In my pre-teen years I used to babysit for a family several houses down from mine. I lived on a circular street where all of the houses were the same shape and size, but were painted in different colors, and of course had different house numbers. We rented our home from Dartmouth College in the beautiful northeast town of Hanover, NH. Our house was a tad bigger than a mobile home, solidly built into the ground with a full basement, and included a modest detached carport for our one car. Albeit a small home, we resided in a fantastic location; nestled between a golf course—where my brother and I could collect lost golf balls and then sell them back to the country club members—and CRREL (Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory), which sat a stone’s throw away in our back yard. With my vivid imagination and the mammoth buildings’ easy visibility from the one window I had in my pink bedroom, I wondered frequently if the helicopters overhead were airlifting some sort of frozen dinosaur or caveman on top of CRREL’s tarmac roof.
One night, I was babysitting two young children five houses down from mine. It was a young boy and his younger sister. By the time I got there, they were already in bed, so their parents handed me the cable TV remote—the original portly remote that could control anyone’s TV who owned a cable box—making it an easy prank for my brother who would venture around the neighborhood pointing the boxy device into people’s windows to change their channel, turn their TV on, or to turn their TV off depending on its original state. Ahem. Anyway…
The phone rang about two hours into my babysitting duty and I picked it up.
“Cathy?” An elderly voice said on the other end of the phone. That wasn’t the mother’s name, the daughter’s name, or mine.
“I think you may have the wrong number,” I suggested.
“Cathy, I know this is you.”
I didn’t want to say anything about me being there alone and babysitting, so I tried to correct her again. “I’m sorry, but I think you may have the wrong number.”
“Cathy, Cathy, Cathy….” She repeated several times. “Why don’t we meet by the pond?”
I remember thinking, Pond? What pond? Could it be the small kidney-shaped pond that commonly ate golf balls at the country club? Maybe it was the tadpole-filled pond down the street at the elementary school I had attended. At this point I felt really confused and more so concerned for this lady who was obviously more confused than I. “Are you alright?” I asked.
“I’m fine, Cathy.”
“I think you may want to check the number you dialed. I don’t believe any Cathy lives here.”
“I know it’s you, Cathy.”
The more she seemed certain I was Cathy, the more uncomfortable I became. When she would repeat the name ‘Cathy’ and ask me to meet her by the pond, the more her voice took on an eerie quality.
“Where are you?”
“You know where I am.” The hairs on my arms stood up at the sudden deepening of her voice. “By the pond.” I felt certain her chuckle now implied sinister intent.
“I’m sorry, but I must go now. I hope you find the Cathy you are looking for.” I hung the receiver in its cradle as quickly as I could. I stood there several seconds longer, just staring at the phone, hoping it wouldn’t ring again. It didn’t, but at that point I felt unnerved and an unwelcome tingling sensation rolled up my spine and rested heavily in the back of my neck. I picked up the receiver and dialed my mom. “Can you come over and stay with me until it’s time for me to go home? I feel really spooked.”
Several years pass and I am living on my own in Etna, NH. I am living on the second floor of a large white square-shaped house while a nice couple of married Tuck School students rent out the bottom. I am a senior in High School, but living alone because my mom had remarried and moved to Vermont, and I didn’t want to spend my last year of high school away from my soccer team, my friends, and playing violin for the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra. My Honda Elite 50cc motor-scooter would get me to the places I needed to be during several months of the year and my friends with cars helped me out during the long winter months.
I was sitting on my futon in my living room, working through some math problems for homework when the phone rang.
It took me a moment to process the name. “Sorry, there’s no Cathy here.”
“Cathy, I know this is you.” I am trying to place the familiar voice of the little old lady on the other end of line. A strong sense of déjà vu overtakes my body and I suddenly realize where I had heard this voice say the same exact thing to me years before.
I wanted to ask her where she got my unlisted number. Only my close friends and family members knew my number, and even if any of them were playing such a cruel and unusual prank on me, I knew none of them were aware of that same conversation on the night I was babysitting so many years previous, nor would they have had my old neighbor’s phone number. I wanted to hang up and call my mom, asking her to rush over and spend time with me, but she didn’t live nearby me anymore.
“Cathy, are you there?”
I wasn’t sure how to answer. What was it with this lady? How did she keep finding me? Why did she think my name was Cathy? I waited, trying to catch my breath.
“Cathy, Cathy, Cathy….” The lady repeated.
I hung up scared. I stared at the phone, wondering if I should unplug it. It didn’t ring again that night.
Three years passed and I was now a college student in upstate NY. We were on a short break, so I decided to stay at my mom’s house in Vermont for those few days. She was outside with her husband, working on prepping their boat for a ride down the Connecticut River. The phone rang, so I quickly nabbed it.
The memories of the voice and the name combined sent a much stronger and deeper tingling up my spine. The thin blonde hairs on my arms stood as erect as porcupine quills. “Who are you looking for?” I wanted to make sure I didn’t mishear her.
“Cathy, meet me at the pond.”
I hung up immediately and ran outside to tell my mom what had just happened. She was the only one familiar with the disturbing events from years earlier. Neither one of us could explain how these three events happened, nor can we explain these events today. What I do know is this—I absolutely refuse to pick up someone else’s line.
Currently I live in Texas in a time where we have phone access to use 24/7, as well as Calling Party ID information when we receive a phone call. I have been residing here for the past nineteen years, and those three unsettling phone calls that happened all those years ago have never happened again. I can honestly say I am not really sure what I would do if it did.
This is a true story. Care to share a CREEPY ENCOUNTER of your own?