Cliff House Project

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On Saturday, February 21, 2004 , she said ...

The Cliff House

On Friday, February 20, 2004, she said...

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 cliff.

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 motion.

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 verbiage.

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 corner.

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...

Courtesy of Aimee's blog: