By Jim Poling Sr.
Published July 7 2016
This is the second instalment of a campfire ghost story. See the first part here .
A local legend told that on nights when the grey mist following a big storm settled over Ghostly Point on Shkendang Lake a moaning could be heard in the trees. A moan that pricked the skin and pulled at the heart. The Ojibwa said it was their leader crying for his only daughter – Laughing Loon Moong in Ojibwa.
“Moong. Wenesh aa-zhwebak? Moooohhhng. G’giigoonke na gamiigoong? Loon. What happened? Loo…oon. Are you fishing on the lake?”
The legend said he never stopped calling for Moong who went onto the lake to fish one morning and never returned.
Moong was having such a productive fishing morning she did not notice an angry sky building in the northwest. Sickly green clouds with the texture of wet campfire ash loomed over the end of the lake.
A vicious wind suddenly spun out of the green-grey wall of cloud shaping itself into a black funnel. Before Moong could reach for her paddle the funnel slammed her canoe sideways chewing it to pieces and sucking everything around it into its horrible screaming mouth. Minutes later calm returned to the lake but there was not a trace of Moong her fish catch or her canoe.
The legend of Shkendang Lake intensified many years later when the family who summered at the cabin on Ghostly Point stopped coming. No one knew what happened to them but it was rumoured their young daughter drowned while canoeing in the lake.
For Shainie Garrison the most important story was the light at the abandoned cabin and why no one else ever saw it. She was determined to solve the mystery.
The cabin was off limits to the cottage children of Shkendang Lake. Its dilapidated condition made it a dangerous place. And the tales of the Ojibwa princess and the family that mysteriously abandoned the cabin floated in the area’s sub-consciousness.
The mystery of the light at the cabin had become so much more powerful than her parents’ prohibitions that Shainie knew she must go to Ghostly Point. The next morning while everyone slept she would creep out paddle her canoe across the bay to investigate why she kept seeing a light that no one else saw.
Ghostly Point when seen through the evening mist was appropriately named. But at dawn streaks of yellow-red sunlight struck the pink and grey tumble of shoreline rocks mixing with the morning blue sparkle of the lake and the leafy greens of the woods to create a rainbow of warm colour.
Shainie beached her canoe on a strip of sand between the rocks and cautiously climbed the little hill on which the cabin sat. Where the hill started to flatten out the rocky ground disappeared replaced by a thick soft blanket of long brown pine needles shed by majestic white pines. These elegant sentinels stood rooted around the rock at all sides of the cabin thinning out only at the back where another hill rose steeply to become the high sheer cliffs that were a feature of the east side of Shkendang Lake.
The point was very still and quiet. Shainie imagined she could hear the trees breathe and the pine needles sigh as they compressed beneath her hiking boots. The only real sounds were unnerving snaps and creaks coming from the cabin presumably caused by the breeze moving through the gaps in the log walls and breaks in the window panes.
She took a deep breath and swallowed hard through a dry mouth and tight throat as she approached the front porch. The steps leading to it had rotted and fallen away and the porch deck itself was a patchwork of rotting boards. The front door once a beautiful work of hand tooled white pine was battered hanging off kilter on one hinge.
Shainie climbed the porch stepping gingerly on the firmest looking spots. Her fingers touched the door latch just as a lake breeze found its way through a window crack and rattled something inside the cabin. She jumped back one foot falling through the porch with a crash. She caught her balance and her breath and pulled herself back up pushing the door open to get a grip on the door frame.
Next week: Inside the cabin.