2009-04-04 02:33:45.000 – Mike Carmon, Observer
Instead of steering the topic of conversation away from bogus gender-bending felines, story-telling senior executive interns, and fictitious studies done by mysterious professors with names strikingly similar to current observers, I’m going to keep the string of peculiar comments alive.
If you’re not a close follower of the weather conditions, you may not be aware that yesterday, temperatures topped out around 40 degrees, well above normal for this time of year. It rained for the majority of the day, with a bit of freezing rain earlier in the day. The combined effects of the warmer temperatures, fog, and rain have eaten away at the snow pack like the Langoliers eating away at what remains of the past in Stephen King’s novella of the same name. This metaphor along with the movie the crew watched the other night, Dreamcatcher (based on another novel by King), has my mind in a somewhat imaginative mood.
Amidst all of this exposure to Stephen King, my imagination began to wander, and I thought, wouldn’t the summit be a great setting for one of his thrilling stories? After all, many of his novels are set in New England, primarily because he hails from Maine. But besides that, the summit has many of the ideal elements for a horror/mystery novel/flick:
1. Isolation: this is especially true in the winter months, when access to the Observatory is severely restricted and sometimes completely absent due to weather conditions
2. Claustrophobia: We’re hauled up in a single building, in the fog more often than not, with weather restricting any outside activities much of the time.
3. Cold/Bleak Weather: You can’t have a good thriller without snow falling, the wind howling, and bitterly cold temperatures. This infamous summit is known for some of the harshest winters on the planet. Snow, fog, wind, and cold all combine to produce treacherous conditions outside the safety of our cozy Sherman Adams Building.
4. A Resident Animal: Doesn’t it seem like in every thriller novel/flick, there is some kind of innocent animal that accompanies the human protagonists? What creature is better than a black cat to foreshadow some sort of trouble lurking around the corner?
5. Unsuspecting Inhabitants: The Observers/Interns/Volunteers up here reside on the summit for a week at a time. That’s perfect fodder for some kind of dramatic event.
6. A Mysterious Background: Mt. Washington is draped in folk lore because of its extreme weather conditions. The mountain is legendary (for better or worse), so this definitely serves as a perfect setting for our mystery.
Now believe me, I’m not wishing that this hypothetical novel/film is ‘based on true events.’ We have plenty of remarkable happenings up here on the summit to keep us busy. I’m not hoping for the appearance of a shadowy figure on my way to the precipitation can at 12:30 a.m. I’m not begging for an extreme weather event that keeps us stranded here for an extra week, causing one (or more) of the observers (or interns) to go completely mad and start turning on his/her peers. There’s also no need for Marty to start speaking to us in English because he’s harboring some kind of extraterrestrial being. And I could live without all of the lights giving out at 2 or 3 a.m., and the generators failing, leaving only the faint sound of my breathing and…wait…what’s that!?
But think about it (and if you happen to be a novelist, or are considering that direction in your life, seriously consider it). What better setting for a mystery-thriller than the summit of Mt. Washington?
Mike Carmon, Observer