Every biennial year or so I go on a private, personal writing retreat to Wayne’s World, my cousins’ camp on Lake Arfelin roughly 10 rough, brutal miles north of Champion. The seclusion is delightful. On a good year I can spend a week without any human interaction at all, just the occasional revelers out on the lake or partying out of sight somewhere beyond the trees.
I’m not a Nervous Nellie, more of a Cautious Kelly. I guess. But the nights are very dark and very quiet, and I’m all alone at the end of the trail in a three-bedroom ranch. Despite the quiet, I prefer to wear earplugs when I sleep. Otherwise the least little noise would pop me awake—whether small animals rustling in the leaves, or bears tearing into the trash can. So far nothing and no one has bothered me.
There was one interesting late night incident, however.
The camp (read: ranch house) is long, the lakeside open from one end to the other, from kitchen to living room, probably 35 feet or so. The backside is three bedrooms. I usually choose the bunk room in the middle. This faces the third bedroom through a small alcove with a bookcase, doorway to doorway. I say doorway to doorway because there are no doors, just shower curtains. On this one night I awoke and looked out my doorway to see a pale shimmering light in the other doorway. Moonlight falling on the curtain of the third bedroom? That had to be it. But why was it shimmering, as if there were figures moving around in the living room, casting light and shadows on the curtain? I’d never seen that before. Strange. Spooky.
I watched for a long time, trying to will my eyes to stop seeing the shimmering movement of shadows… to no avail. I knew this was an illusion. I watched for a long time. A. Long. Time. Was I still half asleep? Could I not fully wake up? I finally relented and pulled out my earplugs. The silence was total, the silence of a crypt at midnight, filling the house with its emptiness. Obviously no one was prowling around in the living room. I mean, I knew that, right? I turned on the light. Confirmed I was just looking at a completely motionless curtain. Not so much as a breath of air to disturb it. Turned off the light, let my eyes adjust to the darkness. The shimmering motion continued, silent but persistent.
I finally forced myself out of bed to investigate with nothing more than a flashlight for defense. The living room curtains were drawn, and there was no moon shining its pale light into living room. Nothing moved. Everything was quiet, still as death. The only difference… earlier in the day I’d discovered a little glow light/night light that I’d thought would make any midnight journey to the bathroom safer against barked shins or stubbed toes, so I’d plugged it into a kitchen outlet. It cast its pallid green glow from one end of the house to the other, with just enough vigor to illuminate the white curtain with a ghostly luminescence. Why it shimmered, I have no idea.
Needless to say, I unplugged the night light and went back to bed, never to use it again.