Haunted Laundry Machine?

I had added this as a mere addendum to the earlier post about The Mangler (one of my most favorite short stories by Stephen King), but it was so striking that I must give it its own post.

Video: Five-Year-Old Rescued From Washing Machine

Quote from the video:

Surprisingly, that machine was out of order. “And I haven’t been able to run it since, and I haven’t been able to run it just before.”

Man, that’s spooky. Brrrrrrrrh.


Now all we need is for them to release grainy black-and-white surveillance footage from a CCTV (no audio) showing the child apparently talking to some… thing… inside the laundry machine, and then climbing into the machine, seemingly hypnotized. Grotesque arms or tentacles reach out of the machine to help the child in. (The video said that the machine was high enough that the child would have had difficulty climbing into it. At least, unassisted.)

Then the door closes by itself. Furtively, without slamming.

Then the machine turns itself on.

There are adults in the background, but their backs are turned or they’re busy measuring detergent or folding laundry. So nobody notices anything amiss. The sound of a washing machine starting up wouldn’t have been out of the ordinary in a laundromat.

When interviewed later, in the emergency room, the child reported seeing “a little man” inside the laundry machine.


The story as it appeared in The Wenatchee World on November 7: Child injured in laundry mishap

And as it appeared on the KVUE website the following day: Mother rescues 5-year-old girl trapped in washing machine


“Have you ever wondered if that laundry machine you told me about is haunted, Johnny?”

— Quote from The Mangler


Previous post on spooky laundry rooms.


Addendum (4/2/12): 1-year-old Ore. boy drowns in washing machine

The Laundry Room

As I was headed out to work this morning, I passed by the laundry room down in the basement. I took a quick peek through the window in the door of the laundry room, and saw that the lights were out. And I was struck by how eerie the place looked. I snapped a photo with my cell phone, and here’s the result.

The Laundry Room

I like how the light pools in the center, and how it’s dark in the corners of the room. And I like how the displays on the driers in the back are glowing in the dark. This room looks like the kind of place where an otherworldly apparition might manifest. There’d be a smell of ozone, and an actinic flare, and a popping, hissing, or clicking sound. And then it appears. (And you turn around and frantically open the door to flee, but it opens only to reveal pitch black nothingness…)

The black and white checkerboard floor reminds me of some of the scenes in the Red Queen’s castle in the recent Alice in Wonderland movie. When I was a kid, sometimes I’d see spinning checkerboard figures in the state between wakefulness and sleep (hypnagogic imagery). And in his classic paranormal book The Mothman Prophecies, author John Keel mentions at least twice that “goblins” associated with Mothman wear plaid (!). At one point, Mr. Keel writes

Bedroom phantoms in checkered shirts are old hat to investigators of psychic phenomena. I have come upon this again and again. So often that I have written long articles about it. In some cases these ghosts-in-plaid are accompanied by the odor of hydrogen sulfide and sudden chills or sudden blasts of heat, while other episodes are probably purely hypnopompic. That is, they are the residue of dreams which overlap briefly into the waking state … a phenomenon well-known in psychiatry and parapsychology.

(He mentions the word hypnopompic, but for me the checkerboard patterns were hypnagogic instead.)

Stephen King’s short story The Mangler (which I’ve discussed before) had a laundry theme. And also note that “The Laundry” is the name of a secret government agency in Charles Stross’ delicious Laundry series.


Addendum (08/22/10): Here’s a nice passage from Charles Stross’ The Fuller Memorandum, the most recent installment in the Laundry series (p. 197). It suggests the dread that the creepy laundry room evokes.

There are places where the walls of reality are thin; the service corridors of hotels, subway footpaths at night, hedge-mazes and cycle paths. You can get lost in such places … These routes blend into one another. Of all the myriad ways that link the human realm to the other places, these are the ones we know very little about — because those of us who stumble into them seldom return with their minds intact.

This spooky laundry room is one such place, where the “wall between the worlds is thin” (p. 227).


Addendum (09/07/10): Here’s video footage of another creepy laundry room. The sounds of the machines reminds me of the machine in the movie The Mangler Reborn.


Addendum (09/07/10): OK, this isn’t really about the laundry room, but I thought it was intriguing: A Demon in the Bathroom (freely available from PubMed Central). For more about Sulak, the Lurker in the Bathroom, see this.

Machines Versus Biologics

A machine that eats organic creatures; there’s something unsettling, disturbing, wrong about that.

It reminds me of one of my favorite Stephen King short stories, The Mangler. To my delight, they have made a movie based on this short story, and there’s even a sequel. I haven’t seen either movie yet, but they are in my Netflix queue. (As an aside, the Netflix Prize may have been won! Via MetaFilter.)

I just remembered — some years ago, there was a report about a robot that eats slugs, and uses the energy from the slugs to power itself. It was called the SlugBot. Maybe they can revamp one of those robot lawn mowers so that it is powered by its own grass clippings; it would be a sort of robot cow, so maybe they could paint it with the “cow spot” pattern.

Man versus machine is a recurring theme in science fiction. SF author Gregory Benford wrote a sequence of books called The Galactic Center saga; I think there are seven books in the series. In Benford’s universe, there is an epic galactic war between all mechanical life (the Mechs) and all biological life, spanning thousands of years. In the Matrix movies, you have the sinister machines that enslave humans, using them as a source of energy, as if they were living batteries. The Matrix scenario was very reminiscent of a short story by Dean R. Koontz entitled Wake Up To Thunder which I read back in the 80’s, in an anthology of SF short stories; here, enslaved humans were used for computational power, which seems more plausible than using humans as a source of energy (but I note that we already have robots that use flies and slugs as sources of energy!). SF author Dan Simmons’ Hyperion series also pits machines (the TechnoCore) against humans; I might be mis-remembering, but I think the machines used humans for computational power every time humans used teleportation technology that the machines provided. In Battlestar Galactica, you’ve got the Cylons. And of course, in the Terminator movies there’s Skynet.


Addendum (07/16/09): Biomass-Eating Military Robot Is a Vegetarian, Company Says (via MetaFilter)


Addendum (07/17/09): Company Denies its Robots Feed on the Dead (via FARK)