Monday, March 10, 2014

The Story Behind Mimic

     If you tell me a ghost story I will listen attentively, because I enjoy ghost stories, but don’t expect me to believe you. As an engineer I believe in what I can see, hear, touch or what can be proven empirically. I have never read a document that produced a shred of evidence supporting the existence of ghosts.

     And yet...in our house there have been a couple of events that can’t quite be explained.

     My wife and I were lying in bed still awake though it was late. We heard our daughter running down the hallway toward our bedroom. She wore onesie pajamas and the plastic soles on her feet made a distinctive sound. When she reached our door she stopped. We waited for her to come and jump into our bed, as she’d done many times before. And we waited. And waited. Finally, I got up and checked. She was in bed sound asleep.

     If it had just been me I would have guessed I had a hypnagogic hallucination...but both my wife and I experienced this. To think this was a hoax by a two year old is ridiculous. Two year olds don’t have the coordination to tiptoe silently. They don’t have the acting skills to pretend they are asleep.

     Fast-forward ten years. My second daughter is sleeping in the top bunk of her bed. The bottom bunk is reserved for her friends when she has a sleep-over. She hears me come into the room and climb up the ladder. But it isn’t me. I’m out of town on business travel. And no one is there. It really disturbed her. After that, for at least a year, she always propped pillows up in the gap in the rails where the ladder goes.

     Two unexplained events in the course of ten years is hardly a haunting. What both events share is the sense of mimicry. And they mimic routines that held strong emotional power for me and probably for the other members of my family.

     I took these events and wove them into my Spear Bearer short story Mimic. As writers we are always recycling things from our lives to reuse in our stories, and this is just one example of that.

     Oh, and one last thing: My oldest daughter really did have an imaginary friend named Kracken. And don’t tell her, but he always kind of gave me the creeps.