My wife Diane and I just returned from spending the weekend in a log cabin. We stayed at this cabin twice before, but this time we were unpleasantly surprised by the host of strange noises we heard. As soon as we entered the cabin, we immediately heard creaking in the upstairs loft that sounded like there was someone walking around. I didn’t want to scare Diane, who I’m sure was thinking exactly the same thing, so I casually walked over to the corner of the room, where I could peak upstairs. Of course, there was nothing to be seen.
If anything the sounds became louder as we unpacked. Our next image was someone climbing on the roof. I told Diane that it must be a squirrel, and by the magnitude of the creaking, a freakishly large one. Diane took a broom and standing in the loft, she vigorously whapped the ceiling several times. The sounds didn’t stop, but thank goodness it didn’t tap back.
The noise continued so Diane went outside to see if there was anything actually on the roof. Again there was nothing there. The tin roof was quite steep and there was only a inch of space between the tin sheeting and the indoor ceiling— hardly enough room for an animal capable of making the creaking sounds we heard.
Since we had never been at this cabin during a heat wave, I convinced myself that the noise was due to the expansion of the ceiling’s tongue and groove joints. While I was comforted by this thought, I didn’t really believe it. There were long periods of complete silence and the heat didn’t seem to be related at all to the various noises we heard. Diane said that if it was a poltergeist trying to convince us to leave, it was a pretty lame one. All it did was make creaking noises and even seemed to get tired of doing that after a while. It reminded us of the ineffectual ghosts in the movie Beetlejuice.
Poltergeist occurrences are supposedly paranormal phenomenon that involve the movement of inanimate objects, unaccounted for noises, and on rare occasions, physical attacks on people. Folklore attributes the phenomena to ghosts or mischievous spirits, like Peeves the Poltergeist in the Harry Potter stories. Poltergeist manifestations have been reported since the first century, in virtually every part of the world. The word “poltergeist” comes from the German meaning “noisy ghost”.
Some parapsychologists theorize that poltergeist manifestations are unconscious expressions of spontaneous mind over matter (psychokinesis) and are unwittingly created by people under stress, especially children and teenagers. Skeptics, however, believe that credulous people and outright fraud are the more likely explanations and there has been no conclusive scientific explanation of the phenomena, if it truly exists.
I was certain that there must have been some logical explanation for the cabin noises we heard, but in any case they still got on our nerves. I would have been relieved to see even one humongous raccoon climbing on the roof.
Oddly enough we have stayed at two other log cabins, that also had reputations for strange occurrences. A few years ago we spent a weekend at a bed and breakfast that had been constructed from two old log cabins. After we had settled in, the owners told us how a strange thing happened, while they were restoring the cabins. Once, after they’d painted a section of the floor, the next day human footprints appeared on the painted area. These ghostly footprints could not be covered. Every time they painted over them, the next day they were visible again. Sort of like those grease spots on my green sweatshirt.
At first I wondered if the people were pulling my leg or making up stories in order to publicize their business, but they were reluctant to talk too much about it and seemed more concerned that people might be afraid to patronize their bed and breakfast. Fortunately there were no strange occurrences to report from that visit.
All this takes us back to the first log cabin where we ever stayed, in the mountains of North Carolina, several years ago. While taking our dog to the vet, Diane saw a binder in the waiting room with photos of a picturesque log cabin, alongside a mountain creek. She discovered that the veterinarian’s mother, who owned the cabin, rented it out and the next thing you know there we were, in the wilds of Franklin, North Carolina.
I was first struck by the numerous kerosene lanterns to be found in the cabin, despite the electric lights. Every room had several of them, as if someone was deathly afraid of the dark. We had been warned that a dog from one of the neighboring cabins might visit us and sure enough we soon found an ancient beagle on the front stoop. He was sweet and we let him into the cabin, but were unnerved one evening when, all of a sudden, he started acting in a frantic manner.
While the cabin was very nice, there was just something about it that wasn’t very inviting. Perhaps the oddest thing that happened, occurred one night when Diane was saying bedtime prayers with the kids. She had her hand on a small bedside table that started to vibrate during the prayer. While this frightened her and she pulled her hand away, Diane didn’t say anything, afraid she’d upset the children. She went back in later to check and found that he table was as sturdy as it could be.
As time wore on, we both became more and more uncomfortable in the cabin. Our sleep was disturbed by the frequent sound of footsteps on the stairs, that even our five year old heard. But we were obstinately determined to finish out the week regardless. I guess we were like the foolish people that comedian Eddie Murphy joked about. Even if the toilets had backed up with blood, we probably would have said, “A little Ajax will fix that right up.”
It was probably becasue we like to think of ourselves as rational beings and can easily imagine that there was some reasonable explanation for all that took place. In any case we felt relieved when the day to leave finally arrived.
We packed quickly and decided to take a final walk-through to check for anything forgotten. We were barely past the doorway when we both heard the stairs creak, as if someone was walking down them. Diane and I were out the door in a flash, locked the door, and jumped into the car.
That night we camped out in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We were all huddled together in a tiny leaky tent, in a heavy rain. Rangers had warned us about an influx of rabid skunks and bears. Despite all this, we slept like babies– the first decent night’s sleep we had in a while.
When we returned home, Diane mentioned the odd occurrences to the veterinarian and he admitted that his wife never felt comfortable at the cabin either and she even refused to go back. He could have told us that beforehand.