I was in Heaven.
We unpacked, started the gas log and settled into our perfect retreat. We had a fun evening planned of shopping, cards and watching horror flicks.
After we settled in, we decided to head into town to walk through the many shops and galleries. The storefronts were lined with pumpkins and hay bales, making hot-apple cider a perfect refreshment. The evening went as planned and we returned to our cabin ready to warm our bones and watch House on Haunted Hill.
Before I knew it, the other three started getting sleepy and we decided to hit the sack.
A couple hours later, around 2:00 a.m., I woke up dripping with sweat. The upper loft had very little airflow. I felt so flipping hot I couldn’t stand it. My wife slept like a baby, but I had to get out of there!
I lumbered down the steps and listened to the creaks and cracks in the rafters caused by the whistling wind. Believe it or not, I enjoyed the sounds coming from the rustic structure. I peered at the leather couch; it looked so cool and inviting. For a moment I imagined sprawling out into its cushiony spread, but I heard a strange noise coming from the kitchen and my skin melted off my face.
I looked around and didn’t see anything unusual. The open concept left nothing to hide. The stairs opened to the living room, dining room and kitchen. Our friend’s bedroom and bath were the only other rooms on the first floor and they too were within eyeshot. After giving the cabin a final inspection from where I stood, I lay down on the couch, snuggled into my bed sheet and closed my eyes.
The noises continued.
I listened like a cat, but the little squeaks and groans seemed to be coming from every direction. No big deal, I thought. It’s just a cabin. Get over it and fall asleep.
Then, something curious happened. The creaking floorboards began to move closer to me. One at a time I’d hear what sounded like footsteps rolling across the wood floor, carefully pressing down, trying not to be heard. My heart, as you can imagine hammered in my chest, nearly bursting through my ribcage. I looked through the TV screen to see if there was anyone walking behind me, but I didn’t see anything. Then when this thing, whatever it was, pressed into the floor right next to the couch, I couldn’t take it, I sat up, turned my head toward the open space and heard a voice forcefully whisper, “Hello!”
This wasn’t a quiet, don’t let them hear you whisper. Oh, no! This was a, I’m not presently living in your dimension, so I’m screaming at you type of whisper.
I panicked, jumping straight up like the cat that I was, nearly falling off the couch.
As I turned I saw a dark silhouette, adding to my near death experience. Seconds later, I realized that the shape beside me was only a floor lamp, but that didn’t make me feel any better. My heart continued pounding like a jackhammer.
For no less than thirty minutes, I felt an electric energy buzzing through my body. I felt as if something hovered over me, almost nose-to-nose, staring at me. I peered through the corner of my eye but couldn’t see anything—nothing physical anyway. But I knew in the deepest part of my soul that something was there. I lay frozen in place, like an icy Neanderthal in the Tibetan icecaps.
My eyes searched for movement, but found nothing. I did see, however, a showy figure moving side to side in the reflection of the microwave door. It was the strangest thing. There were no ceiling fans spinning or curtains waving. Everything stood still—everything except the dancing shadow. At that point, I couldn’t take it anymore. I ran back up the stairs to my personal boiler room and slid under the covers with my wife.
Still, the energy followed me.
After several minutes of fighting my fears, I finally fell asleep.
The next morning, I woke to the smell of biscuits and gravy and the sound of coffee percolating in the kitchen. My wife and friends, like myself, were shuffling their feet like the undead, trying their best to navigate with squinted, puffy eyes. We eventually sat down to eat.
In a moment of silence, Sarah, my friend’s wife asked if anyone heard anything in the night. I looked at her curiously and asked why. She said, “Because someone was tugging at our doorknob, off and on, for about an hour sometime around three in the morning.” She thought we had mistaken her room for the bathroom, but she was too tired to get out of bed. She also said that at one point in the night she felt like someone was standing beside her, but she was too scared to look.
After she told her story, I shared my experience. I affirmed that I never left the living room until I ran upstairs, and that I never walked toward their bedroom.
We all sort of let our suspicions cool for a while. But then my buddy opened up the guest logbook; the kind where each visitor can leave a message to the cabin owners about their experience. And wouldn’t you know it; the book was filled with story after story about a spirit that inhabited the structure.
They call him Earl.
Some of the visitors claimed that he was a gentle ghost, mostly curious, and only somewhat troublesome. Others rebuked the owners for not disclosing the fact that malevolent spirits had haunted the cabin. Me? I don’t know what that thing was, but it scared the hell out of me.
The upside to coming face to face with Earl is when I write supernatural thrillers, I can honestly communicate what it feels like to be petrified by something that you can’t explain. I know what it sounds like when a spirit is moving. I know that electrifying sensation when a ghost is standing beside me. I know that there are things out there—things we can’t see. But I also know that where there is darkness, there is also light, and that is all I need to know to keep my sanity.
Author of Reunion, a supernatural suspense.
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