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A Lesson in Screening Haunted Home


The ghost hunting team I'm a member of had a profoundly horrid experience two weeks ago. We were asked by another local ghost team to join them on a private home investigation as they were short a few members and we'd worked together in the past. It all sounded great in the beginning. The house had two occupants and a bevy of odd occurrences. We were enticed by stories of cupboard doors opening at the same time every morning, only to close again in front of the occupants' eyes when they entered the kitchen, perfume-y smells with no natural explanation, and missing objects appearing weeks later in obvious places. Our team, Mystic Ghost, discussed it, made arrangements with the other team, and planned to go on a Saturday night.

Our first mistake? We trusted the other team to check out the location, interview the occupants before the investigation and generally make sure everyone involved appeared sane, harmless, and didn't expect us to exorcise their parakeet.

Our second mistake? We ignored our gut feelings on the day of the investigation. No one wanted to go. From the Thursday prior to the investigation, I wanted to back out. I didn't have a good reason, so I kept my mouth shut. One team member, Michelle, developed a bad stomachache on the way to my house, and another member, Ben, was sure it was going to be a disaster. We gave each other pep talks, and still ended up leaving my house late.

The four of us met the two members of the other ghost team near the haunted home, where we learned that one of them had such an upset stomach she was chugging Pepto-Bismol. We should have headed home. Instead, we got in our cars and headed to the site, which should have been about five minutes away. It ended up taking us about twenty minutes, because the woman in the lead car, who had been by the site an hour before, got lost. She lives in the same small town where the haunted home was; it was just plain bizarre. While we were driving around lost, one of our members, Wendy, pointed at a house we were driving by and said "Dear God, please don't let it be that house."

You guessed it. Ten minutes later we were parking at that house.

The house was located in a run down ramshackle part of town. The paint was peeling to such a degree we couldn't even guess what color it once had been. The yard was overgrown and full of trash. The driveway led to a door-less garage full of broken appliances, laundry baskets of junk, cardboard boxes and trash everywhere. The garage was so jam-packed the car was parked in the driveway in front of it.

It was dusk, and before Michelle and I got out of the car, we were questioning the safety of our expensive equipment. We waited for big strong Ben to get out of his car, then we locked our purses in my trunk. As all six of us ghost hunters gathered at the end of the driveway, the homeowners approached us. They appeared to be women, bare-foot and stringy haired. They introduced themselves, and shook the hand of a member of the other group, who stiffened at her touch. This was the team member who was supposed to check the situation out beforehand. It was now apparent that this had not been done.

As we approached the garage, the smell hit us. As we entered the house, the smell became a noxious rotten funk that permeated everything. We quickly split up into pairs, leaving the two members of the other group to investigate the house, two of us to interview the owners outside, and the other two to investigate the outside of the house. Wendy and I took the outside of the house. We walked around to the side yard, and it smelled like urine and decay. We had been there about five minutes when the two who were in the house came out and walked to the street. Since they were outside, Wendy and I went inside.

I opened the door with my shirt around my hand to avoid touching the doorknob itself. The kitchen table was the first thing we saw, and it was piled with three layers of dirty dishes. The floor, walls, blinds, counters and cabinets in the kitchen were all covered in brown grease that had been there so long it was sticky and had bits of gunk in it. The living room was piled with clothes, towels, boxes, moldy dishes and two very new computers. The carpet in the living room was of indistinct color, and it squished as we walked. We took a few photos, which later revealed drugs and drug paraphernalia.

I really can't tell you about the rest of the house, because as we walked toward the hall, the smell got so bad Wendy and I were both biting back vomit and headed for the door. I don't mean we just gagged, I mean there was hot vomit burning our throats as we got out of there.

The third pair of ghost hunters, Michelle and Ben, were in the driveway interviewing the homeowners. We heard one tell us that the other one had wasps nesting inside her chest, and every once in awhile a wasp would work its way out of her body through her skin. They didn't see the need for a doctor to look at this. They talked about how they got sick in the bathtub (Duh! As nasty as the rest of the house was, can you imagine the bathroom?), had blackouts, used to sell drugs and the black haired ghost living in the house. Then the two occupants, who both appeared female, told us that they were legally married. One of us asked them how that was possible in the state of Texas, which does not legally recognize same sex marriage. They responded by saying that no doctor could determine the gender of either one, so the court had to approve the marriage. And then they offered us dinner.

That was the very limit. We thanked them for their time, gathered our bags, and headed for the cars.

When I got home, I scrubbed my body with soap so hard my skin was red, and then I did a Google search on the name of one of the occupants. The first hit returned contained a website that, had anyone looked at it, would have told us all we needed to know and kept us far, far, away from that house. At least one of those two women was a man, and that website had enough skin showing to prove it. The text of the website was about drugs and lurid love affairs complete with names and locations of the participants.

Lesson learned? Do your homework, and never trust anyone to do it for you, unless you want to investigate the nasty home of drugged-up internet porn stars, haunted or not.

We were lucky that night; nothing bad in a permanent sense happened. No one was injured or robbed. No cars were stolen. No drugs dealers with guns came to collect. No police showed up to arrest the occupants. Our very presence there could have landed all of us in jail, and no ghost is worth jail time. This is serious stuff. Take it from me-screen your requests, meet those involved in a neutral location, and be wary of anything that sounds awry.

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