Newcastle , NSW Australia
Told to me by my uncle in 1988
When he was in his mid 20s one of my uncles, Lionel, lived with a house-mate in a small apartment house in the suburb of Maitland, near Newcastle back in the late 80’s. I forget the other guy’s name, so I’ll just call him Dave in this story.
Strange things began to happen in and around the house, and Lionel tells me it all started when, late one evening while watching television, they both could hear a distant metallic banging. The noise quickly became louder and closer, and soon it sounded like heavy footsteps running across the rooftops high above. From the loudest point directly above their heads, the banging continued on and faded off into the distance. What made this even more peculiar is the fact that the rooftops of those tenement houses were high-peaked with very steep slopes.
Above: kinda like this, I guess
This happened irregularly, but always late at night… on several occasions Lionel and Dave dashed outside as the first few distant footsteps were heard, but they never saw anything. After a few weeks, the phantom rooftop jogger stopped.
While this wasn’t too scary in itself, the house became really creepy one particular weekend when Lionel was jolted awake by the sound of the radio in the living room blasting music at full volume. He bolted out of bed, into the living room and switched it off. Dave came out from his room and Lionel, thinking that Dave was to blame said angrily, “What do you think you’re doing??” Dave was just as annoyed however… he thought it was Lionel who’d turned on the radio. They both went back to their beds, putting it down to some kind of weird coincidence.
Above: a rough floorplan of how I picture the house.
Following that night it happened four nights in a row, and each time it was in the small hours of the morning between about 2:30 and 4:00 am. A couple of times it was not just the radio, but the television and the lights in the living room as well. One of those nights, the radio came on and Lionel ran out into the bright living room and turned it off. In the silence that followed, he found that Dave wasn’t home. He was still out on the town partying, and the grim realization dawned on Lionel that he was alone in the house!
Now the house was an old place, so you can understand that one could not walk in a straight line without a few dozen floorboards creaking. Walking from the front door, down the hallway past the bedrooms and into the living room, it was impossible to do it silently.
Well, one particular night, a week or so after the radio/television incidents, Dave had gone to bed an hour or so earlier than Lionel. It was around midnight when Lionel finally turned off the television and the lights, and went to his own room.
Just as he was dropping off to sleep, he heard the hallway floor creaking. He looked and saw a tall, dark shape moving along the hall, past his doorway. Lionel was suddenly convinced that it was Dave sleepwalking, on his way to the living room to turn on the radio. He thought he would catch Dave in the act, so he crept to the door and peered down the dark hallway. Nothing and nobody was there. He started to creep toward the living room, when suddenly Dave emerged from his bedroom behind Lionel and turned on the hall light.
Above: Lionel creeping up the hallway
“So it’s you!” Dave accused him. Lionel leapt with fright and as he turned to face Dave, there was a loud crash out in the kitchen beyond the living room, like a window smashing. The first obvious thought was that someone was in the house, and was escaping now through the back. However, a check of the kitchen turned up nothing. No intruder, nothing broken.
When Lionel told Dave what he’d seen walking past his bedroom door, the two of them finally began to consider that the house may be haunted. As they went back through the living room to the hallway and stood talking, they gradually became aware of how cold the hallway had become, and no sooner had Dave commented than a dreadful smell filled the air. It smelled like rotting meat and Lionel told me it’s easily the worst thing he’s ever sniffed.
The creaking hallway happened a few more times after that night, and each time both guys could smell that dreadful cold, rotting meat. Not long after that, Dave had enough and decided to move out the very next weekend. Lionel decided that if he couldn’t get a new house-mate within a week or so, he’d move out too.
He put the word out to his friends, but no takers. Now it starts getting worse, because Lionel was now living alone in this horrible place. Surprisingly, not much happened for a few nights after Dave left, and Lionel began to think that maybe whatever it was, had played its tricks and moved on.
As you might expect though, Lionel was asleep one night when he heard a board creak in the hallway. He thought to himself, ‘This is it… I’m never going to get any peace unless I confront it’. He gathered a heap of courage, got out of bed and stepped into the cold, and now stinking hallway. He walked toward the front door and switched on the hall light, then began to walk back toward the dark living room. He stood at the entrance to the living room for a moment, and was about to reach for the switch when he heard a board creak behind him. He turned quickly to see a man towering over him, and as he spun to face it, Lionel’s elbow passed quietly through the man’s torso. He later told me that as his elbow passed through the man, it was cold like ice. The man was well over 6-feet in height, he had light-blue eyes, shoulder-length blonde hair, and wore only a pair of dark trousers. Lionel stammered, “what do you want?” and instantly the man vanished.
Above: my impression of the ghost, or the Cold Man.
Terrified, Lionel went to his room, left the light on and sat on his bed until sleep overtook him. When he was telling me this story, I found it very hard to understand how he could possibly stay in that house for another night, but he stayed there for several nights after.
The next day was a Friday… in the afternoon he arrived home from work, showered and went out clubbing with friends. He returned very late with a large group of them, and they continued drinking and partying in the house until dawn. The same happened on Saturday night, so the Sunday night was Lionel’s first night alone in the house since the appearance of the ghost three nights before.
He was sleeping soundly with the light on, when he was woken by the sound of the floor, and that dreadful smell. When he opened his eyes, he was facing the wall and could feel that someone was in the room. He turned his head to look over his shoulder and the ghost was standing beside the bed, that expressionless face looking down at him. Lionel froze, staring at the man’s face and after a second or two it vanished silently once again.
Knowing that it was certain to happen again, Lionel got his instant camera (remember this was long before digital cameras) and held it beside him in bed. Just before dawn, he was woken again and the man was standing, this time at the foot of the bed. He quickly pointed the camera and as the flash fired, the man vanished. That morning, he went to his brother’s house for breakfast, vowing never to sleep in that house again.
Lionel took the Monday off work and moved all his stuff over to his brother’s house, where he stayed until he found somewhere else. He told the photo processing house to print every exposed frame in the film. When he got the photos back, the one he’d taken at the foot of his bed showed nothing but white.
Lionel now lives on Queensland ‘s Gold Coast with a wife and kids.