The Story Behind the Story: Things in the Attic

Jan 27, 2019

I was very close with my grandfather, and when he passed, I sought out a way to contact him. The recommendation was to wait at least three days before trying to find a way to reach him. But, I was impatient, and I wanted to get through to him that night.

I first started by attempting some kind of self-hypnosis protocol (as pretentious as it sounds). In all, the process lasted close to an hour. It began with progressive muscle relaxation and evolved into a stated intention of openness to see and hear from spirits or beings or others who might help to facilitate a meeting with my grandfather. Stating such a large intention was naive.

The only success I can speak of in regard to the self-hypnosis was that I was confident I had contacted something, even if it was not my grandfather. I never saw whatever it was, and I never heard anything externally the way one typically encounters sound. But, it was as if the empty study I was occupying had become crowded. My mind, too, felt very busy with noise. Alas, no objective contact had been made with anything supernatural, and I decided to take the process a step further.

I proceeded to the next room where a large mirror hung on the wall. I repeated my intention and stared at my reflection in the darkened room. I was reminded of old encounters with the Bloody Mary of my childhood nightmares, but she never showed up then or now. Though, something was different about the experience of looking into a mirror in a dark room in the middle of the night as an adult; it had an tone of seriousness that had been absent decades ago.

At first, the mirror was unremarkable. But, gradually, my reflection began to change – as if my face were transforming into other faces. Some were older; some were younger. It could have been my eyes playing tricks on me or an illusion of the unlit room. But, paired with the sense of unease I had in my gut and the overwhelming sense that I had not been alone since the hypnosis experiment, I suddenly wanted to stop. I needed to stop.

I turned from the mirror and closed the ritual the best I could and attempted to make my way back to my bedroom in the basement. In consideration for everyone else in the house who was not awake in the middle of the night, I left the lights off. Navigating the shadows was easy, knowing every nook and cranny of my childhood home. But, I still could not shake off the overwhelming sense that I was not alone. I had the sensation of being stuck in a crowded hallway despite being by myself.

I made my way down the stairs in the dark convinced that someone or something was hanging its head next to mine, speaking to me even if I was refusing to hear it. Upon finding the basement, the sensation intensified – not just one disembodied head whispering at me, but many. With the hair rising on the back of my neck, I stopped in my tracks and announced, “I am going to go to a bookshelf, pull a book from the shelf, and place my finger on a sentence or a cluster of words. Let those words reveal you to me.”

I walked towards the wall and placed my hand against it to keep track of my place in the mostly barren basement. I walked forward to where I knew a bookshelf rested against the wall. Upon finding it, I did as I had proclaimed. I reached for a book, placed my finger somewhere within it, and then made my way back towards the lights where I could read what I found.

My finger was placed in the center of one sentence from a random page of Kerry Cohen’s Loose Girl. I wish I could say the words came from Bram Stoker’s Dracula or any other classic work of horror instead, but Loose Girl was the book I selected, and I have not altered or added any details to this story to portray anything other than what happened. With that understanding, I read the words underlined by my finger: “we are the dead.”

This is the story behind the story of “Things in the Attic.” You can read an excerpt of it on Sandra’s Book Clubblog website here.

Keep it spooky,

-HvW