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Habituating The Demonics
I don't believe in ghosts or paranormal activity, but one time I think I saw - I might have seen - no, I think I did see a ghost.
Summer, 2017, 3am.
“There he is!”
“Right. I see him.”
The “Sentries” spotted me. They were always watching, patiently waiting, though I wouldn’t discover this until much later. These discarnate entities or perhaps spirits guarded the entrance to some acres of forgotten woods that hugged the winding shores of Lake Travis, northwest of Austin, Texas. In a small cove, a derelict boat with a gash across the bottom floated upside down, as though it were a dead fish bobbing ever so gently in the night. The lake was glassy like a mirror, dark and cold reflecting only the few dock lights scattered about. My black Acura SUV lumbered quietly, like a big cat after its prey down a nearly hidden gravel path full of potholes and overgrown vegetation. The woods were etched in charcoal, their brilliant hues of green asleep until daylight. I’ve done this 40 times before - roughly every other Monday morning at 3 am for three years.
As I slowed to a stop near the end of the trail a gently pitched roofline silently pushed up, out of the tops of the trees like Pazuzu facing off against Father Merrin. I couldn’t make out any details, only that the familiar shape had blotted out any remaining light on the horizon. As if on cue, a distant brilliant shock of white in the graphite sky forked silently down, seemingly dancing across the ridge of the lake house roof. A storm front was approaching. Some people believe electrical activity helps foster paranormal activity, but here, in this most peculiar of places it doesn’t. I had launched a heart rate monitoring app on my cell phone back at a convenience store, the unusually rapid resting rate of 96 beats per minute distracted me so I forgot to check the weather radar. I pulled up to the planters near the front door and extinguished the lights. I was all alone. The house was big, nearly 7,000 sq. ft and had a Texas basement. It was built into the side of a steep hill overlooking the lake, with the basement set underneath the top floor. The front door opened onto the second floor - the basement was exposed in back. I powered the front windows down letting the thick humid air push its way inside like an obnoxious relative. The delicious smell of new leather seats gave way to the overwhelming scent of cedar. In the South summer temperatures can exceed 100 degrees with 99% humidity for 21 straight days and while the outside air cools into the 70s at night, the inside of the lake house remained a hot, steamy oven. As I grabbed the door frame to pull myself out of the car a distant peal of thunder rumbled as if it were warning me that from this moment on I am never, ever alone. There was a very slight smell of cool, sweet summer rain in the air.
“Black Sabbath?” Spirit 3 asked.
“Black Sabbath,” Spirit 4 confirmed.
“He’s at the planters, right?”
Not recognizing my nickname Spirit 5 asked: “What about him?”
These are EVPs or Electronic Voice Phenomenon - possibly the dead, caught talking on tape but not heard by me at the time. I gathered my gear and as each footstep crunched the gravel I made my way ever so carefully to the front porch. I stood completely still as if I were another planter - my ears labored to detect anything moving inside the house. My biggest fear was not finding a ghost but actually surprising sleeping transients or some demonic, spray-paint sniffing gang bangers. My heart crept up -110, 111, 112. Glued to the porch, I cut my eyes back & forth straining to see in the darkness. The soulful melodies of the crickets and frogs drifted through the air masking the sounds of imagined footsteps from the shadows I caught darting about. After detecting no signs of life or afterlife coming from the structure, I decided it was probably safe to enter. The most frightening moments are when I first pull open the front door to confront the unknown. I have recordings of these creatures whispering in my ear while on this very spot. “Hurry, scare Anita” It took two hard yanks on the handle to separate the swollen wood door from its sturdy frame with a loud POP as if I had just shot a nail into the walls with a pneumatic gun. “Geez, Robert,” I’m thinking, “why don’t you just set off your car alarm while you’re at it?”
I squinted to see inside but the moonless night allowed the darkness to seep up from the basement through the floorboards into every room of the house until even my thoughts were engulfed in blackness. The unknown studied my fears. On the verge of bolting away from pure terror, adrenaline hormones rushed to my aid. I turned on my flashlight and took in air that smelled stale and musty, like a wet dog under a haír dryer. Most abandoned buildings also have the pungent smell of rat urine and feces - rats are prolific poopers. I learned this when a pregnant momma rat got into our house once through the doggie door and gave birth to her litter under our dishwasher. This house, however, was remarkably pest free and absent of graffiti. I slipped inside and slowly pulled the creaking door closed behind me. My heart rate edged closer to panic - 122, 123, 124.
I'm equipped with the rudimentary essentials:
Juggling all the gear made Ghost Hunting Alone a real circus act. I started with the temperature gun which read 94 degrees. Sometimes I would use the viewfinder on my night vision camera to see and sometimes I would turn on a little flashlight.
“Watch yourself!” Spirit 4 warns. They caution one other frequently, often just before an attack.
“Might as well, he’s f*cked,” Spirit 5 appeared to be responding to an unrecorded question.
Spirit 6 then issued an alert, “The red light....is working.”
“Working,” confirmed another one.
When I analyzed the recordings I began to lose track of the many voices involved. It’s as though I’m walking through Grand Central terminal at rush hour picking up dozens of simultaneous conversations echoing over the buzz of the old electromechanical Flipboard displays. These entities frequently drop F-bombs and were overly concerned with being video recorded. Evidently audio is not a problem, but they are under orders not to be videotaped. ‘If it’s audible, then it’s acceptable.” There were rigid rules and hierarchy in the entity world. Whenever I would bring in recording equipment, they’d obsess about it and discussed ways to disable its capabilities. The “red light” they were talking about was the “record” light on the front of my camera. “He’s taping everything!” came an urgent observation. The most common method was to simply drain the batteries. Contrary to popular belief, these entities do not drain batteries to use the electricity, but rather to prevent being recorded. At least at this lake house, I can say that’s true. As I started into the foyer a short series of crackles and pops echoed around the large empty room as if someone had tossed a ping pong ball that ricocheted off a couple walls. When listening to the recordings of these noises later at a much slower speed I discovered that there were remarkably discernible words within the pops. Later, from studying the “Enfield Poltergeist Case” in the U.K., I would discover the waveforms of the knocks are distinctly different from a human knocking on wood with their knuckles.
“Angle, it'll do that,” several entities worked the assault.
“Can you find it? Can you find it?”
Spirit 8 had an idea, “Whazza didda whazza da zit.”
I played the recording again, “Whazza didda whazza da zit.”
At the same time that the other entity asked its question, spirit 8 had offered a suggestion that could only be deciphered by playing the recording backward.
“Eddie, offer her a HITMAN,” the recording sounded normal played backward.
“Can you find it?”
“We can find it.”
They were discussing the location of the battery connection on the back of the Sony, and surprisingly as well as extra batteries in my camera bag slung around my neck. Backward language was commonly used and sometimes the answer could be heard in the same spot as the question by stopping playback then and there and reversing it. As we’ll discover later, there were specific reasons why the entities do this.
“Hit the road!” There was always some creature urging me to get lost.
“Are you hearing that?”
“We can hear it,” answered one of the many entities.
The camera’s flood light began to flicker wildly painting the walls with dancing splashes of bright whites and deep black shadows, then momentarily blasted both infrared and visible lights bright as a welder’s torch temporarily blinding me.
“Can you hear it?”
“We can hear it.”
Suddenly all of my gear lay dead, useless as forgotten toys in an attic. The batteries were instantly sucked dry in everything - the camera, voice recorder, laser gun, flashlight and remarkably my iPhone in my pocket. I couldn't call for help then and couldn’t see a thing, but I didn't panic. Slowly my eyes began to adjust to the soupy darkness and I was able to grope for the front door knob. Fortunately, the entities’ chatter was preserved on digital media, although I never heard any of it at the time. I’ve discovered that for whatever reason, the entities don’t attack the gear in my car, only what I bring inside with me. (Although one time my back windshield wiper was stolen while I was in the house.) So I changed out my gear for my backup camera and digital audio recorder with unfortunately lower quality capabilities and headed right back in.
When I began this journey I had just watched a documentary about Dian Fossey. She was the first person to research and habituate mountain gorillas. They became so accustomed to her presence that they ignored her allowing her the ability to follow them around, filming and documenting their behavior. I wondered, could I effect the same outcome, could I habituate discarnate, invisible entities? I know they aren’t mountain gorillas, but what would happen if I recorded them but didn’t try to talk to them? Would they get used to me? This proved to be a critical question that shaped the direction of my research of the paranormal. So many books I have read about EVPs had references to sentences that didn’t seem to make any sense. It appeared the investigator was only hearing one side of the conversation. In addition to habituating the entities, the process of bi-weekly investigations of the same place at the same time for three years provided a wealth of data that is rarely found in paranormal research. How does someone find a place like this?