Recently, Alistair Cross and I spent five days and nights in an allegedly haunted cabin in Gold Country in California. The owner needed someone to determine if the cabin simply had a bad rep or if something paranormal was indeed happening. He hoped not. You can read the details just a post or two below.
Because we signed a non-disclosure agreement, there are some details we can’t divulge, including precise location and photos of the cabin, but there’s plenty we can tell you.
My old friend, Ellie, escorted us up to the remote cabin, saying we’d probably get lost without her, and once we began winding into the hills on secondary roads we realized her concerns were valid. It turned out to be one of those areas where your natural sense of direction flies right out the window, which is something that would play strongly into the situation at the cabin. If I were writing about such a place fictionally, it would be full of elemental magic and hopping with greenjacks.
The cabin turned out to be clean and reasonably well kept up and we were delighted to find out we would have electricity; the owner had supplied a generator and fuel to run it. Ellie gave us instructions, keys, and a quick tour. There were only two things that stood out to us while she was there: she went from easy-going to anxious as soon as we entered the building, and when she showed us the front bedroom, she not only wouldn’t enter, but stood back by the bathroom door. And it was creepy, that room.
When I walked in, all the hairs on my arms and neck prickled up even though the temperature felt the same as in the rest of the cabin. Alistair entered and pointed at his arm. We watched his gooseflesh form and were pretty amused, to be honest. He said, ‘They’re heeeerrrrre,” and Ellie asked if the room was cold. We said no and she said it would be and advised us to leave the door closed.
Alistair: It was kind of like the room was full of static electricity. It really did feel spooky, but it could have been my imagination. Tamara has done this a lot but this was my first time staying in a place that was allegedly haunted, so I’m sure I had talked it up to myself quite a bit. Ellie was very kind and down-to-earth, not the type I would normally think was into hauntings, and that was comforting.
We saw her off soon after that, then brought in our stuff. Sleeping bags, a well-stocked picnic basket and cooler, lots of paper and pens, a couple cameras, dowsing rods, Ouija board, cards, a jigsaw, printouts of our novel-in-progress, just about everything but our laptops, which remained securely locked in the car lest they become victims of weird electrical anomalies. Those are far scarier than ghosts.
All we really knew was what we related in the earlier blog; we told Ellie we wanted no more info. Honestly, we wished we knew even less because expectations can really foul things up.
We set up a Hibachi outside and feasted on foil-wrapped baked potatoes and corn on the cob and a pair of steaks that first evening. After dinner, we began working, but within an hour, the generator went out. We turned on our battalion of lanterns and tried to fix it. And we did, repeatedly. But as soon as we’d get the lanterns switched off and be settled at the table, it went off again. We gave up and switched to just lantern light after the fourth time. It was preferable, anyway, not hearing that machinery chugging away.
We built a fire and between that and the lanterns, the cabin was warm and cozy. We snacked on chips and dip, then made cocoa and toasted marshmallows with the help of the fireplace. It was serene, and by midnight, between the food and the heat, we were sleepy and stretched out on our sleeping bags for a while. The only unease we felt was when one of us needed to use the bathroom.
Tamara: We had the hall door shut to keep the heat in the living area, so the chill in the very dark hall was a little unnerving, especially lit by swaying lantern light. I found myself unwilling to even look toward the front bedroom, but kept my eyes straight ahead on those trips. There would be time enough the next day to examine those two bedrooms.
It was very quiet out there. I noticed a lack of bird song, but had no idea if that was normal or not, though that dizzy feeling of losing my sense of direction never left and if that was caused by ores, it would be logical for birds to avoid such an area because they would probably become quite disoriented. Their brains contain far more magnetite than ours. I fell asleep wondering about that.
Alistair: Yes, those trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night were pretty unnerving. The cabin was so still and silent that it felt almost unnatural. It was the kind of silence that eventually gets you thinking you’re hearing things.
Tamara: Around three a.m., I awoke from some murky nightmare with a start when the noises began. Rattles in the walls, skittering. Alistair sat up too and we started lighting lanterns as fast as we could. We were fairly sure it was squirrels, but we rose, built the fire back up, made tea, started our jigsaw puzzle and talked until the first hint of dawn. The squirrels (we prefer to assume they were squirrels, not rats) had long since gone quiet, and it was time to catch a couple more hours of sleep.
Alistair: It was a good thing, too, because we would need to be well-rested for the time ahead of us. That next 48 hours were far more exciting. But we will talk more about that later. To be continued.