Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Moody's Believe It or Not pt. V - chapter one

I'm not sure what it was that inspired me to write this post now, as it is probably better left for the upcoming Bon festival. Maybe it's the typhoon that just skidded past us today. (Typhoons always invoke paranormal-related thoughts in me, and I don't know why.) Maybe it's the wave of weird and possibly prophetic dreams I've been having lately. (Don't ask me for details. They're not hinting at anything that big, but it is a personal issue.) Maybe it's because I recently told the students of my 12th grade advanced writing course about the "Family Ties" story I mentioned in this post. Maybe it's just because I originally intended to write this post last Halloween but wound up missing it. I'm taking the plunge and writing it now.

As I've said before, I've had some pretty bizarre experiences in my life. As someone who grew up believing mainly in science, it's all a bit hard to take. Skeptics would probably have little trouble coming up with possible explanations, and I do my best to think of them myself. However, in all cases I still have more than a little cause to wonder just what the real truth is. Particularly since the late 80s I've encountered possible evidence of psychic phenomena, witchcraft, demonstrations of occult power, possible ghost/spirit encounters, and even a possible UFO sighting (although that was one of the least significant). These experiences have ranged from "wait, did you see that?" to bone-chilling fright. Last October I told some of the strangest stories I have to tell from my own diary. Now let me tell the strangest.

The Cursed Suite

In 1998 I had my first-ever experience arranging a tune for a symphony orchestra. Ye Olde Academy was celebrating its 20th anniversary. Mr. Ogawa had asked me (mainly as a joke) if I would mind making a new arrangement of the school anthem. I said I would love to do it. I then cranked out the arrangement which is now known affectionately as the "Star Wars version". It turned out to be a surprising success. When our orchestra performed it at the 20th anniversary celebration it was awarded a standing ovation. Afterward, several teachers and PTA officials told me that it had moved them to tears. Needless to say, Mr. Ogawa was impressed, and he told me he would welcome any new arrangement I came up with. (Indeed, I have come up with a number of them over the past ten years, but none have been quite so successful as "the Star Wars version".)

I decided to take things even further. I asked Mr. Ogawa if I could try an original composition (fortissimo quarter note A, not too short). He was surprised at the question, but he encouraged me to do so, promising me that they would perform anything I created. Indeed, I already had several ideas in mind. In the end, strangely, I wound up rejecting them all, starting instead from scratch with an all-new theme:

Princess Wahluna.

There are actually different versions of the tragic tale of Princess Wahluna of the "Nez Perce" tribe (true name Nimi'ipuu), her lover, the warrior Tlesca (or Tlescaoe) of the "Blackfoot" tribe (true name Piikani), and the Wallowa Lake Monster. All of the versions agree on these points:

  • Wahluna's branch of the Nez Perce and Tlesca's branch of the Blackfeet were at war.
  • The war was going badly for Wahluna's tribe, and soon there were no warriors left that were able to fight.
  • Wahluna secretly left her camp, snuck into the Blackfoot camp, and appealed to Red Wolf, the Blackfoot chief, to spare her people.
  • Red Wolf declared the Nez Perce "dogs" and ordered his braves to kill Wahluna, but his son Tlesca put his robe on her and spoke favorably of her and her people. Red Wolf then decided to spare her.
  • Thus began the secret love between Wahluna and Tlesca, which continued for a while until it was finally discovered.
  • Wahluna and Tlesca ended up paddling a canoe together on Wallowa Lake with other canoes following them. (Here is where the stories differ. Some say they were being pursued and were trying to escape. In the story I'm most familiar with, however, it was their wedding celebration!)
  • The Wallowa Lake Monster suddenly appeared and killed everybody.
  • Both the Nez Perce and the Blackfeet thought the monster was sent as punishment for a Nez Perce and a Blackfoot joining together in love rather than war.

Wallowa Lake, Oregon, where Wahluna and Tlesca became the first "reported" victims of the Wallowa Lake Monster.

I had only just finished telling the story of Wahluna to one of my advanced classes, and it was still very much on my mind. I decided to use it as my inspiration. Thus began my work on the orchestral suite entitled "Wahluna".

Nowadays I use the professional music-writing software suite Sibelius for all my composing and arranging. Back then I didn't have it so easy. I did everything by hand, writing scores and individual part music sheets painstakingly in pencil. "Wahluna" turned out to be quite a large work, and I launched myself into it like nothing before. I became quite passionate, even obsessed with it. I was spending as much time with it as I could muster, often skipping meetings or sneaking out early so I could get back into it again. It got to the point where my eyes could barely focus, and my hands were so cramped that I could barely hold the pencil, but still I kept at it. All the while, I kept the image and the story of Wahluna going through my mind over and over again until I began to feel as if I knew her personally. In fact, it got to the point where I began to imagine that I was Tlesca.

I was a little more than a third of the way through the score when strange things started happening. First my daughter, who was a little more than two at the time, started having screaming nightmares every night and sometimes talked of the "angry man" that was coming into her room. Not long after that my wife and I both began to hear what sounded like someone walking up our stairs at right around 8:30 every evening and someone going back down again at around 3:30 a.m. (usually right after my daughter screamed, waking us up). (Yes, we did go and check. No, we never saw anybody. Yes, we do know what the stairs normally sound like when they creak because of temperature change. This was different.) That was just the beginning.

The strange phenomena escalated quickly. After a while we kept getting up in the morning to find windows open even though we were making a point of shutting and latching them (and locking the doors) before going to bed. Items (mainly my wife's) started disappearing and turning up in strange places. Then we were plagued by all kinds of appliance malfunctions; various lights, our microwave oven, our phone, our TV, and even the computer and printer I was using at the time started acting goofy, not working properly or having the same part repeatedly break as soon as it was replaced.

Hidden items were not the only inconvenience my wife suffered. She actually seemed to fall under attack. On more than one occasion she woke up to find scratches on herself that hadn't been there before (and we didn't have a cat at the time). It became an almost daily occurrence for her to go out to her car in the morning to find it still locked but the contents of her glove box and school bag tossed about (if not torn). On a few occasions she found one or more of the dashboard knobs or switches on the floor. She was also greeted by a flat tire twice in two weeks. One thing was clear, someone had it out for her.

As for me, I didn't suffer any direct harm (not that I would have noticed anyway since I was so obsessed with my composing), but I was starting to get a little worried about all the things that were happening. I also couldn't help but notice that my dreams were getting stranger. For one thing, I kept seeing what looked like an elderly native American man, a shaman judging by his dress, standing off to the side staring at me. No matter what my dream was about or where it took place, he'd often pop up somewhere.

He did NOT look happy. In fact, he looked angry enough to frighten me.

He also seemed to be getting closer with each successive appearance.

(To be continued...)


  • Bloody cliffhanger...

    Don't keep us in suspense for too long!

    By Blogger Pa've, at 6:49 AM  

  • Braggart!

    By Anonymous Spirit, at 1:57 PM  

  • I think this story is very...

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 10:55 PM  

  • Omg...

    It's past 11pm now and everyone is sound asleep in the house.
    I should have read that post during the day!!!
    Now I'm not sure I'm gonna fall asleep soon!!!

    By Anonymous angele, at 4:17 AM  

  • Not.

    By Blogger Momo the Wonder Dog, at 6:41 PM  

  • You were visited by a Skookum, or possibly some Stick Indians...either way, they can be very mischievious!

    By Blogger ladybug, at 9:38 AM  

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