By Bill Shock
This is a true story.
This story takes place in a suburban community, just minutes outside of Detroit, Michigan in a quiet town known as St. Clair Shores. The events that I witnessed take place may or may not have been from a dark, demonic source… Regardless, it is still unexplainable.
I grew up with a strict Catholic upbringing, primarily stemming from my grandfather on my father’s side, who demanded the family go to church on Sundays, and say their prayers daily. As long as I’ve known my grandfather, he was always this way. You couldn’t talk ten minutes with him without him taking a script out of the Bible, most of which was completely Deutsch to me. “God Bless”, and “Praise the Lord” were words spoken out of his mouth a minimum twenty times per day. He would even teach me (and all my cousins and siblings) catechism! This man is truly a saint among us on Earth. With that being said, I remember a particular part of the bible in which he would preach that basically was interpreted something like this: The closer you try to get to Christ, the more Satan tried to pull you from Him, and coerce you to the “dark side”. He never used the term “Hell”. He always called it “the dark side”, or “the darkness”. He taught that if you face your fears and trust in the Lord, then ultimately the devil will never have any power over you. I was 8 or 9 years old at the time, over 25 years ago. Listening to this at that age, you listen and understand, but in the back of your mind you’re not thinking that you would encounter “the devil”, unless it’s philosophically.
My cousins and I would discuss this amongst ourselves when we had the opportunity to. My cousins had all these wild and bizarre stories that were told to them by my grandfather, mainly of his encounters with Satan, and they passed them down to me. I always assumed that they were just trying to scare me, or get my anxiety levels up or something. Therefore, I never really paid much attention to what they were saying.
One day, during catechism, I decided I’d ask him about them. I literally stopped him during his teaching, and asked. He was shocked that I asked him, perhaps because he may have told my older cousins to keep it secret, or perhaps not tell me only because I was “too young”. He didn’t get into any details, but he pretty much told me that he encounters the devil “very often”, however he doesn’t get scared or anything because he has power over him. Then he pulled out a giant crucifix around hanging from around his neck. He also kept a rosary nearby at all times. “If you pray for Jesus to help you, the devil cannot hurt you.”
My parents had divorced when I was about 6 or 7 years old, so every other weekend I would stay with my father at his apartment. My father, however, would play “dad” throughout the day, then decide to go out with his buddies until very late at night. Obviously, this meant that I would get dropped off at my grandfather’s home to get babysat. This would happen fairly often, about once or twice per month.
My grandfather’s house was a small home roughly 1,500 sq. feet that was built in the 1950’s. He was the original owner of this house at the time, as he had it built from scratch. The style of home back then was a lot different than it is today. Today, you see most homes with very big, open spaces in which you can see 90% of the home from the front foyer, with very few walls. However back then, it was the complete opposite: A lot of unnecessary walls separating every single room in the house. There was even a door that was always closed that led to the kitchen, and one on the other end of the kitchen, which was always shut and locked with a padlock-style lock. There were even doors that opened to an empty hallway, where most people at this time stored their grandfather clocks. Being in a 1,500 sq. foot home, you were constantly opening and closing doors just to navigate through the house. My grandfather kept family photos, as well as crucifixes and pictures of Jesus on every single wall throughout his home. He even had random bottles of holy water placed at various locations throughout the home. Also you would find an actual crown of thorns sitting on his coffee table! It seemed like the kind of home in which you would feel very comfortable in, however I never felt that way. I love my grandfather, but unfortunately I disliked going to his house. It was just an uncomfortable feeling, mainly for two reasons that stood out to me: One was the front door. The front door was a standard door, however it was painted an ugly burgundy color, and it had this diamond-shaped window at a standard adult’s eye level in it, revealing anyone’s face that came up to the door as they peered in. Right next to the door, sat a Blessed Mother oil lamp hanging from the ceiling. It was one of those 1940’s lamps that sat the statue in it, surrounded by metal “strings” in which had a continuous flow of oil beads dripping. The center of it sat the Blessed Mother, who had a strange look on her face, while staring at you. The second thing in particular that made me uncomfortable about the house was the basement door, which was the door in the back of the kitchen that had the padlock on it. For whatever reason, my grandfather kept it locked at all times, and only he knew where the key was. He claimed he didn’t want any of the grandkids “falling down the stairs”.
One weekend came where my dad was dropping me off at my grandfather’s again. He brought me over there at around 3:00 in the afternoon, which I’d be staying until at least the next day. Again, I was uncomfortable from the start. For the first hour of being there, I had to sit through an hour of a priest preaching on his television, which was one of those giant 600 lb. boxes made of wood that is essentially a table, with a small 20-inch screen with giant knobs next to it for changing channels. After the hour was up, my grandfather decided we needed to go grocery shopping. When we left the house, I noticed my grandfather didn’t lock the door. He never did. He never wanted to lock his keys inside, and he trusted all his neighbors, as they were all great friends…
When we got back to his house, he tried to walk right in his house, as he always does. However, it did not open. It was clearly locked. He always kept a backup key hidden on the back porch, so he walked around to grab it. By the time he walked back around and attempted to open the door, it simply opened by itself. I saw him pause for a moment, as he was confused, however then took a peek inside. Everything seemed quiet, he had just assumed the door must’ve gotten stuck somehow. As we made our way into the kitchen, we opened the kitchen door, only to reveal a small porcelain pig sitting on a doily in the middle of the kitchen floor, similar to a “piggy bank”, facing in our direction. However, this was not a “cute little piggy”. It specifically remember it having a jaw that was wide open and somewhat twisted to the side, with all-black beady eyes, and wrinkles above the eyes in a mad look. I saw him quickly scurry to grab the pig, and then placed it on the counter. He then started whispering the “Our Father” prayer to himself. I knew he looked upset and worried, however I remained nonchalant as if I didn’t notice a problem. He then asked me to help him bring the groceries downstairs into the basement refrigerator, his back up fridge. This would be the first time I would be in this basement since my 4th birthday party. As we reached the bottom of the stairs, I noticed he turned as many lights on as possible. Upon a giant wall was a cartoon mural of the “Flintstones”, painted years ago from an artist hired for an older cousin’s birthday party. However, the cartoons were clearly “the Flintstones”, yet they looked nothing like them. The outfits and the theme defined the Flintstones clearly, but the faces were distinctly different from the familiar Fred and Barney face. They had more of a “mean” look on their faces, and they stared right at you, smiling. The look of it really freaked me out. My grandfather noticed me looking at the creepy mural, then walked over and pulled curtains shut. These dark burgundy, ugly curtains now covered the entire mural. Very creepy, especially for an 8-year-old.
Things started to get even creepier as we walked back upstairs: I noticed my grandfather stop at the top step and look back to the kitchen floor, noticing the pig-on-a-doily figurine once again facing our direction. He once again started saying the Our Father, only this time very loud. This obviously, left me feeling VERY uncomfortable, to the point where I wouldn’t leave his side. He handed me a crucifix, and told me to pray with him. He then took the pig statue outside and threw it in his garage garbage can, and closed it. When we came back inside, he started walking around the house, holding his bible and rosary, opening every door there is and looking around. Nothing or no one inside anywhere. By now, I wanted to just leave and head home. I got on the phone and paged my dad’s beeper for him to call. However, he didn’t respond. I started immediately to ask my grandfather what’s going on, to which he didn’t have an answer. He just sat there with an obvious-scared look on his face, however acted calm. He then said “Nothing that can hurt either of us. Praise the Lord, Jesus Christ.” With those words, it made me feel even MORE uncomfortable and I now believed that something actually COULD hurt us. No more disturbances or strange encounters happened for the remainder of the evening, as we were saying several prayers together and getting ready to go to sleep.
I went in my room to sleep, and kept the lights on. I knew I wasn’t going to sleep at all. I was still freaked out. However, I must’ve dozed off in the early morning hours, only to wake up hearing an eerie laughing sound: Like someone trying to be quiet while they laugh, however in a very sinister way. I tried to look around, however my bedroom door was shut, and now the lights were off. I remember also feeling very hot, to the point where I had literally thrown the sheets off of me. I sat up in bed, deciphering whether or not the laughs I heard were real, or I was dreaming. As I sat and listened to see if I could hear it again… I couldn’t. However, I did hear my grandfather now talking off in the distance, something I couldn’t quite make outI jumped out of bed and darted to the door. Once I opened it, I ran down the hall towards the main living room, only to see my grandfather facing opposite direction, towards the eerie front door. I noticed he was holding the Bible, and also had a crucifix in his right hand. He then held the crucifix up to the diamond-shaped window in the door, and started saying a prayer. All of a sudden, I could smell the most rancid, awful stench I’ve ever smelled: It was like a burning-skin smell. Then my grandfather got very loud and said “In the name of Jesus Christ, I COMMAND YOU TO LEAVE!” as his voice grew louder and louder, as he repeated it. He said it again a few more times, before all of a sudden I heard this “howling” sound that was overwhelmingly loud. It sounded like someone screaming in agony, however angry at the same time. I couldn’t even tell where it was coming from, however the growling got louder and louder. The best way for me to describe it is that it sounded EXACTLY like I’ve heard from the Patrick Swayze movie “Ghost”. Particularly when the demons come up from the ground to take Willie Lopez’s spirit down to Hell. Seeing that movie, to this day, has reminded me of this encounter at my grandfather’s house, just because of how eerily similar these screaming sounds were.
I quickly ran over to my grandfather, who was so scared, he was shaking. He quickly consoled with me and said “it’s ok, it can’t hurt us.” The screaming sound came to a sudden halt, in which I could now tell it came from right outside the front door. “He can’t come in here, or hurt us, don’t worry”, my grandfather reassured me. We once again went over to his living room, opened the Bible, and just started praying.
We stayed up all night, and he made a few phone calls first thing in the morning. About an hour later, our local priest from the church came by in full uniform and talked with my grandfather. He reassured my grandfather that “nothing can get in this house, as long as it’s not invited in.” He gave my grandfather some more holy water, and walked around splashing it in various spots of the home. He then assured my grandfather that “it’s not the house”, and that it’s he that the devil is after.
I could not see the figure standing in the diamond-shaped window, however my grandfather described it as “The most hideous, terrifying face you could possibly imagine.” He describes it as bright-red, with wrinkles every where, as well as horns coming out of both temples. This thing had a scowl on its face, with a crooked, wicked smile that remained stuck open. The eyes were also deformed, as one was clearly lower than the other. There were no pupils…only all black. My grandfather also said that this creature had a half human torso, half horse body, with hooves as feet, a creature known as a “Centaur”. He also described the same “hot” feeling that I described immediately after waking up.
After listening to this, I knew I never would be coming back to my grandfather’s again, however I was comforted that the priest was there. The priest confirmed that what my grandfather had been experiencing was something of the demonic origin, however not Satan himself. I remember him stating that Satan doesn’t come himself, however sends these minions/demons to do his work. I also remember him saying that Satan is “most likely going to be in a human form, where you wouldn’t be able to tell who or what it is.” In reference to the random pig statue-on-a-doily, the priest described that specifically the “decapitated pig head” represents Satan is near. However, it’s usually very subtle and not that blunt.
These experiences this weekend at my grandfather’s house will forever be instilled in my brain. It was over 25 years ago since it happened, but I remember it crystal clear. To this day, it is the most scared I’ve ever been in my life. I know there are skeptics out there who don’t believe in the paranormal or afterlife. My advice is this: Remain skeptical, however follow God’s will, do the right thing, and you most likely will never encounter something like this…
Originally published in print, Art Hive Magazine /// #19 /// Fall 2016