Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Lake Arrowhead Poltergeist – by James Chase

Back in April of 2013 I decided that I needed a break from the noise and smog of Los Angeles. I searched for remote places to stay and decided on Lake Arrowhead about two hours east of L.A. I looked on,Craigslist and found a lovely sublease in the mountains off Kuffel Canyon road that was owned by a sweet old lady named Mary. I packed my car once I confirmed I had it a went up there. The house was not a mansion by any means but was still big and imposing. It was a three bedroom three story tudor with a gazebo and deck overlooking Kuffel Canyon. Mary seemed nice enough, even though the rent was pricey and she only let me stay in the recreation room on the bottom floor. It had a pool table and a small makeshift kichenette, with a couch, chairs, TV, and a bed. I could tell nobody had used it much lately because there were cobwebs and the place was dusty. Mary lived on the second floor of the house, with the living room and full kitchen adjacent. There were much nicer guest beds on the third floor, which struck me funny because they were way better than the basement I was staying in. I figured oh well, she must not want people stomping above her. I settled in, and for the next few days toured Lake Arrowhead and took in the scenery. Lake Arrowhead sits close to 5,500 ft, and even at that low altitude, I discovered oxygen is less than below 3000 ft. I noticed the difference because you get tired much faster doing any physical activity. I was really having a good time, and loved the woods and lake. The village didn't have much to offer, so I mainly stayed at the house or explored the lake and woods. Mary gave me a tour of the lake and showed me the famous Bugsy Seigel hideout that was once a speakeasy and pool hall. The first thing that struck me odd was the year round Christmas tree that stays up near Bluejay. The thing odd about the tree was that the star was inverted like a pentagram. I always notice details like that. Mary called me a week later and said she had to go to Orange County for a couple of weeks and would be leaving the house for that period of time. I thought wow, cool. Naturally all kinds of ideas came into my head as I knew I would have free reign of the entire house. I grew tired quick of the confinement to the recreation room. So she left, and I was there alone. I immediately set about exploring the rest of the house. The main thing I noticed was the huge difference between Mary's quarters and mine. I resigned to the couch, and played king of the castle for a few days. One night, when it had gotten suddenly windy and cold, I decided to explore the surrounding houses on her block. I noticed she had neighbors about a block away and decided to introduce myself. Other than being very suspicious of me and rather too curious, they seemed pretty normal. I continued looking around and noticed that every other house around, was empty. These houses were big four bedroom lodges that I was sure people rent during the summer or winter. The house directly behind Mary's was empty, but there was something off about it. There was a cellar facing Marys house with no door giving it a cave-like abandoned look. I went inside the cellar and get a very strange vibe. Things got suddenly quiet, and I felt I was being observed. So I left, and went back inside Mary's house. I began to get a real sense of isolation and remoteness, and I suddenly missed L.A. I made up my mind then I would leave soon. That night the temp got even colder and a rolling fog came over Kuffel Canyon. I was in the basement about to sleep when I heard scratching and rustling either on the deck above me or on the second floor. The house was dark, so I grabbed a pool stick and went upstairs to investigate. When I got to the second floor it was dark and I got that same creepy feeling as I did at the cellar of the rear house. I looked around and saw nothing, then I went to the third floor and looked around. I became frightened at this point, but I pressed on looking around. I saw nothing amiss and went back downstairs. Thirty minutes later, I heard the scratching noise again. I of course thought maybe it was a raccoon or some animal outside that was making the noise, but the sounds of the scratching and bumping were unnatural and out of place. I also considered that someone was playing a prank on me. I went back upstairs in the darkness again with my pool-stick in my hand. When I got into the living room something startled me and I jumped about six feet. A bird ornament went off suddenly making a weird chirping noise and really loud. I was freaking out, because I couldn't find the source of the noise. Finally I found it and when I touched it, it went quiet. This was also odd, because I didn't see an on/off switch and I didn't see any battery ports. I then proceeded to turn on ALL of the lights in the house. I lit it up like a Christmas tree, but I didn't sleep until sunrise. The next afternoon I decided I couldn't take another night of that so I packed and left. I found a nice lodge in nearby Twin Peaks, and prepared for a peaceful, quiet night. I had called Mary to let her know I moved out, but got no response. I had kept the key to the house, and planned on mailing it back. That night the rolling fog returned even more thick than the previous night. I couldn't see two feet outside my window. About the time I was going to sleep, to my horror, I heard the scratching noise and bumping again. I thought I was losing my mind. Was it the low oxygen at high altitude? What was going on? Needless to say I didn't go back to sleep until sunrise, and did not discover the source of the noise and vibrations. The next morning I decided to leave the mountains and return to L.A. I suddenly realized I had forgotten a very important family heirloom in Mary's basement, so I went back to the house. I went inside and got what I had forgotten and when I went outside I saw the sheriff pull up. I thought "oh shit, he thinks I'm robbing the place". He got out and asked if I was the man renting from Mary. I told him I was and identified myself. He told me Mary, who was 86, had died three days ago while hospitalized for an illness. My heart sank. I was too petrified to utter another word. I thanked him and got back in my car and headed to L.A. as fast as my car could go. To this day, I refuse to return to Lake Arrowhead, or Big Bear. You couldn't pay me to go back. I didn't "see a ghost," but I heard something unexplainable, and never before or since had that feeling of being observed in a cold, dark house and the bitter feeling of being totally alone. Or was I?