The Howling

It happens the same time every year, once the signs of fall start to arrive – the air is crisper, the days grow shorter, the nights cooler, and the leaves start to turn. After being dormant all summer, it lies in wait for those few ghostly weeks leading up to Halloween to commence the howling.  It’s like the smell of wood-smoke in the air signals that it’s time for all spirits to come out and play.  

I live in an old house, and old houses tend to be haunted, so I’m used to it by now.  The creaks and sighs of an old house are part of their charm and character, but I admit the last few years have been trying.  I’ve lost my patience with the beast.

The noise starts out low…a mere groan…followed by a continuous howling moan……which crescendos into a whistling sound, somewhat reminiscent of an old tea kettle then at the end it’s shrieking like a banshee…..then silence….complete silence….well not always, there may be a small hiss or two after the grand finale, as if it’s exhausted all it’s efforts.  Just to let me know it’s there, signing off.  

I can’t even tell where it’s coming from, as it seems to move from room to room, following me around like some long lost shadow. I can sense it’s eerie presence just over my shoulder but when I turn, there’s nothing there. Maybe it’s slunk back into those solid plaster walls. Sometimes I even wonder if it’s coming from outside as there have been sightings of coyotes in the neighborhood.

Photo by Joshua Slate on

It’s intermittent – so you’re always on edge, and like all things that go bump in the night, it’s worse when you’re lying in bed, imagining all sorts of things flitting about in the dark.  

It’s exhausting dealing with such a creature.  I can’t get any sleep.  I want it gone!

So I finally called in one of those companies specializing in the exorcism of such matters, a Ghostbuster-type firm if you will.  (I can read the skepticism in your eyes from here, but I was that desperate.)  Fortunately, I had recorded it for them on my cell phone, as evidence, as best I could in the dark, because as you know ghosts seldom appear in broad daylight.

They came – with their flashlights and meters and paranormal paraphernalia – and examined every nook and cranny for the origin of the noise, but after several hours they left baffled, after googling (googling mind you, after I paid them all that money!) leaving me with some crazy theory about the “harmonics” of old houses and how they settle over time.  They told me I just have to put up with it, and I admit once Halloween is over, the sound does tend to dissipate somewhat.  Maybe it hibernates for the winter, like a big fat bear, which might explain where all the leftover Halloween candy disappears to…

They did leave me an option, but’s an expensive one. I can either move or replace….

The Beast

Happy Halloween!

PS. HaHaHa….I can’t believe they were foolish enough to fall for that stupid “harmonics” theory.  I planted that on the Internet just for fun.  I used to hang around outside…

but after she stopped doing Halloween I was forced indoors. And now here I am, living in the furnace until next year – my wispy appendages tucked up to fit inside the boiler and when the burner blower kicks on I do what I do best – howl!!!!!!!!!! It’s not a bad place to spend the winter – it’s warm and cozy – if you don’t mind hot water heat.  Personally I’d rather have the type with duct work, as think of the fun I could have then! A spook in every room, instead of having to float up through the radiators. I think I’ll have another chocolate bar….

21 thoughts on “The Howling

  1. annieasksyou says:

    Joni, this post is pure delight—and wonderfully written.

    Your story reminds me of an incident we had when we first moved into our old house decades ago. We heard creaking and all sorts of strange sounds—so scary that we called the police. They came right over and checked everything. They eyed our still-unpacked boxes, and one asked if we’d just moved in. We said we had, and he responded: “No wonder! You didn’t give the ghosts time to leave.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Thanks Annie! I had fun writing it. Did you have any further sounds from your ghost or did it depart? I once had to call the police in the middle of the night when I heard someone in the garage, which turned out to be a raccoon!
      My furnace problem has been resolved now and runs quiet as a mouse when I finally turned the heat on this week for the first time. I have a free annual maintenance plan so the service guy who came in August was more knowledgeable and whatever he did worked. He cleaned and oiled everything etc. He noted the “harmonics” was most likely from an air/gas/water flow issue. It was the guy last year who googled and came up with the harmonics theory, although I’ve since read that mineral scaling from the hot water due to age can be a factor too, which means draining the whole system. He turned the temp. down a bit which helped some, and I found it was okay when it ran in the winter regularly, but if it came on intermittently during the off-seasons the noise was there again. Anyway, it’s all fixed now and I’m glad the ghost is gone!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      I had fun with it……and it’s a ghost story so I had to do a twist at the end! Did you find it suspenseful Linda or did you guess? The furnace is all fixed now….whatever the last service guy did in August fixed it – see my answer to Annie above. It’s been quiet as a mouse lately…..fingers crossed. I know of other old houses where there wasn’t such an easy solution…and one in particular where they had to get a priest out to exorcise the ghost!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        No, I didn’t figure it out until you divulged the source Joni, but then I remembered you mentioned having some issues and Reliance had to come in on one of the beautiful, coolish days. I just went back and read Annie’s post and that was a very clever thing to say to her. She, of course, was not amused!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. ruthsoaper says:

    What a fun read Joni. Now that our forced air furnace is on I will be watching for strange things going on. LOL! A few years ago we had about a three week period where a touch lamp that my husband inherited from his mother kept turning on by itself. I thought maybe the switch was going bad because I read that can be the cause. We didn’t change the switch or doing anything else to it. It just stopped happening. Makes me wonder.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Thanks Anne! I enjoyed writing it. My furnace is fixed now….and running quiet as a mouse….whatever the technician did this time seemed to work. Of course it’s been such a mild fall here I’ve hardly had to have it on, so time will tell….

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dave says:

    That was a fun read, Joni, and the final photo was the perfect way to wrap up the story. Our hardwood floors “talk to us” when the weather changes, as they expand and contract. Out of nowhere, a crackle here, a snap there, little pops everywhere. Nothing like your story but unnerving all the same.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Thanks Dave! My furnace is all fixed now….whatever the latest service guy did made it as quiet as a mouse. He took the burner thing apart and oiled and cleaned everything. Snap, crackle, pops belong in breakfast cereal not old houses!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Thanks Alison! It’s already sorted, as the last service guy who came took things apart and cleaned and oiled them, so it’s all good now, and quiet as a mouse. Not that many techs are familiar with those old hot water heating systems as most people have the forced air duct type, so I was lucky this guy knew more.


  4. J P says:

    Haha, that was fun. We have a system with air ducts, and the little ghosts have a blast with them. Popping and banging and chattering with some regularly. I think the ghosts came with our new furnace, which blows harder than the old one did.

    I like to think that if your house isn’t old enough to make a little noise, its cheap materials are just quietly decomposing in some expensive spot.

    Liked by 1 person

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