October 23, 2013

Who ya gonna call? — Part II

If you missed Part I, get caught up before you read any further. 

Dawn guessed that whoever was haunting the first floor might have been alive during the 1930s. She began to play a ’30s hymn on the piano in an attempt to rile up the spirit. No response. Perhaps the ghost was more of a Belieber.

Downingtown Area Paranormal Investigators examine Craig Brown's office.

Downingtown Area Paranormal Investigators examine Craig Brown’s office.

The team then moved into the office of a former employee who had brought in an Episcopalian priest to bless the building because of its history. Dawn dangled a necklace between her fingers and encouraged one of the spirits to move it. To everyone’s surprise, the necklace began to swing in circles but stopped after only a few minutes.

We ascended to the second floor where Courtney Rossi, our Human Resources and Traffic Manager, had an eerie encounter one morning two and a half years ago. Courtney was the first one in to work. She headed to her office, and spotted a very tall man standing in a doorway about 20 feet down the hall. Well over six feet tall, the man stood with his head down, wearing a wide-brimmed hat that covered most of his face. He was also wearing a dark, horse-riding cloak and large, filthy boots. Courtney couldn’t make out any facial features. When she took a step forward to get a better look, the phantom backed into the office and disappeared.

We made our way to the third floor, where Paul Pomeroy, our Director of Marketing, has heard the sounds of children running and playing in the hallways. However, one of his most notable experiences, he says, was when he was working late one night and heard an exit door open and close down the hall. Thinking it was Louis the cleaning man, he ignored it at first. Then he heard all the office doors around the exit slam shut, and the blinds in the office next to his fell from the windows with a crash. Some guys might have rolled up their sleeves and put the ghost in a headlock. Paul packed up his things and immediately vacated the building.

In CFO Linda Shopa’s office, Dawn felt “nauseous” and “uneasy” — as many have there when turning in an expense report. Dawn felt a presence, and we were all very eager to feel it too. She and the other DAPI members felt energy in a certain corner of the office but nowhere else in the room. Dawn placed a toy car on the ground and encouraged the spirits to move it, but to no avail. Maybe they felt nauseous and uneasy.

After leaving Linda’s office, Dawn ventured around the corner and down the hallway by herself. She claimed that the necklace in her hand was being pulled straight up in the air outside PR director John Orr’s office. This was the same necklace she used on the first floor. When she went to my little office on the third floor, Dawn heard someone cry, “Let me out.” It may have been a stagnant echo of my own voice.

As the darkness descended deeper and deeper around us, we descended yet again into our creepy and cavernous basement. DAPI performed an EVP session beside the coffins, but the EMF detector picked up little energy. We then moved to the crematorium. Again, very little activity was detected.

DAPI performed an EVP session beside the basement coffins.

DAPI performed an EVP session beside the basement coffins.

It was surprising to me that the spookiest place in the agency seemed to be the least haunted that night. Still, the silence down in the basement was chilling. I kept waiting for something to move on its own, or to catch something out of the corner of my eye, but nothing happened. The group moved back upstairs and began packing up, concluding their search.

So is ab+c haunted? DAPI determined that it is. During DAPI’s presentation of its findings two weeks later, the team showed us photos that featured floating orbs, billed as “the lowest form of a spirit manifestation,” but which resembled nothing more than a large spot of dust. These orbs appeared in photos on the second and first floors, especially in the Great Room, where a multicolored orb was photographed hovering over the piano as Dawn tickled the keys.

EVPs captured a “disembodied” voice from a seemingly irritated spirit. When one of the team members asked one of the entities to light up the EMF detector in the Great Room, an “F U” is heard right after, which, according to DAPI, is one of the two most common phrases used by ghosts. (The other one is “help!”)

Rest assured, not all our ghosts are party poopers. At least our first-floor apparitions know how to have a good time. When a member of the ghost-busting crew observed, “ab+c looks like a great place to work,” a faint, weary whisper can be heard in the background: “Many good times.” Perhaps our ghostly friend is still recovering from a hangover.

Even after reviewing the “evidence” gathered by DAPI, I remain skeptical. For instance, the team’s “spirit detecting” tools are not designed for such use. Cameras are designed to take pictures of the living — your friends, your dog, your Aunt Edna (may she live to be 100) — not the undead, should they exist. EMF detectors detect electromagnetic fields. Thousands of wires, most of them old, run through the ceiling of our basement. We would expect a small, harmless leakage of electromagnetic radiation, which the EMF would naturally pick up. On our first floor, right above the basement, this radiation may still be picked up on the EMF device. In addition, exposure to electromagnetic fields has been known to cause feelings of dread, anxiety and other sensations traditionally associated with a “paranormal” presence.

Spirit detecting tools

Spirit detecting tools

“Orbs” may be explained as nothing more than illuminated dust motes, especially when you consider a camera’s flash. As for the “disembodied” voices picked up on the EVP detector — well, some are hard to explain, especially when they sound so clear and lifelike. However, our brains do like to turn senseless things into something we can recognize. It’s why we see castles in the clouds, or Jesus’ face in a burnt piece of toast.

Before I listened to any of the recordings, I was told by DAPI what they thought they heard at a specific time on the audio clip; for example, “at 1:48 we hear an ‘F U.’” This predisposed me to hear the same thing. It’s easy — and even attractive — to mistake the sound of a breeze or the moan of an old building as it settles for human vocalizations. And the necklace moving on its own on the first floor? Magicians do it every day.

I’m not saying that I don’t believe in ghosts. After all, sightings of apparitions have been reported for thousands of years. Very credible people have claimed to encounter spirits. Winston Churchill, for instance, famously ran into the ghost of Abraham Lincoln at the White House during the 1940s.

Obviously, there is something out there that can’t be explained. However, even with the millions of ghostly sightings out there in the world, the thousands of pictures and videos people have captured, not a single one has ever been deemed scientifically valid. They are either debunked or explained away with logic.

Despite all of this, no one will ever truly know what happens here when the lights go out, the doors are locked and everyone goes home for the night. Perhaps somewhere in that thick void of darkness, when that ominous silence sets in, a restless soul still wanders the corridors of ab+c.

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