There was no way I could I explain, rationalize, work through, or find a solution to help me with this force that was unseen and unnamed.
I composed myself and started to let the last horse out, a beautiful Palomino Quarter Horse named Que. He was my favorite horse at the farm. His personality was quirky and he was always full of mischief. His favorite treat was honey buns and he loved to torture me by pulling on my clothing looking for the elusive honey bun that I would hide in a side pocket. He was quite a handful to lead because he would use his lips to tickle me. I spoiled him terribly. He was a great lesson horse and one of the favorite mounts for my students to ride. He always made me laugh, and I needed one now.
The sun glimmered in the sky and I heard the faint sound of a faraway owl. I could also hear the barn phone ringing. I knew I would never be able to reach it, so I took my time putting Que out into his paddock. I held up the honey bun and he greedily ate it. Then he licked my hands and I kissed his beautiful and dignified face. I let him graze on the sweet grass outside of the barn and buried my head in his strong neck. His sweet aroma gave me comfort, and I desired that more than ever. He pulled his head up as if to reassure me and I scratched him under his chin. I reluctantly put him out and secured his gate with two chains. He was a real Houdini and could undo any lock with those infamous lips of his. He stood watching me, and I told him there would be no loose horses on my watch. I reluctantly left him, not knowing what I would face once I got back to the barn.
As I rounded the entrance to the barn, I could hear the phone ringing again. Sharon met me in the barn office and sat on the sofa across from the desk. She wanted to say something, but there was nothing to say. I was slowly losing all dignity and control over myself. I placed my head in my hands and then wiped my eyes.
“I can’t take this anymore,” I said, fighting back tears. This is destroying me. The truth is I’m scared. I can’t fight this by myself. I am ill-equipped,” I said.
Sharon said nothing, but her face said it all. She knew that there was something here, a presence that was menacing and looming in every room, every stall. Its ominous and threatening presence hung over us like a dank odor. It intimidated us and convinced us that we were at its mercy. The jail sentence had been handed out, and what we were guilty of we did not know or understand.
The phone rang again. This time I did not hold it to my ear; instead I picked it up and slammed it down. Anger recoiled like a snake and it lifted its ugly head from the depths of my soul. I gritted my teeth and grunted. Sharon sat with a look of horror on her face. We were both terrified.
I had met Sharon at the high school I was working at in the fall of 1990. She was the school nurse, and I taught special education. We had similar personalities, as we were both nurturing and caring. We loved the students, and we would mutually come to the same conclusions in helping many of our most difficult charges. We would encourage each other every day and would frequently spend the evening discussing the intimate details of our trials and tribulations. It was during this time that she started attending a small country church, after she discovered that her husband no longer wanted to stay married to her. It devastated Sharon. She found strength and peace in getting to know God. Frequently she would share the pastor’s lessons and teachings with me. I listened half-heartedly, for truthfully, I did not really believe in God.
Abruptly Sharon said, “I have an idea. Let me call my pastor, his name is Don, and he is wonderful. I told him about you last night, and I explained what has been happening here. He told me to tell you that you should call him.”
“No, Sharon,” I said. “I don’t want to talk to a pastor. What is he going to do?” I was incredulous. To me pastors were weak people with stiff personalities. Talking to a pastor, I thought, would be a waste of my time.
The phone rang again. I guess this was the theme for today. On other days, it manifested itself through strange noises, either humming in low frequency or loud banging, or chairs would move, lights would go on and off; or music would play reverberating through the house’s speakers. Today it was driving me crazy with a ringing phone. I shook my head as tears welled in my eyes. As I accidentally hit the bump that was now the size of a softball under my arm, I winced in pain, recalling the first assault of the day.
Sharon picked up the phone while I busied myself with straightening the papers on the desk. I knew who she was calling. I glanced at the wall clock; it was barely seven in the morning.
“Pastor Don,” she said, “I’m sorry to call you this early, but it seems that things are out of control here and I think Jill needs to talk to you. Remember, she is the girl who is staying at her friend’s farm while the family is on vacation? Yes, it is starting again, but it has never happened this early or intensely before. She was stung by a bee and the phone has been ringing incessantly with no one on the line. Would you like to talk to her?” She paused and then handed me the phone. She held the phone at arm’s length, and with her free arm, she waved frantically like she was holding the keys of hope for those in despair.
I vehemently shook my head and placed my arms across my chest to show that I would not take the phone, nor talk to her pastor. I continued with my business of organizing the papers until she held the phone up to my face, and then she did the unthinkable, she walked away, forcing me to pick it up.
I held the phone up to my ear with trepidation. Choked with frustration, my voice came out cracked and weak, as I uttered “Hello.”
“Is this Jill?” His gentle voice was calmly reassuring.
“Yes, I understand that Sharon told you about me and what we are experiencing here,” I said. His calm voice evoked a feeling of peace, and I longed for it like nothing else before. I was like a weary traveler longing for rest, and his voice was a soft, downy pillow that was oddly comforting my soul.
“Yes, Sharon did tell me about you and where you are staying. I actually know the place. If I am correct it is one of the oldest historic sites in New Jersey. What exactly are you experiencing there?”
He wanted to know every detail. Like a faucet, I turned on the spigots full blast and spilled out the whole story. The music that would blare out of unseen speakers in the house, the TV that would change channels and how the volume would rise and fall without being touched, the chair that scraped across the wooden floor even though no one was near it, the chandelier that would only partially light, the screaming fight I heard on the balcony outside the bedroom that I was staying in the first night. I told him about the banging and thumping that would permeate the house and that no matter how hard I searched, I could not find the source. I shared how I would turn the lights off and as soon as I got to the balcony, every single light in the house would go on.
I told him about how my faithful dog, Amy, refused to step foot in certain rooms. She would whimper and at times her hair would stand up around her neck and she would snarl as if she were protecting me. She would stare and follow an invisible force that seemed to float above her. I told him about the flickering barn lights, the red welt under my arm, and the persistent phone ringing with a dead line as soon as I answered.
I realized I had been recalling all of these weird happenings without taking a breath. My heart was pounding and I began to involuntarily nervously pace in the small office.
Pointedly, I asked, “Am I in danger?”
He took a deep breath and said, “Yes, I do believe you are. Accept Jesus as your personal savior. He is the only one that has the power to break the stronghold of these demons. Once you ask Jesus into your heart, His blood will cover your sins, and you will be His. No one will be able to mess with you. You will have the power to overcome these demonic forces that are” he paused for a moment; “quite obviously harassing you. Now would you like to accept Jesus as your personal savior?”
He had put a name to these forces, demons. I had watched scary movies of supernatural forces, but I did not think that they actually existed. I was frightened and confused. Why were they harassing me? I wondered.
All I could think of was how much I disliked Christians. They always seemed so judgmental and condemning. Pastor Don was just the opposite, though. He had a soft, soothing voice, and it seemed that he had a lot of experience with people who were in trouble or frightened. He was calming me by putting a name to these frightening occurrences and most importantly he held out a solution. He talked about blood and the cleansing of sins. However, I felt I did not fit in with the other sinners of the world. I reasoned that I was a good person and that my sins were not all that bad.
He continued to talk about the blood of Christ, that all people are sinners and that they need a savior. I half-heartedly listened as he spoke, as I had always believed that Christians were crazy and I didn’t want to be one of them. I could not comprehend powers that I could not see, yet I seemed to be in the midst of them. It seemed that the only thing I was certain of was that I did not want to be a born-again Christian. I liked my life the way it was, and I was certain that it would go back to normal once I left this place. All I needed to do was leave this disturbed house and farm, and I reasoned that would be happening in precisely two short days, sixteen hours and thirty minutes.
“No thanks,” I said emphatically. I did not want to accept Jesus as my personal savior.
No sooner had I said those words than the phone started to ring while I was on it. I held the phone away from my ear and stared quizzically at it. Sharon quickly came back into the office thinking my conversation had ended. I motioned to her that I was still speaking with Pastor Don, but the phone was ringing again. Impossible, there was no other phone line. How could the phone be ringing while I am on the phone? My mind raced ahead. Would I be in this condition forever? Would I be harassed by demons for the rest of my life? Surely this was supernatural and demonic.
“If I accept Jesus as my personal savior, will this stop?” I asked, as the unremitting ringing of the phone interrupted my thoughts, and I began losing my concentration. What I really wanted at that moment was rest and, more importantly, peace. I knew this pastor had the answer for me.
“I don’t know,” Pastor Don replied. “What I do know is that if you accept Jesus you will have the power to come against these demonic forces because He will be in you. Therefore, you will also have His power. Jill, whether you realize this or not, you are in a dangerous place. It is not only dangerous for you physically but spiritually as well. Jesus is the only one who can help you now. God, the father, Jesus, the son, and the Holy Spirit are the only ones that can help you now. I won’t be able to help you, Sharon won’t be able to help you, no one will be able to help you, except Jesus.” He said this so forcefully that I was frightened. I knew deep in my heart that what he was saying was the truth.
The phone continued to ring, interrupting our conversation. His words soaked into my brain. I was faced with the reality that I would not be able to escape this harassment, and it pierced the core of my being. A perfect compromise appeared and I leapt at the chance to use Jesus at this time to get rid of these forces. This was a viable solution to me. Then, I believed, I could forget all about this and resume my normal life.
“Okay, how do I accept Jesus into my life?” I asked, as the ringing continued.
He took a deep breath, and said, “First you need to confess that you are a sinner. Then you need to ask Him to wash you clean of your sins. Ask Him to dwell in your heart. That’s all.”
“But how do I accept Jesus?” The simplicity of salvation hadn’t sunk in yet. There must be more to it than this, I thought.
“Why don’t you repeat after what I say?” He didn’t wait for me to respond, he just plunged forward. “Jesus, I recognize that I am a sinner (he paused for me to repeat him). I ask that you wash me clean of my sins (he paused). Come dwell in my heart Jesus (another pause),” he said.
After I said the prayer, relief and peace inundated my thoughts and permeated my being. The phone had finally stopped ringing, and I felt free. In that brief moment of prayer directed by the pastor, I knew that something had happened inside of me. I knew that somehow I was different. I was hoping that all of this would stop and life would become normal again. Little did I know that things would get a lot worse before they would ever get better.
(I have never written a book before, but this concludes the first chapter. What do you think? Has it captivated your interest? Your feedback is valuable and I thank you for your honest thoughts)