There’s nothing left to live for. Your girlfriend took her own life, and she took your unborn child along with her. As you were preparing to propose, she committed suicide out of shame and embarrassment. She was going to be your wife, your whole life, and now she’s gone.
There’s nothing left to live for. The fact sits heavy and sharp and your stomach. As you slide the rope around your neck, you feel glad that it will all end in a few short seconds.
There’s nothing left to live for. As you kick the chair out from beneath you, you know that you are erasing yourself from this world forever.
But are you?
The Legend and the Plan
With its Gothic style and forboding appearance, it makes sense that calamity would occur in Elderdice. In a tragedy akin to Romeo and Juliet, rumor has it that a former resident of the Tower Room hung himself from a pipe after finding out that his girlfriend, Betsy, had previously done the same in the closet of her room in McDaniel Hall.
At the beginning of the semester, a friend relayed this tale to me and said that people living in the residence hall on the floor below had often heard the tortured soul reenacting his death night after night.
Skeptical, I assembled a group of fellow freshmen to spend the night in the supposedly haunted building. We planned to ask the ghost questions and leave time for an answer while recording with a computer. The hope was that when we replayed the audio, we would hear sounds and whispers that would provide conclusive evidence as to the existence of the spirit. In ghost hunting terms, these noises are called EVPs, or Electronic Voice Phenomenon.
Little did we know that we were setting ourselves up for the most hair-raising, cold-sweat producing, and “Holy shit!” inducing night of our lives.
“I’m not going up there!”
Seven of us sit cross-legged in the Tower Room, ready to communicate. Fittingly, the lights aren’t working, so it is pitch black save for the light coming through the windows and the glow of Paul Griffin’s computer screen.
It strikes me as funny that though campo came to unlock the door to the Tower Room, neither of the two officers who escorted us to the staircase wanted to ascend it. There is no one to protect us if a ghost comes out, picks us up by the hair, and throws us out the window.
The officers are instead one flight of stairs below us entertaining those in our group who wanted to see the room, but preferred not to hang out with its deceased inhabitant.
Officer Sherfey explains that he does not like being in Elderdice at all because of a paranormal experience three years ago. While on the third floor residence hall, he saw “a weird, clear image, a ghostly image.”
Hoping to see a similar image by the end of the night, Paul begins by introducing our group and explaining our purpose. He explains what a computer is and why we were using it to record sound. He asks it to answer us by knocking or attempting to speak.
During the questioning, Casey Roberds feels a shiver run up her arm, and Griffin feels fingers graze his side. Collectively, we hear a knock from inside the room, but attribute it to the age of the building.
While none of our feedback was jaw-dropping, it was enough to get us pumped for a night of ghost bustin’.
The Moments That Make Us Sweat, Cry and Want Our Mommies
At 11PM, the officers lock in the six of us who are willing to stay for the night with a promise to return at 4:30AM. We decide to set up camp on the third floor residence hall where Officer Sherfey saw a spirit. No one lives on this floor this year, so we sleep in the hallway.
Upon inspecting the area, we agree that we wouldn’t be surprised if the little girls from The Shining popped out and asked us to play. The hallway is foreboding; it feels as though we have stumbled upon a recently abandoned area.
We agree to break into groups of two. Maria Mercurio and Casey Roberds man the hallway in case Jack Nicholson decides to make a guest appearance, and Mandi Webster and Eli Fisher station themselves in the bathrooms on the third floor, which are decidedly the creepiest any of us have ever seen. Paul Griffin and I trek upstairs and make base outside of the door which leads to the Tower Room.
Again, Griffin sets up his computer and explains our procedures to the ghost. He then edges closer to the door, explaining that he is about to knock and that if the ghost is present, it should knock back.
There is a pause.
Mouths open, eyes wide, minds racing, Paul and I sit in stunned silence.
“Was that you?” we silently mouth to each other. “Did you move?”
This noise, this communication, this undeniable proof that there is something on the other side of the door exceeds our expectations and sends us into a frenzy of questions.
As we speak, we hear slight sounds not only above us, but in the storage room to our right. These noises are encouraging, and we hope that once we play our recordings back we will hear slighter sounds not audible to us in the moment.
We relate the rumors we’ve heard to it, and we ask it if we know it’s dead; at one point, we even start talking about our majors and our weekend plans.
In the midst of this seeming one-ended conversation, we hear four deliberate footsteps above us. We freeze, waiting for more, and then hear the rest of our group running around on the flight of stairs below us, disrupting the sounds we are picking up.
A little discouraged, we continue the questioning, moving the topic toward modern technology. We noticed during our adventure in the room that there is a WiFi connection hooked up as well as a radio for Campus Safety.
Griffin asks, “Are you okay with it being there?”
Apparently not, because directly afterward, a monstrously loud crashing sound, like someone throwing themselves against a door, comes from the storage room next to us.
Our fight-or-flight responses scream, “You can’t win this one!” and we stumble down the stairs to our fellow ghost hunters, pale-faced and out of breath.
Once our heart rates calm, we realize that Griffin’s audio recording equipment shut itself off during the crash.
Catching Our Breath and Making Sense of the Sounds
Our group explains that they heard the noise, too, and Mercurio and Roberds both felt vibrations from the impact of the crash.
Unnerved and unable to decide if we should call it quits, we decide to play back the audio Griffin has gathered on his laptop.
While the knocking from the beginning is evident and spooky, we also pick up on several whispers throughout the audio. We cast some aside as creaks from the building and squeaks from mice, but certain segments sounds decidedly human; or rather, ghostly.
Some whispers sound masculine and some feminine, so we develop the hypothesis that our dead lovers are up there together. At one point, we hear the word “whisper” as if one is trying to quiet the other.
We come to the footsteps, and Paul explains on the audio that four came from above us and the rest from our group below.
“Wait,” Webster stops us. “We haven’t left this hallway since we were locked in. We were never on the steps.”
Griffin plays the audio again, and sure enough, we hear the four steps above us, and what sounds like four or five people sprinting up and down the stairs below us.
Our group, however, never heard any footsteps. They never saw anyone in the building. We check the doors below us, and sure enough, they are locked.
No one is in the building with us; no one could have produced the noises that we hear so clearly on the recording. No one human, at least.
Griffin explains, “I actually apologized to the spirit for our group being disruptive and disrespectful. But no, they were here.”
Throughout our listening session, we hear steps and creaks above us, and at one point consider leaving the building because of all the movement.
After listening to the audio to the point where it cuts off at the crash, we decide to attempt communication once again with the entire group present. Fisher considers bringing his NERF gun for protection, but we vote against it
Though we do hear some slight sounds, we seemed to have reached the climax of the night. Afterwards, we agree that a sense of calm seems to have settled over the area, almost as if the spiritual presence is no longer there.
We therefore hypothesize that we heard the ghost reenacting his own death, and that the crash may have been the actual suicide taking place.
Around 4AM, we decide to trek downstairs and wait for the campus safety officer to unlock the doors. When he does, we ask him to unlock the storage room where we heard the crash.
We are looking for knocked over boxes, mice, anything to prove that there is tangible evidence of a disturbance in the room. We only find an empty cardboard box out of place.
Upon leaving for the night, someone comments, “It’s nice to finally breathe fresh air again.”
The next day, when our hunt seems like a dream, an unrealistic fantasy, some members of our group hear the fire alarm going off in Elderdice even though no one enters the building on Sundays. Officer Sherfey reports, “The fire alarm did keep going off about 17-20 times from 6:45AM until we figured out how to stop it around 11:30PM.”
Additionally, around three hours later, Forest Fleischer ’13 sees a light on in the Tower Room. As we learned the night before, the lights don’t work in the Tower Room.
With footsteps, crashes, and the power to turn off computers and harness other forms of technology, it appears that we may have enough ghostly occurrences in one building to shoot Paranormal Activity 2 right here on the McDaniel campus.