I found the following letter tucked away in the back of the good doctor’s journal, alongside an old Polaroid photo and a postcard of the Berber flag. The letter is written in this odd kind of cursive that seems to lean backwards, and is entirely different from Doctor Gotobed’s somewhat cramped scrawl – C.R.
Atlas Guest House
June 12th 1990
As you know, I am deep in the Atlas Mountains with a view to climbing Mount Toubkal. I experienced something most unusual yesterday, and I thought it would be of interest to you.
My colleagues and I had just set out on the first leg of our trip, and I must say that I found myself greatly surprised by the similarity of the mountainous terrain and climate out here with that of the Scottish Highlands.
The weather had been good for the first hour or so, although Abde (our guide) informed us that winds and rain were on their way. He was correct, and it did not take long for a thick mist to descend alongside this inclement weather, reducing visibility to a mere ten feet or so ahead. Still we continued. After all, one only needs to know (and continue knowing) that the next step is the correct one.
Slowly, yet steadily we progressed.
Then the peculiar thing occurred: as we were walking up the rock strewn path, I noted a shrill whistling coming through the mist before us.
I recognised the melody, yet I couldn’t place it.
The whistling grew louder, and following the sound there came a tall man striding through the haze. When I say tall, I mean must be the tallest individual I have ever seen. Possibly 7 foot, possibly even more. He seemed to be wearing a black, shiny and almost skin-tight piece of clothing that appeared to be made from one piece, going all the way from his toes to his neck, and he held up a small brolly. At least it looked small in his hands. His eyes were round & glassy eyes and, I must admit, I found myself a little repulsed by him, for reasons I could not put my finger on.
As he drew closer to us, this chap stopped and addressed our guide in a language I did not recognise (I assume Arabic), before carrying on his journey, nodding as he passed myself and my colleagues.
Once he was gone, I asked Adbe what this man had said.
‘He says the rocks are loose up ahead. He advised we turn back,’ came Adbe’s reply.
I asked him if that was what we would be doing.
The answer came as a rather curt ‘No’.
We carried on, and I resolved not to pay the image of this strange, tall figure any more thought until after we had scaled the summit and were well on our return journey.
But that was not to be.
Not thirty minutes later, we crossed paths with the tall man again. Not that he came from behind us. No. Once again, the same whistled tune preceded his coming through the mist in front of us. Again he strode out of the fog clutching his umbrella. Again he spoke to our guide. Again he nodded as he passed the rest of us.
I asked Abde if it was the same man.
‘Yes. And his message was the same.’
‘Will we be turning back?’ I said.
‘No. We continue.’
And continue we did, for another hour or so in the blasting winds and their accompanying rain, until we reached a small clearing with some natural shelter, where we stopped for a quick break.
As we were making small talk, the kind of small talk that physically drained people make when they know that there is still much work to be done, a familiar shrill whistling cut through the air. We fell silent, each one of us looking around at the faces of the other members of the group.
Once again, the whistling grew louder, and then the figure appeared, again from the same direction. He did not stop this time; rather he just smiled at us as he walked by. I say smiled, but I’m positive that this gentleman lacked teeth and gums, only lips and darkness behind them, but maybe my eyes were playing tricks on me.
We watched the figure disappear into the mist and back down the trail leading away from the mountain.
I looked to our guide, assuming he would say that we should just carry on. But Adbe looked terrified. He was already packing his stuff away.
‘Come. We are getting off the mountainside. We will come back in a few days.’
I asked him if his change of heart was down to the repeated appearance of the tall gentleman. He would not answer, and led us back down to our guest house in the village of Imlil without saying another word.
We ate our evening meal in silence and bedded down for the night, hoping to start afresh the next day, today.
I found out this morning that a terrible landslide occurred overnight and two other groups of hikers have gone missing. One of these was the group that had set out not twenty minutes before our own.
And Abde? He is nowhere to be seen.
Now, I have no explanation for any of this. I’m not saying it’s in anyway supernatural, or even if it falls under any of the other categories of ‘spooky things’ that you look into, but I thought it might interest you. It also felt good to write down and commit to paper, even if just for my own sanity.
We are planning to have another go at the summit once we have found a new guide. Should we see this peculiar chap again, or indeed any other strange persons, I’ll be sure to let you know.
Wish Percy well for me, and tell her that I will be round for dinner with photographs and souvenirs once I get back to good old Blighty. I owe her a bottle of wine (or two)!
Lots of love,
Once again, I can’t corroborate any of this: landslides in the High Atlas Mountains are not recorded, and investigations into missing hikers from that part of the world seems pretty much non-existent, especially in the early ’90s. Yet more weirdness – C.R.