I’ve never seen a ghost before. Never experienced any inexplicable phenomena showing up in the background of my pictures. Nothing I could ever see with my eyes. But there were times when I was a teenager walking in the woods behind my house, in broad daylight on humid summer afternoons, where a skin-prickling chilliness and uneasy being-watched sensation would creep over me and stop me in my tracks. I was always so certain that those woods were haunted. I would never go in those woods alone, without my German Shepherd Rama at the very least. My mom and aunt Sharon are always talking about ghostly shit happening at my grandma’s house, which is also flanked by the same woods on one side, but you all know those two are fucking lunatics so I try not to believe a word they tell me.
And my cemeteries. The ones I spend so much time in, alone? There have been occasions where I’ve stepped out of my car only to stand stock-still, senses heightened, hairs erect like midget wangs on my arms. It could be the most blistering of August afternoons and I will give into one violent shiver before swinging back into my car, post haste, burning asphalt on the way out. Because something just didn’t feel right. Something felt off. The atmosphere felt too heavy, too quiet, too absolutely motherfucking creepy.
But I’ve never actually had a real experience with the other side. And I do believe there is an other side. I also believe a lot of that shit is a hoax, a lot of those mediums are fucking crooks, and orbs in photographs are mostly unfocused dust particles. I believe I have a better chance of being eviscerated by America’s next sexy serial killer before ever running into the spirit of some winsome girl in your grandfather’s attic.
My last game night turned into an after hour’s ghost story-telling session and I found myself covered in goose-flesh. When Kim and Chris told me that night that they had joined a local ghost hunting group, I was intrigued, curiosity slightly piqued. And then when they talked about the upcoming ghost hunt that was scheduled for last Saturday, I decided it was time to be a big girl and do this thing.
The day before the hunt, some of my co-workers bequeathed to me mini flashlights, just in case Henry decided to be stingy with his own lighted lover. But by Saturday afternoon, I think Henry was finally beginning to believe that I was actually going to do this (I made sure I told a bunch of people that I was doing it, insurance that I wouldn’t back out), even though I was a bundle of nerves all day, driving him nuts with my sporadic outbursts of OMG I’M SO SCARED! and WHAT IF I DIE TONIGHT?! So he let me take his flashlight. It was kind of a big moment in our relationship.
“See ya at 11,” Henry laughed as I walked out the door that night, insinuating that I would never make it to 5am.
I arrived at Kim and Chris’s place, swaddled in a thermal shirt, my sacred Versus the Mirror hoodie (Kara, this hoodie is like my lucky blanket), Henry’s lame ass Faygo (100 Years!) coat, knee high socks, regular socks, legwarmers, pink skull and crossbones galoshes (couldn’t find real boots since I waited until THAT DAY to go looking), gloves, a knit hat and ear muffs. I looked like an obtuse, mismatched Sumo wrestler dressed for a snowball fight. Chris filled up two travel cups from a giant jug of Riunite, which Kim and I immediately began chugging to quell our nerves (mine at least; I’m pretty sure Kim wasn’t scared at all). We weren’t supposed to have alcohol at the site, but Chris kept the jug tucked away in his car in case our bravery depended on refills.
Broughton Elementary School is located in South Park and was only about five minute drive from Chris and Kim’s place. I knew it was abandoned, but had no idea it was supposed to be haunted. I grew up in a house a few streets above it, and should have actually gone there along with my childhood best friend Christy, but my mom lied about our address in order for me to start elementary school in the town we were building a house. I don’t remember Christy ever saying anything about books flying off shelves or Bloody Mary appearing in the lavatory mirror. According to George, the Meetup group’s co-founder, “this location has a history of death dating back to the Miners strike in the 1930s and in the Whiskey Rebellion in the 17 and 1800s.” There was supposedly a shooting there, in which several teachers and the principal were slain, and someone was stabbed in the parking lot.
Prior to the actual hunt, several of the experienced members did a trial-run of the school. George’s girlfriend Kim, the ‘K’ of G&K Paranormal Investigation, heard a piano playing. The sound eventually crescendoed to a point where she had to cover her ears. It only got worse when she was in the parking lot and began to feel a lifelike shanking all over her body, and then felt as though her body was aflame as she RELIVED the murder that had taken place there so many years ago. Kim and Chris told me this a week ago over dinner, and I just sat there with saucered eyes, unable to even comprehend ever being taken over by the supernatural in such a horrific way.
This lady, Kim? She has been on over a hundred ghost hunting expeditions, experienced passels of paranormal activity. But she refused to go back to Broughton Elementary School after that. And true to her word, she was not there when we arrived last Saturday night at 7pm.