Paranormal Investigators Descend Upon Jefferson In Search Of Answers

"I got a hit on the K2!"

Heard a fair bit of that last night at the Pride House Bed and Breakfast out in Jefferson. Get a big enough hit on your K2, and you might feel like you were having a heart attack. But we weren't smoking the illegal potpourri against which Dwaine Caraway  launched a personal vendetta. We were walking around with the electromagnetic field monitors, technical name K2, that paranormal investigators use to determine if there are ghosts (or other of the many and various energies that might be found from the nether/upper/whereverworlds) in close proximity. When your K2 lights go from green to red, it's a safe bet you may be in the presence of someone you can't see -- someone dead. Ooogly-boogly-boo and all that.

Two teams of Texas-based paranormal investigtors, from Southern Paranormal Investigations and Upshur Paranormal, arrived at the Pride House yesterday afternoon and set up cameras, voice recorders and custom-built EMF pumps which, according to Upshur head honcho Mike McCaskill, are like "food for ghosts." They've been out to the Pride House more than 10 times between them, because the place is a notorious hot spot for paranormal activity.

Jenny, the owner of the place, says most everyone who visits leaves with some kind of story -- whether that's hearing whistling, knocking or actual voices from the house's many spirits. There's Sarah, a young girl, and Col. Horace Welch, a Union officer who ended up in East Texas and died in one of the upstairs bedrooms. John Bender, a one-time owner of the place. And, of course, George and Daisy Brown, the couple who built the home for their family in 1888.

In fact, the Pride House is practically packed with ethereal celebrities -- at least to hear the ghost hunters talk, you'd think so, anyway. Smoking cigarettes in the back yard, the paranormal investigators would name-drop dead people like a Hollywood wannabe talks about crashing an A-list party. Daisy's apparently a real find, because she doesn't talk much, but Sarah's out to play quite often, playing the part of long-deceased Paris Hilton of the Pride House. It's all quite friendly, the investigators assured me -- nothing scary, just a bunch of playful spirits who've managed to get the word out about their hotspot. Kind of literally: investigators Erin and Ian Powell have even compiled a disc of EVP recordings, which you can listen to on the Pride House's MySpace page, if you're just dying to give yourself the willies. (Commence cracks about MySpace being an Internet graveyard.)

Around 9 p.m., we turned the lights off and cranked up the computers to broadcast the investigation live on GhostShow.net (it's on every Saturday night, live from somewhere or another, so you're welcome for giving you weekend plans forever). I was in the first "sweep," with three investigators, headed for the second floor of the house. Tape recorder and K2 in hand, I followed the professionals into the dark.

And I purt-near, as they say in East Texas, got my pants scared clean off me.

Let me turn this chair around here for a second and get real with you guys. I pretty much totally believe in ghosts. Or, at least, I want to believe in them so desperately that it really doesn't make a difference about their actual reality either way. I have had some real creepy shit happen to me in the past, and sometimes I sleep with the light on. I am no unbiased observer when it comes to the paranormal. I am absolutely excited about and pumped to see any proof of the otherworld. Have been since I was a kid. Ghosts are my thing. Call me crazy. I don't care.

On the three-hour drive out to Jefferson, I figured my enthusiasm for things ghostly would insulate me against any namby-pamby fears I might have. But I hadn't even gotten up the stairs to the Pride House's second floor before I started shaking and getting goose bumps. Because I ain't afraid of no ghosts. I am downright terrified of 'em.

I stayed close to the other team members and tried to keep my back against a wall at all times -- so long as the wall wasn't covered with a mirror, which I refused to look into at any point. I held my own digital voice recorder in front of me, with the K2 meter in my left hand most of the time. I learned how to talk to ghosts.

"Hello!" the investigators said aloud as we walked into a back bedroom -- hello, like you might be talking to a child. They rattled off their names and thanked the spirits for allowing us to come into their home. Again, speaking slowly and clearly as you would to a kid. Kim, from SPI, invited anyone present (well, OK, not the humans present) to touch her. I advised the spirits that that would make me crap my pants, and to please not touch me, thanks.

We moved on to the middle bedroom, where Col. Welch supposedly died in 1911, calling out to the ghosts and inviting Sarah to play with a ball we'd placed in the hallway outside. I stood in the doorway, right hand with recorder extended, looking into the big, dark bedroom. Above my left hip, I felt something tingly, almost as if that part of my body had fallen asleep, and I wondered if maybe my new high-waisted jeans were getting to me. I looked down to yank on my belt loop, and noticed that my K2 meter had moved from green to orange-red, flashing vigorously. I felt a gush of cold air on my back and promptly panicked, yelling "HOLY SHIT!" and jumping into the middle of the room. The paranormal investigators laughed. "That's somebody," one of them said. Laughed some more. Ha-freaking-hah, guys.

We were up there for another 45 minutes asking for spiritual interaction, and I never quite calmed down after that first K2 jump. It was awesome, exciting torture up and down my spine. Finally, we headed back downstairs, and I sat outside talking to Mike McCaskill and SPI lead investigator Jennifer Hanson for a while, trying to calm my jumpy nerves. We talked about best practices for investigation, and Mike emphasized the use of electronics -- photos, voice recorders -- over psychics and other mediums, because it's easier to show those things to skeptics. He takes his investigations very seriously.

"We don't want to be honest -- we are honest," said Mike. "We are all about evidence." Jennifer agreed -- she says SPI's been contacted by various TV networks -- A&E, Sify -- about doing cable programming. But they always want to sweeten up the findings. "They want to fluff evidence," she told me, and she's not interested. No way, agreed Mike -- not even for the money. "My payment for the thousands of dollars I've spent in equipment is knowledge."

Right now, the SPI folks are on their way back to South Texas and will take several weeks to go through the evidence on their several cameras and recorders. They'll broadcast their findings live in a month or so on GhostShow.

As for me, I've got one hour and three minutes of digital audio I need to sift through to see if I picked up any EVP's. And you can damn well bet I'm going to do it this afternoon, in broad daylight. I'll let y'all know if I hear anything. Or just listen for me screaming.

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