Some houses are haunted by the spirits of the dead while others are haunted by the wickedness of the living. There are some houses, however, that play host to forces unaccountable to the human mind, forces that exist outside of space and time, reaching from somewhere beyond reality’s veil to slowly close around your throat.
When Marsha left the house that day in 1999, she didn’t expect to return so quickly. But, because she had forgotten her car keys, she found herself opening the front door and climbing the steps to her bedroom. Something else, something terrifyingly inexplicable, was also not expecting her to return.
“I never had any trouble in that place,” Marsha tells me. “I was happy there.”
Marsha’s house in Oakland, California was, in her opinion, happily unexceptional. She had lived there with her son and daughter for three years without incident.
On the day everything changed, Marsha was on her way to work after having packed the kids off on the bus. In the morning’s never-changing mayhem, Marsha had forgotten to grab her car keys, something she had done numerous times without consequence.
“When I put the house key in the lock and turned the knob,” Marsha recalls, “it just felt different – I don’t know – like a current was running though the door or something.”
The car keys were upstairs in Marsha’s bedroom and, as she turned to the staircase, Marsha heard a faint crackle, like a bad radio connection, from somewhere upstairs.
“I didn’t think much of it at the time,” Marsha tells me. “I thought it must be coming from outside or something.”
The noise grew stronger as Marsha climbed the steps. Turning to her bedroom, she saw a dim blue light frame the half-closed door. It was difficult to see in the morning light, but then Marsha realized that the sound was coming from her bedroom, too.
“I didn’t know what to do. Should I leave and call the cops?” Marsha tells me. “I should’ve left, I never should have gone in there.”
Marsha slowly pushed the door open and stared into her bedroom. The room was bathed in a strange blue light, as if the whole room were underwater, but Marsha couldn’t see where it was coming from.
But what she did see, what immediately arrested her attention and never let it go, was a hand, an arm outstretched, reaching from a point in the empty space above her bed.
“This thing – an arm – it was just hanging in the air,” Marsha remembers, “like it was reaching through a hole in the air.”
The arm was covered in a white plastic-like material, and Marsha could see a blue pulsing light deep within it. It twisted and turned, the fingers splayed and clenched as if seeking something blindly.
The upper arm terminated at a hazy, blurred point that was anchored in the air and seemed to define a plane, a boundary that marked a division between reality and something else.
“It looked like that part of the arm was fuzzy, the part where it just stopped,” Marsha recalls. “It reminded me of the heat coming off asphalt on a hot day.”
The arm’s movement was uncanny; it made strangely fluid-like movements but at the same time it was almost too rapid, too precise to be human. The arm pitched about, grasping the empty air. It swung around and hit the lamp on the bedside table, knocking it to the ground.
The arm seemed intrigued by this contact and it carefully searched the air where the lamp had been. It found the clock radio and the fingers gently explored its surface and Marsha thought she could see the hand express a kind of exotic wonder at the small upraised buttons.
Suddenly the fingers closed around the radio and the hand jerked up, retreating into the hole. Most of the arm disappeared into the invisible hole above the bed.
“There was an awful racket when that happened,” Marsha tells me. “It was a noise like a big pressure – an earthquake or a sonic boom.”
The clock radio, however, was still plugged in. Marsha could still see the radio as the hand tried to pull it through the hole but the angle of the cord kept it securely in the socket.
As the hand struggled to take the radio through the hole, Marsha could hear another sound behind the pressure wave – voices. Was it the voice of the owner of the strange arm? Or one of its controllers?
“I couldn’t make out any of what they were saying,” Marsha recalls. “But it sounded like a roomful of people shouting from very far away.”
There was a moment when the hand stopped pulling and a silence fell over the room and Marsha realized she was standing in her bedroom staring at half a clock radio stuck in the air and she almost laughed.
Then the arm moved again and the full length returned to the room. It twisted toward Marsha, reversing the angle that had caught the radio’s cord. The cord popped free and at first the arm disappeared into the hole and then the hand with Marsha’s clock radio and then the intransigent cord spiralled and vanished.
There was a flash of white and blue and a sound like a steel beam cracking and echoing in a space vast and empty and then it was all gone.
Although the incident left Marsha with a deep fear that the strange traveller will return, we are left with important questions we cannot answer.
Did the traveller breach the inky gulfs of space to reach Marsha’s home? Or did it somehow overcome the arrow of time and reach across years, centuries, millenia to recover an artifact? Or, more bizarrely, did it penetrate the barriers between dimensions, between realities? Was the arm that Marsha witnessed attached to a living thing? Or was it designed to look as human as possible so it might not unduly upset those from whom it took its souvenir?
Marsha’s question, however, is much more pressing. “I don’t care about my damn radio,” Marsha tells me, “but what if one of my kids had been there, what if it had grabbed them?”