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Ghost Hunt at the Poor Farm, Part 2: A Walk in the Woods.

Where was I? Oh, yes. The ghostly voice speaking its name into the darkness. I was with the team downstairs where we experienced some tapping on the walls and a dark shadow moving around. The voice was actually much too subtle to hear with our own ears, but when we listened back to the EVP recording, when we asked “What is your name?” into the air, we got an answer. Not one we could hear clearly, but we had a couple of guesses for what we thought it could be.

Eventually, it was time for a hike through the darkness to the forgotten cemetery. There was an ad on television recently that spoofed characters in a horror movie, where four teenagers run by a waiting, open car and instead choose to hide in the dilapidated barn. Then, the camera pans left to zoom in on the man with the chainsaw…waiting in said barn. Our walk into the woods in the middle of the night felt like that. Deliberately dismissing all reasonable safety and security to walk through the darkness to a lost cemetery. Who does that? We did.

At first, I think I was more afraid of the real, tangible threats. Like getting lost and not being able to find our way back to the house. This city girl was also more than a little afraid of the nature. Our gracious hosts didn’t need all of us showing back up at the house smelling like skunks.

We made it without incident to the forgotten cemetery. And by forgotten, I mean in all sense of that word. Forgotten. These people of limited means, ignored and banished away by the rest of society, were buried without gravestones. A single wooden post marked their final resting place. After more than a hundred years, these wooden posts had been relieved of their duty from long ago. Instead of standing guard over their charge, they were haphazardly tossed into a pile next to a single, lonely, headstone.

The deteriorating stone marks the grave of Prinella Spence. A mystery in and of itself, considering it is the only headstone in what is otherwise a cemetery of 75 unmarked graves. Now, tattered orange flags, usually used to mark buried gas and power lines, poke up through the overgrown forest. At closer inspection, they marked a single brass disk not bigger than the circumference of a coffee mug, and stamped with the words, “Washington County”. Proof that someone, somewhere fought for taxpayer money to get these graves a marker, as small and insignificant as it was.

As we sat in the dark and waited for something to happen, it felt like a hundred pairs of eyes watched our every move. Probably, it was nature, but our artistic imaginations indulged. Without words, we had positioned ourselves in a circle, our backs to the middle. I was grateful. The leaves on the ground rustled as something came closer, and closer. That something was probably just a mouse, or maybe a squirrel. But I know when we left, none of us wanted to be the last one. The one with our back to the cemetery and whatever IT was.

Thankfully, my fear about getting lost was unwarranted. Our fearless hike leaders, Scott and Shawn, knew how to find the house again…in part thanks to the piles of horse poop along the trail. And no, none of us accidentally stepped in any of it. But joking about it helped relieve the tension.

We finished our outdoor investigation in a clearing behind the house. Our collective adrenaline rush was palpable. The dead wood from a tree branch knocked rhythmically above our heads. Thankfully, we had observed it earlier in the day or we would have jumped right out of our ghost huntin’ boots at the unnatural sound. Actually, some of us might have (been scared enough to jump) but I’m not naming names. Ghost hunter pact. We were so on edge that it was impossible to discern what might have been a paranormal whispering and what was fear induced imagination.

But we certainly gave ourselves a good inspirational scare. My poor main character that is going to have to walk through a haunted forest in my next mystery novel…

But the night wasn’t finished yet.

Back inside, we stayed in the same groups, but flip-flopped our locations. My team went upstairs to quiet. The owners had gone to sleep and we were trying to be careful not to disturb them. Absolutely nothing happened. But downstairs, the other group was talking to the shadow. And the shadow told us his name was Timothy.

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