Haunted by Memory

Ever since I could form and retain memories, I’ve had a handful of reoccurring nightmares that have always been a part of my life. They were never an every night sort of thing, and have drastically lessened in frequency as I have aged. However, often enough that thinking on their content is still vivid even to this day. For the most part, dreams are just random data your brain throws around during the process of sleep. I’ve never been one to really think that there is any deeper meaning to dreams other than it being the raw processing power of your brain without the governor of logic to interfere.

Up until last night, I actually haven’t had one of these dreams in almost five years. So long, in fact, I had almost a distant memory. But, without warning, when I closed my eyes last night, my brain sent me a very clear reminder. However, time changes things. While the dream was the same, my thoughts upon waking were different. Somehow, coming back to this dream, I realized, it wasn’t just fantasy. Somehow I realized that this dream was actually, at least in part, a childhood memory.

I’m at the end of a hallway. Not physically long to the eye, but it feels like it stretches out forever due to the familiar impending doom lurking in the shadows within its dark green walls. I’m coming back from somewhere; the kitchen, or maybe the bathroom? The hallway is dark, narrow and cold. At the opposite end lies my parents’ bedroom and the door is closed with no light peeking out from under the door. From there the hallway makes an abrupt left-hand turn, and I cannot see where it goes, but I know my room is just out of sight. Midway down the hall, between me and the end is a door on the right-hand side. Sometimes this is a closed door; sometimes it’s an open gaping black maw. But, there’s always a low growl coming from within. Steady and rhythmic with a foreboding feeling of danger. It’s late, and I shouldn’t be awake. Yet, here I am, and I need to get down this hallway and past the door.

I can hear my heart beat as I finally take steps forward to get down the hall. Even years later, even though all this feels familiar, I cannot stop the actions of the dream. Everything is remembered as it happens, but I never know what’s coming next until it has passed. Like a strange Déjà vu nagging at the back of my brain. As I make my way down the hall, the growling grows more intense and hostile. I realize it’s the sound of heavy breathing. I don’t want to look at the door, this time open, because I’m horrified of what I might see. But, I have to know. I look into the black anyway, my feet slow and not gaining any ground. From the darkness I see a pair of red glowing eyes staring back at me from the low depths of the house. As I focus, the horror builds to a climax as a loud BANG, as loud as two cars colliding head-on, rings out from the darkness.

Instantly, every time, I snap awake. I can still hear the sound of the bang ringing out in my ears in my quiet room. And, for a moment, I can still see the red eyes glowing from the shadows of my room. Even as an adult I don’t feel safe again until I turn on the light for a moment.

It’s a simple dream, hardly much to think about, but debilitating none the less. One of those moments where the anticipation and expectation are far scarier than the actual conflict. It’s obviously the fears of a young child that have tucked its way into the back regions of my brain, only to be unlocked when certain chemicals and signals align. It’s been there since I could remember dreams, and I never thought much about it. The hallway and images in the dream were never present in anywhere my family ever lived that I could remember. Obviously the result of an over productive imagination.

It wasn’t until recently in my life that I became interested in the real possibility of paranormal activity after an experience I had as an adult. Until that moment, I had just never really given much consideration to the idea that things like that could happen. Over the past few years, I have experienced some things that have caused me to question what I know about the world and made me look deeper into things. However, I have maintained for the most part that my life to that point had remained relatively mundane in the sense that I had never had an experience before. However, after reflecting on this nightmare, which I had not experienced in years, made me think on it in a completely new context and cause me to recall a bit of information I had forgotten over the years.

Sometime around the age of eighteen or nineteen, during a conversation with my dad, I found out that the house I remember living in during my first six years on this planet was not actually the first house I lived. As it turns out, we had actually lived elsewhere for about a year. The time was so short, and I was still a baby, so there was no reason to think I would ever remember such a thing. My dad had told me that the house was cheap, and I was only a baby, but we had quickly moved due to an experience my mom had while staying home to take care of me while he was at work. After confirming with my mom, I learned a few new details. It was a slow escalation of events, not just one thing. She claimed to hear strange noises, catch fleeting glimpses, and get a funny feeling in the house. But, it was only after she saw the Dearborn Heater jump a foot off the floor I was immediately whisked away to the neighbor’s house until my dad got home. Within a week our family had moved out of the house into a new neighborhood. And that’s all I knew about it.

It was one of those things I never really paid much thought to. After all, I was so little how I could possibly remember any of it. However, it would be years later in my thirties I would discover something about myself that should have been obvious. During some testing, by chance, I discovered that I have a photographic memory. Looking back on my life, it seems like it would have been obvious. But, the problem is that photographic memories do not work as it is depicted in movies. I’m not Rainman by any stretch of the imagination, but I do possess a very high rate of accuracy in my memory recall. It would be later during a conversation with my dad, not long before he passed away, we would have a conversation about nightmares.

As a kid, he suffered from a similar affliction that he grew out of. Since then he had always had a particular interest in dreams, nightmares, and sleep science. Talking about my reoccurring dreams, the one of me in the hallway came up. As I described the dream and some of the other elements surrounding it, he remarked how familiar it sounded. He asked me if I remembered that we had lived in the house on Blandin Street when I was just a baby. As it turned out it had a short hallway that abruptly turned in an “L” shape. The room at the end of the hall was one of two bedrooms in the house. My room would have been located at the end. In the middle of the hall would have been the storage closet also containing the access to the crawl space. The house was a faded green sort of color with brown carpet. All things I had remembered from my dream with only slight variance. I realized that the dream I had was related to a very real place I saw and experienced while my brain was developing. Through it becoming a reoccurring dream, the memory stuck with me all the way into adult life, allowing me to remember details that I shouldn’t be able to recall. It’s likely when I think back on those details I actually recall the dream rather than the reality, but none the less far more accurate than a usual memory from that age.

Until last night, I haven’t thought on any of that in probably five years. But, having that dream was startling and out of the blue. But, what was different? The answer is me. Since before the last time I have had that dream I have become more involved in the world of paranormal research. Nowadays when I reflect on experiences and memories, I’m looking at it through the lens of “Was there a paranormal element I was previously ignoring?”

Needing a refresher, I texted my mom about the Blandin story. Ironically I had never heard it from her side before. I found out that the house had always had a strange feeling from the moment they moved in. Not only had she caught glimpses of something, but had seen full-bodied apparitions in the mirrors. It never seemed harmful, so it was never a cause for alarm. After all, she grew up in a house having similar experiences. But it wasn’t until she saw the heater jump that she felt anything was dangerous. She also mentioned for the first time that I was terrified of my closet and would not calm down until the door was closed. I also found out today that I had one birthday and two Christmases in that house, and was able to walk and wander off on my own if left unwatched for even a minute before we moved out.

You may already be ahead of me on this. I was wondering if the more fanciful parts of my dream were somehow related to memory rather than just fabricated. I did some research on the address. Looking it up on the street view online it didn’t really conjure up any memories. But, after I saw some of the previously listed interior pictures when it was last listed for rent, I was floored by the familiarity of the hallway layout and some key features still in-tact from the last 36 years. I looked up some records and found the house was built in 1950 and has changed owners tons of times over the years. There were no records of crime, fire, damage, or death that could be found. I looked through some local channels and couldn’t find anyone I knew of that had investigated the house for paranormal activity.

The memories of the house are vivid and shockingly accurate. What happened all those years ago to cause those memories to manifest in the form of a nightmare? Other than the experiences of my parents, there is no evidence to suggest the house was active. But, something stuck in my mind and called out from the dark reassess of my brain. Could there have been something there all those years ago? I’ve put the house on my watch list on Zillow for the next time it becomes available. It would be worth it just to take a walk of the property. Until then, all I can do is wait.

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