Have you ever had a really bad feeling about a place?
A friend owned a cabin in a little town at the foot of Mount Hood in Oregon. I was just starting out as a writer, and she very kindly let me stay there for a long weekend while I fleshed out the novel I’d just begun.
It wasn’t isolated; several cabins were visible through the tall, abundant trees. Day one was fantastic. I got myself settled, set up the computer, opened a bottle of champers and started work.
The next morning I took my coffee out onto the front stoop to enjoy the lovely view. The air was brisk on that October day, but where the sun touched it was warm. Lost in my thoughts I was startled to hear footsteps on the dirt road that linked all the cabins, and two men came into view. They saw me at the same instant I spotted them, and although they were innocuous enough looking, I was struck with sudden fear. Without realising it I’d got to my feet, gone back into the cabin and locked the door. I watched from the window as they passed, both their heads swivelled to scan the front of the cabin. Both wore the standard Pacific Northwest jeans, hiking boots, and checked flannel shirts.
All morning I couldn’t shake the sense of dread. My writing was stymied and I felt very aware of my vulnerability in that wooden little structure, particularly once dusk would fall.
After a few abortive attempts to continue work, I finally decided to obey the instinct that screamed, get out! Within twenty minutes I’d packed up my car, tidied up the cabin, and wending my way back down the mountain to Portland.
I don’t know what exactly spooked me to the point of flight. The two men were not frightening in themselves, and for all I knew were locals out for a hike. But after they appeared, the forest lost its allure and felt forbidding, dangerous. It even seemed the birds had gone silent afterwards.
Later I realised the beginning of my tale could have been taken directly from the film I Spit On Your Grave. I wonder if I’d seen the 1970’s original and that had influenced me? All I know is I never again stayed in a mountain cabin alone.