Graveyards are notoriously scary places, especially after dark, and the same is true of old church houses. Churches, despite being houses of God, can also attract opposing forces, making them concentrated gathering points for both good and evil.
My first experience with the darker side of churches came right after high school. After taking a vocational floor covering class in my senior year, I landed a job working for a contractor who carpeted old Latter-day Saint (Mormon) ward houses as they were renovated. Carpet was one of the last improvements made to these older, sprawling buildings, and a job could take a few days to a week.
The boss, along with a crew of three or four apprentices, would haul a load of hundreds of yards of carpet and horsehair pad to a rural church building, and we would stay there until the job was done. We worked 20 hours a day, stopping only long enough to eat occasionally, and hopefully catch three or four hours of much-needed sleep. The padding was itchy, and the carpet was heavy, stiff and hard to cut. It was grueling work.
Late one autumn night at a Pioneer-era building in central Utah, three of us threw our sleeping bags on the floor in the church basement where it was cool. We were directly below an upstairs room with a piano. The other two guys fell asleep instantly, while I lay there with my eyes wide open, unable to sleep despite my exhaustion.
A short while later, as I was wishing my insomnia would take a hike, there was a crash of noise from the piano upstairs. I sat bolt-upright, knowing full well that we were the only people in the church. As such, we were responsible for building security, and I knew that all the doors and windows had been closed and locked hours earlier. Not only that, but after a few days there, I also knew that no one could walk into that room without the hundred-year-old floor boards squeaking loudly.
It wasn’t music exactly. It sounded as though someone was sitting at the piano bench pounding the keys up and down the scale with both fists. Then there was the voice. Something was making single-syllable noises in time with the music. “Blah, blah, la, la, blah,” it sang, as whatever it was banged on the keys. It was not a tune and it was not a song. It was merely a series of discordant notes and noises that sounded like a rambunctious child was playing a concert just for me. But it wasn’t a child. Not in the middle of the night.
Every hair on my body stood on end as I tried to rouse my co-workers. “Mike! Mike! Wake up, Mike!” I whispered the words as loudly as I could, while shoving and punching Mike in his sleeping bag, hoping the thing upstairs didn’t hear me. But Mike continued snoring like a bear.
“Jason! Dude! Wake up, man! What the hell is that?” I tried kicking him through his bag, but there was no response. What was wrong with these guys? Were they deaf? Were they dead? Was the thing upstairs dead? I tried not to think about it. All I knew was that I had to pee and the closest restroom was up those stairs. I wasn’t going up there at gunpoint, and hopefully, IT wasn’t coming down here, either.
At the risk of disturbing the thing upstairs, I finally succeeded in waking my friends, who were less than happy about it. I tried to explain what I heard, but they wouldn’t listen. “Go back to sleep!” was all they said. Easy for them to say. I must have scared IT because things got quiet after that, even though nothing human walked out of that room. Old floor boards don’t lie. I stayed awake the rest of the night, hunkered down in my bag, too scared to sleep and my bladder about to burst.
When morning came, we all went upstairs together. I tried to tell them again what I heard, but they just laughed and razzed me about it. When I checked the door to the piano room, it was locked, as were the windows.
I stayed on the job for about six more months, and that wasn’t the only time weird things happened in the old churches we worked in. There were witnesses to other events — some of them truly terrifying. I’m much older now, but I still don’t go into old churches after dark. Not alone, anyway.
MORE GHOST STORIES
Haunted Museum in Fairview, Utah: Utah Ghost Hunter Registers Voices From the Other Side
Ogden’s Ghosts of Christmas Past
Pete Marshall Has No Issues with the 24 Ghosts Who Inhabit His Shop
Get Up Close with the Ghosts of Ogden
The Utah Ghostbusters
Pete And His Ghosts
Spookiest Places in Utah
Subscribe to Utah Stories weekly newsletter and get our stories directly to your inbox