YOU NEVER WANT TO CROSS AN ELF - FINAL
People who leave their vacation homes empty for the major portion of the year also frequently suffer from an elfin spirit developing a proprietary interest in what appears to be vacant property.
Scott Halstead said that he and his family had vacationed in the same cabin in the Northeast for the past 22 years. “We started vacationing in this cabin when Allan was two years old, and we always take the last two weeks in August. And for 22 years, we’ve had to share the cabin with something else.”
Halstead and his wife Lynette made a point to emphasize their contention that although the “something else” sometimes frightened them, their sense of the entity was that it was extremely protective of the cabin and the grounds on which their cabin and others like it had been built.
“The cabin and nine or ten others are situated on a beautiful lake,” Halstead said. “And old Charlie the caretaker knows that there is something kind of spooky going on around there, but he usually just shrugs and says that it doesn’t bother him. It sometimes bothers his dogs, though. He’s got two big German shepherds, and I’ve seen them cower and whine when neither Charlie nor anyone else was near them.”
Lynette said that when their son Allan was around four he would say that he had an invisible friend named Mo-Ko who lived in the woods. “If we were afraid that he might wander off in the woods, he would say, ‘Mo-Ko won’t let me. He says that I have to stay near the cabins.’ Who could complain if his invisible playmate was also a good baby sitter?”
Lynette and Scott agreed that the most dramatic evidence of a guardian spirit looking over the cabin came in 1985 when Allan was 11 and their daughter Tonya was 7.
“Scott and I had gone swimming,” Lynette said. “The kids knew that we would be chilled when we got out of the lake and a fire would feel good to us. Allan had watched his father building a fire for years, so he knew the basics, but he just kept piling on kindling. Tonya tossed newspapers and magazines onto the fire, and pretty soon they had a huge blaze roaring in that fireplace.”
Shivering, clutching towels to their chilled bodies, Scott and Lynette returned to the cabin to see the colonial-style rag rugs in front of the fireplace on fire, the curtains to the side of the chimney ablaze, and another finger of flame moving across scattered newspapers toward the living room carpet.
“There was that moment of panic, when you just kind of scream and shout before your brain kicks in,” Lynette said. “Allan and Tonya were standing against a wall, crying their heads off in fear.”
And then, as weird at it may seem—as strange as it is for Scott and Lynette to attest to it—something started to beat out the flames.
“I’m standing there barefooted and soaked in my swimming suit with a towel wrapped around me,” Scott said. “I don’t even have time to react, really, when I see something snuffing out the fire. More than beating out the flames, it’s like something is smothering it, as if it is covering the fire with a big wet blanket. In minutes, what looked like it would be a major disaster, has become a smoke-filled cabin, a couple of burned and scorched throw rugs, a blitzed curtain, and two crying kids.”
Lynette said that she hugged Allan and Tonya and gave thanks to God “…and to whatever protective spirit looks out for the cabins.”
Over the years Lynette and Scott Halstead said that there were numerous signs to indicate that some spirit entity was protective of the cabin. All of the family said that from time to time they felt someone was watching them. Items would disappear and reappear in bizarre places. And an eerie kind of scratching noise would often be heard issuing from within the walls.
Out of curiosity, they once wrote to the Wagners, a family they knew rented the cabin in July, and asked if they had ever noticed anything “peculiar” during their occupancy.
“Beverly Wagner wrote right back and said, ‘I imagine you’re referring to the invisible live-in maid?’” Lynette laughed at the memory. “The Wagners had noticed some of the same numerous little things that we had, but once when they left a messy table after a party at the cabin, they woke up the next morning to discover that someone or something had stacked the dirty dishes in the sink and cleaned the table top. Jim Wagner jokingly said that it must be elves, so he left a bowl of oatmeal on the front step that night. In the next morning it was gone, but, of course, birds or some critter could have eaten it.”
Scott and Lynette speculated that it could be the spirit of some Native American who cherished the environment around the lake and who kept a vigil over the cabins and their inhabitants, but they added that they had come to believe that the force, the energy, that loved the place so much was something more primeval.
“It’s almost as if nature itself is somehow protective of the few remaining areas that we humans haven’t covered over with concrete and erected shopping malls and gas stations,” Scott said. “Sometimes I would visualize some kind of elf or nature spirit sitting outside near the lake, looking across the beauty of this area toward the city and sighing, ‘What fools these mortals be.’”
Wrestling with Huldefolk
Richard Connors found out that an elf may sometimes envy a human’s possessions and try actively to claim them for his own. Richard said that his family was one a few “token Irish” in a small town in northern Minnesota that had been settled predominantly by immigrants of Scandinavian stock. Ever since Richard could remember, he had heard stories about the family of Huldefolk that lived in a cave on Ulmer Sorenson’s property north of town. Teenaged boys would sometimes go out there to test their mettle by throwing rocks into the mouth of the cave and daring the Huldefolk to come out and chase them. Some of the braver teens even walked a few feet inside the cave and shouted their challenges. Later, they told everyone how badly it smelled inside the cave, worse than skunks or civet cats.
Every now and then, someone would breathlessly describe having seen one or more of the Huldefolk moving around in the woods after dark, and it was common knowledge among the kids that those nocturnal raids on farmers’ chicken coops that carried away hens and eggs were the work of hungry Huldefolk, not wily foxes.
Richard’s father told him that the stories about the Hidden Folk had probably been made up by Ulmer Sorenson himself, to discourage kids from plundering apples from his orchard. His father said that their Scandinavian neighbors had their stories about the dark creatures of the forest just as did the Irish with their leprechauns.
Late one afternoon on a warm July day, Richard decided to ignore the “No Trespassing” sign on Sorenson’s fence and cut across his orchard to take a shortcut to his girlfriend’s farmhouse. He was walking on a worn deer path when up ahead he could see a short, stocky guy coming toward him. As he drew nearer, Richard saw that the stranger was one ugly character. He had coarse black hair that literally jutted from his skull, deep-set black eyes, and an enormous nose. And when he grinned at Richard, he saw yellowish, jagged teeth that seemed badly in need of a dentist.
Living in a small Minnesota village, Richard was perplexed that he had never before seen the stranger anywhere in town or in school. “He was about five-foot four or so and built like a fire hydrant. He was dressed in a worn bib overall a couple of sizes too large, a torn, dirty work shirt, and his bare feet—at least size 13s—were covered with thick, black hair.”
As they stood facing one another, it became clear from the stranger’s frank stare that he was greatly covetous of Richard’s new jeans and boots. Without speaking a word, the brutish fellow suddenly tackled Richard around his waist and hurled him to the ground.Richard at that time was five-foot-nine and 180 pounds of solid muscle, captain of the high school wrestling squad, and never one to turn down a tussle. “The ugly little guy was incredibly powerful, and he seemed very surprised when I did a reversal, escaped from his takedown, and flipped him over on his back. I was twisting his hairy arm behind him when this incredible thing happened: I swear to all the saints that he started to grow larger.”
Before Richard’s amazed eyes, his opponent stretched several inches taller and gained about 50 pounds. “And the smell of him became almost overpowering. He stank bad enough when he was a short little bugger, but now he could win a fall by his smell alone. Not being an idiot, I realized that I was up against something beyond my powers of reasoning. This was no ordinary farm boy. Deep in the pit of my stomach, I knew that I would now be fighting for more than my pants and my boots.”
The coarse-haired, foul-smelling stranger now filled out his bib overalls and worn shirt. His black eyes were turning red in color and from deep within the creature’s chest came a low, steady growl.
“Then I knew for certain that the legends about the Hidden Folks in Sorenson’s woods were true,” Richard said. “I turned tail and ran as fast as I could, leaving the thing roaring and screaming behind me. Twice I glanced over my shoulder to see if it was following me, but I didn’t stop running until I got back into town.”
When Richard told his family of his encounter with the creature over dinner that night, his father laughed and said that Ulmer Sorenson often hired temporary field hands from a pool of unemployed lumbermen from up north.
“A lot of those men are pretty rough and tough and a bit short on manners,” his father said. “And they might take a fancy to your new boots and jeans and decide to ‘borrow’ them without your permission. You best not tangle with any of them.”
Richard did not press the issue with his father. “Nor have I ever done so with anyone else,” he said, “but I will always know that there are many kinds of creatures and spirits that exist in the shadows all around us. Maybe they normally live in some other dimension and only occasionally pop into ours. Whoever they may be and whatever their names, I know that the Hidden Folk are real.”
Brad Steiger is a professional writer who deals with the strange and unknown. He lives in Forest City, Iowa.