All my life I have had three central obsessions:
The movies and games were easily accessible; however, the paranormal has always been something that seemed just out of my grasp. Being a self-professed student of the paranormal since around age 11, the thought of ghosts and spirits has always fascinated me. Having done all that an amateur ghost hunter can do – from visiting supposedly haunted areas and snapping photos to reading book after book on the subject – my thirst has never felt quenched.
In most of my encounters with the unknown I never thought I caught anything of real merit except for a couple of photos snapped in a Kansas cemetery. The pictures you see above were taken seconds after each other with my digital camera. Most orb photos are false and are usually deemed as just dust. The one in the above photos have been given some credibility however, said credibility coming from a man named Lou Gentile. “They’re pretty good,” he said to me upon receiving my email. This may not sound like a glowing affirmation to most; however, coming from Lou, it meant a lot to me.
Lou’s an expert in the paranormal, a certified Demonologist, and a helluva guy. Recently we had a chance to hang out at the first Rock and Shock weekend in Worcester, Massachusetts, and we talked for hours. Before I really knew what was going on, I ended up on a ghost hunt with him.
As part of the convention, bands were playing at night at an ancient looking venue called The Palladium, which was to be the site of our ghost hunt. It was about midnight when a group of us gathered in a hotel room so that Lou could first show us his amazingly frightening slide show. We were all a bit nervous at this point. Specter upon specter appeared before our eyes. The slide show was soon over, and it was go time. “If there’s anything in this place at all, I will find it,” Lou said as we all gathered our jackets and got ready to go. I looked toward my girlfriend, Debi (whose comments are interspersed below), and she gave me quite a reassuring smile. I was just thankful she was there for me to squeeze her hand. I’ve seen enough horror movies to know the drill: Stick with someone! Do not go off alone! I was planning on sticking with her as if I were Seth Brundle and she were flypaper. She didn’t seem to mind. The car arrived. It was time.
Unlike Steve, I haven’t done a lot of research into the paranormal other than my own few scattered experiences. As a child growing up in the middle of one of the biggest Civil War battlefields, I did on occasion believe I saw the ghosts of soldiers, one of whom lived in our basement and I considered a friend. He could have been either real or imaginary – as a child, who knew or cared about the difference. Over the rest of my lifetime I’ve had some unexplainable encounters including one particularly friendly seeming ghost my cat Pinot and I both saw on Thanksgiving a few years ago and several orbs that I photographed with Steve in a graveyard near our old apartment. I’ve never had a real fear of ghosts, more like a fascination and an insatiable curiosity. So, I was primed and ready to see whatever might show itself to us in the Palladium.
The Palladium was massive. Standing on the stage, the ceiling looked as if it went on for miles and miles. This place was impressive, and you could almost feel the history around you. At about 1:30 am the remaining staff set up a table for us along with some chairs. We took our seats. All in all there were about 20 of us. Our group was comprised of Palladium staff, a few curious maniacs who were destined to be very sorry, a couple of celebrities who shall remain nameless out of respect for their privacy, and of course Lou.
“Will someone please turn out the lights?” asked Lou. There we were – in the dark sitting in a circle. This was starting to seem more and more like a bad idea with every passing second. Lou held up a recorder. “This is a voice activated digital recorder,” he said. “It will only record sound and will stop itself when there is silence. I need you to all be as quiet as humanly possible. If there is anything in this building at all, we will hear it upon playback.” Lou brought the recorder to his mouth, “EVP #1. Worcester, Massachusetts,” and then placed it on the table and walked away from it. He began walking around the outer circle of us. Shadows danced upon every single wall. The tension was getting a bit thick. Lou began his questions. “Are there any spirits in this building? We are not here to hurt you. We are here to help if we can. Is there anyone there?” He repeated these questions over and over again. All we heard was silence except for the sound of his voice. “End of EVP,” he said and walked to the table.
He picked up the recorder and played it back. There were his questions playing back over and over, only along with them there was something else. A voice. It sort of sounded like tuning in a radio station that you couldn’t quite get. It was unintelligible, but it was without a doubt a human voice. We all stared at each other, mouths agape.
Steve mentioned shadows dancing on the walls. They were doing a full-on ballet recital as far as I was concerned! I couldn’t keep my eyes off the balcony – every few seconds I saw one shadow after another sweeping from one side to the other. I was so mesmerized I found myself losing my train of thought while listening to Lou. Also, wave after wave of cold air swept over me until soon I was shivering in my seat. Once the recorder had finished its playback, I started feeling a little warmer – until the next round that is!
Some of the staff members started talking about the history of the place and their experiences there. It turns out there were several deaths associated with it, one of them fairly recent. At this point I turned to my left, and I swear on my parents’ graves I saw the silhouette of a man walking down one of the staircases. I yelled out, “Who’s over there?” There was no answer. Lou asked if anyone else was in the building, and we were told the janitor was there but he was most likely in the basement. That was basically the end of the discussion, but let me tell you, my eyes did not leave that portion of the building for a moment after that.
It was time for round two: “The Knocking Game” Lou called it. Again he would ask some questions, only this time he requested that whatever was there respond with knocks. Except for a few faint noises there was nothing to be heard either during or after playback.
I heard a very distinct knock at one point, but I seemed to be the only one, so I didn’t say anything. Also, during the entire question & answer session, the cold air picked up again. Next time I do something like this, I’m definitely wearing my winter clothes!
Round three. “We’re going to do something a little bit different now,” said Lou. “We’re going to play a little Q&A. This time, I am going to be silent, and you all are going to ask the questions. DO NOT ask any confrontational questions, meaning no ‘if you’re here, show us’ type questions. EVP #3. Worcester, Massachusetts.” He placed the recorder on the table and walked away. We were to ask a question, wait 15 seconds, and then the following person would ask one, and so on and so forth until we all had a turn. The questions started. The silence was deafening. By this time someone in our group had fallen sick and had to leave. The round was over. Lou walked back to the table to get the recorder. Playback started.
Almost every question was answered by a strange voice, but most times it was hard to tell what was being said. It was a man’s voice doing the answering. Again, it was unintelligible but definitely male. There were a few hard to make out “yes”s and “no”s here and there until someone asked the very simple question, “What is your favorite color?” There was no immediate answer; however, during the next question you could CLEARLY make out someone say the word “color.” This was a voice that we hadn’t heard before, and it was quite distinct. The hairs on the back of my neck were standing on end. The questions continued. It was here that we got one of our clearest answers of the night. “Where are you from?” the girl sitting right next to me asked. “ENGLAND” a female voice shouted back. Again, we had never heard this voice before. This was new; this was scary. It’s one thing hearing stuff that you think sounds like a voice. It’s entirely another to hear someone or something give a direct answer to a question. We were all pretty shaken.
The “color” comment definitely made us all sit up and take notice. It was so clear. And there’s no way it was anyone in our group who said it. The person (a male) asked the question, paused, and then the next person (a female) asked her question. While the female was talking was when we heard the word “color.” It was almost as if the spirit was wondering to itself what “color” was. Really, it had to be heard to be believed. But that was nothing in comparison to the “England” response. Every single one of us heard it as “England” – it was loud and distinct. Absolutely one of the spookiest things I’ve ever experienced!
“If you guys really want to get something, we should head up to the 5th floor. Nobody goes up there,” said a Palladium employee. At this point Lou says, “Sure let’s go!” I, on the other hand, wanted to punch the kid in the mouth! I mean c’mon! As if things weren’t getting weird enough! Needless to say, we all gathered up our chairs and started upstairs.
This floor was pitch black and clearly abandoned for the most part. “No one goes up there.” Yeah, no shit, Sherlock; now I can see why. There was barely any lighting on this floor except for a few emergency lights here and there. We gathered again in a circle, this time not even being able to see each other. I swear Debi was right next to me, and I could not see her at all. Thank god for her hand, or at least I think it was her hand. The room we were in was tiny. It stunk of cat piss. “Is the spirit mad about the lack of a litter box?” I asked and was met with some canned and nervous laughter. One thing was clear. None of us wanted to be up there. The session was about to begin when something strange happened. “Something’s staring at me,” one of our group said nearly in tears. “It’s right there. It’s looking at us. It’s angry. Confused. It wants us to leave.” This person was in near tears; this was no act. This was as real as it gets. “It’s in the hallway now. It’s at the end of the hallway. It’s pacing back and forth.” Another member of the group saw something also. I’m thinking to myself, it is SO time to get out of here. But we didn’t. We stayed and started our session. Lou started the recorder. “Have you ever lived? We are not here to hurt you. We want to help. Can you tell us how to help you? Do you want us to go back downstairs?” We were all still. The only sound other than Lou’s voice was that of a draft. Lou was finished; it was time for playback.
His questions were mostly met with the same unintelligible voices that we had heard before, only this time it seemed a bit more outraged. “Do you want us to go back downstairs?” “Get out!” answered a voice on the recorder. At this point Lou said, “Okay, let’s go!” It was time to leave. We did just that.
“It didn’t want us there. It was angry. Confused. Trapped. Sad,” said the people who had seen whatever it was. They were shaken. Glad it was over.
Okay, I have to admit that while we were on the 5th floor I was kind of in and out of it. I was tired, yes, but this was something different. Almost like I was being lulled to sleep – but not really sleep. More like a trancelike state. I could hear what was happening, but none of it really affected me. I saw a weird face in one of the windows (I didn’t even tell Steve this because I didn’t want to freak him out). I felt waves of cold air brushing my face. When the members of our group mentioned seeing something, I felt absolutely no fear or worry, but I could definitely sense how troubled they were. They were on the verge of tears, but for whatever reason, I was disassociated from it all. I knew the entity wouldn’t hurt us. My body felt heavy and pressed upon. I closed my eyes, and my mind drifted. By the time Lou started playing back the tape, I was alert again. I could barely make out when the spirit said, “Get out!” I felt it was more for the other people’s benefit than mine. I know that makes no sense, but it was the feeling I had. Even so, when Lou said for us to head back downstairs, I was ready.
There was still one thing left to do though. One conversation left to be had.
Apparently one night a while back the manager of the establishment was in her office when a vase flew off the shelf and hit her in the head. When Lou heard of this occurrence, he decided it was time to check out the office. This time only he and the manager went in. The rest of us were pretty shaken up, and truth be told, I think all of us had seen and heard just about enough by this point. Lou came out a few minutes later and played us the recording from the office.
“[Name withheld] is not here to hurt you,” said Lou. “Do you understand that?” “Yes,” came a deep whispering type voice. “We don’t want you to hurt [name withheld] again. Can you promise that you will not harm her again?” “NO!” said the voice.
This night was over.
It was now about 5:00 am, and we all had early planes to catch. I’ve always wondered about what else there is out there. What other kinds of beings there are in this world or even if there is an afterlife. In those short few hours I spent with Lou Gentile and the rest of the group I’ve learned one thing, and that’s to stop wondering. The fact of the matter is that there are things out there that we can never fully understand. Maybe we should stop trying. I tell you what — my curiosity is pretty satisfied. Every time I have gone to bed since that night, I have heard those voices in my head, and I have no need to converse with them further. In short, if I ever do anything like this again, it will surely be in as controlled an environment as possible.
I haven’t had such a lingering effect, and I would go anywhere with Lou in a heartbeat. I’ve always felt very safe and protected by the spirit world. My grandparents died when I was in my late teens, and my dad passed away a little over a year ago – I feel they are with me always, looking out for me. But I’m still curious. Lou is considered a “demonologist” – as someone who doesn’t believe in the devil or hell or any of that stuff, I’m not sure what to think of that. But it’s something I’d definitely like to learn more about. Whereas Steve seems to feel that his quest to peer into the dark may have come to an end that night in Worcester, I feel that mine may have just begun.
It’s easy to open doorways to places in which mankind is not meant to traverse. What’s not easy is dealing with whatever steps through that doorway to greet us. This apparently can happen at any time. I think I’ll leave that kind of work to “locksmiths” like Lou Gentile.