The house on the hill wasn't like the other houses on the street. It was older than the houses around it. The real estate agent had mentioned something about character. Renee fell in love with the house the moment she saw it. She was surprised that it was in her price range. With four small children to raise on her own, she did not have time to ask questions.
Moving day was chaotic and exhausting. The three youngest children were cranky and tired. Finally, everyone settled down by eight. The house was quiet. Renee was watching her four small children playing on the floor. Suddenly, a chill went down Renee's spine. Movement from the empty corner of the room snapped her attention from the newspaper.
'What the hell?' she thought to herself as she jumped up from the couch. Not wanting to alarm the children, she quietly followed the figure down the hall. The figure didn't seem to notice her.
Renee stared in shock and disbelief at the thin, bedraggled, cloaked figure that seemed to glide rather than walk. Then it was gone. Willing herself not to scream with every bit of effort she could muster, she gathered the children into a bedroom and began to pray for their safety while burning sage sticks to cleanse the space.
That night seemed nothing more than an episode of an overactive imagination getting the best of Renee at the end of a long day and it was never mentioned again for many years. Over the next 12 years, strange things happened once in a while. Things would go missing for a bit and then reappear in odd places, like the keys that resurfaced in the dishwasher. Renee figured her children were practical jokers like their father had been. The noises like windows shutting when all the windows remained as they had been were a bit more worrisome.
Many years later, a very good job offer in another state required another move. The children were now old enough to decide where they wanted to live for themselves. Angela was working her way through the final year of college. The twins were only two years younger and were set to start the new semester at a college in the same city as their mother's new home. The youngest, Leigh, wanted to finish the year at her current school. The plan was that she would stay with an aunt until the next term. Then she would join her mother in the new house. Packing an entire lifetime into a few boxes is always a chore, no matter how old one is not. Angela was helping her mother pack the house for the move. After that, Angela would be back at college for the spring. Christmas would be celebrated in another as-yet-unfamiliar house.
'Mom, there's something I always wanted to ask you.'
'Well, I guess it doesn't matter now that we are all moving anyway.'
'What is it, dear?'
'There is something that I don't know how to tell you. I'm glad we're leaving this house. Because... sometimes I see things here. Things that I know can't be there. Things in long cloaks and... Mom, why do you look so pale?'
The twins, Jake and Rick, walked into the room as Renee sat down on one of the packing boxes. Angela was worried that she had said something wrong.
'What happened?' asked Rick.
'Yeah, you haven't looked that upset since the dog stole the dinner roast a few years ago,' added Jake.
'There is something I have to tell you,' whispered Renee as her now-grown children leaned closer. 'On the night we moved into this house, I saw a cloaked figure walk down the hall and then it disappeared. I thought it was my imagination and fatigue at the time.'
'It's okay, Mom. The black, cloaked figures are here to protect us from the other stuff,' answered the twins in unison.
'What other stuff?' exclaimed Angela and Renee at the same time, only a beat apart. Jake looked at his mother and sister and began to tell them of another night long ago.
'It was about eight years ago, I think,' started Jake as he looked towards Rick.
'Yeah, we were about twelve and Leigh was almost nine,' added Rick.
'It was Halloween. We had been out to a party with our friends and got home about ten. Leigh was asleep by then. We couldn't sleep so we stayed up reading for a bit since it was a Friday night. As it neared midnight, we heard Leigh say something. She didn't scream, but we thought she had called one of us, since her room was next to ours. So we went across the hall to her room,' explained Jake.
Rick continued. 'When we walked in, we saw a cloaked figure holding something else at the window, not letting it pass as if the closed window wasn't enough. As we crossed the room. Without even turning to look at us, the cloaked figure dropped something. It was a silver cross.'
'What did you do with the cross?' asked Renee, feeling a bit ill as she felt the cross pendant around her neck.
'Firmly embedded it in the window frame,' answered the twins.
'That's why we gave each of you the cross charms for Christmas that year... after we had them blessed,' finished Jake.