Kim and I wound up with George for the second round of EVPs.
“Great, this is like being with the boss,” Kim complained in my ear, trouble-maker that she is. I was nervous because I could only imagine how potentially intense it would be, standing next to an expert like George while he conducted his EVP session. I had an image of him standing in the middle of the room with his arms spread open like Jesus Christ, summoning the spirits out from the floor boards, naturally ending with one of them using his insides like a Holiday Inn and spitting their disembodied voice out through his mouth.
I really hoped that wasn’t going to happen.
Chris, who was still reeling from being rejected for Jimmy Wenger, purposely ditched us in favor of Christine and Joel. When I found out they were going to the boiler room, I was suddenly pretty happy to be going to the second floor classrooms with George. Tiny and Jimmy stayed back in Base for this round. I believe Nick, Brittany and Lynnette went to the gym.
We started out at the far end of the hall, in a classroom to the left of the staircase leading to the gym. This was the room everyone in the know kept calling the Little Girl’s Room, but I was too scared to ask why.
“Do you smell that?” George asked when we crossed the threshold. I smelled nothing more than the musty scent of a rotting school and a bouquet of my own fear and anxiety. But Kim said she smelled something, like lavender or lilac, and George seemed pleased with her answer. Apparently, he and Tiny had been detecting wafts of old perfume in one spot of that room all day.
I pulled in a deep drag of stale air through my nose and wasn’t rewarded with anything other than the need to sneeze.
In that room, I saw the name of one of Blake’s friends written on the chalkboard, verifying that the Blake-centric graffiti I had seen earlier definitely belonged to Henry’s son. I momentarily felt a little relieved at the notion of Blake being there and making it out of the school alive. Maybe I would, too.
We lined up in front of the row of windows, which now seems like a dumb idea—I could have been grabbed and pulled through!—and began recording our session. My brief sense of relief dissipated.
Spewing out questions to a roomful of nothing is about as awkward and idiotic as it sounds. I realize this. But every time George would open up the floor to me, my pulse would quicken and I would get a terrible sensation of stage fright. I didn’t want any spirit motherfuckers making fun of me, you know? But my questions were so lame. “Hi, how are you?” [Dead.] “What’s your name?” [Your mother.] “Friend me on Facebook?” [Decline.] Presumably speaking with the dead in an abandoned school at 1:00 in the morning is pretty terrifying.
The whole point of recording EVPs is not that we expect to hear a spirit answer us right then and there, but hopefully something will be able to be detected on the recording later. I hoped that whomever I was communicating with didn’t turn out to be some asshole.
Suddenly, something echoed down the hall.
George and Kim thought it sounded like a cough. I was certain it was a laugh. No one else was assigned the upstairs classrooms with us, but George made a note to ask the others later if any of them had coughed. (Or laughed, goddammit! It was fucking laughter!) We heard it a second time before crossing the hallway to the computer room to fire off another round of questions.
“Does anyone hear that?” George asked. I was already standing stalk-still, which had become my signature ghost-hunting stance, but George asking that made me clench and tense up even more, all of my muscles ensconced in imaginary braces.
Kim and I shook our heads. All I heard was my heavy breathing and the rustling of fabric as I shoved my hands deeper inside the pockets of Henry’s Faygo jacket, searching for warmth.
“Here,” George said, removing his headphones. “Put these on.” They were attached to some sort of parabolic amplifier, which George held in his hand.
Headphones clamped against my frozen ears, I strained to hear something, anything, but all I could pick out was the sound of dirt and broken glass crunching under my feet as I shifted my weight to curb the pee sensations that this creepy moment was stirring up inside me.
I frowned, was shaking my head and lifting my hand to remove the headphones, when I heard it.
“Wait,” I whispered, pressing the headphones harder against my ears. It was coming from the right side, it seemed. A high-pitched, but extremely faint sound, like a child singing a word, a falsetto “ahhhh.” I heard it two more times before removing the headset and passing it over to Kim.
“You heard it too?” George whispered excitedly. “The piano?”
“I thought it was a voice,” I started, explaining to him what it sounded like to me. But then I considered this piano theory, and realized that it could have definitely been the sound of a lone key plunking in very slow, random succession. The more I thought about it, the more it sounded like a piano. I remembered what had happened to George’s girlfriend, when she had heard the piano playing so loud in her head that she had to leave the school.
“There’s no piano in this building,” George pointed out, and I was really ready to leave that room.
Kim didn’t hear it and was pretty pissed about that, but I reminded her that she smelled the perfume and I didn’t. My hearing is way more sensitive than my sense of smell. I’m usually the last one to notice if someone in the room farted. But my hearing is so tweaked that it drives Henry nuts. I can detect the most faintest of bass lines coming from my neighbor’s side of the house and I will go on a rampage because other people’s bass goes right through me. Hate it! Can’t stand it! Love it at a concert, though. And in songs, I will pick out the most random sounds that most people might not even notice, and force Henry to listen over and over to my “favorite” part. Half the time, he has no idea what he’s listening for in the split-second sample I’ve given him. Then there are times when we’re on the couch watching TV, and I’ll point to the ceiling and say, “Ooh, my jam’s on!” and Henry’s like, “How the fuck can you hear the bedroom radio?”
Even so, it took me needing headphones and a parabolic amplifier to hear that piano note.
I remembered this one afternoon last year when I was over Alisha’s with our friend Evonne, attempting to use the Psychic Circle (similar to the Ouija board, but used for good, positive spiritual contact). Alisha and Evonne had many experiences with the Psychic Circle, but with me there that day, nothing was happening. “Are you nervous, Erin?” Evonne asked. I showed her that my hand was shaking a little bit, and she said that it was possible my anxiety was affecting the Circle, and that we would have to try it another time.
I wondered if my fear and nervousness was closing me off to bigger experiences in the school. I tried to calm down, which was futile. You try getting your knees to stop knocking when you’re standing in a dark classroom, trying to get a ghost to tell you their favorite color.
There were several classrooms on the second room that George pointedly skipped. He seemed to know which ones held hot spots and didn’t waste any time on the rest. “This is the Shadowman Room,” George said, leading us into the classroom at the far end of the hall, above Base. This was the part of the hall where we heard the laughter. (Not coughing!)
I asked why it was called the Shadowman Room, and immediately regretted not waiting until later, when we weren’t standing in the middle of it.
“Because we keep seeing a large shadow drifting in and out of this room,” George answered nonchalantly, like it was no big thing. (My fucking phone just rang and I had a full-body convulsion; now my cat Don is laughing at me.)
“I feel like it’s way colder in this room. I’m the coldest I’ve been all night,” I shared with George and Kim. The ghosts born from my breath made up for the ghosts that weren’t showing up in my photos.
We heard something in this room. All of us heard it, a sound like movement from the back corner. I took two giant steps to my right, positioning myself for a quick escape. Then, a sound like rustling came from the front of the room, by the door. George’s camera had inexplicably died while we were up there, so he asked me to snap a picture in that general area. I did, but along with all the other photos I took that night, nothing spectacular showed up on it. Just some trash bags and “BLAKE.” And part of George’s parabolic amplifier. (I just like typing that as much as possible because it makes me feel like I’m smart.)
I couldn’t wait to peace out of this room. Standing in there made me feel awful, real uneasy and tense, like anticipating your drunk dad to come home raging from the bar.
The last room we covered with George was the classroom directly across the hall. I wasn’t too happy about this, because where did the Shadowman go when he left his room? PROBABLY STRAIGHT TO THIS ROOM.
“My friend Erin is here with me, and she is really wanting to experience something. Can you show yourself to her?” George called out to the empty room as I sucked in my breath. Don’t go bringing me into this, buddy.
We heard that noise again, the one I swear was mischievous laughter but George and Kim insist was coughing? That noise. Only this time, Kim thought it sounded like a growl. Fucking outstanding!
George asked me if I wanted to say anything. After Kim basically insinuated that the Hounds of Hell had joined us? No, not really.
“I’m afraid of making them mad,” I admitted, biting a hole through my lip.
Hesitating a little, George said, “You won’t make them mad.” OH OK BUT I’VE SEEN AMITYVILLE HORROR! Besides, I’m not so naive that I believe all ghosts are floating around, turning somersaults in the air and falling in love with Christina Ricci.
So I flat out asked, “Are you angry that we’re here?” and was immediately grateful when the windows didn’t blow out and the floor didn’t rumble.
However, it was a little disconcerting when George spoke into the recorder, “Check the tape for face looking in the door at [insert time].”
“You…you saw a face looking in the door?” I asked. Kim didn’t seem fazed by this, but by then, I was standing in half Eagle pose, trying to plug the impending pee that wanted to trickle down my legs.
“Yeah, right through that window,” George answered matter-of-factly, pointing at the door to the classroom.
Satisfied with the session, George deemed it was time to head back to Base. I couldn’t run down those steps fast enough. Those last two rooms left my nerves sizzling and hissing like live wires.
Back in Base, Chris, Christine and Joel told us of their activity-laden time in the boiler room. Chris felt something tug at his jacket; Christine felt something press up against her back, as though she were leaning against a wall; and all three of them saw something float past them and drift off up the steps. It was at that point I decided I had developed a life-threatening allergy to the boiler room and ain’t no way, no how, anyone was going to drag my ass down there.
“I heard the piano!” I offered excitedly, but no one really seemed all that impressed.
George walked over and stuck his camera in my face. “Look,” he said, pointing to the symbol on the screen depicting a fully-charged battery. “I knew that battery was fresh, but it just completely died up there in that room.”
Warmth of the kerosene lamp be damned, I felt a chill percolate all the way down to my toes.
[Ed.Note: I honestly cried at one point while writing this. I need to stop doing this when I’m home alone!]