Since my WIP is a YA novel about a girl who can see and talk to the dead (think snarkier, teenage version of Ghost Whisperer), I have been doing a bit of research on the paranormal and what that means to other people. Thankfully, one of my friends is very much into the paranormal and is happy to discuss such a subject with me. She is also hell-bent on getting me to stay in a haunted hotel with her.
It ain’t gonna happen.
This friend – I’ll call her Carmen – knows I will never, ever stay in a haunted dwelling of any sort, ever, in a million years. Yet she continues to ask me to do this with her. And I give her the same definitive answer (“Hell no.”) each time she asks.
Our conversations usually go something like this:
Carmen: “So, I just found out about this [insert name of haunted estate/plantation/mansion here]. It’s located in [insert old southern city/former gold mining town/ghost town]. We should totally go stay there.”
Me: “Hell no.”
Carmen, undeterred: “I saw a special about it on PBS the other night. It looks really cool. They say everyone who has stayed there has experienced some sort of ghost sighting and some people even have emotional breakdowns and end up in the psych ward. Doesn’t that sound amazing?”
Me: “Not so much.” Then I try a different tactic. “Hey look! There’s Brad Pitt!”
Carmen, not even turning or batting an eye: “I was thinking we could drive the 672 miles to get there, you know, to save a little money. That way we can stay in the super haunted suite in the attic where there are nooses hanging over the beds. They practically guarantee that we will be awakened in the middle of the night by the ghosts of the five knife-wielding children who died there in a tragic quintuple suicide.”
Me, while giving piercing glare: “I will not go stay in the creepy haunted hotel with you.”
Carmen: “C’mon. Just stay one night. It’ll be fun.”
This is where I launch into my reasons of why it most certainly will not be “fun” to have ghosts take my personal belongings and move them across the room, only to be laughing their ghostly butts of while I frantically search for my glasses at midnight. Nor would it be “fun” to have the bed levitate off the floor at 1am, the lights flicker on and off at 2am, or to hear the sound of running water at 3am while I am staring at the ceiling of the haunted suite dying (excuse the pun) to go to the bathroom but can’t seem to get out of bed for fear of seeing Bloody Mary in the mirror.
Carmen: “That won’t happen. Those are just urban myths. Ghosts can’t touch you.”
Touch me? Who said anything about touching me?!?
Me: “Just because they can’t touch me, doesn’t mean they won’t taunt me. You know how I hate to be taunted.”
Unfortunately this does not stop her.
Carmen: “I can show you the website. You would love the historical tour they give.” Carmen knows how I love a good old house tour and learning about the history of things. She almost has me convinced to at least set foot in the places when she says, grinning from ear to ear, “They say midnight is when you’re most likely to see the ghosts. And that’s when the tour is.”
I stare at her, amazed and incredulous at her persistence. She’ll eventually give up on that particular haunted hotel, but I know it won’t be the last time she asks me to go with her.
It’s not as though I don’t believe in ghosts; in fact, I do. I believe there are energies and forces that we don’t fully comprehend or understand. I also believe that there are those among us that can interact with the non-living, whether that is a ghost or some kind of energy left by a departed person. I just don’t want to go sleep in a place that is advertising itself as haunted because, aside from the lack of sleep and the nightmares that I’ll have for days after, I just don’t want to be on the receiving end of some ghostly joke.
I anticipate that someday Carmen will get her way and I will unknowingly stay in a hotel with ghostly tenants. For now, I am content to continue to do my research at a comfortable distance from the haunted dwellings that so fascinate my friend.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s very late and I’d best be getting to bed before I start to hear the nighttime sounds of my old house. It’s a curious thing that the sounds always seem to be coming from the vicinity of the antique record player that used to belong to my husband’s grandparents (the original owners of our house). On more than one occasion, both my husband and I have, at separate times, have awakened in the middle of the night to the sound of an scratchy record playing in the living room where the old record player sits.
Did I mention it is unplugged and hasn’t worked in decades?
What ghost stories do you have? Have you ever had a ghostly encounter? I’d love to hear about it!