In the early 60's, when I was in 8th grade at St. Theresa's, we lived in a 300 year-old, stone farmhouse in Hellertown. Its three foot thick walls kept the house cool in summer and warm in winter . . . except on the third floor. That's where my brother and I slept at night.
During recesses at school, a group of us formed the Ghost Hunters' Club. We would periodically go to old abandoned houses that were supposed to be haunted. We never actually went inside any of them, but would take notes and make plans to go into them later . . . at night.
It was around this time that we began hearing about the Albino Banshee, a terrifying witch who lived somewhere in Allentown. She had long white hair, pink eyes, sharpened teeth and very long fingernails. Her piercing shrieks could be heard at night in Allentown. Her wail, all by itself, could cause a heart attack. Word on the playground was that she had already killed several people. All she had to do was touch you with her long, thin fingernails. Not everyone believed this story, but one of the nuns admitted to me that it was true.
One night, after we had all turned in, I awoke to hear the third floor attic door slowly creak open. Footsteps slowly came up the steps, accompanied by the sounds of rattling chains.
Holy cannoli! It's the Albino Banshee! I tried to scream, but couldn't open my mouth. Or eyes.
Once whatever I heard had reached the top of the steps, I could hear it walk towards my brother. I wanted to defend him, but was paralyzed by fear. My brother was a goner. But this thing did not stop with my brother. In a matter of moments, its steps came for me. It was suddenly very cold. I was unable to budge.
Then I felt it. A banshee's fingernail traced itself right across one of my cheeks. But for some reason, I didn't die. Then the steps walked off and into the other room on the third floor.
While still sweating with fear, I could hear that door open again. This time even more footsteps came up the steps. Although too terrified to open my eyes, I could tell that lights were on. Just as suddenly, the lights went off and the footsteps went back down the steps.
The next morning, when I woke up, I was happy to see my brother was still alive but was a little ashamed by own cowardice in failing to defend him. I told him what had happened. He told me I was nutz. Then we went downstairs for breakfast.
After sitting there for awhile, I told my mom, dad and sisters what had happened. I expected them to tell me I was nutz, too. Instead, they looked at each other, and then my mother told me they had heard someone going up the steps to the third floor themselves. In fact, they decided to investigate, which explains the second set of footsteps I heard that night. Whatever had come up the steps had just vanished.
Now I know that whatever it was, it was no albino banshee. But to this day, I get chills when I think about that night.