EXCLUSIVE! The Haunting of the Queen Mary

HorrorAddicts.net was invited to an exclusive party where our correspondent was given a tour of the ship and the most haunted room! He shares his experience with us below.

The Haunting of the Queen Mary

by Dario Ciriello

It’s not hard to believe the Queen Mary, once-proud flagship of the legendary Cunard line, is haunted. What’s impossible to believe is that it’s not haunted.

A fifth of a mile from bow to stern, held together by over ten million rivets, this eighty-three-year-old vessel slaps you with its living soul before you even set foot on its wide decks.

Once aboard, the first thing you notice is a subtle sense of imbalance; she sags slightly in the middle, and the closer you get to the bow or stern, the more pronounced the effect. The art deco elegance — acres of polished birdseye maple paneling, brass fittings, and long, empty passageways flanking the cabins and staterooms — belongs to the past, not the present. The sense of history is palpable.

And of course this grand old lady has seen its share of tragedy.

In 1942, during its wartime incarnation as a troop ship, the Queen Mary collided with the British cruiser Curacoa, slicing it in two “like a piece of butter, straight through its six-inch armor plating,” according to one eyewitness. The cruiser’s boiler rooms exploded and 339 sailors died. It’s rumored that some of the bodies were later found inside the damaged bows of the Queen Mary. An unknown numbers of prisoners of war, along with allied wounded, are thought to have died on board, many from heatstroke during its passage through the Red Sea.

In 1966, just a year before the ship was retired, John Pedder, an eighteen-year-old engineer, was crushed to death in one of the ship’s watertight doors — watertight door number thirteen. Since then he’s been seen many times, usually with a wrench in his hand.

And of course some deaths go unrecorded. Perhaps this explains the many sightings of a woman often seen in the first-class swimming pool, where it’s possible she drowned. Also reported there are occasional wet footprints that end abruptly. This in a swimming pool that was drained twenty-six years ago.

Resident paranormal investigator Matthew Schultz led my group down a narrow steel gangway suspended in the eerie, unlit cavern of the ship’s boiler rooms to the so-called “safe room”1 where he conducts part of his research. Matthew explained that since spirits are thought to communicate via energy, many of the instruments used in his research — a number of them were arrayed on a table before us — measure energy spikes and anomalies. Time after time, Matthew and his tour guests have experienced touches, tugs on clothing, and disembodied voices.

During his investigations, Matthew has recorded numerous instances of ghostly voices and, in one dramatic encounter, the so-called “singing nurse”. He played a number of these recordings for us. Although the noise of the ship’s ventilation systems rises to a roar on recordings turned up to high volume and, annoyingly, spirits seem to prefer to whisper rather than speak clearly, I could hear something on each example he played. I couldn’t swear they were voices, but they did make my neck hair prickle.

The next part of our tour was led by the distinguished and soft-spoken Commodore Everette Hoard. The Commodore2, who has loved the vessel and been part of its history for almost four decades, took us to cabin B340, the most haunted place on the ship. For years, passengers would awaken to find ghostly figures at their bedside; staff would make up the beds only to find them in complete disarray moments later.

Many visitors, including the Commodore himself, experience vertigo when they step into B340. The cabin became so notorious for its paranormal phenomena that it was left unoccupied for years. “I wouldn’t spend a night in here,” the Commodore assured us.3

Our final tour guide, Daniel, showed us to the ship’s pool (unfortunately we couldn’t go inside) where the ghostly wet footprints appear. He regaled us with the story of the eight-year-old ghost known affectionately as “Jackie”, who is often seen with arms upraised, as if asking to be picked up and held. The nearby stairway, steepest on the ship, is said to have proved fatal to a number of passengers who lost their footing and tumbled down it during rough weather.

As a grand finale, Daniel led us along a blood-spattered kitchen hallway lined with grisly relics including animal and human heads and limbs, hopefully all fake, to the very apex of the ship’s bow, whose converging steel plates so murderously ended the lives of most of the Curacoa’s crew.

Is it all true? Is this majestic liner the hotbed of paranormal activity so many claim it to be?

I’m certain at least some of the phenomena are real. Although I didn’t directly experience anything worse than a sense of imbalance and the occasional eldritch shiver, the history of the vessel and the sincerity of people like Commodore Hoard alone are enough to convince me.

And if any of you spend a night in cabin B340, drop me a line and let me know how you slept.


1 Called the “safe room” because none of its walls contacts any part of the ship, thus isolating it in case of emergencies

2 The title is an honorary one bestowed after long service

3 Readers will be delighted to know that B340 has been entirely refurnished and is now available to overnight guests: bring $599 and nerves of steel.


Dario Ciriello is a professional author and editor, and the founder (2009) of Panverse Publishing.

Dario’s first novel, “Sutherland’s Rules”, a crime caper/thriller with a shimmer of the fantastic, was published in 2013. “Free Verse and Other Stories”, a collection of his short Science Fiction work, was released in June 2014. 

His 2015 novel, the supernatural suspense thriller titled “Black Easter”, pits love against black magic and demonic possession on a remote, idyllic Greek island. Dario is currently at work on a new thriller.

Dario’s nonfiction book, “Aegean Dream”, the bittersweet memoir of a year spent on the small Greek island of Skópelos (the real “Mamma Mia!” island), was an Amazon category #1 for several months in 2012. “Drown the Cat: the Rebel Author’s Guide to Writing Beyond the Rules” (2017) is his second nonfiction work.

In addition to writing, Dario, who currently lives in the Los Angeles area, offers professional editing, copyediting, and coaching services to indie authors. You can find these on his blog menu at www.dariospeaks.wordpress.com 

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Strange Happenings in Wisconsin

August_the_beast_of_bray_road_by_pyro_helfier-d7v0mcyA fan of the HorrorAddicts.net podcast, Jeff Eickelberg recently sent us an email saying that one topic he would love to see us talk about was unexplained occurrences in Wisconsin. Specifically he asked about Great Lakes ghosts, cryptids, haunted farmhouses or anything else that could be considered ghoulish. Being that I live in Wisconsin I was more than happy to research strange happenings in Wisconsin. Probably the first thing people think about when they think of Wisconsin is The Beast Of Bray Road. The Beast is a werewolf that has been spotted several times in Southeastern Wisconsin. There have been at least two books written about the beast and a couple of paranormal TV shows covered the subject. There was also a movie that was released in 2005. If you want to hear more about The Beast Of Bray Road check out D.J. Pitsiladis article on the topic here.

Haunchyville

h2My favorite weird story from Wisconsin is about a small village of murderous dwarfs in the woods near Muskego. The village is called Haunchyville and is protected by an old albino man. The dwarfs live in small houses built to scale and don’t like trespassers. If you are unlucky enough to meet them they will cut your legs off at the knee and force you to live as one of them. Legend has it that the town was created when a group of dwarfs ran away from  the circus because the circus’ ringmaster abused them. When the albino man was a boy he got lost in the woods and found Haunchyville by accident. The dwarfs took pity on him and raised him, the albino re-payed the favor by using a shotgun to keep people away from Haunchyville.

I had heard of Haunchyville from a book called Weird Wisconsin by Linda Godfrey and Richard Hendricks and I was fascinated by the idea of a small village of killer dwarfs. As I was doing research to write this, I didn’t find any record of anyone seeing the dwarfs but in the woods where Haunchyville is said to be located you will find three buildings that look like they could be dwarf homes. Most people believe that the legend of Haunchyville was started by high school kids in Muskego in order to scare younger kids.

http://slpmode.com/a-v-club-milwaukee-dont-go-back-to-haunchyville/

 

Summerwind

20140127-003206Every state has more than its fair share of haunted houses and the most haunted house in Wisconsin was a place called Summerwind. Located in Northeast Wisconsin on West Bay Lake this mansion was built in 1916 by Robert Lamont. The hauntings began when Robert Lamont thought he saw an intruder one evening and tried to shoot him, the bullet passed through him and the intruder faded away. Upon the death of Mr. Lamont the house was sold to Arnold Hinshaw and his wife Ginger who were only able to stay in the house for six months. The couple saw vague shapes and shadows passing through the home. Also lights would turn on and off along with windows and doors opening and closing by themselves. What was most disturbing though was a ghost of a woman who would appear above the dining room table. Over a short period of time, the couple started to question their sanity. Late at night Arnold would play an organ because the demons in his head said he had to. One night after finding a corpse in the home(which they never reported to the authorities) Ginger tried to commit suicide and the couple decided it was time to move on.

People doubted that Hinshaw’s story really happened but then the next owners had trouble. The new owner was Raymond Bober and he claimed he knew the house was haunted and even knew the ghost’s name. The ghost was an eighteenth century British explorer and the land was given to him by the Sioux Indians. He wrote a book about his experiences in 1979 called The Carver Effect. Bober had nothing but bad luck in the house and abandoned it after a couple of years. The house then remained vacant until 1988 when it burned to the ground after being struck by lightning. Some people still believe that the land where the house stood is still haunted.

https://www.prairieghosts.com/summer.html

Boy Scout Lane

BoyScoutLaneWisconsin has more haunted roads then most states and one of those is called Boy Scout Lane. Located near Stevens Point, a Scout troop was killed on the road sometime in the 1950’s or 60’s. Stories vary on what happened, some say the troop was killed by their scoutmaster and another story says that the scouts dropped a lantern which caused a fire and killed the whole troop. It is said that the scouts are haunting the area and if you are there you will hear them hiking through the woods. People that have visited the area have said they had the feeling they were being watched and have seen floating lights that look like lanterns. No one has ever been able to prove that a group of scouts died in this area but the ghost sighting are still happening.

http://www.yourghoststories.com/real-ghost-story.php?story=601

Witch Road

witch_road3Boy Scout road isn’t the only haunted lane in Wisconsin, Near the town of Rosendale lies Witch Road. Legend has it that 60 years ago a witch lived on Witch road and when she died the road became haunted. Some of the people who have traveled the road say that parts of the road are unusually dark and cold and you can hear the sound of trickling water even though there is no stream near by. Others have witnessed white lights in the trees and a ghost of a young girl. The witches abandoned home can still be seen near the street, along with a tree that looks a lot like a witch.  Several people go to witch road because they were dared and even when they don’t see a ghost they still say it’s a very creepy place to visit.

http://www.unexplainedresearch.com/files_spectrology/witch_road.html

 

Dartford Cemetery

dartford-indian-chiefMany people think cemeteries are haunted but in reality most cemeteries are not haunted but are a beautiful memorial to those that have passed before us. But there is one graveyard that may be haunted in Green Lake called Dartford Cemetery. According to the locals there are several ghosts that wander Dartford at night. Graves here date back to the 1800’s and some of the ghosts include civil war soldiers, kids who died of polio and an Indian Chief whose headstone appears to glow in the light of the moon.

Several stories have been told about this place, One of them is if you sit on one of the mausoleums, a ghost will come and push you off. Some people who are brave enough to enter the cemetery after dark have seen tombstones that vanish and reappear. They have also seen shadows and orbs in the trees and have had the sensation of being watched.

http://www.unexplainedresearch.com/media/a_haunting_featuring_the_dartford_cemetery.html

Bloody Bride Bridge

c202126003ca8c4cfc617571c5d1f5d0Out on County Highway 66 near Stevens Point, lies a concrete bridge that crosses the Plover River. Though no one has ever been able to confirm the story it is said that years ago a bride and groom were driving home after their wedding in a thunderstorm. As they crossed the bridge the car spun out of control and the couple died in the crash. Since then people have spotted the bride standing on the bridge with blood covering her dress. It is also said that if you stop your car on the bridge the dead bride and groom will appear in the backseat of your car.

http://www.washingtoncountyparanormal.com/blog/the-mysterious-stacked-stones-of-bloody-bride-bridge-stevens-point-wi/

Hotel Hell

maribel-caves-hotel-photoEveryone has had a bad stay at a hotel but there is one hotel out there that some think contains a portal to hell. Built in 1900, Hotel Hell in Maribel was originally called the Maribel Caves Hotel. It had a rough history, it caught fire three times on the same date. One of the fires in the 1930’s killed all the hotel guests while they slept. These were not the only deaths that took place there, one night one of the hotel guests went crazy and killed some of the guests with a knife.

Though no one can say when it happened it was believed that a group of black witches who were attracted to the spiritual activity that went on there did a ritual and opened a portal to hell that released demons into the hotel. Luckily for the future guests a white witch came to the rescue and sealed the portal. The hotel has been abandoned since a fire gutted the inside in 1985. Since then many people have entered the hotel illegally and said that they heard disembodied voices and saw blood on the walls.

http://www.unexplainedresearch.com/files_spectrology/maribel_hotel_hell.html

Wisconsin Lizard Man

manbatWisconsin also has its fair share of cryptids, including a lizard man who was spotted at different times in the 1990’s on route 13 south of Medford. People who saw the creature say that it was covered in green scales and had large leathery wings.  The first person who spotted it said it was standing in the middle of the road and then shot up into the sky when the car got close. Shortly after that another person spotted it in the same area and said it was staring right at him but when the car got close he flew off into the trees.

About 10 years later in 2006, a creature that fit the same description was spotted near LaCrosse. A father and son spotted the lizard man flying straight at there car while screaming. They thought it was going to collide with them but at the last second the creature darted up into the sky. The picture to the left is an artist’s rendition of how the creature was described.

http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/forum/topic/81821-reptilian-sighted-in-wisconsin-by-man-son/

Pepie The Lake Monster

d3f36250d229c4a3623ade43e64569ebSo now you know Wisconsin has lizard men, werewolves and ghosts. But that’s not all we have, we also have our own lake monster. He lives in Lake Pepin which is along the Mississippi River about 40 miles from Eau Claire. His name is Pepie and he goes way back to when the native Americans lived there. Legend has it they would not take their canoes on Lake Pepin because they feared the giant lake monster would tip it over.

Back in 1871 some explorers said they spotted the creature and it looked like a cross between a rhino and an elephant. Since then there have been sightings and even some pictures of the creature, but no hard evidence has been presented saying the creature exists. People keep trying though, in 2008 there was an expedition to find it that came up empty-handed and currently there is a $50,000 reward for proof that Pepie exists. Pepie is so popular in Wisconsin that he even has his own website.

http://pepie.net/

Green Bay’s Griffon

article-2343642-1A5FD37C000005DC-129_634x518The last thing I want to talk about is The Griffon. If you are going to talk about ghosts in Wisconsin you have to talk about The Great Lakes. Ships have been crossing the lakes for centuries and up until the last 50 years or so, it wasn’t safe. Several books have been written on shipwrecks on The Great Lakes and where there are wrecks there are ghosts.

The Griffon’s home port was in Green Bay, in August of 1679 the ship was headed back to Green Bay from Niagara when it mysteriously disappeared. It wasn’t gone forever though. Throughout the years in the fog people have claimed to spot a ghostly three-masted ship that looked like it belonged to a different era. Could The Griffon still be trying to find its way home after 300 years? I guess we will never know for sure.

http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2015/04/the-ghost-fleet-of-the-great-lakes/

Do you have a favorite ghost story from your area you want to share? Please leave a comment or send us an email at horroraddicts@gmail.com.

February DARK LOVE Month

hellraiser
Dark Love: What is your definition?

For many of us Horror Addicts, we’ve been led down a dark and cynical path that calls for anti-Valentine’s Day parties and biological heart jello molds. So what are you planning for the big day?

February 14th for seven very unlucky gangsters in 1929, meant death. It’s also the day many wars were started, countries were liberated, and Simon Pegg (of Shaun of the Dead fame) was born. So what does this day, and the subsequent bleeding out into the rest of the month, mean to you?

For me, I have to confess, I think of Morticia and Gomez. My own dark romance has caused this day to be full of thoughts of my husband. It’s so great to be able to share the same tastes, dark sense of humor, and sense of macabre beauty that we both love. Even as we become more “elder-goth” than our once youthful selves, we still enjoy the darker things in life.

mortgom

 

I know some of you are gagging at that thought of spending the rest of your days with the same person, but for you I say, embrace your individuality and enjoy your quick hookups! Valentine’s brings many latex-covered delights. If you are in Florida, you may attend the Valentine’s Fetish Ball, or in British Colombia, the Sin City: Valentine’s Ball, or Toronto, the Opera House Fetish Ball. Maybe your tastes fall a little less fetish and a little more dark and sinister? You might want to check out the Endless Night Vampire Ball in NYC, or the Robotic Valentines Vampire Underwear Party in Oklahoma (Robots+Underwear+Vamps? Yeah, that might be weirder than the fetish balls. Hhhehe).  Maybe you just want to get your aggression out? Try the San Francisco Valentine’s Day Public Pillow Fight, which happens annually. maybe you’d just like to stay home, watch a good murder movie, or read a good book? Whatever your choice this month, let your love of horror and dark love… flourish.

phantom

When I recently asked in our Facebook group, what you, the addicts thought of Dark Love, Horror Addict A.D. Vick said, “Ah, you pose an interesting question. To me, dark romance involves feelings and desires that go beyond anything that a person would ordinarily talk about in mixed mainstream company. These things often lie within our psyches, but are forbidden. How about the eroticism that may exist between a vampire and his/her victim? Imaging desiring such a being and relishing in being the willing victim who is willing to offer life’s essence to the blood drinker who is not only seductive, but has the power to mesmerize? How about relationships between the living and the deceased, who have somehow broken between the dimensional barriers of the living and the dead. A witch who has strong powers of seduction might come to mind. I would even call a romantic encounter that begins at a metal show dark. Anyway, those are just a few things that I would consider dark love.”

Kbatz said, “Wuthering Heights perhaps is a good example for me. It is just so twisted and demented and endearing or sentimental yet it is almost a touch too from the grave hehe. Probably why I prefer it to Jane Eyre.”

Mimielle said, “Secret things, hidden desires…the things that make us stir but that we don’t talk about except maybe long after midnight in whispers, by candlelight. And maybe chocolate.”

What is your definition of Dark Love? What are the unique ways you express it? What are some desires you find titillating that “norms” don’t, but we, your fellow addicts understand?

Haunting Memories by Doug Rinaldi

Haunting Memories – A True Story

by Doug Rinaldi

 What you have before you is a true tale of the unexpected and the bewildering, an account that, over the years, I have never truly forgotten . . . my first experience with something well beyond the reach of rational explanation.  My incidents have always been in the back of my mind, stewing and churning.  I purposely call them my incidents because of the profound and personal affect they had left on me still to this day.  While others around me at that time had had a sense of something strange, it seemed as if the mysterious presence only singled me out.

Back in 1997, I had returned home from college.  My first job once I had returned was at a bookstore in Connecticut.  At the time, my nights consisted of working part-time as the warehouse clerk on the closing shift.  One night I was going about my usual routine when I heard one of my female coworkers call out my name for help.  The warehouse, shaped like a backwards “L,” made it impossible for me to see her from my vantage point.  So I called back to her that I’d be right there and stopped what I was doing, hurrying on over.  I rounded the corner, almost tripping to my death on some boxes, expecting her to be right there waiting for me.  Not a soul to be found; the warehouse was vacant.  Maybe she’s hiding behind a cart, I thought, playing some kind of lame joke.

Nope.  Empty.

Now I understand audio matrixing and that it is possible to hear one thing and mistake it for something else, but the fact that I actually answered back reinforces the evidence that I really did hear my name.  That’s how certain I was someone called for help.  Moreover, it sounded just like my coworker’s voice.  After opening the warehouse door to the sales floor, I peeked around.

No one there either.

I ventured out further, finding my coworker across the store on a stepladder with a stack of books in her hand as she restocked a shelf.  I asked her if she had come back to the warehouse looking for me.  As I figured, she hadn’t.  The probability that she could have gotten that far and that involved in her task in the time it took me to cross the back room seemed next to nil.  With the facts stacked against me and with what had happened tweaking me out a bit, I went back to my duties until the end of my shift.

Incident number two happened about a week later.  Again, standing at my station receiving boxes full of books, I had my back to anyone that would’ve come into the warehouse.  Everything was silent and still, save for the sound of ripping cardboard, until I suddenly heard a faint giggle-like sound.  I whirled around; nothing there or, so, I initially thought.  However, as I turned back to my work, my peripheral vision caught something.  I stood transfixed.  The figure of a small boy stood in front of some metal shelving against the back wall.  His skin was ashen, with a deadpan, almost mournful, expression across his face.

Those details were the only things to register in my startled mind.  In that three-second interaction, my skin rippled with crawling gooseflesh.  My heartbeat raced.  The fight or flight response kicked in; I felt it in the back of my throat.  Without haste, I proceeded to exit the warehouse, doing my utmost best to avoid the area where I saw the image of the boy.  Not once did I take my eyes off that spot as I stumbled over boxes in my retreat, finally making it to the sales floor.  A little bit later, after I had calmed down, I pulled my friend into the warehouse and told her what I saw, despite knowing how crazy I sounded.  Of course, I spooked her out in the process.  To this day, my memory is still seared with the image of the sad ghostly boy.

The third of these most vivid incidents happened one night some time after that “visit.”  I remember being in the humor section helping with closing duties.  I was straightening the shelves when I heard my name in a whisper.  I turned around to nothing but another bookshelf full of product.  At this point, I was honestly kind of enjoying the attention it was giving me.  A few minutes had passed.  As I continued fixing up the isles, it felt like someone had blown on the back of my neck.  Again, crawling skin covered my body in a cold wave.  After I spun around, I looked up.  Though I saw no one, I noticed no vents or air ducts overhead that could’ve kicked on and spit out some air.

That night before we left I brought it up again to some coworkers.  Come to find out, I wasn’t the only one that was having weird experiences.  They kept quiet about it for fear of sounding out of their minds but once I brought up my three big incidents, they all agreed something was not right in the building.  Though I was happy not to be the only one, I anxiously waited for another one of these occurrences but, alas, it seemed whatever might have been dwelling in my store packed up and shipped out.

Soon after, the location closed up and the store moved to a new location.  At first, strange things happened to me there, too.  The instances were very subtle, almost dismissive, this time.  I brought up my concerns anyway to my friend whom also had strange feelings at the old location and she still agreed that something was still off.

Funny thing is that the old location still remains empty almost as if the land it occupies is sour and unusable.  I do find it sad knowing that it’s not possible for me to venture back into that strange yet familiar territory to see if whatever force had so desperately tried to make contact is still there.  Waiting.

In closing, as insane as it all sounds—and believe me, I still get those looks from people—those three very unexpected and life-altering situations have stuck with me over these past fourteen years.  Even though I now live in another city in another state, the memories of that place and the things I had experienced within its walls still haunt me to this day—and probably will . . . forever.

******************

DougPolaroidDoug was born and raised in the bowels of Connecticut. Spending his younger years exploring the woods near home, Doug envisioned otherworldly scenarios that ignited his imagination. Art was life. Throughout adolescence, he created, inventing horrifying tales about devious lunch ladies and world-eating monsters. In 1995, he received his art degree in Computer Animation and Special Effects for stage and screen. However, writing dark fiction was his true calling. At the turn of the millennium, he joyously bid Connecticut a final farewell and relocated to Boston, Massachusetts where he’s been continuing to hone his writing and artistic skills ever since. Find out more at:  www.facebook.com/DeviatedTruths

Guest Blog: Touched by a Ghost by Loren Rhoads

Touched by a Ghost

by Loren Rhoads

            After I paid for the first Haunted Mansion retreat, I worried what I’d do if the mansion really was haunted.  I wouldn’t be able to drive to Mount Tamalpais for the long weekend, since I couldn’t leave my family without a car.  If I caught a ride with a stranger, I would be trapped at the mansion.  What if things got really bad and I was afraid to sleep?  I wouldn’t be able to slink out to my car and sleep in it.

            HMP2coveritunesI also couldn’t call my husband — assuming the isolated mansion got cell reception — to come and get me in the middle of the night.  No way could I ask him to get our seven-year-old up, put her in the car seat, drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, and rescue me from the ghosts.  If I went, I had to stick it out.

Probably, I told myself, if it got that bad, someone else would have the sense to want to leave.  I could ride back to the ferry or a bus stop with them.

Of course, I was pretty sure that we wouldn’t face an all-out Poltergeist-style freak out.  As I packed for the weekend, my new worry became that I’d spent a couple hundred dollars to write for a weekend in a haunted mansion — and nothing would happen.  The ghosts would ignore us, or they’d prowl around downstairs while we were all upstairs asleep.  How disappointing would that be?

See, I have a healthy respect for ghosts.  I’ve seen their shadows since I was a kid.  Generally, they don’t do anything more than make the hair on the back of my neck stand up.  I feel cold and slightly jittery.  Most of the ghosts I’ve seen were people I knew, or at least people I recognized.  They weren’t trying to scare me.  My body’s reaction to them was scarier than anything they ever did.

Rain hadn’t told us much about the ghosts that she’d encountered in the mansion.  She wanted us to have our own experiences, to form our own opinions.  So I went into it blind, knowing no one other than her.

I met Scott and Eunice for the ride over to Mount Tam.  Eunice had come up from Southern California; Scott would drive the two of us from San Francisco’s Marina District across the Golden Gate.  I was relieved to find them your typical very nice horror writers.  They made me feel comfortable, like I wasn’t making a terrible mistake going away with strangers to a haunted house for the weekend.

We arrived at the Haunted Mansion in the middle of Thursday afternoon. As we carried our bags into the mansion, Rain was standing in the grand staircase.  She offered to give us a tour, so we could pick our rooms for the weekend.  We hurried to move our luggage into the first-floor parlor and followed her up the stairs.

The second floor was a maze of interconnecting rooms that encircled the stairway.  Almost everyone else had come with a friend with whom they planned to share a room.  Since I was solo, I wavered between asking to share someone else’s room or taking a room of my own.  Would the ghosts be more or less likely to mess with me if I slept alone?

There were only eight of us there that first night, rattling around in a house that seemed able to sleep a hundred.  Rain said we would all stay on the second floor, even though that was where she’d had the most intense of her ghostly encounters.  Most of the second-floor rooms were pass-throughs:  each dormitory-style room connecting to the next.  I don’t sleep well at the best of times, so I wasn’t eager to choose a room where people might walk through in the night to use the bathroom.  Since I wander a fair amount when I can’t sleep, I also didn’t want to wake anyone else.

Rain’s tour paused outside a little blue room tucked between a suite — reserved for the one married couple among us — and dead space.  I’m not sure what lay on the other side of the wall: maybe a linen closet?  It wasn’t another guest room, anyway.

The blue room felt very restful to me, very welcoming.  It helped that it only had one door, which faced the bed, and a window that looked out on Mount Tam.  The energy felt inviting.  When I stepped inside and saw the artwork hanging above the vanity — a piece of white silk featuring a bright Chinese phoenix — I had to have that room.  I wear a phoenix tattoo on my left arm.  The room and I shared a kinship.

*

            My little room proved to be a great haven, especially after I set my suitcase in front of the closet.  Not that I thought anything was going to come through there — or that I felt the suitcase provided much of a barricade — but I’ve seen Poltergeist too many times.  You never know with big empty spaces.

I settled into the double bed, feeling safe in a way I wouldn’t have in a room with more doors.  I closed my eyes, exhausted and slightly drunk from Rain’s good Argentinean wine.

Sleep wouldn’t come.

I thought I heard whispering voices, then a man speaking, but Yvonne and Weston had the suite that shared the minuscule balcony outside my spider-guarded window.  I gladly put on my headphones to block the voices out.

As I lay there in the dark, trying to sleep, the light in my room kept changing.  Smudges and smears of light flashed through the well of shadow that lay between the bed and the vanity.  The sliver of light coming in around the door grew wider toward morning, as if the door was inching open, but it wasn’t.  Even so, I didn’t turn my back toward the center of the room.

Finally, about 4:30, I told myself that I really needed to get some sleep.  I rolled onto my stomach, clutched the pillow, felt myself relax.  Sleep was washing over me when someone touched my hair.

Someone touched my hair.  Electricity thrilled through me.  I knew I was still alone in the room, but opened my eyes anyway.  The room remained silent and empty, holding its breath to see what I would do.

It occurred to me that a spider might have fallen from the ceiling on to me. However, the sensation of being touched hadn’t felt like something practically weightless dancing across my head. My hair is just not that sensitive.  Something the size of a hand compressed the hair on the right side of my head.  Without a doubt, someone touched me.

“Hello,” I whispered softly.  “It will be dawn soon.  I’d really like to get some sleep before then.  Can we talk in the morning?”

I waited, but nothing more happened.  Sleep was remarkably easy to find.

 ***

 CIMG0977-headshotThis is an excerpt from an essay I wrote for The Haunted Mansion Project: Year One, published by Damnation Books in 2013.  I served as editor for The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two, published by Damnation Books in 2014.  Both books in the series collect fiction and poetry inspired by our retreats at the mansion.  They also include reports of the hauntings we experienced and evidence reports by the GhostGirls.

The third Haunted Mansion Writers Retreat is in the planning stages for September 2015.  You can see the details and register for it here: http://hauntedmansionwriters.blogspot.com/

December HAUNTINGS Month

mansion-header (1)December is HAUNTINGS month here at HorrorAddicts.net. Have you ever seen a ghost? What about hearing footsteps when no one is there? Possibly you’ve just FELT like someone was there when you were the only one in the house?

This month we will be exploring HAUNTINGS, both true and fictional. We’ll be talking to Paranormal Investigators and about Haunted Locations you can visit. Please send any haunting stories you would like to share to: horroraddicts@gmail.com

I’ve seen and felt many things during my life, but the one location that sticks with me the most is a church we used to go to in Cheyenne, Wyoming. As the child of a minister, I spent many hours hanging out in the halls of various churches. This particular church I spent more time in because we were the blizzard shelter for the area. I even had my own little hide out in the office area with sleeping bag, pillows, and my trusty stuffed seal named Softy. Me and Softy used to curl up and sleep to the sounds of people being fed and sheltered a couple of doors away.

I’m not sure of the church history, I was only 6 at the time, but the place had more “creepy” energy than any other place I’ve ever been. Sure, I was young so some of that came with the fear of being alone in a large building when my parents were doing other things, but I witnessed several hauntings.

woman-in-black-6Once, when they were decorating the stage for a play, I watched as several of the church men set up a large wooden set with holes cut out at varying heights. In the play, actors would stick their heads out of the holes and say jokes or sing (kinda like Laugh-in). After the sets were all up, the actors tried it out, popping in and out of the holes like they would later during the play. I laid on one of the pews and watched. When I woke up in the same position a hour later, everyone was gone. The stage was still lit, but all the adults had gone home. My mother called me and said I had five minutes till we would leave. I sat up, grabbed Softy, and started for the foyer. Hearing something behind me, I looked back and saw a couple of kids playing with the sets. They were sticking their heads in and out of the different holes and making funny faces. Mom called from the door and said we were locking up.

“But what about the kids playing on stage?” I asked.

“What kids? Everyone is gone,” she said.

I looked back and there were no kids. Mom and I investigated the stage, but still found no one around.

That wasn’t the last time I saw kids in the church and the most terrifying one was a girl in a yellow dress that had a red bloody ring around her neck. I was never really frightened by the ghosts in the church, but remembering the happy girl motioning for me to follow sends chills up my spine today. I’m sure my parents thought I was just being an imaginative six-year-old, but as I got older and have experienced other occurrences of the supernatural, I realize that church was definitely haunted.

the-grady-twins

But what are hauntings? Are they ghosts trapped between the worlds? Are they simply imprints of previous events? Are they demons or evil creatures playing with our minds? What do you think?

Haunted House by Mitsukazu Mihara

Haunted_House_MiharaHaunted House is a great graphic novel about a “normal” boy who lives in a house with horror enthusiasts. Poor Sabato.  He just wants to fit in at school and have a girlfriend, but his family tortures him by scaring off girls and making him appear a freak to his classmates.  His mother is the reincarnation of Morticia Addams.  His father is the stereotypical Dracula figure with black slicked black hair and a full suit with cape.  His two sisters are goth-loli’s from hell.

“Your mother and I fell in love at first sight.  We met at a movie theater.  It was a beautiful movie.  Bloody Bayou: A Hoedown In Hell.”

Even though all you gloom cookies out there may love to live in such a house, poor Sabato hates it!  And with good reason.  His family is evil!

First they pretend they will play nice when his new girlfriend comes over, but when she walks in, his father has a bullet hole in his forehead that is dripping blood and his mother is butchering a live chicken.  Another day, Sabato wakes up late for school and rushes there, only to find everyone staring at him because he has blood on his face, zombie makeup, and a chilling message scrawled across his forehead: DEAD MAN WALKING!

My favorite part is when Sabato sleeps in one day.  His father says,

“Trying to become completely nocturnal are we?  At this rate you should just become a vampire.  That’d be nice.”  Sabato scowls.  “No! That would not be nice!”

This is a fun read for any horror enthusiast.  You will love the tricks the family play and the reactions Sabato gives.