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A Writer’s First Ghost Hunt

By Natalie Fowler

Like a lot of people interested in the paranormal, I’m a fan of the ghostie shows. I’ve watched Ghost Adventures somewhat regularly and my all-time favorite is The Dead Files. But walking into The Manor for my first ghost hunt, I really had no idea what to expect. I mean, of course I write about ghosts, but did I really want to go shake one out of the rafters of an attic? I wasn’t sure.

I was also nervous for reasons beyond what goes bump in the night. I was there at the invitation of my soul sister, Jessica. I call her my soul sister because from the minute we met at a SCWBI event last winter, it was like we just knew we were destined to be best friends. I know, I know. That’s a cheesy love-at-first-sight line out of a chick-flick. But up until then, I’d never met anyone that wanted to talk about ghosts as much as I did. Little did I know, I was about to meet four more. But at that point, I hadn’t met any of “the guys” and on top of everything else, we’d be filming for a documentary.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to do much with the gadgets and equipment, I didn’t know anything about any of it. (By the way guys, that video camera I held for about 45 minutes? If it’s mostly of the ground, it’s because I’m pretty sure I turned it off when I thought I was recording and vice-versa. Sorry about that).

But I digress. Not wanting to feel like a complete idiot, I did prepare by doing what I know how to do best – I studied. You see, a couple of careers ago, I was a lawyer for about five minutes. So I went to the library. I figured that if I could research a bit about the property, or find something about the family that lived there, I would at least have something to contribute to the conversations sure to take place throughout the night.

I found some good stuff. The house had been in the same family for multiple generations, and I found obituaries that filled in the history for some of the middle years. I also found previously undiscovered newspaper articles about the drowning death of the last family member to live in the house. And most exciting of all (to me, anyway, but don’t forget that lawyer background) the last will and testament had been contested! I know, I’m a geek. Anyway, the decedent (guy that died) had supposedly tried to change his will right before he was killed to leave everything to someone else. The court ruled that the estate should go to the sister, the heir named in the original will. In other words (common, non-lawyerly ones), it was entirely possible that this poor guy died and all of his property went to someone he didn’t want it to go to. No one will ever really know for sure. At the very least, I had something to talk about (even if it did make me look like a book nerd).

It was dark when I got to the house, and introductions were quick. More than half of the guys, including the owner, were named Shawn (or Sean), and I spent the entire night paranoid that I would call one of the guys who weren’t named Shawn, Sean…on camera. The team had purchased a new DVR-4 camera recording system, and a good hour or so was spent dealing with new software-downloading issues. Eventually, it was time to begin and we all went down into the creepy basement.

For the first few minutes, I had flashbacks to seventh grade slumber parties where we would sit and try to have a séance. It was a lot of talking to the air and, until you get the hang of it, it was hard not to feel at least a little bit silly. But it’s serious stuff and definitely not anything to just mess around with. Not much was happening, so we split into the groups. I stayed in the creepy basement, and the candle did a cool little dance and spun in circles. But when you are looking so hard for something as subtle as the energies of the paranormal, it’s hard to know when and if it’s really just your imagination playing tricks. The other group had a few reports of activity on the second floor. But all in all, it was mostly a lot of waiting around trying to be patient. Maybe something will show up in the several hours of film footage from one of the four stationary cameras. But in the early morning hours of Friday, my first ghost hunt was eventually declared a “quiet” night.

This would not be the case 48 hours later at location number 2…

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