It was a Super 8 on highway 2, not far from the shore of Lake Michigan. A little town called Escanaba in the Upper Peninsula. Drew went back into room 105 and just sat on the bed silently listening to the pouring rain outside. This wasn't the first time he had been here but he fully intended it to be the last. He still wasn't fully sure why he had come back. He hadn't even told anyone where he was going. His wife thought he was in Montana on one of his fishing trips. His lie would be exposed if she happened to run into one of his fishing buddies back in Zimmerman, Minnesota, but he didn't have time to come up with an elaborate alibi and by now he didn't really care.
He tried to sleep but it was no use. His eyelids never even closed. He just stared at the ceiling trying desperately to cling to whatever remaining sense of reality he had. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't stop thinking about it. He wished he had never come back here. But now that he was here he couldn't leave until he had done something to recapture his sanity. It's not possible, he thought to himself. He didn't dare verbalize his fears but the voice in his head was screaming at him. It's just not possible!
Six years ago, the first time he was here it really was a fishing trip. Drew, Dan, and Scott, along with Scott's 12-year old son had all driven up there together and were ready for a great week of fishing when Drew's wife, Becky called with another one of her "visions." This was right after she had gotten into her charismatic phase and every time she had a dream or a sudden thought she had to interpret it as the voice of God warning her about some impending disaster.
"God told me that something terrible is going to happen!" she explained frantically. "I had a dream that four people were killed in a fire and one of them was a 12-year old boy! God doesn't want you to go on this trip. He's warning you to turn back now."
Normally Drew would be able to calm her down after a while. Sometimes he would have to make up some "voice of God" story of his own to convince her that everything was all right. But this time she wouldn't let up. She became more and more hysterical the more Drew resisted. Finally he asked, "What do you want me to do?"
"Come home now," she said. "Rent a car and just drive home now. It has to be just you. Not the four of you. In my dream there were four people so you'll be safe as long as you're not in a group of four. I really feel that this is what God is telling me."
Drew knew that it was futile to try to resist. He wasn't going to be able to enjoy his trip now knowing how seriously Becky took these things. He apologized to his friends and drove away in his rented Chevy Malibu, furious that his trip had been ruined.
Drew had a lot of time to think as he made his way back through the dense Hiawatha Forest on highway 2. It was quiet and peaceful out here which did a great deal to calm his anger as he watched the sun set slowly over the trees. He tried to find a radio station but nothing came in clearly out there so he just listened to the sound of the wind. Every so often he would pass another abandoned house with the roof sunken in, the paint worn off, and the windows all broken out. He had heard about how many people had lost their jobs up here after the mines closed. He speculated about each house he passed and wondered what the story was behind it. There was a certain eeriness to a house with no life in it. Just a pile of rubble, some of them not even standing any more. He would turn his head and look at each one as he passed and think, Too bad for them. Better luck next time, haha.
Then he saw something that almost made him swerve right off the road into Lake Michigan. It was just another dilapidated old house with the paint worn off, the grass and weeds about three feet high, and all of the windows broken except one. But behind that window was an old woman staring right back at him as he drove by. He stared back as long as he could, until the pine trees covered his view again, because he was sure that his mind was playing tricks on him. Like when you're a kid and you're laying in bed at night and you see the outline of a monster in the corner of your room, you know that if you stare at it long enough you'll just see a jacket draped over the back of a chair.
He looked back at the road just in time to pull his car back into the right lane. He knew it wasn't possible to see what he saw. There certainly couldn't have been anyone living in that house in the shape it was in. It was at least 15 miles to the nearest town so there's no way an old lady could have gotten out there without a vehicle and he didn't see any cars in the driveway which was covered with weeds. Did somebody drop her off there? Why? None of the possibilities made any sense. He remembered seeing an old, rusty tricycle among the weeds on the front lawn. Perhaps she rode that all the way from town so she could go inside this abandoned house and stare out the window. Yeah, that's it.
He realized that it simply wasn't possible and he had probably just seen a funny reflection of the trees in the window as he searched again for a radio station. He finally found one and turned it up to try to forget about everything. It was playing "Time After Time" by Cindy Lauper. He chuckled to himself as he tried to visualize an old lady riding a tricycle down the highway. He didn't know which was more humorous - that or the fact that he was singing along to a Cindy Lauper song or the fact that he was abandoning his yearly fishing trip because his wife had a bad dream.
But just like when you're a kid and you know that it's just a jacket draped over a chair you still have to turn on the light so you can see it with your own eyes. He never would have done it if he wasn't alone but he decided to turn around and take one more look before the sun went down just to ease his mind. He was the only car on the road so he slowed down to about 40 and looked to the left as he passed by. Sure enough, there was nothing in the window. He uttered a few curses at himself and laughed in disgust as he turned around again and headed back towards home. He was glad Becky wasn't here to see this. God only knows what kind of wild interpretation she would have come up with.
With his mind at ease he took one more glance at the house as he drove by for the last time. This time his heart dropped into his stomach as he saw her standing there again with that lifeless stare looking right back at him. There was no mistaking it this time. Her gaze sent a cold shiver down his spine as he grasped the steering wheel for dear life and tried to stay on the road. He realized that this was no reflection this time. His heart was beating fast now and all he could think about was getting as far away from there as possible.
About 15 miles up the road, in the town of Escanaba, he found a Super 8 and checked in for the night after picking up a bottle of Jack Daniels at the local liquor store. He couldn't get that face out of his head, but he was hoping Jack could. There was something so strangely familiar about that old woman. The way she looked at him, it was almost as if she knew him; like it was his fault that she was there. It was like the lifeless gaze of a prisoner who had given up all hope.
There was no way he was ever going to tell anyone about it, especially not his wife. He was supposed to be the sane one in the family. There would be no mention of this he promised himself as the contents of his bottle quickly disappeared.
Drew did his best to act normal when he got home even though the woman in the window was still stuck in his mind. He even pretended to be mad at Becky for ruining his trip even though he had left his ill-feelings toward her somewhere on highway 2. He just wanted to return to reality. Return to sanity. But his dreams wouldn't let him.
Not a night went by without seeing that woman in his dreams staring back at him from that abandoned shack with those lifeless eyes. The years went by but the dreams stayed the same. Becky continued to tell Drew about her visions and dreams while Drew kept his dreams to himself. He came to church with her on occasion just to keep up the appearance of normalcy and keep Becky happy. But he never told her why he always had to close all the shades in the house when they went to sleep.
As the years went by, Drew did his best to carry on with life as usual. But every day he saw that face in his mind. It got to the point where he could hardly get more than two hours of sleep every night. It consumed his thoughts during the day which caused his work to suffer. But through it all he kept it to himself, always giving some phony excuse to Becky for why he couldn't sleep. But holding it in was starting to wear on him and he knew he had to do something about it before he completely broke down. There was no way he was going to talk to someone about it. How would he possibly explain it? So there was only one thing to do.
"We're going to Montana this year," Drew told Becky as he packed up his fishing gear and kissed her goodbye. He drove away thinking that this was possibly the stupidest thing he had ever done in his otherwise sane life, but it appeared to be the only way to confirm that he really was sane. He arrived in Escanaba at about 10:30 that night and waited in his hotel room for the sun to come up.
Drew went over to the cafe across the street to get some breakfast in the morning, mainly because he was dreading what he had to do and was trying to put it off as long as possible. He certainly wasn't hungry. After three bites of pancakes and a couple cups of coffee he did his best to move forward and do what he had come here to do. It started to rain as he turned on his wipers and headed east on highway 2.
He reset the odometer when he left Escanaba and parked on the side of the highway when it reached 14.9. He knew that his sanity might be called into question now even if he didn't see her. But at this moment it didn't matter. He needed to get a good night's sleep again. He needed to get back to life. He needed to be able to poke fun at Pentecostals again without wondering if they could "see" what he was really thinking.
When he had made sure that there were no cars coming he slowly started forward while purposely keeping his eyes straight ahead. He got up to about 40 mph and slowly turned his head when he knew he would be able to see the window. For some reason the first thing that caught his eye was that rusty old tricycle in the front yard. For a second he thought about taking it home as a souvenir of his recovered sanity after he confirmed the empty window. That thought quickly disappeared as his eyes moved further to the right.
It's not possible! he thought to himself as his fingernails dug into the steering wheel. It just simply cannot be possible!! But there she was. The same window, the same silver hair up in a bun, and the same cold gaze that seemed to say, "I've been expecting you."
"No, no, no, no!!!" It was the first time Drew had verbalized his fears and he quickly put his hand over his mouth. He turned around and drove by again. Again her eyes met his with the coldest gaze he had ever seen. "Why did you put me here?" he imagined her saying. Or at least he hoped he had imagined it. As he drove back to Escanaba he had no idea what to do next. He hadn't planned this far ahead. He went back to his hotel room and just sat on the bed silently listening to the pouring rain outside. He hadn't slept in over 36 hours now but that hardly mattered. There was only one way he was going to sleep tonight.
After a few drinks he worked up enough courage to go back for another look. Instead of driving by this time he just parked right across the highway. He looked straight ahead for a few minutes and then took off his sunglasses and turned his head to look. He wasn't even surprised to see her this time. She didn't move, she didn't blink. She just stared right at him never breaking eye contact. He started to cry. Her gaze pierced his soul in a way that told him that she knew more about him than his mother. He felt an incredible sense of guilt that he couldn't understand. "I don't even know you!" he screamed. "Leave me alone!!!"
By now he realized that he had to act fast if he was going to keep his sanity. He regretted that he had told his wife that it was a fishing trip rather than a hunting trip because a car full of guns would be a lot more helpful right now than a car full of fishing lures. He raced back to town and bought a gas can and filled it up. The sun was setting by the time he headed back to the house. It was too dark to see inside the window now but he knew she was still there staring at him with those evil, condemning eyes. He parked his car on the other side of the highway and sat there while he finished his bottle of whiskey. Then he grabbed the gas can out of his trunk and started walking toward the house.
The police were baffled as to why an accountant from Minnesota would drive out to a little town in northern Michigan and murder four people. Dr. Wilson, along with his wife and two sons, ages 8 and 12, had just moved out to the Escanaba area six years ago and had no connection to Drew Kramer. A few witnesses said that they saw a man in a silver car sitting across from their house the day that it burned down with them in it but nobody had the slightest idea as to why it happened. It was a tragedy that would remain a mystery forever after Drew hung himself in his jail cell after being arrested.
Becky couldn't understand how she could have misinterpreted the vision God gave her and she never recovered from the depression that she fell into. She never remarried and she grew old alone in the house that she and Drew had first moved into when they got married. Over the years she became very withdrawn and in the final years of her life she refused to leave her house. She spent most of her time sitting in her rocking chair with the lights off waiting for God to show her why this had happened. Sometimes a neighbor would come by and mow the lawn for her but usually it would grow out of control as the rest of the house fell apart just like Becky's life. Nobody ever touched the tricycle that lay in the front yard; the one she bought for the child God told her she was going to have. She refused to talk to anybody until God gave her an answer and nobody saw her in her final days. But there were some who said that at dusk you could see her standing in the living room, staring lifelessly out the window.