Stormy Night in an Abandoned House

As I have stated on previous occasions, I have had several encounters with the supernatural in my life.  Most of it started during my early youth and on up to my early 20s.  At age 62 the only supernatural event in my life is waking up each morning to discover I'm alive for another day. The story I'm about to share concerns my time when I lived in the southern most part of Alabama.  I lived not far from Kali Oka Road which is where my story on the Legend of Crybaby Bridge originated.  This story happened when I was 15 years old about two weeks before Christmas in 1966.   There's nothing really supernatural/paranormal that took place in this story.  Well, that's not completely true.  I'll let you be the judge on that toward the end of the story.

One of the things my little brother and I loved to do as youngsters was go coon hunting at night.  We usually would have my friend Charlie join us for these weekend excursions deep into the woods in south Alabama.  Unfortunately, my buddy Charlie couldn't accompany us this time. Coon hunting is a greatly respected sport in the South.  The fur is very valuable and some people eat the meat.  I wasn't one of them.  I went coon hunting the first time when I was all of 8 years old.  I kept doing it until I joined the Navy at age 19. I just lost interest after that.  I was never much of a hunter.  I see no sport in it now.  Anyway, on a late Saturday afternoon, just before sundown, in December of 1966, my brother started pushing me to go coon hunting with him.  He didn't have to push very hard.  I went to get my .20 gauge shotgun and Ben got his .410 shotgun.  We loaded up our shells, canteens, some sandwiches, snacks and headed out.  Well, of course, first we had to talk Mama into letting us go.  She knew these types of hunting expeditions could last all night.  So, she said we would have  until 6AM Sunday morning to be home.  "If you're not home in time to shower, get dressed for church, I'll send your Daddy looking for you.  You know he won't be happy to do that," our mother said to us.  With that thought in mind, we set out about 5PM.  It was nearly dark.  All we had was our black and tan beagle "Mister" and a black, Heinz 57 that took up at our house who we named "Shooter."  I don't remember why we named him Shooter.  But, he was a great dog and a damn good coon hunting dog as I recall.

Mister and Shooter set out sniffing everything as we took off into the woods for our Saturday night Coon Hunting adventure.  I guess we had been hunting about two hours when Mister let out that wail that Beagles are famous for doing.  Both he and Shooter took off.  We trailed as  best we could with our flashlights.  But, it was difficult to do.  Pretty soon, we lost track of them completely.  No howls or anything from them.  That kind of bothered me.  Both Ben and I hollered and yelled for the dogs.  We did not hear a thing.  Now, I was completely unnerved.  Those dogs should be howling and we should be able to hear them.  As we continued to search in the darkness, I heard the familiar, distant "boom" of thunder.  Like idiots, neither one of us checked to see if it was supposed to rain that night.  "David, we better find shelter soon.  I'm just now getting over that cold", said Ben.  He was right. Being out in the open like this with a winter rainstorm on the way was nothing to ignore.  I was worried about Mister and Shooter.  But, my more immediate concern was finding a place out of the impending rainstorm.  Ben mentioned the old Milsap House that  wasn't far from us.  The Milsap House belonged to a John and Mary Milsap.  They lived deep in the woods all their lives.  They never had children and rarely engaged in conversation with folks as I was told.  Both had been dead for about 10 years or more.  Mrs Milsap died of Cancer and Mr. Milsap committed suicide not long after she died.  It was very tragic and few folks liked talking about it.  They came to town rarely to buy a few things.  Other than that, no one ever saw them.

So, Ben and I decided to head toward the old Misap House as the heavy smell of rain in the air became thicker.  We had walked  about 20 minutes when the outline of the house came into view.  We made it up to the big front porch and hesitated.  No one ever came here.  None of the windows were broken out, the door was still locked from over 10 years ago.  Ben said we should just stay out on the front porch.  He did not want to break into the house.  I told him we didn't know how long this storm was going to last.  We needed to get in the house.  So, I took out my hunting knife and jimmied the lock.  The lock gave way easy....too easy as I remember now.   We both came into the house to find the all too familiar sheets over furniture like you see in any house that is not occupied.  As we focused our flashlights on the fireplace, the heavens just literally opened up outside.  I mean it was pouring down rain.  It was also getting cold.  I didn't expect none of this.  Missing dogs, heavy rain and cold(er) weather.  The only good thing was that there was firewood and some kindling.  After about 15 minutes, I was able to get a fire going that helped take away some of the cold in the house.  Ben and I sat down in a couple of chairs that Mr and Mrs Milsap must have used when they sat in front of the fireplace.  The fire felt good and the old house was starting to warm up somewhat.  "David, what do you suppose happened to Mister and Shooter", my very nervous little brother asked me.  "I don't know, Ben.  I can't figure that out.  They may have got turned around and went off in the wrong direction", I told Ben.  I didn't really believe that, of course.  It's highly unlikely that a beagle couldn't sniff his way back the way he came.  That really worried me.

The Milsap House was spooky as you probably can imagine.  It didn't help that it was raining so hard that limbs were snapping off trees.  There was no way we could head home in that.  Surprisingly, there were no leaks in this old house.  Mr. Milsap must have kept this house in good condition.  Ben and I started eating a sandwich and opened up our canteens of water.  I wasn't really hungry.  But, I had to convey to Ben I wasn't scared.  It didn't take much to scare Ben (see Summers at Grandma's House).  The last thing I wanted was for him to start crying.  So, I had to show him I wasn't scared, even though I definitely was scared.  I was especially confused about our dogs.  Where the hell were they?  They should be here with us.  The fact they weren't was very unsettling to me.  Suddenly, I heard a "CRACK" from the attic.  It was loud enough to be heard over the rain.  "WHAT WAS THAT," Ben frantically screamed out.  We both stood up, looked around the ceiling.  I don't know how long we stood like that....maybe five minutes or so.  We sat back down with  the storm worsening outside.  I just knew Mama was going to be mad, not to mention my Dad.  I should have checked the weather before going out.  My father always warned me to do that.  As I sat thinking about my parents anger wtih me, we heard another "CRACK" from the attic, only it was louder this time.  Ben ran to me and held me scared out of his mind.  This time, I was visibly shaken also.  I couldn't hide it.  If it was water coming in, it wasn't making its way into the living room.  I added wood to the fire in the fireplace as if that would scare it all away, whatever the hell it was up there.  I wasn't about to climb up there to find out what it was. We heard about three more loud cracks in that attic that night that I simply can't explain.  It was as if someone was breaking boards in half.  But, we had no choice but to stay inside since the rain was so heavy outside.

We settled back into our chairs and fell asleep.  I woke up to scratching at the front door. I checked my watch and it was 2:30AM. The rain had all but stopped.  My first thought was not to go to the door since I was still unnerved about the loud cracks up in the attic.  "It might be Mister and Shooter, David!!!" my happy brother shouted.  I opened the door slowly to see two of the wettest dogs I had ever seen.  I didn't recognize them at first.  Neither did Ben.  In fact, they didn't look like the two dogs we had grown so fond of and had loved for so long.  Both dogs.....had turned a visible shade of white.  Both dogs were shaking as if they had seen something that was unimaginable, something far beyond what they could comprehend.  It wasn't a coon, bobcat or one of the rare Alabama black bears.  They would have had at least a few scratches if they had met up with one of those predators.  No, these two dogs were greatly frightened by something.  Shooter was whining almost uncontrollably.  Mister seemed to be in a daze, but he trembled even more than Shooter.  We tried giving them something to eat.  But, they refused.  Neither wanted to lay down or even move.  It was now about 3AM.  I needed to get Ben and myself home.  I knew our parents were already upset with us.  But, these dogs didn't seem to want to leave the house.  I can't say I blamed them at all.  But, we had to go.  It took some encouragement, but we managed to get them out of the house and to walking.  I put out the fire in the fireplace before we left.  Smoke was pouring out of the chimney as I looked at the roof.  I hoped Mr. and Mrs Milsap would not mind us using their house as safe shelter from the terrible rainstorm.  But, I have a feeling, if they could speak, they would have been upset about it. The fact that I jimmied their front door open probably would not have made them happy either.  I closed it behind me and off into the darkness Ben and I went.

We both made it back home about 5:30AM, enough time to shower, get dressed and eat breakfast before Sunday School.  Mom told me not to expect to go coon hunting anytime soon.  My dad wasn't happy with us.  But, he didn't say anything.  As for what happened that night in the Milsap's House, I guess I'll never know.  Maybe it was heat rising from the fireplace that caused some old boards in the attic to pop.  At least, I want to believe that.  Deep down, I think it had to be something much more.  Those cracking sounds were far too loud for it to be board settling due to heat from the fireplace.  I'll just leave that right there for you to ponder.  As for our dogs, my dad asked us about what happened to the dogs that could have caused that color change. I told him I had no idea.  That was the truth.  Shooter kept his white shade until he just up and disappeared about four months later.  He had stayed sickly after that night, eating just enough to stay alive.  I guess Shooter just wanted to go somewhere to die. As for Mister, my beagle, he gradually got his natural black and tan color back.  Even Mister stayed on edge for the rest of his life.  He never would go off into the woods with us again, no matter how much we tried to tempt him with sausage or his favorite ham bones from the butcher.  Mister wasn't the same dog any longer.  He even snapped at me once a few days after that coon hunting night that caused him and us so much trouble. He had never done that before.  Mister died about two years later as his health slowly deteriorated.  I'll always believe it was due to whatever Mister and Shooter saw that night we went coon hunting.  My brother and I eventually went coon hunting again.  But, it was never near, nowhere near the old abandoned house in the woods known as the Milsap House.

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