To me, being a paranormal investigator is very much like being an actress, and I play the part, dance the dance, and sing the song with my dark muse, Hysteria, as we travel the states in search of new patients to put in our asylum.
And I take my best friend, Crystal Vines, with me as well.
I mean, someone has to hold my hand when the lights go out and things start to move.
Last night, we traveled to Hill View Manor for a 10-hour investigation. Now neither of us like to work with a lot of equipment, but we do carry around flashlights, a tape recorder, and a notebook wherever we go. Crystal usually talks to the spirits and works with the EVPs, while I tend to photograph the building and scribble down poetry and notes for research. In fact, this is how Hysteria started in the first place. She was a collection of scribbles and pictures that I put in my notebook while looking for ghosts, but then she became very much alive...and we've been inseparable ever since.
Which is kind of funny because it's the same situation with me and Crystal. We originally became friends after investigating Moundsville Prison together and since that night, we've been attached at the hip, looking for ghosts and going on adventures. And the best part about our friendship, is that there's no denying that when the two of us are together that things start to happen. Things that don't always make sense.
Kind of like last night.
Neither of us had a good feeling about the basement, but yet we spent a lot of time there, sitting in a completely pitch-black room that was used as overflow for the patient’s belongings when they died. It was filled with suitcases, photographs, clothing, old mattresses, stretchers, doctor notes, sheet music…you name it. We each found a chair, sat down and took a couple deep breaths. Then we turned off the lights.
10,000 + people died in Hill View Manor.
They were embalmed within the building and buried in the cemetery out back, sometimes 3-4 bodies deep. These people—these patients—had nowhere to go but Hill View for they were mentally unstable, in critical care, or homeless. And they were standing all around me, and all around Crystal, in that room.
You see, the funny thing about darkness is that once you adjust to it, it’s its own kind of light. You can still see, and what you see is a different kind of blackness. Shadows moved in front of me, Crystal had a conversation with a male patient who communicated with us through a series of knocks and flashes of light, and then when the activity started to still, we went next door to the boiler room, where we met George.
Now George used to be a maintenance worker at the manor, and his blood runs black and gold for the Steelers. Sounds great right? For me, yeah. I'm a Steeler fan. For Crystal, not so much. You see, Crystal is from Louisiana and a die-hard Saints fan. George did not like that. Was definitely not a fan. We chatted him up for a little bit, walking in and out of the boiler room, before we simply stopped and listened for about 15-20 minutes.
Everything was quiet for a while, but then George started to come around again.
I invited him to sit next to me, and within moments, something brushed my hand. I jumped and went to motion for Crystal to take a picture but couldn’t see her. Something tall, and something very black, stood in front of me, blocking my vision of her for about 5-10 seconds before it disappeared. My jaw about hit the ground and Crystal started to laugh.
Yes, she laughs at the activity.
Crystal has been investigating since 2006 and she said that in that short amount of time when we invited George to come out and sit with us, that she’s never experienced a cold spot as intense as what we felt. A breeze blew down the hallway--enough to move my hair--and something touched her hand as well.
Can I prove any of that to you? No. And I can’t because the second I tried to take a picture of the black mass that stood in front of Crystal, my phone shut off (it was 53% when we walked down there).
The rest of the building was pretty quiet that night but the two of us still roamed the church, the embalming room, the graveyard, and the patient’s rooms. We sang “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” to one patient, took a nap in the family room, and then walked down a disturbingly-wonderful hallway where a little boy’s spirit remains. As neither of us are big fans of ghost children, we decided to leave him and his toys behind.
But why Stephanie? Why would you not play with the ghost boy?
Well, he was dubbed the Angel of Death, only appearing to patient’s days before they passed away. The patients would rant and rave about a little boy that would come visit them in their rooms, and frankly people, I don't need any more nightmares.
I already have Hysteria.
Cut me a break.
Overall, as a fan of haunts and abandoned buildings—especially hospitals—I was very impressed and loved the feel of the place. The building itself was beautiful, and the rooms and curtains that surrounded the beds, were pure magic for a horror writer. There were several times where I even stopped before going into a room full of white, moth-eaten curtains and thought, Stephanie….this is why people die in horror movies. You yell at them when they walk in these places, remember? And then I naturally put on my brave face and went in.
Because when you investigate, you act.
You become someone that’s not afraid to push through barriers and try to find answers.
You become someone that is daring, courageous and willing to take a risk.
It’s a performance.
And probably my favorite one to act out.
***Interested in meeting Hysteria for yourself? Find her here!