Talking to myself in the dark

Last Friday I went ghost hunting. Yes, I know that sounds weird, but I’m also an accountant who writes novels, shoots guns from helicopters for fun, and has eaten some stupid things on dares. Basically I like to try new stuff.

I met Tom Carr of Wasatch Paranormal a couple of years ago at ConDuit. Tom hobby is talking to himself in the dark in the hopes that dead people will respond. He’s a paranormal investigator. He did a panel where he talked about ghost hunting and played some of the audio that he’d caught over the years. I found Tom to be a funny and insightful guy, and when he started inviting some of the local authors to come along on a hunt, I took him up on it.

Now I’m a skeptical kind of person. I’ve never seen a ghost. My personal religious beliefs account for that kind of thing, but it wasn’t anything I’d ever thought about a lot. My knowledge of ghost hunting was based entirely around watching the TV show on Sci-Fi (excuse me, SyFy, because that is the dumbest marketing change I’ve ever seen).  I will admit, that I enjoy that show, but mostly tuned in for the last couple minutes for the video and audio reveals.

I wasn’t expecting to see anything, hear anything, and I mostly figured that I would go out and freeze my butt off in the dark, but like I said, I like to try new things. My wife asked me if I wanted to take our video camera, but since I wasn’t going to see anything, I was probably just going to drop it and break it and therefore feel stupid, so I left it home. (which I came to regret later).

I met Tom and his crew from Wasatch Paranormal in Tooele. We were joined my fellow fantasy author, Paul Genesse. I’ve known Paul for a few years, great guy, great writer, and I’m happy to say that he’s going to have some good news to announce here pretty soon about his writing career. Paul’s background is in cardiac medicine, so he’s a pretty analytical person. So I reasoned that at least two of us out there would be bored.

Hoo boy, was I wrong.

We travelled to Mercur, which was an abandoned mining town. The town itself is gone, but parts of the cemetery are still there. Tom and his crew liked this place, because they had gotten some interesting things on tape. It is considered one of the most haunted places in Utah, and many ghost hunters travel out there in the hopes of spotting something.

Mercur is an eerie place. Many of the graves have been fenced off, but the majority of them have just kind of been reabsorbed into the ground, so even as you are wandering around, you’re probably walking on someone.  According to the records there are over a hundred people buried there, but only forty or so are marked off. There is only one headstone still standing, and of course, it is for an eleven year old girl, and the locals keep leaving baby dolls on it, which I found kind of creepy. (at first).

Absolutely nothing happened for the first couple of hours. It got darker. It got colder. We wandered around. All of us were wearing digital recorders. I like wandering around in the desert at night, so I was cool with that though. That’s probably one reason that I like living in Utah.

Then we got to this one spot where many people say they’ve had strange things happen to them. Some “psychic” from an earlier trip said that they felt this low spot had once had a cabin on it, and the dirt was up on the walls for insulation.  Being a farm-kid, (and therefore understanding that water likes to go downhill) that took me all of thirty seconds with my stupidly bright flashlight to debunk, because if there was a cabin in that spot, it was because whoever lived there really liked to be damp.

But there is something weird about that particular spot. WP brought a K2 meter. If you’ve ever watched one of those ghost hunting shows then you know how they work. They measure fluctuations in electromagnetic fields. Many ghost hunters believe that the supernatural has some effect on electromagnetic fields, so by using the meter they can pick up fluctuations. In layman’s terms, it is a little box with a flashing lights on it.

Various things can set off the meter, like radio waves, cell phones, magnets, that kind of thing. For the last few hours the K2 hadn’t done anything. It would occasionally flash once in a great while, probably from a random neutrino or something, hell if I know.

So we’re now at this low spot, and Tom suggested that we do an EVP session. (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) Basically you ask questions, and hope that ghost happens to be hanging out there so it will answer your questions, and you get it on the digital recorder. We start doing this, and I feel a little silly, but hey, it’s cool.  Then the K2 flickered.  So somebody said, hey, if you’re here, come over and touch the little green light.

So it goes off again… Tom said, fine, let’s talk. Touch the green light once for no, and twice for yes.  We then proceeded to have a five minute conversation with a dead guy.

Okay, I’m a skeptical kind of guy. My initial thought is that this is either A. Random electrical interference that is just happening to coincide extremely closely in timing with our questions. Or B. It is rigged somehow. Then somebody asked a question, that was kind of a double negative, that confused me, and I’m still alive. So far, everything had been two clear flashes all the way, or one clear flash all the way, green-yellow-red.  The nebulous question got at green-green-yellow-huh?  And for the first time, I thought, hmmm… maybe we’re talking to a dead guy. 

It was a very convincing conversation. 

So when we got back to the “safe area” (i.e. place with fire for warmth, and snacks) I checked the K2 meter. I reasoned that the most obvious way to manipulate that conversation would be by pushing a button on the box. There is only one button. Off/On. And when you shut it off, the little green light goes away completely. The light never went away, so it wasn’t that.  Nothing else came near the box, but I could set it off by putting my cell next to it and turning it on.  However there was no indication that anything ever came close to the box, and the operator’s hands were visible the whole time.

Okay, so moving on, as the night went on, more people began to freeze and left, so then there were only five of us left. It was quieter, and then it got weirder.

We had two more conversations using the K2. I won’t go into a ton of details, but either I spoke with a dead Italian immigrant miner who happened to like guns and found it great that I was carrying a gun though it looked different from what he was used to and he personally preferred revolvers—OR—I am actually able, through my psychic powers of wishful thinking able to manipulate the Earth’s magnetic field on demand with my brain in a pattern that makes for a very convincing Q&A session.  Because which one of those sounds less far-fetched?

And to make it weirder, remember, I’m not the ghost hunter, I’m the skeptical guy who thought doing this sounded fun.  The 2nd conversation was my doing.  We were blundering around in the dark, and two of us had thought that we’d seen something moving in the bushes. I assumed it was probably a rabbit.  So I walked over by myself to where I’d seen the shadow to see if there were tracks (ground was soft, since it was still a little damp from thawing, and I’ve killed a lot of animals, and I’m pretty good at spotting tracks) because that would be “debunking” and it made me feel smart.

Only when I got over there, I got this really weird feeling. All of a sudden the air got oddly still. All the hair stood up on my legs. “I said, hey Tom?”  and I got “Yeah, I’m on my— Whoa! Did you see that?” Apparently the three people behind me saw something move between me and them.  Okay, now I’m a little weirded out, but then the K2 went nuts and we ended up having another conversation.  (this time the K2 was being held by a different person).  

Oh, and I forgot the part about how we ended up on guns. This is Utah. We’re all armed, all the time. (and don’t you forget it! Red State Boo Yah!)  Tom was carrying a gun. Earlier in the evening, he jumped, because his Springfield XDM had shifted in its holster by itself. (we did actually get the rattling sound of the holster on audio right after an EVP of what sounds like a groan or a moaning noise).  Of course, this didn’t happen to me, so I can’t say what happened exactly, but it sure made him jump.  (I’m pretty sure he had on a Blackhawk, excuse me BLACKHAWK!, Sherpa with the finger lock, so BLACKHAWK! can now advertise that their retention system is ghost proof too)

So that’s how we got to the gun question. Tom asked if the “person” we were talking to had been the one to play with his gun. Very clearly, one full flash. No.  Okay, then, did somebody else try to move my gun? Yes. Are there more than one of you here? Yes. Are there more than two of you here? Yes. Are there more than three of you here? No.  Are there three of you here? Yes.

Okay… Now we’ve wandered into strange territory. There are only five of us present. I can see everyone’s hands. No one else is anywhere near us. Nobody is waving electronic devices or magnets around the box to set it off and, oh wait, yeah, I’m the one that started this one… Okay, my skepticism just took a kick to the teeth.  

But wait, there’s more. After clustering around the fire to stay alive, shooting the bull and laughing, I hear very clear and very loud footsteps coming up on the rocks behind me. (and keep in mind, my hearing sucks).  In fact, several of us heard them. Most of the people had left earlier, so I turned fully expecting to see that somebody had forgotten something and had returned. There was nobody there. So I took my 120 lumen Streamlight and I lit the hillside up. Nothing. I ran to the edge and shined the light down into the ravine, figuring that it must have been a deer. Nothing. I’ve used this flashlight to spotlight coyotes. There was no cover big enough to hide anything large enough to make that kind of noise. But I sure as heck heard it.

Then three of us went out. Tom the ghost hunter, and the two guest writers, Paul and I. And guess what? This time we have a K2 conversation with a little girl, who apparently thinks it is great when people leave dollies on her grave. Tom agreed to leave one for her the next day.

Okay, that’s it. I’m done. Good night.

It was an interesting experience to say the least.  The time between those three Q&A sessions, the K2 did nothing. I was never at any point scared, but I would describe the emotions I felt at the three different times as 1. Huh?  2. Weird… and 3. Awww, sad.  Well, the I’ll admit, the footstep incident was creepy, yet exciting. Okay, so my honest opinion? Mercur is flippin’ haunted.   

Tom’s organization: Wasatch Paranormal The website is under construction, but he does put up all the EVPs he’s every caught on there. And he’s got a ghost hunting podcast called Residual Haunting and Tom’s got a book out about how to conduct your own ghost hunt


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