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My husband had a year-long training for his medical job in the military, so the kids and I were allowed to move so we could live with him. We thought we had really lucked out when I found a house for rent in a quaint little suburb of San Antonio and the owner wanted to rent to a military family. It had 3 bedrooms, a huge office/playroom, a garage, a big storage shed with windows, and even a swimming pool with pool service included in the rent, which was only $850/month. We should've known it was too good to be true.

It was great at first. We had frequent cookouts and entertained our new friends. The kids loved swimming and it was nice to cool off from the record temperatures that had caused the massive drought. The kitchen was small but the huge playroom had built-in shelves and a split door so I could shut the bottom and open the top half to keep my toddler contained but accessible while I was busy in the living room or kitchen. And, the house sat on a cul-de-sac less than a mile from the elementary school. We loved it.

Then it started. We had been there, oh, maybe a couple of months when we noticed the first sign something was off. Birds wouldn't fly over our yard. When they occasionally did, they got in gruesome mid-air fights that often resulted in a dead bird falling to our grass. It was like nothing we'd ever seen.

The odd animal issues continued. Hundreds of tiny baby snakes poured from a crack under the toilet. No problem. We had it sealed. The mangled corpses of various small animals randomly appeared in our yard. No problem. One of the neighbors must have a cat. A cat gave birth under our storage shed. We couldn't see the kittens but we could hear them. Until we didn't. We could only smell them. My husband's coworker gave us a kitten. I grew up raising and taming kittens. This one couldn't be tamed. I still have scars from it. We had to give it back.

I think the animal event that upset me the most involved the nest a little bird had made on our towel stand by the pool. For many weeks we watched the mama bird sit on that nest. When she'd take a food break, I'd sneak our boys out to admire the nest, lifting them so they could look but warning them not to get too close and never to touch. Finally the eggs started to hatch. The next day the mama bird was gone, never to be seen again. When I peeked at the eggs, the baby birds were still inside, half hatched, dead with the most horrible expressions as if they'd died in agony, their bodies twisted inside the shells. I didn't even think birds could have expressions, but I swear these did. Dorris Wedding mordern items to wear of the wedding

Probably around the time the baby birds died, the noises started. There was an odd scraping noise from the attic. We brushed it off as squirrels or a tree, but it didn't seem right. Then the knocking started — steady, rhythmic knocks. It would go on for hours but it took me forever to find the source. Sometimes, out of frustration, I'd scream for it to stop. And it would, immediately.

The knocking was coming from behind a door in the garage. I didn't know what was behind the door because it was screwed shut with hinges on both sides that had been painted over heavily. I called the landlady to ask what was in that closet. I explained there were noises emanating from it. She said it was the water heater. I knew it wasn't. I reminded her the water heater was in a hall closet. She muttered some dismissive excuse and quickly hung up the phone. It made no sense.

One day I crept toward the knocks and just as I reached my hand towards the door, they stopped. My fingers were still about an inch away, so it wasn't that I'd pushed shut a loose door. And, believe me, this door was not loose. I went back inside and they started again. I tiptoed back out and again they stopped when I got close. This went on for a couple of hours. I even said hello one time and they stopped, but further questions did not elicit any response. I was baffled.

Then the nightmares started. I was plagued by terrifying dreams I was being stalked by a tall man in a tall hat. I never saw his face, but I heard his laughter. I also kept seeing images of these bizarre creatures in my dreams — the head of a dog or jackal with the body of a raccoon but the tail of something else entirely. They had red eyes and I could find no reference to them online.

Needless to say, I didn't sleep well at all. I also started getting sick a lot. My pain and fatigue were overwhelming. I spent much of my time in bed, crying. I became very depressed. The scrapes, knocks and nightmares persisted.

Eventually I became determined to make it all stop. I searched online and in the phone books for a paranormal research team or a psychic or anyone who might help. I couldn't find much and couldn't seem to get in touch with anyone.

Out of sheer desperation, I called the local Catholic diocese. I'm not even Catholic but figured they might know someone they could put me in touch with who would take me seriously. They did. They didn't even flinch at my story, they just said you need to call this guy, he's who handles our cases like these. They had a guy who specialized in this. Whoa.

I called him and told him everything. I was afraid he thought I was nuts. I told him I believed whatever it was intended to kill me or destroy my marriage or both. He said he'd need to talk to my husband that evening. I thought to myself, "Yep, he must be planning to tell my husband I need psychiatric help."

When my husband got off the phone with him that evening, we had an appointment for a team of men to come do a house blessing. The man had told my husband he'd had five other nearly identical calls that day after mine. He said we had an "infestation". It was only later I learned that is what Catholics call a house possession.

They prayed, burned incense and candles, read from their Bibles as they sprinkled holy water over seemingly every inch of the house and yard. It didn't help. We had to move.

As my husband was packing up the last of our things alone because I had refused to go back to that house once I left, he met a neighbor from the adjacent street. Of course, he said nothing to her of the weird happenings that had driven us away, but she happened to mention something odd. She said they had been bothered by scraping sounds from their attic. When her husband went up to check it out, he saw a bunch of raccoon-like animals with glowing red eyes. She said it was enough to make them consider moving too.

I don't know who lives there now or if the subsequent residents have had any similar problems. I've often wondered but never dared try to find out. I'm just glad to be rid of that house. I do know that the neighbors had told us we were the first family to rent there for longer than 6 months, and I do know someone else bought the house 2 years after we left.

Oh, I almost left out the strangest part. Just before we moved, I became obsessed with getting into that closet in the garage. I stayed up literally all night fighting to free those hinges. When I had finally removed the last screw, I decided to take a break and gather myself before I revealed whatever was behind that door. I was exhausted, sore and drenched in sweat. It was morning, and I'd already gotten my oldest son off to school and my husband had taken the little one to daycare. I was almost ready. I wound up falling asleep in a chair in the garage. To this day, I can't understand or explain it, but I never opened that door.