Back in May, when I was still FB-abled, Castle Blood shared an event from some local paranormal group called Ghosts N’at. Turns out, they had visited the Castle and did a walk-thru to determine if it was a conduit for paranormal activity. They found enough evidence to host an investigation tour open to the public.
First of all: Do I believe in ghosts? Yes.
Do I believe that Castle Blood, which is quite literally an abandoned funeral parlor that came back to life as a haunted house (the Halloween kind, not the Amityville kind), is haunted? Yes, because my friends own it and have had real experiences and I believe them because FRIENDS BELIEVE FRIENDS WHO HAVE SUPERNATURAL ENCOUNTERS.
Everyone knows that, god!
Do I believe that these paranormal groups are legit? I mean….
The last (and OK—only) ghost hunt I ever did was in 2011 and I think I believed. I didn’t feel like I was getting scammed, I felt like I walked away with lots of questions that couldn’t be explained, a certain level of unease, and definitely memories that will last forever. But with that one, I think it was more visceral than anything else. When you’re in an abandoned school in January, obviously with no heat, in the middle of the night with strangers, then yeah — you’re gonna feel some things, hear some ghostly whispers, and see some fucking shit because you’re shambling about dark corridors with nothing but a head lamp.
All of this is to say I sent Wendy the Facebook event and she was like LETS DO IT. And so that’s how we how ended up standing outside of Castle Blood in Monessen on a Saturday night in July, getting bit by mosquitoes* while waiting for a bunch of JONNY COME LATELYS – OH YEAH I SAID IT.
*(But not Wendy because she sprayed herself generously with Off! and made sure to remind me of that every time I reached down to swat a mosquito off my leg, ugh.)
We were put into groups based on the colored wristbands we were given and of course the late people were dumped on us. Wendy called that one!
Eventually, everyone arrived and the two leaders of the group, Brett and TJ, came out to give us a quick run-down of the group and then my friend Ricky (a/k/a Gravely MacCabre of Castle Blood fame) took the stage to talk about the history of the house, which is 100 years old and a historic landmark of Monesson. When Ricky bought the house a few years back, he told us that he for sure felt a presence inside, even during the day, when he and his crew were working on cleaning it up and getting it ready for haunt season.
After the spiels were wrapped up, Brett said we were free to mill about, use the portajohn, have a seat, etc, and that we would get started in about 15 minutes. I thought Wendy was going to explode. The instructions very clearly stated that everyone needed to arrive by 6:50 in order to register, and that the action would be starting at 7:00. Wendy was actually EARLY — this is major — and for what?!
Meanwhile, she called me out on my immediate crush on Brett because I’m so obvious and predictable.
“Let me guess….you have a crush on him and you already checked his hand for a ring,” she taunted.
WHAT DO GHOSTS AND ERIN HAVE IN COMMON?
THEY’RE BOTH TRANSPARENT.
I snagged this photo from the group’s Instagram. I’m so interested in what Brett is saying, shhhh!
There were four rooms being investigated on this night: the viewing room, the embalming room, the parlour, and the upstairs dining room. My group with the orange wristbands started in the viewing room with Kenny, who we were told was the real enthusiastic and passionate investigator of the group, and that he gets “real creative” and “thinks out of the box.”
For some reason, I was kind of intimidated of him. Like, I felt that I needed to sit up real straight on the church pew or he was going to start accusing me of chasing away the ghosts with my bad posture. He started in with his introduction but was shortly interrupted by TJ’s wife, who popped in to say, “You lost some of your group!” and behind her shuffled in THE LATE FAMILY.
Kenny encouraged us to take pictures while he set up all of his EVP crap and whatnot. Beneath the coffin, he had some toys laid out (LOL FUNERAL PUN) in case there were kid ghosts around.
He also had this laser grid projected onto the wall, so we had to sit very still in order to not make it move. At first I was like, is he trying to trap a ghost in a laser grid? But then he explained it was so that we would know if a spirit was in the room, moving it, because that’s the first thing a ghost is going to go to? If I’m a ghost, I’m entering someone’s body and destroying shit. But yeah, let’s just bump this here laser flashlight to spook some people.
First, we introduced ourselves to whatever ghosts might be watching us from the rafters or from behind the eyes of a babydoll. That was fun.
“Hi spirit, I’m Erin.” I felt like such a tool, but it was even worse when he forced us to go down the line and ask questions for the EVP reading. I AM NOT GOOD AT INQUISITIONS unless Henry is on the other end of it.
When it was my turn, I was like, uh, are you scared? I don’t know what to ask a ghost?! Were you murdered?!
We played the EVP recording back and there was no result. After an eternity of Kenny trying to get the spirits to play with the toys, he decided that maybe it was an adult, so he poured it a shot a whiskey, and THEN SUDDENLY the girl at the end of the pew next to the whiskey FELT SOMETHING COLD TOUCHING HER ARM and her boyfriend was all, I FEEL IT TOO! And then the guy next to me got in on the action and said he felt a cold breeze. I was like, “Bro, I think that was just from when Kenny walked past us?” and then the prop candlelabras (it IS a haunted house, after all) started shaking and TJ’s wife was all THOSE ARE SHAKING AND NO ONE WAS WALKING NEAR THEM! And then THE LASER STARTED GOING WONKY and everyone was all, OMG GHOSTS ARE REAL WE BELIEVE! But Wendy and I were just like, “Wait, are we being set up here?”
I mean, it was a lot of shit happening at once. And then just like that, Kenny’s walkie talkie went off because it was time to change rooms. Kbye.
The next room was what Castle Blood refers to as the Farewell Room, the last room of the tour before you spill out into the gift shop. But back in the day, this was the embalming room. Our investigators of this room were Tim and Patty, a married couple who I thought I wasn’t going to like but they turned out to be pretty cool. We also did an EVP reading there, after Patty said that the first group had a ton of activity and one of the ladies was contacted by her dead daughter or something, I can’t remember. So that right there opened the door for expectation.
This was around the time Wendy and I realized that we two of the only n00bs on this hunt—it seemed like almost everyone else had done at least one other investigation with Ghosts n’at.
One of the questions during the EVP session was “Is there anyone here in this room that you know?” because now people were eager to find out if their deceased loved ones were hovering above. I won’t pretend like my Pappap didn’t cross my mind once or 5 billion times but I’m also not going to force it. If these things are real and true and he wanted to make contact, he would.
Anyway, I’ll try to keep this brief: we used this thing called the Phasmagram or something, which was some program on a laptop, connected to some weird glowing gadget that looked like a Lensbaby. (That’s a type of camera lens, you guys, get with it.) The EVP session didn’t provide much other than what sounded like a voice saying either Stacey or Casey, and something that made the guy next to me think his dad was there. The Phasmagram was cool — it made the “voices” all distorted and wah-wah-sounding. The guy next to me was convinced at this point that he heard his dad’s voice and was all, “DAD?!” and then started crying and had to leave the room so then I started crying and his girlfriend was all, “Yeah, his dad just died on Tuesday.”
OH MY GOD.
I was so fucking emotional by then that I was buying everything they were selling. It was 100 degrees in that tiny room and I had goosebumps like whoa.
Fucking Phasmagram thing. (I think that’s what it was called, I can’t remember. Sue me.)
The third room was the parlor with Brett! Absolutely nothing happened here except for me realizing that one of the ladies in our group LOVED ASKING EVP QUESTIONS. She was even interrupting Brett at times, like it was a race to throw her questions out there when no one else was really participating. The one girl who was a part of the Late Family was too bust sitting with her eyes closed, holding dowsing rods.
I was starting to peace out at this point. The EVP session was a bust, which I guess is kind of reassuring because if it were a scam, they probably would have planned for something to happen to every group in every room, right? The best part was when TJ appeared in the doorway and scared Brett.
The last room was upstairs with TJ. I got bad vibes from him, and Wendy did as well, as soon as we arrived there and before we even knew he was one of the leaders of the group. So the story behind this room, the “dining room,” is that it’s the room where Castle Blood has all of their fresh meat start out in, and most of them end up quitting because they get an uncomfortable feeling of being watched by some unseen presence. I can get behind that. I totally believe in those oppressive feelings of GET THE FUCK OUT. I get them occasionally at cemeteries, even the ones I frequent often and am most familiar with. Some days it just feels like it’s not right for me to be there.
Anyway, in the room, we used some contraption called the spirit box, which was something that TJ built and then connected to an app of some sort, because that’s how all ghosts communicate in the digital age – through apps. They won’t be left behind!
TJ said all night, with the three other groups, it sounded like a German family was fighting with each other. So he turned this thing on and it sounded like garbled anger. Every time TJ would ask it a question, it sounded like the voices would say “shhhh!” and then start talking softer. THEN THE FLASHLIGHT HE PUT ON THE FLOOR GOT BRIGHTER AND HOW DID THAT HAPPEN WHEN IT WAS THE TYPE OF FLASHLIGHT THAT NEEDS PRESSURE APPLIED TO A BUTTON ON THE SIDE?! I admit that I jumped when that happened but Wendy had 7 explanations for it and she’s probably right that it can be explained away.
Meanwhile, the guy whose dad died walked up to TJ and tried to hand him his phone. “Here, I have this translation app. Let’s use it and see what they’re saying.”
The phone is offered again.
“Um, nah, I’m good. Thanks, man,” TJ stuttered. “Um, I don’t even think it’s German, really, but uh, you know, jibberish.”
“It sounds like it’s backwards,” I offered, and some other guy piggy-backed off that to point out that sometimes apps are coded backward or something nerdy like that, and TJ got SUPER WEIRD and completely cut him off to say, “OK! Let’s do an EVP session now.”
I don’t know. It struck me as super odd. Like he was thrown off by our offers and suggestions?
He started the EVP session with a really important question: Do ghosts poop?
OK fine, it was mildly funny.
The highlight of the EVP session was when it sounded like some man was laughing when TJ asked, “Was that you that made the flashlight brighter?” OK FINE THAT WAS CREEPY! But other than that, nothing really significant. And the Inquisitive Lady’s “did you have any pets here?” question was surprisingly not answered. JUST LIKE NONE OF THEM WERE BECAUSE HER QUESTIONS WERE LAME.
OK fine, I would have liked to have known if any animals had ever lived in that house too. Ugh.
Wendy and I were able to come up with logical explanations for most of what we experienced, but we’re not saying that we think we were scammed. I certainly don’t feel like it. I believe that this group is passionate about what they do and that they wanted us to have a good experience. Did I feel like there were any presences with us in those rooms? No. Would I spend a night there alone? Nope, go fuck yourself.
And that was it. Chooch accosted us when we exited the house, and that was probably the scariest part of the night — no, I take that back. The scariest part was when I made Henry drop me off at the end of Brookline Blvd on the way home because there was only 30 minutes left before midnight and I was in the middle of a Weekend Warrior FitBit challenge with Octavia and needed to get them steps, them steps, them motherfucking steps, even if it meant walking down the bar-lined streets of Brookline after hours on a Saturday. But don’t worry, Chooch came with me and he had my ghost-hunting flashlight because everyone knows a flashlight in the eyes is the best defense against drunks.