Room 1302, the Manor House, the Stanley Hotel. Callea, Connor and myself. Approximately one o’clock in the morning, straight up, two hours after beginning our time in the room. Very little perceived spirit activity since we began at eight that evening but not without a feeling of strangeness, an unfamiliarity. It’s my first time seriously investigating in the manor house or in room 1302.
I’m laying on the bed with my hands folded on my chest. I’m thinking of the story of a man laying in the bed who awoke three times to the weight of a person laying atop him. My eyes are heavy. If I close them without letting myself drift, if I might try to understand the witness’s point of view, maybe I’ll feel touched too, that perhaps it is in this moment of vulnerability, of sleep, that the spirit will approach.
You’ve been in this moment – falling asleep on the couch with your friends or family, drifting; at that point when your thoughts blend to dreams, when your imaginings and wonderings about the day or next week or the movie you just saw or the girl you like or the case you’re on start to blend with the alien, the abstract, the stuff of the subconscious. It feels natural enough, makes sense even. It’s a wash. Awake enough to be aware of your transition, to watch yourself begin to dream…
Until you catch yourself awake again. Sometimes it’s a falling dream, enough to stumble and jerk awake, sometimes you just become aware again. Only then do you realize your thoughts had taken you into dream, an image you didn’t intend.
I let my eyes drift closed. I listen to the sounds of the room. I’m waiting for something strange, a knock, a far off cry. My thoughts are running, my eyes are heavy.
It is natural, not sudden, when it comes, and it carries a kind of sense with it.
I see the image of a man. Crossed with a pig.
Vivid, sharp. With hollow eye sockets, the flesh dark, curving into the pits, a pig’s face like paper mache perfectly sealed against a round human skull. There is no line between the human and the animal. The skin is mottled in places, but firm. Bald head, a stringy wisp or two of hair laying against the skin. Those pointy ears jutting to the sides, goblin-like. There is no snout, but the idea is there the way the idea of a nose is there in the lost hollow cartilage of a skull. He’s wearing clothes, but the image is like that of one through a peep-hole in a door, a fish-eye lens, a face alone, just looking.
Then I’m back. In the instant that I realize this is not my thought, I’m fully awake again.
The room is quiet. I’ve only been out for maybe twenty seconds, if that. There is no pressure against my chest, physical or emotional. There is no feeling of the creeps that overcome me when an intense energy has been near. Quiet. I’m at peace. The image of the pig crossed with the man has not scared me.
I grunt, unsure of how to mention what I’ve seen.
“What?” Callea asks.
“I don’t know. I kinda just closed my eyes for maybe twenty seconds – not falling asleep, but just sort of putting myself in a position of…”
“Yeah. Or even like, falling asleep like the people.” That guest who’d reported the presence against him. “I don’t know, I just kinda got like a really clear, momentary, nightmarish image of a face crossed with a pig’s face only a bit mottled and creepy.”
The image was more vivid than any dream I’ve ever had and with a detail that my mind does not sustain. I was an artist in high school, working in photo-realism and surreal media, studying the line between good and evil with pastels and charcoal and graphite and acrylics. But I never had the skills to visualize specifics. I could not draw from my head the way I could draw from an image. This kind of thinking among situational conditions lead me to put aside the brush and I’ve not picked it up seriously since.
It is rare when I can visualize a face in memory, and when I can, it flees in under a week. I’m left with only brushstrokes.
Already the image is fading in the way of a dream.
“Karl, you’re freaking me out right now.”
“I know – it’s kinda weird.”
“No – You don’t – You’re totally freaking me out right now.”
I took up writing six years ago. Still, my imagination does not take me. My thoughts come slow, and general. I do not get lost in my stories. I still struggle to design creatures of the dark. Always, I admired the concept artists on the behind-the-scenes features on fantastic DVDs, walls plastered with boogeymen and orcs, lights over drafting boards and computers rendering 3D monsters. I could never draw a good monster.
I write horror fiction but I cannot imagine creatures like this for my work.
“I don’t feel intimidated in here, so I don’t know that it’s anything like that.” If this image of a pig-man was a presence, it is not in the room, of this I am almost sure.
“No,” Callea says. “I just mean, you’re not the first person I’ve heard describe that thing.”
“Seriously?” Connor asks.
Callea laughs and says, “Yeah.”
“Now you’re freaking me out,” I add, laughing too.
“Where did you hear it?” I ask.
“You don’t wanna know.”
“Yeah I do.”
“Madame Vera,” Callea says, “the resident psychic/medium at the Stanley Hotel, said the same thing in this room almost a year ago.”
(But the story gets even weirder. Read here for an Elemental Update…)