Do you see the cloudy image near the bottom center of this photo? It is believed to be the face of a young woman. She’s looking up and to the left. (The computer monitor in the picture was not on when the photo was taken and yet, it certainly appears to be. Was the ghost absorbing energy from the computer?)
(Continued from 3/24/12:)
Ken handed the rods to me and showed me how to hold them with a light grip. They immediately moved into an “X” again. I swallowed hard.
“Ask Mary Bell a question,” he told me. “But don’t ask it out loud. Think it with your mind. Ask her to please uncross the rods if it’s true that her father’s name was Stewart.”
At this point, I would assume the average reader might be thinking, “Here comes the parlor game part, right?” Um…
I did as he instructed. Suddenly, the rods moved very smoothly apart until they were parallel to one another. How could that be? I didn’t move them. Nor did I feel anyone or anything take control of my hands or the rods and cause them to move; they did it all by themselves.
“Was her dad’s name Stewart?” I asked Ken. He nodded. I think my eyes must have been bugging out of my head at this point, because in addition to my own astonishment, I sensed something. I wouldn’t describe it as an unseen presence though; it was more like the feeling of energy in the air before a storm—bristly and exhilarating. I tried not to focus on it–ghosts and dowsing rods? Get real. And yet, I felt a little out-of-sorts.
My friend Jill then tried the rods and I watched as they suddenly moved and gently hit her on her shoulders.
“What did you ask?” I wanted to know.
“I asked her if she would be my friend. I asked her to give me a hug,” she said looking very pleased.
Jill obviously wasn’t the least bit worried. I was thinking, “Although I’m not entirely convinced about all this, just to be on the safe side, I don’t think I’d be encouraging a ghost to be my friend…”
After that, we all assumed our positions in the chairs Ken had set up for us at the end of the hall, and turned on our cameras.
Ken then shut off the light, and he immediately said he saw something through his lens, but all I saw was dark. Before long, both Jill and Ken said they saw streaks of light moving in front of us. I was beginning to think that either they were imagining it or something was wrong with my camera, so I started messing with it to see if I’d adjusted it right. Yep. Nothing wrong there; maybe the night-vision feature wasn’t as effective as it was supposed to be. Or my friends were crazy.
As we sat looking through our viewfinders, every now and then, Ken or Jill would shout out, “There! Did you see that?”
I didn’t see a thing. However, the longer I sat there, the more I began to feel something. And that “something” grew stronger with each passing minute, until it became so intense that it caused those same physical sensations in me that I had experienced before, only this time magnified exponentially—goosebumps, chills and tingles popping from the inside out like sparks from metal grinding on metal. My spine felt like someone had taken a 10,000-watt electrical cord and plugged it into my tailbone. Tears fell from my eyes and I started to gasp so hard I wondered if Jill or Ken might wonder what was going on with me. The muscle in my left leg erupted in spasms. My throat became so dry, it was hard to swallow and it felt like someone had wrapped a scarf around my neck and was gently twisting it; but not to the point where it completely cut off my air, just enough to make it hard for me to breathe. It was right about then, that I noticed I had a huge headache on the right side of my head. Never in my life have I had a headache like that. I wasn’t sure what all the sensations meant—was the ghost trying to take over my body? Why would she want to? Now, maybe if I was J. Lo… Or was it simply the result of her energy interacting with mine?
Just when I didn’t think I could take it another second, it grew even more intense. I very seriously considered getting up out of my chair and leaving the room. These kinds of feelings never happened to me when anyone else was around before, and they were never this strong, so I was kind of embarrassed but at the same time, I was also pretty scared.
It seemed like it would have been so much easier to panic than to maintain self-control, but something within me said, “Get a grip, Pat!”
I remembered doing the same thing as a teenager when I went swimming with some friends at a local lake one summer day. I’m not the best swimmer, but I started to follow my friends out to the floating platform, and I got halfway there when suddenly my body became exhausted and I sank. I could see the green of the lake water all around me in every direction—up, down, left, and right, but I couldn’t touch the bottom. I couldn’t even see the bottom! And the surface was at least 10 feet above my head. Somehow, I managed to paddle hard enough to get myself to the surface, but no sooner did my face pop out of the water when I went under a second time. I wanted to panic, but I knew that if I did, I would surely drown. Instead, I told myself to keep my wits about me; if I lost self-control, it would be all over. I knew I needed to use all my strength to get back to the surface and then to float on my back until I calmed down, so that’s what I did. I know that that moment of mental clarity saved my life. If I would have allowed myself to panic that day, I would not be here now telling the story.
It must have been that same part of me that took over while at Ken’s house. Part of me wanted to panic. A very big part of me. But why? What was there to panic about? Nothing I could see with my eyes. And what good would it do me to panic anyway? There was no logical explanation for the feelings I was experiencing, just an overwhelming sense of being in the presence of something spectacular, powerful, and unfathomable.
“Oh my God,” I whispered, trying to keep my volcanic emotions in check. “Did you just feel that?”
Ken didn’t say a word, as if it was all old hat to him. Jill looked at me. “What?” she asked sounding only minimally concerned.
“You didn’t feel anything?” I sorely needed validation; it was too much for me to grasp.
“Well, I feel energy in the air,” she said sweetly.
“That’s all? Just energy?”
“Yeah, energy. You know, like maybe there’s something else in the room with us.”
“Yeah,” I lied, as I fought to catch my breath.
She went back to peering through her camera lens as if it was no big deal. My head and backbone felt like they were about to explode.
Ken and Jill continued to state that they were seeing things every now and then, but apparently not as often as Ken had hoped, so he turned on the light and decided to try another tactic to help make it easier for Mary Bell to show herself.
“Ghosts need to absorb energy before they can fully manifest in visual form,” he explained as he hooked up some kind of large silver machine shaped like a mushroom with a very long stem and placed it on the opposite end of the hall from where we were sitting. And while I kind of wanted to see Mary Bell as she once appeared in human form, I also didn’t know how much more I could take.
I got up out of my chair and leaned against the kitchen wall. It was all so overwhelming. Weren’t ghosts supposed to hang out in dilapidated, abandoned houses with long, grey corridors and spider webs hanging from gaudy chandeliers? The Harmon’s house was new, and warm with the feeling of friendly people living there: modern furniture throughout, Rosie’s dog dish on the floor in the corner, and a coffeemaker sitting on the counter waiting to brew coffee in the morning. How could a nice place like that be haunted?
My left leg was still quivering. The pain in my head persisted. I wondered why I had a headache and I mentioned it to Ken, but he didn’t even seem surprised. He said that when he first started encountering Mary Bell, he used to have headaches like that too. And he said he experienced the same thing when he took the ghost tour at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. The same hotel where Stephen King wrote “The Shining.” The Stanley is famous for its ghosts. Great. So what did that mean? And what was it that I was desperately trying to deny while at the same time, having it affect me in such an unusual way? I knew the answer of course, but I didn’t want to admit it. Not even to myself. Because what would that mean? That there really was a ghost present? A dead person who was “seeing” me? My mind felt like a rubber band being pulled in opposite directions.
The silver machine added yet another surreal element to the scene as it sat at the end of the hall making electrical sounds and cracking and sparking.
We all sat down again and Ken turned out the light. Jill handed me her video camera, claiming that her arm was tired from holding it. At that point, my headache was no longer constant, but it wasn’t completely gone either. It kept coming and going.
I lifted the camera to my face and looked through the viewfinder.
That was when I saw it—a ball of light about the size of a fifty-cent piece moving in an odd manner in an arc near the floor. It was unlike anything I had ever witnessed in my entire life–an animate inanimate object sort of shooting then falling silently. Gracefully.
(To be continued next week. Please check back.)
A retired Fort Worth Police officer, Kenneth Harmon lives in Fort Collins, CO with his wife, four daughters, and a ghost named Mary Bell. Kenneth loves to write both fiction and non-fiction. He has been a prior finalist for the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association Zola Award, and has had short fiction published in numerous anthologies and on line. In addition to spending time with family and friends, he enjoys reading, sports, music, and taking long walks along the Poudre River. For more information, please visit www.ghostunderfoot.com. Thank you for your interest.
(All photos by Ken Harmon. Used by permission.)