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As you may have guessed from the title I am a ghost hunter, one of those guys that goes to supposedly haunted places looking for proof that it is in fact haunted, although I and the rest of my group prefer the term “paranormal investigator”. Admittedly we're all a bunch of amateurs but we regularly accomplish what we set out to do; find proof that some ghost stories might just be true.

I've been doing this for nearly 8 years now, and I've been with this particular group for nearly 5. for the purposes of keeping my own privacy and the privacy of the rest of my “team” I will not be using any real names, including the name of our team, for now we'll refer to my group as the “Scooby gang”. The Scooby gang is about as randomly thrown together as you can imagine, yeah we're your typical gang of misfit toys if there ever was one. I won't too much time boring you with personal profiles of each member, for now I'll just tell you the names (again made up to protect the innocent) we are three guys; Tom, Chris, and myself Vince, and two women; Sarah and Ellen. Ellen being the youngest of the group and the newest, we all get rather protective of her but she does fall subject to quite a few practical jokes which even though we feel remorse later once we realized how much we've scared her, when an investigation is going nowhere and we need something to do somebody is gonna get messed with and poor Ellen it's usually her.

I understand you're probably wondering why I felt the need to tell you about how we pick on Ellen, well when I eventually manage to get around to telling you about the investigation that I DO plan to tell you about, you will need to know about the jokes in order to understand the full weight of what is going on.

It was a little over a year ago we were heading out to a small town a few hours from the city we live in. There was a house in this town that we had heard about and had been trying to get into for quite some time, finally the owners decided to give us access. You have to realize it was tough for us to get into residential properties, because unlike the investigation teams you see on TV, we don't conduct our investigations over just one night, we stay for full weekends, or more depending on everyone's schedule, the owner of the property, the size of the place, and of course the level of activity. We couldn't figure out why they had been so reluctant to let us come out because everything we had heard about the place said that noone had actually lived there for nearly 10 years.

On the way out it was just myself and Ellen in my car, I'm the tech guy so its my responsibility to not only maintain and set up all the gear, but also transport it, so my vehicle only seats 2 people with all the gear inside (you wouldn't believe me if I told you what I use as an equipment truck) . Ellen was quiet most of the ride until halfway she gives one of those sighs like teenage girls let out just before they ask for something that they're desperate about and fear a negative response.

“Vince, you need to do something for me” she finally said in a very desperate tone, “If this place is a bust, you gotta help me get back at everyone for all the crap you all pull on me all the time.”

A slight feeling of pride crept over me. You see I had taken to Ellen like the little sister I always wanted, pretty much instantly upon her joining the group, and she had become something of an apprentice to me always looking to me for how she should handle situations or how to respond when things were tense. I was happy she finally decided to fight back and admittedly a bit touched that she would ask me for help.

I asked her what she had in mind. “I'll let you know when the time comes”, then sat quietly smiling the rest of the ride, with the look of someone plotting something sinister. We finally pulled up to the house around 6 pm, having to wait another half hour for the owner to show up to let us in (thanks to Tom forgetting he was supposed to call the guy when we were getting close). Holding in our laughter as we got the same disapproving looks from the neighborhood that we always get when we're going to investigate a supposedly haunted house (my car doesn't help matters any). We meet the couple that own the place, after staring us all down a bit and commenting on my choice of vehicle, to which I responded ” it's perfect for mine line of work ”, we got inside.

I have to tell you, I would never in a million years have believed this place to be haunted. It was IMMACULATE! The outside was beautiful, practically brand new siding, lawn and shrubberies perfectly groomed, the fence around it seemed to have been put up recently although it could have been 100 years old from the style of it. The inside was completely dust free, the air was fresh, a nearly perfect balance of antique house meets modern world. The woman, we'll call her Mrs. Stine, had inherited it when her parents passed away, her parents had gotten it from her grandfather when he moved into a nursing home. She absolutely hated the house, refusing to spend more than an hour or two there at a time and only on rare occasions, but refused to sell it because of the sentimental ties to it. Her husband, Mr. Stine, wanted it gone. They spent so much money keeping the place in order, having it cleaned regularly and the outside property kept looking nice, property taxes, utility bills which she insisted on keeping turned on for the sake of the cleaning lady and gardeners, the place was a money pit and their savings were almost depleted, considering the economy and the fact that they were paying for two houses this wasn't a surprise. They had tried renting it out, but their tenants never stuck around long enough for the rent money to make a difference. He had finally convinced her to sell, and that's where we came in. He wanted us to prove once and for all if the place was in fact haunted and if there was any real danger to anyone who stayed there.

We don't like to hear details of other people's experiences if we can avoid it because we feel it taints our investigation. When investigators like us hear stories about a place we get expectations and those expectations can cause imaginations to run wild. So, they showed us the property, and around the house, handed us a set of keys, as they would not be returning to see us off, we were to lock up and go to them with our findings and to return the keys. “Please don't bring THAT thing to our neighborhood when you come” was the last thing Mrs. Stine said to us, motioning to my car as they left.”

Night one was typical, setting up “command central”, a wide variety of video cameras and voice recorders. Walking the entire house checking every corner of every room as well as the entire outside, taking a preemptive look for anything that might cause someone to hear certain noises or see shadows or strange lights. After doing this for as long as we have we can practically debunk about 80% of people's experiences from our pre-investigation inspections alone.

We split up into our initial teams; Tom with Ellen and Chris with Sarah, I always stood watch on command central on the first night just to make sure everything is working properly and that it is all set up in the most efficient way. Normally the teams switch every hour or so, to keep ourselves from connecting perspectives with each other, basically if you spend 4 or 5 hours alone in a dark room with someone and they think they see something, part of your brain makes you think you saw it too, same goes for hearing noises, and this is why we mix things up on a regular basis.

We'll just say night number one was quiet and uneventful, save for a dark spot in the darkness and a few unexplained noises. We decided to let the recording devices keep rolling and turned in. Always one person keeping watch at the monitors, and if someone couldn't sleep, they were investigating on their own. The first night passed with no real excitement. In the morning we made breakfast in the kitchen and sat around the table each of us with our heads buried in video footage or digital recordings from the night before, hoping to find something. At this point I should probably tell you, none of us are fanatics, we all take pride in being skeptical, except for Sarah, she's a true believer into all that wicken stuff, she takes great pride in being our “safety net” from the evils we face. So when I say we were hoping to find something, I mean it, whatever reason each of us has for doing this we all share one common goal, to find solid proof, its not that we don't believe, we wouldn't do it if we didn't, but there are hauntings and there are HAUNTINGS, and finding the truth between the two is what we live for.

Breakfast passed with no substantial discoveries, a few of the sounds heard the night before had been caught on some of the recording devices, they were put in the valid evidence pile and set aside for closer inspection later.

Although urban legends and the numerous reality TV ghost hunting warriors would lead you to believe that night time in the dark is the best way to catch paranormal activity, the truth is, there is no perfect time or setting (although thunder storms do tend to bring out some really unsettling activity. We do our investigations at all times of the day, with lights on and off, and with a variety of equipment. Video and audio devices always on and always recording, pictures being taken constantly by a variety of cameras. So, when I tell you that day two was a complete bust you'll understand how discouraged and even bored and frustrated we felt. It was around 5pm when Ellen came to talk to me in private in the living room. She had devised a plan and after getting rather familiar with the house she was ready to put her plan in action, and Chris was first on her list. She had found a smallish closet in the room right at the top of the stairs in which someone could easily hide and avoid a typical quick flashlight sweep of the room. “this is where you will hide” she told me, as she explained her plan in reverse.

At some point in the night I would be back on CC duty and she would be paired with Chris, he usually took the lead when it came to messing with Ellen and he sometimes took it a little too far and made sure to lay it on real thick when he had succeeded in scaring the everliving shit out of her. She walked me through the plan. The idea of it was that they would be in the room at the bottom of the stairs and I would make a few noises at the top, she would look up and become “startled” by a shadow in my direction. From there I was supposed to sneak as quickly and as quietly as I could into the room and hide in the closet, she would put on an act and lead Chris up the stairs, and while he was flash lighting the room I was in she would act as if she was attacked by a shadow and fall as if it was on top of her, which of course would distract Chris from his investigation of my hiding place in order to rescue her. Hoping the noise would draw the rest of the team in that direction I was supposed to wait til everyone was huddled around her and slam the door of the bedroom shut, then sneak out through the door to the bathroom shared by the next room down the hall. From there I could sneak down the other staircase, run through the downstairs and join the team as if I just ran up from CC. There was a big finish planned but she wouldn't tell me, saying only “you'll love the finalè”.

It was a little after 10pm when everything was ready to go into motion, they were in the sitting room at the bottom of the stairs conducting an EVP session she made sure to talk a bit loud to help conceal my movements, Tom and Sarah were in the basement so they would not hear me, and would not pass by CC on their way to see what was going on. “This plan is perfect” I remember saying to myself, almost giggling at the fun I was about to have. THIS is when shit got real…

I took my place in the darkness at the top of the stairs waiting for her signal, once I got it I stared off quietly with a few taps on the wall, and a thump on the floor, after a few seconds another thump and a very soft whisper. To my surprise I got a quiet whisper in response out of the darkness behind me, although I couldn't make it out at the time I would later review my recorder and here a female sounding voice whispering “what are you doing?”. But at the time it was just a light whisper behind my head, and after doing this as long as I have it barely even registered. Ellen still hadn't given her signal for me to hide so I went on with some more noises, a thump on the floor, a couple light knocks on the wall, and then footsteps behind me coming closer. The hairs on the back of my neck started to stand up, I was now sure of a presence of some kind behind me.

I was stuck, I wasn't afraid but I had a decision to make, I had no camera on me, no flashlight, only my digital voice recorder. At this point I was feeling ashamed of myself, as I always tended to feel during one of our little jokes, very unprofessional to joke around during an investigation like this, and now when Ellen is finally going to get her grand revenge I'm alone in the dark, not at my post and in the presence of SOMETHING. I decided to make a few footstep sounds of my own, hoping Ellen would give the signal when the voice came again, this time loud enough that they heard it downstairs, and I knew what it was saying this time “GET OUT!” at the sound Ellen decided it was the perfect moment to give me the signal so I ran for it, no intention of ducking in the closet I was going to bolt through the bathroom and down the other stairs grab all the gear I could and get my ass back up there to capture whatever it was. I darted for the slightly open door, and just as I was reaching to push it open…

BAM!!! The door slammed shut with so much force a sharp pain shot straight through my arm and into my shoulder. As I stumbled back something caught the back of my heel causing me to lose my balance and down the stairs I went.

On the way down I saw a lady at the top of the stairs tall and gray, arms folded, and an amused looking smile on her face. I heard a startled scream that sounded like Ellen but I couldn't tell for sure, that's when I blacked out.

I was only out for a few minutes but when I opened my eyes the whole team was there. Ellen was crying, Tom's nose was bleeding as he and Chris were trying frantically to get me to my feet, Sarah who was rather pale skinned to begin with looked so white she was practically glowing in the dark, with a look of sheer horror on her face stood motionless just behind Tom. And a laugh a shrill laugh pierced right through me, it almost reminded me of Cruella Deville but even more sinister. I looked around as I regained my senses trying to figure out who was laughing, then I realized, Ellen's cries, and Sarah's trance like state were not a result of my fall, at least not entirely.

At the same moment I took my fall Tom and Sarah had been assaulted in the basement, neither could give a straight answer of what it looked like but it scared Tom so bad that he turned and ran face first into the basement wall, they said that's when the laughing started. It was coming from nowhere, and everywhere. Sarah had tried to run out the door but it wouldn't open, she tried the back door, same result, that's when she found everyone crowded around me laying on the floor and the sound of that evil laugh finally hit her.

At this point all I could think of was that we all deserved this, playing games when we were supposed to be professional, turning our serious work into one practical joke after another, and here we stand, in the most active yet terrifying house any of us had investigated. “We have to document this!” I yelled, nobody moved. After a few more choice words they got the hint and everyone scrambled for whatever recording devices they could find. I took Tom and Ellen, and Chris grabbed Sarah.

We moved from room to room trying to find the source of the laughter but no matter where we went it was always in the next room, then it moved upstairs, then into the basement. Finally we grouped up, all 5 of us. “Let the bitch come to us” I heard Chris say “I'm not playing her game anymore”. We stood back to back in a very tight circle snapping pictures as fast as our cameras would let us. I remembered I had set up a wide spectrum video camera not far from where we were standing as I reached for it I finally felt the effect of my fall, or maybe the door slamming on my wrist, pain shot through me again and I dropped the camera. All of a sudden the laughter was joined by the sound of a dog barking, followed by a low and snarling growl. The laughter ended with a shriek and everything felt silent. The lights that we had tried to turn on to no avail started to flicker to life and there we stood.

With all the commotion in the darkness I knew we had all slammed into one piece of furniture or another I was expecting the place to look like a storm had hit, but as our eyes adjusted to the light we noticed nothing I mean NOTHING was out of place.

Normally after intense activity like this we would team up and spread out through the house looking for something, not this time. We packed up our gear stuffed it into the my car locked the doors and got the hell out of there.

We drove to the owners house as fast as we could to get rid of the keys and put this place behind us. I pulled up right in front of the house, parked my car so that it would definately be seen from the front door, I limped up the walkway to the house, with my arm in a makeshift sling that Ellen had made me out of one of her T-shirts,and at just after 1 am I rang the doorbell. After about 5 minutes and uncounted pushes of the doorbell, Mr. and Mrs. Stine opened the door looking PISSED. I practically threw the keys at them, looked Mrs. Stine dead in the eyes and said “sell the house, burn it down, blow it up.. I don't care but if I were you I would never step foot in that place again. …and for the record, my creepy car is the least of your concerns.” I then turned around and limped away before either of them could speak, “by the way” I said over my shoulder, “we'll mail you the bill, we won't be returning to this part of the state any time soon.”

Not a word was said the entire ride home.

I grabbed Ellen's wrist as she was getting out of the car, “what WERE you planning as the finish for your big revenge plot?”. “Silly string and an air horn” she said. After a few seconds of silence we both busted out laughing, it felt good, after what we'd been through I was convinced none of us would ever laugh again.

It was two weeks before any of us even thought of going over the data, we were all still openly and admittedly a bit freaked out, but it had to be done. We poured over hours and hours and HOURS of video and audio. We heard and saw everything, everything that is up until the moment I took my fall down the stairs. From that point on there was nothing on any of the recordings except us until we heard the dog..

… To this day we have yet to send them a bill for our investigation.

Fiction


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