Saturday, January 7, 2017

A Haunting in Idaho: my true haunted house story.

This, my friends, is a true story about my own experience with a bona fide haunted house. An early experience in my life that probably helped shape me as far as my love and fascination with stories of the paranormal goes.

As a teenager I spent my summers working as a lifeguard and swim teacher at a little, outdoor, community pool. I loved that job and still look back on it with the fondest of memories. One of the things I liked about it was the chance to work with and get to know kids from outside my normal circle of friends and schoolmates. Many of these coworkers were a few years older than myself, including some college kids.

There was this one guy--I'll refer to him by his nickname, Teo (Tay-oh)--that in a real way was my mentor at the time. And although he was two or three years older than me, he had no problem including me when he and some of the older kids would go out and do stuff. I really looked up to him and for a few summers he was sort of the big brother I never had.

One evening as the summer sun sank slowly toward the horizon, Teo and I were lifeguarding together and just talking about random stuff when he asked, "Dude, have you ever been on Hell Tour?"

Hell Tour? I had never heard of it. Teo attended a different school than I did, and according to him, all the kids at Idaho Falls High were going on this so-called tour.

Hell Tour, it turned out, was a sort of underground tour of some of the creepiest and supposedly haunted places of Idaho Falls. You had to find someone who had been on it to act as a guide and take you. A big rule of Hell Tour: you never take more than one person at a time. I guess it just isn't as creepy with too many people along.

"Dude," Teo said, lowering his sunglasses so I could see his eyes, "tonight, after we close, I'm taking you on Hell Tour."

The pool closed at ten, and by ten-thirty I was seated in the passenger seat of Teo's car--a reddish Buick Skylark, I think it was, but I'm probably wrong. Whatever the make of the car, it only took a few minutes to get into the older neighborhoods of downtown Idaho Falls. And then, Hell Tour began.

It was pretty cool ... and creepy. The tour basically consisted of driving from one location to another, Teo narrating a spine-tingling tale for each spot: haunted houses, a knocking grave in the cemetery, a murder location. Many times during the tour, the hair on my arms and neck were standing on end.

Most of the stories, I'm sure, were just made up tales and harmless kids' fun. Like the old house on J Street with a room at the top where a blue light burned all night. According to the story this was a house inhabited by Satanists. Not so scary now, as I write this, but when your sixteen and sitting in a dark car across the street from said sanctuary of Satan, things feel very different. I'm sure many of you can relate.

I guess it was close to midnight when Teo announced that the tour was over. And then he said, "I'm going to show you one more house that isn't actually part of the tour. It's a for real haunted house with a scary story behind it, and I only know about it because my family knows the people that this happened to."

As we drove to the location, which was a bit off the beaten path of the regular Hell Tour attractions, a different mood settled upon us, as Teo began to relate the story to me. This was no longer a fun game of chills and thrills; kids messing around for the fun of it. This was serious stuff and I remember a certain constriction in my chest as Teo simultaneously finished the story while parking his car across the street from the house that I later nicknamed the Blood Home.

I now relate to you, to the best of my memory, the story of this house as it was told to me some twenty-eight years ago.

The story begins with a beautiful turn of the century home for sale in the historic downtown section of Idaho Falls, Idaho. I'm not sure of the date, but I'm going to say probably the early 1980s. A young family looking to buy a home in the area fell in love with the house at first sight--it really is a neat old house--and they scheduled an appointment with the realtor to have a look inside.

The married couple decided to buy it, unable to believe their good fortune at finding a house that met their needs so well and was within their budget. They scheduled another appointment so they could bring their kids over to show them their future home. This was supposed to be a moment of excitement and celebration as they'd been waiting a long time to make this dream a reality.

The family arrived at the home a few days later at the appointed time. The kids were excited, the parents, proud. The realtor lead the family up the walk and unlocked the front door. Everyone poured into the large front room. The husband put an arm around his wife as the kids went scurrying about, exploring and claiming bedrooms. Except one child. Their eight year old boy who had not set foot inside. The parents turned to see him standing in the threshold, eyes wide with fear, lips trembling in horror. The kid was almost hysterical and refused to enter the house.

They asked him what was wrong. I like to imagine that someone made the comment that he looked as if he'd seen a ghost. But I digress. When the boy had calmed down enough to talk, he told his parents that he didn't want to go into the house because of the people that he could hear screaming inside. Did he mean the rambunctious yelling of his own siblings? But their son explained that it was grown ups that he could hear. They were yelling and screaming in pain as if they were dying.

His parents asked him if he could see these people. He said he couldn't see them, but from where he was standing in the doorway, he could see a glowing, red stripe running along the walls of the front room.

Needless to say, the parents were quite distraught over this incident. Was their child suffering from some kind of psychotic episode? Hallucinating? They had never noticed any kind of strange behavior out of him before.

They apologized to the real estate agent and left, wondering if they should make an appointment for their son with a doctor. But, as soon as they left the property, the boy seemed absolutely fine. They made another appointment to tour the house for the next day, writing off the incident as, just one of those things. Unfortunately, the second visit played out much like the day before, and the family left again feeling discouraged and frightened. This house was quickly transforming from a dream come true into a living nightmare.

Now unbeknown to the family, their realtor was one who dabbled a bit in the occult; occasionally indulging in things like séances, psychic readings, and such. She reached out to a psychic she knew and trusted, and asked him if he'd be willing to come take a look at the house. The psychic friend agreed to come over and check things out.

Supposedly, upon arriving at the house, the psychic had a similar experience as the little boy. He too could hear the screams of agony and pain. He was also able to see the glowing red stripe, which he guessed to be blood that had been smeared on the walls at one time. Apparently, this instigated the two friends to conduct a historical investigation into the house.

They were able to discover that over a period of a few years, during the Great Depression, the house was abandoned. Periodically, vagabonds and homeless migrants would take up residence for a while, usually moving on after a bit. Research showed that there was a period of time when a certain group of people lived in the home that, according to the story, were a devil-worshiping cult. It just so happened that during this same time there was a rash of disappearances of people in the community.

At this point, anyone who has read my novel, The Summoning, might be seeing where I borrowed a little bit from this story.

Teo ended the story by telling me that over the years the house has been bought and sold more than the average home and people who live there quite often will claim that there is something paranormal going on within those walls. I stared at the dark windows of the house as Teo pulled his car away, a cold chill settling across my shoulders. The windows seemed like big, dark eyes staring back, watching us go.

I went home that night, my psyche definitely impacted by the story and the experience. Over the years I have shown this house, the Blood Home, and told its tale to several people. One Halloween some friends and I attempted to trick or treat there, but nobody was home. Eventually, the place lost its stigma of terror, and even though I really wanted to believe the story, I had reached a point in my life where I doubted there was any validity to it at all. It was surely just a cool, old house and nothing more.

It was Halloween, a few years later. I was watching one of the local TV newscasts, when the station ran a report on a "real" haunted house in Idaho Falls. You can imagine my face and incredulity when I saw the legendary Blood Home being showcased as a true haunted house! It had been converted into an office and the owner was leading a news reporter around telling him stories of footsteps at night, doors slamming and opening by themselves, and a picture on the wall, constantly askew no matter how many times the owner tried to straighten it.

Now, I have to admit that whenever I'm in that part of town, I like to find an excuse to drive past the Blood Home if I can. There are cars in the driveway these days and apparently someone is living there happily. But I can't help but to slow down a little as I roll past and stare. And sometimes, I could swear those windows still stare back.

If you have a personal story of the paranormal that you would like me to share on my blog please contact me at I'd love to hear your story. You can remain anonymous if you wish.

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