Friday, June 6, 2014
Haunted D'Arcy Island
Check out Isaac's story about his experience on haunted D'Arcy Island.
Before I dive into my gripping narrative of our trip to D’Arcy Island, I feel I should give a bit of background story. As Mark Twain would say, if he was me, and lived in 2014, ‘No point getting into the story then going backwards. That’s gotta be the worst writing technique ever invented since the invention of government marketing.’ In a manner of speaking, at least. Anyway, D’Arcy Island is a former leper colony, mainly for Chinese lepers. They would contract the disease, be shipped out to this island, and then they would live an isolated life with a lot of other Chinese lepers, the only contact with the outer world being the shipments of supplies and coffins and the occasional journalist. So, this is a rather morbid place. You get that feeling after reading its history. But there is a little more. Supposedly, it’s haunted. At this point, you may be getting a vivid impression of ghosts and bogey-men and probably start to get a little freaked out while at the same time telling yourself that there is definitely no way it could be in any way possible, though it might be possible if someone had played with hexaflexagons or something similar causing vorpal spacetime influences across multiple dimensions. But unless that extremely unlikely case has occurred and also assuming that anything I said made any scientific sense at all, there is no way it could be haunted. So we all say. Regardless, we went ahead and read the haunted island story in the Waggoner’s Guide. It was not like a normal ghost story with the headless Victorian ladies (cough, cough Chinese lepers) moaning in the trees. No, this was something altogether more conceivable and thus, more frightening, in its own way. And do remember, this story comes from a sailing couple, and everyone knows that sailing couples are more or less grounded in reality when sober. Basically, they dinghied into the island, and, after tying up the dinghy, they headed up onto the firm, lush soil of D’Arcy Island. As they walked around, admiring the greenery, and searching for the foundations of old buildings, they were struck by the silence. Since Bob and Debby are the names of more than fifty percent of all sailing couples, we will call this couple Bob and Debby. One of them, either Bob or Debby, take your pick, says, ‘Where are all the birds?’ Now, first you must understand that when I mean silence, I don’t mean ‘The absence of sound,’ this silence was heavy, and crushing, and one was glad to hear the slightest noise, even if it was the noise of you screaming as you rushed towards the beach, overwhelmed by the pure creepy silence of it all. So Bob or Debby says, ‘Where are all the birds?’ Birds are common on the islands. You’re always hearing them. And all they had heard were wasps. Almost immediately after this question was asked bird calls suddenly started up. That, you must understand, is decidedly creepy. Especially because they stopped a little while later. So, our average sailing couple, Bob and Debby, move on and come to the foundations of another building. Debby goes ahead to the foundations while Bob stops to take photos or re-tie his shoe or something similar. Then he looks around at where Debby has gone and sees a ditch running around the perimeter of the foundations and he thinks to himself, ‘I wonder if water used to flow there?’ and almost immediately afterwards he hears running water. So he tells Debby, who can also hear the water, that he was going to go look for it. Debby stays back at the foundations while Bob forges his way into a bright green meadow. He continues on into the meadow when suddenly, the water noises stop. Puzzled, Bob makes his way back to Debby, who says that she can’t hear it anymore either. Creepy.
Strange, right? Now, you can see why we headed to this island, with exposed anchorage, for just an hour before continuing on. We never make lunch stops like that, except at Friday Harbor. But of course, we had to visit the haunted island. So we did. Mom was baking bread, and Aaron didn’t really want to go, so it ended up being just Dad and I in the landing party. And Pika of course. We can’t forget the chihuahua. She played a key part in the adventures of the hour. So anyway, we loaded into the kayak, and kayaked into shore. We tied up to some drift wood while Mom shouted something that sounds like ‘Pika Beagle’, then we headed up to the signs and the outhouse. I’m feeling rather relieved at this point. Outhouses seem so civil and not haunted. Maybe the island wasn’t haunted after all. Then I saw the deer. It was a normal deer, and it was quiet. I looked away for a moment. It disappeared without a sound. That was normal deer behavior, of course, but it completely freaked me out, since I was expecting creepy things to happen. Later, Dad said he saw it bound off into the bog. Of course, he could have told that to me right then, when I remarked on it, but oh, no, he has to wait until we’re kayaking back. Thanks a lot, Dad. Anyway, we’re heading deeper into the island. One thing that strikes us is the complete, total greenness of it all. Green moss carpeting the ground, not even allowing the slightest twig to stay on top. Green trees, bent over with what looked like a tree form of leprosy. There were no bird calls. Except for when there was. But that was rare. And overlaying all the green and not-birdiness was a constant buzzing from many, many wasps. Freaky. Wasps get on my nerves anyway, but when they’re the only sound besides me and Dad and Pika’s bell, it gets freaky. I was starting to get seriously freaked out as the branches of low hanging trees scraped their way through my hair, like the caressing hands of the dead, and branches caught my legs and tripped me, as if the wood itself was resentful of our presence. My brain, of course, was having a wonderful time making this all up at the time, and the impressions remained later on in my memories. But there was something about that island. The absence of bird calls – I once saw a bird moving about as if he was making chirping noises, but making no sound at all – and that constant buzzing, and the bent forms of the trees, the total greenery… I’ve never seen anywhere, in all of our travels, as green as D’Arcy Island. Stumps caught my eye, and looked like they were trying to skulk around behind me as my brain tried to work itself into a frenzy of fearful imagination. I tried to keep a hold on it, but Pika’s reaction to the island was unsettling. When dogs get nervous for no apparent reason, you start to feel nervous too. True, Pika gets nervous at anything, but this was different. She loves walking on land, but she refused to walk on D’Arcy, and kept looking longingly towards the boat. But when we were on a beach, she walked just fine. She also would occasionally start wiggling in my arms, as if she wanted down, but then she would stop, apparently changing her mind. She was definitely freaked out. And of course, the big pit that looked like a dug-up grave was also unsettling. I don’t think I need to give details of where exactly we walked; I think I highlighted the best and coolest parts and the general feeling.
This is D’Arcy Island. Go there for your fix of creepiness. Indian villages had a fair share of it in the early ‘20s, but now they’ve mostly lost it due to degeneration or visitors. But D’Arcy island… Ah, D’Arcy Island is rarely visited. People will stay there one night, if that, and then never come back. Nothing like a quarantine island to make things creepy.