I regularly wake up at night and get a good fright by the monster near the door. Of course, it’s not a monster. It’s a dress form with John’s hoodies piled on it, but in the dark, for a moment, I think something is lurking there.
Obviously, I’m susceptible to imagining things given the right circumstances. And walking around an abandoned, infamous prison in the dark sure is the right circumstance.
My group went with Frank to Cell Block 8, where we immediately began seeing Shadow People (shadows, conveniently shaped like people) in the cells, sometimes flitting from cell to cell, and even coming out of the walls. Every cell exuded something as we walked by it. I made an effort to walk as close to the cell doors as possible, because walking down the center of the corridor would make me a wimp. Also, I was determined to see something, to hear a ghostie call my name or chase me down the cell block.
It could all be chalked up to eyes adjusting combined with the creep factor of the prison, but it could be haints. It’s probably pareidolia, but it might be the agitated spirits of dead inmates. In the black, with the only light being the moonlight shining through the cells’ narrow skylights and bulbs in the KII meter, it’s easy to abandon reason and go with haints.
But, we had tools. Tools involving energy, like KII EMF meters, Frank’s “Shack Hack”, and something he called a Zero-Energy Emitter. The Zero-Energy Emitter floods the room with energy that spirits can manipulate to communicate with us. Not positive energy or negative energy. Energy at the zero level.
I’m just going to let that marinate with you, dear reader.
I’m not sure how we selected the cell, but a KII meter was laid out and questions started being asked. Mostly, can you hear us, can you make the lights change, do you know Gary Johnson? A bit later, Frank gathered the group in and around one of the cells with his Shack Hack, a device that cycles through radio frequencies. The idea was to ask questions and, through the radio scanner thingy, spirits would respond. You could achieve the same effect by driving through Pennsyltucky with the radio set to scan* and asking questions.
Through the Shack Hack, we determined that the spirits knew Gary Johnson and didn’t like Dustin, a member of our group. Which was understandable, considering he was so aggressive and kinda judgmental in his line and method of questioning.
“Maybe they don’t like the way you’re talking to them,” I suggested. “You’ve got a tone.”
“They didn’t give anyone a break when they were alive,” he said. “Why should I give them a break?”
“Did anyone drink coffee today?” Frank called out. “Or do something with rabbits?” The Shack Hack had sputtered out the words “coffee” and “rabbit”. John wandered back up and whispered to me, “I drank a pot of coffee before coming here and had a conversation with the tour guide about rabbit clouds.”
“WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE WITH THE REST OF THE CLASS?” I asked/hollered.
It was too late, though. The gang had heard and turned their attention to John, who relayed the information while giving me the stink eye.
We were about done with Cell Block 8, waiting to rotate to the next cell block. I took the time to peer into every cell door, looking for movement. Just before rotating, after my eyes had adjusted to the darkness, I looked into a condemned cell…I’m pretty sure I saw a Shadow Cat running toward me.
That genuinely surprised me.
At the rotation, my group went with Kris Williams into Cell Block 10. Her approach was different from Frank, in that she largely let the group lead the hunt with the equipment they’d brought. I don’t know if it was because I’d adjusted or because this cell block had more light, but I was significantly less creeped out. There were no Shadow People or Shadow Cats. Just the world’s scariest shower cell, which seemed to have a barrier of fear draped across the door like a….um…like a drape. Of fear.
Picking up no activity on the KII meters, Kris had the idea to space out, each of us sitting with out backs to a cell door, while Dustin walked the corridor in the style of a prison guard.
Dustin, however, chose to LARP The Green Mile. He was incredibly sincere in what he was doing. He really was. I’m really not making fun of him. But, his calling out to the spirit prisoners about keeping the warden happy was timid and oddly inflected. Numerous times, he called the spirit prisoners “grown-ass men”, which came out as “grown assmen”. I choked back a snicker while imagining a band of fire demons appearing at the end of the cell block, chanting, “We are the Assmen!”
Then Nikki, a girl seated in the cell door directly across, called out to me, “Is there something over there?” and I leaped out from my cell door, shrieking, “Where? Behind me?”
“No…” she said, pointing toward the end of the cell block where the Assmen would be. “Down there.”
It turned out to be a column or some architectural thingy. But, for several minutes, it looked like something lurking. Like the hoodie covered dress form in my bedroom.
In the last rotation, we had the option to head to Death Row with Kris Williams or The Hole with Aaron Sagers. I went down in the Hole, which had been solitary confinement. At Eastern State Penitentiary, that meant leaving prisoners down there alone in the dark for a very long time, causing many to lose their minds. Only part of the Hole is open, just a few cells – at the end of that section, there is a broken brick wall covered in plexiglass. Peering through that plexiglass is like looking into a horror movie. I don’t know what’s down there, don’t want to know what’s down there, but I could hear it.
As with the rest of the prison, the lights were cut out once we were all settled. KII meters were laid out, along with turned-on, unscrewed flashlights (the better to allow spirits to manipulate them when asked questions). The tight underground space echoes sound incredibly well and intensifies the inherent spookiness.
Like Cell Block 10, there was little in the Hole that was unsettling, other than my stomach, which seemed to be the only thing producing spooky sounds. That was the ghost of the seafood sausage I’d eaten at dinner.
The KII meter did go nuts, but Aaron speculated that was more due to the close, underground space and our cell phones. The flashlights also flashed, but we couldn’t get a pattern going, indicated that the flashing was due to temperature related contraction.
So, at the end of the night, I’d experienced pareidolia, a possible Shadow Cat, imagined fire-demon assmen, and haunted the Hole. No definite ghosts in this outing, but, at least, it was fun.
Things I learned about ghost hunting:
- Wear pants. I wore a skirt made from John’s hacked off pants and cashmere tights, which wasn’t quite enough to stave off the chill.
- Remember: zero energy.
- If you’re going to LARP a prison guard, don’t go half way. Own it.
- Don’t eat seafood sausage ahead of time. Just don’t.
- I’ve got to hand it to Kris Williams. She’s so down to earth, you’d never know she was a reality show star. She seemed almost embarrassed when it came to signing photos at the end of the hunt. Kris really is a very nice woman.
Finally, not everything is nothing. Yeah, I went kinda Yoda there. For all my giggling and thoughts of fire-demon assmen, I’m still pretty sure I saw a ghost cat.
*Kids, we used to have these things in our cars called radios which played music that wasn’t on our iPods. You could hit the “Scan” button and cycle through all the available stations looking for something to listen to. This was before we had USB ports in our cars.