Everyone has a ghost story, or knows someone who does. There’s something about dark, desolate feeling spaces that seems to foster that primal part of our brain that taught us to be afraid of the dark. I have a few stories of my own, Sue does as well. I think both of us are willing to admit that there are possible rational explanations for our stories, but there’s that part that wants to believe that hopes that there is something just there beyond our perceived reality.
I’ve been a fan of the scientific precept that energy never dies it simply changes form, and if all we are in these sheaths we wear is energy, then something must happen to us after we pass, our energy changes form… so what if some of those forms get stuck in transition? I like to keep an open mind, but with age I’ve become a little more skeptical and I question things more, but I do want to believe…
A number of months ago, Sue and I invited director Sean Cisterna to join us in the studio and talk about his new documentary 30 Ghosts, and its subject Kim Hadfield Verheul and her assembled crew that form The Halton Paranormal Group, Jeff Sharpe, Leah Lywood and Kimberley Valstar.
Sue and I were, of course, immediately intrigued, who wouldn’t want to be involved in a ghost hunt, and delve a little into the paranormal, believer or not, if you throw yourself into it, you’re bound to have a good time.
We finally connected with Kim after our chat with Sean got posted, and we all agreed that it would be brilliant for us to go up to Milton one evening and join their group for a ghost hunt.
We finally made that happen this past Friday!
Recruiting our friend and op, Bonnie, we clambered aboard the Go Train, and began our adventure. I won’t lie at that point in the day Ray Parker Jr’s Ghost Busters had been running in my head non-stop for most of the day, and I was very ready to get my ghost on.
The city, and the urban sprawl slowly fell behind us, taking us westward, until after an hour’s travel we were deposited at the Milton Go Station.
Jeff and his daughter Beth were there to greet us, as the sun was westering and getting ready to call it a day.
Arriving at Kim’s home, Sue was anxious to say hi to the dogs, we all got introduced to one another, Facebook friendships blossoming into reality, and promptly loaded up the van with cameras, some with infrared, digital recorders, changes of batteries, and electrician’s K2 readers (which would help detect electromagnetic disturbances with its light display).
We clambered back into the vehicles, and headed to our destination, which also had horses, something else to make Sue happy!
Kim told us this was where we would be hunting for the night, this turn of the century stable. I won’t lie, for a moment, my brain went, “really?” I’d had visions of Sue an I wandering through a huge, ancient and abandoned house, or even a hospital, the beams of our flashlights bouncing as we ran about yelling “Mulder!” or “Scully!”
That began to change fo me as Jeff, Kimberley and Kim went about setting up the cameras, and digital recorders while Leah gave us a history of the immediate area, it definitely had possibilities.
Kimberly then spoke to us briefly, just making conversation, and made comments about an elderly man looking in over Sue, of Bonnie having a bit of a gift, and yours truly apparently with no super powers at all.
We walked the length of the stable, familiarizing ourselves with the space, the three barn cats, as well as with the stall at the far east end of the stable. None of the horses would stay in there, they would panic, so they’d turned it into a storage area, and had set up one of the cameras in there. Kim and her group went over their practices, what we could hope to experience and procedure for interacting and making noise. All the while, the K2’s lights were dancing, flaring up the bar, running the gambit from green to red, and then just as quickly vanishing. We were told about some of the potential spirits that stalked the area, and there was a healthy mix, including, apparently, a female spirit who was not a fan of men.
Then, almost without warning, Kim turned the lights off, and we were plunged into darkness. Not the nighttime darkness of the city, which seems to be nothing more than a glowing twilight, but the black, inside of a dark glove night.
And just like that all the movement on our K2s stopped.
Single green lights tried to push back the darkness from my hand, Sue’s, and Bonnie’s. Kim led the group to the far east end and the threatening stall housed there, calling and asking questions, asking for anyone present to make themselves known.
To no avail, except for a possible whispered curse which some of the group were sure they’d head.
The K2s wouldn’t budge.
But there was something…
Something was bothering me. While everyone was focused on this one room, I stood in the hallway, looking west to the open door at the far end of the stables. Although I couldn’t see anything there, I felt sure that there was someone standing in the doorway watching us.
And not entirely happy about it.
So I broke off from the group, saying I was gonna make my way down the hallway.
There I was, going off on my own. Sure the group was no more than 20 to 40 feet behind me at any time, but surrounded by that sea of darkness, filled with unseen eddy and currents, it felt like I was moving further and further away from them.
I was at the stable’s halfway mark, which had a side door, the one we’d come in through, and I could make out the shape of ou vehicles just beyond. I stood there for a moment, almost daring myself to go further towards the far open end, where I was sure I was still being watched from.
My K2 spiked red just as I was about to step, lasting only a second, but more than enough to catch my attention, and I could hear footsteps in the area of the side-door, and pacing in the grass beside it. My flashlight flared to life as I targeted the area, and there was nothing there, but as soon as the light flicked off, the steps walked away.
I decided at this point there really was nothing to lose, and what could possibly happen? So I made for the far end of the stable, passing a supply room opposite the side door, and for a moment… the briefest flicker of time, I was certain I saw someone leaning on a storage unit watching me. A black shadow within a shadow, gone the moment I stabbed the area with the beam of my reignited flashlight.
And didn’t return.
But I stepped into the supply room, asking after it, and for all my questions, my K2 flickered to life momentarily. Asking for more, indications for yes or no, didn’t garner any response, so I resumed my journey to the open end of the stable, sure that whatever I felt was standing in the doorway was still there.
The darkness in the stalls at that end seemed darker, not quite threatening, but filled with a sense of menace, roiling in stormy shadows.
You know that feeling you have that you just KNOW you’re sharing a room or space with someone? That the sensation of that presence is undeniable? That you can tell if a room is empty or not by the feeling in your stomach and the settling of your shoulders?
I knew that these stalls were occupied – that they had moved to this end of the stable to be away from the hoopla at the other end.
I had called out a couple of times when I’d gotten readings on my K2, while the rest of the group hadn’t been getting much of anything. Kimberley came down to join me, we debunked one of the flare-ups of the K2 because of my phone, but there was still some activity.
After Kimberley joined me, I was able to turn my back on that open doorway, and the stalls, because they didn’t feel occupied anymore. It was just an empty space in the dark, filled with nothing but whatever I had brought with me.
As the group gathered in the stable’s center again, I pointed out where I’d heard the footsteps, and thought I’d seen someone leaning.
Once the store-room stall had been emptied, I felt an inexorable draw to that end of the stable, and once again I began to wander off on my own, wondering if Sue and Bonnie were having as much fun as I was? I was really starting to get into things, and was eager to have more experiences.
While Kim called out to anyone who could be there, almost berating them, I made my way towards the supply stall.
I was brought to a dead stop 3 stalls up, when I was positive I had seen the top of a child’s face, and two hands, looking over the top of a stall door at me like a ‘Kilroy was here.’ When I moved to look closer, there was a thud, as if someone had dropped to the ground.
I asked if anyone had heard that, and when they said no, I’d explained what I thought I’d seen and heard, as my flashlight flared to life again, to scour the floor and walls of this stall, making sure that there was nothing in there that could have caused the noise.
Nothing but an empty stall.
Either I was letting my imagination run away with me, really getting into things, or something truly was afoot here. I constantly sought a rational explanation.
So, I stepped into the supply stall by myself.
I asked if there was anyone there, as I slowly moved the K2 about. There was a sound of something sliding and perching on a large plastic container that sat by the door. I could just imagine someone taking a seat and studying me across the gulf of life and darkness.
Sense ruled though, and I turned on my tiny flashlight, and swept it along the sides of the container.
Two of the barn cats looked back at me.
I ushered them out again, and switched my light off. Darkness wrapped me up in a blanket, a dull red glow coming from the camera that I shared the space with, but never enough to ward off the darkness.
The sound of something sliding and settling on the container happened again.
I was alone.
I asked for it again.
And just this once, it complied.
While I was trying to engage with whatever may be sharing the space with me, the rest of the group decided to use the spirit box and try to communicate with it that way. A spirit box is a device that uses radio frequency sweeps and white noise to theoretically allow paranormal entities to communicate with you, and that you may be lucky enough to hear a word or two.
When I didn’t get any more activity I decided to head down and rejoin the group and listen to hear if the spirit box gave us anything.
I expected maybe the odd word or two, and then guessing what was said, but this thing was a cacophony of voices, overlapping into a muddled mess until a question would be asked and we’d get an answer.
Sue asked if there was a child here, before the box could respond, I simply said “there’s definitely a child here.” I just knew. I was sure the little Kilroy, if I’d seen it was a little kid, peeking over the stall door at me.
The spirit box crackled, and very clearly you could hear a voice say “Next.”
I asked if they knew they were dead, why they couldn’t move on. Kim repeated the first question, and a voice hissed from the speaker, and along our spines.
Kim laughed it off saying she’d been called worse.
And all the time, I was feeling the draw of the supply stall. I had to go back to it. Whatever was in that end of the stable wasn’t quite done with me yet.
I started to move, Kimberley joined me, because she’d already clued in to the fact that a lot of the activity was centering around me this evening. Perhaps it was my open-mind, perhaps my desire to believe, or I was something new for whatever stalked those rooms, but I seemed to get the lion’s share of attention that night.
Both Kimberley and I noticed it at the same moment, almost commenting together that it seemed like slow-going up the hallway, as if we were being held back. I could feel a gentle pressure on my shoulders, as if to push me to my knees while at the same time turning me back the way we’d come.
Sue and Bonnie’s K2s flared briefly to life, like a wave brushing up against the sand before ebbing away, as Kimberly and I stepped into the supply stall again.
No sooner were we in the stall, and I was chatting with Kimberley about her reading of people when I felt a cold spot on my right cheek. We checked the cobweb covered window to make sure there was no breeze coming through, there wasn’t.
We established the yes or no response pattern with whatever was with us. I had that feeling again that there was something in the room with us, sitting on that plastic container. The K2 flared to life when we asked if they wanted us to leave, and, here’s the coolest thing that happened to me that night…
No more than an inch away from my right ear, there was a low growl.
It didn’t freak me out at all, my first instinct was to ask Kimberley if she heard it, and she had, and then my next hope was that it shows up on the audio recording.
But we acquiesced and left the stall as we were asked, but Kimberley suggested we go back and instigate, and see if we could get more activity.
Back in we went.
But within minutes we could both feel that whatever had been in there had left again.
The wave of energy bushed up against the shore that was Sue and Bonnie again.
Our evening was beginning to draw to a close, Sue, Bonnie and I had to catch an 11:20 bus to get back into TO before the subways shut down for Sue to get home, and I had to work in the morning and would need a few hours sleep.
As we stood there gathering up, and getting ready to exit, my eyes were drawn back to the east end of the stable, and the supply stall… I was sure, that there was someone standing halfway up the hall, watching, rather happy we were finally leaving.
Then, I don’t know why, I crouched, squinting, looking, while cameras were put away in the vans, and Leah prepared a sage for us.
It just felt like I was at the right height for one of the now what I felt was a group of people standing in the hallway. Kimberley asked me about it, and I shone my light to exactly where I felt the were standing. Of course there was nothing there…
Or maybe just wasn’t anything we could see.
Under the star-filled sky, Leah burned sage as we turned around and through the smoke. The tradition of burning sage is used to cleanse a person or location of negative energies, and was done to make sure we didn’t take anything home with us that we didn’t want.
Like that our time with the Halton Paranormal Group, and our first ghost hunt, was over. Hugs were given, new friendships forged, and a promise given to do it again, hopefully an overnight adventure.
We clambered onto the waiting Go bus, and dozed contentedly back to Toronto and our waiting beds.
THAT was an adventure, and I can’t wait for the next one.
You can find the Halton Paranormal Group’s Facebook page here, their Twitter here and you can learn more about Sean Cistena’s documentary 30 Ghosts on their Facebook page here and twitter here.
Kim and company are going to review the evidence of our night, and hopefully we’ll have some cool results to share with you… I really hope that growl came out, because I think it would make a great ring tone!
Stay tuned, I’m sure we’ll have more adventures to share!