In mid-August, my mom flew in from Atlanta to spend three weeks with me. We started our journey in El Paso, TX. From there, we traveled to New Mexico and then Arizona. Finally, we crossed the border into Mexico. After two weeks south of the border, it was time to retrace our steps so I could drop her off at the airport. We had taken the RV to Mexico, but we decided to go back via Airbnb. Because we had Shadow with us, we had limited Airbnbs to choose from, especially on such short notice. Consequently, we ended up booking a last-minute suite in Tombstone, AZ.
At first, the name didn’t ring a bell. However, as we drove into town, it finally did. I told my mom that two friends had stayed in the area last April and absolutely hated it. They said it was beautiful and rich with history, but they felt a lot of bad energy from tormented souls in the area. The town was especially notorious for its lawlessness, so that came as no surprise. Mom rolled her eyes and laughed as we rolled up to our creepy-looking Airbnb. We soon forgot about the story as we moved what we needed from the car to the room.
My adventure cat has traveled full-time with me for the past two years. He has camped with me in tents, the RV, Airbnbs, and villas. He is 100% accustomed to being on the move and having no idea where he might wake up after a long car ride. Yet, when we took Shadow out of the truck, he would not go into the Airbnb. In fact, he tried to make a run for it back to the truck. He was so determined that I sent Mom back to the truck for the carrier to put him inside until he calmed down.
While we unpacked and cleaned up, Shadow wailed. Long after we were done, he was still wailing and running around the Airbnb in a wild panic. It was not a normal meow. It was a very creepy wail, almost like a warning against a threat. This went on for at least two hours. It made Mom uneasy. I laughed and reminded her that my friend had said Tombstone was a haunted town.
“I bet we’ll see ghosts tonight!” I teased.
Mom was not impressed.
The Late Night Sounds
We had driven for hours to get to Tombstone and had two states ahead of us, so sleep claimed us early. Sadly, my sleep schedule has a nasty glitch. If I go to bed before midnight, I wake up early in the morning, unable to go back to sleep for hours. I have tried even going at 11:59 pm and the result is the same. Knowing this, Mom resolved to talk to me so I would stay awake for the next half an hour.
With all the lights off and the Nintendo put away, however, we started to notice the creepy sounds inside the Airbnb. First, it sounded like someone was walking on the roof. Then, we heard some strange gurgling noises. Upon investigation, that turned out to be a fridge. Just when we thought we had identified and resolved all the strange noises, Shadow started to wail again.
“Shadow, stop that!” Mom shouted into the dark.
She shifted uneasily next to me. “I hate it when he does that. Why is he doing that? He never does that.”
I started to laugh. “Well…” I began, for the millionth time since we arrived, “remember the place is haunted.” I continued to tease about all the ghosts that might be prowling about and how one might come inside.
The Midnight Howl
Mom was silent for a time. Then, she said, “Well, ghosts don’t like black cats and we have a black cat, so we’re good.”
She had barely finished the sentence when Shadow hopped up between us on the bed. “Speak of the devil!” I began. “It’s―”
“A-woooooooooo!” came a shrill voice from right next to me.
Shadow heard it, freaked out, and did a back flip off the window. The back of his paw landed in my eye and I bolted out of bed. Shadow weighs 12 lbs and in his panic, used my eye as his pivoting point. He hit me at full speed and full strength. I felt my eye explode in my head and felt certain: this was it. I was going to lose my eye.
“Why did you do that?!”
“Do what? What happened?” Mom shouted, turning on the light.
“Why did you yell a-wooooo??” I accused her.
“What?? Yell what??”
The Continued Denial
When the pain subsided, I stumbled out of bed and to the bathroom. My eye was bloodshot red and I couldn’t keep it open for more than two or so seconds. I wondered how on Earth I was going to drive us to Texas with an eye like that. I flushed my eye with water and then stumbled back to bed. Mom told me for the millionth time that she had not said a-woooo and never heard the sound.
Yet, Shadow and I clearly did.
I didn’t believe her.
I was now wide awake. All the sleep that had weighed heavily on me before was gone. It didn’t help that my eye was throbbing. I barely slept that night, not out of fear or even confusion, but from sheer discomfort. I woke up every half an hour or so. At one point, I was awake enough to reroute a FedEx package, pay a bill, and then get up to rinse my eye with salt water. The salt water rinse probably saved my eye from infection.
Later the next day, Mom shared that she didn’t fall asleep until sunrise.
A Long Drive
“Seriously,” I questioned Mom on the drive to New Mexico. “Are you joking with me? Did you really not say, ‘A-woooooo’??”
“I didn’t!” Mom insisted again. “I really didn’t. And, I didn’t hear anything either. I didn’t even realize Shadow was on the bed.”
“I told you he was.”
“You did, but I didn’t look. My eyes were closed, and then the next thing I knew, you were asking me why I said something and scared Shadow.”
We arrived in New Mexico and met up with friends at the old development in Animas, NM. It was good to see friends and they were amused by my story. The husband gave mom his condolences for her only daughter clearly losing her mind. The wife had a different thought.
“Maybe, you said it while falling asleep without realizing?” she suggested.
“Exactly!” I said. “How do you know the ghosts didn’t command you to say it and you did it, so you don’t remember??”
The husband made that woo-woo circle around his head to say I had finally lost it.
The New Airbnb
Our final Airbnb together was that evening in Texas. We had dilly-dallied in New Mexico for several hours, on purpose. The guy had a thousand rules that made it impossible to enjoy the space. So, we decided to show up as late as possible and leave as early as possible. We arrived at 9 pm.
Upon arrival, Shadow began to investigate the place with his tail held high. After we had unpacked all our things, showered, and cleaned up, I noticed Mom sitting quietly and watching my adventure kitty.
“You know, I’ve been thinking. I really thought you were messing with me, but look at Shadow. He isn’t behaving the weird way he was in the other Airbnb. He’s fine. What if it really happened?”
“I’ve been thinking too,” I said. “The a-woooo sound wasn’t an animal. It was definitely a human voice making the sound. You know how strong wolf symbolism is in Native American culture. This was Native land.”
That night, we slept like babies. Shadow did get up and start crying in the night, but it wasn’t the harpy wail he had let out at the other Airbnb. This was a cry we knew. It was the, “I can’t believe you two really went to bed this early and no one bothered to give me any wet food!”
Did a ghost really yell a-wooooo in the window at midnight in Tombstone, AZ? Who knows what really happened? But, whatever it was, it scared the crap out of my cat ― and almost cost me my eye.
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