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. www.paulgenesse.com 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 http://www.wasatchparanormal.com 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 http://www.asprn.com and Tom’s got a book out about how to conduct your own ghost hunt http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/talking-to-yourself-in-the-dark/8352589

37 Responses

  1. Did you leave Tom a copy of MHI?

  2. Awesome! I’ve camped right out near there and didn’t see anything but had some very eerie dreams.

  3. Sounds to me, Larry, like some of your newfound spectral friends might be good consultants for a future MHI novel…

    Not sarcastic, but serious–personally, I’ve always believed that there’s more in this world than our five senses (and even sixth, for those of us who have one, in whatever form it may take) can fully understand.

  4. I’ve always been bit skeptical of actual ghost hunting (it always seems fake on TV), yet creeped out by people’s first hand accounts same time (I have a friend who did security at the McCune Mansion in Salt Lake, which is supposedly very haunted, and he has some strange stories). I’ve thought about going out on something like this, but always felt I’d just get bored and waste my time. My wife and I watch Ghost adventures on netflix and spend half the time laughing and half the time scared of every sound in our apartment. I bet I can show her this and get her to sign up for something with me, if only for laughs.

  5. This kind of thing is quite hard to explain to a rationalist. If one is a Transhumanist, it’s really hard to believe it, even with credible people stating their observations.
    We [I] hope there is some natural explanation … but there doesn’t appear to be one evident.
    I believe you reported the events as you observed them. I’ve had weird, unexplainable things happen too.
    There is all kinds of speculation about the human mind existing at a quantum level, and some “paranormal” effects maybe quantum manifestations. This effectively equals magic at this point.
    All I can say is “wow” and wonder what the hell is going on.
    Faith based solutions don’t work for me. Magic isn’t good either.
    I am at a loss. So I guess we shall see?:

  6. Well, I have to admit I’m pretty closed minded to this sort of thing. But hell if I’m ever invited for a ghost hunt I’m definitely tagging along.

    During the first paragraph or two I was wondering if you took a gun (half jokingly). Then you confirmed that you were (can’t say I was surprised). My only question is if you were loaded with spectral-piercing bullets :P

  7. Are you setting us up for another book? I ain’t afraid of no ghost!

    What ammo is most effective against ghosts?

  8. Well now I’m curious…

    I’m a full-on skeptic. Partly faith based, but alot of it just because it seems ridiculous.

    That said: It’s interesting. You gave a pretty good description of how it went down…..Alot of the “ghost reports” some people post, you wonder if it actually happened or if they had a hazy time with their favorite substance.

    And this brings up 2 questions.
    #1. Was the gun you were carrying usable for ghosts.
    #2. What IS the ultimate ghost weapon? I’d say a flashlight, handgun, and flare gun combo’d be about best. Maybe a squirtgun loaded with holy water :P

  9. MontanaArmorer, just take Abomination 003 with star-shell loaded in the 37mm and an MD20 drum full of 12-gauge flares.:D

  10. You can’t collect PUFF bounty on paranormals….

  11. Larry, I had such a great time. Even as quite as it was I love that place and I cant wait to take you out to the Baron Woolen Mill. Just make sure you leave the action empty don’t need you going all MHI on me. LOL I am also looking forward to Conduit again this year. Thanks
    Tom A Carr
    Founder Wasatch Paranormal Investigators
    host Residual Haunting Live
    Author Talking to Yourself In the Dark (How To Guide To the Paranormal)

  12. Phased plasma rifle, in the 40 gigawatt range, neh?

    Very interesting, I’d love to do something like that one day.

    Ever hear of the Bell Witch? The most famous haunting in the world at one time. Took place right here in Adams, TN. One of the few times Andrew Jackson and his crew of rough necks ever turned tail and ran was the night they fled the Bell Witch Cave.

    I’ve got a couple stories from when we first moved here about this phenom that I won’t go into right now, but I will say this: I’ll never badmouth the Bell Witch. I don’t know how, or why, but I SAW what happened to someone that did and it scared the you-know-what outta me and a couple others.

    Sleep well.

  13. I’m generally a skeptic, but I also recognize that we don’t know everything yet. There’s probably a rational, scientific explanation–but that doesn’t mean that there are no ghosts, only that we don’t understand why there are ghosts. After all, at one point explosives were thought to be magic by some of the most advanced civilizations in the world. Maybe in a thousand years, scientists will make a breakthrough discovery explaining how echoes of a consciousness can remain after death. Til then, I don’t believe in the paranormal, but that doesn’t mean that ghosts are impossible.

    “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

  14. Nick,
    I think we’ll get some answers in far less than 1000 years. Certainly within 100, and probably within 30. Look at the double exponential rate of change in knowledge and information since the start of the printing press, the industrial era, electronics, etc. The Next Big Thing is bioengineering, and I think biophysical and/or bioelectronic systems will be key to understanding some of the “paranormal” phenomena. I’ve already pointed out that some scientists speculate that there are quantum effects involved with the human mind. Once one gets in the quantum realm, some of it resembles magic. The math gets fuzzy, things become degrees of probabilities; I am not sure there is chaos or not at that level, and one ends up with the state being the one that has the highest probability of existence. Think about the state of Schrodinger’s Cat.
    Ralph

    • You could be right. I suppose we’ll see. I don’t know enough about quantum physics to do much except watch the Big Bang Theory.

      Also, this is tangentially related, but it’s one of the better Halloween costumes I’ve ever seen–a friend of mine went as Schroedinger’s Cat last year. Typical revealing girl’s cat costume, but she covered her left side in zombie-style makeup and blood.

  15. Baloney.

    It sounds like that K2 gadget is pretty good at detecting transient EM clutter and nearby metal. The things people get themselves worked up over … fantasy is just fine for novels ( I rather enjoyed MHI ).

    But if you want me to seriously consider them for real, you’ll have to pony up some actual specimens please.

    • Well looks like Larry is gonna have to organize a team for Ghost Hunter Unlimited, sub-division of MHI. I don’t personally know what firearm works best of spectres but I’d be willing to test a few out!

  16. If you think these ghost hunters have any decent evidence then you could probably get an easy million dollars off of James Randi. :)

  17. I can make a device to set off the K2 meter with nothing more than a steel file, a 9v battery, and a length of wire.

    It would be trivial to fabricate a tiny device to activate the K2, which could be easily hidden in a pocket or even a shoe. Could even be a larger device activated from a hill half a mile away. I’m not saying that’s what happened, but I wouldn’t rule it out either.

    As far as actual paranormal activity, I wouldn’t rule that out, but I wouldn’t play with it either. I don’t know about LDS, but a typical protestant Christian finds no evidence in the scripture for a human spirit lingering on earth, but there are intelligent supernatural entities called fallen angels, aka demons. Demons may wish to appear to people as ghosts for their own purposes. I will leave it to you to decide what purposes it may serve.

  18. Sounds like Larry had a very fun time. I had to google that Bell Witch story. Now that’s a scary ghost story.

  19. an entertaining evening with a guy who makes his living by entertaining people. pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

    so does this k2 look just like the little device they used in ghostbusters to do the exact same thing?

    “Gozer the Gozerian… good evening. As a duly designated representative of the City, County and State of New York, I order you to cease any and all supernatural activity and return forthwith to your place of origin or to the nearest convenient parallel dimension.”

  20. I think it’s funny how many people are recommending different weapons for ghosts. When you go ghost hunting guns are to protect yourself from things that aren’t dead. Coyotes, mountain lions, zombies, that sort of thing. :-P

  21. [...] happening are small enough to be somewhat pointless, or at least highly irregular. Then I read things like this, from an individual I have no reason to distrust, and the parts of my brain that still want dragons [...]

  22. I’m not a church goer but I am religious. The servants of the adversary will do what ever it takes to lead you astray and take you down ever darker paths. Be careful Larry, you’re treading dangerous ground.

    • I dunno. The spirit world contains the spirits of both “good” and “bad” people. Just because a spirit wants to talk to the living doesn’t automatically make them evil.

      I have some relatives who were visited by their deceased grandparents who were very pious Christians.

      • The only evil here is this “ghost hunter” taking money from the gullible in order to lead them around in the dark while he fiddles with a hollywierd prop.

        Really Larry … why are you lending credence to this con?

      • Kristopher, really? Do I strike you as gullible? Or do I strike you as a liar?

      • See, Larry, that’s what you get for writing a post entitled “Irrefutable Evidence of the Existance of Life After Death”.

        Let’s be honest. You’re a naive, gullible rube who just got suckered by a snake oil salesman. He took you out into a dark and spooky place, performed a few Scooby Doo tricks with flashlights, some string, and a rubber mask, and had you completely bamboozled.

        You, Sir, are no meddling kid.

        Fortunately, Larry, you have very many wisened, worldly sophisticates ready to point out the error of your thinking and set you straight.

        I, being a wisened sophisticate, would’ve set you straight, but you called me at 0100 in the morning and I was pretty out of it. Now that I’m sober, I mean, awake, I can see what really went on.

        Seriously, folks. Larry went on a little Scooby expedition and reported what happened. Some people seem to be offended by this, as if it were a personal affront to their worldview.

        I don’t know anything about ghosts, or the paranormal, or quantum mechanics. I do know there’s probably never going to be “proof” of anything one way or the other. You don’t get to know if you really have a soul or not. That’s cheating. The rules are, you have to make a choice about what you think and act accordingly. Keeps it interesting that way. Regardless of what you think, you will at some point in your life experience doubt, if you’re honest with yourself. If not, you’re probably a fanatic.

      • ha ha ha NC – Thats why they pay you the big bucks! You make sense of the man in the mask! And he would have gotten away it too if it wasn’t for larry and those pesky friends of his!

        LOL

  23. Supernatural or charlatanry remains to be seen.
    As for evil in the world, nothing supernatural is required – read the news, there’s plenty of easy to obtain human evil around, with purveyors ready to sell any one any thing [or any one else] for a nominal fee.
    As for weapons, everyone knows anything supernatural is just like the only good spider – at ground zero of a multi-megaton thermonuclear blast.

  24. No mysteries here and this is totally believable.

    As a practicing Catholic, it is part of my religion and therefore my duty to acknowledge that Spirits do exist, spirits, not ghosts (1 Samuel 28:8), and that you commit sin by conjuring or attempting to communicate with them (1 Chronicles 10:13)

    Also, my brothers old house was haunted by a familiar imitating his kids dead grandfather for years, causing all kinds of menace.

    I feel no need to experience them, but if I did, it would be in the day time so I wouldn’t freeze or need a flashlight to look in directions of the noises, spirits are equally active during the day after all, and I would query the spirits in the only acceptable way as mentioned in the Bible to test if it is from God 1 John 4:1.

    If the spirits are not of god, they will throw some pretty violent tantrums, then all activity ceases.

    Nothing angers God more then a potentially salvageable soul communicating with a damned spirit which He reviles with all His omnipotent being, especially once the soul is aware that what he is doing is evil and direct opposition to all that is Holy and Good.

    The biblical references I quote here is just a few of the many quotes on this topic in both Old and New Testament, and the quotes I reference can be found in any Biblical version you choose or prefer…or not, I’m not trying to, nor do I care to influence anyone, just adding information.

    I speak for myself, my experience and my Faith only.
    –db

  25. Interesting, but I really did not need to read this right before I go to bed. My dreams are way too weird lately the way it is.

  26. Anyways Larry, I don’t know about going on a ‘ghost hunt.” I’ve had a few experiences with the other side. Not all were positive. But I disagree that the presence or communication with a spirit is evil. Unless your playing with a ouija board. ;-)

  27. Hey. About the meter… why does it have to be a specialized meter?

    After playing with oscilloscope probes in electrician-school back when, I decided to try a fairly sensitive multimeter (on the wide-frequency AC mV setting)… and, well, at least it agreed with grandma’s dowsing rod.

    Oh, and after the time in the electrician-school when one of my classmates managed to completely scramble an oscilloscope just by thinking chaotically while holding the probe to his temple (and yes, he was using ESD-safety gear), well, … (the scope recovered by itself after half an hour or so, too.)

    Not that that’d make things any less weird, actually.

  28. Larry, welcome to the fold of those who are willing to keep an open mind and check for strangeness going on where nothing should be happening.
    I have been investigating these things for better than 20 years,
    Been to places that dozens of people swore were “haunted” and had a nice peaceful time… been to other places with minimal history and at the end of the day rethought putting myself thru that every again.
    I am pretty much of 100% open mind on these things.
    Is there something out there… I am pretty damn sure there is SOMETHING… or there was some mighty fine group hypnosis and electrical hoaxing going on.
    Do I know WHAT it is? nope… not a clue.
    Could it be the spirit of a deceased person? maybe
    Could it be demonic? maybe
    Could they be messengers of a higher power? maybe.
    Could it be a projection from a living persons subconscious? maybe… however this opens another can of worms.

    All I know is that I have seen, heard, felt, been touched, pushed, pulled, scratched, and choked by various things at different locations… and I dont have an exact explanation of what occurred and why.
    But I will still keep checking things out and trying to figure it out.

    Jim

  29. [...] More Paul Genesse Fun Facts. Paul and I once had a conversation with a ghost in an abandoned cemetary. It was very Scooby Doo of us.  http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2010/04/16/talking-to-myself-in-the-dark/ [...]

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