But there was nobody there; no other human being in sight, no stray pets or animals bumping around, and no furniture obviously out of place.
Filing the bizarre incident in the too hard basket, I promptly forgot about it until a subsequent escalation of strange events made me rethink everything I’d once believed.
As the weeks went by, my sleep was repeatedly disturbed, as I awoke to feel something strangely amorphous, but very oppressive, on top of me. Once the feeling was so intense as I awoke, I assumed I was being asphyxiated by smoke and leapt out of bed, believing the house must be on fire.
Knowing all about sleep paralysis, and just how vivid nightmares can sometimes be, I casually dismissed the incidents. Never mind that I’d never experienced anything like that before (or, for the record, in the 18 years since moving out of that house), I chose to put the incidents down to the crazy games the mind can play after dark.
I never seriously entertained the notion there might be a paranormal explanation – it wasn't even an option for me - until that day I woke up to see the apparition.
It was a man perhaps in his late twenties to mid-thirties, with anachronistic, shoulder-length hair - and a keen interest in the Mexican Virgin Mary shrine I’d picked up overseas, judging by the way he was staring at it.
As I turned my head slightly and rustled in my bed to get a good look at him, his gaze turned to me, and then after a few more seconds he was gone. Just the border of his bodily shape lingered on a while longer, until it too was gone.
As I accepted what I’d seen, things slowly started to fall into place for me as i reassessed the recent past; the noises, the sleep disturbances.
Any lingering thread of doubt that my mind had been playing tricks was washed away when I finally discussed the matter with one of my housemates months later, after we’d both moved out.
Asking him, deliberately vaguely, if anything strange had happened to him in the house, he was quick and emphatic in his response.
A sober and serious type, he told me of the numerous times he’d heard footsteps in the house while home alone, and the time an invisible body had brushed past his, as he stood naked in the bathroom after a shower.
Nearly two decades later, and a string of addresses since, I’ve never had a similar experience – for which I’m grateful.
Once was enough for me to acknowledge what I’d previously struggled to accept; that life is more than flesh and blood, and that such a thing as the spirit or a soul does appear to exist.
While the encounter didn't answer any specific questions for me about the afterlife, spirits, or why such a haunting would happen, my encounter with whatever it was in my house had far reaching consequences as the years passed by.
I’ll never understand the exact nature of what I encountered – I don’t think that’s really possible - but I do now feel sure there is more to life than just the physical. And that opened my mind enormously, and ultimately made me feel more whole.
Listen to Matt's full, frightening story in the first episode of The Ghost Files podcast. See below for details.