Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Part 2: Hunting Ghosts in West Virginia

Psychiatric Wards have a bad reputation because people always assume the worst when they’re mentioned. Patients are said to be admitted or thrown in, never checked in willingly or without force. They are permanent places for the deranged and the mentally instable. Not temporary residences for the sick. I’m drawn to them because I know not everyone in them was ill, and that some of them were as sane as you and I. But we don’t really have control over how others perceive us, now do we? Sometimes it’s just a matter of being in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Saying the wrong words to the wrong person….

Or being at the mercy of the Warden.

A lot of the patients at the West Virginia Penitentiary battled delusions and hallucinations, but not because of a mental disorder. These inmates were abused, tortured, and drugged. They were experiments and play things to the very people that were supposed to protect them and make them well. Some of them came into the infirmary because of fights or rape, and then were transferred to the Ward for further testing when their worlds became a little fuzzy. Treatments like Electric Shock Therapy or Hydrotherapy were used in attempts to make the inmates docile and tame. When electricity or submergence in ice, cold water didn’t work, they locked them up in solitary and starved them to sanity. Or death. Whichever came first. 

So maybe Psych Wards have their reputation for a reason.

It’s easy to mess with the insane when you know no one will believe a word out of their mouths.

It’s full proof.

But in the world of the paranormal, spirits get attached. Especially when they meet an untimely, unprecedented death. The men that were murdered and tortured within the walls of that hospital remain in their rooms, their cells, waiting for a chance to strike back. They’re not happy, they’re not friendly, and they certainly do not wish to do you well.

Sounds like the perfect introduction to Hell, no?

When we walked up the stairs to the infirmary, there was a drastic temperature change. I can’t say that it was due to spiritual activity, but I can say that it made the entrance into the sanatorium much more intense. There was a long hallway inviting us to the Ward, but we took our time with the rooms. Doors marked “Treatment Room” and “Clinical Laboratory” enticed me in with promises of the damned, and when I opened the doors I was met with stretchers, tubs filled with electrical cords, and treatment chairs. Various types of medical equipment lined the walls and I could almost hear the screams of the people that were strapped down like four-pointed stars while electrodes were strapped to their heads.

We moved into the sick room where most of the people died.

The air was thick with illness, but we got no response from its inhabitants.

So we moved to the Ward. 

Now I think that I can handle a lot. I’ve done investigations before and have even orchestrated ghost tours at Nemocolin Castle, but believe me when I tell you that I have never been so scared when working with the paranormal. Or felt so threatened.

Most of our time in the Ward was spent in solitary where we sat next to the individual cells and questioned the patients. We primarily worked with EVP and the K-2 Meter, but towards the end we didn’t need devices to pick up activity. It was plain as day.  There were three of us girls in that room and the rest of our team was on the opposite wing of the prison, so there was no way that our results could have been tampered with…and I tell you with all the truth in my heart, that we were not alone up there.

Someone walked the halls, whistling.

There were bangs as if someone were rattling the cells and trying to get out.

I hit the ground on several occasions, some due to the excess amount of bats in the Ward, some due to the fact that the cell door in Solitary started to shake.

We asked if someone was there and was answered by two, loud bangs….but they didn’t stop. They echoed and continued around the room as if the spirits were mocking us with a never-ending spiral of noise. I wanted to leave but was afraid to step out of the room. What was the lesser of the two evils? Solitary or the main hall of the Psychiatric Ward? Either way I moved, I was in their home. Trapped and at the mercy of their doing.

I have never felt such relief as I did when I left that place.

As inspired and excited as I was to be in the setting where the stuff I write about actually happened, I’ll be the first to admit that the horrors that walk within those hallways are not the stories made up by writers like myself.

The dead walk.

And if you’re brave enough, sometimes you can even follow them.

**All pictures are property of Crystal Vines, Paranormal Investigator with Louisiana Spirits