Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Paranormal In Gettysburg, PA

At the risk of sounding batsh*t crazy, I experienced definite, without a doubt, paranormal activity last night. If we’ve met, you know that I doubt anything, everything and its mother. I also cannot tell a lie. To save my life.

Backstory: I have a friend, Phil, who likes ghosts. A lot. Ghosts, ghost hunts, ghost stories, Ghost Adventures… probably even people in sheets screaming, “BOO!” He also has his own EMF detector. I’m not judging; I love the guy. And I love adventures and scary stuff. I never really took it seriously, though I always secretly wanted to. I wanted to believe. Phil has dragged us all over the Northeast on various paranormal excursions. The accomplices often vary — though usually it’s me, his wife Lindsey and our friend Andy, give or take a few others. There was the time when we traipsed through the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, on a hunt for the Jersey Devil, where our tour guide taunted the mythical demon with phrases like, “YO MOMMA WEARS COMBAT BOOTS!” Another time, we went to Gettysburg where we spent four hours in a field, in the middle of the night, with a psychic medium named Miss Emily (photo), where we asked the spirits questions such as, “Do you like macaroni & cheese?”

This has all been fun. No more, no less. No real evidence; just a bunch of maybes followed by a few what ifs. Not to sound like an over-dramatic ghost nerd, but that was until last night. What follows after the jump is a true, non-exaggerated account of what happened.

The Experience: A month ago, we made reservations to attend the Paranormal Night investigation at the famed (and haunted) Farnsworth House Inn, a working bed & breakfast with nine bedrooms. We knew there was one “ghost” there named Jeremy. In the 1800s, Jeremy was trampled by a horse outside the inn. He was brought into the house, specifically into what is called the Sarah Black Room, where he died in the adjoining bathroom. He was 8 years old. Supposedly he is a happy ghost who likes to move his toys around the house. So we get a few trinkets (or “trigger objects,” as Phil says) from the dollar store. I pick up a small bag of plastic cowboys and Indians, all in green, red, blue and yellow.

We arrive, pay our $50 fee for the six-hour investigation and wait in the dining room with about 30 other people for our instructions. We’re not expecting much. I place a plastic Indian on the windowsill, thinking, If it falls over. It’s a ghost. About 20 minutes later, I notice that it has fallen over. Could have been a draft. Nothing concrete. We go with a small group up to the attic, where the attic door repeatedly opens by itself. Probably a loose hinge. Then we’re given free reign to roam the house, so Phil, Lindsey, Andy and I go straight to the Sarah Black Room.

It’s a beautiful room, with a canopy bed, and there are little toys strewn about. A pinwheel on the chair. A few army green plastic soldiers on the table. A ball on the floor. Armed with Phil’s EMF detector, we make our way into the spacious bathroom where Jeremy died. There is a small vanity table, a sink, a toilet and a clawfoot tub. One in each hand, I place two yellow plastic cowboys on the vanity table. No one is really watching me, we’re all chatting; Phil fiddles with the EMF detector. Maybe a minute passes. I suddenly notice there is only one yellow cowboy on the small table. I say aloud, “I swear I put two cowboys there.” “Are you sure?” Phil asks. “I mean, I think so…” It’s like when you misplace your keys, and you momentarily question your sanity. “Maybe I didn’t…” I look under the table, see nothing, shrug it off. We turn off the lights. We’re standing in a circle in the dark bathroom, EMF detector on, but silent. I ask, “If anyone is here, give us a sign.” Clear as day, we hear a clink against porcelain behind us, in the direction of the tub. I turn on the lights. We’re excited. “Did you hear that?” “Did you hear it?” “If that plastic toy is over there, I swear to God…” I state. Andy gets on the floor, looks under the tub. Sure enough… he unearths a small yellow plastic cowboy. I scream. I’m shaking. A few people hear my yelp, come running in. I say what happened. One of the hotel workers is not surprised. “That’s Jeremy!” she says. They leave. I place the yellow cowboy back on the table beside the other one.

Lindsey and Phil leave to go explore another room down the hall. Andy and I are left hovering in the doorway of the Sarah Black Room, alone. A minute passes. Maybe two. Andy goes in the bathroom again, where it happened. He calls my name. I walk in. There, on the small vanity table, in between the two yellow plastic cowboys, is a green plastic soldier holding a Confederate flag. “You put that there!” I accuse. Boys always play jokes. “No, I didn’t!” he says. Andy, who is often skeptical, looks legitimately spooked. “You swear on my MOM?” I ask. He does. He’s not kidding. No one else had been in there, and we never left the bedroom. I take a photo.

We walk out. Look for Phil and Lindsey. We all go back into bathroom of the Sarah Black Room. One of the yellow cowboys is gone again. The four of us go into the Eisenhower Room down the hall where we attempt to communicate with… whatever else might be in the house. The lights are off. We ask questions via the EMF detector. Is anyone here? Beep beep beep. Is it Jeremy? Beep beep. Are you alone? Silence. Is someone here with you? Beep beep. Do you like us? Beep beep. Do you dislike us? Silence. Do you want us to leave? Silence. Are you happy in this house? Beep beep beep. We leave the Eisenhower Room, and when we come back to it maybe 15 minutes later, the yellow plastic cowboy is lying on the bed.

A few other things happen throughout the night. And during each one of them, I forced someone to hold my hand, for fear that I would be sucked into some black abyss. Too many horror flicks. Still, these other things could go into the maybe category. But what I saw in the bathroom of the Sarah Black Room, what I experienced, cannot be rebutted. At this point, I will believe in anything.

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