Jack was a ghost hunter – a really good one, actually. So far, he’d been featured in thirteen different newspaper articles, and had countless homeowners singing his praises after ridding their houses of unhappy spirits. It was a pretty good gig for someone straight out of college. There was only one problem: his own house was haunted and he couldn’t do anything about it.
That isn’t to say he hadn’t tried. No, Jack had tried literally everything; salt, séances, burning herbs and having the place blessed by a priest, but nothing worked. He’d lived there for over two months now, and the haunting just kept getting worse and worse.
Now, Jack hadn’t actually seen any sort of spectral figure, but he was darn positive that his house was haunted. How, you ask? Well, his suspicions started two weeks after moving into the place.
One evening, after a healthy dinner for one from the local take-out place, Jack was settling down to watch his favorite show on television – Ghost Hunters, of course – when the lights flickered. He looked up, annoyed, and then turned his attention back to the television screen. A few minutes later, they flickered again.
“Great,” Jack thought. “Flickering lights – a tale-tell sign of paranormal activity.”
After all, it wasn’t too impossible that the house hosted some sort of ghost or spirit. He had bought it at a great price; it even included a home warranty plan, as it was an older house. There was a chance there was some unhappy presence there.
Jack turned off the television and decided to speak into the night, hopeful that some communication would help the spirit.
“Hello?” he asked.
“If you’re out there, please send me a sign,” Jack whispered.
Again, nothing. And then, the lights flickered – just barely – but it was there. Jack drew in a huge breath and grabbed his phone, not taking his eyes off the lamp in front of him. He called his brother, who didn’t exactly share in Jack’s love of the supernatural but was the only one Jack could broach the topic with. (His mother said talking about such things gave her a headache, while his father just grunted at Jack’s stories.)
The phone rang twice, and then Jack heard his brother’s low growl of a hello.
“Michael, my house is haunted,” Jack whispered into the phone as fast as possible. “I know it is – my lights keep flickering.”
“Isn’t your place pretty old?” asked Michael, chuckling a bit. “Older houses have a tendency to have worn out wiring.”
“No, I promise. I asked the lights to send me a sign if there was something there, and they flickered,” Jack said, vehemently. “It’s a ghost, Michael! Do you think one of them followed me back from one of my jobs?”
There was a long pause as Jack waited for Michael to reply.
“Dude, I really think it’s just some old wiring,” Michael said finally, sounding a bit incredulous. “Don’t you have a home warranty on that house? You should call them tomorrow. See if they can do something about it. Most home warranty plans cover wiring.”
Jack took his ear away from the phone and rolled his eyes.
“Sure, thanks, Michael,” he said bringing his phone back to his ear. “I’ll let you know what they say.”
Jack hung up grumbling, “Old wiring, suuure. Let me just call my home warranty company, I’m sure they cover for hauntings.”
The next time Jack noticed strange happenings in his place, he was getting ready to get in the bath. He had started the water to get it up to a warm temperature and walked away to grab a towel when he heard it – a high-pitched scream.
Jack ran back to the bathroom, only to discover the water in his bath was a bright red.
“Oh my goodness,” Jack whispered, staring at the red water flowing from his pipes. “The spirit is communicating with me! It’s telling me that it passed on in a violent manner – in the bathtub!” Jack scrambled for his phone, dialing Michael as fast as he could.
“Hello?” asked Michael, sounding like he had a mouthful of food.
“Michael. There’s blood pouring from my pipes. And can you hear that noise? Screaming! It’s screaming, Michael!” Jack said, hurriedly, grabbing his ghost hunting kit in the process.
Jack heard Michael start coughing, “You have what, exactly, coming from your pipes?”
“BLOOD!” Jack shouted as he set up his thermal camera. “The water’s bright red.”
“Bro, I bet it’s not blood. Sounds like rust to me. That’s really common with an old house,” Michael said, his calm manner infuriating Jack to no end.
“Oh, of course. Rust.” Jack said sarcastically. “I’m sure my home warranty will cover for that too, right?”
Michael paused, thinking. “It's definitely possible they cover for rust, especially if it's a Landmark home warranty. You could always call them and see,” he said, helpfully.
“Great, do you think the home warranty company could take care of the screaming specter that’s currently residing in my basement?” Jack asked, pulling out his EMF detector.
Michael laughed, “You do not have a screaming ghost in your basement.”
Jack put the phone on speaker and walked slowly toward the basement door.
“Michael, yes, I do. Can you hear that?” He put his hand tentatively on the doorknob. The screaming had gotten louder as he moved toward the door.
“Yeah, I do,” Michael said. “It’s definitely creepy sounding, but I bet it’s your water heater. The temperature and pressure relief valve is probably going out. It sounds a lot like that when they start to fail. Do you remember what plan you have with that home warranty company?”
At this point, Jack had started down the stairs, watching his EMF sensor with every step. So far, he hadn’t gotten any readings.
“Hello? Did you hear what I said?” Michael asked. “What home warranty plan do you have?”
“Shhh!” Jack whispered, trying to find the light switch by running his hand along the wall.
“Well, your home warranty will probably cover for your T and P valve too,” Michael stated. “By the way, do you still have your water running?”
Jack looked up suddenly, startled.
“Crap!” he said, scrambling up the stairs and dropping his EMF detector in the process. He reached the bathtub just in time to shut off the tap before it overflowed.
“Jack?” Michael was saying. “Hey, I have to go, but just call your home warranty company, OK? They can help you with this stuff.”
“Fine, yeah, thanks,” Jack said, distracted, and hung up. “This is a haunting. No way a home warranty knows what to do with this.”
Over the next few weeks, the light flickering, screaming bathtubs, and red water kept getting worse and worse. Jack did everything he could think of, but none of his tried and true solutions worked.
The last straw came when the temperatures dropped, right around Halloween. Jack had kicked on his furnace the day before to combat the cold. That evening, he was laying in bed, puzzling over his haunted house that had all the signs of a haunting but just couldn’t be fixed, when he heard a low groan.
Jack sat up straight in bed.
Jack noticed it had become unusually cold in his room. “This was it!” he thought. This was when the ghost would appear! He quickly called Michael, who groggily answered the phone.
“Michael, my house is full of cold spots,” Jack said, excitedly. “It’s freezing.”
Michael grunted, “Did your furnace go out?”
“No, Michael, that’s not what I mean. The ghost is about to appear. Get over here,” Jack said.
“Did you call your home warranty company?” Michael said. “They’ll cover for a failed furnace. Your house is old, dude. Your furnace probably failed from wear and tear.”
Jack laughed. How could Michael be so silly? This was a classic sign of a haunting.
“I don’t need a home warranty to take care of this problem, Michael,” Jack whispered viciously. “My house is HAUNTED.”
“Okay, okay! I’ll be right over.”
Jack waited in bed, listening to the groans emanating from his basement, and feeling the cold wash over him. He didn’t want to get out of bed until his brother came. He knew he must be facing a terrible spirit since none of the normal methods worked to get rid of it. That, and he was freezing and getting out from under his covers sounded terrible.
He finally heard Michael’s car in the driveway and ran down to answer the door.
Michael walked into the house, holding a toolbox. He flipped on the lights, which started flickering as soon as he did.
Jack pointed to them. “See?” he said. “Flickering lights. And do you hear that groaning? And feel how cold it is?”
Michael smiled, a bit exasperated, and said, “Jack, buddy, let’s go look at your furnace.”
Jack followed Michael down to the basement, whispering the whole time:
“It’s really not my furnace, Michael,” he said, “I promise, my place is haunted, that’s the only explanation. The screaming? The groaning? The cold spots? The red water? It all points to a haunting! I need some serious help to get this spirit out.”
Michael was already opening up the front panel of the furnace and getting out his phone. “Yup, just what I thought. Your furnace is out. Sorry, man – let’s call your home warranty company and get someone out here to fix it.”
Jack just stared at Michael. How could he be so calm in the face of what was obviously a full-scale haunting by a vengeful ghost?!
“Hello? Is this Landmark Home Warranty?” Michael was talking on the phone. He put it on speakerphone. “I’m here at my brother’s place. I think his furnace is out.”
“Happy to help you, sir!” said a happy voice at the other end of the phone. “Can you tell me a little bit about what’s going on?”
Michael looked up at Jack and gestured to the phone. Jack just stared at him, unbelieving. Finally, he spoke up.
“What’s happening?! I’ll tell you what’s happening! I have a GHOST. In. My. House,” Jack yelled. “I have flickering lights, blood-red water, screaming bath time, and now a groaning ghoul in my basement with cold spots everywhere.”
The woman on the other end of the phone paused, while Michael rolled his eyes and put his head in this hand.
“Well, sir, that sounds like a whole lot of things you’ll need our home warranty contractors out there for,” she said, cheerfully. “I’m going to assign you to an HVAC and plumbing specialist. Our home warranty contractors will call you to set up an appointment as soon as possible – but they can look at your furnace and water heater. As for the flickering lights, I think I have the perfect electrician, she’s worked on a lot of older houses, so I’ll send her out tomorrow as well.”
Michael simply said “Thank you!” and hung up the phone as Jack continued to stare at him.
“Okay, dude. I’ll let you come stay at my place for the night,” Michael said to Jack, helping him up the stairs. “I’ll drive you back over once the home warranty company’s contractors come over. Sound good?”
Jack just nodded blankly, still shocked that nobody else understood that his house was haunted. It was so obvious!
The next morning, the home warranty company’s contractors came over to look at the furnace, water heater, and wiring. Michael paid them each a small service call fee and they got to work. After calling the home warranty company to get approved to make the repairs, they finished up and gave the diagnosis to Jack and Michael: failure from normal wear and tear! Everything had been fixed.
Michael left a little bit after the home warranty contractors, patting Jack on the back and saying “Let me know how those repairs work out for you. I told you the home warranty plan would help you out!”
Jack laughed as he left.
“You’ll see!” he said. “It’s a ghost. Just wait – I know it’s going to happen again.”
But it didn’t. There was no more flickering lights, or cold spots, or shrieking and groaning from the basement. Jack finally called Michael a week later.
“So, uh, I guess you were right,” Jack said, sheepishly.
Michael just laughed. “It’s OK, he said. “You’re a first-time homeowner. It happens, especially with your job. I’m just glad you had that home warranty company!”