I am an amateur ghost hunter, and have been since early 2000. In the last five years myself and three friends have investigated numerous haunted places, from homes to bridges to graveyards to battlefields, with varying results and experiences.
I'm going to share with you part of what I consider to be one of our best investigations, and the only time we have encountered what I can seriously call a "dangerous" ghost.
First I need to tell you in advance, despite some talk of photography in this post, there are no pictures. There's several reasons for this. First I can't post images, second I'm not the one that keeps the photograph archives, and most important, I offer my word in writing to every "client" we investigate for that I will not release any information or pictures that could in any way pinpoint the location of the investigation to their home.
Believe me, most of these people have a hard enough time living normal lives without intrusions from the media, thrill-seekers, crackpots or scam psychics (in case you're wondering, I'm half thrill-seeker half crackpot). To further protect privacy, I've changed all names involved in this except for those of the four ghost hunters.
Let me introduce you to them. I'm Josh, currently 25 years old, earning a degree in criminal justice with agonizing slowness while I ghost hunt on weekends. For the first three of my ghost hunting years I did computer work for the Department of Defense, now I work for a document imaging and archiving company. The degree and the jobs are both just to get me by until I can make my living as a full-time writer, which has always been my dream.
Next we have Sara, 26 years old and a business major. I met her online in 1997 and we started hanging out. She was a so-called "friend with benefits" for awhile but that just sort of stopped happening, and we managed to get out of it while remaining friends (with very little effort or heartache really; I don't think we were very compatible that way). She has brown hair and eyes and is fairly attractive. She was also the first to take me up on my ghost hunting offer back in 2000.
Then there's Kevin and Jenna, fraternal twins who are both 24 now. They share features such as hair and eye color (black and hazel respectively), and had similar noses as well (rather large, but I can't say that in front of Jenna); you could easily guess they're brother and sister, but you might not realize they're twins. They've been very close to each other their whole lives. Kevin is a business major as well, Jenna does history and she's sort of out there, but not in an irritating way. She's just very new-agey, spiritual and open-minded. Both were eager to join me in my new hobby, and signed on about a month after Sara.
We had several investigations before the one I'm about to relate to you. During these early ones we learned to work as a team, perfected our methods for getting things done (photography, note-taking, etc.), and learned to budget the costs involved (gas, food, and batteries are all expensive, and you end up spending way more on batteries than you might think — more on that later).
We also had plenty of time to get used to being tense-but-bored (most sessions we don't see, hear, or feel anything out of the ordinary) and a little time to get used to being FUCKING SCARED (no matter how well prepared you think you are, you're not ready when something happens). Basically we were a fairly well-oiled machine, all things considered, by the time we took on this mother-bitch of a ghost.
A word about my stance on ghosts: I am interested in them as a PHENOMENA. There are thousands upon thousands of reports of ghostly phenomena, going back hundreds of years and even further. The fact that ghostly phenomena occurs is, in my opinion, impossible (and silly) to dispute. Weird things happen in certain places, as evidenced by thousands of eye-witness accounts (from all types of humanity), photographs, video, and careful scientific observation and investigation.
What IS open to questioning is whether or not "ghosts" are the spirits of the deceased or if they're something else entirely. I personally believe there are multiple causes, because I've encountered multiple "types" of ghosts. I do believe SOME phenomena are caused by the spirits or souls of the dead. I believe others are caused by a massive buildup of emotional energy that lingers after the source has gone. Still others I think are caused by (layman's terms, I don't know how else to put this) a "wrinkle" in time.
These are the ghosts that do the same thing over and over again, perhaps only at certain times of the day or month or year, and completely ignore everything around them. Other phenomena I believe are caused by intelligent aware entities that are NOT deceased because they've never lived on this earth as a human (elemental spirits, demons). Then we have things like Poltergeists, which are not usually spirits, but rather are reputed to be psycho-kinetic energy from a living human, usually a young male or female with some repressed emotions.
Basically, there's a whole lot of shit about ghosts that humanity doesn't understand yet, and my team of hunters is not specifically trying to answer any of these questions. Our mission is to observe and record, nothing more, and we do it out of a fascination and a love of being creeped out.
We don't charge for our work; it costs the people we visit nothing more than the occasional raided fridge, and we don't even do that often since our investigations usually occur long after dinner time and we're usually too nervous to snack much. Anyway, enough philosophy. On to the investigation.
The Night of the Blue-Palmed Pervert
My family moved up here to Northern Virginia in 1993. My parents came up for a week to go house-hunting, and dragged me along against my will because I was still a kid. House-hunting bored me so I didn't go with them most days, choosing to stay in the hotel where we had cable TV and there was a pool and small arcade.
One day they came back and my mom told me about a house they'd visited out in the boonies that she had refused to even consider living in because she felt that there was something wrong with the house, particularly the basement. She wouldn't even go down there to look around, though my dad did and he says he felt nothing out of the ordinary. I was intrigued, but eventually forgot about it, and we ended up taking a house in the country not far from the one they'd looked at.
In 2001, with my ghost hunting hobby firmly established, I remembered the house and asked my mom if she could remember exactly where it was. We lived pretty close to it and she occasionally drove past it on her way to the town of Culpeper (which we visited rarely, preferring Warrenton as it was closer and MUCH less country-fried), so she had no trouble giving me directions and a description. I figured I'd drive up there and see if anybody lived in it, and if they did, see if I could talk to them about the place. I was afraid it would be empty because if it was I wouldn't be able to investigate it — I was dead set against doing anything illegal that might endanger my hobby, so breaking and entering a house that was still up for sale was out of the question.
I was lucky though, the place was inhabited. After a year of ghost hunting I had gotten pretty good at speaking with strangers and making them feel like they could talk to me. Small talk inevitably turned to my job and my schooling, and hearing that I worked for the Department of Defense and that I was studying Criminal Justice probably played to my advantage with some people. Surely if the government would let me into high-security places they could trust me with a ghost story.
To keep this from getting too long (and it's already going to be), here's the skinny: the house was owned by a 63 year old man who I'll call Woody here. He was an ex-marine and teacher, had recently retired and his wife had recently passed away. He looked a lot like Sarge from Survivor, only less hair and heftier. He knew something was not quite right in his house. More importantly, he seemed to have a genuine interest in ghosts, and he seemed lonely — it didn't take much more than a promise to cause no damage to the property and to keep the investigation on the down low to get him to agree to let us sit up with him one night to see what happened.
The four of us set out for Woody's house with the usual gear and plan of action. We had planned to start the ghost hunt after dark but Woody insisted we show up around 4 PM, several hours prior to sunset. Between us we had four cameras, two film and two digital, and two tape recorders for interviewing witnesses and general recording during the actual hunt. We each had a notebook with which to record thoughts, feelings, observations, and take notes.
We had plenty of water, a first aid kit, two cell phones, and we all had pepper spray (a lot of the sites we visited were fairly isolated, and you can never be sure who you'll run into). We didn't usually bother with more scientific instruments —we didn't even have anything to gauge temperature with, mostly because our experiences had showed us that if the temperature was going to drop due to the presence of a ghost, we wouldn't need any fucking instruments to tell, we'd be shivering.
One sidenote about the tape recorders — we've tried EVP before, which is where you leave a tape recorder running in some quiet part of the house hoping a spirit will talk and you'll capture it's voice. EVP is bullshit guys. I know there have been some threads about it here... it's crap. We rarely try it anymore. I am convinced that most ghosts don't talk. The ones that can will do so quite loudly (although it's usually shrieking or screaming and not words), and have no need to whisper into tape recorders.
The house stood alone and angry-looking in the middle of a treeless field. The next nearest home was about a hundred yards away, over a slope and on the other side of a grove of trees in the distance. The feeling we got was one of intense isolation. We were a bit keyed up, as we always were on the way to a hunt.
Anticipation is part of the fun. To be fair, the house didn't look all that bad. It was a pretty good sized one-story home, and Woody kept some flowers growing here and there. It really could have used some trees though. Anyway, we pulled into the driveway, leaving our equipment in the car for the time being, and before we got to the door we were greeted by Woody.
He introduced himself to my friends after shaking hands with me. He then invited us inside and showed us to the den in the back, which I hadn't seen before, having only sat with him in the front family room the day I met him. The den made one thing perfectly clear to us — Woody took his retirement seriously. He had a TV the size of a Hummer and a pool table that wasn't too shabby either. A sliding glass door led to a large back deck, and the grill was hot. Woody had decided to cook out for us since it was early May and wasn't raining or stormy for a change. Like I said, I think the guy was lonely.
Oh man, he made these pepper-jack cheeseburgers that would have made him a fortune if he'd gone into the food service business. He also had endless stories about his time in the marines, most of them about drunken nights or FNG pranks. He told us a bit about having worked as a mink farmer for awhile too (protip: minks are fantastic escape artists and they're mean), but the girls got fidgety when they realized that part of the job included slaughtering the mink, so we didn't stick to that subject too long. We ate, chatted, shot some pool, and waited for dark so the vigil could begin. We didn't talk much about the house or the alleged haunting; since Woody was the only witness, we figured half of the team could interview him while the other half was sitting in the basement. That way any experiences the basement team had couldn't easily be put off as power of suggestion.
Inevitably the sun decided to abandon us to our fate. It was time to go to work. Rule number one for my team was that we broke up into teams of two and never left each other's sight when we were on site. The only exception was when one of us had to pee; his or her partner waited just outside the bathroom door in those situations. We swapped partners frequently to keep us all feeling like we were on the same level with each other, but for this investigation it would be myself and Sara as team 1, and Kevin and Jenna as team 2.
We walked out to the car to bring in our equipment. First thing you do before going on a ghost hunt is put brand new batteries in all of your gear. First thing you do before BEGINNING the ghost hunt is check them again. We were not surprised to find that all of our brand new batteries were dead. This is a common phenomenon in ghost hunting. I don't know how or why it happens, but I do know this — every single time we've found our batteries dead, we've had something happen to us that same night. So while it's fucking expensive, and it's also pretty unnerving, we consider it a good omen to find dead batteries. We swapped them for fresh ones, and this time everything worked.
We split up into teams at this point with the intention of searching the outside of the house and the first floor. Woody led myself and Sara through the house while Kevin and Jenna checked outside. This search is standard for every hunt and has a number of purposes. First, we want to make sure nobody is hiding on the premises with tricks up their sleeve. Second, we learn the layout of the place. Third, we get a feel for the place. None of us make any claims to being psychic, but even us mundane people can pick up impressions, and we can certainly notice areas of low temperature, which often indicate supernatural presence. The search revealed nothing; even standing at the top of the steps to the basement, neither Sara or I felt a thing. We brought Kevin and Jenna there and they also felt nothing. Search concluded, we all made a quick trip to the bathroom and gathering our gear, Sara and I descended alone into the basement while Kevin and Jenna went to interview Woody.
We left the basement lights off. We each had a flashlight/lantern combo, the kind you can pick up for about 20 bucks at Wal-Mart. I love these little things. We both had ours turned on, cameras in the other hand (we didn't use straps, and we also made the girls tie their hair back tightly, because stray camera straps and stray hairs can both result in false-positive phenomena if caught on film). I had a small satchel with the tape recorder and a few other things. And down we went.
It's difficult to describe in words the awful feeling you get heading deliberately into what you believe is a haunted area. Your body kind of tingles, the hairs on the back of your neck stand straight up, and you start to breathe a little heavily. It's entirely involuntary, and it happens every time. No amount of experience ghost hunting can eliminate fear. Even worse, once we made it to the bottom of the steps we became acutely aware of... something. I don't want to mislead you here, it wasn't like in the ghost stories where we felt we weren't alone any longer, or felt something watching us, or anything corny like that. Picture the word WRONG by itself, in big bold black letters on a white sheet of paper. That's the feeling this basement gave me. There was just something about it that wasn't quite right. It felt unclean. Anyway, we searched the area, snapping pictures of everything.
The basement was plain; Woody had described what was down there for us, and we found it just as he said it was... basically two open rooms spanning the entire length of the house, door-less openings at each end forming a circle. In the room in which the steps ended there were some boxes, neatly stacked, an old table, and a cheap but heavy metal and wooden rack at the far end filled from top to bottom with paint cans and brushes and such. The second room was liberally covered with newspaper and there were several sawhorses and a workbench with no tools. Woody had told us he did woodworking as a hobby (he was especially fond of making birdhouses, which a friend of his sold at the local farmers markets for a few bucks each), but that because of the haunting he didn't use the basement anymore except to store paints. He'd put some on his rack that very day (and noticed no phenomena when he was down there). We searched the basement quickly and efficiently and settled down to our vigil, planning to wait long into the night if need be. Somewhere up above us Woody was being carefully interviewed, one of our tape recorders capturing every word while Kevin and Jenna asked questions and scribbled notes about what he'd experienced.
I stood in the opening closest to the paint rack, at the far end from the stairs upward. The satchel was on the floor next to me, the camera and lantern in my hands. Sara leaned against a sawhorse. From where I stood I could see almost the entire basement; from where she stood, she could see the far end better than me. We turned out the lights and waited... and waited... and waited. We didn't check the time, and we didn't chat much at all, just a few whispers here and there. It was the same boring-yet-horribly-intense routine we'd done many times over the last year. After awhile we managed to put the dread mostly aside and ignore it.
We only had a vague sense of time passing down there; as I said we weren't checking watches or anything. But we had sat for what turned out to be about four hours when we noticed a faint tapping sound, like two fork prongs clicking together, coming from the base of the center wall in about the exact center of the basement. Immediately our lanterns blazed to life and illuminated the area. Tap-tap-tap. It continued, despite the challenging glare of our lights. It seemed to be mocking us. We were thoroughly creeped by this point, but also very excited. We snapped a lot of pictures, both at the tapping origin and all around us. The sound was coming from bare wall; there were no objects, no pipes, no nothing that we saw that could be making that noise. We whispered briefly, discussing what we wanted to do. I tried to start our tape recorder and fuck me if the batteries hadn't died again. I told Sara, and asked her if she wanted to leave. She hesitated, but said she'd stay. So I decided to stay too. Really, there wasn't much question we were going to stay. This is what we wanted after all. But damned if I was just going to sit there and listen to the tapping.
It took a lot of fucking nerve to turn my back on that sound, (tap-tap-tap) but I wanted to keep busy, so with the light on, I took to reading the labels of the paint cans on the rack. There must have been 40 of them, every color of the rainbow, some cans with words like Additives and Textures and a few very subtly different shades of (tap-tap-tap) what looked to me like the same color and... anyway, I was pretty swept up in the thrill of educating myself about what kind of paint Woody liked. That was when I heard Sara give a little gasp and curse.
I whirled around, expecting to see a smoking, smirking red devil with a pitchfork impaling my girly girl; instead I saw that she had been pacing the floor around the sawhorses and the workbench and had torn her pants badly across the side of her thigh on a poorly hammered nail (tap-tap-tap). I asked if she was alright and she nodded, told me she thought so. Then she shocked the hell out of me by undoing her pants and letting them drop to her knees, I guess to check and make sure she wasn't bleeding.
Now I have a confession to make. I like seeing girls in their panties. In fact, I'd rather see a girl in panties than see her naked. To be more precise, I'd like to see ALL of you in your panties. All the time. I am shameless. So when Sara decided to drop her pants with her back to me to see if she was bleeding, I held up my light to get a good look. She knew about my little fetish, and I guess by this point was feeling a little pissy (more on this later). She told me if I didn't get my light off her ass, I would likely find it shoved up mine. I wasn't about to argue — she could do it, and blame it on the ghost (tap-tap-tap), and nobody would ever be the wiser. So as she bent to pull her pants back up, I reluctantly turned back to my paint rack.
Just in time to watch the motherfucker finish TIPPING OVER TOWARD ME. I am convinced to this day that it was tipped onto one corner while I was gawking at Sara, and waited until I turned around to come down on em. Anyway, I yelled, scrambled back, then tripped, my camera and (oh thank god) my lantern still in my hands. Alas tape recorder, I knew ye well. Landed right on the satchel, and the recorder wasn't meant to bear 180 pounds. The rack crashed down within inches of crushing me, and a lot of the paint cans spilled. One landed right beside me and began to spill out, but that wasn't all... the fucking handle on the paint can was FURIOUSLY slamming up and down by itself, right against my leg. I screamed like a scared little sissy girl and flung it away with my hand, then pushed myself up onto my feet, getting blue paint all over my hands for my trouble. As the noisy can spun into the corner, all the others off the wrack began clacking and clanging as well. It was about this time that I noticed the temperature had dropped drastically—like I said, I don't need any damned expensive gizmos to tell me if there's a ghost in my face.
All of this happened in the span of a about ten seconds. Sara had whirled around at my first cry of alarm, when the rack fell over. She plainly saw the handle of the blue can clacking by itself, and she panicked just as I panicked. She bolted for the stairs, pants falling back around her knees and me right behind her. I still had my lantern in my left hand but left my camera in the rush. She hit the steps and stumbled, and I blindly reached out with my right hand and shoved her along, too scared to realize I was getting paint everywhere.
Kevin, Jenna and Woody had heard the commotion and were waiting when we burst out at the top of the steps (I could still hear the clanging of the paint can as I reached the top) and kept running to the front lawn, where we finally stopped, both of us gibbering incoherently. Kevin and Jenna, no stranger to panic (previous experiences...) rushed out and immediately tried to calm us down (and Jenna talked Sara into pulling her damn pants up), while Woody stood on the front porch, apparently torn between helping us and gawking at the mess we'd made coming up.
After a few minutes of soothing we were both resting on the grass and trying to relate what had happened. What a fucking mess. All three of them confirmed after things had settled down that they heard the noises as we were coming up the steps. Unfortunately nobody knew precisely when they stopped, because we were all outside. I apologized to Woody for getting paint all over his basement and stairs and dripping on his floor. He took it all in stride — he actually had a bit of a grin on his face once he realized we were all ok, and told me not to worry about the mess. It was probably the most excitement the old guy had had in quite awhile. Kevin and Jenna went down (reluctantly!) to retrieve my camera and the satchel — the paint cans had stopped clanging, and the place was a godawful mess, but there was nothing supernatural going on when they went down, and they made the usual jokes about us losing our nerve and not being cut out for the game, trying to lighten the mood.
Sara and I didn't find ANY humor in any of this. I was badly shaken by the rack tipping over — this was a big rack, with a lot of heavy paint cans, and I probably barely escaped serious injury. Sara was even worse; we couldn't coax her back inside the house, and so we gathered our cameras, our lanterns, notebooks, and one remaining tape recorder, and said goodnight to Woody after promising to get in touch and see about doing another vigil.
The next morning we went out to breakfast and a debriefing. It's always easier to analyze what happened in daylight after some (usually restless) sleep. The pictures would be developed shortly and there was always the hope we might have caught something. The tape recorder I had was destroyed, and we'd have to replace it, but at least with the batteries having been drained, we know we didn't lose any important recordings. Sara and I both were in agreement that the tapping was very real, seemed to be coming from the same place to both of our ears, and that that place contained no easily identifiable explanation for the sound. There was of course the possibility that something inside the wall was making the noise, piping or what not.
Sara maintained that she would have not dropped her pants in some dingy ass basement in the house of a man she barely knew, and that she felt she was coerced by whatever was in the basement. She also mentioned that, in hindsight, she felt herself growing increasingly angry without explanation as the hours in the basement passed, which is something that had not happened to me. Knowing Sara like I do, I have to agree that she's not the type to just drop her pants in front of other people. She's not the showoff type — doesn't even expose her navel in her daily dress. We could argue that she was concerned she might be bleeding, and that given her intimate history with me she felt no embarrassment about uncovering herself for a minute. Because of that argument, we don't really draw any solid conclusions about whether or not she was influenced in our report — but given her statements of growing anger during the night, I'm inclined to believe she was. Later trips to this house further solidified our opinion on this.
In the end, Sara and I did find some humor in this whole incident, when we got our pictures developed. When the commotion in the basement started, Kevin, Jenna, and Woody ran to the top of the steps. It seems Woody grabbed one of the cameras on the table, which Kevin and Jenna forgot to take with them in the heat of the moment. While myself and Sara were panicking on the front lawn, and Kevin and Jenna were frantically trying to calm us down, Woody snapped a couple of pictures and nobody noticed. We got our photos back, and they contained nothing the least bit ghostly. What they did have was a great picture of Sara from the rear, pants around her knees—and an almost perfectly formed blue hand print on her ass where I pushed her going up the steps. Thus was this investigation unofficially christened the Night of the Blue Palmed Pervert.
So that's the story of our first trip to Woody's house. I'm writing it now because I got word from his family the other day that he's in the hospital, heart is failing, and they're not sure he's going to make it. He's remained something of an e-friend since our investigation at his house, and I guess this is my way of dealing with the news that he's dying. The four of us are going to visit him this weekend.
I've been revising this for the past two days and I'm going to stop or I'll never actually get it posted. I'll answer any questions about ghost hunting or whatever, if there sufficient interest. Also, we made two more trips to Woody's house, and something happened both times (in fact things got increasingly hostile each time). If you guys want I'll try to do a couple (shorter!) writeups about those two trips during the weekend. I also encourage others to post their experiences in this thread.
Here's part 2. I didn't do anywhere near as much revising on this one as I did on the first, so forgive me if it's not quite as well written. Enjoy.
The following Saturday we returned to Woody's house, armed with pizza for dinner and the revelations of Kevin and Jenna's interview with Woody, which we had listened to, discussed, transcribed, and practically memorized during idle moments of the week. All four of us were eager to get back there, and I'd been on the phone with Woody several times during the week. He'd cleaned up the basement, but at my request had left the rack lying flat on the floor, pushed into a corner with the paint cans stacked in the gaps between the shelves. I didn't want to risk injury or another mess from that stupid rack.
Woody's interview gave us good details of the phenomena. Firstly, it was confined entirely to the basement and the stairs leading down to it. Footsteps were common on the stairs. They occurred seemingly at random, always descending. Woody had counted them before, and by his reckoning there were always 22 steps taken — down a flight that had only 12 actual steps. Queue cheesy horror music.
(Lowtax's avatar has nearly made me piss myself about four times now)
On three separate occasions that he could recall, he told us, he heard the footsteps coming down the stairs while he was in the basement. He saw nothing, and unsurprisingly after experiencing this he usually made a hasty exit.
He was aware of the tapping sound. It was high pitched and had a ringing aftertone, as I described it previously, much like fork prongs tapping together. He also heard what he thought was the sound of someone heavily dragging their feet on the basement floor — this always occurred while he was in the basement, on the far side where he kept the sawhorses and the abandoned workbench. He got up his nerve enough to take a look a few times, and never saw anything.
He told us that he and his wife had discussed the basement many times. She had it worse than he did. She experienced all of the phenomena he did, as well as very sudden, noticeable drops in temperature in the basement. The feeling of anger Sara experienced was also something she had reported, along with a strong sense of resentment, though about what exactly she could never figure out. On three separate occasions she felt touches on her back, near the shoulder blades. She had told Woody they were light, persistent, and while not obviously hostile, they felt threatening.
I should note at this point that he made it very clear most of the time the basement was just a basement. To have anything out of the ordinary occur was unusual, and his abandoning the area except for use as a paint storage area was more out of the general creepiness of the place than out of too many phenomena. He had lived in the house for four years, plenty of time to get used to it (mostly...) and come to terms with it. And to track it. Heaviest manifestations were always in late winter and early spring. Things were usually very peaceful in early fall — occasional footsteps was about all.
Anyway, that's the gist of the interview. Dinner concluded, we chatted about the house, the interview, the week before, and our expectations for this visit. Frankly, I thought it was slim odds that we'd have two encounters in two visits. But it was early spring, and once again when we went to the car for our gear, we found our batteries drained.
Kevin and Jenna wanted to go down into the basement on this trip. Sara wasn't eager to go down there again, and I didn't want to leave her alone with Woody, so I decided I'd stay up top with her. We searched the house just before nightfall, taking pictures and making sure we were alone and that nothing was out of the ordinary. When it was good and dark, and after a quick trip to the restroom, they went down. What follows is all based on their stories and writings, I didn't see any of this myself.
Upon their descent Jenna was immediately aware of the negative vibes. I've said before that she was very open-minded and had a spiritualist bent; I think she was much more perceptive and aware of this sort of thing than the rest of us. She began to feel irritated almost immediately. Kevin felt nothing beside the usual tension one feels on a ghost hunt.
They quickly searched the basement. I had asked them to take a good look at the sawhorses to try and find the nail that Sara tore her pants on, and to take pictures from all angles. I'd love to be able to say they didn't find any badly hammered nails that SOMETHING ELSE must have caused it, but this is reality (if a bit surreal), and there was a nail on one of the horses that could have easily resulted in a tear at about mid-thigh.
That taken care of, they examined in detail the spot where the tapping sound had come from on the previous visit. They knocked on the wall; it seemed quite solid. They felt the ground and the ceiling, both normal temperatures, no vibrations. It was just a wall.
Kevin decided to stand near the bottom of the stairs. After interviewing Woody he thought they might be a focal point of the haunting; he also wanted to stay far away from the rack, even with it lying on the floor. Jenna took up position on a sawhorse much as Sara had done, but only after pushing the one with the bad nail into an angle where she wouldn't possibly bump into it. And so their lights went out, and they waited.
Sara and I passed our time with Woody. We didn't watch TV or shoot pool, because we didn't want to make any noises that the other team might mis-interpret. He mostly spun yarns from his marine days. He had a million of them and was just the coolest old guy ever. Anyway, the hours passed for us, probably much quicker than for poor Kevin and Jenna.
About two hours into the vigil they heard the tapping sound begin. It was very faint, from the same spot as the last time. Once again, lighting the room showed nothing (nor did the pictures they took), and as it was faint and intermittent, after a little while they found the courage to turn off the lights and sit in the dark again. Kevin had begun to become aware of the sense of "wrong", and Jenna continued to be aware of a mounting sense of anger within her and in the room.
After about half an hour of random taps, the room fell silent again. They sat for approximately another hour, when Jenna stood up to stretch and shift position. When she dropped her hands after stretching, she banged her left hand on the sawhorse, and Kevin heard her give the sawhorse a shove and say "fucking CUNT". He was very surprised by this. Jenna wasn't a choir girl by any stretch of the imagination, but none of us had ever heard her utter the word cunt before, and she said it with vigor... almost SPAT the word, was how he described it. He talked to her for a few minutes, making sure she wasn't hurt and trying to get a sense of her emotional state. She told him she felt angry but that she was in control, and that she wanted to stay down. He decided everything was fine, and he also wanted to stay, so again they fell silent and waited.
Another two hours passed with nothing. It was now very late at night, Sara and I were getting restless, though Woody was an inexhaustible fountain of energy. We were playing cards. I'm not a big fan of Texas Hold'em, but I loves me some 5 card draw and some Tonk.
Kevin began to hear a thumping sound at this point. It wasn't loud, and it was coming from over near Jenna. He held his ground, listening to it for a few moments to make sure it wasn't a trick of the imagination. Then he flicked on his lantern — to find Jenna absentmindedly pounding her right fist against the sawhorse. He called her a jerk, told her to knock it off, and switched out the light.
A few minutes passed and the pounding began again. He was about to ask Jenna what the fuck her problem was when he heard a sound directly in front of him — he said it sounded much like someone dragging their feet heavily, just as Woody had described. By this point he was ready to lose it, but he whispered and asked Jenna if she heard the noise, and she confirmed that she did.
"Well then quit fucking drumming on the sawhorse so we can hear it better!"
"Sorry," she said. The drumming stopped, but the dragging continued. It seemed to move away from Kevin, towards the paint rack and the far opening to the back half of the basement where Jenna sat. He saw nothing, but the temperature was beginning to drop dramatically. And then again, he hears the pounding coming from Jenna's sawhorse. This time it's louder. The room is fucking freezing, he still hears something dragging it's damn feet, and he's so focused on hearing it (and trying to ignore the pounding) that it takes him a moment to consider that perhaps he should check on Jenna.
"Jenna?" he says. Her lantern comes on and she immediately bursts into tears. The dragging sound stops immediately, but it's still ice cold in the room. He switches on his lantern, books over to Jenna and grabs her arm. It's bleeding from where she's been pounding it against the sawhorse, and she's practically hysterical, sobbing loudly. He pulls her over to the stairs and they book it out of the basement; Sara, Woody and I are waiting just near the top, having heard Jenna crying, and as soon as I saw her I ran for the first aid kit, the one time I can remember breaking the rule of never going solo for even a moment (and fuck me, running out alone into the dark on a lonely country road to retrieve a first aid kit from a car was no walk in the park itself — ghosts, UFO's, Sasquatches, you just never know...) Kevin was still pretty coherent, much more than I was when I came up the previous week, and noted in his observations later that the cold air stopped immediately at the lip of the top step. It was like passing out of a block of ice, he said.
Woody at this point was deeply concerned — one of us had been hurt, though after calming her down enough to clean the wound, we saw it really wasn't that bad. She'd just rubbed off the first layer or two of skin and caused some capillaries to bleed.
We questioned her at length; she wasn't really aware that she was pounding her fist against the sawhorse. That's why she started crying when she turned on the light and looked at her arm; the suddenly realization she was hurt scared the hell out of her. She clearly remembered the temperature drop, and the foot-dragging sound, which had come from around the opposite side of the wall she sat facing and stopped right next to her. Throughout the night she said she felt increasingly irritated and angry, up until the foot-dragging sound started, at which point she said she felt much closer to just plain blind rage, and felt a VERY deep resentment at whatever was making the sound.
Woody was reluctant to let us continue after the injury. I told him I'd call him after we'd debriefed ourselves and we'd talk. And thus, part 2 is finished. I've already told you guys we went back one more time. Hopefully I can get that written up tomorrow sometime.
Here's part three. This was much harder to write than I thought it would be. I'll post my conclusions in the morning, I'm exhausted now. Hope you enjoy.
Despite Woody's concerns for our safety he agreed to let us try again, and our third and what would be final probe into the mystery of Woody's haunting began with dinner at a restaurant in Warrenton by the name of Tippy's Taco House. Woody drove up and joined us. The place has really good food.
We had discussed the events of the previous two weeks in great depth. It was plain to all of us that whatever we were dealing with had a particular affinity for females, and we were willing to take Woody at his word when he said the phenomena was heaviest in the early spring. Certainly we hadn't been disappointed thus far.
Attempts had been made to research the property prior to Woody's ownership. It was indicated that the house that currently stood was at least the second time the site had been built on, probably more than that. We had no evidence of a death or anything heinous having occurred there however. Basically a dead end, so we just sat down and put logic to work.
What had happened in this area over the past few hundred years? Our first thought of course was the Civil War. We weren't far from Manassas, where two battles had been fought. A little further in the other direction was Fredericksburg, another major battle site. There are numerous markers along the major roads in our area with little historical tidbits about armies that passed through on their way to this battle or that. Undoubtedly there was plenty of conflict and plenty of death in the history of our region. We'd had experiences with civil war ghosts before, so it wasn't a stretch to consider that we had another. We thought about the underground railroad as well. Perhaps the ground the house was built on once held a waystop, and something bad had happened. There was probably a Native American presence in the area in the earliest days. And then there was always the possibility it was an elemental or worse, a demon.
In other words we didn't really know. To this day we still don't, though the events of this third and final night helped us narrow it down considerably.
Kevin and I tried to convince the girls that they weren't going down this time. We argued about the apparent danger, reminded them of the effects the previous two weeks had had on them. But they invoked the power of the vagina and won the day; it was decided that all four of us, along with Woody himself, would descend that night. We geared up, four lanterns, four cameras, our one surviving recorder, and Woody had a few flashlights on hand should we need them.
We waited till dusk and searched the premises. All was well except for our batteries, which were once again dead. I came pretty close to calling the whole thing off when we discovered that. I've had a very active ghost hunting career, but I've never experienced three encounters in three weeks. Not once before this incident and not once since. For at least a few minutes on this final night, I really did not want to go through it all again. But my ambition and love of my hobby kept my mouth shut — it was too good an opportunity to let it pass by.
We descended the steps single file, and halfway down all four lanterns sputtered and died. Momentary panic set in until Woody, who was bringing up the rear, turned back and flicked the switch for the lights over the steps. We retreated to the top floor, where no amount of shaking or fiddling could get the lanterns lit again. These types of lanterns aren't battery powered — they have a bulb that lasts so long, and then you toss the thing and buy a new one. They're cheap. Unfortunately all four of ours had just died (to the tune of about 80 bucks, they're not cheap in bulk DAMMIT), and we were reduced to Woody's flashlight collection.
Once we sorted that mess out, we again descended the steps, acutely aware that we were not welcome. We all had a very uneasy feeling that night — it felt like all bets were off, and the dead lanterns seemed to be a challenge, or a warning.
Woody stood near the rack with the biggest flashlight. Sara and I sat on the sawhorses, while Kevin and Jenna waited near the steps. Each of us pairs had a flashlight between us. We had decided that we wouldn't allow the girls to get more than a step away from the guys and that we would frequently speak to them to make sure they weren't being fucked with.
They related their feelings immediately — dread, anger, resentment. Jenna told us the basement felt different to her this time though, very melancholy. She was convinced something tragic had happened here, but couldn't tell if it was a malicious tragedy, an accident, or what. As I've mentioned, she makes no claim to being psychic, and says she was just interpreting what she felt.
We waited in the dark. We made some small talk now and again, mostly checking up on the girls and asking for their feelings. Nothing happened for about the first two hours — at that point we heard the first faint tapping. It came from the same place as the previous times, and again, we lit the area, saw nothing, and took a bunch of pictures (that would show us nothing when developed).
The tapping faded away after about 20 minutes, and the minutes dragged by. Jenna and Sara maintained that they were in control of themselves, though they felt the emotional disturbance very intensely. As for us guys, we felt nothing but creeping dread on the back of our necks.
I'd say another hour passed, putting us past midnight and into Sunday morning, May 19. Two quick taps preceded a sudden, and I mean fucking SUDDEN, drop in temperature. That was immediately followed by a loud THUMP, right next to where Kevin and Jenna stood. It sounded like something heavy jumping off the steps onto the basement floor. Kevin and Jenna, thoroughly freaked, backpedaled to the sawhorses where Sara and I stood. All three flashlight beams immediately blazed out at the bottom of the steps — and just as quickly dimmed to the point of barely providing any illumination at all.
This was probably the most "oh FUCK" moment I'd ever had in my life up until that point. Something else would top it a few seconds later, though. We all began babbling at once; we were in the dark, it was freezing cold, and there was some THING fucking around with our flashlights. I raised my voice, telling everyone to shut up and hold still, lets carry this through to the end and blah blah blah. What I wanted to do was fucking BOLT. I held my ground; so did the rest of them.
We heard the sound of dragging feet. I hadn't heard it prior to this, and it gave me the impression of someone in a great deal of pain slowly slogging his or her way across the basement. It moved with agonizing slowness. A three-legged turtle could have moved faster. Of course time always slows down during an "oh FUCK" moment, so maybe my perception was just screwed up. Kevin jerked Jenna back over near the stairs to watch and listen. I could hear them and the others breathing very heavily beneath the sound. It followed the same path Kevin had described it taking, from the steps across the first half of the basement to the rack (Woody still had some of the badass marine in him. He held his ground as it went right past him), through the opening to the second half where the sawhorses were.
Sara and I were pretty much rooted to the spot, even with this thing bearing down on us. We stared in the direction it was coming, the pitiful remnant of our flashlight barely illuminating the space a foot in front of us. It shuffled up next to us and — I don't want to say it materialized, because it didn't. It was just there.
It had clear, distinct legs; colorless, as ghosts tend to be I guess, but not transparent like some supposedly are. It wore what I can only call old-timey looking shoes, with socks or stockings that ended just below the knee. Above that was just whiteness; I got the impression that it was covered in a sheet, or perhaps wrapped in a cloak or cape. One things for sure, it had a hugely swollen belly — I think it was very, very pregnant. At chest level it began to become very indistinct, and it had no shoulders, neck or head — I'm not saying it had been decapitated, just that for whatever reason, it didn't manifest itself above the chest. It's hard to describe how the thing looked up top. You know how artists rough out a basic sketch of something they're drawing, and then add detail and polish until it looks like it should? That's the best way to describe this thing above the chest. It was like an artist roughed it out and didn't finish it. There was no tapering to where the neck should be, just white streaks that continued up, well above where the head would be.
It was only there for about five seconds, but it really felt like an eternity. I know that's cliche to say, but it's true. I just stared at it; I was aware of how god awful cold it was in the room, and vaguely aware of the other four people there with me gawking at this thing. I remember being thankful that it had no eyes. And I felt a profound sense of achievement. I'd waited my whole life to see a ghost. I'd heard plenty of them prior to this; I'd felt their presence. But I'd never seen one. It wasn't as thrilling as I thought it would be, though; more than anything I felt a deep, unrelenting sorrow for whoever or whatever this was. But behind those feelings were words of warning: unfriendly, unclean. Wrong.
It faded away. Only took a couple of seconds, but it did so much slower than it appeared. Sara and I felt something disturb the air, running past us toward the steps — but Kevin and Jenna, who were standing at the bottom of said steps, felt nothing. When it was gone, our lights blazed back to full brightness — and we fucking panicked like we've never panicked before. It played out much like the first night, except this time nobody had their heads together enough to calm the rest of us down. We ended up on the front lawn, panting and trembling, and slowly we regained control of ourselves.
I think we all wanted to talk it over, but we kept it short, preferring to stick to our rule of waiting until the next morning after some sleep and breakfast to debrief ourselves and start work on our "official" report. It was about 1:30 on the morning of the 19th when we left Woody's house. He told us he'd be okay alone. He's a tough old bastard, and knew that there was nothing wrong with the house besides the basement. So we all went home and fell asleep.
There's some suggestions most ghost hunters make to people who are interested in trying it out for the first time — talk to the ghosts. It sounds silly, but what you're supposed to do when you arrive on site is explain to the ghosts who you are, what you're doing there, and politely ask them to allow their pictures to be taken. You're also supposed to make it very clear to them when you leave that they are NOT permitted to follow you home, that they must remain where they are in the name of Jesus or whoever you wish to invoke. Despite the cheesiness of it our team does that before and after every hunt.
I'm not convinced it works though. I woke up at about 4 AM that same night; my TV had switched on by itself. A few minutes later my phone rang —Sarah in a panic, her TV had done likewise. The next morning we confirmed the same thing had happened to Kevin and Jenna. But not to Woody.
And every fucking May 19 since, my TV has turned itself on at some point during the night while I sleep. Same thing happens to the rest of my team. I switch it off and go back to bed; nothing else the least bit paranormal has ever happened to me outside of my ghost hunts. But, I think you can understand that given the (apparently) hostile nature of the ghost we were dealing with, I don't like it. Such are the risks of ghost hunting, I guess.
Conclusions and Interpretations
That next morning we gathered at a little country restaurant accurately named Town and Country, complete with a sign boldly proclaiming "Best in Food". They had the best blueberry muffins in the world, were one of the few places I knew of that always served grits, and there was a picture at the register of the owner standing outside the restaurant next to Michael Jordan, who stopped in sometimes on his way through the area. Woody joined us; we wanted his input too. We were all pretty tired, but elated. We had seen the holy grail of ghost hunting, a fucking scary apparition.
But what was it? We don't really know. One of the let-downs of ghost hunting is that there are no convenient wrap-ups at the end that explain everything. Ghost hunting is a mind fuck. Still, we looked at everything we had and tried to make sense of it.
In addition to our other attempts at researching the history of the place, Woody had the contact information of the man who'd sold him the house. He still had it mainly because he was somewhat anal about filing everything, and he continued to get mail addressed to this guy for some time after he moved. He got in touch with him and asked about any weird experiences. The guy claims he never saw or heard anything out of the ordinary, but admitted that he didn't use the basement for much besides storage and rarely went down there. His wife on the other hand disliked the basement immensely, and flat out refused to allow her daughter to go down there at any time. We tried to press for an interview, but the man declined for his wife. So we had confirmation that we weren't the first to experience something down there, but we were going to miss out on the details. Pretty frustrating, but you get used to being cockblocked in this hobby. Bottom line is our research really didn't get us very far, and we were forced to come up with an explanation based almost entirely on our experiences.
Anyway, on to the team's conclusions. Here's our thoughts on all of the phenomena.
The tapping sound: seemed to come from nowhere, was high pitched and metallic, and was always the first thing heard each night. It almost seemed to be an indication that the ghost was gearing up for the nights activities, or testing us to see how easily we'd freak. I've mentioned the fork-prongs thing a couple of times now; Jenna suggested not forks, but a scalpel on a surgical tray. FUCK you Jenna, fuck you very much. Not knowing what was inside the wall of the house at the point the tapping sound came from, we had to accept the fact that it wasn't necessarily supernatural, but we all suspected that it was.
The footsteps on the stairs: The team never actually heard anything on the stairs. But footsteps are probably the most common haunting phenomena, so we had no reason to doubt Woody's report here. The fact that he counted 22 steps on a 12 step staircase indicates to me that the ghost was descending stairs that USED to be on the property, and therefore haunted whatever home or building existed here before Woody's place was built. Woody's place was about 60 years old, so the ghost was at least that old, and I suspect it was much older.
The dragging sound: we all heard it. Jenna and Kevin heard it on two separate nights. It started at the bottom of the steps, continued to the far end of the basement, and looped around in the second half-room, stopping at the middle where the sawhorses were. No doubt in any of our minds that it was a supernatural manifestation. We really didn't pay the sawhorses as much attention as we should have. We thought the staircase was a natural focal point, but in hindsight the haunting seemed to be HEAVILY focused on the spot in the room where the sawhorses rested.
The touching experienced by Woody's wife: I think it's perfectly clear that this thing focused it's energy on females. The fact that the apparition appeared pregnant makes me think it was itself female. Whether it loved them or hated them is debatable — though it's easy to say hate, because of the negative emotions it impressed upon the girls, do keep in mind that the only one the ghost appeared to try to specifically harm was me, by tipping that fucking rack over on me. Anyway, I left the touching out of my overall conclusions, because we heard it from Woody who heard it from his wife who could have just been imagining it. Too far removed from direct experience to really be something we can count.
The emotional impact on our girls: Again, this thing was attracted to women. It's easy to say it disliked them, and that's why they felt such anger, and resentment towards the actual entity. (fuck Lowtax's avatar just got me again and it's 11:15 AM :mad: ). However, consider the possibility that since it appeared to be a woman itself it empathized with our girls, and sort of — I guess this is the best way to say it —projected its own feelings onto them. At this point we have to question Jenna's harming herself on the sawhorse — did the ghost coerce her into doing that, or was it simply an unconscious effort on her part to use up the energy the negative emotions were giving her? I don't know. But I don't think the ghost did it on purpose.
So what have we got thus far? A pregnant female that feels a deep sense of anger and resentment, apparently at herself, who tries to express her despair to other women. At this point I'd like to remind you just how completely subjective all of this is.
Some poltergeist phenomena: the rack didn't tip over by accident. This means we have a ghost that's capable of manipulating the physical environment (which, by the way, in my opinion pretty much rules out the "wrinkle in time" ghosts I mentioned in my original post, they tend not to do such things). It's natural to assume that ghosts can do this at will, and that they do it on purpose. I think it's equally likely that they do it entirely by accident, and that it's simply undirected psychokinetic energy given off by their presence. Thus it's impossible to determine if it was a malicious ghost, though it was clearly a dangerous one.
Possible awareness: again, I believe it projected it's emotions onto our girls — and thus, we assume, knew that they were there. It also seemed to openly challenge us on the third night by taking our lanterns out of play before we even got down the damn steps. If you accept the fact that it tipped the rack over, and that it did it on purpose, then it's natural to assume it knew I was standing there and was trying to harm me. Taking all of that into consideration, plus the fact that it's (possibly, see below) visited us all once a year ever since and probably will again here in about two months, I believe it was aware of us.
The apparition: The fact that it didn't manifest all of itself isn't necessarily telling us anything, though a famous ghost hunter by the name of Elliot O'Donnell (passed away in the 1950's, I think) once theorized in one his stories that elemental spirits, having never been human, have a hard time manifesting a complete human form, and either leave parts out, or substitute them for something else (in his story, the ghost was an elemental that took the form of a woman but with a pig's face). Anyway, that's an interesting side note, but I don't think this was an elemental (or demon), and so I don't think it applies here. It's rare to see a completely-formed apparition anyway.
Pregnancy: The fact that it appeared PREGNANT I believe is extremely significant. Was it pregnant when it died? Maybe. Perhaps the child it carried was very important to it. Maybe it was stillborn, or she miscarried. For whatever reason, pregnancy (and if you want to do a bit of interpretation, fertility and maybe female strength) were important to the ghost, and I believe strongly that something unresolved having to do with the child is the cause for the haunting in the first place. Which really makes it quite sad, when you think about it.
The seasonal manifestation: if indeed the ghost in question was pregnant at or near the time of her death, it's not too big a stretch to assume that her baby was born or was at least due in the early spring, when manifestations are most common.
That "wrong" feeling: I've stated that I felt unclean in the basement, that something was just not right, and that the spirit itself was unfriendly and dirty. All four of the others felt likewise.
I think the wrongness was just our human instincts warning us that something funny was going on with this basement — I believe we all still possess our animal instincts, we just don't have much need to tap into them living in a fairly safe and civilized society.
The feeling of uncleanliness could have been another projection of the ghosts own feelings about itself. Perhaps this woman got pregnant out of wedlock, or was raped and subsequently became pregnant, during a time when such a thing was considered a very grave sin and would have led to her being outcast. She likely would have felt a deep sense of shame and self loathing, further leading to the feelings of anger and resentment that she tried to share with the girls. For some reason, thinking about this, I don't think she was civil-war era. I'm thinking even earlier.
The yearly visit: Fucked if I know what to think about this one. Since we didn't do jack shit for the ghost beside intrude on it's place of sorrow, I doubt it's dropping by to say "hay how's it going". We have theorized that it's not actually the ghost at all, but that we were simply so deeply moved by our experience that our subconscious fires off a burst of psychokinetic energy on the anniversary and ends up activating something in the house to wake us up.
And having said that, now's a good time to mention just how much this experience DID affect all of us. If it's any indication, I'm typing this line with tears in my eyes — even four years after the fact I can get extremely worked up about it. It was without a doubt one of the most intense experiences of my life and my view of the world changed afterward. It has convinced me that emotions and instincts have power, have energy, and that even though science can't explain how, we are more than capable of picking up on these things from each other. It has heavily influenced my desire to continue ghost hunting.
Woody has remained in the house in the years since, rarely using the basement. He maintains that it's still haunted, hearing footsteps about twice monthly, except in the early spring when it's far more common. We've never been back. We haven't even really been tempted to go back; I feel we overstayed our welcome, and I'm smart enough to bow out gracefully.
So there you go.