Salem Massachusetts

Trip to Salem Part 2: Hunting a Ghost

I don't believe in ghosts. I never have.
They are nothing more than an invention by people who can't let go and people who are afraid of death.
The only situation in which I believe in any sort of communication with the dead is when you're asleep. Sometimes people say that their dead relative, friend, or whoever has visited them in a dream, and I can definitely buy into that, though I would amend the statement to be that the sleeper causes the lost person's appearance. Example:
If you read my blog, you're probably aware that a couple of weeks ago, my dog Daisy died. Well guess what, she visited me in a dream! In the dream, I was sitting in my family's living room, when, with no prompting, I went to open the front door, and Daisy came inside! 
I knew it was her, and that there must have been some mistake a couple weeks ago. I must have mistaken another dog for her, and now here she is and everything is okay again!
From that point on, the entire dream consisted of Daisy laying at my side with her paw in my hand as I sat in a chair. Eventually the dream ended. I woke up and had to remember remember the truth. It sucked.
However, here's the bright side. Being that nothing occurred to made me question her appearance and nothing completely absurd happened after that, I had a dream of something she and I would do in real life. I remember it vividly, and I take away from the dream exactly what I would have if it actually happened, so, for all intents and purposes, I got another evening with my dog.
This happened because I conjured an image of the dog in my mind while I slept. And that's the point. We create ghosts for personal reasons. Daisy appeared to me as healthy as happy as she did when she was alive; she didn't "visit" me as some zombified monster version of herself, the way that most ghost-lore seems to present the dead. You never hear that. You never hear some nut-bag talking about how their dead lover visited them and it was horrifying. It's always presented as a comforting presence. 
The scary angry ghosts are always the ones from legends from ages ago, the ones that no one knows personally. It will usually be that someone horrible died, and a person they had no affectionate connection with tells a story of that dead guy coming back from the grave for some brand of revenge. The story passes from person to person, like a game of telephone, until enough people know the story to be part of the public consciousness. From there you have your average paranoid people obsessing on the story, claiming sightings, and your insecure people claiming to have seen the ghost for attention.
I believe this is where ghosts come from. Nothing more than worry or rumor.
You can't actually think that if there were signs that life continued after death, the worlds top scientific minds wouldn't be all over it. And wouldn't there be ghosts absolutely everywhere? Think about how many millions of people have died in the history of the planet. Billions of creatures, and the only people to ever see ghosts are the people you cross the street to get away from. I would love for ghosts to exist, it would be incredible. It would fundamentally change everything we understand about the world, and sadly I have never seen one.
Maybe.
This weekend I was in Salem, Massachusetts with my family, when we were chosen to join a group attempting to make contact with the dead.
The hunt was particularly interesting though. We met up outside of a Harry Potter themed gift shop at 11:00pm on Saturday the 22nd. We stood around with our guide Tim for a while, and he explained that we were just waiting for the rest of our group to arrive before we'd get started. I wondered what sort of place we'd be investigating. Maybe the Hawthorne hotel that we had learned about earlier in the tour? Finally, with the last couple of people arriving, we were about to start. Tim ushered us all into the gift shop and closed the door. We were going to investigate their basement. 
I was already psyching myself up to remain skeptical no matter what happened, but when I realized that we were about to spend our time in the basement of a store that sells novelty stuff including something called Witch Poop (not kidding), I knew nothing was going to happen. Tim explained to us the history of the building while I shifted my weight from foot to foot, started getting hot, took off my jacket, and wondered how much the Witch Poop would cost. He assured us that, for his whole life, he has been in tune with the spiritual world, and has been a psychic. He explained that he has a photographic memory, and even if we come back to the shop in a matter of years, he will remember us. I definitely don't believe any of that, but it's hard not to get intrigued by the concept of it all. Then he told us that, when he was a kid, he was lying in bed when his closet door opened and a pair of tube socks walked out of his room, down the hall, came back, and the closet door closed behind them. At this point, I almost completely shut off.
Fortunately, he began to explain the situation. When he moved to town about six years ago, he and his business partner decided to open up a shop. After buying that particular shop, Tim created an office for himself at the end of a hallway in the basement. He was working late one night when he fell asleep. In the middle of the night, Tim woke up because he heard a sound in the hallway. Nervously, he investigated, but found nothing, though he was always uneasy about the basement, perhaps rightfully so.

There have been numerous sightings of a young girl in the basement, usually by someone unfamiliar with the place. One time a delivery man was dropping of a shipment of merchandise. He went into the basement, put down a few boxes, and came upstairs, asking Tim if he knew there was a young girl down there. Having heard about the girl before, Tim simply said he knew, and he has had say it to many more people since. She is just a harmless kid who haunts the place, but there is another spirit who is more troublesome. Tim's basement office no longer exists thanks to this spirit who once threw the door shut and ripped all of the shelving off the walls and knocked down all the ceiling tiles. Furthermore, Tim feels this spirit standing directly behind him whenever he goes down there, so he mostly tries not to.

Back to us. As Tim is explaining the equipment to the room, such as the EMF reader for any electromagnetic changes, and a temperature gauge, my girlfriend Allie, my sisters Karen, Lynne, and Kristen, my nephew Robbie, my niece Audrey, our family friend Janet, and I decided to volunteer to check out the basement before the other group. We were told by Tim that he specifically picked us for the hunt because, as a family, we had a better chance of contacting a spirit due to our shared energy. Ok, sure, let's find a ghost.
Down in the basement, Tim took us into a primary room, which we all squeezed into. He told us that an average reading on our EMF's ought to be an orange light, yet our lights were green, which he said was abnormal. In the darkness, my family and I stood cramped together as Tim twisted a small flashlight on. Then off. Then back on. Gently off. He set up the flashlight so that it would require just the faintest twist for the light to come on, and then he placed it across the room from us, with an EMF reader beside it. He backed up to stand with us. He didn't speak for a moment, and I did my best to look around the room, though I could hardly see anything aside from the shadows that were my family members. Being the scary story enthusiast that I am, I started imagining how awesome it would be if I saw the shape of a child down the long dark hallway, but I started to creep myself out, and more than that, I suddenly remembered how staunchly scientific I wanted to be for this. I steeled myself, and glared at the flashlight, ready to doubt anything. When Tim spoke, it was in his usual Boston accent, and he asked the air if there were any spirits present, and if so, "Could you please turn on the light? Could you just twist the end of that the flashlight -- that black thing? ... ... ... I know it's hard, but could you just --"
The light turned on. I won't extrapolate what that means right now, but the flashlight turned on. My family gasped, and I stared at my EMF: orange. Normal. Why? The flashlight had to have been coincidence. And the platform it was situated on was not even. I assume it was just slowly sliding down it, and while sliding the head twisted and it turned on.
Tim asked if the spirit would please turn the light off. It turned off.
The lights on the EMF reader in my nephew Robbie's hand all began to flash. I wondered if maybe he only just turned it on, because I noticed the lights on mine doing the same thing when I first turned mine on. I pressed the power button and it made a loud clicking sound as the unit turned off. I turned it back on and the lights flashed the way Robbie's did, but it also clicked loudly again, which his had not.
Tim, the platform, or a ghost proceeded to turn the flashlight on and off a second time. At this point I didn't know whether to be impressed by the uncertainty of this display or annoyed at the intricacy of the trick. All I can say is that I noticed when Tim picked the flashlight up again, even though he didn't touch the head, it flickered on. I stowed this observation away for later.
We moved on to the chair room, an even smaller area with a child's rolling chair in the center of it. Tim told us that when they first bought the store, he noticed that the chair would move from room to room on its own. One night it would be in one room, the next another. No explanation. Except that after a little while, one of his associates admitted he'd been moving the chair himself. Chilling stuff.
To prove that the flashlight was not a trick or prop, he had one of us set it up this time, and then he placed it on the chair beside an EMF reader. This time, it did not turn on at all. However, Tim informed us that he felt a presence standing directly behind him, the same negative presence he had described earlier. In addition to that, all of our EMF readers started flashing green, orange and red, clearly there was something in there with us! No, wait, Tim asked if any of us had our cell phones on. We all did. When we turned them off, the lights went back to normal.
The final room was Tim's former office, though you would never be able to tell. The smallest of the three areas, I was not able to really get a good look at it, as I was standing in the doorway of it, due to lack of room. Tim mostly just explained that they now call this room "the bad room," after a spirit destroyed it. There wasn't much of anything to look at or do in that room. It wasn't very scary, except at one point Allie shouted and twitched, because she felt something touch her arm. It was me. I'm her boyfriend.
We went upstairs while the other group took their turn. We tried on several hats. When the second group returned, Tim brought us back down, this time with a digital recorder to try and get an EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon). We started in the main room again, but unfortunately the flashlight wouldn't turn on for Tim at all, and our EMF readers didn't pick up on anything significant. He seemed almost disappointed, but went ahead and asked some questions to the voice recorder nonetheless, being sure to note any explainable sound (such as footsteps from upstairs) so that when he goes back through the recording, he can eliminate those sounds from the investigation. We moved back to the chair room, when Tim asked us if any of us felt anything. My sister Karen sincerely offered, "Well I don't really feel anything, but I kind of think I smell something." My niece Audrey replied, "Not to be funny, but I think somebody farted."
Maybe it was the ghost.
We ended it there, because Tim didn't want to record in the bad room, and so we went back upstairs and waited while the other team tried their luck.
The only thing I know about ghost hunting is what I've seen on shitty reality shows like Paranormal State. I hate that they never come up with any concrete evidence, but whenever something occurs that they can't personally explain, they suggest it may have been a paranormal event. I certainly can't explain what happened with the flashlight, but just because I don't know why it happened doesn't mean that it had no cause other than that a ghost turned it on and off. It may have just had such a hair trigger that it wavered between both states, although I must admit that, if that is the case, the timing of the lights against Tim's requests was remarkable. So I don't know what happened down there, but I certainly don't explain the flashlights as being ghostly anymore than I blame that fart on a ghost. I'm annoyed at myself for writing that. 
I walked out of the Harry Potter store feeling thoroughly entertained, but certainly not enlightened. Even Tim admitted to us that he does not truly believe there to be the spirit of a child down there. I was shocked to hear him admit it all to be a hoax, but he followed up very genuinely with, "but I do believe there is a presence down there."
What is the distinction? What is the difference between the ghost of a girl and a general presence? Does one have motivation and the other doesn't? Is one a human imprint and the other just a floating emotion? Tim seems to think there is something down there, certainly, and I think that even some of my family left there thinking "what if." Am I the odd one out? If the majority believes, and I don't, am I on the wrong track?
There's something very comforting about the idea of ghosts. They suggest that not only can we interact with our lost loved ones again, but maybe we also don't have to be afraid of dying ourselves. They suggest that there is something after life, not necessarily a heaven or hell, but just that death is not so final. I think it's a pleasant notion, but one that's dangerous to get carried away with. I'd love for Daisy to be able to float around and visit me, but I'm also afraid that to concern myself with the afterlife of my loved ones is to build a sort of apprehension of where they are and what they're doing. ...And why aren't they here? In that way, the method of coping with death can become unrest and obsession. How do you live, being so concerned with the dead?

Not to be heartless or blunt, but the dead are gone, and the memory they've left with us is more than enough. It's all we can have from them.

Better to just leave it alone.

I'm back in New Jersey a few days removed from the hunt, and I still don't believe in ghosts, but I'm thinking about them.

The company the hosted the ghost hunt is Salem Ghost Tours, and they can be found at www.SalemGhostTours.com and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Salem-Night-Tour/106653419408752 and I definitely recommend both the tour and the hunt, they were both great, sincerely.

Trip to Salem: Part 1 AND Scary Story Time #7: The Big Guns

Just this evening, on October 23rd, 2011 (Parents' 28th anniversary, by the way!), I got back home from a weekend away in Salem, Massachusetts with my girlfriend, my three sisters, two nephews, one niece, and friends. It was a hell of a trip.



I'll be honest with you, I did absolutely no research heading into the trip, and my only knowledge of the place was the obvious: The Salem Witch Trials took place there, and The Crucible was written about them. That's really about it. In my mind, I had created some sort of Colonial Williamsburg type place, with people in period clothing talking about witches and teaching you how to churn butter and shit. 


Fortunately, I'm an idiot. 


The place is totally witch obsessed, but in a way that there are statues and Halloween decorations everywhere, and even a legitimate honest-to-god graveyard is a novelty. There are PLENTY of Salem, MA shirts/mugs/jackets to buy with the silhouette of a witch on them. And while there are actual houses that are supposedly haunted (more later) there are also plenty of buy-a-ticket Haunted Houses filled with people dressed up like monsters and crap. I went through one with my niece Audrey, my nephew Kenny, and his buddy Mike. $7.00 each. Not bad. Let's do it.


You walk in, and it's nearly pitch black. And obviously the way in which it's scary is simply that people pop out from behind false-walls and scream at you. Simple. That being said, I reflexively went to brace myself a couple of times. More than that, I then reflexively tried to pretend I hadn't done that.

I am a nearly 25 year old man.

My favorite parts of the short "ride" included when we all turned right at a corner, into a hallway. I happened to look to the left as we turned, however, and could see a girl dressed like some bloody monster getting ready to scream at us. I calmly pointed at her, and jokingly commanded her, "don't scare me." she put her hands on her hips, annoyed. Then she got bored and walked away. Not too shabby. Later, some killer guy was ordered by his "master" via radio to kill us. He revved up a drill, and screamed at us. I quickly made peace with my time on earth and prepared to die. But the craziest thing happened!! He screamed more and told us to get out of his face. We survived! But surely his master is going to fire him.

Oh also, and my nephew Kenny told me that one of the crazy monster guys was yelling at him, and that when he (Kenny) reached out and touched something on the wall, the guy stopped yelling, and, sounding whiney, pleaded, "Hey, don't touch that."

Chilling.
We later went on a ghost tour hosted by a guy named Tim in a tri-cornered hat. He gave us an interesting bit of information about Nathaniel Hawthorne, some local landmarks and lore, and then an interesting bit of information about himself: He is both a medium and a psychic, and some nights he hosts ghost hunts. He then hand-chose my family and me to accompany him on such a ghost hunt that very night. We immediately signed up. 
At 11:00pm on October 22, 2011, the Rogers family made contact with a ghost.
To be continued.
Now, being that it's getting close to Halloween, I'm pulling out the big guns. Here is a scary story that I've always been a pretty big fan of. It's very odd, very creative, and very unsettling. Definitely not meant to be read by anyone who isn't feeling well, or anybody squeamish. But enjoy one of my favorite weird horror stories:


Quick disclaimer: I'm a really big fan of horror movies and scary stories. Recently I've been finding a lot of interesting little scary stories written anonymously by people on the internet, so I decided to start sharing some of the ones I like. You should know, before you read on, that I did not write any of these stories, unless otherwise noted. You should also know that I won't always be posting that I enjoy 100%. There could be a ten page story that I post because I like one sentence of it. In that case, I assume I'll explain why I posted horse-shit and what merit I see in it. Sometimes, I'll post "scary" stories that I hate, think are stupid, or maybe even funny. But more than that, you should really know that some of these stories may be somewhat graphic, so just steel yourself for anything, especially poor spelling and grammar (I don't edit these stories). No matter what, though, I hope you enjoy them too, and if you know any stories or sources, please share them with me. Also, if you have any requests, just ask, I have a huge archive of this stuff!

Mail

It all started as a message in my mailbox one morning. Having my morning coffee and cigarette, I decided to walk out to the mailbox and check my mail. I had bought this house from an auction for a very low price. It was out in the quiet country. Me being a city kid, I had no idea what country life was like until I had made a few friends around the area. With the purchase of the house came 100 acres of crop land that, in the autumn, blossomed into golden produce that swayed beautifully in the wind.

I slipped on my shoes and headed out to the road, still slightly groggy. Upon opening the mailbox, I found a dead bird inside; at first, I thought it was those stupid kids playing pranks again - last week, they decided to toilet paper my lawn. I pulled the dead bird out and threw it on the ground; it was mangled to a pulp, almost as if a dog had gotten hold of it.


Inside was nothing. 

I started to think that maybe the kids had stole my mail, but eventually I brushed it off and told myself I'd get up early in the morning and watch the mail come so I could catch the jerks in the act. The next morning came and the mailman came as usual. I walked out and got my mail, not thinking anything of it. the next morning was the same.The next week came and I walked out to get my mail once again. This time, I was horrified at the sight; my white mailbox had blood smeared all over it. I opened the mailbox cautiously. Inside was a mangled cat. 

I gasped and covered my mouth, quickly choking back the vomit raising to my throat. I rushed to my garage, put on my gloves, and pulled the poor animal out. Stapled to it was a note, fairly legible, but crude nonetheless. On the note was a simple smiley face. I was disgusted at that; whoever did it thought it was funny. I gave the cat a proper burial and continued with my day.The next morning, I woke up around 5:00 AM, walked out, and checked my mailbox again to see if it had been tampered with. The cat I had just buried in my backyard was stuffed inside yet again, this time another note attached to it. This one had a frowning face and under it, "You don't like my present?"Pissed off and finally fed up, I decided to bury it yet again and stay up all night to watch my mailbox to find out who was doing this. The time rolled by - 12:00 am, 1:00 am, 2:00 am, nothing at all....then, at 3:00 am, I finally saw movement across the road and out of the cornfield there came a figure into my yard. 

I watched it until it finally came under the security light I have in the middle of my yard. What I saw I cannot begin to explain. It was a man...or at least I think it was. It was hunched over like an old man with long gangly arms that went farther than the average human and its head bent downwards as if it was looking for something it had dropped on the ground.The man looked frail and weak, but it moved with great speed. I quickly and quietly moved to the back window and peered out as I saw it dig up the cat once again and hold it in its arms; it stroked the cat as if it were alive and quickly hurried around to the front of my house. Back at my front window again and watching it as it made its way to my mailbox and put the cat inside, it disappeared into the night. That day I didn't leave my house; I was too shocked of what happened. I slept a bit then decided to take a trip to the store; when I came back, I checked the mailbox again and there it was, the same cat I just buried. I went to take the dead cat out of my mailbox once again and bury it in a different spot, then proceeded to stay up again that night and what to see what happened.

A flashlight in hand and watching my front window again, I saw the long, spindly man come out of the field and jog into my yard, to the spot where I just buried the cat that day and started to dig it up with his hands. I slid open the back sliding glass door and stepped outside, turned on the flashlight at the man, and yelled "What in the hell are you doing?!" The man turned around to face me, and that's when I saw the thing for the first time, in plain sight. Its body looked like it had been mauled by a bear - clothes ripped, rotting skin shown through, its teeth completely exposed and jagged, and the eyes sunken in. I quickly ran back inside as it gave a shrieking sound and hopped over in my direction.I slid the glass door shut and locked it, and grabbed the pistol I had bought for self-defense from under my couch. Sending a bullet into the chamber, I shined the light at the door and waited. I accidentally fired off a shot in fear when a glob of something smacked against the glass and slid down it. I walked to the glass door and shined the light down to see what it was: a mess of entrails were scattered across the bottom and blood smeared across the glass. 

Sick to my stomach, I chocked back the vomit that was rising from my stomach.I quickly rushed back to the couch that was against the wall and sat there with my eyes fixed upon the glass door, my flashlight off. Outside, I could see the moonlight through the gruesome mess that was plastered upon the glass. I saw a figure approach the door, then its hands smeared the blood across the window. I was frozen with fear, waiting for it to break the glass and try to take my life from me.After smearing the blood, it turned around and walked away. I swear I could hear a faint chuckle, like a smoker's lungs laugh, but more raspy. I sat in the sofa and didn't budge; I don't know how long I waited, but after a while the room became light as the sun rose in the sky. I looked around the house - everything was so quiet - then fixed my eyes on the window and smeared across it were hand prints with very unusually long fingers and a smiley, the same one on the letter. I sighed and tried to make myself comfortable, but, still alert, I laid down and rested my eyes. 

A few hours later, I awoke from a nightmare and propped myself up on the couch.I was, apparently, pissing whatever it was off, and I was getting more scared by the second just thinking of whatever was out there, lurking. I cleaned up the entrails off the ground and went out to check my mail, then I came across a plain letter. Curious, I opened it up and felt a chill shoot up my spine.The letter had no words - only a smile, the same, crude smile that was on the letter stapled to the cat and on my sliding glass door.I quickly crumbled it up and tossed it on the ground. I left that night; I went to stay with my parents up in the city for a few weeks. Not explaining my situation to them, I just simply told them that I had been sick of country life and needed a change for a few weeks. They happily agreed. 

When I returned to my home three weeks later, horror was stricken across my face, for my house was not as I left it. As soon as I walked in, the stench of rotting carcass hit my nostrils and I vomited on the floor. Covering my nose with my shirt, I proceeded to the light switch.Turning on the light made me shriek in terror. Scattered throughout my house were entrails and carcasses of dead animals; some were propped up like humans on my couch, and all were staring at me as I stood, horrified, in the doorway. All over the white walls were smiley faces and the same writing over and over, "I'm very angry with you," written in blood. I lifted up the couch seat to look for my pistol, but it was gone.I saw something in the hallway moving steadily back and forth. Flipping on the hall light, there it was again: the creature who had almost killed me the night before I had left. It snapped its gaze to me and moved its mouth into a sickening smile. It jumped up and started to walk in my direction. I quickly turned around and ran outside, slamming the door behind me. 

I got into my car, started it up, and proceeded to back out of the driveway and onto the road as fast as I could. Behind me, I saw a figure in my rear-view mirror running up to my car; its arms slammed into the trunk and it proceeded to hop onto the roof of my car.I shifted into drive and slammed on the gas; I drove all night as far as I could away from the house, those dead animals, that thing. As soon as I was in the city limits, I decided to buy some gas, seeing as I was almost on empty. I pulled into a gas station and got out of my car. My eyes widened as I saw the trunk had been completely bashed in. I quickly pumped the gas and left for my parents' house. 

Four months later, I am living in my apartment, dealing with occasional nightmares at times, but could never be happier to get away from that house and that monster that lives there.I just checked my mail this morning and received a letter with no return address. Inside, written on crumpled up paper, was a crudely draw smiley face and the words, "You can't hide," scribbled underneath it.


Terrifying and disgusting. I don't know what your mental image is for the way the monster looks and the way it sounds, but what I've got cooking in my imagination leaves me pretty unsettled. So this picture of another awesome animal is not just to help calm you down, it's also for me:

Alright, take it easy guys, I plan to have the ghost-hunting story up in the next couple days!