My friend Lily and I went on a twentieth anniversary trip earlier this fall. TWENTY years of being friends. Of course, I have a few childhood friends I’ve known longer, but really no one that I’ve been in regular, frequent contact with for two decades.
Lily and I met at our student jobs in college. We worked in an office where we filed (remember that?), answered phones and did general admin. Our boss started putting us on the same shift because he thought we had had nothing in common and hence would be super productive. Ha ha ha. Ha. Ha. (I’m still laughing.)
To be fair, it wasn’t an unreasonable assumption. On the surface, Lily, in all her goth glory, was an unlikely bestie for my Gap-wearing, average suburban self. But as Lily likes to say, I’m goth inside. Apparently.
Whatever. The point is that we hied ourselves off to some woods that were located roughly at the midpoint between our two cities. We were renting a little cottage.
So imagine our surprise when we turned into the property and saw this.
Here, look at it from another angle.
Or this one.
So already this has become Lily’s dream vacay. We peeked in the windows. Lots of old furniture, boxes upon boxes upon boxes (we’re talking Hoarders, here), and a pinball machine (really) were easily visible.
Who owned this place? Who lived here back in the day? No idea. Because this area we were in was, no offense and name withheld to protect the innocent, no great shakes. Some lakefront cottages, some modest houses in the village.
A live bait vending machine on the street corner. You know, the usual.
Whatever its story, this place was glorious, both inherently and in its decay. It was also a little bit creepy. And hard not to think about as we went to bed in our tiny little cottage.
But luckily, there was a sign in the bathroom reminding us to stay positive. I don’t know about you, but I appreciate being reminded to be grateful when I’m in the bathroom.
And, after all, we had our groceries to distract us.
And then, of course, there was the “We forgot everything so we have to go to the grocery store again,” haul.
The next morning, I got up early and went for a run. The house down the road, our nearest neighbour, had a big billboard up in their yard that said PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD. I’m not gonna lie, it was a little unnerving. Especially the part where, when I got to the village proper, I got chased by some dogs. For real. Right now the only reason I’m not writing this from the ninth circle of hell is that the owners of those nice doggies understood that if you’re not gonna train your attack dogs, you need an electric fence.
When I got home, I informed Lily that she was not allowed to leave the cottage alone because I was afraid the local populace might mistake her for a Satanist, what with the black clothes and the black hair. I was kidding. Kind of.
“Maybe,” I said, as we sat in the lukewarm, mildewey smelling hot tub that came with the cottage, “what’s actually happening is that we came to this creepy village, the rapture happened, and all that’s left is us, those mean dogs, and this scary-ass mansion.” Because we had not seen a human since we arrived. Bear in mind that I was reading Sarah Balance’s brilliant Sins of Salem series while I was on this trip (because who DOESN’T want to read witch-trial-themed historical romance whist sitting in a lukewarm hot tub?), so that was adding to the general air of spookiness.
That night, we drove to the nearest town for dinner and were reassured that even if we weren’t among the Elect, at least we were not alone. Also, there was still pizza.
However, the theme of the weekend continued to assert itself, as roughly every fourth establishment we passed was abandoned. Including the Holiday Saloon, which was a shame because when I saw this sign, I thought, I HAVE FOUND MY PEOPLE. But my sorrow was short-lived as I became distracted by talking Lily out of breaking in through a cracked second floor window because although she does not fear the long arm of the law, I most certainly do.
When I got home, I googled the town and found a few ghost stories attached to the mysterious house. It was all very spooky-weird.
The weirdest thing about this place was that there were two rocking chairs with little red cushions sitting on the porch.
I wish I had a clever, tidy way to end this rambly post, but I do not. Here, here’s a picture of me having my morning coffee by the creepy mansion. Happy Halloween!