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In the summer of 1998, at an estate sale in Everett, Washington, I purchased a locked diary covered in dust, writings I believed to be those of Ellen Rimbauer. Beaumont University's Public Archive Department examined the paper, the ink and the binding and determined the diary to be authentic. It was then photocopied at my request. Ellen Rimbauer's diary became the subject of my master's thesis and has haunted me ever since. (Excuse the pun!) John and Ellen Rimbauer were among the elite of Seattle's turn-of-the-century high society. They built an enormous private residence at the top of Spring Street that became known as Rose Red, a structure that has been the source of much controversy. In a forty-one-year period at least twenty-six individuals either lost their lives or disappeared within its walls. Ellen Rimbauer's diary, excerpts of which I offer here, set me on a personal course of discovery that has led to the launching of an expedition. Shortly I will lead a team of experts in psychic phenomena through the doors of Rose Red, the Rimbauer Estate, in an effort to awaken this sleeping giant of psychic power and to solve some of the mysteries my mentor, Max Burnstheim, was unable to solve before he went missing in Rose Red in 1970. (I never met Dr. Burnstheim, but I consider his writings the most progressive in the field of psychic phenomena.) Many thanks to my publishers, Beaumont University Press. I hope the publication will widen the public's perception and acceptance of psychic phenomena, and firmly anchor a fascinating historical period in the growth and expansion of the Pacific Northwest. I have taken great pains to edit this document to a readable size, deleting the repetitive sections and omitting those I found offensive. For the extremely curious, or the voyeuristically minded among you, a portion of those edits can be found archived on the World Wide Web at www.beaumontuniversity.net. Photos of the house can be viewed on the Web site as well. Good reading. In the name of science I will pursue the truth of Rose Red, wherever it may lead me.
Sincerely, Joyce Reardon, P.P.A., M.D., Ph.D.
19 April 1908--Kenya, Africa
Africa. The dark continent. A man's place. Primitive and intriguing. The birthplace of mankind, they say. Eden, they say. Skin so black it's blue. Wild animals in numbers that stagger the imagination. Oh, to have a motion picture camera record this! John and I, and three other couples, two from Britain, one from Cleveland (ironically he and John share some business acquaintances there), are escorted into the bush by nearly thirty natives, an Australian guide named Charles Hammer and a Negro gun-bearer named Hipshoo--at least that's how we all pronounce it. About ten of the thirty are women, two of whom are assigned to me, one named Sukeena, the other Marishpa. They tend to me like court-appointed maids, at my side the moment I need them. Bright-eyed and filled with laughter, they have greatly elevated my spirits, which had been lagging these past several weeks. Christmas away from home was most trying, and though John endeavored to explain to me that I had a new home now, it only made matters worse. That home is, of course, the grand house, and what pieces of information we've obtained while away are encouraging indeed. The walls are up, the roof going on. It is said to have thirty windows on the front of the house alone. The glass is being ordered for them now. I have continued to collect, starting in the Pacific Islands with lovely wood carvings, some coral and one enormous fish that John had taxidermied. Its species escapes me, though indirectly he's told me a dozen times as he loves telling this fishing story at nearly every dinner table we enjoy. I believe John caught some two hundred fish during the course of our stay, and with only this one to remember it by, he stretches the story a little longer (the fish too!) each time he tells it.
4 September 1914--Rose Red
The reason for my taking up my pen, the news that I write of here is this: after nearly three years of waiting, three years of repeated appeals, my wishes have been heard. Madame Stravinski is to hold a seance, in this house, this very evening. I am so excited! We have invited eight guests including the Poseys. John has resigned himself to participation (I believe the curiosity is killing him). Needless to say, of those invited, all women save John and Douglas, some may believe such an endeavor foolish--a necessity, in my opinion, for I wish to judge their reactions. Should Madame Stravinski connect with the other side, I wish to measure my own beliefs against those around me. Sukeena has openly expressed her hostility for the Madame Stravinskis and the Madame Lus of this world. (Sukeena's powers and abilities in this regard are beyond question.) Partly because of Sukeena's distrust, I have invited only dear friends whose opinions I can rely upon, whether believers in the supernatural or not. Time will tell how we judge this enterprise. Excitement fills the air. All but four servants have been asked to remain in the dorms or dwellings. (Madame Stravinski does not want any human disturbance inside this house when she attempts to make contact.) I await this evening in the way April or Adam awaits what lies beneath the Christmas tree.
5 September 1914--Rose Red
I could not wait until the light of morning to put to pen the events of this evening! I shudder with fear and delight at what I have just experienced and shall endeavor to put it down here just as it happened, from start to finish. Madame Stravinski is seated when my guests and I are summoned to the Ladies Library. A little giddy, perhaps apprehensive, as it were, we were directed into our seats by the wizened woman and told to remain silent. Only Sukeena stays standing in defiance of the instructions (directly behind our guest of honor). The two exchange furtive glances, Sukeena winning the day, and Madame Stravinski makes no more of it. At this point, not to be outdone, my husband stands from his chair and starts an energetic pacing that continues from this point forward. Madame Stravinski, understanding from whose pocket her hefty fee was to come, proves in no mood to challenge John, and a good thing too, given his obvious agitation and disapproving nature. This leaves Douglas Posey the only man at the table. I sit facing her, at the opposing head of the table. Between us, in the center of the great oval table, rests her crystal sphere, a glass object the size of a human head, which sits upon a jeweled base of gold, or similar metal, and proves to be within the extended reach of the medium. She calls for the lighting of candles and the extinguishing of all electric lights in the grand house. Thankfully, she made these instructions earlier, upon her arrival, for it required three of our four staff on hand and nearly forty minutes to render the house in darkness. Alas, it is but a minute or two to secure the various rooms of the ground floor and for our staff to return to light the candles and dim this room's electric lamp for good. At that time, our medium calls for total silence. Only our breathing and John's impatient footfalls disturb this peaceful blanket. Next, Madame Stravinski calls upon us all to connect by hand. Only Sukeena refuses this instruction. Even John joins in the fun, moving his chair between me and Tina, taking my hand, but interlacing his fingers in hers. (This was my first experience with jealousy where Tina is concerned. What was it I sensed between my husband and my best friend? Dare I think such a thought? Are such suspicions founded, or do I see deceit and deception around every corner now?) With all of us holding hands, and only the dim flicker of candlelight shifting shadows on the walls of books, Madame Stravinski closes her eyes, asks us to bow our heads and speaks in a chilling, unvarying tone. "Great house that does surround us, open your doors to a visitor who has come to greet you." She speaks in Russian or German next, perhaps repeating herself, I cannot be sure. My husband speaks a little of both, perhaps he understood her mumblings. I must admit to a certain degree of awe. Whether it was just my own body or an effect divined by Madame Stravinski, I swear to your pages that the temperature of the room did drop substantially. I also swear that the flickering flames of those candles did dance from the wicks as if a door had been thrown quickly open and a gust of wind had entered the room. Madame Stravinski is, by now, locked in something of a trance, her head bowed slightly, her eyes closed. I see across the table to my guests, my friends, and observe their astonishment--for clearly they expected a hoax, not the events we have just witnessed. The medium's mutterings gain volume and clarity as she speaks to no one, her words gaining speed to where they pour from her mouth in a waterfall of syllables and half-formed sentences. She is calling upon the house, the "grand house," and requesting she be allowed through its doors, through its walls. In the midst of this chanting, she opens her eyes at half-mast and reaches out for the glass orb before her on the table. She looks different, not at all herself, younger perhaps, yet frozen in time. Again a great gust of cold fills the room and runs up my legs. That glass orb begins to glow--I swear it!--and tendrils of light, like a goo, climb up out of it and stretch for the ceiling. At once, the candles are extinguished by this wind, the only light from the swirling blue and green tendrils overhead and that glowing specimen of glass held between her withered hands. I think of my daughter, April, and her poor withered right arm, I think back to my prayers so many years ago as I was forming the children's hospital that I would never know what to do if one of my own children was born deformed. Did I bring this upon April? Or did my husband, by passing me the African curse? Can I save my children? Mustn't my husband pay for his sins? Question after question is running through my head, as I sit perfectly still while confronted with the agitations of my guests. Only Madame Stravinski, Sukeena and I remain unmoving and unflinching. Even John is visibly upset as he breaks his handhold with me and jumps to his feet.
19 February 1928--
Dear God in Heaven! Give her back to me! Sukeena has gone missing! Last seen in the Health Room! No sign of her anywhere, I wander this tomb's endless hallways wondering why everyone who becomes so close to me ends up stolen from my life. Robbed from me. I hate this house. Despise it! I will never invite Adam back again. The staff is nearly sick with looking for my maid, so many hours--days now!--have we been at it. The house is impossibly large. Believe this or not, Dear Diary, we all have witnessed physical transformations. Hallways change structure and appearance behind your back. Rooms disappear! What is going on? How can it be? A physical structure, a building, and yet fluid as water. A chameleon. She no longer requires growing larger--she reinvents herself internally. Once a hallway, now a ballroom; once a basement, now a dungeon! I ordered all Sukeena's plants uprooted from the Health Room (for upon her disappearance, it bloomed more richly than I have ever seen--every plant at once in full blossom!). I watched that task carried out--watched it with my own eyes from up in my chambers, recalling my past observation of other events down there as well. Seven workers took three hours to clear the room down to bare soil. By the time they reached the west end, the east had sprouted new plants. By the following morning, the plants were six feet tall--taller than they'd ever been, and in full bloom. That is Sukeena providing that bloom--her love, her energy, her powers. We all--every one of us!--heard Rose Red laugh last night. Laugh at me. At us. It was the most frightening sound I've ever heard. If there is a game to this, she has clearly won. They are all gone. My loved ones. I am alone. Alone in my thoughts, alone in my silence, alone in this house. I shall fire the entire staff (before she gets another of them!). I shall dwell in this place alone for a time. Let her suffer. Let her fail. Perhaps then we can strike a bargain, this house and me. Perhaps then she'll allow me to visit Sukeena as I do April. My husband taught me well: everything is negotiable.