NaNoWriMo – The Pearl Necklace – Part 2

Here is what has been written since the last post and now. I am currently behind par on my word count. Today I hope to narrow the gap drastically today.

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He put his flashlight back in his pocket, explaining there was enough light coming in from outside to light our way.  Upon entering the attic, I was excited to see that there were a few pieces of furniture being stored up here and that they were situated so that we could be sitting in them, facing each other, and comfortable.  I selected the wing back chair that was facing the attic window, leaving the love seat for Mark to sit on.

Before Mark sat, he pulled a box over to set in the middle. That gave us somewhere to set down our recorders and the EMF detector.
“Before we get started, do we need to do a sweep of the room like we did in the basement?” I asked.
“We can. However, I tend to ghost hunt with my senses. I don’t like to pay attention to anything else. I like to focus my energy on how my skin feels, on what the air around me feels like, my senses. If you are too busy watching a meter, you might miss the slight change in the air when something brushes by you. If you are focusing on the meter, there is the chance that you might miss the slight giving of the floorboards where something shifted. There is so much that can be missed because the focus is on one particular object.” Mark said.
It made so much sense. Since there wasn’t scientific proof out there that the energy picked up by EMF detectors was actually doing anything, and since there wasn’t any proof that it wasn’t. I really liked the idea of going with what the body thought.
“That sounds great to me. While there is a time and place for lots of gear, it isn’t proven fact correct? So it makes more sense to do it your way.” I said, settling back into the chair, tucking my feet up underneath me. I could reach the table from here, so when it was time to get our recorders started, I could just turn it on, lean forward and set it down.

“Whenever you are ready, we can get started,” Mark said.

“I’m ready.” I turned on my recorder and set it on the box.  Mark did the same.

“EVP session, attic, Martin Manor, October 23, 2011, 6:30pm. I’m Mark, and this is Jessica with me.’

“I would like to just sit here for a few minutes, taking it in, noticing if there is movement cause by shadows, to see if there is a heaviness or lightness to the air. Take in everything around you and let me know when you are ready and we can start asking questions.” Mark said.

I closed my eyes for a few moments. I could feel eyes on me, but let it go for a moment. What else was I feeling. How was my skin reacting, how was my body reacting.  The hair on my arms did not stand up, the air felt dense, but not heavy.  When I opened my eyes, it was Mark who was staring at me. Well, not exactly at me, almost like he was staring through me.  The shadows that were being cast by the street lights were still, some were soft shadows, others harsh. After another moment of taking it all in, I asked Mark what he was looking at so seriously.  It took him a moment to focus on me and realize I had been asking him a question. I had mentioned to myself he was tall, dark, and broody when I first saw him earlier tonight.  Broody was definitely the look to describe how he was looking just a moment ago as well.

“I was looking at the glow coming from around your neck,” he said.

I fingered the black pearls that I always wore.
“What do you mean, glow from around my neck,” I said.

“The necklace you are wearing, I don’t know if it is the reflection of the light coming through the window or what it is,” he said. “May I see it?”

I was a bit taken aback. He wanted me to take off my necklace? Was this some sort of ruse to steal it? It wasn’t an antique by any means, nor was it some special fancy necklace. It was made of pearls I had found in a small gem shop when I was visiting my sister in New Hampshire.

“Um, ok,” I said, reaching up to take the necklace off.  I reached forward, passing the necklace to Mark. He took it, allowing it to run through his fingers, almost like you would run water or sand through them.  Just before they finished falling through his fingers, he grasped the necklace, holding it tight.

“These are beautiful. The pearls are reflecting the light in a way that they appear to glow in my hand as well.” Mark said.
“I see what you mean, about the glow they have” I said, looking at my necklace in his hand. It was like it was glowing. I didn’t realize that black pearls could do that. I had seen white pearls reflect a bit of light, so I guess it was possible.
He handed them back to me, asking if I needed help to secure them back around my neck. I already had them back on before he could finish asking if I wanted help putting them back on.
He chuckled.
“I will take that as a no,” he said. “Lets get the session started.”
“Is there anyone here with us?” I asked.
“What is your name?” I asked again, after giving a good pause.
“Are you the same person we were talking too down in the basement?” I asked, again, giving enough of a pause.

There was a knock on the door to the attic.
“Come on up,” Mark said.

Nothing happened. No one opened the door, no one walked in.

“Go ahead and keep asking questions,” Mark said.

“Was that you who knocked on the door?” I asked.

A moment later, there was a knock at the door again.  Mark stood up and quietly walked over and listened at the door. He shook his head, which I took to mean he couldn’t hear anybody on the other side. He motioned for me to ask another question, as he placed his hand just above the handle.

I thought for a moment, and asked a question that would elicit the a response I was expecting.

“You said your death was in the house, and accidental, correct?” I said.

There was a single knock. Mark opened the door, but there was no one standing on the other side.  I motioned for him to close the door.  He did so.

“If your death was accidental, was anyone else involved?” I asked.
Again, there was a single knock at the door. Mark checked, but there was no one there. He walked back over and sat down.

“What can you tell us about what happened, I will keep quiet until you knock so that I don’t talk over you.” I said.

I wish I had a pad of paper, there are so many questions I wanted to ask Mark. This seemed to be legitimate, but I couldn’t help but feel like someone was pulling the wool over my eyes. I really wanted to know what was going on.  After a few minutes had passed, I still hadn’t heard a knock. I glanced at Mark, to see if I could see what he was thinking, but since it was dark, I wasn’t able to read his face.

I wish I had the flashlight, I would love to get a better look at the attic. Perhaps I would get a chance to do so before we went back downstairs. Just as I was about to ask if she was still there because it felt like a good fifteen minutes has passed since I asked the question, there was a single knock at the door.

“You said there were other spirits in the house, are they all as willing to participate as you?”
A double knock.

“Are you the only one who will interact with us?”
A double knock.

“They just don’t interact as often?”
A single knock.

“Are they getting nothing downstairs then? I wonder if that is frustrating to them at all.” I mused aloud.

There was a single knock, followed by a decent pause, and another single knock.  I took that to mean that nothing was happening and it was frustrating them.

“Well, since there is still 20 more minutes before we break again, why don’t you go downstairs and knock for them. I want to think about what I want to ask that isn’t silly or mundane.” I said.
There was a single knock, and all of a sudden the air felt different, like it was less dense.

“Wow, that was interesting. I need time to process that, I don’t know how I feel about it all,” I said to Mark, “what was your take on that?”

“I have been coming to this house for several years now and have never had anyone else get responses like you get. Well, I should rephrase that since I know Alexa was asking questions downstairs as well. I have never had a group get responses like the ones we got downstairs and upstairs. I have had incredible responses by myself, or working with Brian, but never like that with a group.” Mark said. He sounded in awe.

“I wonder why that is?” I said.

“You’ve got me. I would like to keep our groups set up like they are though. I want to see what more you can get from an EVP session.” he said.
“We could still do that with other people.” I Said.
“No, I don’t want ot follow their agenda. People who aren’t very serious about this ask things like, favorite color, favorite book, why are they here, what would they do if they were alive, and its details to add to the list, but it isn’t the same as the questions that you are asking, and being willing to sit in the quiet to see if we can pick up a response. The more people, the more people are clamoring to ask questions. They hear a pin drop and are instantly asking ‘what was that’ and ‘did you hear that.’ Then it is really challenging to listen to the recordings after the fact and get anything useful out of it.” he said.
“That makes sense, and I am up for it. I can’t believe I am going to say this, but this is starting to feel more like I am believing than disbelieving. I was sure that nothing could happen that would make me change my mind.” I said.
“It is interesting isn’t it?” he said.

We were both quiet for a few moments. I decided I wanted to see what was in the attic, how it was set up, how it looked, what was up here.

“Can we turn on the light? I want to see what is up here, what was left behind, what is new, how it might all tie in.”

“Sure,” Mark said. He stood up and walked over to door way and flipped the switch throwing the entire attic in a warm glow from the incandescent bulbs.

There were boxes, crates, furniture, all the requisites of an attic used for storage. There was also the space where we were sitting, which felt warm and comforting.  Next to the couch and chair, well, kind of between the two of them but back a little bit, was a chest that looked like someone had been in it recently. It had no dust on it, unlike any of the other boxes and creates.

There was nothing that would suggest anything had been put up here recently either. I wondered again about the Bannisters, the family who let them use the place. Was all the stuff theirs? Was some of it the remnants of previous owners.

I was wondering around looking at things, not daring to open boxes, when I tripped. My arms were flailing, reaching out to grab at the air.  Moments before I face planted, I felt strong arms grab me and steady me.  I could feel my face redden.

“Well that was embarrassing,” I said.
“Are you okay? That could have been a nasty fall,” Mark said.

“I’m fine. The only thing hurt is my pride. It isn’t everyday that a floorboard jumps out to bite me, at least I am assuming it was a loose floor board. I don’t want to think I am that clumsy.” I said.

“I am glad you are okay,” he said with a laugh.

I grinned. My embarrassment easing away.

“So, what is in the boxes? Do you know?” I asked.

“No, we have never really gone that far into our investigations,” he said.

“Oh. So, while we have a few minutes, tell me how you got involved with this house?” I said.

“A few years ago, back when we were first getting started as a paranormal group, the Bannister’s called us in to investigate. They said they thought something was haunting the house. We came in, swept the house for EMF and temperature changes. We sat in each room doing an EVP session, we went home and reviewed our material, and we had voices and footsteps on our recordings. Mind you, we never heard anything while we were here. There had been no footsteps, no whispers, nothing. It intrigued us. We call them up, told them what happened, and then asked them to tell us about their experiences,” Mark said.

“You didn’t know what their experiences were before you investigated?” I said.

“Nope. Just like we didn’t tell you about what we have experienced. We firmly believe that it is something that should be experienced without any preconceived notions of what happened or might happen.”

“Interesting. You came back,” I prompted.

“We came back. We heard their experiences, and before you ask, no, I am not going to tell you about them yet. It is still early enough in the evening that you are going to have to experience things for yourself first.” Mark said with a laugh.

I chuckled. I wasn’t sure I like just how fast he was able to read me. “Tell me how you came to be interested in being in the paranormal.” I said.

“As a child, I used to have a lot of imaginary friends. Some were young and some were old. I played with some, shared stories with some, and freaked my mom out with some of the things I would tell her,” he said.  He took a pause from talking, and pressed his fingers to his lips.

A moment later, he resumed his story.

“I remember telling my mom about this friend, his name was Johnny, and we liked to play tag together.  One day, I asked my mom why he always wore the same outfit. She told me that since he was just an imaginary friend, I should be able to imagine him in a different shirt and that when he came to play again, he would be wearing a different shirt. It didn’t happen, he still wore the same blue plaid shirt.  This was the first time that I remember her being a bit wary of my imaginary friends.” Mark said.

“Just how many imaginary friends did you have?” I asked.

“A lot. But, after the incident with Johnny, and his shirt never changing, I started to realize that none of my imaginary friends would do what I wanted them to. They just were there.  I was ten years old when my grandmother passed away. I didn’t know she had yet, but I was sitting in the living room, listening to her tell me a story about her childhood, when my mom walked in with tears in her eyes. She was there to tell me that I my grandmother, her mother, had passed away.  I remember feeling so confused since she had been sitting right there just moments before, telling me a story.  That was the last day I told my mom about my imaginary friends.  I was in my late teens before I told my mom what happened that day, and that I realized all my imaginary friends weren’t imaginary. They were all ghosts.”

I sat in silence, pondering what Mark just told me. I wasn’t sure how it made me feel. It was a combination of things falling into place, why he was so into it, why he was so quiet during the sessions. On the other hand, I was also feeling like it was complete bunk. It wasn’t that I felt like he was lying, but perhaps that he wasn’t all the way there.  That perhaps everything that was happening tonight was somehow being put on for my benefit.

“So that is what drove you to join VRPS? Being able to communicate with ghost?” I asked.

“It wasn’t just being able to communicate with ghosts, it was being able to see them even when they weren’t speaking. It was why was I able to see them, and talk to them, but no one else could do the same thing. As I got older, it was about why they were still here, what was holding them here. How could I help them.” he said.

“So it isn’t just that you can, but why you can.” I asked.

“Yes. I have never met anyone else who could contact with them either.” he said.

“Ok. Why did you trust me with this knowledge?” I asked.

“Well, you are one of the few people I have told. I am not exactly sure why, but I have learned to follow my instincts. They haven’t led me astray yet, so I went with it.” he said, “Brian knows, my parents know, my siblings know.”

“I’m honored,” I said, overwhelmed. I must have looked it because he just smiled and told me we had about five more minutes before we had to meet up with the group for another break.

“Shall we see if she has come back,” I started, “or, can you tell that without waiting for a knocking sound?”

“I can only see them if they let me, and I can only hear them if they let me. However, they generally don’t know how to hide themselves, which means that most of the time I can,” he said.

“Ok. So is the woman we have been speaking too back? Have you been able to see her?” I asked.

“Well, she is able to hide herself from my visually, but she isn’t able to hide her voice from me. That is why I went to look when she was knocking. I was able to hear her telling you her story after you asked about what happened to her,” he said.

“So does everything you hear get picked up by the recorders?”

“No, not everything gets picked up. It is actually pretty interesting. I haven’t found a spirit who is willing to work with me to see why that is. I am hoping that the longer we are here, the more comfortable she will get, and that she will eventually work with me to come up with a reason or a a trick to help more be picked up,” he said.

He let me ponder that. I knew that we only had another minute, so I just stayed quiet. Then it was time to go downstairs.

“End of EVP session in the attic of Martin Manor on October 23, 2011,” Mark said, then he stood up, waited for me to stand, and then we headed downstairs.

As everyone filtered into the entryway, Paul made a beeline for me. He and Dakota said that they were asking questions and getting a knocking sound for yes or no. There was a spirit that was in the basement that had died in the house, she was female, and that her death was accidental.  He went on to excitedly tell me that she was a brunette with green eyes; she had never married, and had worn glasses.  I forced myself to pay attention. These were the details that Mark was telling me most people asked about.

“So is it everything you hoped it would be?” I asked Paul.

“Oh my god! It is the best, I can’t believe it. We are learning so much about her. Dakota even thought he saw a shadow,” Paul said excitedly.

“It was unreal. It was in front of one of the beams, but behind the rest of the group. There was no flashlight; the only light was coming in through the tiny casement windows. It was so creepy!” Dakota said. If it was possible, he was even more excited than Paul.  They were still holding hands.

“And it looks like you two are hitting it off,” I said.

“Are you mad?” Dakota asked. He had a sheepish look on his face, but a twinkle in his eye. He wanted me to not be mad, but I could tell he would be ok if I wasn’t.

“Not at all, I am having a great time believe it or not,” I said.

“Really? You mean it? You aren’t just saying that?” Paul asked. He sounded like a little kid. It was quite cute, surprisingly.  There was something about seeing Paul genuinely happy that made it infectious.

“Brian, we know that we are supposed to investigate different rooms, but we had so much action in the basement, can we go back down after the break?” Michelle asked.

“It’s your night. You can investigate wherever you want. I do suggest trying some different locations before the night is over though,” Brian said.

“Do we have to stay in groups with either your or Mark?” Crystal asked Brian.

“No. As long as people stay in groups of at least two, you are more than welcome to break up into small groups,” Brian said.

“Does anyone else want to go back into the basement?” Michelle asked.

“We want to go to another room this time, but we definitely want to go back to the basement before the night is over,” Dakota said.

“We were thinking we wanted to go into the attic,” Paul said, “does anyone want to go with us?”

“Sure. I like getting to experience as many rooms as possible, and since we were in the basement two times in a row, we are game for the attic,” Alexia said.

“Then I will join the girls in the basement. Where do you want to go Jessica?” Brian asked.  He handed a radio to Paul and Dakota, so that they would be in contact while in the attic.

I looked at Mark. I didn’t think it would really matter where we went. I shrugged my shoulders, unsure where I wanted to go. Then it came to me, the library. Mark smiled. I smiled back, but it was a bit uneasy, how did he know where I wanted to go?

“Break’s over kids, let’s get back to hunting ghosts, shall we?” Brian asked.

Everyone scattered, clamoring up and down the stairs. The quicker they got to their location, the more questions they could ask.  It only took a moment for Mark and me to get settled into the library.

“This is Mark, we are settled into the library and ready to get this next round started.”
We started our recorders, placing them on the table that was between our two chairs. “EVP session, library, Martin Manor, October 23, 2011, 7:30pm. I’m Mark, and this is Jessica with me,” Mark introduced us.

It didn’t take more than a few minutes before a solid single knock was heard on the table. I instinctively reached out to touch Mark, as if he couldn’t hear it.
“Hello again,” I said.
“Hello,” came a soft voice.
It caused me to pause. Mark had never opened with a greeting before, and certainly not after me. I guess there is a first time for everything though.  I shrugged it off and moved forward.
“Has any of the other spirits decided to come out to talk with us tonight?” I asked.
“Not yet,” came the soft voice again.
It caused me to pause again, but perhaps Mark was actually able to hear the ghost and he was interpreting. I wasn’t exactly looking at him, but focused on how the air felt.
“Do you think they will?”
“Perhaps, if they feel comfortable.”  This time the voice was just as soft and there was not the same pause as had been there before.  I felt Mark stiffen, I turned towards him.
“Why are you answering my questions?” I asked him, a bit perplexed.
“I’m not,” he started. “Wait, what do you mean answering your questions?”
“The hello, not yet, perhaps if they feel comfortable?” I said.
There was a large pause, I dared to take a peak at Mark’s face.  It was pure shock. I didn’t think it was possible for him to look quite so startled.
“That wasn’t me. That was the spirit that you have been talking to all night,” he said. He paused, registering what I had been saying. “You mean you heard that?”
I was no longer feeling perplexed. I was downright spooked out.
“I think I need to get out of here,” I said, standing up and heading for the door, a bit light headed.
“Brian, we are moving around, going outside for a minute. I will radio when we are coming back inside,” Mark said, as he followed me to the door.
There was no waiting, there was no quiet. I strode as quickly as possible to the front door, pulled it open and walked out onto the porch.  My hands were shaking, I couldn’t focus.  After stepping out onto the porch, I stopped in my tracks. Taking my arm, Mark led me down the stairs and away from the house.
He led me probably a half a block away before releasing my arm. He didn’t stop walking. He turned off of Brier Lane, onto Central Street and down to the playground. Mark stopped when he reached the swings. I sat down, absently pushing myself back and forth.

While swinging, everything started to come back into focus, the haze of panic was clearing out. I recognized the playground we were in, it was just down the street from my home.

“What happened back there?” I asked.
Mark was quiet. He appeared to be processing.
I sat quietly, pushing myself back and forth. I wasn’t ready for the answer, whatever it is. The air was still, the sky was clear.  There was a light from the street lamp, a bit from the moon. The night was a normal, harmless night. I realized I was shaking.  I didn’t know if it was from cold, since I had left my jacket inside, or if it was from what had just happened.
“I don’t know what happened,” Mark said. His voice was soft.
When I glanced over at him, he was sitting there in shock himself.
“Has that ever happened before? I mean, not just in a ghost hunting setting, but ever?” I asked.
“No.”
“Do you know anyone else who can hear them like you can?”
“No.”
A gentle breeze picked up, filling the silence with the rustling of leaves.

Thoughts were flooding my brain. Why had that happened that time. Why hadn’t it happened earlier in the night? Would it happen again? How did I feel about it?  Was I okay with it? Does this mean I believe in ghosts?

“Um, Mark?” I asked.
“Yeah?” he replied, looking up.
“I don’t know if I can go back in that house.”
“If it makes you feel any better, Liz apologized for scaring you. She didn’t know you could hear her either.”
“How come I didn’t hear that?”
“You were already out the front door. There is a range, just like with walkie-talkies or the like. If you aren’t within that range, you can’t hear or see them.”
Interesting, I thought.
“Is there any chance that was a pure fluke? Could it have been because we were touching?”
“It’s possible, but the only way to be sure, is to go back into the house and to ask Liz to talk to us.”
“Oh.”
“Do you think you can do that?”
The very idea of walking back into the house set my stomach in knots, yet, I was intrigued. Would the need to know what is going on win out? I wasn’t exactly afraid, but I wasn’t comfortable with the idea either.
“I don’t know,” I said.  I wasn’t known for running away, my history has proven that I face my problems head on.

Stealing a couple of deep breaths, I made a decision.
“Let’s go back. My need to know is beating my desire to stay far away,” I said.
Mark smiled, jumping off the swing.
“No time like the present then,” he said.
My swing slowed down, dragging my feet to bring it to a stop. I managed to put one foot in front of the other. Just because I was putting on a brave face doesn’t mean that I am anxious to walk back into the house.
“Everyone is going to know why we left in the middle of a session, aren’t they,” I asked.
“Probably,” he said.
It wasn’t that late, but I realized I hadn’t seen anyone out walking their dog, driving a car, or anything else. It stuck me as odd.  I repeated my thoughts to Mark. He suggested it was probably due to the fact that it was a Saturday night in towards the end of October. It was getting darker earlier, cooler too. That and there was a play off game on TV that had people glued to their lazy-boys and couch cushions.  I laughed.
We had just turned back onto Brier Lane and Mark asked me what I wanted to tell people.
“Not the truth. Perhaps a partial truth? Something scared me and I had to get out of the house,” I said.
“What scared you? They are going to ask.”
“How about something touched my arm, and I was already out the door before you had a chance to tell me it was you?” I said, that seemed plausible, even to me.
“Works for me. And we took a brief walk so you could calm down,” he said.
We were standing just in front of the house now, Mark radioed in that we were going to enter the house and would settle back into the library.

“Ready?” he asked.
I nodded, leading the way back into the house. No point pussyfooting around now. After sitting down, I noticed that our recorders had been left on while we were gone.
“We are back from a break,” Mark said for the recorders benefit.
“Liz, if you are here, I need you to come back,” he said.
I felt my body freeze.
“When you come back, find a way to let me, and me alone know you are here,” he said.
A moment later, he nodded at me that Liz had joined us. My heart was racing.  Mark reach over and placed my hand on his arm, much like it had been earlier.
“Hello Liz, it’s nice to meet you,” I said.
“Hello Jessica.”
I could feel my fingers dig into Marks arm. He winced.
“I take it you heard that,” he said, gently prying my fingers up.
“Oh, sorry,” I said.
This time, Mark placed his hand on my arm and nodded at me to ask another question.
“I’m sorry I ran away. I wasn’t expecting to hear a response,” I said
“It’s ok, I would have been startled too,” she said softly.
I dug my fingers into my own hand.
“Heard that too,” I said.
“Next, we are going to see what happens when we aren’t touching,” Mark said.
“I am not ready just yet. Can we wait a few more minutes?”
“We only have about five more minutes until this session ends and we join the rest of the group. Why don’t we try this now, depending on how it goes, there is one more thing I want to try. Then you can have a few minutes to compose yourself.”
I sighed. That made sense.  I looked down to make sure there was no contact. Mark had his hands folded in his lap, mine were now gripping the arms of the chair.
“Do you like knowing that Mark can hear you?” I asked.
“Yes, it is much easier than yes or no questions, or hoping my voice will get picked up by the recorder,” she said.
I popped up out of my chair quickly. Mark reached out to touch my arm and I sat back down.
“In the other locations, we weren’t sitting this close. I am going to stand over by the door. This is the last question before the session ends.”
“Ok. I don’t know what to ask. Liz, can you just say something, anything?” I asked, bracing myself.
“I know you don’t like hearing me, but I am glad you can,” she said.
“Thanks, but now I need a few minutes, I’m sorry,” I said.
Mark walked back over to join me.  He didn’t say anything, just sat down in the chair.
I didn’t understand what was going on. I went from not believing in ghosts at all, to having them talk to me? I wonder if Paul decided to spike my coffee earlier in the evening. Probably not, even he isn’t that wicked.
Unless Mark and Brian actually are fakes and have hidden recorders, this is real. No matter how much I wanted to think and believe otherwise, this was real.
“I am not one to live in a state of denial,” I said.
“No? Where does that leave you,” Mark asked.
“Somewhere between a rock and a hard place. Do I leave tonight and hope it doesn’t follow me? That could be considered the cowards way out, and we know I am not a coward. Do I stay and see what happens? Knowing that it scares me a little bit, not knowing what has happened to me. Does it do any good to leave, does it do any good to stay.”
“Well, for what its worth, I hope you stay.”
“Thanks. It’s overwhelming. We still have a minute or so right?” I asked.
Mark nodded.

“End of EVP session in the library of Martin Manor on October 23, 2011,” Mark said a moment later.

My eyes closed and I laid my head back on the wing of the chair. I couldn’t even begin to process what had happened and was going on. There were so many questions, so many variables. Would it be easier knowing or does not knowing allow me to remain somewhat aloof. Ultimately, knowing will help me from being in denial about what is happening.
I was pulled from my reverie by footsteps on the stairs, and voices filling the entryway. Was it time for our thirty minute break? Had we been here for three hours already? I just needed another minute to clear my head and resign myself to the lie I was about to tell. I had never lied to Paul before, about anything.
Even with my eyes closed, I could tell someone else had entered the room. There was a new charge in the air. Interesting. Counting backwards from ten, I finally opened my eyes to see Paul standing over me.
“What happened? Are you ok?” Paul was stumbling over his words in his worry for me.
“I’m fine,” I said, interupting him and standing up.
“Well, what happened,” Paul asked. Dakota was standing over by the door, hovering.
“I thought something touched me,” I started.
“That’s so cool,” Paul said.
“Not so much, it really scared me and I booked it for the door.  I was out on the front porch shaking by the time Mark caught up to me. It turns it had been him, not a ghost or a spook,” I said.
“He touched you? What a jerk,” Paul said.
“Not like that, he didn’t mean to make me jump. He had been trying to get my attention without saying anything or making noise. It didn’t work apparently.”
“Oh. Well. Why didn’t you just come back inside then?”
“I needed a few minutes to calm down. I didn’t want to sit in the room and have the recorder pick up my heavy breathing,” I said with a laugh.
“Dakota, you can come into the room, its okay,” I said.
With a smile, he walked in and gave me a hug, telling me he was glad I was okay.
I felt a bit awkward.  Paul grinned from ear to ear.  Whatever.
“Tell me, how was your experience in the attic?” I asked.
Paul started to babble about being in the attic. They had asked some questions, waited for some knocking or changes in temperatures, or something, but nothing happened the entire time they were up there. That after spending over half an hour with nothing happening, they started poking around to see what was up there. Apparently Alexa and Dana had not approved, but since nothing was happening and they were tagging the sounds that they made and were being quiet enough for Alexa and Dana to continue an EVP session, there wasn’t much they could say to dissuade them from poking around.
“Did you find anything interesting?” I asked.
“We did. It was the coolest ever! There was a bookshelf tucked back into the corner with a whole bunch of old books on it.  Dana tried to tell us not to touch anything, but since it was an open bookshelf, we did anyway,” Dakota said, a bit sheepishly.  I got the impression that this had all been Paul’s idea, that normally Dakota wouldn’t have dared poke around.
“What kind of books?” I asked. I hadn’t noticed a bookcase when we were up there, I wondered how far into the attic they had gone.
“All kinds,” Paul said.
“There were some newer books, well, 40’s and 50’s newer. There were also some really old books. Leather bound, gold embossed, with super thin pages. There were even some diaries. They were all written by an Elizabeth Bannister. I think she used to live here,” Dakota said.
“Yeah, and, there was this book on holding seances too. It was like we were meant to find it since that is kind of like what we are doing,” Paul said. Not to be outdone.
“Neat. So what are we going to do for our break besides sit in here?” I asked.  I could use a coffee and something to eat. It wouldn’t do any good to have my stomach growling later on. I also wanted to talk hear about everyone else’s experiences. Also to see if it was the library, I wanted to encourage another group to sit there and do a session later on.
“Dakota and I were talking about walking down to the pizza shop to grab a sub. Do you want to come with us?” Paul said.
“I would love a sub. I could also go for a large coffee. Are you sure you want me to come too? Isn’t three a crowd?” I was giving them an out and they knew it.
“Of course we want you to come, this is to celebrate your birthday. If you would rather, it can just be you and,”
“No, we are not leaving Dakota here. That wouldn’t be nice!” I interupted Paul.
“It would be okay, I wouldn’t mind,” Dakota told me.
“I would. Let’s get our jackets and get going, we must only have another 20 minutes or so,” I said.
Dakota checked his watch, smiled, “We have 26 minutes actually.”
I walked out of the library into the entry way and found my coat. Mark and Brian were talking quietly with each other. Just as I turned to hand Paul his jacket, Mark walked over to check on me.
“I’m fine. Really. We are walking down to the pizza shop to grab some subs. Want to join us?” I asked. Paul raised an eyebrow at me. Dakota winked. I gave them both a look.
**********
We had all placed our order and Paul had picked up the tab, including Marks order, much to his chagrin. Paul told us it was his perogative especially since it was my birthday. After grabbing us a booth in the nondescript pizza shop, we dug in. There was silence coming from our table as we all inhaled our food. If someone looked at us, they would think we hadn’t eaten in days. Five minutes after sitting down, there wasn’t a crumb left on the table.  We all looked at each other and burst out laughing.
“You would think we just ran a marathon or something,” I joked. I excused myself to use the bathroom.  I could hear Paul and Dakota regaling Mark with all of their experiences.
In the bathroom, I took a moment to relax and breathe deeply. Something I hadn’t done all night. Good thing it was a single seater.
As I pondered all that had happened, I took a moment to primp in the mirror. Then I realized what I was doing. I liked Mark. I moved hastily away from the mirror and out the door. I took my time walking back to the table.
“Who’s ready to go get some coffee?” I asked. I hope no one else noticed the slight waver in my voice.
“I think we all are,” Paul said, standing up. Dakota and Mark both slid out of the booth, and we moved towards the door as a group.
We chatted like old friends as we made our way across the street to Dunkin Donuts. I could already taste the delicious large Dunkin Dark iced coffee with cream and one pump of pumpkin, it was my favorite fall drink. As I was ordering, I added a double shot of espresso at the last moment, nothing like an added kick of caffeine.
Once everyone had their beverage of choice, we wandered back to Brier Lane and Martin Manor.
“Mark, how did you get into ghost hunting? Brian said you had an experience,” Paul said.
I found myself holding my breath, waiting to see what Mark would say.
“As a child, I used to have imaginary friends that turned out to not be so imaginary. There isn’t any one specific experience.” Mark made it sound like he might have grown out of it, but didn’t actually say that. There was also finality in his voice that he wasn’t going to say more right now.
I let my breath go.  I wasn’t ready to share the knowledge of Mark’s abilities with the rest of the group. I wasn’t ready to acknowledge my own abilities, let alone share them with the others.
We continued to chatter about life, turns out we were all scary movie/horror buffs. Of course, I had known Paul was, his favorite is Paranormal Activity.  Sometimes I think if he could have lived that movie, he would have.  Dakota’s favorite horror movie was Night of the Living Dead. The original, not the remake, he made sure to point out.  His preference was for the old school, original horror movies.  Mark was more of a thriller fan, where the suspense and scare came from the music and timing than blood and gore.  His favorite was Silence of the Lambs.
“My favorite is The Others,” I said last. Everyone looked at me. It was a ghost story, and they were perplexed because I had told everyone already that I didn’t believe. “What! I like ghost stories; they have a certain mystery to them. There is an eeriness that just can’t be created any other way.”
All of a sudden, we were in front of the house, walking up the walkway. There was a falter in my step, I wasn’t sure I was ready. This was feeling harder to go back in now than it did before. Perhaps because I knew that I was going to hear what the ghost had to say. That made it so real.
I stepped back away from the group, making them all turn to look at me. I didn’t know what to tell them. As I was looking at the house, trying to find the words to tell them I was spooked, I saw something in one of the attic windows. Now I didn’t have to come up with something halfway believable. At least it would me some time.
“I just saw someone in the attic window,” I said.
“Could be someone in our group,” Mark suggested.
“Your right, I’m sure that’s all it is,” I said.
Turns out it didn’t buy me very much time at all, as voices down the street had us all turning our heads.  The rest of the group, including our guide Brian, were all walking back towards the house.  It obviously wasn’t one of them unless they could teleport, which I didn’t think was a viable option.
“Uh, any other theories Mark?” I asked.
“We are at a house that is haunted. Could have been a ghost,” he said.
No one else saw anything and it made me slightly paranoid that they were going to suspect something wasn’t adding up and call me on it. Instead, everyone was super jealous that I got to see something and they didn’t. Yippee skippy I thought to myself.
Once the others joined us on the front walk, we all made our way back into the house. Even I managed to walk evenly back inside. My curiosity won out over my fear.
Brian was letting us know that he wanted to get right back to doing the investigations because Michelle and Crystal were only able to stay until 11pm, which gave them room for another two sessions. Since they had to leave early, Brian gave them the option of which rooms they wanted to investigate.  He also told them they could pick which group they went with.
Nobody was shocked when they opted to work with Brian again and that they were happy to have either pair working with them. When they said they wanted to check out the library, I felt a sigh of relief. I wasn’t quite ready to venture back in there just yet. They had heard from Paul that I had said I had been touched and they were hoping to have a similar experience. I felt a little sorry that they probably wouldn’t get touched.
Paul and Dakota wanted to go back to the attic. While they told the group it was because they had good vibes up there, I was pretty sure they wanted to do more snooping in the attic.
Dana and Alex were ready to try another room. They decided they would go into the master bedroom. They said it seemed like a ghost place to pick up on a residual ghost. Those are not always exciting, but sometimes the proof was better because if it was like a recording, it could happen more than once. At least, that was their stance.  I was thinking that their reasons might not be so pure. They seemed to get a bit anxious when people didn’t want to investigate their way, and so perhaps this was a chance for them to have more control.  Who knows? It did feel like it left us in the basement for an investigation.
Since I knew that the ghost we had all been communicating with could go wherever she wanted, it didn’t matter to me where we went. I was going to ask her to visit the other groups and I was going to ask Mark to tell me some of the history of the house and the resident ghost.

**********
Mark and I settled into the basement and waited for everyone else to radio that they were set. Our recorders were set on the floor; the EMF detector, K2, and thermometer were next to them.
“EVP session, basement, Martin Manor, October 23, 2011, 9pm. I’m Mark, and with me is Jessica.”
The door that led to the stairs was closed.  I was sitting where I could see the pipes that were being knocked on before, they came down from the ceiling in several spots, joining together in different locations, before dropping down the wall to join another pipe and lead into the boiler. I wasn’t savvy enough to know what directions the flow went, or exactly what did what.  There were some crates stacked up in the corner.  Those were the crates I saw the shadow peeking around earlier in the night.  It was really spartan in the basement. There was nothing other than support posts staggered evenly throughout the basement, about eight of them or so.  My eyes had been scanning the rest of the room when I realized that the space wasn’t adding up to the foot print of the first floor.
“Hey Mark,” I said. I waited until he was paying attention
“Do you know if there is a partition wall down here?” I asked.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Well, it’s smaller down here than the first floor is. Typically the basements in these type of houses are the same size as the first floor.” I said. 
“I don’t know, it’s not something either Brian or I had ever noticed.”
How had they not noticed?
“Do you not spend that much time down here?” I asked.
“No, not really. We have spent more time down here with your group than we have in all other groups combined. There have been a few times that VRPS has investigated the basement, but since we never turn the lights on and only have our little flashlights, we never paid a whole lot of attention to those details.”

Every detail mattered. I stood up, telling Mark that I was going to walk around the room.  I started walking around the room, knocking every few inches. Everything sounded solid

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