“I’ve got another one for you,” Biddy declared. “I think this one might actually be the real deal.”
“A demon?” I asked before taking a bite of my Busy Bar.
“What the hell are you eating?”
“A snack bar, my cousin Greg makes them. They’re really good. Here,” I handed her a little piece of the protein bar.
Biddy scrunched her nose but accepted the bite. “Actually, that’s not bad.”
“Get ‘em on Amazon. Anyway, you think you might have found a real demon case?”
“Maybe, the house is on Washington Street close to St. John’s,” she explained, eyebrows raised.
“Coincidence?” I suggested.
“Maybe, but the family is actually in a rental. They moved in about three months ago and things escalated quickly.”
“Is one of them possessed? I’m not coming with you if someone is possessed.”
“No one is possessed,” Biddy assured me. “I think the family might be under oppression, though. It’s suspected that the house might have a demonic infestation. That’s why the church asked me to interview them and determine if they are good candidates for an exorcism. From what I understand they’ve already passed the medical and psychological interviews.”
“I don’t know, are you sure it’s safe?” I asked.
“You’ve got your necklace, I’ve got holy water and we’ll say a prayer of protection before we go in. It’ll be fine.”
I took another bite of my bar, considering. It was tempting. Out of all the paranormal creepers that I’d heard of it was the demonic that had me the most intrigued. And terrified. “Can you get me my own bottle of holy water?” I asked.
“Alright, I’ll go, as long as you really think nothing can follow us home. I don’t need anything else creeping around my house.”
“Yeah, speaking of that, any more dolls?’
“No, no dolls. But someone keeps moving the Adirondack chairs in our front yard around. Maybe it’s the landscapers or a neighbor, but the chairs are always arranged so that they’re facing the house.”
“You’re recording our conversation right?” Biddy asked.
Biddy picked up my digital recorder and held it in front of her mouth. Slowly and deliberately she said, “And then Biddy told me to get my head out of my ass and call ADT to install security cameras.”
“So what do you think we should do?”
Shannon Coursey, a trim little brunette wearing skinny jeans and a navy blue cardigan over a plaid button down looked at me intently.
“I’m not sure,” I said, glancing over at Biddy.
“I thought you were the Wellesley paranormal woman.”
Clearly agitated, Shannon shifted in her seat, an off-white overstuffed boxy thing that reminded me of a beach house. Next to her, her husband Doug watched his wife nervously from a matching chair.
And next to me on the couch Biddy jumped into the conversation. “As I explained to Doug on the phone, Liz is here because she is knowledgeable about hauntings in Wellesley as she maintains a blog on the subject. I’m sure we’ll be able to offer insight once we have a clear picture of your predicament. Doug, you indicated that you were interested in having your story recorded for Liz’s blog, yes?”
Doug looked like a deer in the headlights. Shannon’s agitation turned on her husband, “We’re going to be on a blog, Doug?”
“No, no! I mean yes. This is all a part of it honey,” he stammered. Then he pointed at Biddy, “She’s here representing the Catholic Church. These people know what they’re doing.”
“I am here to produce a report for the Church in which I will provide information to help them determine whether or not your problem is demonic in nature,” Biddy clarified.
“But what do you do then?” Shannon asked me.
I glanced at Biddy for reassurance. Women like Shannon wig me out. Biddy sat up taller in the seat, prompting me to do the same. I said, “I’m collecting ghost stories and other paranormal, uh, situations, here in town. I was hoping to record your interview but that doesn’t mean I have to publish it on the blog,” I hesitated for a moment, looking between the couple. “Look, there are a lot of people like you in Wellesley. You definitely aren’t alone. Biddy helped me when I had a problem in my house and I’ve seen her help other people. You can trust us.”
Shannon took a deep breath. “I didn’t know there were other people in town having the same issue.”
“Well, not exactly the same problem, there are lots of other paranormal problems in town, like monsters and stuff but I have spoken to neighbors who were demonically influenced in one way or another.”
Shannon turned and looked squarely at her husband. “That would have been nice to know when we were deciding between Wellesley and Weston.”
“You loved the house,” Doug pointed out weakly.
“Our house,” Shannon hissed. “I loved our house, not this hell hole.”
“How long have you been in this house?” I asked.
“Three months,” Doug said quietly.
“The longest three months of my life,” added Shannon.
“Why did you move here?”
“We moved to Wellesley about a year ago, to a house over on Swarthmore Road.”
“Near the Woodlawn Cemetery,” Doug pointed out.
“Boops,” I said without thinking.
Biddy gave me a look. I smiled and shook my head. “Sorry.”
“There isn’t any problem with that house,” Doug insisted.
“Other than the fact that our construction project has taken about three times as long as promised,” Shannon swiped.
“I know, honey, but if we keep on adding on projects every time we visit the house then it will continue to push the completion date back, won’t it?” Doug pointed out.
“How long did you rent this house for?” I asked.
“Six months,” the couple said in unison.
“So you’re halfway there,” I reasoned. “If things are so bad here why don’t you just break the lease and go to a hotel or something until the work on your home is finished?”
The couple exchanged a look. “Because it’s attached to us,” Doug replied.
“How do you know that?”
“We tried going to stay with my parents and it followed us,” Shannon explained.
Biddy turned to me, her tone serious she asked, “Are you wearing your St. Benedict medal?”
I nodded my head and fought the urge to walk out of the house. Biddy turned back to the couple who appeared to have forgotten how irritated they were with one another as they watched our exchange.
Biddy retrieved a small black notebook and a pen from her canvas tote. She opened the notebook to a blank page and wrote, in neat script,
Shannon and Doug Coursey
- Entity followed couple from rental property to S’s parent’s house –
She glanced up and directed a question at Shannon. “Where do your parents live?”
Biddy looked back down and added,
…out of state to Greenwich, CT
“Is that important? That it can travel to Connecticut?” Doug asked.
“It’s concerning that the entity is so attached to your family that it is able to follow you out of this house. So yes, it’s very important,” Biddy replied seriously.
We all sat in silence for a moment.
“Tell me how you landed in this rental,” Biddy prompted.
“He found it on Craigslist,” Shannon said.
“We were desperate and you hated every other option we looked at,” Doug whined.
“One was a fully furnished mansion over off Cliff Road, I wasn’t going to let our eighteen month old loose on the place. The other two were disgusting. They should have been torn down. I wasn’t going to bring a newborn into a mold infestation.”
“We could have gone to the Residence Inn,” Doug tried.
“So Bailey would have been on a pullout couch and the baby would be in with us? Yeah, no.”
Biddy jumped in. “Tell us about the Craigslist ad.”
“The place was listed under ‘for rent by owner,’ I called and the first thing the landlord asked was whether or not we had kids. I definitely got the vibe that she didn’t want kids living in the house. The thing was, construction was set to start on our home the following week so we had to find someplace stat. I convinced the woman, her name’s Susan McCormack, to show me the place.”
“I was at a tumbling class with Bailey while all this communication was happening,” Shannon informed us, as if it mattered.
“Where do you work?” Biddy asked Doug, ignoring Shannon’s comment.
“In the city?”
“Alright, so when you walked through the house with the landlord. Did she tell you anything about the home’s history or why it was being rented?”
Doug considered a moment, “Actually, she did.” He glanced nervously over at his wife.
“What?” Shannon demanded.
“Nothing bad. Susan and her husband bought the house from St. John’s,” he said as he motioned out the front window. The large Catholic church sat about a block away and across the street from the house. Without meaning to I groaned.
“Is that bad?” Shannon asked.
“Not necessarily,” Biddy replied unconvincingly. “Did the landlord tell you anything about the circumstances of the sale?” She asked making another note.
Doug avoided his wife’s glare. “She told me the house had been vacant for a good while before she and her husband bought it from the church. She said they’d had to do quite a bit of work to clean up the place and had intended to live in it themselves but decided to just stay in Poet’s Corners and rent the house instead.”
“Any mention of exactly what ‘cleaning the place up’ entailed?” asked Biddy.
“Uh, well she said the basement was a disaster, but we don’t really ever go down there anymore so that’s okay, and uh, I think they had to repaint everything, you know?” Doug had become shifty eyed.
Biddy sat back in her seat and Shannon leaned towards her husband, “What else did she tell you Doug?”
The poor man looked terrified. “Nothing that bad, I-”
Biddy cut him off, “Look guys, you’re going to need to tell me everything that you know about this house if you hope to even have a ghost of a chance of qualifying for a home exorcism. The Church doesn’t waste its time on simple hauntings.”
Doug slumped in his chair. “The house sat vacant for twenty-three years before the Church put it up for sale. The McCormacks told me that in 2014 they bought it at auction so they were unable to walk through it before the purchase. Susan said the living area was in pretty good shape, except for some graffiti on the walls-”
“Graffiti?” I interrupted, surprised.
“Yeah, high school kids had been breaking in and partying in the house for some time.”
“No one checked in on the place? I mean we’re on a super busy road and the church is like, right there,” I pointed out.
Doug shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess the caretakers or whatever must have thought it was locked up tight. But Susan told me the basement was in bad shape. The kids had painted the walls red and black and there were a bunch of symbols painted on the floor.”
“Symbols,” Biddy said in a tone that told me her eyebrows had moved far up her forehead.
Doug sighed, “Pentagrams.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me, Doug,” Shannon seethed.
I jumped in before they could begin bickering again, “What exactly has happened in this house since you guys moved in? What scared you?”
Shannon sighed dramatically. “The lights were the first noticeable issue. We’re literally blowing fuses constantly. Sometimes the lights do this weird thing where they burn really bright and then dim down until they go out completely. It’s really annoying. And the basement is the worst, I hate it down there. It’s finished so it’s not like it’s a dungeon or anything, but it’s still awful. I mean, there is one unfinished section where the boiler and breaker box and laundry are located. I did one load of laundry down there and it felt like someone was watching me the entire time.”
“Anything besides a spooky feeling happening down there?” Biddy asked, scribbling away in her notebook.
The couple exchanged another look, “Something growled at me,” Shannon admitted.
“What now?” I breathed.
“When we first moved in we thought it would make for a good play space for Bailey. I’d just put Jeremy down for a nap and Bailey and I were down there pretending with her Little People figures. I was leaned up against the wall next to the door that leads to the unfinished section of the basement when something on the other side of that door growled at me. It was loud and I honestly thought that there was, like a wolf or some big dog in the house.”
“Yeah, I jumped up and grabbed Bailey and ran upstairs. I closed and locked the door behind me and then went right up to Jeremy’s room to check on him. He was still sound asleep. So I closed his door then closed Bailey and I in her room and called animal control.”
“No!” I exclaimed.
“Of course I did,” she snapped. “This really sweet woman, um-”
“Sue Webb?” I interrupted.
“Yeah, that’s her, Sue. She came over pretty quickly and went right down to the basement and was down there for about ten minutes but when she came up she told me she hadn’t found anything. She said she carefully checked along all the walls and the bulkhead to see if there were any places where an animal could either hide or slip into the house, but she couldn’t find anything like that. She was certain there was no way an animal could get inside let alone escape from the room. Honestly, like that’s when I started to get really scared, I mean I know what I heard. It was a large animal, it sounded, like predatory. I know Sue believed me, she wasn’t treating me like I was hysterical or anything, but she couldn’t do anything to help, you know?”
“That is terrifying,” I commented dumbly.
“Is that the only time you heard growling?” Biddy asked, her voice tight.
“No. That was just the first time.”
“Always in the basement?”
“No, I heard it in the mud room once and one time when I was on the phone with my sister it was behind me in the kitchen.”
“That’s the other thing,” Doug added.
“What?” Shannon asked annoyed.
“The phone. We have trouble with the landline. I mean, we use our cell phones for everything no one we know has the number for the landline. But we get these weird calls, at least a couple of times a week. It’s always this man who sounds like he’s talking really really fast, you can’t understand anything he’s saying.”
“But you can tell that he’s frightened,” Shannon added. “I always feel like he is trying to tell me something, or like, warn me. It’s really unsettling. I’ve tried ignoring the phone or just picking it up and then hanging up, you know? But until one of us answers it just keeps on ringing.”
“That is so creepy,” I said.
“It’s the worst,” Shannon agreed. “We hear noises all the time, especially at night after we’ve put the kids to bed. There’s knocking and shuffling on the stairs and sometimes when I am home alone during the day with the kids I’ll hear this, like, whispering. It’s really faint and it always sounds like it is in the next room over. Like, if I’m in the kitchen I’ll hear it coming from the dining room. It sounds like there are people whispering something to each other, I can’t tell what they are saying but it sounds like they are excited about something.”
“So the whispering moves throughout the house?” Biddy asked.
“Well, actually it moves throughout the first floor,” Shannon clarified. “I’ve never heard it upstairs. But the noises, like the knocking and shuffling and everything, that happens everywhere.”
“Just at night?” Biddy asked right before we all heard a loud bang come from the fireplace.
I froze, my fight or flight instinct screaming at me to get the hell out of there.
“That happens sometimes,” Doug said wide-eyed.
“What in the hell was that?” I demanded.
“Well, sometimes something bangs on the flue like that,” he replied.
I looked at Biddy, “What do you think? We have enough information, right? Maybe we should wrap this up?”
Ignoring me she asked the couple, “Is the entity interactive? I mean if you ask it to make a noise or even move something will it respond?”
“I’ve told the whispers to shut up before and they stopped,” Shannon replied.
Biddy scribbled on her notepad. I was in too much of a panic to look at what she was writing. I wanted out of that house. The vibe had shifted, I don’t know how to explain it other than it didn’t feel like there were only four of us in that room. Biddy and I were on a couch with a large window behind it, I had this feeling that something was outside looking in at us. At the same time I felt as though someone was crouched behind Shannon’s chair. Really. I imagined someone there, crouched down, listening in on our conversation.
“The haunting appears to be primarily auditory, is that accurate?” Biddy asked.
“You mean, like, we are only hearing things?” Shannon asked.
“Correct, are you mostly plagued by phantom noises?”
“No,” Doug replied. “We see things.”
Holy Mary Mother of God, I thought, We need to get out of here. Ghosts and monsters were one thing, but demons are just too much, too evil. I didn’t completely trust that Biddy’s holy water would keep the beings from following us home and I didn’t know if we’d already doomed ourselves just by being there.
“What have you seen?” Biddy asked. She wasn’t messing around any more, not that she ever does really on her interviews, but her tone and demeanor had changed. I knew that she believed demonic hauntings were rare. That people often jumped to the conclusion that the devil was in their home when another explanation was more appropriate. But I sensed her growing tension and it made my tension skyrocket. I realized that I was gripping one of the Coursey’s throw pillows in my lap as if it could offer me any protection.
“There’s a woman in this house. She doesn’t look like a ghost or anything, she looks like a real person. She’s awful,” Shannon told us.
“I saw her when we were at Shannon’s parent’s house in Connecticut. That’s how we knew it had followed us,” Doug added.
“Tell me about the first time she appeared to you and then detail the subsequent sightings,” Biddy instructed.
“I was in Jeremy’s room rocking him after he’d finished his bottle. It was about eleven o’clock and Doug was downstairs watching television. I had the noise machine on so it wasn’t that I heard anything, it was more that I sort of sensed that someone was in the hallway just beyond Jeremy’s doorway.
“The door was open and I’d left the bathroom light on so the hallway was dim but I could see it clearly. I got this really weird, like agitated feeling. I was scared and mad at the same time. I mean was exhausted and just wanted to put the baby down so I could go to sleep, but I knew something wasn’t right. I stopped rocking Jeremy and whispered Doug’s name, hoping it was him out there. Then there were these heavy footsteps in the hallway, like a man in work boots. I was absolutely frozen in place staring at the open doorway and that’s when I saw her.
“She’s a young girl, maybe fifteen? And she wears a plaid flannel shirt and Doc Martins. You know how we used to dress when grunge was cool? That’s what she looks like. She has this long wavy brown hair that is so greasy it’s stringy and she’s thin, too thin really. Her jeans sort of hang off of her.
“So that night she slowly walked past the doorway and my brain just like, stopped working for a second. I thought maybe a teenager from the neighborhood had come into the house but it didn’t make any sense. Just before she passed the doorway she turned and looked towards me and the baby. She didn’t have a face.”
“No,” I breathed. My chest tight with fear.
“She was headed towards Bailey’s room and I had to do something. I got up and tiptoed to the doorway and forced myself to look out into the hall but she was gone. I rushed to Bailey’s bedroom and found her sound asleep. So I went to the top of the stairs and called down to Doug. After he made sure that girl wasn’t in our bedroom we brought Bailey and the baby in there and then we called the police. They didn’t find anything. Of course I didn’t mention that she didn’t have a face. In fact, I didn’t even tell Doug that that night.”
“I didn’t know about the face thing until I saw her myself,” Doug added. “I was taking the garbage out at my in-laws place. They are basically in the middle of the woods. Anyway, I dragged the garbage bins down to the end of their long driveway and when I was walking back to the house I saw something step out from the shadows at side of their garage. It was a young girl, a teenager. She had on the same clothing that Shannon described. The girl just stood there, staring down at the ground with her hands in her pockets.
“It was really freaky, man. I stood there like an idiot watching her for a minute then I called out to her, I said something like, ‘Hey kid, what’s up?’ and she just shrugged her shoulders. I was, I mean, honestly? I was fucking terrified. It didn’t make any logical sense to be scared of a young girl standing in the driveway but something wasn’t right about her. I could feel it. I didn’t want to take another step towards her. So I called out to her again, like ‘Do you need help?’ And then she looked up.
“Her hair covered her face until she tilted her head up completely to the sky and then I saw that her face didn’t have any features. It was dark out but there was light from the house, you know? It wasn’t some optical illusion. She didn’t have a face.”
“Jesus, why didn’t you lead with this?” I demanded, shocked.
“Because it sounds ridiculous!” Shannon yelled. “We know how insane this sounds. After Doug saw her at my parents house the noises and shuffling started up in their home. So we had no choice, we left and came back here. It’s like trapped. So please tell us how to fucking get rid of it.”
“Honey, settle down,” Doug said in a low voice.
“No Doug, you settle the fuck down. I’m going to get as shrill as I fucking have to until someone helps us!” With that she got up and stormed out of the room leaving us to stare awkwardly at one another.
Biddy looked down at her notes and made a few additions to the writing.
Doug was looking down at his hands which were gripped together in his lap.
I shifted in my seat awkwardly and asked, “What do you think is actually haunting this place? You think it is demonic?”
Doug glanced over his shoulder towards the doorway through which his wife had stormed. “Look,” he said in a forced whisper, running his hands over his Matt Lauer haircut, “Shannon doesn’t know everything, okay? I suspected the girl we were seeing in the house was just a ghost, you know? Like maybe she had a message for us or something. So I did a few Google searches for missing teenagers in the area to see what turned up.
“I went through old news reports until I came across this one article, it was a memorial piece written in nineteen-ninety-eight, five years after the body of a young girl was found in the woods off the Centennial Reservation trail. The article gave an overview of the circumstances and reported that the case was still open, no suspects had ever been arrested. The victim, a fifteen-year-old sophomore from Wayland had been stabbed over 200 times by four different blades. It was believed that the killing was ritualistic.”
“Oh my God,” I breathed, horrified. “How have I never heard about this?”
“Small towns hold big secrets,” Biddy murmured. “But why do you think this has something to do with your house?”
“The girl’s name, Amy Tuttle, it was written in the middle of one of the pentagrams painted on the floor in the basement.”
“You said your landlord cleaned everything up down there before you moved in,” I pointed out suspiciously.
“The McCormacks photographed the entire interior of the house before they began the renovation,” Doug replied. “When I talked to them about the problems we were having in the house and they mentioned the state the basement was in when they bought the place they said something to me like, ‘You should see the photos we took.’ So I asked to see them.
“When I found the article about the girl I remembered that the name ‘Amy’ had been painted inside one of the pentagrams the McCormacks had photographed. So I asked to see the pictures again and that’s when I saw that someone had actually painted ‘Amy T’ within the symbol.”
“Oh my God, you think that girl was killed in your basement?”
“I do. I’m trying to convince Bruce to turn the photos over to the police, but he’s dragging his feet.”
“Who the hell is Bruce?” I asked, my mind spinning with all the details being thrown at us.
“Bruce McCormack. Susan’s husband,” Doug replied and I could almost feel Biddy roll her eyes at me.
“Anyhow, that’s why I contacted the Catholic Church to help us. Shannon wanted to see if we could find one of those ghost hunting teams or a psychic to come to the house. But I knew we needed an expert.
“So, to answer your question,” he said, looking at me, “I think there is a demon in this house. I think a bunch of kids pretending to be Satanists killed that girl in this basement,” he pointed to the floor under his feet, “and they opened a doorway they had no idea how to close. The thing they brought into the world is attached to my family and it disguises itself as that little girl.”
“Holy shit,” I breathed.
Right then Shannon stepped out from behind the doorway. “You son of a bitch!” She spat.
I screamed. I mean I fully screamed out loud and look, I’m not proud of this, but at least we know my reflexes are on point. Without thinking, I took the pillow I had been white knuckling in my lap and threw it at Shannon. Hard. It hit her square in the face.
“What is wrong with you?” She yelled.
“I am so so sorry! You startled me!”
Shannon ignored my apology and tore into her husband about keeping the information about the murdered girl from her. She’d been listening to his story from the other room. As she yelled at him and he defended himself I became aware that the lights in the living room were growing brighter and brighter.
I gripped Biddy’s arm and said, “Look,” and pointed to a glowing lamp on a side table.
She crossed herself and closed her eyes. Instinctively, I grasped my St. Benedict medal.
And then the lights went out.
It wasn’t completely dark outside, but it was getting there. We could all see one another in the dim and shadowed room and the effect was eerie.
“I can’t be here anymore,” I said after several deafening moments of silence.
Biddy insisted that we stay with Shannon while Doug attended to the fuse box, but you best believe we hightailed it out of there shortly after.
Here’s the thing. You know, I’ve been asked to share the actual recordings of my interviews with you all so you could hear past EVPs that I’ve caught on my digital recorder. I’ve turned down those requests because I can’t out my neighbors. This is a small town and it is easy enough to connect the dots without hearing their actual voices.
If you want proof that EVPs are real, just go online. You’ll find thousands. But be careful what you wish for, those raspy, disembodied voices are hard to get out of your head.
There are EVPs on my recording of the Coursey’s interview. But I didn’t catch any voices. I caught a growls. Several of them, and they are distinct and menacing. They are so clear in fact that it sounds as if there was a pet wolf sitting next to my digital recorder for our entire conversation.
I did have the urge to share the audio with you. I intended to isolate the growls in the recording to protect Doug and Shannon’s voices from being recognized. I did my whole [text in brackets] deal throughout the story to indicate where the growls had occurred in the recording and I had a moment where I thought it would be a good idea to play the recordings for you at the end of this story.
So you would know that it was real.
So that you would be as terrified as I was when I heard them.
But then I took the brackets out of the story. And then I deleted the recording of the Coursey’s interview because I think that whatever is in that house, and let’s not kid ourselves, it’s a demon and an incredibly powerful one at that, it wants you to hear its voice. It wants me to show you how real and how powerful it is and I’m not going to do that.