First, my apologies for last week! For the first time, I missed my deadline! Completely forgot, in spite of the kind reminders I get from the web masters. I blame it Bouchercon, where there’s so much informational overload, a few brain cells were no doubt damaged during that intense weekend.
Now to this week’s topic: How-to in mystery. Since Halloween, my favorite holiday, is right around the corner, I thought I share some tips I learned from Nancy Drew, after reading “The Haunted Bungalow Mystery.”
HOW TO UNCOVER A “HAUNTED” BUNGALOW AND OTHER GHOSTLY APPARITIONS
Bess has always been easily frightened, but her pal Nancy knows there are no such things as ghosts—and she often has to prove it in one of her mystery cases. If you suspect you’re the victim of a “haunting,” and feel a chill running down your spine, dispel the fraud with the following steps.
Step 1: Locate the site of the disturbance.
Investigate the bunglaow, mansion, castle, or cottage thoroughly to determine where the “ghost” is residing, or where it’s doing most of its “haunting.” Check behind secret panels, under trap doors, inside neglected closets, and of course, in the dusty old attic.
Step 2: Determine what kind of “ghost” it is.
To help you deduce what kind of haunting you’re investigating, the field of parapsychology recognizes three kinds of events related to “ghosts”:
• Those that haunt places where special events have occurred. These ghosts are usually benign and not interactive.
• Those that are made by a poltergeist. These ghosts are characterized by moving objects and strange sounds and images, caused subconsciously by a person under a lot of stress.
• Those that are apparitions of dead people. These sighting are extremely rare, and have not be proved, although encounters seem to be interactive.
Step 3: Research the site for clues.
Check into the background of the building and the area in which it resides. You may find that the site was once an Indian burial ground, the scene of a heinous murder, or a place where treasure was buried.
Step 4: Gather a team to assist you.
Something or someone is most likely causing the disturbance, so it would be foolish to investigate the property alone. Choose a team of friends, law enforcement personnel, or paranormal investigators to accompany you on your visits to the haunted site.
Step 5: Assemble your equipment.
You’ll need a few basic pieces of equipment if you want to prove a site is not haunted.
• Notebook and pen to record suspicious details.
• Tape recorder or video camera to obtain “proof” of the event.
• Compass to test whether or not an electromagnetic field is involved.
• Infrared thermometer to pick up sudden jumps in temperature.
• First-aid kit, in case the “ghost” attacks you.
• Food, drinks, and sleeping bags for a long stakeout.
• Geiger counter, to register paranormal events.
Step 6: Sweep the area.
Take the time to make another search of the area to look for obvious signs of fraud and fakery.
Step 7: Gather the data.
Set up cameras and leave them to record suspicious events. Write down everything you see and hear so no one can accuse you of having a wild imagination. Include the date, time, location, sounds, sights, smells, temperature, weather, and anything else you think might be helpful to prove your case.
Step 8: Try to be an "open-minded skeptic."
People see what they want to see. If they believe in ghosts, they’ll probably “see” a ghost. But there’s always something behind the “haunting” that you’ll need to uncover.
Systematically rule out other possibilities of the disturbance until you find the likely cause.
Step 9: Don’t panic, but be prepared to duck.
Remember, ghosts cannot hurt you. Even in cases of poltergeist activity, most objects thrown through the air can be easily dodged if you keep your head about you. According to Nancy Drew, there’s always a logical explanation for the disturbance, and once it’s discovered, the mystery will be solved.
Happy Haunted Halloween!