1989 – 1993
I grew up in a two-story Midwestern farmhouse built in the early 1900’s. I had several experiences that convinced me that something spooky was most certainly happening there, but I’m still not sure what exactly that something is. My brother and I both saw a misty white thing the size of a tube-sock float out from under my parent’s bed rise up to about a foot above the mattress, and disappear. We never actually talked about it until we were in our twenties — until then I thought I might have been the only one to see it. One of my early memories is actually a fever hallucination from when I was about four years old. I was running a temp over 102, and my mom was debating whether or not to take me to the hospital, a twenty minute drive, or forty-five to get to the city hospital that would have better resources. Coming from Midwestern farmers herself, and not wanting to be a mom who overreacts to every little thing, she thought it might make just as much sense to wait it out for a few more hours and see my regular pediatrician when his office opened first thing.
I remember laying on the couch in our living room and seeing these medium-sized gnomes/trolls dance around (they were maybe 1-2 feet tall). I wasn’t scared of them, as we had figurines similar to them around our house sent by dad’s family from Denmark. I remember knowing they were related because they wore the same hats. My attempt to toddler-relate what was going on to my mom was enough to tip the scales towards “take immediate action” although I’m not certain if that was because I was being such a spooky kid, or because she thought it was a sign that the fever really was bad.
In the next year or two, I had a summer where at night, outside of my second-story window, I saw what I described as an “evil koala” and “scary gorilla” with red eyes. They both seemed to have dark fur that stood out around their faces, and deep-set red eyes, and that’s about all I could really see in the dark. They would press their face close enough to the window that the little bit of light from my bedside lamp would catch their red eyes, and I could see the outline of their shape, because they were darker than the night sky. They always appeared together as far as I can remember. I think I tried to tell my parents about them, but I got the sense they didn’t really believe me, so I just kept it to myself after that. They never did anything, and never stayed very long, but they’d kind of show-up from time to time.
I’ll fully admit that this may or may not have started after I got into watching horror movies like Critters and it almost certainly happened after I saw The Neverending Story and got deeply and permanently scarred by Gmork, so I had some images in my actively-growing squishy-pink kid brain to turn into scary stuff for sure. It’s really hard for me to figure out now whether I was attracted to all things weird and spooky and therefore noticed spooky stuff happening around me, or if the weird started, and the spooky therefore felt familiar and like I wasn’t alone in my experiences. We did some things, knowingly or not, to kind of keep the peace with our genius loci. Probably the best example is how we celebrated the winter holidays. Christmas was a time when we focused on Danish traditions on our farm. While my classmates were leaving milk and cookies out for Santa, we were leaving out a bowl of risalamande for the julenisse. If you try sounding those out, you might guess that the main ingredients of risalamande are rice and slivered almonds, which are mixed into freshly whipped cream and served with warm cherry pie filling, and we were leaving it out for the Yule Elf. The bowl was always licked clean in the morning. I’m really grateful to have grown up in such a magical, spooky place as an 80s/early 90s kid who didn’t even have to sneak out to go down to the cemetery at midnight — even if it left me hiding under my covers sometimes.
Submitted by Kaj J