It was the height of the paranormal reality television craze when I serendipitously ran into a couple of paranormal investigators at a local bar on karaoke night. Perhaps, it was the sound of my banshee-like singing that drew them in. Nonetheless, we hit it off, and they invited me to check out the team’s website and submit an application. A couple of weeks later, I was on the team, and ready to head out on my first paranormal investigation.
My first investigation was at an old building that had been converted into apartments. I was thrilled to finally be going headfirst into my first legit paranormal investigation. Since we couldn’t intrude in the resident’s apartments, we conducted our investigation in the basement. We picked up a few EVPs that night, this was all very exciting for a newbie like me, but after being on the team for a while, a night of EVPs was small potatoes.
After investigating for a while, my belief in the paranormal began to wane. It’s not that I no longer believed in ghosts, poltergeists, and other unexplained phenomena, I just found that the more I investigated claims of the paranormal, the more I found logical reasons behind the creaky doors that opened on their own and the eerie sounds that echoed through the house on dark, stormy nights. Little did I know, my growing ambivalence would soon be challenged by a very special place, a place that literally, goes bump in the night.
I’ll call this location, Big Red. My team had investigated Big Red many times before and it was, by far, their favorite place to investigate. In order for me to go in with an unbiased opinion, the team gave me no details about the location or their personal experiences. A description of Big Red is in order: the outside, a large, non-descript brick building built in the early 20th century, its exterior unassuming compared to the creep factor that lies inside. Once you enter, it looks to be the stuff nightmares are made of-paint chipping and wallpaper peeling off walls, caved-in ceilings, a thick layer of dust over everything, dead birds (seriously), splintered banisters and stairs, exposed electrical cords, dark corridors, long poltergeist-esque hallways, and Satanic themed graffiti splayed on the walls- courtesy of local hooligans looking for a good scare-really solidified the dark aesthetic of this haunted building.
My team asked that I take a tour of the four-story building and then report back with my thoughts. I perused each floor, completely grossed out by the thought of the debris I was breathing into my lungs, masks were the order of the day after that initial experience.
It was still daylight when I started the tour of Big Red, I was more disgusted than scared at that point. I walked down long dark hallways, floors caked in dirt, soot, and God knows what else, poked my head into bedrooms, and bathrooms in complete disarray, sinks ripped off walls, toilets crammed with t-shirts and plaster, a fire extinguisher case with a dead bird carcass in the place a fire extinguisher should be, then I arrived on the fourth floor. Mind you, my initial tour was done during the day, so the whole building was lit up from the sun shining through the windows. When the sun sets on Big Red, things get creepy real fast.
At one point in time, this building was a bustling hotel. Part of the fourth floor looked down onto the third-floor atrium. It was a square-shaped floor with eight bedrooms around the perimeter of the balcony. As I walked around the balcony, I stopped in between two rooms. As I stood there, what felt like electricity—not knock your socks off deadly electricity, but rather static electricity—ran from my toes to the top of my head. Naturally, in full Egon mode, I brought out my handy dandy EMF detector to measure the electromagnetic waves in that area, but nothing registered. A little weird, but still not paranormal in my mind. I continued to walk around the fourth floor, and I stopped in front of one of the hotel rooms, a feeling of unease and anxiety came over me, I felt pressure on my shoulders like that of someone pressing down on me. I got on the walkie-talkie and asked my team members, who were stationed at the first-floor base camp, and told them what I experienced, they all laughed! One of the lead investigators said, “yup, that’s what all the female investigators feel in that exact spot.”
It turns out, the different floors at Big Red, are partial to the sexes. The male investigators get a lot of activity on the third floor, such as women talking and responding to their questions, all of this heard in real time and documented in EVP recordings, women singing, hair being lightly touched. The fourth floor really does a number on the female investigators. Intense anxiety, shortness of breath, pressure, and the feeling of being pushed down, the sound of footsteps walking down the hall towards you, then stopping abruptly. Everything and anything that one can experience in a paranormal investigation has happened at Big Red. Full-body apparitions, an investigator saw the torso of a man in a buttoned-down shirt and trousers walking by. Another investigator saw a little girl standing on the first-floor landing. Physical objects have been picked up and thrown across the room, witnessed by several people at the same time. The list goes on and on…
Here are a few of my firsthand accounts from Big Red: While on the third floor with another female investigator, I heard a growl directly in my right ear, not a faint disembodied sound, but a loud, animal-like growl directly in my ear. I slowly turned my head and looked at my fellow investigator, and without saying a word, she just looked at me and shook her head up and down, indicating, hell yes, I heard that!
Another time, three of us investigators were walking down a corridor on the third floor, turning a corner to head downstairs, when all of a sudden we heard a loud banging noise which resembled the sound of pots and pans being dropped right in front of us, we screamed, much to the dismay of the investigators at base camp listening in on their headphones. They never heard the bang, just our screaming.
While posted on the fourth floor looking out onto the hallway about fifteen feet in front of me, I saw a green mist floating through the hallway, quickly, I got onto my walkie-talkie and asked base camp if they were picking anything up on their camera or if there were any cars in the alleyway that could have made that light, they saw nothing and there were no cars in the alleyway. It then looked as if the green mist were being sucked back from where it started by a vacuum cleaner and I never saw it again.
Once again on the fourth floor, I was sitting at one corner of the balcony while my teammate was sitting kitty-corner from me. We were sitting there in silence when this white ball of light, I’m not talking about some see-through “orb,” I’m talking a bright, opaque ball of light, the size of a tennis ball, floated about twelve to fourteen inches in front of us for about ten seconds before vanishing. We looked at each other and asked at the same time “Are you seeing this?!”
On numerous occasions, I have walked past darkened rooms and heard voices and sometimes what sounds like grunting. I have stood quietly in a room, only to hear the murmur of women talking and singing in the next room, while basecamp called up to me asking me to stop singing, my reply to them was “it’s not me.”
Time and time again, while sitting at basecamp, listening with our headphones to the high-powered microphones set up on the third floor, it sounds like there is a party going on upstairs, doors slamming, banging on walls, voices, and footsteps -proof that the party doesn’t stop when you’re dead.
All in all, even with as much as Big Red unsettles me, and the need to delouse and watch a feel-good comedy when I get home from investigating, I still love that creepy old place and always look forward to my return.