A few years ago, I was asked to babysit for a family that lived on Saskatchewan Crescent, almost underneath the Idylwyld bridge. It was an old home, probably built in the early 1900s and, after just a few hours there, I was convinced the house was haunted.
This is the story of my experience babysitting the Baileys. It was the one and only time I babysat at the house.
I have changed the family’s name as well as the names of the children, and will not provide the house’s full address for the sake of protecting the family’s identity.
I had known the Baileys for many years but had not been inside their house until last October when my mom asked if I would babysit their two young children, Michael and Stacy.
Stacy and Michael were already in their pajamas and burdened with heavy eyelids when I arrived. Mrs. Bailey ran through the usual babysitter’s checklist, gave me cell phone numbers and told me to help myself to whatever I wanted in the kitchen.
When they left I got the kids settled in the living room and put on a movie. About half way through there was a crash from the kitchen. I looked at Stacy, who was staring back at me with wide, knowing eyes.
“What was that?” I asked. Stacy shrugged, so I went to investigate.
In the kitchen I found that the contents of the pantry had been knocked onto the floor. Tinker, the Baileys’s old, half-blind cat was slinking away from the scene. I dutifully realigned everything on the shelves and made sure the pantry door was shut.
“It was just the cat,” I told the children.
“It was probably Frank,” said Stacy.
“What?” I asked.
“Frank. He likes to knock things over.”
“Who is Frank?”
“That man over there in the corner.”
The hairs stood at attention all down my arms. I followed Stacy’s gaze to the corner of the room. “There isn’t any one there, Stacy.”
“She’s the only one who can see him,” said Michael.
“No one ever believes me, but he’s there. He’s always here. Watching.”
“Stacy, I don’t want you to talk about this anymore,” I said.
“Why, are you scared?”
“Well you should be. He doesn’t like you.”
“Stacy, there is noth—.” I was interrupted by a loud thump from somewhere inside the walls. The three of us sat silently for a moment, listening.
“It’s just the pipes,” I told the children.
Nothing more happened until I was putting the kids to bed. I had already tucked Michael in and was saying goodnight to Stacy when I saw her staring at something over my shoulder.
“He’s standing right behind you,” she whispered.
I couldn’t help but look and even though there was nothing there, it was difficult not to feel like I was being watched.
I was determined to keep my composure and I went to the kitchen to get something to eat. The pantry door was thrown wide open. I didn’t understand how a half-blind cat could have done it and, what was more, the boxes I had just arranged were now all upside down. I grabbed a bag of chips and I went quickly back into the living room.
I was flipping through the channels when I heard footsteps in the hall. I glanced over at the dark hall, expecting to see Stacy, but no one was there. The sound persisted, too distinctive to ignore, but I stared at the TV screen trying to pretend I couldn’t hear it.
Suddenly something thudded noisily down the stairs and a moment later a light turned on in the basement.
I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t know what to do. I was too embarrassed to call the Baileys and ask them to come home. My heart stuttered in my chest as the light flicked back off and the heavy footfalls of someone ascending the stairs echoed through the house.
I curled up on the couch and closed my eyes, groping for a blanket near my feet and pulling it right up over my head. The TV clicked off and the armchair next to me creaked. Then there was silence.
The Baileys returned home hours later. The moment they were inside I fled to the front entrance. As Mr. Bailey paid me, he asked if I would want to come back and babysit again sometime. I told him I was going to be busy for a while.
As I drove away I took one last look at the Bailey’s, vowing it would be my last. I saw a man standing at the living room window, watching me drive away.
I raised my hand to wave but then realized… It wasn’t Mr. Bailey.
Image: Sean MacEntee/Flickr