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Strange Sounds, Burial Grounds And The Case Of The Twisted Dream Catcher

Moshe the cat lives in an old Washington, D.C., house with his owner, Cassandra Slack.
Moshe the cat lives in an old Washington, D.C., house with his owner, Cassandra Slack.

Moshe the cat lives in an old brick house in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, D.C. His owner, Cassandra Slack, moved in a little more than a year ago.

The first floor feels open and airy. Large windows bring a flood of light inside, making the original hardwood floors shine.

But downstairs, in the basement where Slack lives, the atmosphere is different. The floor is carpeted, the lights are dim, and the ceiling is low.

Slack had an eerie experience down here when she first moved in.

"I was in the basement getting my stuff all settled and I was hearing noises upstairs. Like distinct footsteps." Slack said. She assumed one of her two roommates had just come home.

Cassandra Slack stands in the basement of her house, where she first heard the unexplained footsteps.
Cassandra Slack stands in the basement of her house, where she first heard the unexplained footsteps.

"I walked upstairs and I'm like, 'Hey,' and nobody responded. So I went up upstairs to the bedrooms. And I said, 'Hey!' And nobody responded," she said. Neither of her roommates were at home.

"I really freaked myself out by talking to nothing."

Slack said she continued to hear the footsteps and she learned to ignore them. She's also heard strange noises late at night coming from the water heater closet a few feet from her bed.

Slack has heard strange noises at night coming from the water heater closet only a few feet from her bed.
Slack has heard strange noises at night coming from the water heater closet only a few feet from her bed.

"I heard this fluttering and a crash and thud," she said, remembering back to a night this past spring. "I was convinced it was a bat or something. But there was nothing there."

Adding to the closet's creepiness, Slack said she can't turn off the light in there either. Its been on ever since she moved in more than a year ago and the bulb has yet to even flicker.

Slack can tune out the unexplained sounds, but something else happened upstairs in the dining room that's harder for her to dismiss.

There is a dream catcher hanging 8 feet from the floor in the back corner of the dining room. She hung it at that height to keep it out of the cat's reach.

A dream catcher hangs 8 feet from the ground in the corner of Slack's dining room.
A dream catcher hangs 8 feet from the ground in the corner of Slack's dining room.

"I came home one day and the dream catcher is on the floor and it's bent out of shape. Like it's been dragged down, so it went from a circle to an eye shape," she said. "It was really freaky that it was not only on the floor but really distorted looking."

Slack repaired her dream catcher and put it back up on the wall. It has remained untouched since.

"Which makes me think it's not the cats, because they're inclined to go back to things that look like toys to them."

Slack has an idea as to why these things might be happening. She got the idea from her next door neighbor.

Ella Louise Wingfield Walker is the unofficial neighborhood historian. She's 92 years old and has lived in the same house her entire life.

"I was born in this house and I'm gonna die in this house," Walker said.

Her house and Cassandra Slack's house are next to a big gray church. Before the church and surrounding houses were built, Walker said this piece of land was a cemetery.

The steeple of the church next door can be seen through an upstairs window in Slack's house.
The steeple of the church next door can be seen through an upstairs window in Slack's house.

Walker's father told her about the house's spooky history when she was 6 years old.

"I started crying," she said. "I thought there were dead bodies in the house."

Walker's fear waned years ago, when she was still a child. The same can't be said for her neighbors, though. According to Walker, many of them are well aware that this plot of land used to be a cemetery.

"I told a lot of them," she said with a chuckle.

While Walker likes to share the story of the cemetery, that's all it is to her — a story that is guaranteed to raise some goosebumps. She said the only spooky thing she has seen in her house is a mouse.

Moshe caught in a rare position — standing still.
Moshe caught in a rare position — standing still.

Next door, a mouse is the least of Cassandra Slack's concerns; Moshe provides free pest control. Slack has a feeling her cat might be able to handle paranormal pests, too.

She isn't sure what to make of the experiences she has had in the house, but she said the footsteps she used to hear often have died down.

"This is my theory: The person/ghost who lived here is allergic to cats and was like, 'Nah, I'm out of here,' " she said, ending with a laugh.

That person/ghost did not respond to our requests for comment.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.