Locked away in attics, basements, and dark corners across the world are stories of beings and beasts that hide in the night.
These are those stories.
This is the Sleepless in Suburbia Podcast
I’m Brooke, case manager for our team, and this is the audio recap for Case 125: The Shadow Man Inn.
Before we get started, I have a quick request; if you haven’t subscribed, make sure to do so that you get our new case each week. Last if you’re looking for some spooky gear like hoodies and masks, check out our merch store by going to sleeplessinsuburbia.com and clicking Merch. Okay, enough of the housekeeping stuff, on to this week’s spooky tale.
I’d just ventured out on a 4-mile walk through the autumn leaves that last exactly 29.6 hours in our part of the country when my phone vibrated in the fanny pack (I’m sorry, runners belt). Tripping over a raised portion of the sidewalk, I freed my phone, walking in place as I read a text from a high school friend, Amanda.
Amanda – Hey, do you have time to meet with a friend of mine? She’s got a stalker issue.
My marching in place stopped. Me – That sounds like a police thing, not a suburban amature investigator thing.
Her response buzzed in shockingly fast. Amanda – Please, she just wants to share her story; I think you can get to the bottom of what’s going on.
Me – Paranormal investigator. As the text zoomed off through the ethers, I wondered if Amanda understood what I researched.
Amanda – I get that. That’s why I’m asking for your help.
Me – Okay, pass along my info, and I’d be happy to connect with her.
Two blocks further, another text vibrated, Amanda – Can you meet her now?
I sighed, looking back in the direction of my house, which I could still see if I angled myself just right. This autumn walk wasn’t happening. Me – Sure, give me an hour to wrap some stuff up. Text me the details.
I arrived at Brewed Awakening just after 2 pm. I hated being late, but I couldn’t find my keys, that James had forgotten to put on the hook after getting his hockey gear from the car the night before. Amanda waved to me, her magenta pink curls blowing in the crisp breeze. Next to her, a woman with black hair swept up in a messy bun, oversized black sunglasses hiding half her face, and a massive red buffalo plaid scarf.
“Great scarf,” I muttered between apologies for being late.
“Oh stop,” Amanda waved, handing me a menu. “I ordered you the hard cider; I hope that’s okay.”
“Perfect,” I nodded, scanning the menu’s selection of locally sourced small plates.
“Brooke this is [note she asked that we not use her real name, so we’ll borrow the name of one of our OG listeners, Heather.] Heather. Heather, this is the friend I was telling you about it. She’s been experiencing the paranormal since we were kids.”
Heather grabbed a tan packet of sugar from the ramekin brought with her cup of coffee, ripping off the top. “This feels ridiculous,” she said, stirring the steaming liquid with a steady clank of her spoon.
“I specialize in ridiculous, unbelievable, and not even possible. This,” I made a circle around the table with my pointer finger. “Is a judgment-free zone. You’re in the circle of trust that weird stuff happens.”
Heather worked as a corporate controller for over ten years, saving and investing dutifully, until she left the comfort of corporate to pursue her dream of opening a small inn. She bought a property in need of a little TLC, moving it to immerse herself in the refurb project fully. Quickly realizing she wasn’t alone in the building. Someone or something was watching her.
At first, it was movement caught out of the corner of her eye. Then doors would be closed that she knew had been open earlier. While hanging curtains in a guest bedroom, a shadow moved past the window, startling Heather so badly she tumbled from her perch on the ladder. Laying on the floor, catching her breath, she remembered a critical detail. She was on the second floor; no one could have passed by directly outside of the window.
A few nights later, still nursing the bumps and bruises from her fall, she awoke in the middle of the night to a sound. Rolling towards her open bedroom door, a tall shadow stood, motionless in the hallway. Blinking the sleep from her eyes, unfortunately, did not erase the shadow figure. Slowly she reached for her phone, laying face down towards the edge of the bed. As the screen lit up, the figure turned to flee into the heart of the inn. Dialing 911 Heather heard footsteps pound up the steps towards the second story.
The police arrived quickly, searching the home from top to bottom, the intruder was gone. This was the first of 12 calls to the police department. Each time the officers arrived, searched the home for an intruder or signs of forced entry but found no hint of anyone else being inside. After the last visit, Heather overheard two officers joking about her through an open window. Their words stuck with her.
“Crazy, attention-seeking, drama queen.”
That was the last time she called the police, despite the man’s continued appearance in the shadows.
“Heather I am so sorry you’re having these experiences,” I said, taking a bite of my sweet potato quesadilla.
“Thank you, but,” she lifted her sunglasses, rubbing at the deep purple blotches beneath her eyes. “I don’t need sorry. I know that’s harsh, but what I need is to be able to see my inn dream to fruition, and I can’t do that with a shadow creature walking the hallways.”
Heather and I would get along just fine.
The yet to be named inn was an Italianate Architecture style masterpiece. The most breathtaking focal point of the red brick building built in 1870, was a belvedere tower stretching up a couple of stories higher than the main building. A flat roof small sitting area was enclosed by a detailed rot iron fence adorned with intricate triangles and circular patterns. Other notable architectural features include noticeably taller first-floor windows, protruding eves supported by intricately carved corbels, and a single oculus window.
After months of hard work and various specialized contractors, the once disheveled structure was glowing with revived life. The main leveled, now beautifully restored, hosted a warm reception area in what was the living room, a dining room open concept into a gleaming state of the art kitchen, a small library with overstuffed wingback chairs and impressive floor to ceiling bookshelves, and the innkeepers quarters, including a private bathroom.
The newly remodeled second floor holds six guest rooms; one is a gorgeous sweat, each with their own small bathroom. Here, nestled around the doors with ornate bronze numbers, is a one that’s different from the rest. It’s embellishment, not a number, but instead, a circle with a triangle in the middle, point facing downward. Behind this door is a narrow curved stairwell leading up to the flat roof sitting area. Like the guest rooms, this door locks with a single skeleton key that’s kept in Heather’s room. Guests would ask for the key if they wanted to explore the tower.
The grounds were lush lawns and outdoor seating areas under the covered porch at the inn’s front and rear.
Looking at the before and after pictures of the property, I was incredibly impressed.
Claire Update – If you haven’t listened to last week’s episode Case 124: Nomads Wood Part 2 – you’ll want to do that first before listening to this update. Claire visited her doctor, who chalked the triangle under her arm up to a birthmark or a scar…. Nothing of concern, according to her GP. Claire even pushed to have a full spectrum of labs run, everything thankfully, came back normal.
She’s still not able to remember how she got from the swamp area, watching a light to tree branches she couldn’t even reach. She’d confirmed that she’d never climbed a single tree in her life, until, apparently that night. Claire’s meeting with someone specializing in repressed memory therapy to see if they can shed light on what’s going on. We’ll keep you updated.
In this week’s segment of Ford’s Crystals Corner, Black Obsidian. This one is great to carry in your pocket or on a necklace to ward off negative energy. In our world, which is more than a little topsy turvy, having an added layer of protection around you can’t hurt. You can also use this stone to help your focus and stay grounded. Black Obsidian is a powerful stone to add to your collection.
As for the rest of us, life has actually been pretty dull (knock on wood), so I’ll spare you the details of the number of Netflix series I’ve finished since our last update.
Historical Society Research
The Straugburg Castle, as the once home, was coined upon its completion in 1872, home of Anothony and Mary Straugburg and their four daughters Eva, Josie, Annie, and Clara. By all accounts, the large house was a happy one but was the location of several family deaths, some tragic. Including Anothony in 1878 from tuberculosis complications, Mary in 1919 from a heart attack, Eva’s infant daughter, tragically drowned in the pool located beside the home, and Eva would later die in the house in 1957. In total, five generations of Strauburg’s lived in the home before it was ultimately purchased by railroad tycoon Perry Berry (yup, you heard that right, Perry Berry…. His parents hated him). Eventually, the home fell into disrepair, sitting abandoned for a couple of decades before Heather purchased in at a bargain price.
Onsite Interview Recap
“Heather,” I waved, pulling my notebook from the passenger seat of Lo’s Prius, “Great to see you again.”
Heather sat on the inn’s stone steps, the most enormous coffee mug I’d ever seen in hand. Her boyfriend style denim shirt was wrinkled over black leggings snagged above the right knee. Under her eyes, mascara creased into the exhausted puffiness exacerbating the already dark circles. I didn’t think it was possible, but she looked even more exhausted than the last time I saw her.
“Lo, Pru, this is Heather. She’s friends and a former coworker of Amanda,” I said, sitting beside Heather, a shiver ran up my back. I turned looking up at the windows, expecting to see eyes looking back at me.
“Thanks for coming,” Heather said, her smile not making it to her dulled green eyes. “I’m not sure how much longer I can take this.”
“We’ll get this figured out,” Pru said, looking up the brick facade. “Open for showing us around and filling us in on what’s been happening?”
Heather nodded, and we followed her into the inn. “We can start right here,” she gestured to the staircase leading to the second floor. “He shoved Nana Rose down the stairs.”
I gasped, quickly clasping my hand over my mouth, “Sorry.”
“It’s okay; it was terrifying.” She said, wrapping her arms around herself.
It all happened in just seconds. Nana Rose and Heather finished the upper-level tour and headed back towards the front door to head out for lunch. It played out in slow motion directly in front of Heather’s eyes. A hazy figure appeared in the space of the couple steps between Heather and Nana Rose. In mid-step down, Nana Rose’s body lurched forward, becoming airborne before slamming into the hardwoods at the inn’s threshold. Thankfully she was just three steps from the bottom and only suffered a banged open knee and bruises.
While waiting to get examined at a local hospital, Nana Rose described the sensation of two hands’ shoving her forward forcefully. Just seconds before the shove, she heard a man’s laugh so close to her ear, she could feel his icy cold breath.
“Has anyone else had physical altercations with the entity?” Lo asked, checking the banister’s stability with a wiggle.
“Yes,” Heather nodded, pointing into the reception area. “A painter got shoved off a ladder in there, and in the kitchen, my friend [name redacted] was pinched hard enough to leave a bruise while totally alone. She won’t come inside anymore.”
A chill coursed along my spine; glancing behind me, the hallway was empty, but it felt like someone was close enough to touch. Once I’d sworn footsteps had walked up on me. Stepping into Heather’s room, I was overwhelmed with the scent of lavender. Judging by Pru’s long inhale, she’d smelled it too.
“I know it’s strong,” Heather said, standing in the middle of the cream and ivory-colored room. “I’m always bubbling on the higher end of anxious, and the shadow man watches me more often than not while I’m asleep, now I don’t sleep. I’d try anything to mellow out, and my aunt sells these essential oils.”
The shadow man had made himself right at home in the inn, and once he checked in, he didn’t seem to want to checkout. In the beginning, Heather was terrified that someone was either breaking into the house regularly or that a drifter had found a way to live in the walls or something undetected.
Doors opened on their own, floorboards creaked under the weight of someone walking across them when no one else was in the house, and the feelings of being watched led to crippling paranoia and anxiety.
Organizing the newly finished kitchen late into the night, Heather turned to catch just a glimpse of a man watching her from the window leading to the porch just off the kitchen. She screamed, and the figure vanished into the night. The police arrived, finding no one around the property, but they did suggest she fix the cut in the kitchen window screen to deter anyone else from trying to enter via the window. Heather was shocked; the windows were all brand new; there was no logical reason for the cut screen.
While taking an armful of boxes to the basement for storage, she heard the distinct sounds of footsteps overhead. Setting down the boxes, she glanced at her watch; the tile guy wasn’t due for another three hours. Jogging across the dimly lit basement towards the steps, she was greeted by the full figure shadow of a tall man standing at the top of the steps fully backlit by sunlight. For just an instant, his eyes glowed sulfur yellow, and the door slammed shut. Racing to the top of the stairs, the door wouldn’t budge; she was stuck in the basement for hours because her pounding got the attention of the tile guy who opened the unlocked basement door freeing her.
Through the frosted sliding glass door of her on suite shower, Heather watched a tall shadow take long strides across the bathroom. Startled, she pulled her towel from the hook, wrapping it around herself in the still running shower. Dripping wet and towel soaking through from the sprays of water, she slowly slid open the glass door. As she poked her head from the walk-in, the bathroom lights turned off without explanation.
The 6th call to the police happened just after 7 am. Heather returned from a jog along the creek behind the property, pausing on the back porch to stretch and cool down. A sound broke through the early morning quiet, knocking on the backdoor leading to the kitchen. Knocking from the inside. The knocking stopped, and as Heather reached for the knob, banging began. Frightened Heather raced to the front of the inn, locking herself in her car, waiting for the police to arrive. They did so, finding nothing, and questioning Heather about if the sound she heard was the blood pumping in her ears from her run.
“Let’s head upstairs,” Heather said, leading the way, with me bringing up the back of the pack gripping the handrail considerably harder than necessary.
Heather came to a stop outside of the room with the bronze number 2. “I’ve heard growling coming from this room, but only on Thursday nights.”
I tilted my head to the side, only on Thursday’s?
“I know it’s the strangest thing, Thursday, almost like clockwork, growling. Any other day, it’s happily normal. So at this point, it looks like I won’t be able to rent out room two if it includes Thursday.”
“What’s this symbol?” Lo asked, tracing her finger across a circle with a triangle in the middle, affixed to a door just across the hall.
“I’m not sure,” Heather admitted. “I found it on the door when I bought the place. I loved the look of it, so I had the other door numbers created with that as the inspiration.”
“For some occultists, the use of a triangle is for summoning. Sometimes even being used in spell casting. See how it’s upside, with the single point at the bottom and the two points at the top,” Pru tapped the single point. “This is feminine and could be tied to such elements as earth and water. It can also symbolize shifting into the physical world.”
“Like witches or something?” Heather asked. “The shadow man is a witch?”
Pru shook her head, “No that’s quite a leap. But it’s interesting and could have been used as a summoning or portal doorstep propping open our plane and another.”
Heather sighed, opening her mouth, then pressing her lips together in a hard line. She’d had plenty of time to adapt and come to terms with a shadow man. But realizing she’d based a portion of her decor around an occult symbol or undefined meaning was cracking her already fragile state.
“I hear footsteps working their way up and down the stairs leading to the sitting deck,” she finally said. “Everywhere, I hear the footsteps everywhere, even when I don’t see him, I know he’s here.”
Other Haunted Happenings
- The Shadow Man has been seen in nearly every room of the inn, including the tower, where he lurks in the darkened hallway looking out onto the sitting area.
- Cold spots move through the inn, but can’t be tied to a drafty window (they’re all brand new) or the heating/cooling system.
- Heather isn’t the only one with the creeping feeling of being watched.
- A job site foreman walked off the job on the second day, claiming that something evil he couldn’t see followed in room by room.
- The interior designer came by one evening to drop off fabric swatches, on the way to his daughter’s ballet rehearsal, the first-grader refused to walk up the steps. Insisting that a man with yellow eyes was watching her from the oculus window.
- Tapping comes from the inside of the walls.
- A 911 call came from the inn’s address’s landline, but there hadn’t been a landline hooked up to the home since the early 1980s.
- People from the street see shadows moving by the window.
- On several occasions, people walking past the inn have reported seeing two glowing yellow orbs looking down on them from the tower sitting area.
- Disembodied crying coming from the porches.
As night crept ever closer, Heather packed a big, heading to Amanda’s for a much-needed girls night in. Which hopefully included not only wine and tacos but also a good night’s sleep.
With a smaller location, we were setting up for a three-person investigation. Pru would take the first floor, I would be on the second, and Lo would briefly investigate the tower and sitting area. I say briefly because with a handsy shadow figuring shoving little old ladies downstairs, I didn’t want to tempt fate by providing it a target four stories above the ground.
At HQ, which at Pru’s request was set up in the library, Lo sifted through the research pack tote. “A pack a person?” She asked.
“I don’t have a strong feeling on this one,” I shrugged. “It would cut down on foot traffic up and down the main stairs.”
“Good point,” she said, dropping three backpacks to the freshly refinished hardwood floors. “Any pack special requests?”
Something tickled within my mind. “Hey Lo?”
“Mmmm,” she replied, dropping a digital recorder in one of the packs.
“The tower,” I chewed on the inside of my cheek, aware I sounded more high strung than usual. “I don’t think you should spend much time up there at all. A quick peak about and then back down.”
She looked up at me, eyes squinted with question, “I’m sure it will be fine, don’t worry I won’t lean over the railing or anything.”
The rest of the HQ setup was done in silence. Pru skimming the overflowing bookshelves, me worrying while pretending to review interview notes, and Lo adding the finishing touches to our research pack.
The investigation research tote included:
Research Packs included:
- 1 Digital Voice Recorder
- Digital Camera
- Mini first aid kit – only the essentials with Ford sitting this investigation out
- 1 Flashlight
- Granola bars and pink lemonade – compliments of Heather’s Nana Rose
- Whistle – just incase
- Clear Quartz crystal
Lo laughed softly, “B you worry too much,”
These are our experiences.
The uneasy feeling nagging at me the entire day didn’t subside as the sunset. If anything, the energy in the inn felt more agitated with Heather off of the property.
Shortly after 8 pm, our investigation of the inn commenced with Pru in the reception area. She set up EVP shop in the center of the room on a beautifully patterned rub that was softer than she’d expected. The room seemed quiet during her EVP session, but she found this intelligent response when listening back to her audio.
When asked, “Why are you still hanging out in this house?”
She caught this response.
PLEASE LISTEN TO EPISODE FOR AUDIO EVIDENCE
Did you hear the word, Mad? Is it possible this restless, sometimes aggressive spirit is held here by it’s residual anger from life?
Leaving the reception area, Pru heard a strange sound coming from the direction of the kitchen. Entering through the open dining area, she was smacked by a cold chill, before noticing the kitchen faucet gushing water at full force. Turning the handle towards off, Pru jerked away; the handle was scalding despite the water being ice cold. She finally had to grab a tea towel hanging from the double oven, to protect her hand while turning off the faucet.
Meanwhile, upstairs, I was surprisingly bored. An EVP session from each room had caught nothing that I’d heard while in the room or while listening through audio during our investigation wrap up phase. I was just about to head down to the library when something moved just outside of my line of sight. A shadow shifted in the hallway.
“Pru?” I called out as a floorboard creaked so close to the open door of the guest room I sat in. “Lo?” Another creaky step.
The dimly lit doorway faded into a nearly solid black mass figure took a towering step towards me. Yanking at the zipper, I fumbled to pull the camera from the research pack, cursing softly under my breath. Camera free, I snapped a single photo before the door slammed shut hard enough to rattle the watercolor painting on the wall. I caught the door slam on my still rolling digital recorder, here it is.
PLEASE LISTEN TO EPISODE FOR AUDIO EVIDENCE
Lo was still sitting within the dark stairwell leading to the tower sitting deck running an EVP session when the door slammed on me. She considered coming down to investigate what had happened but decided that it was best to work upwards towards the deck if the activity was flaring up.
The air was chilly as Lo sat on one of three Adirondack chairs positioned on the rooftop. Thankfully heeding my warning to stay away from the railing. The wind made it hard to run EVP, and after reviewing her audio, she found nothing of note.
After about 45 min on the rooftop, Lo stood to make her way back downstairs when a force propelled her backward, landing in the chair hard enough to send it scooting backward. Her eyes darted around the sitting area, expecting to see that something had blown into her. Instead, she came eye to eye with glowing yellow eyes from the doorway. The yellow eyes did not break contact with hers as they narrowed into yellow slits, and the door slammed shut.
The door wouldn’t budge. And like the basement door, when we found Lo 90 or so min later, the door was completely unlocked and opened easily. In the days following the investigation, bruises bubbled up on the front of each of Lo’s shoulders. The chiropractor also noted a bruise on Lo’s lower back, likely caused by the chair’s impact.
“Heather,” I hugged her despite myself. “This is Sage, she’s going to help clear up the space for you.”
It had been four days since the shadow man inn investigation, and we were confident that the negative energy dwelling in the space needed to be cleared. “Let’s boot this guy, oka?” Sage smiled, blue eyes beaming in the autumn light. Heather nodded, looking the most relaxed I’d seen her.
Sage is one of those magical souls that just being around her brings your anxiety down a notch. Pair that with her life as a medium and experience helping all varieties of entities clear out…. And she was the perfect person to help Heather take the final step to open her inn.
It’s been two weeks, and we are happy to report, Heather hasn’t had to call the police department once. The footsteps and growling have quieted down, and the shadow man watching her from the shadows is gone. I will keep in contact with her on updates from Pru’s research regarding the symbol on the door. Still, we are comfortable closing Case 125” The Shadow Man Inn.
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Until next week, stay away from Barstow, bye everyone.