Sooo, Spooky Saturday is upon us and to kick us off today is an amazing story (made even more amazing by the fact that this is NON-FICTION and you can get a free book!) by Holly Grant. This one is a real frightener. So, if you’re setting comfortably, then Holly will begin:
Hollister Ann Grant
The Ghost in the Triangular Field: a true story
Mention ghosts and I used to be the world’s biggest skeptic. I thought that people who claimed they’d encountered ghosts were either lying or had goofy, romantic imaginations. You know, the kind of people who see Mother Teresa in their buttered toast.
My late husband Jack and I used to leave our home in Washington, D.C. on the weekend and drive 90 miles north to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to hike and photograph the boulder-strewn hills. The July 1863 battle was the American Civil War’s bloodiest fight with 51,000 casualties. Jack was a military history buff and was always reading five or six books about the war. One day he told me he’d read about a haunted triangular field on the southern side of the battlefield.
“People say a ghost interferes with cameras and video equipment,” he said.
The idea of a camera-wrecking ghost made me gleeful.
“Oh, wow, let’s go, then,” I told him.
We were using a film camera with new batteries at the time. When we came to the Triangular Field, we walked through a weathered gate into waist-high grass. Woods bordered the field on two sides. We passed several overgrown pits that Jack said were probably old burial pits; after the war ended, the military came back and tried to exhume the dead to bury them in cemeteries. The field had an ominous atmosphere that seemed to grow with every step we took. When we reached the bottom, we stood on a flat rock to get out of the weeds.
“Well, here goes,” I said with a laugh. “Let’s see if the ghost messes up our camera.”
I clicked the camera and the batteries died. They not only died, they died with a loud descending sound as if something had drained them on the spot.
“I can’t believe this,” I said, irritated.
I popped the batteries out, adjusted them, and tried to shoot again. The batteries made the same sound and died completely, as if something had drained the final drops of juice.
“Well, maybe there is a ghost,” I said, a little uneasy, but I was mostly annoyed because we couldn’t shoot any more photos.
We drove into the town, bought a disposable camera, the kind you wind after every shot, and returned with our new toy to the same flat rock.
“Okay,” I said, feeling foolish. “If there really is a ghost here, show us why our camera died and what happened on this rock.” Then I shot the flat rock, half-expecting the disposable camera to stop working, too, but it held up.
After we developed our film, we found a strange photo of a misty cloud hovering over the rock. Jack thought the cloud seemed to be in motion, as if someone had been running and fell when they were shot. During the battle, rebel soldiers had scaled a low wall that borders the field and run over the flat rock on their way up the hill.
That was our first strange experience in the Triangular Field. Many people have written about similar experiences they’ve had in this field. The area has been tested for geological anomalies that might interfere with equipment and nothing turned up. We also showed our photographs to the head photographer at the newspaper where I worked and asked if any camera defects could cause the same effects and she shook her head no.
Over the years Jack took thousands of film and digital photos of the Gettysburg battlefield, including mysterious mists, orbs, and a spiral that resembles the tunnel some people say they passed through in near-death experiences. It took some kicking and screaming on my part, but I’ve changed from a skeptic to a reluctant believer. I now think that some people are so traumatized after death that they can’t let go of this world and want to show us that they still exist.
Hollister Ann Grant is the author of Haunted Ground: Ghost Photos from the Gettysburg Battlefield. The book provides directions to every photo location, a summary of what happened there during the battle, and travel information about the town and the Gettysburg National Military Park – and the book is free right now on Amazon, iTunes, and Smashwords. Contact Holly at firstname.lastname@example.org, @hollistergrant on Twitter, or http://hollistergrant.blogspot.com.
Here’s the photo:
Wow! Seriously spooky huh? Holly tells me that she is hoping to get the book free on Amazon UK soon, but you can still download a free copy from Smahwords at the link above. That has got to be worth a read over Halloween. Thanks Holly! Brilliant post.
Next up we have Tracy Marchini (seriously, stop with the cool names already!) to tell us why we shouldn’t ask her to go Ghost hunting! 😉
Why You Shouldn’t Invite Me To A Haunted House
My sixth grade character, Juliet, is 100 times braver than I am.
When I was ten, I was browsing the bookstore and read that people are most likely to see a ghost between the ages of eight and twelve. I nearly peed myself right then and there – I was right in the “ghost sweet spot,” and had two years to go!
I (thankfully) managed to make it to twelve without seeing a ghost, but I never could finish one of R. L. Stine’s Fear Street books without waiting till daylight. To this day, I can only watch Ghost Hunters because I’m 99.9% sure that all the EVP evidence is just a bunch of distorted noise. (I mean, if we can auto-tune the women of the Real Housewives, we can certainly make some spooky sounding whispers.) And my friends never invite me to a scary movie, because I spend the whole time clenching their arm and screaming. (Or doing the cough-and-look-at-the-floor-during-the-scary-part trick, which they’ve probably figured out by now as well.)
The scariest thing I do each year is a corn maze, and this is only because my best-friend loves the corn maze, and it opens around her birthday. (She is not above rustling the corn behind us as we go through it. One day, I will not be above using Google Maps for an aerial view, so that I can get in and out as soon as possible.)
In short, Juliet would think that I was a big chicken – which is why I decided to stick her in a haunted house.
In Haunting At Heidelburgh Mansion (A Hot Ticket Short Story), Juliet crashes the Un-Halloween Party of the most popular girl in school – Cindy Newsome. But when her best-friend, Lucy, disappears, it’s up to Juliet to find a way to get her friend back from the headless bride – or risk losing her friend forever.
Now, I’m not saying that if this happened to me, I would immediately go running from the house, leaving my friend to certain doom. But unlike Juliet, I would at least consider it.*
Juliet though, has chutzpah. Cajones. And she’ll need it too… because if there’s anything scarier than the headless bride, it’s the most popular girl in her school – Cindy Newsome.
(*Don’t worry, if we were really in a haunted house together and you were captured by a ghost and I suddenly took off running and screaming, it would only be to find help. Or better cell phone reception to call 555-2368.)
About the Author:
Tracy Marchini is a freelance writer and editorial consultant. Before launching her own editorial service, she worked at a literary agency, as a children’s book reviewer, a newspaper correspondent and a freelance copywriter. She may also be known as the worst kickball player to ever grace her schoolyard.
Haunting at Heidelburgh Mansion is a 35 page middle grade short story in the Hot Ticket series.
Thanks Tracy, I’m with you, you can stay in the maze for now! 😉
Our next spectral scribe is the fabulously talented Kealan Patrick Burke (right, I mean it, I have HAD it with the name thing!). Now, I am soooo busy just now, that I get very little chance to read, but read ‘The Turtle Boy’ I did and well, WOW! I haven’t been that captivated by a writers’ voice for a long time. You MUST read that book. I can’t wait to start ‘Kin’!
Here’s Kealan to tell us why Halloween never dies:
THE LAST HALLOWEEN
As a writer of the dark stuff, it should come as no surprise that autumn is my favorite season, October my favorite month, and Halloween my favorite holiday. As soon as the leaves change color and begin to fall, it’s time for the coat to go on and for long walks in the woods.
In my youth it was no different. In school, it was the one time of the year in which it was okay to have portraits of slavering monsters festooning the classroom walls, pumpkins wearing expressions comical and malevolent lined in rows on the long tables beneath them. We bobbed for apples, and played games all day instead of learning anything of value. Even our teachers seemed infected by the Halloween spirit and dispensed candy to the sweet-toothed students with all the fervor of kings tossing coins to the poor. We were allowed to come to class in the costumes we intended to wear for Halloween. There were competitions for the best. Then, once school was out, we walked home, watching the younger children whose trick-or-treating was confined to daylight hours (out of fear of monsters both very real and dangerous), and discussed the best neighborhoods to hit for the most amount of candy. Every year, it was pretty much the same.
Until the last one.
I was thirteen, and aware that I was toeing the line of being too old for trick-or-treating. From what I had seen, once you passed a certain age, your idea of what constituted fun began to change. For some, this meant tormenting the younger kids with eggs and flour and water balloons, or toilet-papering houses. Or worse. For others, it meant staying at home watching horror movies with their parents and handing out candy, often with a look of regret that they had outgrown the privilege of being on the other side of things. I probably belonged to this latter category on the night I decided to go trick-or-treating for the last time.
I went alone, as my friends had decided that this was the year that they were going to retire from the nightworld, a decision that disappointed me greatly. I was unwilling to relinquish the feel of the one night in which I got to play the monster, and in truth, I think I was afraid of the greater implications of being too old to trick or treat. If I was too old for that, what else was I too old for? Christmas? Riding my bike to the old abandoned house at the end of the neighborhood? Writing love notes to girls I had crushes on? It was as if, in taking off my mask, I would be taking off the face of my childhood, and the thought depressed me. So, to hell with it, I thought, and off I went—a dime-store Dracula with a cape, capsules of foamy blood syrup in my mouth, and a talcum-powder pallor to my skin.
But almost immediately, I knew things had changed. The younger kids had already gone home, and there were fewer kids my own age roaming around by the time I stepped out into the night. The air smelled different, the electricity gone, and as I went from house to house the people who opened the door to me seemed less enthusiastic, less engaged by the ritual, as if they too had grown exhausted of the pretense, or perhaps, were just nonplussed by mine. It was a season for children, after all, so what was I doing here, an adolescent, too old for it all, holding out my bag with a forced grin on my bloody mouth and nothing to say?
As the night went on, it became evident that I had been fooling myself. The streets were dark and empty, the spirit I had grown to cherish gone, already carried home in the hearts of the younger children, with none reserved for me. In getting older, I had given up the right. And as I pondered this, a slump-shouldered vampire heading back to his crypt for the night, I was set upon by four tall monsters, teenagers toeing their own line of grown-up responsibility as their twenties loomed on the horizon. I weathered their assault of eggs, flour, and water balloons without complaint until, howling and hollering at the moon, they moved on in search of another victim.
I remember standing there for a long time outside a house in which all the lights were off—a sign for you to move along, please, no candy here—chewing a fistful of gummy worms as cold egg yolk slithered down the back of neck, and realizing that no amount of denial would ever change the fact that it was my last Halloween.
But again, I was wrong.
When I got home that night, sullen and miserable, my mother looked at me, grinning, and told me to go get cleaned up. After a shower, I felt better, and the night ended with me and my mother sitting in the dark watching horror movies on television while we shared the candy. This, I realized, was my Halloween now, and as much as I tried, as much as I lamented the loss of the spirit that had characterized the Halloweens of years past, I couldn’t find reason to complain about it. It was, as a matter of fact, just fine.
It was the last Halloween only in the sense of celebrating it as a child.
It was the first Halloween for the adult I was becoming.
Nowadays, when this time of year comes around, I still feel something of the old magic. There is an equal amount of fun to be found in making it fun for others. I love when the costumed children come around and being one of those people who does leave the lights on, does open the door and spoils them with tons of candy. And my girlfriend and I have made something of a big deal, not only about Halloween, but the whole season. Starting on October 1st, we begin to decorate the house with Gothic candles, skulls, lights, and various bits of Halloween paraphernalia. We watch horror movies and read horror novels all month long. This year, I’ve even handed my blog over to some of my favorite horror authors as a venue for their own thoughts about the season.
I love this time of year, and have realized that it’s only ever the last Halloween if you let it be. Eventually, of course, time itself will give you your last Halloween, but even then, even when we’re ushered quietly into the realm of the spirits, Halloween night will still be ours, and like that kid too old to trick-or-treat, we’ll simply be doing it in our own way on the other side of things.
— Kealan Patrick Burke
October 27th, 2011
Kealan Patrick Burke is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Turtle Boy, The Hides, Vessels, Currency of Souls, Master of the Moors, and Kin. You can find him on the web at www.kealanpatrickburke.com or at his blog: www.kealanpatrick.wordpress.com
Find him, seriously. This Turtle Boy will go far! Thanks Kealan, brilliant post!
You can find Kealan’s Halloween themed stories here
Last up for this special, scary Saturday is Deanna Chase with a fabulous frightener:
After giving it some thought, it seems logical that people in the UK would have a lot more ghost stories than those of us on the other side of the pond. Considering the age of England verses the age of the US it only makes sense, right? In my thirty-something years of living I have lived in about a dozen different places and all but two have either been brand new or less than thirty years old.
The first older place I lived in was a nineteen-twenty’s apartment. The building had three or four dozen units and the walls were paper-thin. Any odd noises or smells were mostly likely blamed on the neighbors. In any case, I never once noticed anything out of the ordinary, except for the guy in the house next door that had people who showed up at all hours of the night. Unless he was a vampire, I’m fairly certain he was dealing illegal substances.
My current house is over one-hundred years old. We have neighbors, but we don’t share walls, and there is a good distance between our houses. So when I smell cigar smoke, flowery perfume, and the occasional distinct stench of marijuana, I’m left wondering who exactly is in my house. My husband is allergic to perfume, so I don’t wear any. Also we are strictly non-smoking home. I know I’m not smoking anything, and the husband gets asthma. It’s either someone outside or our place is haunted. I’m willing to concede the smoke could be coming in from outside. But the perfume? That doesn’t make sense to me
Normally I wouldn’t be so quick to jump to conclusions, but late at night when I’m writing I often hear footsteps. It isn’t the dogs. They are always asleep at my feet. It isn’t the husband. I know because I can hear his snoring in the next room. (Sorry G). Unless he’s sleepwalking, which in our fifteen years together I’ve never known him to do, my only logical guess is a ghost. Almost every night I’m up late I can hear the distinct sounds of heavy footsteps on my hardwood floors. My house is pretty quiet. It’s a hard thing to miss.
The cool thing is that none of this freaks me out. I don’t have the weird feeling someone is watching me or in my space. It just is. As long as the ghost isn’t bothering me, he or she can stay as long as they want. I actually find it cool that while I’m writing my ghost stories I might have one roaming in the background.
Since I live in Louisiana it’s easy to draw inspiration from New Orleans and the French Quarter especially. It’s an old city, founded in the early seventeen-hundreds. That’s old by US standards. It also has a sordid history with pirates and slavery. These days there are cemetery, ghost, and vampire tours. It seems every building in the French Quarter has some sort of ghost lore attached to it. The people of New Orleans say Saint Peters Street is the most haunted street in the US. Of course if you go to Salem, MA I’m sure someone there will say Salem is the most haunted city. Still, it’s fun stuff for storytellers.
I can only imagine what the inspiration would be like living in and near all the old buildings in Europe. The castles especially. With all the history and wars fought through the centuries the place must be teaming with ghosts. Some day I’d love to spend a year living abroad just soaking it all in. I’m sure a ghost story or two would be born.
In the mean time, you can read about Jade and the French Quarter in Haunted on Bourbon Street. Jade’s ghost story is much more gripping than mine.
Jade loves her new apartment—until a ghost joins her in the shower.
When empath Jade Calhoun moves into an apartment above a strip bar on Bourbon Street, she expects life to get interesting. What she doesn’t count on is making friends with an exotic dancer, attracting a powerful spirit, and developing feelings for Kane, her sexy landlord.
Being an empath has never been easy on Jade’s relationships. It’s no wonder she keeps her gift a secret. But when the ghost moves from spooking Jade to terrorizing Pyper, the dancer, it’s up to Jade to use her unique ability to save her. Except she’ll need Kane’s help—and he’s betrayed her with a secret of his own—to do it. Can she find a way to trust him and herself before Pyper is lost?
Thanks Deanna, great way to finish up!
See you all tomorrow for the final two Halloween tales from Steve Vernon and Andrew Biss.
Have a super, spooky Saturday.Saffi
- Thirteen ghosts: A collection of spooky tales for Halloween (Part One) (sapphicscribe.wordpress.com)
- On the Trail…of Gettysburg Ghosts (bethchristopher.com)
- Using “Free” On Standalone Books – Guest Post by Indie Author Hollister Ann Grant (davidgaughran.wordpress.com)