After I paid for the Haunted Mansion retreat, I worried what I’d do if the mansion really was haunted. I wouldn’t be able to drive up to the mansion for the long weekend, since I couldn’t leave my family without a car. If I caught a ride with a stranger, I would be trapped at the mansion. What if things got really bad and I was afraid to sleep? I wouldn’t be able to slink out to my car and sleep in it.
I also couldn’t call my husband -- assuming the isolated mansion got cell reception -- to come and get me in the middle of the night. No way could I ask him to get our seven-year-old up, put her in the car seat, drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, and rescue me from the ghosts in the middle of the night. If I went, I had to stick it out.
Probably, I told myself, if it got that bad, someone else would have the sense to want to leave. I could ride back to the ferry or a bus stop with them.
Of course, I was pretty sure that we wouldn’t face an all-out Poltergeist-style freak out. As I packed for the weekend, my new worry became that I’d spent a couple hundred dollars to write for a weekend in a haunted mansion -- and nothing would happen. The ghosts would ignore us, or they’d prowl around downstairs while we were all upstairs asleep. How disappointing would that be?
That shouldn't have worried me at all.
So begins my essay in The Haunted Mansion Project: Year One, which recently came out from Damnation Books. In the fall of 2010, ten horror writers met at a haunted mansion to spend four days together. Joining them were a group of paranormal investigators who studied the house and reported their findings. The anthology collects fiction, poetry, journals, real impressions, and investigative conclusions inspired by that weekend.
E.S. Magill, Rain Graves, Nikki Boscia, Sephera Giron, Kim Richards, Yvonne Navarro, Weston Ochse, Christian Colvin, Dan Weidman, S.G. Browne and I share our secret fears, desires, and the disembodied shadows from beyond.
Proceeds from the anthology go toward future Haunted Mansion events. The next is scheduled in September 2012. I'm planning to go again -- and stay in the little blue room where the ghost touched me the last time.
Maybe this time, I'll be brave enough to pick up the K-II meter and go looking for ghosts, instead of letting them come to me.
Causes Loren Rhoads Supports