Excerpt from “The Mammoth Mountain Poltergeist”
If you like the excerpt below, please purchase the book here or here. Also remember that the God of Hellfire and I will be appearing on Jim Harold’s The Other Side podcast on April 28th at noon. We’re also scheduled on the KTPF (Keeping the Paranormal Friendly) Community Talk Show on August 9th, and another excerpt of the book will be published in their online magazine soon. Thanks for reading!
Wes went to bed earlier than the rest of them, retreating into his room and closing the door. Even though he didn’t mention anything about feeling uneasy in the house, he was very tired, and his parents noticed he was acting a little lethargic, as though he was coming down with something. Lois suspected elevation sickness. After a short while, Lois and Red went quietly into Wes’s room to check on him.
They found him in bed, lying on his back with his arms crossed in an X on his chest, and his legs straight and stiff. He was deathly pale, and his breathing was so shallow that at first they thought he was dead. Alarmed, Lois shook him. He stirred, but didn’t wake. Lois and Red stayed in the room for a time, keeping an eye on the boy.
“There was an uncomfortable feeling in that room,” Lois says, comparing the sensation to one of being constantly observed from every direction. The room, like the bunk bed room earlier, was also intensely cold.
Despite the oppressive atmosphere, Lois and Red stayed with Wes until it appeared that he was sleeping normally. “When we left his room,” Lois says, “we saw a white washcloth folded in thirds on the inside doorknob. We wondered who had put it there. It seemed so random.” Not thinking much of it, they went upstairs to bed themselves.
Later that night, Tom went into his ground-floor bedroom alone. The room was very dark. The snow outside the windows had intensified, and all the roads leading up to Mammoth Mountain had now closed. Just like in The Shining, the family was trapped, for all intents and purposes.
As he lay in the darkness, waiting for sleep, Tom heard a soft jingling sound, as if the empty wire hangers in the closet had brushed together in a gentle breeze. The sound made him nervous, but just as he had earlier with the mysteriously strewn clothing, he tried to explain it away. “It was just the wind,” he thought, though he admitted to himself that he didn’t know how a wind could have blown the hangers together when the closet door was closed. Still, the sound was just vague enough that he could safely attribute it to a stray draft.
But moments later, there came a more sinister sound: a faint, whispering shuffle, as of something sliding very slowly across the deep-pile carpet. It seemed to be coming from the direction of the closet, moving stealthily along the foot of the bed and coming around the side away from where Tom was lying. “It didn’t sound like footsteps, so I’m not sure if I originally thought it was a person,” he says. “It was just a sliding or dragging sort of noise, as though someone was pushing something heavy across the carpet. I just closed my eyes and pulled the blankets around me when I heard it. I was too scared to turn and look.”
On the nightstand opposite the side of the bed he was sleeping on, there was a rotary-dial phone with clear buttons across the bottom, of the type that often appeared in offices and hotel rooms in the late seventies and early eighties. The sliding noise had stopped, and now there seemed to be something stirring near the phone.
From his position on the opposite side of the bed, Tom heard, very distinctly, the receiver of the phone lift a very short distance off the hook. Then there was the sound of the receiver scraping softly against the plastic body of the phone, as though someone had curled the receiver in their hand, slightly toward themselves. The receiver then settled slowly back onto the hook with a decisive click.
Tom squeezed his eyes more tightly closed, unwilling to turn his head toward the source of the sounds. What if someone was standing there at the side of his bed, hand on the phone, mere feet away from where he was trying to sleep? What would he do then?
After several anguished seconds of silence, he mustered up enough courage to turn and peer through the darkness at the phone on the nightstand.
Of course, no one was there.