Alaska is a place that’s both serene and creepy at the same time. It’s where Into the Wild meets The Shining—the kind of place you go to get away from the world, but also the kind of place you wonder if you were followed. Usually it’s just an animal in the woods that makes you stop and turn. Sometimes, however, you have to wonder what’s really lurking behind the trees.
During the three months that Jordan and I lived there, we worked at one of two houses in a small ski community with fewer than 2,000 people. The first house was in the center of “town,” which consisted of five other buildings—a bar, a general store, a post office, a coffee shop and a trailer that was converted into a medical clinic.
The second house was just down the road, and a little more tucked into the woods. The house backed up to a creek, and bears and moose often ambled through the backyard.
One day, I was sitting on the couch at this house. Physically, I was facing a wall of windows that looked out into the backyard, but I was working and my focus was on the computer in my lap.
You know when you can feel someone looking at you though? I felt that.
When that happens, the weird thing isn’t that you can feel the stare, but that you can feel where the stare is coming from. When you look up, you know exactly where to turn your head.
As I sat typing on the couch, the sensation that someone was looking at me grew too strong to ignore. I looked up to find a crazed woodsman, standing on a snow bank in the middle of the backyard, giving me the creepy-man stare—curled lip, raised eyebrow, frozen eyes. It was the kind of stare that sends a chill up your spine and triggers the fight or flight reflex. I gripped my laptop and flung to my feet before realizing that the lunatic staring at me through the window was Jordan.
The thing about Jordan is he’s got real commitment when it comes to practical jokes, especially the ones meant to scare the crap out of me. He’d been standing there for so long, waiting for me to look up, that he was able to adopt a very convincing crazy-man persona.
It wasn’t until a few weeks ago, when I saw The Shining for the first time, that I realized exactly where his character reference came from: