Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Foodie PenPals - November

Its that time of the month again!
No, not that time. Foodie PenPal time!

What is Foodie PenPals? Lindsay over at The Lean Green Bean and Allie over at Healthy Balance, Healthy Lifecame up with the idea for people who blog and people who read blogs to be part of a penpal style exchange of foodie items! It has introduced me to many new blogs that I love. 
The deal is this: 
- Sign up by a certain date. (December 4th if you want in on the next round! Email Lindsay your name, email, blog, and twitter.) 
- Get your penpal on the fifth of the month 
- Email your penpal to swap info 
- Send a package of foodie items by the 15th of the month to your penpal. There is a $15 limit, and it must include something written. 
- Post a blog of what you got the last day of the month. 

If you want to check out what I sent to Mercedes at Satisfy My Sweettooth, click the link.

Without further ado! Here are my goodies from Samantha at Running & Cupcakes.

Dark Chocolate Almonds - Gone already! Yum
Cowboy Ketchup - Waiting to grill burgers for dinner. Jeremy cannot wait to dig in.
Pedroia's Premium Black Bean and Corn Salsa - I always thought salsa was salsa. This is delicious.
Luna Bars - a Caramel Nut and Chocolate Cherry Almond, these are being saved for my next hike. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

NaNoWriMo - The Pearl Necklace - Part 2

Here is what has been written since the last post and now. I am currently behind par on my word count. Today I hope to narrow the gap drastically today.

He put his flashlight back in his pocket, explaining there was enough light coming in from outside to light our way.  Upon entering the attic, I was excited to see that there were a few pieces of furniture being stored up here and that they were situated so that we could be sitting in them, facing each other, and comfortable.  I selected the wing back chair that was facing the attic window, leaving the love seat for Mark to sit on.

Before Mark sat, he pulled a box over to set in the middle. That gave us somewhere to set down our recorders and the EMF detector.
"Before we get started, do we need to do a sweep of the room like we did in the basement?" I asked.
"We can. However, I tend to ghost hunt with my senses. I don't like to pay attention to anything else. I like to focus my energy on how my skin feels, on what the air around me feels like, my senses. If you are too busy watching a meter, you might miss the slight change in the air when something brushes by you. If you are focusing on the meter, there is the chance that you might miss the slight giving of the floorboards where something shifted. There is so much that can be missed because the focus is on one particular object." Mark said.
It made so much sense. Since there wasn't scientific proof out there that the energy picked up by EMF detectors was actually doing anything, and since there wasn't any proof that it wasn't. I really liked the idea of going with what the body thought.
"That sounds great to me. While there is a time and place for lots of gear, it isn't proven fact correct? So it makes more sense to do it your way." I said, settling back into the chair, tucking my feet up underneath me. I could reach the table from here, so when it was time to get our recorders started, I could just turn it on, lean forward and set it down.

"Whenever you are ready, we can get started," Mark said.

"I'm ready." I turned on my recorder and set it on the box.  Mark did the same.

“EVP session, attic, Martin Manor, October 23, 2011, 6:30pm. I’m Mark, and this is Jessica with me.’

"I would like to just sit here for a few minutes, taking it in, noticing if there is movement cause by shadows, to see if there is a heaviness or lightness to the air. Take in everything around you and let me know when you are ready and we can start asking questions." Mark said.

I closed my eyes for a few moments. I could feel eyes on me, but let it go for a moment. What else was I feeling. How was my skin reacting, how was my body reacting.  The hair on my arms did not stand up, the air felt dense, but not heavy.  When I opened my eyes, it was Mark who was staring at me. Well, not exactly at me, almost like he was staring through me.  The shadows that were being cast by the street lights were still, some were soft shadows, others harsh. After another moment of taking it all in, I asked Mark what he was looking at so seriously.  It took him a moment to focus on me and realize I had been asking him a question. I had mentioned to myself he was tall, dark, and broody when I first saw him earlier tonight.  Broody was definitely the look to describe how he was looking just a moment ago as well.

"I was looking at the glow coming from around your neck," he said.

I fingered the black pearls that I always wore.
"What do you mean, glow from around my neck," I said.

"The necklace you are wearing, I don't know if it is the reflection of the light coming through the window or what it is," he said. "May I see it?"

I was a bit taken aback. He wanted me to take off my necklace? Was this some sort of ruse to steal it? It wasn't an antique by any means, nor was it some special fancy necklace. It was made of pearls I had found in a small gem shop when I was visiting my sister in New Hampshire.

"Um, ok," I said, reaching up to take the necklace off.  I reached forward, passing the necklace to Mark. He took it, allowing it to run through his fingers, almost like you would run water or sand through them.  Just before they finished falling through his fingers, he grasped the necklace, holding it tight.

"These are beautiful. The pearls are reflecting the light in a way that they appear to glow in my hand as well." Mark said.
"I see what you mean, about the glow they have" I said, looking at my necklace in his hand. It was like it was glowing. I didn't realize that black pearls could do that. I had seen white pearls reflect a bit of light, so I guess it was possible.
He handed them back to me, asking if I needed help to secure them back around my neck. I already had them back on before he could finish asking if I wanted help putting them back on.
He chuckled.
"I will take that as a no," he said. "Lets get the session started."
"Is there anyone here with us?" I asked.
"What is your name?" I asked again, after giving a good pause.
"Are you the same person we were talking too down in the basement?" I asked, again, giving enough of a pause.

There was a knock on the door to the attic.
"Come on up," Mark said.

Nothing happened. No one opened the door, no one walked in.

"Go ahead and keep asking questions," Mark said.

"Was that you who knocked on the door?" I asked.

A moment later, there was a knock at the door again.  Mark stood up and quietly walked over and listened at the door. He shook his head, which I took to mean he couldn't hear anybody on the other side. He motioned for me to ask another question, as he placed his hand just above the handle.

I thought for a moment, and asked a question that would elicit the a response I was expecting.

"You said your death was in the house, and accidental, correct?" I said.

There was a single knock. Mark opened the door, but there was no one standing on the other side.  I motioned for him to close the door.  He did so.

"If your death was accidental, was anyone else involved?" I asked.
Again, there was a single knock at the door. Mark checked, but there was no one there. He walked back over and sat down.

"What can you tell us about what happened, I will keep quiet until you knock so that I don't talk over you." I said.

I wish I had a pad of paper, there are so many questions I wanted to ask Mark. This seemed to be legitimate, but I couldn't help but feel like someone was pulling the wool over my eyes. I really wanted to know what was going on.  After a few minutes had passed, I still hadn't heard a knock. I glanced at Mark, to see if I could see what he was thinking, but since it was dark, I wasn't able to read his face.

I wish I had the flashlight, I would love to get a better look at the attic. Perhaps I would get a chance to do so before we went back downstairs. Just as I was about to ask if she was still there because it felt like a good fifteen minutes has passed since I asked the question, there was a single knock at the door.

"You said there were other spirits in the house, are they all as willing to participate as you?"
A double knock.

"Are you the only one who will interact with us?"
A double knock.

"They just don't interact as often?"
A single knock.

"Are they getting nothing downstairs then? I wonder if that is frustrating to them at all." I mused aloud.

There was a single knock, followed by a decent pause, and another single knock.  I took that to mean that nothing was happening and it was frustrating them.

"Well, since there is still 20 more minutes before we break again, why don't you go downstairs and knock for them. I want to think about what I want to ask that isn't silly or mundane.” I said.
There was a single knock, and all of a sudden the air felt different, like it was less dense.

"Wow, that was interesting. I need time to process that, I don’t know how I feel about it all," I said to Mark, "what was your take on that?"

"I have been coming to this house for several years now and have never had anyone else get responses like you get. Well, I should rephrase that since I know Alexa was asking questions downstairs as well. I have never had a group get responses like the ones we got downstairs and upstairs. I have had incredible responses by myself, or working with Brian, but never like that with a group." Mark said. He sounded in awe.

"I wonder why that is?" I said.

"You've got me. I would like to keep our groups set up like they are though. I want to see what more you can get from an EVP session." he said.
"We could still do that with other people." I Said.
"No, I don't want ot follow their agenda. People who aren't very serious about this ask things like, favorite color, favorite book, why are they here, what would they do if they were alive, and its details to add to the list, but it isn't the same as the questions that you are asking, and being willing to sit in the quiet to see if we can pick up a response. The more people, the more people are clamoring to ask questions. They hear a pin drop and are instantly asking 'what was that' and 'did you hear that.' Then it is really challenging to listen to the recordings after the fact and get anything useful out of it." he said.
"That makes sense, and I am up for it. I can't believe I am going to say this, but this is starting to feel more like I am believing than disbelieving. I was sure that nothing could happen that would make me change my mind." I said.
"It is interesting isn't it?" he said.

We were both quiet for a few moments. I decided I wanted to see what was in the attic, how it was set up, how it looked, what was up here.

"Can we turn on the light? I want to see what is up here, what was left behind, what is new, how it might all tie in."

"Sure," Mark said. He stood up and walked over to door way and flipped the switch throwing the entire attic in a warm glow from the incandescent bulbs.

There were boxes, crates, furniture, all the requisites of an attic used for storage. There was also the space where we were sitting, which felt warm and comforting.  Next to the couch and chair, well, kind of between the two of them but back a little bit, was a chest that looked like someone had been in it recently. It had no dust on it, unlike any of the other boxes and creates.

There was nothing that would suggest anything had been put up here recently either. I wondered again about the Bannisters, the family who let them use the place. Was all the stuff theirs? Was some of it the remnants of previous owners.

I was wondering around looking at things, not daring to open boxes, when I tripped. My arms were flailing, reaching out to grab at the air.  Moments before I face planted, I felt strong arms grab me and steady me.  I could feel my face redden.

"Well that was embarrassing," I said.
"Are you okay? That could have been a nasty fall," Mark said.

"I'm fine. The only thing hurt is my pride. It isn't everyday that a floorboard jumps out to bite me, at least I am assuming it was a loose floor board. I don’t want to think I am that clumsy." I said.

"I am glad you are okay," he said with a laugh.

I grinned. My embarrassment easing away.

"So, what is in the boxes? Do you know?" I asked.

"No, we have never really gone that far into our investigations," he said.

"Oh. So, while we have a few minutes, tell me how you got involved with this house?" I said.

"A few years ago, back when we were first getting started as a paranormal group, the Bannister's called us in to investigate. They said they thought something was haunting the house. We came in, swept the house for EMF and temperature changes. We sat in each room doing an EVP session, we went home and reviewed our material, and we had voices and footsteps on our recordings. Mind you, we never heard anything while we were here. There had been no footsteps, no whispers, nothing. It intrigued us. We call them up, told them what happened, and then asked them to tell us about their experiences," Mark said.

"You didn't know what their experiences were before you investigated?" I said.

"Nope. Just like we didn't tell you about what we have experienced. We firmly believe that it is something that should be experienced without any preconceived notions of what happened or might happen."

"Interesting. You came back," I prompted.

"We came back. We heard their experiences, and before you ask, no, I am not going to tell you about them yet. It is still early enough in the evening that you are going to have to experience things for yourself first." Mark said with a laugh.

I chuckled. I wasn't sure I like just how fast he was able to read me. "Tell me how you came to be interested in being in the paranormal." I said.

"As a child, I used to have a lot of imaginary friends. Some were young and some were old. I played with some, shared stories with some, and freaked my mom out with some of the things I would tell her," he said.  He took a pause from talking, and pressed his fingers to his lips.

A moment later, he resumed his story.

"I remember telling my mom about this friend, his name was Johnny, and we liked to play tag together.  One day, I asked my mom why he always wore the same outfit. She told me that since he was just an imaginary friend, I should be able to imagine him in a different shirt and that when he came to play again, he would be wearing a different shirt. It didn't happen, he still wore the same blue plaid shirt.  This was the first time that I remember her being a bit wary of my imaginary friends.” Mark said.

“Just how many imaginary friends did you have?” I asked.

“A lot. But, after the incident with Johnny, and his shirt never changing, I started to realize that none of my imaginary friends would do what I wanted them to. They just were there.  I was ten years old when my grandmother passed away. I didn’t know she had yet, but I was sitting in the living room, listening to her tell me a story about her childhood, when my mom walked in with tears in her eyes. She was there to tell me that I my grandmother, her mother, had passed away.  I remember feeling so confused since she had been sitting right there just moments before, telling me a story.  That was the last day I told my mom about my imaginary friends.  I was in my late teens before I told my mom what happened that day, and that I realized all my imaginary friends weren’t imaginary. They were all ghosts.”

I sat in silence, pondering what Mark just told me. I wasn't sure how it made me feel. It was a combination of things falling into place, why he was so into it, why he was so quiet during the sessions. On the other hand, I was also feeling like it was complete bunk. It wasn't that I felt like he was lying, but perhaps that he wasn't all the way there.  That perhaps everything that was happening tonight was somehow being put on for my benefit.

"So that is what drove you to join VRPS? Being able to communicate with ghost?" I asked.

"It wasn't just being able to communicate with ghosts, it was being able to see them even when they weren't speaking. It was why was I able to see them, and talk to them, but no one else could do the same thing. As I got older, it was about why they were still here, what was holding them here. How could I help them." he said.

"So it isn't just that you can, but why you can." I asked.

"Yes. I have never met anyone else who could contact with them either." he said.

"Ok. Why did you trust me with this knowledge?" I asked.

"Well, you are one of the few people I have told. I am not exactly sure why, but I have learned to follow my instincts. They haven't led me astray yet, so I went with it." he said, "Brian knows, my parents know, my siblings know."

"I'm honored," I said, overwhelmed. I must have looked it because he just smiled and told me we had about five more minutes before we had to meet up with the group for another break.

"Shall we see if she has come back," I started, "or, can you tell that without waiting for a knocking sound?"

"I can only see them if they let me, and I can only hear them if they let me. However, they generally don't know how to hide themselves, which means that most of the time I can," he said.

"Ok. So is the woman we have been speaking too back? Have you been able to see her?" I asked.

"Well, she is able to hide herself from my visually, but she isn't able to hide her voice from me. That is why I went to look when she was knocking. I was able to hear her telling you her story after you asked about what happened to her," he said.

"So does everything you hear get picked up by the recorders?"

"No, not everything gets picked up. It is actually pretty interesting. I haven't found a spirit who is willing to work with me to see why that is. I am hoping that the longer we are here, the more comfortable she will get, and that she will eventually work with me to come up with a reason or a a trick to help more be picked up," he said.

He let me ponder that. I knew that we only had another minute, so I just stayed quiet. Then it was time to go downstairs.
“End of EVP session in the attic of Martin Manor on October 23, 2011,” Mark said, then he stood up, waited for me to stand, and then we headed downstairs.

As everyone filtered into the entryway, Paul made a beeline for me. He and Dakota said that they were asking questions and getting a knocking sound for yes or no. There was a spirit that was in the basement that had died in the house, she was female, and that her death was accidental.  He went on to excitedly tell me that she was a brunette with green eyes; she had never married, and had worn glasses.  I forced myself to pay attention. These were the details that Mark was telling me most people asked about.

"So is it everything you hoped it would be?" I asked Paul.

"Oh my god! It is the best, I can't believe it. We are learning so much about her. Dakota even thought he saw a shadow," Paul said excitedly.

"It was unreal. It was in front of one of the beams, but behind the rest of the group. There was no flashlight; the only light was coming in through the tiny casement windows. It was so creepy!" Dakota said. If it was possible, he was even more excited than Paul.  They were still holding hands.

"And it looks like you two are hitting it off," I said.

“Are you mad?” Dakota asked. He had a sheepish look on his face, but a twinkle in his eye. He wanted me to not be mad, but I could tell he would be ok if I wasn’t.

“Not at all, I am having a great time believe it or not,” I said.

“Really? You mean it? You aren’t just saying that?” Paul asked. He sounded like a little kid. It was quite cute, surprisingly.  There was something about seeing Paul genuinely happy that made it infectious.

“Brian, we know that we are supposed to investigate different rooms, but we had so much action in the basement, can we go back down after the break?” Michelle asked.

“It’s your night. You can investigate wherever you want. I do suggest trying some different locations before the night is over though,” Brian said.

“Do we have to stay in groups with either your or Mark?” Crystal asked Brian.

“No. As long as people stay in groups of at least two, you are more than welcome to break up into small groups,” Brian said.

“Does anyone else want to go back into the basement?” Michelle asked.

“We want to go to another room this time, but we definitely want to go back to the basement before the night is over,” Dakota said.

“We were thinking we wanted to go into the attic,” Paul said, “does anyone want to go with us?”

“Sure. I like getting to experience as many rooms as possible, and since we were in the basement two times in a row, we are game for the attic,” Alexia said.

“Then I will join the girls in the basement. Where do you want to go Jessica?” Brian asked.  He handed a radio to Paul and Dakota, so that they would be in contact while in the attic.

I looked at Mark. I didn’t think it would really matter where we went. I shrugged my shoulders, unsure where I wanted to go. Then it came to me, the library. Mark smiled. I smiled back, but it was a bit uneasy, how did he know where I wanted to go?

“Break’s over kids, let’s get back to hunting ghosts, shall we?” Brian asked.

Everyone scattered, clamoring up and down the stairs. The quicker they got to their location, the more questions they could ask.  It only took a moment for Mark and me to get settled into the library.

"This is Mark, we are settled into the library and ready to get this next round started."
We started our recorders, placing them on the table that was between our two chairs. “EVP session, library, Martin Manor, October 23, 2011, 7:30pm. I’m Mark, and this is Jessica with me,” Mark introduced us.
It didn't take more than a few minutes before a solid single knock was heard on the table. I instinctively reached out to touch Mark, as if he couldn’t hear it.
"Hello again," I said.
"Hello," came a soft voice.
It caused me to pause. Mark had never opened with a greeting before, and certainly not after me. I guess there is a first time for everything though.  I shrugged it off and moved forward.
"Has any of the other spirits decided to come out to talk with us tonight?" I asked.
"Not yet," came the soft voice again.
It caused me to pause again, but perhaps Mark was actually able to hear the ghost and he was interpreting. I wasn't exactly looking at him, but focused on how the air felt.
"Do you think they will?"
"Perhaps, if they feel comfortable."  This time the voice was just as soft and there was not the same pause as had been there before.  I felt Mark stiffen, I turned towards him.
"Why are you answering my questions?" I asked him, a bit perplexed.
"I'm not," he started. "Wait, what do you mean answering your questions?"
"The hello, not yet, perhaps if they feel comfortable?" I said.
There was a large pause, I dared to take a peak at Mark's face.  It was pure shock. I didn't think it was possible for him to look quite so startled.
"That wasn't me. That was the spirit that you have been talking to all night," he said. He paused, registering what I had been saying. "You mean you heard that?"
I was no longer feeling perplexed. I was downright spooked out.
"I think I need to get out of here," I said, standing up and heading for the door, a bit light headed.
"Brian, we are moving around, going outside for a minute. I will radio when we are coming back inside," Mark said, as he followed me to the door.
There was no waiting, there was no quiet. I strode as quickly as possible to the front door, pulled it open and walked out onto the porch.  My hands were shaking, I couldn't focus.  After stepping out onto the porch, I stopped in my tracks. Taking my arm, Mark led me down the stairs and away from the house.
He led me probably a half a block away before releasing my arm. He didn't stop walking. He turned off of Brier Lane, onto Central Street and down to the playground. Mark stopped when he reached the swings. I sat down, absently pushing myself back and forth.

While swinging, everything started to come back into focus, the haze of panic was clearing out. I recognized the playground we were in, it was just down the street from my home.

"What happened back there?" I asked.
Mark was quiet. He appeared to be processing.
I sat quietly, pushing myself back and forth. I wasn't ready for the answer, whatever it is. The air was still, the sky was clear.  There was a light from the street lamp, a bit from the moon. The night was a normal, harmless night. I realized I was shaking.  I didn't know if it was from cold, since I had left my jacket inside, or if it was from what had just happened.
"I don't know what happened," Mark said. His voice was soft.
When I glanced over at him, he was sitting there in shock himself.
"Has that ever happened before? I mean, not just in a ghost hunting setting, but ever?" I asked.
"Do you know anyone else who can hear them like you can?"
A gentle breeze picked up, filling the silence with the rustling of leaves.

Thoughts were flooding my brain. Why had that happened that time. Why hadn't it happened earlier in the night? Would it happen again? How did I feel about it?  Was I okay with it? Does this mean I believe in ghosts?

"Um, Mark?" I asked.
"Yeah?" he replied, looking up.
"I don't know if I can go back in that house."
"If it makes you feel any better, Liz apologized for scaring you. She didn't know you could hear her either."
"How come I didn't hear that?"
"You were already out the front door. There is a range, just like with walkie-talkies or the like. If you aren't within that range, you can't hear or see them."
Interesting, I thought.
"Is there any chance that was a pure fluke? Could it have been because we were touching?"
"It's possible, but the only way to be sure, is to go back into the house and to ask Liz to talk to us."
"Do you think you can do that?"
The very idea of walking back into the house set my stomach in knots, yet, I was intrigued. Would the need to know what is going on win out? I wasn't exactly afraid, but I wasn't comfortable with the idea either.
"I don't know," I said.  I wasn’t known for running away, my history has proven that I face my problems head on.

Stealing a couple of deep breaths, I made a decision.
"Let's go back. My need to know is beating my desire to stay far away," I said.
Mark smiled, jumping off the swing.
"No time like the present then," he said.
My swing slowed down, dragging my feet to bring it to a stop. I managed to put one foot in front of the other. Just because I was putting on a brave face doesn't mean that I am anxious to walk back into the house.
"Everyone is going to know why we left in the middle of a session, aren't they," I asked.
"Probably," he said.
It wasn't that late, but I realized I hadn't seen anyone out walking their dog, driving a car, or anything else. It stuck me as odd.  I repeated my thoughts to Mark. He suggested it was probably due to the fact that it was a Saturday night in towards the end of October. It was getting darker earlier, cooler too. That and there was a play off game on TV that had people glued to their lazy-boys and couch cushions.  I laughed.
We had just turned back onto Brier Lane and Mark asked me what I wanted to tell people.
"Not the truth. Perhaps a partial truth? Something scared me and I had to get out of the house," I said.
"What scared you? They are going to ask."
"How about something touched my arm, and I was already out the door before you had a chance to tell me it was you?" I said, that seemed plausible, even to me.
"Works for me. And we took a brief walk so you could calm down," he said.
We were standing just in front of the house now, Mark radioed in that we were going to enter the house and would settle back into the library.

"Ready?" he asked.
I nodded, leading the way back into the house. No point pussyfooting around now. After sitting down, I noticed that our recorders had been left on while we were gone.
"We are back from a break," Mark said for the recorders benefit.
"Liz, if you are here, I need you to come back," he said.
I felt my body freeze.
"When you come back, find a way to let me, and me alone know you are here," he said.
A moment later, he nodded at me that Liz had joined us. My heart was racing.  Mark reach over and placed my hand on his arm, much like it had been earlier.
“Hello Liz, it’s nice to meet you,” I said.
“Hello Jessica.”
I could feel my fingers dig into Marks arm. He winced.
“I take it you heard that,” he said, gently prying my fingers up.
“Oh, sorry,” I said.
This time, Mark placed his hand on my arm and nodded at me to ask another question.
“I’m sorry I ran away. I wasn’t expecting to hear a response,” I said
“It’s ok, I would have been startled too,” she said softly.
I dug my fingers into my own hand.
“Heard that too,” I said.
“Next, we are going to see what happens when we aren’t touching,” Mark said.
“I am not ready just yet. Can we wait a few more minutes?”
“We only have about five more minutes until this session ends and we join the rest of the group. Why don’t we try this now, depending on how it goes, there is one more thing I want to try. Then you can have a few minutes to compose yourself.”
I sighed. That made sense.  I looked down to make sure there was no contact. Mark had his hands folded in his lap, mine were now gripping the arms of the chair.
“Do you like knowing that Mark can hear you?” I asked.
“Yes, it is much easier than yes or no questions, or hoping my voice will get picked up by the recorder,” she said.
I popped up out of my chair quickly. Mark reached out to touch my arm and I sat back down.
“In the other locations, we weren’t sitting this close. I am going to stand over by the door. This is the last question before the session ends.”
“Ok. I don’t know what to ask. Liz, can you just say something, anything?” I asked, bracing myself.
“I know you don’t like hearing me, but I am glad you can,” she said.
“Thanks, but now I need a few minutes, I’m sorry,” I said.
Mark walked back over to join me.  He didn’t say anything, just sat down in the chair.
I didn't understand what was going on. I went from not believing in ghosts at all, to having them talk to me? I wonder if Paul decided to spike my coffee earlier in the evening. Probably not, even he isn't that wicked.
Unless Mark and Brian actually are fakes and have hidden recorders, this is real. No matter how much I wanted to think and believe otherwise, this was real.
"I am not one to live in a state of denial," I said.
"No? Where does that leave you," Mark asked.
"Somewhere between a rock and a hard place. Do I leave tonight and hope it doesn't follow me? That could be considered the cowards way out, and we know I am not a coward. Do I stay and see what happens? Knowing that it scares me a little bit, not knowing what has happened to me. Does it do any good to leave, does it do any good to stay."
"Well, for what its worth, I hope you stay."
"Thanks. It's overwhelming. We still have a minute or so right?" I asked.
Mark nodded.
“End of EVP session in the library of Martin Manor on October 23, 2011,” Mark said a moment later.

My eyes closed and I laid my head back on the wing of the chair. I couldn't even begin to process what had happened and was going on. There were so many questions, so many variables. Would it be easier knowing or does not knowing allow me to remain somewhat aloof. Ultimately, knowing will help me from being in denial about what is happening.
I was pulled from my reverie by footsteps on the stairs, and voices filling the entryway. Was it time for our thirty minute break? Had we been here for three hours already? I just needed another minute to clear my head and resign myself to the lie I was about to tell. I had never lied to Paul before, about anything.
Even with my eyes closed, I could tell someone else had entered the room. There was a new charge in the air. Interesting. Counting backwards from ten, I finally opened my eyes to see Paul standing over me.
"What happened? Are you ok?" Paul was stumbling over his words in his worry for me.
"I'm fine," I said, interupting him and standing up.
"Well, what happened," Paul asked. Dakota was standing over by the door, hovering.
"I thought something touched me," I started.
"That's so cool," Paul said.
"Not so much, it really scared me and I booked it for the door.  I was out on the front porch shaking by the time Mark caught up to me. It turns it had been him, not a ghost or a spook," I said.
"He touched you? What a jerk," Paul said.
"Not like that, he didn't mean to make me jump. He had been trying to get my attention without saying anything or making noise. It didn't work apparently."
"Oh. Well. Why didn't you just come back inside then?"
"I needed a few minutes to calm down. I didn't want to sit in the room and have the recorder pick up my heavy breathing," I said with a laugh.
"Dakota, you can come into the room, its okay," I said.
With a smile, he walked in and gave me a hug, telling me he was glad I was okay.
I felt a bit awkward.  Paul grinned from ear to ear.  Whatever.
"Tell me, how was your experience in the attic?" I asked.
Paul started to babble about being in the attic. They had asked some questions, waited for some knocking or changes in temperatures, or something, but nothing happened the entire time they were up there. That after spending over half an hour with nothing happening, they started poking around to see what was up there. Apparently Alexa and Dana had not approved, but since nothing was happening and they were tagging the sounds that they made and were being quiet enough for Alexa and Dana to continue an EVP session, there wasn't much they could say to dissuade them from poking around.
"Did you find anything interesting?" I asked.
"We did. It was the coolest ever! There was a bookshelf tucked back into the corner with a whole bunch of old books on it.  Dana tried to tell us not to touch anything, but since it was an open bookshelf, we did anyway," Dakota said, a bit sheepishly.  I got the impression that this had all been Paul's idea, that normally Dakota wouldn't have dared poke around.
"What kind of books?" I asked. I hadn’t noticed a bookcase when we were up there, I wondered how far into the attic they had gone.
"All kinds," Paul said.
"There were some newer books, well, 40's and 50's newer. There were also some really old books. Leather bound, gold embossed, with super thin pages. There were even some diaries. They were all written by an Elizabeth Bannister. I think she used to live here," Dakota said.
"Yeah, and, there was this book on holding seances too. It was like we were meant to find it since that is kind of like what we are doing," Paul said. Not to be outdone.
"Neat. So what are we going to do for our break besides sit in here?" I asked.  I could use a coffee and something to eat. It wouldn't do any good to have my stomach growling later on. I also wanted to talk hear about everyone else's experiences. Also to see if it was the library, I wanted to encourage another group to sit there and do a session later on.
"Dakota and I were talking about walking down to the pizza shop to grab a sub. Do you want to come with us?" Paul said.
"I would love a sub. I could also go for a large coffee. Are you sure you want me to come too? Isn’t three a crowd?” I was giving them an out and they knew it.
“Of course we want you to come, this is to celebrate your birthday. If you would rather, it can just be you and,”
“No, we are not leaving Dakota here. That wouldn’t be nice!” I interupted Paul.
“It would be okay, I wouldn’t mind,” Dakota told me.
“I would. Let’s get our jackets and get going, we must only have another 20 minutes or so,” I said.
Dakota checked his watch, smiled, “We have 26 minutes actually.”
I walked out of the library into the entry way and found my coat. Mark and Brian were talking quietly with each other. Just as I turned to hand Paul his jacket, Mark walked over to check on me.
“I’m fine. Really. We are walking down to the pizza shop to grab some subs. Want to join us?” I asked. Paul raised an eyebrow at me. Dakota winked. I gave them both a look.
We had all placed our order and Paul had picked up the tab, including Marks order, much to his chagrin. Paul told us it was his perogative especially since it was my birthday. After grabbing us a booth in the nondescript pizza shop, we dug in. There was silence coming from our table as we all inhaled our food. If someone looked at us, they would think we hadn’t eaten in days. Five minutes after sitting down, there wasn’t a crumb left on the table.  We all looked at each other and burst out laughing.
“You would think we just ran a marathon or something,” I joked. I excused myself to use the bathroom.  I could hear Paul and Dakota regaling Mark with all of their experiences.
In the bathroom, I took a moment to relax and breathe deeply. Something I hadn’t done all night. Good thing it was a single seater.
As I pondered all that had happened, I took a moment to primp in the mirror. Then I realized what I was doing. I liked Mark. I moved hastily away from the mirror and out the door. I took my time walking back to the table.
“Who’s ready to go get some coffee?” I asked. I hope no one else noticed the slight waver in my voice.
“I think we all are,” Paul said, standing up. Dakota and Mark both slid out of the booth, and we moved towards the door as a group.
We chatted like old friends as we made our way across the street to Dunkin Donuts. I could already taste the delicious large Dunkin Dark iced coffee with cream and one pump of pumpkin, it was my favorite fall drink. As I was ordering, I added a double shot of espresso at the last moment, nothing like an added kick of caffeine.
Once everyone had their beverage of choice, we wandered back to Brier Lane and Martin Manor.
“Mark, how did you get into ghost hunting? Brian said you had an experience,” Paul said.
I found myself holding my breath, waiting to see what Mark would say.
“As a child, I used to have imaginary friends that turned out to not be so imaginary. There isn’t any one specific experience.” Mark made it sound like he might have grown out of it, but didn’t actually say that. There was also finality in his voice that he wasn’t going to say more right now.
I let my breath go.  I wasn’t ready to share the knowledge of Mark’s abilities with the rest of the group. I wasn’t ready to acknowledge my own abilities, let alone share them with the others.
We continued to chatter about life, turns out we were all scary movie/horror buffs. Of course, I had known Paul was, his favorite is Paranormal Activity.  Sometimes I think if he could have lived that movie, he would have.  Dakota's favorite horror movie was Night of the Living Dead. The original, not the remake, he made sure to point out.  His preference was for the old school, original horror movies.  Mark was more of a thriller fan, where the suspense and scare came from the music and timing than blood and gore.  His favorite was Silence of the Lambs.
"My favorite is The Others," I said last. Everyone looked at me. It was a ghost story, and they were perplexed because I had told everyone already that I didn't believe. "What! I like ghost stories; they have a certain mystery to them. There is an eeriness that just can't be created any other way."
All of a sudden, we were in front of the house, walking up the walkway. There was a falter in my step, I wasn’t sure I was ready. This was feeling harder to go back in now than it did before. Perhaps because I knew that I was going to hear what the ghost had to say. That made it so real.
I stepped back away from the group, making them all turn to look at me. I didn’t know what to tell them. As I was looking at the house, trying to find the words to tell them I was spooked, I saw something in one of the attic windows. Now I didn’t have to come up with something halfway believable. At least it would me some time.
“I just saw someone in the attic window,” I said.
“Could be someone in our group,” Mark suggested.
“Your right, I’m sure that’s all it is,” I said.
Turns out it didn’t buy me very much time at all, as voices down the street had us all turning our heads.  The rest of the group, including our guide Brian, were all walking back towards the house.  It obviously wasn’t one of them unless they could teleport, which I didn’t think was a viable option.
“Uh, any other theories Mark?” I asked.
“We are at a house that is haunted. Could have been a ghost,” he said.
No one else saw anything and it made me slightly paranoid that they were going to suspect something wasn’t adding up and call me on it. Instead, everyone was super jealous that I got to see something and they didn’t. Yippee skippy I thought to myself.
Once the others joined us on the front walk, we all made our way back into the house. Even I managed to walk evenly back inside. My curiosity won out over my fear.
Brian was letting us know that he wanted to get right back to doing the investigations because Michelle and Crystal were only able to stay until 11pm, which gave them room for another two sessions. Since they had to leave early, Brian gave them the option of which rooms they wanted to investigate.  He also told them they could pick which group they went with.
Nobody was shocked when they opted to work with Brian again and that they were happy to have either pair working with them. When they said they wanted to check out the library, I felt a sigh of relief. I wasn't quite ready to venture back in there just yet. They had heard from Paul that I had said I had been touched and they were hoping to have a similar experience. I felt a little sorry that they probably wouldn't get touched.
Paul and Dakota wanted to go back to the attic. While they told the group it was because they had good vibes up there, I was pretty sure they wanted to do more snooping in the attic.
Dana and Alex were ready to try another room. They decided they would go into the master bedroom. They said it seemed like a ghost place to pick up on a residual ghost. Those are not always exciting, but sometimes the proof was better because if it was like a recording, it could happen more than once. At least, that was their stance.  I was thinking that their reasons might not be so pure. They seemed to get a bit anxious when people didn't want to investigate their way, and so perhaps this was a chance for them to have more control.  Who knows? It did feel like it left us in the basement for an investigation.
Since I knew that the ghost we had all been communicating with could go wherever she wanted, it didn't matter to me where we went. I was going to ask her to visit the other groups and I was going to ask Mark to tell me some of the history of the house and the resident ghost.
Mark and I settled into the basement and waited for everyone else to radio that they were set. Our recorders were set on the floor; the EMF detector, K2, and thermometer were next to them.
“EVP session, basement, Martin Manor, October 23, 2011, 9pm. I’m Mark, and with me is Jessica.”
The door that led to the stairs was closed.  I was sitting where I could see the pipes that were being knocked on before, they came down from the ceiling in several spots, joining together in different locations, before dropping down the wall to join another pipe and lead into the boiler. I wasn’t savvy enough to know what directions the flow went, or exactly what did what.  There were some crates stacked up in the corner.  Those were the crates I saw the shadow peeking around earlier in the night.  It was really spartan in the basement. There was nothing other than support posts staggered evenly throughout the basement, about eight of them or so.  My eyes had been scanning the rest of the room when I realized that the space wasn’t adding up to the foot print of the first floor.
“Hey Mark,” I said. I waited until he was paying attention
“Do you know if there is a partition wall down here?” I asked.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Well, it’s smaller down here than the first floor is. Typically the basements in these type of houses are the same size as the first floor.” I said. 
“I don’t know, it’s not something either Brian or I had ever noticed.”
How had they not noticed?
“Do you not spend that much time down here?” I asked.
“No, not really. We have spent more time down here with your group than we have in all other groups combined. There have been a few times that VRPS has investigated the basement, but since we never turn the lights on and only have our little flashlights, we never paid a whole lot of attention to those details.”
Every detail mattered. I stood up, telling Mark that I was going to walk around the room.  I started walking around the room, knocking every few inches. Everything sounded solid

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

NaNoWriMo - The Pearl Necklace - Part 1

Some of the stories are based on my own personal experiences.

Have you ever wondered how you would react if you came face to face with a ghost? No? Jessica didn't either. Truth be told, she wasn't really sure she believed in them at all.
That all changed the night she met Mark. Tall, dark, broody, Mark. Mark wasn't a ghost, but Mark knew ghosts. He could see the ghosts, communicate with them. He could also unknowingly grant the same abilities to one other person. That person was Jessica.

I heard more than just the whisper of the wind in the trees. I heard my name. But it had to be my imagination.  Trees don’t talk.
“Did you hear that?” I asked my friend Paul. Sure he would buy into it and convince me he heard something as well.
“No, what was it?” Paul said.
“Shhh. Listen,” I said.
“I really don’t hear anything, what exactly am I supposed to hear?”
“You don’t hear that?”
“Jessica, I don’t hear anything but the wind in the trees.”
“Oh. Weird. I could have sworn I heard someone call my name.”
“Definitley not. I heard nothing. Its windy.”
“I guess that must be it. But I swear it sounded just like my name,” I said. “How much farther until we reach our destination?”  
I think that Paul was really enjoying this secret. He knew how much I like to know the details and that it would drive me crazy not knowing.  

“We are getting close, another five minutes perhaps.”
As we continued walking down the street, the dark finished setting in and the wind settled down. It wasn’t long before Paul took a turn down a side street, Brier Lane, I had never been down before. The houses were older, more run down, they reminded me of a movie set.  We were maybe halfway down the street when he stopped and turned to face a house. It was a large Cape with gray shingles and crooked shutters. It looked like it belonged on the set of a haunted house movie.  
“We are a few minutes early,” Paul informs me.
“Early? For what?” I ask.
“For your birthday present.  We are going to be a part of a ghost hunt in that house!”
“A ghost hunt? Really? You know I don’t believe in ghosts.”
“Thats the point. They say this is legitimate. That they don’t try to scare you, that they don’t produce anything. That sometimes they can have groups come in and nothing happens, no personal experiences, no sounds, nothing. But, sometimes there is lots of activity. You are such a skeptic that I bet the ghosts will be jumping out of their skin, no pun intended, to get you to believe!”
“Or, I just might be able to say once and for all, there is no such thing as ghosts,” I replied smuggly.

“We shall see,” Paul replied.
He wandered over to the front steps and took a seat. He motioned for me to join him.
While sitting there waiting, Paul had estimated that it would be approximately another 15 minutes before everyone arrived, I was trying to decide just how I felt about this gift.  Paul could find a way to give a gift that was more for him than the recipient, but I couldn’t help but love him. We grew up together. He was my best friend.  I decided in that moment that I was going to enjoy my birthday gift. After all, it wouldn’t do any good to ruin it by being a sourpuss.
While Paul was busy getting his final fix with his phone, he warned me that we would have to power down our cell phones and that we couldn’t use them all night, I took the opportunity to check out the outside of the building we would be staying in that night.
As I rounded the corner, a shadow seemed to lean out and away from the side of the house. It made me start.
“Watch yourself Jess, its just a shadow,” I said to myself. I turned back around to walk back to Paul to await out guide and the rest of the group.
“Hey Jess! Come meet out guide,” Paul called to me. He was standing with several other people.
It wasn’t until I joined the group that I realized it felt like someone was walking behind me. By the time I turned around to see, they were gone, and there were too many new people for me to know if I was right.
I sidled around to stand next to Paul and focused my attention on our guide.
“Good evening everyone. My name is Brian, I am the founder of Vermont Paranormal Research Society, also known as VPRS. This group was created out of my need to know and understand the paranormal. I have had many personal experiences that led me to this point. I will get to those in a little bit. Tonight we will be entering Martin Manor. We will go on a quick tour, then down to business. If you have any questions or concerns now or throughout the night, please come to me or to Mark. Mark, why don’t you join me up here.”
There was movement behind me and a man emerges from the shadows and joins Brian. This caused me to start, again. Something about him was familiar, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
“Mark has been with VPRS since the beginning. Mark and I attended college together, and when I expressed interest in forming a group, he was right there with me. He also has his own personal experiences that he will be sharing with you, some of which take place in this very house.”
“Hello everyone,” Mark said, “shall we get inside?”
Beside me, Paul was jumping up and down. He was anxious to get inside and raced to be the first through the doors. I followed a few steps behind, knowing he would shout for me to keep up otherwise.
Once everyone filed into the house, we gathered around a table in the entryway. There was a book open on the table with a pen. It was a guest book and we all signed in.  The book was something that was kept by the owners of the house, not by the VPRS team.  As I looked around, I tuned in to the fact that Brian was giving us a rundown of the basic rules.
“You must be with a partner at all times throughout the night, unless we are on a break and you are using the bathroom.  Partners can change, they don’t have to stay the same.  This is for your own safety, as well as corroboration of experiences.  We will take a five minute break every hour, we will take a 30 minute break every three, once we have reached the six hour mark, we will devise a schedule based on whomever is left.  Everyone must turn their cell phone off and place it in this box.” At that, Brian pulled out a box and passes it around.
“Phones can come out for the 30 minute breaks.  I will pull out our equipment and go over how to do EVP’s, and what they are, and everything else in 15 minutes. I am letting you loose in the house to explore. Stay with your partner.”
I turned to ask Paul where he wanted to check out first, and found him enamored of a cute brunette on the other side of him.  Reaching out, I touched his arm, asking if he was ready.
“Jess, I know I signed us up for this, but do you think Dakota can go with us? He is here by himself,” Paul asked.
“Sure, why not. I don’t think that we have to be in pairs, as long as we aren’t alone.”
“Your the best. Thanks,” Paul said. Then as an after-though, “Oh, Dakota, this is my friend Jessica. Jess, this is Dakota.”
“Nice to meet you,” I said.
“Likewise,” Dakota said.
“Shall we get started? We are losing time,” I said, moving towards the stairs. I was halfway up the stairs before I realized that they weren’t following me. “Come on guys. I really want to check out the house.”
“I’ll go with you,” Mark said stepping out of the shadows, again.
“Thanks, but its ok,” I said.
“I don’t mind. You aren’t supposed to be walking around by yourself, and I don’t see those two as being especially cooperative at the moment.”
Mark was right. Paul and Dakota were totally absorbed in conversation. It was like, as soon as I gave the ok to let Dakota go with us, Paul totally forgot I was here.  With a sigh, and a shrug of my shoulders, I resigned myself to partnering with Mark. At least he is a guide, I can keep my eye on him and will know if he is trying to pull anything over on us. He will also not be jumping at every little sound. What started out as a resignation of spending my night with Mark was looking more and more appealing.
“Why don’t I let you lead the way then. You know the house, you know the stories, and you can probably give me a full tour in the 13 minutes we have left.”
With that, Mark started down the hallway to the left, not up the stairs.  He was giving me a running commentary of the house as we went.  There was a half bath in the front corner of the house, and what I mistook for a hallway was actually furnished as a library. There were floor to ceiling shelves, all filled with books and artifacts. This was a room I wanted to spend time in. The wingback chairs placed in front of the fireplace were deep and inviting, the table with the desk tucked into the corner begged to have someone writing at it.  I was so enamored of the room that it took me a moment to notice that Mark was standing at a doorway waiting for me.
“We have to keep moving if you want to see everything before the hunt begins,” Mark tells me.
“Oops. Sorry,” I said.
We entered into the living room, it too was inviting.  I didn’t allow my eyes to linger, I just continued in Mark’s wake. We then stepped into the kitchen.
“Other than the bathrooms and kitchen, which have been updated to modern conveniences, the house is much as it was when it was built. The furnishings have been updated over the years, but nothing has changed since the mid 1950’s when the Bannister’s were living here full time,” Mark said.
This caught my attention.
“Are people living here part time?” I asked.
“The Bannisters spend some weekends here now and again, the occasional week, but they mainly use it as a vacation house. Sometimes there family will use it.”
“So how is it that you are able to give tours here?”
“We pay for the privelage,” Mark said, leading me into the dining room.
“Interesting. I can’t wait to hear the history then, since its worth paying for.”

“Well, lets check out the second floor, and then we will join back with the group and everyone will hear a bit of the history.”
We were halfway up the stairs when Mark pointed down and said directly under us was the stairs to the basement. He would show me the door when we got back downstairs.
At the top of the stairs, it looked pretty self explanatory. There were four bedrooms, one bathroom, and a door with a set of stairs to the attic. All the doors were open, so we walked over to each one.  The first room, which was above the library area, was a feminine pink room. The room next to it, over the dining room was a masculine blue. I was guessing these were girls and boys rooms respectively. Next was the door to the attic, we didn’t go up. Approximately over the kitchen was what appeared to be the master-bedroom. There was a large canopy bed, elegant dressing table and a large wardrobe. Between the master-bedroom, and the last room was the bathroom. The final room appeared to be a guest room as it was spartenly filled.
With a quick glance at the clock on the wall, Mark led me back downstairs. He pointed out the door that appeard to be under the stairs, telling me that was the door to the basement. I had assumed it was a closet.

“Gather around everyone,” Brian said, “since not everyone knows each other, lets all give a quick introduction.”
Since I was standing next to Mark, I introduced myself first, “My name is Jessica, Jess, and I this was a birthday present from my friend Paul. I am a complete skeptic and he is hoping this will open my eyes.”
This caused Mark to look at me strangley.
“I am Crystal,” said a dirty blonde girl in her late teens.
“I’m her sister Michelle,” the brunette standing next to her said.

“We are,” they both started at once.
“We are staying in town visiting our grandparents. It was getting a bit boring, and since they are in bed early, we thought this would be the perfect entertainment for the night,” Crystal said.
“Yeah, we have no expectations, and no idea exactly what we have gotten ourselves into, we are a bit nerdy so it seemed perfect for us,” Michelle said with a laugh.
Next to them was Paul and Dakota.
“Well, I’m Paul,” Paul said, smiling at me, “I fully believe in ghosts and I hope I get to see something tonight. I watch all of the ghost hunting TV shows.”
Dakota introduced himself. Simply stating his name, and he was here for a blind date. I couldn’t help but smile since it turned out his blind date hadn’t shown, but he was finding himself on one anyway. Good for Paul. I know this was my birthday gift from Paul, but I knew that we would both enjoy the night a whole lot more apart from each other.
The other two, Alexa and Dana, were a couple from out of state who were here just for the ghost hunt in the Martin Manor.  They said that they were traveling all over doing these ghost hunts. It was something they got hooked on when they decided to go on a ghost hunting walk near there hometown on Halloween two years ago.
“We were skeptics ourselves,” Dana said, “until we had our own experience at that first hunt.”
“Not that we are full believers yet,” Alexa interjected, “but there is definitely something out there.”
While we had been giving our introductions, Brian and Mark had been pulling things out of their bags and laying them on the table. There were a few items that seemed pretty normal, there were also items that I wasn’t expecting to see.

“Well Paul, I am going burst your bubble.  While a few of the things we do are like the TV show, you have to keep in mind that you are watching an all night, sometimes a multiple night, investigation that includes the hours of the house, interviews, reviewing, and reveal, all in an hour. Whatever equipment we use tonight has to be reviewed at a later date so the time involved is easily double what we do tonight,” Brian said.
Paul’s face fell, but it was soon brightened at the mention that as part of the package of the ghost hunt, everyone would be getting their own digital voice recorder to use and bring home after the fact.

"The digital voice recorder is perhaps the most used and second best tool for ghost hunting. Who knows the first?” Brian asked the group.
“A night vision camera.” Paul said.
“No, actually, we don’t use a night vision camera.” Brian said, “the best tool for ghost hunting is your own body. Your senses, your perceptions.  Pay attention to things that make it hum, something that makes the hairs on your arm stand up. Often times there are reasons for these reactions in your body, but not always. If you have a tool, like a K2 or something similar...”
“What is a K2?” Crystal asked.

“It is a type of EMF meter. I will get to it in a minute.” Brian said.  “If you are using a tool like a K2 meter, and all you are doing is paying attention to what the meter is doing, you can miss out on a lot of details that are happening around you. If something doesn't feel right to you, or something seems to be important, it needs to be checked out. It could be that the TV is turned on with no channel selected so it is emitting a higher amount of electromagnetic energy than if it is was off.  There could be a window that is cracked open, it could also be the presense of something paranormal.”
“When you are actually holding an EVP session, a form of ghost hunting in which you are trying to obtain an EVP, it is important to tag everything that you hear. If someone coughs, tag it, if a car drives by, tag it. If someones stomach growls, tag it. No matter how inconsequential you feel the sound is, if you can hear it with your ears, it needs to be tagged. Not everything you hear is going to be picked up by the recorder, but a gurgling stomach sounds a bit like demonic voices on a recorder. The other key detail for a successful EVP session is placing your recorder on something stationary, not held in your hand as it can pick up the sound of your pulse.  It is very difficult to distinguish between your pulse and footsteps, or much of anything else.” Mark explained.
“Speak clearly, no whispering. You want to ask questions, be specific.. Take in to account where you are, what you might know about the entity that is haunting the location. If the person was from the 1800's they might not know what glasses are, but they would know what spectacles are. Think about your questions. Also think about how you would respond to a question. Is it something that would make you mad or upset if you asked it? Then it might not be the best question to ask, but then again, it might be. The recorders can pick up sounds sometimes that we cannot hear with our own ears. That is why it is called an EVP or electronic voice phenomomen. It is not an EVP if we hear it with our own ears and it gets picked up, that is just a VP. Sometimes it isn't voices that are picked up, but foot steps, or the sounds of something crashing. These are all different things that we want to listen for and pay attention to when reviewing the recordings." Brian said.
“Lastly, always open and close an EVP session the same way. ‘EVP session, master bedroom, Martin Manor, October 23, 2011, 10pm. I’m Mark, and this is Brian with me.’ Always say hello, ask them to come talk to you, let them know you aren’t going to hurt them, and if you dont’ want to be touched, ask them not to touch you. If you want to be touched, you can ask them to touch you.” Mark said, “any questions on how to do an EVP?”
Paul raised his hand, “Can we just sit quietly and listen? or do we have to ask questions. Also, what if we want to try to get a response by asking hard questions, can we do that?”

“You can absolutely sit quietly. Sometimes the best responses are achieved that way. You are also welcome to ask hard questions, or questions that might make them mad or upset, it is often times called provoking. We try to save it for the end fo the night, and it is something that must be done carefully.” Brian said.
Mark started to hand out the voice recorders to everyone. Showing them where the power switches were located, as well as how to start and stop a recording.

“Does anyone know the different type of hauntings that there are?” Brian asked.

"There are active hauntings and dormant hauntings right? You know, ones where things are heard and seen and things happening, and others where you know its there but it hasn't been active in a long long time." Paul guessed.

"That is partially correct. There are hauntings that are called residual hauntings. A residual haunting is something like a movie or a recording. You can hear something or see something, but it is going to be like a recording. It is the same movement or series of movements that occur over and over again. They don't interact or touch. They just are. They can be attached to the house itself, or to an object within the house. It is how a brand new house could have a ghost from the 16th century. These are very different from active hauntings, also known as intelligant hauntings in which the ghost has the ability to go where it wants to go when it wants to go there. It can answer questions, it can ask questions, although we dont always hear them. They can move objects if given enough energy to work with. They also can touch you. Although most will respect you if you ask them not to." Mark said.

“Any others?” Brian asked, “No? Well the other type of haunting is a poltergeist. A poltergeist is essentially a noisy ghost, but it is more than just a noisy ghost. Inanimate objects have been known to be thrown across the room, loud knocking and such noises. They are often thought to be created out of thin air by the emotional stress and tension of children, mainly teenagers.”

Everyone in the group seemed to be getting a bit restless, anxious to get started. Brian gave us a rundown on the remaining pieces of equipment and informed us that we would each be able to get a chance to use the equipment when we were broken down into our groups. There were only a few pieces, a K2 meter, an instant read thermometer, and a camera.  
One group would go with Brian, the other group would go with Mark.  Since Mark had decided he would act as my partner for the evening, I was in his group. Paul and Dakota were standing next to Brian and said they would be on his team.  Crystal and Michelle went with Brian, Alexa and Dana with us.
Brian's group disappeared up to the second floor.  Mark suggested we start in the basement, that way there was a buffer for sound from the other group. We descended into the basement, not turning on the light so that our eyes were faster to adjust to the darkness.
"Brian, we are in the basement, already lights out. Watch alarm is set for one hour. Radio is being turn down, page it if you need me."
"Will do. See you in an hour." Brian said.

"Here is what we are going to do. Alexa and Dana, you are going to take the K2 meter and the EMF detector and are going to walk around the space, taking notes on the different readings we get down here. As you both are aware, a high EMF can signify one of two things. It is either giving the entity, if there is one, something to feed off of and allowing it to manifest, or the people who are experiencing things are sensitive to the EMF which is making them feel sick, paranoid, like someone is watching them, or just plain creeped out.  I want you you to note any area that has an EMF rating that is unusually high, or in an unusual spot. Jessica, you and I are going to do the same thing with the thermometer. We want to note if there are any warm spots or cool spots. This can help us figure out if there might be any drafts that can affect the temperature, or if there are just warm and cool spots normally. We will do this again at the end of the hour, as well as if we have any experiences." Mark said.

"Aren't you going to tell us what the experiences are that are down here and what might have happened that would cause them?" I asked.

"No. The best possible hunt is always the first experience in a new location. Before you know any of the details surrounding the experience, the details of what happened here that might cause those experiences. The fresher you are, the better chance that the experience you have is genuine and not contrived in your imagination.” Mark said.

It didn't take long for us to get settle onto the floor, each on a different wall. We got our recording started, our introductions made, then it was time to just sit. We were quiet for a good five minutes, allowing us to get used to the sounds that were around us.
"Is there anyone down here with us?" I asked.  There was the appropriate 30-60 seconds of quiet to allow anything to answer.
Around the circle, each person asked a question. They were pretty mundane, who are you, why are you hear, etc. With nothing happening on the meters, the focus was shifted to the corners. To spaces where something could hide and peek out.  
"If you are down here with us, can you bang on the pipe above my head?" Dana asked.
Within seconds, there was a banging on the pipes. It made me jump.
"Can you do that again? Prove to me that it was you, not just a coincidence." Dana said.
Again, there was banging on the pipes.
"One more time please. This time, please bang 5 times." Dana said.
This time, there was five bangs on the pipes. No more, no less. It freaked me out to say the least.
"I am going to radio upstairs, just because we haven't been able to hear them upstairs, doesn't mean they haven't been able to hear us. I also want to make sure they aren't banging on the pipes." Mark said, radioing upstairs.
Brian came back with the all clear. It wasn't them. They were in the master bedroom, in the opposite corner from where we were located in the basement. They didn't even hear the banging on the pipes where they were.
"We would like to ask you some questions. If you would bang once for yes, twice for no. Please bang only once if you understand this." Dana said.
There was one solid bang. I started to pay attention to where everyone was sitting, to find out exactly why these pipes were banging. I felt sure that it was Alexa doing the banging since she was sitting closest to Dana, and had pipes running behind her as well. There was no way that we were actually communicating in this fashion with a ghost.
"Are you a male?" Dana asked.
Two bangs.
"Then you are a female."
One bang.
"Are you the only ghost here?"
Two bangs.
"Are you the only ghost in the basement."
One bang.
I wanted to trade seats with Alexa. I also wanted Mark to trade seats with Dana. I wonder if they would be ok with that. There were no pipes near Mark or myself. I was sure that this would cause the banging to stop. There was no way that anything other than humans could make something like that happen.
"Mark, can you and I switch seats with Alexa and Dana?" I asked.
"Alexa, Dana, are you both ok with that?" Mark said.
"Of course. I think it will help Jessica see that it isn't us making the noise," Alexa said, giving me an uplifted eyebrow.
I felt outed, it didn't feel good. I wasn't sure exactly why that was. It didn't take more than a minute for the switch to happen.
"Jessica, why don't you ask the next few questions." Mark suggested.
"Did you die in the house?" I asked.
One bang.
"Did you die in the basement?" I asked.
Two bangs. Interesting, if she was a ghost, why was she haunting the basement and not the room she died in.

"Did you die in the basement?" I asked.
Two bangs. Interesting, if she was a ghost, why was she haunting the basement and not the room she died in.
"Do you hang out in different locations of the house?" I asked.
One bang. That makes a bit more sense. She moves around.
"Are you tied to a particular object in the house?" Alexa asked.
Two bangs.
"Was your death of natural causes?" Dana asked.
Two bangs.
"Was it murder?" Dana asked.
Two bangs. Must be accidental, I thought.
"Can you tell us your name? I mean so that the recorder can pick it up?" I asked.
One bang, a pause, two bangs.
"I think that means she doesn't know," Alexa said.
"Can I ask you something Alexa, how many times have you done this? And what was your experience that drove you to keep ghost hunting?" I asked. I knew that I was interrupting our session, but I felt like it was all lost on me since I still wasn't believing. I also knew that they had experiences so they were only losing a few minutes before getting back to the investigation.

Before Alexa could respond, a flicker of motion caught my eye. It made me jerk my head around, but there wasn't anything in the corner. There wasn't any pipes, there were no boxes, there wasn't even a shadow cast into the corner. Nothing that I could see that would cause me to look over that way.
"What did you see?" Mark asked.
"Nothing. Must have been my imagination. Alexa?"
Alexa started in on her first experience. She and Dana had gone on a ghost hunters tour that included a haunted history walk. Some of the places they stood on the outside and were told the story, a few of the locations they were able to venture inside. Nothing of any significance happened at first. Then they were led into a cemetery that was supposedly haunted by a man who had been accused of practicing dark magic and had died in one of the houses we would be touring later, and a girl who had died in a carriage accident next to the road. In the cemetery they were shown how to do EVP's and given recorders to use. Nothing happened until it was time to go. A woman was walking towards the exit when a she completely disappeared behind a black shape. Turns out, she had said something that royally pissed off one of the two ghosts that haunted the cemetery. She was pulled out of the cemetery moments later by the guide and while she was shaken, the tour continued.  They moved on to the last house we would stand in front of and were told the story of the man from the cemetery who was accused of practicing dark magic and all the things that had happened in the house. The group was led to the back side were they could look in the windows and that was where they thought they glimpsed something crawling around on the ceiling. The were sure it was nothing but a shadow since the shadows in the building were pretty crazy. No one else had seen anything. Then the group was led back around to the front where everyone had a chance to knock on the door to see if anyone would knock back. Nothing happened, but as the group was walking away, Alexa thought she glimpsed something out of the corner of her eye again, only this time it was something blocking the light from shining through a window. But it was gone before she could even fully comprehend what she might have seen. If that wasn't enough, Dana thought he was touched when they were inside the old jail that was the last stop on the tour. The guide shared an EVP with the group that had been recorder on a private tour. One of the people on the tour asked what color hair the ghost preferred and despite being given a list of options, simply stated "something else."

“Wow.” I said. It was a bit overwhelming. Perhaps I didn’t want to know. It reminded me of a horror movie, or a tale told around the campfire. This wasn’t something that was supposed to be real.

"Ok, we only have 15 minutes left before we have our first break." Mark said, "Does anyone have any other questions they want to ask while we are down here?"

We all sat quietly for a minute.

“Whats your name?” I asked.
“Thats not a yes or no, I thought we were asking yes or no questions.” Alexa said. A bit huffy.
“I wanted to know what her name was. I hope we can hear it when we listen to the recordings later.” I said, “I don’t have any other questions.”

“Do you like this house?” Alexa asked.
One bang.

“Do you like people coming to talk to you?”
One bang, a pause, two bangs.
“Do you like us talking to you?”
One bang, a pauge, two bangs.

Alexa didn’t know what to make of that. Dana was too busy watching the meters, which weren’t doing anything. I wondered if they were used to being the only people in a room, or not used to someone so disbelieving as me.

I was happy to sit in silence, waiting to see if anything happened, whereas they were almost trying to will something to happen.

“Mark, we are ready to break,” the radio squawked, “we will meet you in the entryway.”
“Ok guys, that means we need to break too. We don’t want to run a recording or try to get information when people are actively walking around the house, up and downstairs.” Mark said, “end of EVP session in the basement of Martin Manor on October 23, 2011.”

Everyone gathered upstairs around the table again. There was a slight hum as people were talking about what they experienced, that they needed to go to the bathroom, that they wanted a drink or a snack.
"How did you guys do upstairs?" I asked Paul.
"It was awesome! It started off really slow, which was so disappointing, but then we had the light on the K2 meter going off.  After that we kept hearing what sounded like footsteps pacing in the hallway outside the door. When we asked if they wanted to come in, it stopped." Paul said.
"Wow. What did you ask for questions?" I asked.
"Lots of things. Why they were here, how long had they been here, and what did they want. The meter went off after each question, so we are hoping that we have responses on the recorder.  How did it go downstairs? Are you mad that we are not in the same group? Dakota is amazing." Paul said.
"I am glad you and Dakota are hitting it off. I hope it continues. I am not at all mad that we are in different groups. I am really enjoying it, which wasn't that the point from the beginning anyway? and we had some pipe banging to questions. They seemed to be in direct answer to our questions. One bang for yes, two bangs for no. I don't want to tell you anymore to see if you can get the same responses and answers that we did." I said.
"Are you finally starting to believe?" Paul asked.
"I am not sure, but if you get completely different answers it will sway me to no, but if we get the same answers, it will definitely help sway me to yes. But I really don't know how this is going to make me feel in the end." I said.
"But," Paul started.
"No buts. You are much more into this than I am and I really want your responses to be genuine and for you to get the best experience you can out of this."

Before Paul could say another word, Brian was calling for our attention, our time was almost up and it was almost time to settle in for another session.  He wanted to know if we wanted to keep the same groups or if we wanted to change things up. He also let us know that we could break apart into slightly smaller groups if we so desired, but we would have to be careful about where we positioned ourselves to avoid cross-contaminating our possible evidence.

Paul and Dakota informed Brian they were happy to stay with him, and that they really wanted to go into the basement.
Alexa and Dana wanted to go back to the basement as well.

"Can we go to the basement too?" Crystal asked.
"Yeah, I know that makes it a much larger group, but we would really like to experience what the first group did, hopefully while the ghost is still willing to participate." Michelle added.
"Fine by me, Mark, how do you feel?" Brian said.

"I am fine with that if Jessica is. We can go check out the one of the bedrooms or the attic. Are you ok with that Jessica?" Mark asked.
"Sounds good. I am happy to go wherever. We didn't get a peak at the attic when you took me on the whirlwind tour of the house. Can we start there?" I asked.

With a nod of his head, Brian led his group downstairs while Mark and I headed towards the attic.