Leaves of orange and red have begun falling into piles on the ground. The air has also started to chill. Stores are overrun with cutesy decorations of vampires and ghosts, and old buildings have transformed into gothic, haunted mansions, filled with cheap, orchestrated thrills for those willing to pay the admission.
And while I’m as much a sucker for a good scare as the next gal, nothing creeps me out like a good ghost story – especially if it seems authentic. So, in honor of Halloween, I thought I’d share one of my own.
I’ve always been intrigued by the paranormal. I blame my older brother, who taught me to love horror films at an impressionable age. That weirdness seems to run in our blood, because my niece (from another brother) is the exact same way.
I love this because most of my friends are wimps who refuse to go haunted attractions and the such with me. I’ve been dragging my niece along with me to do “scary stuff” like ghost tours and Halloween Horror Nights since she came to visit me one summer when she was probably 14. I wasn't even 30 at the time, and this was back when I was still the "cool, hip" aunt.
Being the incredibly responsible aunt I was (not), I remember asking her, “Have you ever tried to go ghost-hunting?”
“Ghost-hunting?” she asked – not the least bit scared, God bless her. “No. Oooh, can we?”
I’m pretty sure we had rented some really bad B-movie about teens who went ghost-hunting, only with horrific results, which is what had prompted me to ask her in the first place.
We hopped on the computer and researched local haunts, made a list, and decided to make an adventure of it during her week-long stay. Keep in mind, this was back when Ghost Hunters was still new and there weren’t ghost-hunting shows on practically every channel. We thought we were being “professionals” by loading up with only my digital camera and tape recorder for ghost-hunting equipment.
One reportedly haunted spot was an old tuberculosis hospital where folks had reported seeing shadow people and being chased off the property by angry disembodied voices. For some reason, this spot really appealed to my niece – and she insisted on going at night!
Remember how irresponsible I was? Yes, I agreed to take her, at night, but at least I forced my best friend to tag along – safety in numbers and all that. Well, we found this place, only it had been torn down and turned into a park.
My niece hopped out of the car, not the least bit frightened, and began asking questions into the tape recorder. “Is there anyone here?” and “How did you die?” and that kind of thing. I remember having a really unsettled feeling about it all. I mean, a park...at night. Nevermind the spooks. I was more worried about being attacked by druggies and homeless people and (gulp) zombies. In fact, we hightailed it out of there pretty fast because of that feeling, much to my niece’s disappointment.
And when we played back the tape, I got even more creeped out. Almost as soon as my niece had begun asking questions, there was a deep, raspy breathing heard over her. When she asked, “How did you die?” a man’s husky voice said, “Sick.”
I’d like to say I had enough sense NEVER to do that again, but my niece was so excited about getting some real ghost evidence on tape, she insisted on going to other places and doing the same. The only other EVP we got was at the cemetery where my mother is buried, ironically enough. And we got it while driving around in my car which Freaked. Me. Out. A deep voice whispered “Get out,” and you’d better believe we did.
My niece and I haven’t been ghost-hunting in a long time, and I’m not sure we ever will again, but I always think about it this time of year and smile at the creepy memories we created. In fact, I'm sure a ghost-hunting expedition will eventually show up in one of my stories.
When my Carina Press editor notified me that my debut novel, “Cry Wolf” would have its release on Oct. 31, well, yes, there was squealing involved and, okay, okay, I did a little happy dance around the room, too. And when I told my niece, her exact words were, “That is so freaking cool, Aunt Angie.” Yes, I think I created a monster with that kid.
“Cry Wolf” isn’t about ghosts or ghost hunters, but it’s set around this season and climaxes at Halloween, so its release date couldn't be more perfect in my opinion. I figured Halloween was the most appropriate setting for a story about a world-weary tabloid journalist who has been assigned to determine whether a rash of werewolf sightings in a small American town are a hoax. Sure, it's similar to an "X-Files" or "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" type of story, only with lots more romance thrown in, which will make it a great Halloween treat for lovers of this genre.
Now it's your turn. Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever had something really creepy happen to you? Pull up a chair around my cyber-bonfire and share your tale, my friends.
Find out more about Angela Campbell and her Halloween release at www.angelacampbellonline.com.