Prescription for Disaster

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

The Haunting...and why I won't sleep for the next year

I actually didn't find this one at all funny, which is weird, because I find everything funny.

It started out with a very normal (for us) family adventure in which we all got in the car and kind of aimed for somewhere 3 hours away, Galway, on the other side of Ireland. Why not? We hadn't been there before and our random family adventures are always pretty memorable.

We did as we usually do, picked up a map and circled the stuff that looked good, planning a circular route and heading out with the set plan of just finding cool, off the beaten path kind of stuff (as usual). 

We were aiming for the Cliffs of Moher:

and figured we would do it in the most roundabout way possible, stopping at old stone churches, farmsteads, cheese caves and bird shows (we love random!) - and our favourite pastime of seeing something cool off in the distance and heading in that general direction to find it.

We did, seeing a great monolith of a tower off on the sea in the distance, winding our way over to find that it was an old castle once owned by the Lachlyn family (so cool! We found Lochie's castle!)

This was very cool, and I got out to investigate and see what the other side looked like. I was nearly round the corner when I heard a growl and saw a blur rushing at me through the bushes - oh holy crap, omg, oh my-

Oh! It's a little jack russell terrier! Awww, how cu-

Ow! WTF?! That little bastard BIT ME! Ow! Fuck, stop it! Paul! PAAAAAAAUUUULLLLLL!!!!!!!!!

I put on my best Ceasar Milan Pack Leader image and projected fierce alpha forces toward the attacking dog, walking forward with purpose and authority.

Which at least turned his bites to nips - so it helped a little.

An old Irish man came to our rescue, shooing away miniature Cujo there and telling us a bit about the castle ruins. 

He was a friendly old guy, very lovely, very Irish, and he told us that if we wanted to see a castle of the same sort (given to the family by King Henry himself), there was a proper one just down the road a ways.

Of course we wanted to see it!

He then gave us typical Irish directions:

In a way that really, only the Irish can.

Alright. After having had the guy repeat his directions three (3) times we were back in the car and off in search of a cattle gate, a holy well (at which we turn left shortly thereafter) and a tea shop titled 'the tea intersection' that was situated at a Y intersection, at which point we were then due to turn slightly right.

We followed his directions, somewhat puzzled by the distinct lack of signage to a fully formed castle tower, as other heritage sites in Ireland are littered with signage, fanfare and associated cheese shops.

The road became a tad small.

A little weird, but we end up on sheep and goat trails pretty often with our brand of family fun, so it didn't seem too unusual.

It got a bit more secluded into the backwoods...

with still not a sign or a person or a house or even a cow to be seen (and that was starting to get a little weird, but hey - ah well. We must be close.

We wound our way around and down the lane slowly until we turned a corner and there it was.

It looked really cool -even from inside the car. We got out and carefully climbed over the side part of the fence - the lock on the rusted gate looked as though it hadn't been opened in ages. 

We chatted as we walked toward it over the rough, torn up chunks of sod, like when horses run through a wet field and tear it up in chunks - or cows, but there were no cows to be seen and although the tracks looked pretty fresh the grass certainly hadn't been eaten. 


We hiked up closer to it-

somehow noticing the silence more than usual. For a place like this it was strange to see no birds or rabbits, no cows in the neighboring fields and no locals walking their dogs. It was just... quiet. Like nobody had been there in a very long time.

To the left of us was a holy well, once used for baptisms of some sort.

and with ragged, wind-torn cloths tied to the dying branches on the tree above it. We came closer to the well to check it out, but it was a dark, silent pit.

There was no sound coming from it, no sound of running water, no dripping sounds, no echos of wind rustling through... nothing. Just dead quiet, unsettling enough to make us all back up a few steps. Paul and I looked at each other - usually ready to explore, neither of us had any inclination to go closer for a look inside.

We retreated, backwards with a weary eye on the well, back toward the tower.

"Did you hear that?" I asked Paul, pointing toward the tower - the source of a soft banging sound up high. Almost like a clang. 

He'd heard it, but from another direction, away from the tower.

There was just something... off... about this place. Something wrong. It didn't feel right, and we were all a bit on edge. Kaitlynn didn't like it at all, and gripped my hand, asking me if we could go back to the car. 

Sure sweetie, let's head back together. 

Lochie and Paul stayed back a bit, together, but trying to see around the tower to the slowly lapping waves on the other side. 

Kaitlynn and I kept going, back toward the car. She held my hand tightly as we walked back over the patches of torn up grass. I heard talking up ahead of us in the trees, a young boy and his father crashing through the woods toward us at a slow, steady pace. Relieved, I scanned the woods, happy to encounter other people at this place - but nobody came through the trees. 

I remembered my time spent on a native Canadian reserve with Katimavik when I was younger - that when hunting in the quiet Natives would draw their bows, blur their eyesight and let their vision naturally jolt to the next movement within their field of sight - it was how they were able to see animals moving while hiding, and was their best way of seeing something that didn't belong.

Anxious to find the source of the voices, I did the same - relaxing my vision and gazing out at the woods - brought out of it by the sound of whispering at my side. Kaitlynn was gripping my hand as we stood there watching, waiting, and she was whispering. 

"Kaitie, honey, you need to be a bit louder. I can't hear you very well."

No response. She just kept whispering and staring, like me, at the woods. 

"Kaitlyn, speak up honey. What are you saying?"

Still whispering. I could make it out now, she was repeating over and over that she wanted to get back in the car, still at a constant, looping, whisper. 

The voices were getting closer - definitely a man speaking with a young boy - I turned around to see if Paul and Lochie were talking, but they weren't. They were both silent, holding hands and carefully walking toward the car from a few yards behind us as well. 

They caught up with us at the gate, the four of us going over the loose stones together - we got the kids straight into the car when my phone rang, a call I had to take, staying outside the car while Paul and the girls got themselves sorted.

Something just wasn't right, and Paul unrolled the passenger side window, calling me back into the car with a sense of urgency he had never before displayed. The hairs on my arms standing straight up I hung up the phone and got into the car - Paul pulling away and toward the lane before my door had even closed. 

None of us spoke until we had gotten back to the main road - we had nothing to say. None of us could articulate our feelings, what we had heard and what we had felt. I couldn't take it, and broke the silence.

"Kaitie, honey, how come you were whispering to me as we walked back to the car there? What were you saying?"

"No I wasn't."

"Yes you were, honey. You were whispering the whole time we were walking back to the car."

"I don't remember walking back to the car."

You couldn't pay us to go back there. Any of us.