ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Weston Ochse is a former intelligence officer and special operations soldier who has engaged enemy combatants, terrorists, narco smugglers, and human traffickers. His personal war stories include performing humanitarian operations over Bangladesh, being deployed to Afghanistan, and a near miss being cannibalized in Papua New Guinea. His fiction and non-fiction has been praised by USA Today, The Atlantic, The New York Post, The Financial Times of London, and Publishers Weekly. The American Library Association labeled him one of the Major Horror Authors of the 21st Century. His work has also won the Bram Stoker Award, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and won multiple New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. A writer of more than 26 books in multiple genres, his military supernatural series SEAL Team 666 has been optioned to be a movie starring Dwayne Johnson. His military sci fi series, which starts with Grunt Life, has been praised for its PTSD-positive depiction of soldiers at peace and at war. Weston likes to be called a chaotic good paladin and challenges anyone to disagree. After all, no one can really stand a goody two-shoes lawful good character. They can be so annoying. It's so much more fun to be chaotic, even when you're striving to save the world. You can argue with him about this and other things online at Living Dangerously or on Facebook at Badasswriter. All content of this blog is copywrited by Weston Ochse.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


House from Burnt Offerings and Phantasm
Not really the end of me, but the end of the weekend. We made it actually, but the weekend came to an end and I have mixed feelings about that.

If you read chronological through our blog posts on the Haunted Mansion Retreat Blog, you can get an interesting psychological profile of our group. At first we were titillated. We kind of relished the ability to poke and prod everything ghostly. Then the next morning came an onslaught of what-the-f*ck-were-we-thinking posts, with several of our band experiencing very unpleasant physical contact with ghosts/spirits/entities/whatever they were.

At that point, we had two choices. We could either be scared or we could be funny. Like the authors we are, we chose both. As that first day wore on we felt an increasing trepidation. When night came and enveloped the mountain, we costumed our terror with humor. By the next day we were using the K2 Meter to play with sleeping (handsome) authors and watching videos of Rachel Bloom crooning the author appreciate classic, “F*ck Me Ray Bradbury,” as well as the shockingly grotesque video of the woman (was it a woman) singing about what she was doing- "Sittin' on the Toilet."

I'm embarassed to admit I watched it, several times, but these were absolutely mechanisms designed to keep us sane. I have to admit, that second night, I was scared.  The house felt different to me. It felt riled up and ready. That first night it was a little surprised, I think, that we would engage it so. But after a day at the Rubicon Estate, when we returned, I remember looking up at that high windows of the third floor and thinking about the movie, Burnt Offerings. I remember being scared and not wanting to go back in the house.

But we did.
Yvonne and I listening to Ghost Voices on EVP
Thankfully I didn’t have many more experiences. The first floor, for the most part, was a safe zone. The back apartment behind the fireplace had some cold spots, as did the entire second and third floors, including the grand staircase and the murder stairs going to the third floor. In those places I always felt like I was being watched. The hairs on my arms stood straight, and I mean straight, up. I mastered the art of walking in straight lines and not using my peripheral vision. You see, if there was something looking at me, I didn’t want to see it looking at me looking at it looking at me.

Especially the murder stairs. Whenever I went to the second floor, I was aware of them off to my left as I headed towards my room.  It was as if the place had a vacuum that drew your attention and begged for you to come and look. Although it terrified me, I always felt the pull towards the stairs, much like when I am on a high building or mountain, I feel a pull to jump.

So to all of you who ask me was there really something there or were we making it all up? I guess first you have to believe in ghosts, whatever your definition of them may be. Once you believe in them, then I will tell you that yes, there was something there. I felt it. I heard it on EVP. Was it malevolent? I don’t know. I don’t think so. I believe that my physical reactions were symptoms of encountering some strange energy.

So will I go back?

I think so. As long as I have a lot of friends and comrades with me, just like this last time, I think it will be okay.

You know, writing this, a thought just occurred to me. There wasn’t a single time this entire weekend when I remember any of us getting mad at the other. They say that negative energy feeds off negative emotions. We didn’t have any of that. We all seemed to genuinely enjoy each other’s company, which created a lot of positive energy.  I can’t help but wonder what would have happened had we gotten mad and fed the house.

What would have happened then?

I’m shaking my head. I don’t want to know.

I’m just glad that all of us became friends, shared a weekend that will remain with us for decades, and now have a common bond which no one else can claim as their own, because we, and we alone, are Survivors of the Haunted Mansion Writer’s Retreat.

Weston Ochse
Desert Grotto
Mexican Border
Safe and Sound


  1. Wes, you're totally correct about that sense of comraderie. And it was wonderful there was no drama. I'd go back again and this time try to understand what the black mass in my room wanted from me. I keep thinking about how Rainy and I both drew the Hermit and the Queen of Swords at the same time in our room asking it what it wanted. To me, I think it's a retreat to engage our imaginations. Yes, there is definitely "something" there. What a fabulous rollar coaster weekend!

  2. I think we were all watching out for one another, which really helped. When Scott had his experience at 5AM, I woke up too. You know how you get that feeling that someone's awake? I remember making sure he was okay, though he was really afraid, before falling asleep. By the way, Scott and I think we might have gotten some "wails" on the digital recorder from our room Saturday night. I'm watching TAPS right now and I have a totally perspective on the show.

  3. Well said, Wes. Positive vibes all around for the weekend. Lots of great connections made and conversations shared. Let's do that again!

  4. The group's updates had me wondering how I would fare in a place like that now, as a "rational" adult.
    When we lived in Samoa, the second house we were in was the former headmaster's house at the school in Ataloma where nickel poisoning from the water supply (a stream that runs down the hill past the school, dorms and house) caused a mass suicide.
    I'd chalk it up to being young and impressionable, but I knew nothing of the history of the house until after we moved back to the states. The nightmares were the worst, followed by the spare bedroom (my sister and I shared a room) was ice cold (in the tropics with no AC) and closed with a padlock. Sometimes when we got home from school, the door to that room would be wide open.
    The school building is still abandoned, from what I understand. I watched a series of videos on Youtube that was done by a film student about Ataloma and there wasn't much discussion on the reasons the school closed down. I just know what dad told me and the experiences relayed by others.
    So now I have an idea for another haunted trip for you and your lovely wife. Tropical island paradise? ;)

  5. Tropical Island Paradise. Hmmm. Scott, Eunice and Seph, we up for going to Samoa?

    TO all, I'm just happy nothing bad happened. I think the potential was there, but we got out okay.

    Miss you all already.