I’ve always believed in the possibility of such things. Just like I believe in the possibility of extraterrestrials, sea monsters, and a functional government. Okay, so the first two are more probable. After starting my mystery series—the stories of a murdered detective who returns to solve murders—I decided to find out what the ghost-hunting craze was about.
Through life, I’d had my share of weird wooo-wooo moments. As a child, I lived in an upstate New York scouting camp. The first house we lived in terrified me. My brother and I spent sleepless nights hiding beneath our covers when something stomped around the attic and opened and slammed the attic door leading to our room. There was the never-ending attic light battle, too. After moving across the street, my father would send me across to that attic many nights to shut off the light. I’d swallow hard, run like hell up three flights of stairs, yank the light cord, and dash my escape. Most often, by the time I returned, the light was back on. My father, the kind and loving man that he wasn’t, was not amused.
For my wife’s birthday in March, 2011, I led a band of intrepid ghost-enthusiasts—including my family—to the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia. It was built in the mid-1800s and had been the home of thousands of mentally ill patients—ghost-experts say many remain. The asylum has been featured on every ghost-chasing show on the planet.
Off we went—in the dead of the winter (sorry), in the West Virginia mountains, in a four-story stone, unheated asylum. Whose idea was that?
We made our four-hour journey by caravan. But, during the trek, my son had paranormal encounters at Burger King, the men’s room, and the back seat of the car. He saw apparitions, moving objects, and heard threatening voices. All before we arrived at the asylum.
For eight hours, we trudged through the old asylum—video recorders, voice recorders, K-2 meters, EMF gadgets … everything but portable heat. It was 12 degrees and the wind whipped through the old 19th Century tomb with hurricane force. If spirits were about, they earned the right to stay.
Before the sun came up, we’d found a ball that moved around a child’s play room, a kitchen with whispering voices, and foggy images and disembodied sounds on our recorders. I’d also found that I was almost alone. Half my adventurous crew retreated to the comfort of my Jeep’s heater and coffee.
Alas, you can’t find good spook-investigators anymore.
In the end, it was a wonderful trip. Everyone had experiences that made them chatter all the way home. My son, having been visited by the ghost of Burger-King’s-past had the most—shocker.
Ghost hunting is all in the spirit of things (again, sorry). If you believe, you shall find. If you’re unsure, you will find reason to consider possibilities. If you’re a non-believer, like my brother-in-law, you’ll spend the night grousing and come home only cold and tired.
What we experienced was a great birthday for my wife. I doubt any spirits followed us home, but after the trip, I believed a little more. I also developed a key character in Dying for the Past—my first sequel—a ghost-chasing private detective.
For all you ghost-enthusiasts, hunt on. My mind still isn’t made up, but I continue to believe in the possibility. And for those who refuse that notion that the dead can’t come back and haunt us, just look at Capitol Hill—the truth is there.
How about the rest of you? Do you have any ghost stories to share?