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The Sundance House

Celyn, California, USA
October 1999

When I was a little girl my parents bought acreage in the gold country of Northern California, and planned to build a house on the top of the ridge that overlooked several wild grass fields and a seasonal stream which filled up in the winter. Before the house was built there had been evidence of a gold mining camp all over the property: two separate wagon trails heading off in different directions to the townships of Hangtown and Coloma, pieces of wood nailed into the side of a two hundred year-old oak, (back in the mid-1800s the steps would have been at ground level, but eighty years of growth took them so they started half way up the massive trunk.) There was an ancient bobwire fence with square nails in the posts, pieces of horseshoes, a hoof file, and other artifacts of the Gold Rush.

Building began in either 1981 or 1982, when we still lived in southern California. Soon we (my mother, father, baby sister and I) moved into the house.

Not long after we moved in, strange occurrences began to happen, which still take place today. At first it was small objects disappearing; Christmas ornaments, small toys, etc. only to turn up elsewhere in the house. My mother's cat, Ernie, hated to go down into the basement area, and would hiss at thin air in the vicinity of the stairs. Later on my mother and father began to see apparitions. Once, when I was about three and a half, I had been sent to my downstairs room because I was being a naughty toddler, as most children are prone to be. My parents were in the kitchen, that looked out into the livingroom and the stairs to the basement and all of a sudden they saw a small girl, long hair flying, laughing and running head down the stairs into the basement. They yelled at me to get back in my room, and were aghast when I stuck my head out of the doorway and yelled "I AM in my room!" I have seen the little girl once also, laughing and running down the stairs to the basement. One night about a year later, my mother awoke to the sound of a little girl sobbing and crying for her mother. Thinking it was my sister or me, she got out of bed to check on us, but discovered us asleep... still the crying continued, pathetic little mewls of sadness that came from the very air around my mother. She felt empathy rather than fear, and began speaking into the darkness of the living room. "Shh, it's okay, it's all right. Your mommy's coming," she said, over and over. Soon the crying stopped and she heard a girl's laughter, followed by triumphant calls of "Mommy! Mommy!" coming from the darkness.

These occurrences sound rather mellow, but there was and still is a more sinister, male presence around the house that has grabbed my mother by the throat as she lay sleeping, causing her to wake and struggle at the unseen grip. For years my mother would wake exhausted, feeling that in the night this man had come to her and tormented her as she lay asleep. Soon my parent's marriage had fallen apart, due to my father's alcoholism, and he moved away. We loved the house, despite the melancholy spirit, and wanted to stay; here we felt safe.

Even after my father moved out the occurrences would continue. My mother would hear the sound of parties late at night, and my sister and I also heard footsteps in the upper part of the house and something moving around in the basement when no one else was around. Once, my aunt went down the stairs to the basement entrance where we fed our cat when the heavy curtain that served as a basement door lifted to reveal only darkness behind. My aunt actually ran up the stairs and never went down there again, even with the lights on and with other people around! My mother did NOT like the area that she had cleared of wild grasses and bushes that lay behind the house. There the ground was soft as if something lay underneath it, and no matter here you dug there was charred ground as if a horrible fire had burned the small area. Even today I loath to walk back there.

Finally we moved out and my father reclaimed the house. My sister and I would spend alternate weekends at his house, and spent many happy years growing up there, for we saw ghostly phenomena as just a secondary occurrence in nature. We often felt someone staring at us when we were alone in the house, sometimes hearing murmurs under the floor of our room, where only a dirt sub-basement lay below. (Neither of us will set foot in that area), accessed by a door in the back of the developed basement area. The very air feels evil and seems to be contained by the house, but leaks up into the living area from time to time. The times we have been down there we have felt that angry male presence and something even more evil). There have been times when books have fallen off of shelves and floated to the ground and the pages methodically turned, even when no windows are opened. Toys have mysteriously been turned on and have had to been turned off by ourselves. Figures have walked over the hillside and the sounds of voices speak in the darkness.

My father is a rather depressed man, and seems to bring out the bad in the entities around the house. The woman and child seem to have fled, although on occasion when I have felt frightened or sad I have felt a gentle hand on my shoulder, and light-hearted whistling coming from a new entity outside the kitchen window. (This new entity feels like that of a young, sandy-haired man, and I have felt him watching and smiling at me from time to time.) The chances of it being a living person are nought; the house is out in the back of the beyond.

It seems that the area where the house stands is steeped in a doorway to a higher power, and may be a sort of thin area in time where ghosts congregate. I don't know. But still the spirits continue to live in whatever reality they feel exists. And still the house stands, the land's secrets kept, unwilling to let them go.

Celyn, California, USA
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