My haunted house

GremlinI woke up in the wee hours yesterday morning when something intruded on my sleep. You know what I mean… you wake up with the sense that something woke you, but you don’t know what it was. I lay there for a bit, and then the most peculiar sound came from somewhere in the house. It was a babble of voices, speaking what was recognizable as language, but which couldn’t be understood. Imagine Gremlins on helium. My wife remained mostly asleep, although she did mumble something like “wozzat?”

I got up quietly and walked out of the bedroom. Just as I reached the door, however, the voices stopped. I padded around the house a bit, but nothing was out of place or unusual. A couple of our cats showed up to see what I was doing, but that’s all. So I went back to bed. A few minutes later, the voices were back! I lay there again, going over in my mind all the things it could be: we have no pet toys that sound like that, all the computers were off, the TV was off… very odd, indeed! So I got up again, and again the voices stopped. I returned to bed, and this time the voices didn’t come back.

Of course, I knew there was a rational explanation, even if I didn’t know what it was. But it got me to thinking about how a more credulous person might respond- somebody raised with a belief system (like religion) that accepts the supernatural. Ghosts, perhaps? Time to call a shaman for a cleansing, or a priest for an exorcism?

The next day, I was setting something on a little table we have in the living room. Beside the usual assortment of sculptures were a bunch of birthday cards my wife had received over the previous week. One was lying flat, and when I set it up again… it started speaking in tongues! Indeed, it was a talking card, with a menagerie of cartoonish voices blathering away. The card was knocked over right where the cats like to sit and look out the window. So I had my explanation: a cat had knocked over the card, which started its playback. I went out to see what was up, and the cat heard me and moved, silencing the card. When the cat went back later, it started the card again. And again, the cat moved when I got up. Simple.

It’s always nice when we can explain something that was initially confusing. But even without a ready explanation, I wasn’t prepared to attribute the experience to anything too fantastic. I didn’t need an explanation to know that nothing magical or supernatural was happening. Yet the world is full of people who are perfectly happy to attribute supernatural causes to anything they can’t explain (and sadly, even some things that they can).

How many ghosts or gods were born in squeaky floorboards?

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