I’ve lived in this house nine years and know the noises it makes. This is the first time I ever felt scared enough to leave because of noise.”

He asked me to stay on the phone with him while I cleared each room. I systematically walked through each room in my house, turning on every light, looking behind every door, inside every closet, under every bed—the entire time, waiting to be ambushed by an axe murderer, junkie or ghost monster.

It’s incredible how much braver you feel with someone on the phone with you. At least there will be an audio witness to the brutal slaying!

I found nothing, of course. I was not murdered or even attacked.

Nothing yelled “Boo!” or impaled me with a demon spear.

Perhaps someone had been there, and they left during the 10-15 minutes I sat in my car across the street while my elder neighbor lady gave me WTF looks from her living room sofa.

Perhaps there had been a ghost of some kind in one of the closets and it stared right at me when I opened the door, but never realized it.

Or perhaps it was nothing at all. That’s usually what it is: the simple explanation.

For the first time in nearly a decade, I feared for my safety. I didn’t bravely and boldly run upstairs to defend my turf and protect what’s rightfully mine. I didn’t brazenly yell at the would-be intruder with warnings of imminent harm if he didn’t leave immediately. Instead, I grabbed a few things and hurried out of my own house without even waiting to put on shoes.

I feel more courageous with my writing.

I feel more courageous professionally.

I feel more courageous socially.

But when I thought I might have to fight an unknown assailant or a ghost monster, my first instinct was to run away.

I don’t necessarily know what that means, or what I should do about it.

I only know that I don’t like it, and should definitely do something.

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52 thoughts on “I Heard Someone Upstairs When No One Else Was Home

  1. I’m still reading Matt, even if I’m not always commenting. Everything is for us isn’t it?

    Every experience, especially the ones that leave us doubting and questioning ourselves, is an invitation to get to know ourselves better and deeper.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mjmsprt40 says:

    First, you did the right thing in running away. I know that tears at all of our macho beliefs, but macho won’t buy you much if it had been an armed intruder.
    Second– your friend is right, you should have called the cops. That’s what the police themselves will tell you. If you come home from a party and something doesn’t look right— don’t go in, call the cops first. They’d rather come and check your house than have to come later and draw a chalk-line around your body. It’s their job, goes with the territory. And, no– they won’t think you’re a coward— they’ll think you were using your head, calling them first instead of checking a strange noise yourself.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      I appreciate you saying that actually, because I was feeling super-wimpy about the entire episode.

      But sure. An armed assailant versus me on my phone?

      I’d have most likely written my last blog post.

      Thanks for weighing in. Hope you’re well.

      Like

  3. A big scary ass dog, its the only viable option.
    When he acts weird and I think he’s seeing ghosts, obviously thats less than ideal. But i’m no longer afraid of murderers or burglars. It’s worth thinking about….!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. swo8 says:

    We all have moments like that.
    Leslie

    Like

  5. Ron Lewis says:

    Hey Matt. I enjoyed reading this, and I can totally relate. I think you made the right decision by leaving the house. Whenever I come home from somewhere, I always turn the door handle first before putting my key in the lock to make sure that it is still locked, the way it was when I left. (It’s just me and my two kids, and they don’t have a key, so if it’s unlocked, then that’s not a good sign. ;-)

    I have rushed off a couple of times and forgot to lock the front door, and I have grabbed a sharp knife out of the kitchen drawer and walked around, macho-style, from room to room on a couple of occasions, but if I really thought there was a good chance that someone else was in the house, my tail would be between my legs, and I definitely would not have done that!

    The last thing you want to do is encounter an intruder in your house or let your pride get in the way of making an intelligent decision. I also agree that a dog is a good deterrent. I even put a “Beware of Dog” sign on the gate to our backyard before we had a dog. A sign like that also helps. My -ex later got a Shiatsu, and more than a couple of people subsequently asked “Why the sign?” ;-)

    Like

  6. SCARY!!!
    I remember (ten years ago) coming home with a 5 year old on one hand and a two year old on my hip. The place had CLEARLY been robbed. I, too, did not hang around to consider my options. Safety first,…then think. It’s funny what we do instinctually. I’m glad my intuition took over…although no one was left in my house either. It’s interesting that you associate stupidity with bravery. As if being a man means being killed or tortured or whatever. . . . Men! what’s with you guys? ;-)

    great story telling…as always. (note: I didn’t say great story. I’m still shivering from it…..{{Shudder}})

    Like

    • Matt says:

      I don’t know what to tell you! It just seems wimpy to abandon your home. I can’t explain it better than that. I’m glad no one seems to think it was a bad move.

      The way my house is set up, there would be no way to go upstairs without someone upstairs knowing it and totally having the jump on you.

      It was a funny little moment. I’m hopeful it won’t happen again.

      Like

  7. momoseita says:

    Was it just me? I found this to be a little amusing. Not that you may have had an intruder or a demonic spirit lurking around but your thought process and process of elimination. Sexy stalker? Hilarious. No offence intended but I loved the read. Glad you’re okay.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      No offense taken! If I can’t laugh at myself, I’m in a lot of trouble. The stalker/ghost monster/demon spear impaling made me laugh.

      I’m glad you did too. :)

      Like

  8. sassygirl40 says:

    “I don’t necessarily know what that means”… it means you are human. It was a perfectly normal and reasonable response.

    Reading the part where you describe the situation/noise, made me get that creepy feeling up the back of my neck. I would have run screaming, arms flailing, forget putting on shoes and grabbing a few things!

    Like

    • Matt says:

      That’s what I felt. Spine-tingling, goosebump-getting, hold-your-breath fear.

      I didn’t think long. I got up, didn’t turn the TV off because I didn’t want the source of the noise to know I was listening, and got the hell out.

      The source of the noise was most likely an older house settling.

      But I need you to believe me when I say I’d never heard anything like it before.

      Like

  9. I lived in a house for over 10 years with a presence. It’s not like it is in the movies and you get used to it. Sometimes the thing would hover over me at night while I was sleeping causing me to wake-up and startle and as a reflex action I would try to push it away with my hand, only for my hand to go right through… it was a dark smoky figure with no discernible features. I used to get so pissed when it would do that to me but once I stopped reacting, it/he/whatever stopped doing it.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      That’s pretty unsettling. Smoky Phantom Guy and I WOULD NOT be friends if that kept happening to me.

      I’m pleased to report that wasn’t my experience and hopefully never will be.

      Like

  10. knace says:

    I think your reaction was the smart one to take. Because we all know what happens in scary movies when the idiot character hears a noise and immediately heads straight for the psychokiller/entity/evil possessed doll like a mosquito to the bug zapper. Why!? Are? You DOING that?!? Why aren’t you already halfway down the driveway in your car!? I always ask them.
    I’m glad everything turned out OK. I might burn some sage, just to be safe.;-)

    Like

    • Matt says:

      You’re funny, K. I get it. And I appreciate very much that you think I did the right thing.

      Thank you for saying hi. I always like it. Hope you and your family are well!

      Like

  11. cbecker53 says:

    Like everyone else, I think you did the right thing! I’m still really wondering what the noise was (you are too, right?!), but leaving the house was absolutely the right thing. And I think you probably could/should have called the cops, but I understand what you mean. I probably wouldn’t have, either. But grabbing a knife and checking out the place yourself, yeah, that never really works out well.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Like

  12. anitvan says:

    This totally creeped me out! A few years back, our house was broken into, twice in a month. I’m pretty sure it was teenagers cuz all that was taken was our video game consoles and a shit load of booze. Both times they broke in during the day. The creepy thing is, the second time they broke in, my then teenage daughter had been alone in the house all morning and my oldest son returned home roughly an hour after she left, and discovered the break in. I don’t want to think what could have happened if my daughter had still been in the home, or if my son had walked in during the break in. *shudder*

    You did the smart, sensible thing hightailing it outta there. Safety first!

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Video games and booze.

      I have bad news. Even older guys like that stuff. *sad trombone*

      I’m pleased to hear no one was hurt. I’ve experienced a couple vehicle break-ins. I’ve been very blessed to (as far as I know!) avoid any home break-ins.

      Like

  13. jadedwildcat says:

    Nothing wrong with being cautious!
    You know your house and its habits – why take the risk?

    Actually I have a story that happened just like this about a week ago where I reacted in just the opposite way – lolcano ^^;;
    I trained with a kendo master when I was younger and still have in my house, a wooden bokken as well as a few katana blades.
    Suffice it to say that when I was alone at home and heard said noise down the hall from my room, my adrenalin went out of control causing me to snag up one of the katana blades and brandish it like some crazy-haired ninja assassin.

    It turned out to be my sister’s cat lumbering down the hall, who is somewhat of a heavy walker, whom I’d also forgotten was in the house (she leaves him every few weeks or so to visit).

    Uh yeah.
    I was stalking a poor housecat who then looked up at me and said ‘Mew’, though he might well have been rolling his eyes and laughing at me… =\

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      You pulled out your Katana.

      Hell yeah, you did. That’s a fun story. I own precisely zero swords.

      With a six-year-old somewhat obsessed with toy swords, this is probably a good thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. nykeypad says:

    Fight or flight are what we learned in psychology – adrenaline rushing, heart pounding in one’s ears. Thing is, the books talk about what the body does, not what the emotions do. Good for you for taking care of yourself.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      If you saw the layout of my house, you’d get it even more. Even if I was a trained assassin, it would still be impossible to walk upstairs without getting lit up by anyone waiting for you.

      I’m still optimistic it was nothing at all. Bizarre, though.

      Like

  15. jgroeber says:

    OMG! Get out of my brain. I’ve totally done that, kept an innocent bystander on the phone with me while I swept a creepy house, walked the dog at midnight, checked to see why all the downstairs doors had blown open during the night and the house alarm (which I hadn’t set) was going off. I was way pregnant for that last one. Also, it was a blizzard. Also the power went out… for four days. Also, my husband was away and I had four toddlers. Just saying.
    And once it happened in Philly to the single divorced guy across the street. We found him standing in the street. My husband grabbed something big and metal-ly (a large flashlight? a bat?) and stormed the guy’s house. It had been a total break-in. All kinds of stuff gone. We both agreed afterwards it was one of the stupid-er things he’d ever done.
    I ain’t afraid of no ghost. (But I am!)
    Glad you’re safe. You owe that cop a beer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      Those are fun stories. Maybe you could write about those sometime. I think I’d like to read it.

      I, too, am glad to be alive. Thank you. My friend is always welcome to all the beer I possess. He’s good people.

      Have a good day, Jen. Thank you for saying hi. :)

      Like

  16. Do you have a deceased uncle whose birthday is around this time? I sense he is on your fathers side and you knew him quite well in life. Just say hello, happy birthday and I am pleased that you still think of me.
    He was very quiet in life. Not much of a talker.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      My uncle David–my father’s only brother–was killed in a car accident on Sept. 11, 1996. He was 37, just a year older than I am now.

      His birthday was April 2.

      Like

  17. Aussa Lorens says:

    Oh my gosh, reading this felt like living my life. You should have weapons downstairs. Except you have a kid… you should consult with your cop friend and have him teach you how to search and sweep through your house. My brother did this, and just having the experience of physically going through it helps a ton with knowing what to do “in the moment.”

    Crazy shite! Sorry it wasn’t a sultry stalker.

    Like

  18. garden2day says:

    Great story…suspenseful..you had me shaking a bit. I’m glad everything was ok and glad you had someone to be there for you while you cleared the house. It’s scary sometimes. Don’t feel bad because there are bad things that happen and it is better to be cautious.

    It’s better than having a psycho-crazy bi*ch (at the time, it was my husband’s girlfriend-baby mama, etc.-not going there) who kept calling me trying to scare me to death. At least she didn’t kill me like the woman did her neighbor the year before when her lover (the dead woman’s husband) said he didn’t want to see her any more…see, things could be worse. :D Be careful!!!

    Like

  19. […] wrote about it in my last post, acknowledging it can only be one of three things: 1. An intruder. 2. A ghost. 3. […]

    Like

  20. Ha! Okay, Matt. I’m also reading even if I don’t comment. But gotta on this one. Several things. 1. This was another glimpse (I’ve seen several!) into what a great humor writer you’d be. C’mon!! 2. I’m reading the comments on my phone where gravatars are teeny tiny and come across one above that sound exactly like my ex-husband. (Turning door handle before entering, carrying a knife around, tail between legs, “Beware of Dog” sign etc.) and then your response starts out thanking “a Mr. Lewis.” lol. I scroll back up and sure enough, it’s my ex. The thing that threw me off is that he said his ex (that’s me) got a Shiatzu (a massage?) Uh…..I got a Shih Tzu (small furry dog resembling a gremlin) 3. Having just read your updated post on this matter, I am compelled to tell you I was a huge skeptic until my father passed away very suddenly. Out of tremendous grief, I went to a “legit” channeler (medium who “reaches the other side”) and he proceeded to tell me things for the entire hour that I swear to you only my father and I could have known. They were our little inside jokes and secrets. Blew me away. And now? “I’m a believer!” (sung to the tune of that Monkey’s song) And yes – – I wonder what they think about if they can perceive what happens in our bedrooms! But more often I wonder if he’s still admonishing me when I lock myself out of my car for the umpteenth time! I wrote a humor post about the whole experience called, “Don’t Change That Channeler.” 4. Have you submitted to Huff Post Divorce section yet?? Signed, Your Nag

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      I have ALMOST taken care of all the things I need to take care of before doing so, Stephanie.

      I can’t start guest posting until I’m willing to use my last name publicly. I’m getting really close. And then hopefully I will start showing up other places. HuffPo and The Good Men Project are two places I’d really like to write.

      As for humor writing, I do try to lighten things up once in a while, but I really struggle sometimes with the idea of trying to make an entire piece a comedy post.

      I seem to be most comfortable tossing in the random joke that pops into my head the same as it happens in daily conversation.

      If I can ever figure out how to harness and channel it more effectively, I promise to try!

      Yes, Ron commented the other day, and when he mentioned his Ex, I knew he meant you. :)

      You’re hilarious with the Shiatzu versus Shih Tzu. I knew what he meant!

      Nag away, please. I’m rather fond of you and it means a lot to me that you care enough to encourage me. That’s an understatement.

      It really makes me feel good. Thank you so much for that.

      Like

  21. suzjones says:

    Having experienced both real and ghostly intruders, I share your fear.
    When I was about 18, I shared a flat (apartment) with three other girls. I came home from work just on dark one evening, walked down the hall (past the bedrooms) and into the living area where I opened the curtains and the sliding door onto the balcony. It was then I heard a noise in my bedroom. I called out thinking it was one of my housemates but got no reply. So I shot up the hallway (past the bedroom doors) and out the door, knocking on the door of a friend. He came with me to my flat but there was nothing there however my bedroom door was open and my scarf was laying across the bed. I freaked out. A few days later, the girl upstairs was raped.
    As to the ghostly thing… I’ve had a few of those encounters in the past. These days when I hear noises in the current house I live in, I know who it is and speak to my brother. I’ve told him that unless it’s urgent and he really needs to give me a message, I’m going to start charging him board and lodgings. lol

    Like

  22. Billy says:

    Ghosts happen…We instinctivley know the difference between natural sounds and the sounds of an intruder (alive or from beyond the grave)…if in doubt get out or have the place blessed by a priest.

    Like

  23. jacob says:

    dude i live in a funeral home it gets even worse here. tvs turn on randomly, trash cans that have lids that spin start spining when no one is near it. its just worse with the chance of ghosts

    Like

    • Matt says:

      So I wrote this nearly two years ago now.

      I have had a couple of television-turning-on incidents, but I also bought a new TV a couple of months ago and it might just be something silly with that.

      Last night it didn’t happen (that I was awake to hear anyway), but the prior two nights, just after midnight, I heard from my quiet upstairs bedroom the sound of what I assume it would sound like if someone knocked one of the remote controls off the living-room end table onto the hardwood floor.

      Something hard and solid, but not heavy, hitting the floor and clattering.

      I’m not saying that’s what it was, or that a ghost did it.

      I’m saying two nights in a row, that is the noise I heard, and I’m pretty sure I’m not insane, though I can’t back that up with any evidence in a blog comment on the internet.

      There was no evidence of anything laying on the floor the following mornings that might explain the noise.

      I don’t think it scares me. Until something supernatural causes some kind of harm outside of my brain making it creepy because I’ve seen too many movies, I think being afraid of it is a bit irrational.

      But, I certainly get goosebumps and whatnot in those rare moments.

      If it’s all the same to ghosts and spiritual energies or whatever, I’d be fine with inexplicable noises NOT happening while I’m around.

      Spinning trash can lids, though?

      I can’t say that I’ve ever seen something MOVING that shouldn’t be moving.

      I can say confidently I want that to stay true forever.

      Like

  24. Patience says:

    So… What was it???? I was hoping that you would find a sibling or somethiong that came to visit but didn’t tell you they were coming…

    That’s very funny about your elderly neighbor.

    Like

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