It was a dark and stormy night—no seriously, it was. A line had formed outside the VU Multipurpose Room when I arrived at AS Production's Ghost Hunter event. Jeff Davis, the main speaker of the night, was slated to speak and then take the audience on a ghost hunt of Western's Wilson library.
There were 150 people seated by the time Davis began his presentation, skeptics and believers alike. Davis, an author of multiple books on the paranormal and a veteran paranormal investigator, introduced the audience to ghosts and ghost investigations. Ghost hunting 101 is what he called it.
Ghosts, Davis explained, are believed to be remnant spirits, like snapshots in time. Extreme violence in death, unfinished business or the need to say goodbye one last time are all reasons that some believe these departed souls refuse to pass on. Ghosts also come in many variations such as poltergeists (noisy ghosts), self-aware spirits (those are the ones that know they are dead) and demonic possessions (by far the scariest).
With the lecture finished and the warm glow of the sunset long gone from the sky, the real fun of the night began—the hunt.
According to Davis, 50% of Americans believe in ghosts, 30% are unsure and 20% totally don't believe at all. I count myself in the former 50% and as a true believer, I was ready to be spooked.
As the group of us left the safety of the MPR and crossed Old Main lawn to the library, I couldn't help but notice the strength of the wind and the eerie shadows the swaying tree branches made on the sidewalks. Davis led us into the library through the north side of Wilson, under the pair of gothic arches guarded by a little menacing gargoyle reading a book. I glanced up at the little goblin as I entered the familiar building and a shiver went down my spine.
The entrance to the library is a familiar sight to me given the excessive number of hours I've spent hunched over textbooks within its warm walls, but tonight it felt cold and foreboding. A turn to the left and a few steps down a dimly lit hallway brought us to a narrow staircase leading to a place few students care to venture: the first floor.
Rumors of hauntings in the first floor cycle around campus this time of year, but I was eager to see for myself if they held any truth. Down the stairs and to the left, we gathered in a large room that held stacks and stacks of old periodicals on rolling shelves. As Davis began to speak about psychics, I became distracted by the long hallway that stretched out behind me.
Compelled by something unknown, I tiptoed away from the group and walked with trepidation down the hallway, the shiny floors and ancient architecture reminiscent of an old Hitchcock film. Unsure of where I was headed or what I was headed toward, I came to a halt at the door to the women's bathroom.
The thick wooden door looked as though it could have been original, its weight groaning as I pushed it open. I was surprised as I entered the windowless room to not find sinks and toilets, but rather an empty room. Curious, I thought. A bathroom with no stalls? That's when I noticed yet another door across from the one I entered in.
My footsteps echoed as I crossed the room to the door and slowly opened it with a quiet creak. The room inside was impressive. Five stalls and four porcelain sinks, underused, lined the wall. As the door shut behind me, it exposed a smaller door, low to the ground, slightly ajar. I pulled on the tiny knob and bent over to peer inside to see a crawl space that extended into the dark. The hair on the back of my neck shot up and I sprang back, spooked.
Thoroughly freaked out, I swiftly left the bathroom, sped back down the hallway and happily rejoined the large group of people still gathered in the periodical room. Halloween has a tendency to over dramatize the slightly creepy, but there was something truly chilling about that room.
So perhaps there are some practical reasons that women always go the bathroom in groups. I sure won't go back alone.