01 Feb What is Mr. Purple?
Exactly a year ago today, my fiancé proposed to me. It was the most romantic proposal I could hope for, and it completely surprised me. We had been planning a cabin trip in the woods of Hocking Hills, Ohio for a few months, but I didn’t know that he was also secretly planning a treasure hunt! It consisted of a riddle that once solved, would reveal where to find the next riddle, up until I was led to the balcony of our cabin where the last clue read “look at the firepit.” The firepit on the ground below displayed several stones formed in the shapes of the words “turn around.” I turned around and there was my fiancé, down on one knee.
I loved the story of my proposal so much that I wrote it down in the cabin’s journal. This cabin, named the Stargazer, was clearly designed with couples in mind, heavily incorporating hearts into the décor and exhibiting many cozy properties. There was a hot tub, grill, and fire pit outside. There also was a friendly racoon who visited every day! Inside, there was a kitchen and living room on the first floor, and loft with a bed and a bridge to the outdoor balcony on the second floor. On the kitchen counter was the cabin journal. Inside, I read many stories of honeymoons and anniversary getaways. There was a riddle in one entry which challenged us to find the “Stargazer Dollar.” It was cleverly hidden in a book whose title and specific page number was referenced in the riddle. We re-hid the dollar in the place of my fiancé’s first hidden clue (behind a painting of the night sky) and wrote his riddle down in the journal. We chuckled to ourselves, wondering if anyone would find it.
That was one year ago. Yesterday, we returned to the Stargazer to celebrate the anniversary of our engagement. Our wedding was less than a month away. Everything was just as we remembered—we spent most of our first night drinking beers in the hot tub. I kept an eye out for the friendly racoon, but we didn’t see her. Today, I remembered our Stargazer Dollar challenge and flipped through the cabin journal, curious if anyone had found it. Unfortunately, the entries started from November 2018, meaning that it was a new journal, as the old one had probably filled up. There was no mention of the Stargazer Dollar—but at the same time, there was no dollar behind the painting. Someone had solved the challenge but let the tradition die out. I also discovered that the racoon was still visiting up until very recently—she was named Georgia in all the entries. The naming must have happened after our visit but prior to November. A few couples mentioned a cardinal bird named Austin. It was fun to see entries start games or coin names and have subsequent visitors follow along.
There was one name, however, that seemed rather odd. I saw it first in the entry on April 1st, 2019. It started out like normal—a happy couple came to the Stargazer to celebrate their anniversary. They went on a hike to Canterwell Cliffs, saw Georgia, didn’t see Austin, but they also saw something they called Mr. Purple. I say “something,” because the words used to describe him were uncharacteristically illegible when compared to the rest of the entry. They said they saw him in the night sky, but then later they mention seeing him in the hot tub. At the end of the entry, there was a “P.S. look out for Mr. Purple!” The name Mr. Purple was always bolded, written over and over itself. The next entry in the journal did not mention this character, but the one after it did. At its end: “P.S. we saw Mr. Purple (SHHH don’t say his name.)” It was odd and a little disconcerting. Throughout the rest of the journal, there were a few more mentions of his name but never a description of what he was.
Our house back in Columbus, OH didn’t have a hot tub, and neither did any of our friends in the city, so we really tried to maximize our time in the Stargazer hot tub. My fiancé and I soaked ourselves for a while—we’d bring out our little boombox and play low tempo tunes while watching the forest. I was especially watching for Georgia the racoon. Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw someone else in the hot tub, sitting next to my fiancé. But upon turning back to face him, there was nothing. The beer was probably getting to me. And then I remembered the oddities in the journal I had read—I recounted it to my fiancé, and he was very interested. He wanted to solve the mystery of what Mr. Purple was, and so once we finished our beers, we closed the heavy hot tub covers and headed inside.
I show him the entry on April 1st. “Maybe it was just an April Fools joke,” I say.
“But where does it start? Are you sure this is the first entry that mentions him?” he asks, as he flips backwards through the journal. We notice that directly prior to the April 1st entry, there are several ripped out pages. In fact, the entry directly before the ripped pages is dated March 1st. That’s odd—I doubt the owners would vacate this money-maker for a whole month without good reason. The cabin rental company’s office was just down the road, so we decided to walk over despite it being after closing time.
The stars above the Stargazer were magnificent, and we enjoyed a romantic moonlit walk, creating stories to explain our curiosities. Outside the office, the door was locked but there was a single light on in one window, so we knocked. To our surprise, someone answered. It was an older lady, not the receptionist who had initially greeted us when we checked in. We asked what happened in our cabin during the month of March. The lady stared at us for a while, alarmed, and then eventually said, “well, I suppose you have a right to know.” She took us inside, past the receptionist’s desk into a room at the very back of the office.
“On March 3rd, a couple stayed at the Stargazer. We knew them well; they had been coming to the same cabin every year on their anniversary. Last year, the husband had gotten into an unfortunate accident and was left paraplegic. We made every accommodation so that they could still spend their annual getaway at the Stargazer—we even moved the bed downstairs. However, they didn’t check out on their last day and when we went to investigate, the wife was gone, and the husband was…found in the hot tub. He had gotten trapped under the hot tub covers; we don’t know how. Some suspect foul play. The police even came and investigated.” She showed us a newspaper clipping. ‘Paraplegic man found drowned in hot tub.’ Paper-clipped to the back of the clipping was a photo of the body; it had become bloated with the hot water; it looked wrinkled and…purple. I had seen the face somewhere before—earlier in the day in the hot tub! I reeled.
“Let’s get out of here,” I quickly said.
We rushed back to the cabin and started packing our stuff. This was just too creepy for me. And we had spent so much time in the hot tub! The hot tub…wait…I ran back outside, where as I was running in I had thought I had seen—yes. I did see it. The hot tub covers were off, even though we had closed them before we left. I feel a wet, slippery hand grab my ankle. I turn around and see it—a bloated yet wrinkly purple face, the eyes recessed behind mounds of bruised-looking swollen skin. Pale dead eyes.
We had managed to run off and escape in our car. My fiancé still doesn’t believe that I saw Mr. Purple. I regret that I couldn’t warn others in the cabin journal. I recently tried to check up on the Stargazer, but the cabin rental company wouldn’t answer my calls. I hope everything is okay. I found the newspaper clipping of the original incident at the library and contacted the police station in charge of the investigation. They still haven’t found the wife. I wonder if he’s just looking for her?
I can’t stop seeing that face in my mind. It haunts me at night.