Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House continues to be one of the scariest things I’ve ever read. Steven King’s The Shining comes in a close second. The television series Dark Shadows and The Night Stalker gave me rich fodder for my childhood nightmares. Movies that pulled a scream from me? These are some that I remember the best: Poltergeist, Session 9, The Sixth Sense, The Ring, The Amityville Horror, Burnt Offerings, and White Noise.
White Noise was a movie about ghosts communicating though the static “white noise” of radios and televisions that are tuned to empty stations. The movie introduced me to the concept of Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP). Apparently if you want to communicate with ghosts, one way is to use a tape recorder. You might not hear the ghosts talking to you, but the tape recorder will. You’ll hear them later when the tape is played back slowly and at an increased volume. I’m using the term “tape recorder” but of course everyone uses a digital recorder. Apparently ghosts don’t have a preference.
Watch Ghost Hunters on the SciFi channel and you’ll see the investigators go into a darkened room, turn on their tape recorder, and then try to provoke ghosts to answer questions they pose aloud. Usually they ask something like, “Do you want to talk to us? Do you want us to go away?” Something that only requires a short answer. You don’t want to overtax ghosts.
I enjoy watching the Ghost Hunter episodes although I have doubts that ghosts always cooperate with the show’s production schedule. They set up elaborate cameras and recording devices in an alleged ghost-filled location, spend a couple of hours, and then pack it up. I want to see someone set up camp in a haunted house for about six months with all the cameras and recorders going 24/7. That would be a great reality show.
Okay, so why am I talking ghosts today? Because I’m going to be spending tonight and tomorrow night in a haunted hotel; one of the places where Ghost Hunters filmed an episode during their second season. I’ve got reservations for the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. My brother is going with me (another fan of the Ghost Hunter show). We’re going to take the evening Ghost Tour and learn a little more about the history of the structure built in 1886, then spend two nights watching for ghosts.
Half joking, I told my brother to bring his digital camera so we could get shots of orbs and other physical manifestations if the ghosts show up while we’re there. He agreed, but informed me that they would probably drain the camera’s batteries before we could get a shot.
“Drain the batteries?” I asked. He didn’t seem to be joking.
He gave me a knowing look.
Okay, so maybe I don’t watch the show that closely. Or take it that seriously. Maybe I just have it on while I write, glancing over at the screen when the screaming starts. I actually did watch the entire episode about the Crescent Hotel though. The scariest part wasn’t the sounds or the shadows the investigators managed to catch on their monitoring equipment. It was when an investigator’s laptop computer was moved, through means unknown, from the top of the hotel bed to a position leaning against the exterior door. That really creeped me out.
Nobody, ghost or human, touches my laptop.
Check back later in the week for updates to this blog.
Update: 4:00 P.M. Central – 7/21/08
Arrived at hotel and got checked in. About 100 degrees F. outside. Rooms were on the fourth floor and very hot until I got the window units going. There is wireless internet in the hotel but it’s very, very slow. So far the only odd thing is that I had to put new batteries in my wireless keyboard. But it might have just needed new batteries – it’s been about 2 months since I used it.
Plan to participate in the ghost tour tonight at 8:00 P.M. Central.
So far my first impression is that old buildings are great to tour but maybe not so great to stay overnight in. Nothing special about the room that I’m in – just old.