The following is a true story, adapted from a 1921 edition of the American Journal of Ophthalmology.
On November 15, 1921, Mrs. H, her husband Mr. H, and their son B moved into a fixer upper. The home had been sitting empty and had fallen into disrepair. There was no electricity, it relied on gas lights. The house felt gloomy, and not like a home at all. But still they were excited, they had vision and were excited for the possibilities of the future. However, their journey wasn’t quite what they were expecting.
A few days after moving into the home they felt the heavy weight of gloom rest on their shoulders. They felt depressed and their vision of their exciting future began to fade. The house was overpoweringly quiet. The servants walked about on thickly carpeted floors so quietly you could not hear them move about as they were at their work.
One morning Mrs. H heard footsteps above her and went to investigate who was above her, only to discover that the room was empty. As was the room above that one. She was in fact the only living soul in that wing of the house.
Mrs. H grew increasingly worried. She heard loud noises coming from the store room in the middle of the night. As if the furniture was being piled high and the china was moving about. She occasionally heard the wailing of some tortured soul or a fearful sigh. And she couldn’t shake the foreboding feeling of being followed as she walked the halls. She knew she must be crazy, but it was so real.
She became increasingly worried for her family one morning when her son B came running into her room, asking why she had called for him. When she told him she had not called for him, that it must have been the wind rattling the windows, his eyes grew wide and startled. “No,” he insisted. “It was not that. It was somebody that called me. Who was it?” And so on and so forth, demanding an explanation. But there was none to give.
It was getting worse. In the middle of the night their sheets were jerked off. And Mrs. H began feeling mysterious aches, as if she had been struck on the shoulder. One night she awoke to find a man and woman sitting at the foot of her bed. The woman was young, dark and slight, wearing a large picture hat. She lay in her bed paralyzed, unable to move or call out. She was terrified.
Finally after a few months of this, Mr. H’s brother, concerned for their health wrote to them of a story he heard of a family being poisoned by carbon monoxide. So Mr. & Mrs. H brought their story to a university professor. A few quick test revealed that the carbon monoxide from their furnace had been venting into their home instead of up the chimney. A quick fix. And all the ghostly haunting disappeared.
Carbon monoxide fumes account for all the symptoms. It can cause all manner of hallucinations. Audio, visual, feeling strange things on their skin when there was nothing there. People often report they hear noises in their ears, bells ringing, rushing sounds. And they weren’t just coming from the furnace. The gas used for those gas lamps were giving off as much carbon monoxide as the exhaust from a car.
Happy Halloween & remember to check your carbon monoxide alarms. The effects can be haunting, please stay safe!