Eight miles on Ortega Highway. Find the red gate. A skull and cross bones sign on recycled cardboard posts before the electronic eye. The metal is smashed on the right. Look for the transponder hidden, a geo code.
Drive 18 minutes past poison oak. Don't pass neighbors in pick ups with gun racks. Wave at vehicles driving down stream.
The house is haunted. Its not the first time I cohabited with ghosts.
A cabin with river rock facade. Built in the turn of the century with modern plumbing, solar panels, generator and no cell service. No booster corrects the lack of phone availability.
It's summer. Evening breezes push through the black Pines in the front. Tonight it's crisp but no wind. A friend at work has an earthquake predictor application on his desktop. Every day he shouts out that if the sunset is red, the San Andreas Fault takes revenge.I forgot to take note of the sky at 7:42 P.M.
Dinner made itself in two crock pots. One has chicken with pineapple and soy sauce. Hawaiian rice waits for a stir. Remaining duties: steam broccoli and combine the salad items in the glass containers. Before setting the table, I sit to check a few edits on the work in progress. Carson's laptop is open in the empty seat next to mine.
The iron chandelier overhead begins to sway. It rocks. There's a sound of beep ping of a Casablanca fan or iphone ring tone. Is it the laptop? No it's an earthquake. One is is due.
"Get in a doorway the big one!"
Flashes where cities burn down and thousands injured without sanitation run through my mind. Did I store enough water, bullets, bandages, dry food, matches and more bullets? My children (college students) follow orders. They join me under the beamed doorway. We watch as the ancient chandelier crashes on the farm house table where I was seated and destroys my son's new laptop.
"House is solid. No shaking - only see it move!" My son points to the million shards of glass and metal on top of his treasured MAC. He puts his arm around his sister's shoulder to relax her fears. At this second I'm proud he isn't concerned about the value of things but the love between us. Then his facial expression changes examining his fish tank with the one remaining fighting fish.
"If it was an earthquake everything would be moving. The water is still."
"Without phone service it's hard to check with if there will be aftershocks," daughter worries.
"It's a fault in the chandelier," he answers.
"Ghosts." she says.
I frown. Rather than skeptical, accept poltergeist theory, "We're kind people. You can stay, we won't harm you," I say with emphasis.
"Mom, don't be crazy."
"Can't hurt." I shrug, "I'm not prejudice against ghosts."
My kids laugh. Daughter runs her fingers through her bangs, shaking off fears.
The electrical cords that connect with the wires above have wires rusted and frayed. Crystal bells that held the energy efficient bulbs are in pieces, crumbled as plastic wrap. Carson's new Apple laptop is in worse shape. With the lid opened and light on with thousands of pieces of the machine scatter. Did the lithium battery explode?
Our team hugs. We are safe. Another expensive fix ahead, but we survive.