|On Friday, February 20, 2004,
I was doing a little research yesterday, when I saw a picture that sent chills
right up my little spine. It was of a gigantic mansion perched on the edge of a
After following this tiny trail of photos to it's source, I found out that this
house used to be down near San Francisco - and it was called The Cliff House.
I poured through the pictures, fascinated that such a behemoth could be built
right on the verge of the ocean. Massive and brooding, with exaggerated
Victorian design... like an ungamely ship ready to crash into the waves. All
those windows haunted me when I looked at them. In a few, you could see the
shadows of people there... looking out at the waves.
I'm not sure why the vision of this Victorian castle gave me such chills,
although - admittedly - most old photographs do. It isn't an unpleasant thing...
it's more that I look at the images, the people, and can so easily imagine them
taking their next step across the sand. I can see the women in their long skirts
walking back up the hard packed road to the Cliff House for tea. As If a person
could just leap right through that picture, and witness those lives still in
But the Cliff House itself seemed to be an entity all it's own. From what I
read, there were music parlors and art galleries, dining halls with room to
dance. There were also corridors that stretched on for so long, it was easy for
patrons to become lost.
Shivers again... lots of shivers.
I imagine being lost at night, in the belly of that beast. A wind storm blasting
up from the ocean, engulfing the House in fog. Oil lamps guttering where the
drafts sneak in. Oh yes... I can see whole stories unfolding in rich Victorian
I just stared for a few minutes at the picture, and I realized what the Cliff
House reminded me of. The Titanic. So overstated, so eery in it's presence...
that there is an air of doom about it. Something sinister just around the
And... as it so happens, I was right.
The Cliff House burned to the rocky shoals it was built on... in a screaming
fire that no one could put out.
I'm going to filter all these chills into a short story...