Happy Halloween to all my Hellions far and wide. As we slip into the spookiest of all days, I thought I’d share my one and only time messing around with a Ouija board. I wrote this article a few years back and thought it would set the mood perfectly. So light some candles, lock the door and call out to the dead…
Halloween is fun until the scares are real. I learned that in college.
This is something I and my old friends rarely talk about, not because we worry it might sound crazy to people (and it does). No, we don’t like bringing it up because of how deeply it affected all of us. Maybe it was the night (Halloween), the place (my friend’s apartment next to an old cemetery), our intentions (five dopes looking to talk with the dead) that took us down a dark path. It was most likely all three. Yeah, it had to be.
My friend Gene (all names changed to protect the quasi-innocent), rented a top floor apartment right across the street from a cemetery in New Rochelle, NY. We were in college and had started our own fraternity because we hated the dumb crap frats made pledges do. With us, if we liked you, you were in. No humiliation.
I digress. Four of us went with Gene to his apartment on Halloween night with the express purpose of having a séance. There wasn’t anyone in particular we wanted to reach beyond the veil. Any disembodied spirit would do. Oddly enough, we were all stone cold sober. That alone should have told us something was off.
We had a couple of problems. None of us were mediums and we didn’t have a Ouija board. It was too late to run to the toy store to buy one. That problem was easily solved. We drew up letters and numbers on paper, cut them into squares and lined them up on the floor in a circle. For a planchette, we used a cut-up plastic coffee lid. There, Ouija boards made easy! It wasn’t the best looking spirit board, but it would do.
The five of us sat around the carefully placed scraps of paper, each putting a finger on the makeshift planchette. We asked it questions. The wind actually howled outside the window. All we were missing was lightning and a black cat.
At first, nothing happened.
But then the planchette started to move. It was the oddest sensation. My finger was barely on it. Sure, one of them could have been moving it, but I got a strange rush that went through my body. Something was talking to us, answering our questions. And it wasn’t happy. The more freaked out we became, the angrier it got. As much as we wanted to stop, we just couldn’t. When we spoke about it later, we all agreed we were feeling the same unearthly vibe.
We learned the name of the spirit was Fran Turner. Fran wasn’t thrilled that we were disturbing her. We were no longer thrilled that we had called something into our little, unprotected circle (I later learned that homemade spirit boards are a biiig no-no. It’s like opening a portal without knowing how to close it properly).
Finally, we couldn’t take it any longer. We removed our fingers at the same time. Hearts racing, we were happy to leave Fran alone.
But it didn’t stop there. Even in the dark, we could see Richie’s eyes had rolled up to the top of his head. He began talking in a strange voice, saying he was Fran Turner! Now, Richie was one of the most innocent, unassuming guys I’d ever met. Still is. He’s not a prankster. For several minutes, this Fran Turner talked to us through Richie. I’ll admit, I nearly crapped myself. We were so flipped out, we shook Richie hard and scattered the pieces of the Ouija board all over the room.
That seemed to break the spell. Richie stopped talking, head rolling onto his chest. When he opened his eyes again, I thought he was going to have a heart attack. It took a while to settle him down. We left the apartment an hour later feeling an invisible set of eyes at our backs. We promised to never, ever screw with a Ouija board again. It took a few slugs of Jaegermeister to get me to sleep later.
We couldn’t let it go. The next day, we were all still shaken. Our usually boisterous meet up in the school cafeteria was markedly subdued. While I was in media class, a couple of the guys went to the boneyard. I’m pretty sure you can guess what they found.
Fran Turner’s grave was right there, the old headstone nestled in the middle of the cemetery. At one point that week, each of us went to the grave, mouths hanging open, minds blown, knees feeling as if they’d been turned to Smucker’s jelly.
It’s over 25 years later and we’re still confounded by what happened that night. Some guys refuse to even talk about it. Did we actually pluck the shade of Fran Turner from the ether? Was it our focused, collective unconscious that created the spirit’s actions on the board and Richie’s bizarre spell? I don’t know or hold out hope to ever get to the bottom of it. All I know is that it happened, and there are five grown men who would pay good money to have the whole night erased from our memories.
If you take anything from this, please don’t fuck with Ouija boards next to cemeteries on Halloween night.
Trick or treat instead. You can thank me later.
Fans of all things ghostly will love this limited run podcast by Panoply. HAUNTED is, believe it or not, an unbiased look into several cases of hauntings, with interviews by those who have had their world views of life and death shaken to its core. Host Danny Robins presents the facts and the interpretations of the experiencers and lets you decide if they actually saw a ghost or not.
These are short, easily digestible episode that are best listened to when you’re alone in a darkened room. Rumor has it that season 2 is just around the bend! Here’s the official synopsis for the show:
Do ghosts exist? If not, why do we see them? In each episode of the Haunted podcast Danny Robins looks at a real life ghost story in forensic detail trying to work out what really happened, with the help of experts, sceptics and the people who witnessed something they just can’t explain.
Danny visits a famous racetrack where drivers return from the dead; sees a suburban house haunted by a racist ex-tenant; talks to a widower who shares his bed with a phantom; and meets the parents who became convinced a ghost wanted to kill their baby daughter.
I absolutely loved HAUNTED and can’t wait for more. No matter whether you’re a believer or a skeptic, there’s something for everyone here. Listen at your own risk.
While I was perusing the bookstore on Jim Harold’s Paranormal Podcast website, I came across a tale of a true haunting in the Union Screaming House in Missouri called The Uninvited, by Steve LaChance and Laura Long-Helbig. I’m a sucker for a true ghost story, but the cover sealed the deal for me.
Here’s the publisher’s description of the book:
In this true and terrifying firsthand account, Steven LaChance reveals how he and his three children were driven from their Union, Missouri, home by demonic attackers.
LaChance chronicles how the house’s relentless supernatural predators infest those around them. He consults paranormal investigators, psychics, and priests, but the demonic attacks—screams, growls, putrid odors, invisible shoves, bites, and other physical violations—only grow worse. The entities clearly demonstrate their wrath and power: killing family pets, sexually assaulting individuals, even causing two people to be institutionalized.
The demons’ next target is the current homeowner, Helen. When the entities take possession and urge Helen toward murder and madness, LaChance must engage in a hair-raising battle for her soul.
Yeah baby, that’s the kind of high strangeness that motors my boat. Now, I know that with a lot of these ‘true haunting’, books, there are usually more misses than hits. Poor writing and/or simply insane premises have me throwing these books against the wall by page 20.
Not so with The Uninvited. The writing is crisp and tense, delivering some solid tingles to the spine as LaChance (now a paranormal radio host) relays the events his family and a subsequent family went through at the Union House. If even half of what LaChance reports is true, the place needs to be burned to the ground and sown with salt (yes, I’m a huge fan of The Haunting). Objects crash to the ground, the air is ripped in two with maniacal screams, people are pushed, scratched, possessed. Simply nuts.
I will give LaChance major props. The moment he realized the house was haunted, and not in a friendly Casper way, he grabbed his three kids and hauled ass. He gets even more kudos for befriending the next family that moved in after him and wearing himself thin trying to help them.
The Uninvited is a very fast read that is almost impossible to put down. A definite solid addition to your paranormal library.
Read any good true ghost stories lately? Let us know and share the night terrors.