It’s Halloween, a time for remembering and repeating stories to scare ourselves or others. It’s a time to laugh at being frightened. But I no longer like to be frightened. Because it wasn’t a story. I was well and truly terrified. Beware of Wet Footprints in the night. They’ll terrify you, too. And you’ll never know if they’re from an uninvited guest, a dream, or a household spirit.
On My Own
When I graduated from nursing school, I shared an apartment with a classmate. It was a standard two bedroom place with a private outdoor entrance.
Our first jobs, if I recall correctly, required that we each rotate night and evening shifts. (I know I did.) Day shift jobs were awarded to those with seniority at the facility. Our rotations were opposite so it was as if we each lived on our own. I frequently spent evenings alone in our apartment. Having had three siblings and after an all-women dorm for three years, it was my piece of heaven.
One night while my roommate was at work, something startled me awake. It was raining and blowing outside. Thunder or lightning had probably awakened me. I got up to use the bathroom and noticed a light coming from the living room. Figuring I must have forgotten to turn off the lamp, I trundled into the living room. Halfway across the living room, I realized it wasn’t the lamp that was on. The front door stood open. The outdoor light above the door cast a yellow glow, illuminating rain whipped by the wind. Who had opened the door? I whirled around but there was no one else I could see. Laughing nervously at myself, I told myself that I must not have closed and latched the door. Though I typically double- and triple-checked that door before I went to bed.
The Mystery Deepens
So there I was, in my pajamas and bare feet. I hurried forward to close the door, careful to lock it this time. The floor at the entrance was quite damp so I knelt and ran my hand over the carpet. Fortunately, it was only damp and only the first foot or so of the carpet. I stood. That’s when I saw it. On the carpet, a too-long-for-my-legs stride from the doorway was a perfectly-shaped, wet footprint. Adrenaline whooshed through my veins, kicked my pulse up over two hundred at least. Another long stride forward there was a second wet footprint. I couldn’t move.
It took two attempts before I could call my roommate’s name out loud. No answer.
I walked toward the footprint, making certain not to disturb it. The shoe that made that footprint was larger than mine—larger than my roommate’s. The second footprint, the left foot, was also the last wet footprint.
I crept back down the hall. No one was in the kitchen, the bathroom, or my roommate’s bedroom. My bedroom was vacant as well.
A Dark & Frightening Night
I spent the rest of the night on the sofa in the living room, holding the phone on my lap, and trying to convince myself that my roommate had come home briefly. But why only two footprints? And how could she, who was as short as I, take such a long stride?
Very soon the storm blew out and the night grew quiet. Nothing stirred in the apartment—except my still racing heartbeat. It was a long, dark, fright-filled night.
The next day, there was no trace of the footprints. No mud, no impression, no dampness. I asked my roommate if she’d come back to our place after dark. She said no. I didn’t tell her about the footprints. She wouldn’t have believed me anyway.
I’ve carried that incident in my memory trying to convince myself that I must have had a vivid dream or that I had imagined the footprints. But while looking for photographs to illustrate this post, I came across the story of Kikimora.
Kikimora is a female household spirit whose presence is always made known with wet footprints. She came from Slavic mythology. She can be a beneficial spirit if you keep your house well. If you don’t she’ll whistle and break things.
Uninvited Visitor, Dream, or Spirit?
What do you think? Was I visited by a household spirit, a human being, or was it all a dream? I’ll enjoy reading your answers, but I’ll still warn you, Beware of Wet Footprints in the night.