Saturday, May 29, 2010
The Crows of Witch Mountain
There are some places in the world that seem to be a nexus for all sorts of odd activity. One such place, in a valley in Toronto has been nicknamed "Witch Mountain" for as long as I can remember.
Witch Mountain isn't really a mountain, but a high steep hill offering a decent vantage from which to observe a portion of the city. It's festooned by some fairly thick forest, and such, isn't the easiest place to discover, but there have been visitors on this lonely, secret hill.
A long time ago, some friends and I had braved the climb to the summit, only to be encountered with what can only be described as the rank smell of evil when reaching the top. A quick search for the source revealed a half buried military ammunition box, with its lid flung open and some mysterious items within.
Searching the box we uncovered what can only be described as a weird collection of artifacts. Pages of ripped and ancient pornography were present in abundance, in in among their tattered remains we dug out some Polaroid pictures and two wooden sticks we immediately nicknamed 'The Juju Sticks'
The pictures were from a 70's Halloween party, and I had never seen stranger shots in my life. Creepy, mustachioed men cutting cakes and drinking beer with a blond playboy bunny in attendance. There was something incredibly odd about them, and they creeped me out. I refused to even touch The Juju Sticks, and they were snatched up by my friend Jordon who claimed them immediately as his. I had no problem with this, and told him to keep them away from me.
The rest of the night was spent discussing the nature of these objects and the recently uncovered ammunition box. Who could have buried these things here? Had the been there since the 70s? Why such an odd assortment of objects? And why on the mysterious Witch Mountain? We left with these questions unresolved.
A few years later, we returned to Witch Mountain a couple hours before dusk. The smell was long gone, and all evidence of the strange time capsule had been removed. The sun was shining, and Witch Mountain did not seem a threatening place. I was with my friends Lee and Jordon, and we had hiked up to enjoy some cold beers and shoot our homemade slingshots.
We arranged some empty beer cans on the surrounding trees, and proceeded to improve our aim. We had a bit of a competition going to discover which of our slingshots were of the best quality. We had been shooting for awhile when I missed my can. The little stone went hurtling off into the trees and came within a foot of a crow sitting on a branch that I hadn't noticed.
The crow turned his head, looked me right in the eyes, and let out a "Squawk!". The meaning couldn't have been more clear if the crow had spoken in plain English. He was pissed off and he may as well have said "Fuck you!". He lifted his wings and flew off.
A few minutes passed by, we were relaxing in the diminishing sun when suddenly the crow came back, accompanied by about twenty of his friends. It couldn't have been more than five minutes since he left, and how he had managed to amass such an army was beyond me.
We stared at this murder of oncoming crows, frozen on the spot. The crows came rapidly towards us and suddenly started flying in a figure 8 pattern and squawking in a rhythmic chant. Our collective gaze was drawn ever deeper into this unlikely sight. We watched with vapid fascination as the crows continued their strange dance in the air. Some kind of pressure was building up, I felt a radiating thickness in the air, like I was being bathed in some deep throbbing energy. Fear came upon me. I looked over at Jordon "Let's go", I hissed quietly but forcefully. Jordan, his eyes still mesmerized by the dancing crows replied "yeeaaaahhhh" in a slow drawn out fashion.
Lee, who I had long known was a master of evil, seemed unaffected and asked "Why?"
We didn't bother to answer him, we turned, ran grabbed our bikes and ran down Witch Mountain as fast as our legs would carry us. Lee followed at a more leisurely pace. We drove on the forest paths a few kilometers away, and set ourselves up on another hill to continue our festivities.
Our fear had abated by this time, we were working on fresh beers, and our spirits were high. The ominous memory of the crows we all but forgotten. it was twilight, and we could just spot an abandoned bike at the bottom on the cliff's edge we were sitting on. Thinking it could be salvaged and its frame could be made into excellent slingshots, we started to climb down.
About half way down, I started getting pelted with stones that came flying out from the trees to our left. Suddenly remembering the crows, I couldn't help but wonder at this odd inversion of events. We abandoned our salvage of the bike and climbed back to the top. Upon sitting down, about a dozen young and very aggressive young guys came out of the trees to the left. It had been them throwing the stones.
We sat quietly with our legs over the cliff edge as they came out from the trees surrounding us from behind. Tension built up in the air. I could feel their violent aggression and we we each ready to defend ourselves against a dozen large, drunk and violent ruffians.
Eventually, after what seemed like ages, they walked off and disappeared into the trees to our right. After a few minutes, I could hear them shouting and fighting among themselves.
My friends were staring and me. "Did you see that?" They asked.
One of the largest and most aggressive guys had been standing behind me holding a large heavy rock over my head. His friend had been repeatedly whispering in his ear "Do it! Do it! Do it!" Because of the tension I had been totally oblivious to all of this.
We packed up and got out of there immediately.
I couldn't help but think about the connection between the events of that evening. The crow pissed off at me for nearly hitting him with the rock. The sinister return with his friends. The weird and oppressive energy the crows gave off during their dance. And then myself being the target of rocks later in the evening. It seemed pretty clear.
Those crows had cursed me and had I barely escaped with my life.
Over a decade later, in Korea, I told this story to an older Australian friend over a pint.
"Witches!" was his immediate response.
"Tell me, did you ever find something buried on top of that mountain?"
I was stunned, as I had not told him about the ammunition box, nor mentioned the name "Witch Mountain". I filled him in.
It was his theory that this was the work of a coven of witches in the area, who used that spot for their rituals. It was them who buried the box, and placed a curse at that spot, according to him.
A short time after this I left Korea and returned home to meet up with my old friends.
During our reminiscing we touched upon the events of that night and I brought up what the Australian had told me. Jordon had told me The Juju Sticks had disappeared from his house, and he had searched long and hard for them but couldn't find them. And then he surprised me by asking "Don't you know who buried that stuff on Witch Mountain?"
I looked at him, Gobsmacked. Could the mystery have finally been solved after all this time?
"It was Lee. Lee buried that stuff up there when he was about 7 years old."
I looked over at Lee, Master of Evil, The Witch of Witch Mountain, who sat beside me with a big grin on his face.