Reader Submission - "The Anguished Man"
This story was submitted by Sean Robinson:
Over twenty five years ago a friend of my Grandmother gave her an old oil painting called "The Anguished Man". She told my Grandmother that the artist used his own blood mixed in with the oils and committed suicide shortly after finishing the painting. I have no way of confirming if this story is true or not but my Grandmother passed the story down to me when she gave me the painting. I really liked the painting but because my wife didn’t like it, I kept it in the cellar.
After our cellar was flooded during a prolonged period of heavy rain I moved the contents of the cellar to my parent’s garage while the cellar dried out. When I got the painting back, I decided to keep it in our spare bedroom on the third floor of our house. Shortly after getting the painting back, we started to hear strange noises, loud unexplainable bangs and an odd scraping noise like someone scratching their nails on fabric. When the painting was in the cellar, our dog would not go in the cellar, she would just stand outside growling; now when it was upstairs she refused to go to the top floor despite the fact that she usually used to follow me everywhere.
At night we would often hear crying and sobbing noises. I suppose these noises could have come from outside the noise and it was suggested the crying could have been a cat outside but they sounded like they came from within the house. I wasn’t duly alarmed at this point and put everything down to natural phenomenon. However, I started to see the shadowy figure of a man in the house. It was always just in the corner of the eye or brief fleeting glimpses of a dark shape. Soon the rest of my family were seeing things too. It has been suggested that because we all knew the history of the painting that we were all imagining these things and I suppose that is a possibility but at the time it felt very real.
As the weeks went by, the noises got progressively worse. I even heard crying that seemed to be coming from inside our own bedroom. Again, it has been suggested that this could have been from a cat outside the window but I’ve heard the noises cats make and this sounded distinctively human. A few nights I woke up suddenly and saw the dark figure of a man standing at the foot of the bed. Could I have been dreaming? Again this is a possibility but at the time it felt very real. The figure had the appearance of a tall middle aged man but his features were unclear. I never actually felt afraid at this point just extremely curious. I wanted to find out what was happening. Was it just my imagination or was there something paranormal happening?
We started to notice numerous cold spots around the house and we often had a strange feeling of being watched. I often felt like someone was standing directly behind me and heard whispers that seemed to be extremely close by. One evening my wife had gone to bed early, she thought it was me getting into bed beside her but when she turned around she found herself staring into a strangers eyes. I heard her scream from downstairs and ran upstairs to find her extremely shaken up by the experience. She has since told me she may have had a very lucid dream but at the time she was convinced it had actually happened. After this experience, my wife persuaded me to put the painting back in the cellar. Things settled down almost immediately but once again my dog refused to go anywhere near the cellar. When the painting was upstairs, the dog would quite happily follow me into the cellar.
After posting the videos on YouTube I attracted a lot of interest worldwide and several people asked me if I would consider setting a video camera up in an attempt to record some of the activity. I moved the painting back into the top bedroom and set up the video camera. I recorded for approx eight hours over three consecutive nights. After the first night I was convinced I had left the bedroom door open but in the morning it was closed so I changed the camera angle in order to record more of the bedroom because at first it had been focused solely on the painting. After spending several hours looking through all the footage I found I had recorded quite a lot of noises, most of them sounded like they came from outside the house and were easily explainable but a few were different. They sounded like they came from inside the bedroom. There was a strange scraping sound similar to the noises we had previously been hearing and the sound of a loud bang, like something falling but in the morning nothing was disturbed. When I checked the footage from the second night I found I had recorded the bedroom door suddenly swinging shut despite there being no drafts in the room. The third night I closed the door before recording in the hope it might swing open through the night but on this occasion it remained closed.
I decided to leave the painting in the top bedroom for the time being and over the next few weeks my wife felt someone stroke her hair when she was in the bathroom and one night when I was going to bed I saw a strange fog like mist at the top of the stairs. I walked into the middle of it and it was extremely cold. It felt like I was standing in the middle of some dry ice. My vision was blurred and I became very light headed. Then suddenly it vanished as quickly as it came. Now while some of the incidents could be explained by saying I was dreaming or it was a result of my over active imagination. This strange mist was real. It was something I could see and feel and something for which I can find no explanation. While the painting remained upstairs the whole family experienced feelings of being watched. We also started to hear the noises at night again. Somehow the whole house felt different when the painting was upstairs. I also began to experience intense feelings of anxiety and dread and suffered from terrible nightmares.
At one point it felt like I was being repeatedly and violently lifted up out of bed and slammed back down. I also started dreaming about the painting and kept dreaming about the same man, a tall middle aged man but I could never quite make out his face. After a few weeks I decided to set up the video camera again in the spare bedroom to try and catch some more of the activity on tape. This time I recorded over four consecutive nights for about seven hours each night. I spent hours looking through the footage again and I found I had recorded several strange light anomalies. At the time these were recorded everyone in the house was sleeping, there are thick curtains up in the bedroom so it can't be light from outside. There was one small lamp on in the bedroom at all times. They were not like the usual ‘orbs’ you see on some videos and photographs, they seemed to be moving around and over the painting. I also recorded many noises, such as bangs and scraping sounds that were similar to the sounds in my previous video.
A few days after this was recorded I heard my sons footsteps coming down the stairs then suddenly I heard him stumble and fall down the last four or five steps. I jumped up and rushed to help him, to my relief he was unhurt, just a little shaken up. Later on in the day I could tell that something was bothering him so I asked him what was wrong. He was a little reluctant to tell me at first for fear of sounding stupid but after some persuasion he told me that it felt like something had pushed him downstairs. He said that he was just walking down the stairs when he felt a pressure on his back that pushed him forward. He tried to stop falling but he said the force behind him was too strong. Well this really concerned me. Was I putting my family at risk by keeping the painting in the house? I decided to put the painting away again in the cellar and once again the activity seemed to stop. I have tried to research the paintings background and have posted the story all over the internet in the vague hope that someone will recognize the artist but so far I have had no luck. I have had many offers from people wanting to buy the painting but I really have no desire to sell it.
At first I thought the painting was very unsettling but I put down all the activity to the fact I had been told of its background and perhaps I was imagining things, but the longer I had the painting the more convinced I became that there is something paranormal about it. It has been suggested that because he used his own blood in the oils it could be the restless spirit of the artist but a few people have told me that it may be much more sinister than that. They told me that it could be some sort of demon. At first I was a little disturbed by the activity but I always felt there was nothing malicious or evil about it but since my son’s ‘fall’ down the stairs I’m not too sure. If the painting is indeed ‘haunted’ then is the ‘spirit’ trying to communicate with us, trying to tell us something? I have been advised at various times to burn the painting or even bury it, then I have been told not to burn it because if I burn it and it is some sort of gateway then I would be just sealing whatever has come through into our reality and that could make matters much worse. I have also been told to have it blessed or even exorcised.
I do know now, however, that I don’t want to destroy it. I have asked my family if they know anything about the painting but nobody knows anything about it. All I have to go on is what was passed on to my Grandmother and in turn was passed on to me. Hopefully I will eventually find out the artist’s name and then I will be able to research the validity of its back story. I have tried to remain objective and look at the events rationally but I have no explanation for some of the things I have experienced.