This story begins on Tuesday 1/1/2013.
I received a text message from Nicky, a lead investigator from WSPR and one of the team featured in Paranormal Investigators: Phasmophobia (some of you may have seen my post on the series here). She asked if I would like to be one of the ‘Challengers’ for an upcoming episode at <location undisclosed>. Of course, after picking myself up from the floor I agreed. What better way to find out exactly what happens on a real investigation than to be dropped into it head-first?
I will admit, I was starting to have some reservations as the shoot drew closer. First and foremost was my Achluophobia (fear of the dark), then my brain moved onto possession, impression, physical contact and the general terror that I would make a complete fool of myself in front of a camera. This mainly came from the last time something paranormal happened to me (the orbs in the Redbank Tunnel) where I simply screamed and ran. This is hardly the way I wanted myself to react in front of seasoned investigators and the audience of the series… and frankly the idea of going all ‘girly victim’ made my stomach crawl more than the idea of romping around in the dark.
But I stuck with it. On a personal level I like a good challenge and as a journalist this would be an opportunity not to be missed! At least that’s what I told myself…
I met at a local McDonalds with Craig, Nicky and Richie from team WSPR as well as Belinda – the other challenger – and her son. We set out from there and arrived at the location in the late afternoon.
As we drove into the location (I was following the WSPR crew in my car) I saw Nicky point at the sign and thumped my head on the steering wheel: of all of the places in Australia that I would not caught dead in after sunset, this was in the top two.
Each building we passed had broken windows, a surplus of cobwebs and a whole lot of darkness inside. Oh goodie gumdrops.
When we reached the building that HQ was set up in, I was introduced to the rest of the team: the investigators from Validate; Attila, (the director) Andrea, (the host of Phasmophobia) Michelle and Anakin, as well as Jarad, Kat and Beth from team WSPR and Access Paranormal.
Now I can’t divulge too much on the walkthrough that we did around the building, but we were told a few stories on the happenings and what the building was used for when it was operational. There were two buildings that we would be investigating in all (one of them thoroughly gave me the creeps) and after the walkthrough we were given a crash-course on Psychic Awareness as the sun was setting.
I will admit: as open-minded as I (think) I am, I’m just the tiniest bit cynical of psychics. I could probably write an article on why, but I’ll keep this short. At that point in time, I was willing… but not quite believing.
Then the sun set… and there was no backing down.
Fed on a mix of 2-minute-noodles, protein bars and chocolate, I volunteered for a particular challenge first (I can’t say what it was or even how many there were… sorry!). I headed into the building with a DV, my converted full spectrum camera, an IR light and a prayer that whatever it was that liked to hang around in this building didn’t like the taste of Jacqueline.
It was so black that I could barely see two meters in front of me. That was, initially, the scariest aspect of the entire night. I simply couldn’t see what may or may not ‘charge’ me in the dark. Which is stupid, I know… I mean, what was it going to do? Cobweb me to death?
Now I do have some full spectrum shots I did when I was in this building… I’m pretty sure I’m allowed to put them up here. They were taken on a two second timer, one after the other. The movement of the IR light is because I was balancing the camera between my DV and the IR light rig. I didn’t have my tripod with me so I had to try and be as steady as I could. The focusing is also off because I was a little speedy with terror… I wanted to snap these shots and get back to having at least one hand free.
Cause… you know… Ghostly Kung Fu requires one free hand at all times.
I dunno… but, thankfully, I didn’t examine them close enough to catch the black patch (in the middle shot) on screen when I was in the building. If I had then there would have been a lovely Jacqueline-shaped hole in the wall leading back to HQ.
During that investigation, my experiences in the building changed me. Thinking back on it… as I slowly moved from one end of the room to the other I essentially left the old me sitting on the floor with her back to the wall. The new me was walking slowly deeper into the dark and closer to whatever it was that I could hear at the back of the building.
When the others came to get me I was a little reluctant to leave. I literally skipped out of the door with a stupid grin on my face and headed towards the next challenge/s with a kind of dorky enthusiasm.
In the other building the mood was different, to say the least. It was a bit more guided than the last challenge/s, but yielded some impressive results. (UGH! I want to tell you all so badly, but I can’t!!!)
It was in this building that I had my second pivotal moment. Yet again, I can’t say what it was, but it was fun. By the time we had finished in there, I well and truly had my finger in the pie of Paranormal Investigation.
At the end of the night Belinda and I finally had a chance to talk to each other about our experiences before I had to make the sunrise dash home to catch 45 minutes sleep before I got up to go to work.
That was not fun by the way. Not fun at all.
Night two was a completely different kettle of fish. This time I was an observer at the investigation. I got to see how it’s done by experienced investigators, as well as having the chance to have a go myself.
We were joined by Don from The Spirit Level and two of Jarad’s friends, who were new to the practical side of things like me.
It was a huge learning curve, watching the teams go to work, and a huge buzz to receive so much activity after the events of the previous night. This also may have been due to the thunderstorm that rolled in at sunset and stuck around for a few hours.
There’s a theory that natural energies like thunderstorms, running water or limestone have the ability to charge the atmosphere, thus giving any spiritual entities extra fuel to burn when doing their thing.
The building we first went into (which was the first building I had entered the previous night) did feel different. There was a feeling of anticipation in the room… and it wasn’t just us. The walls, the doorways…the very air itself felt charged.
I was fortunate enough to do four investigations in that building. The first I can’t fully explain – because it will be included in Phasmophobia – but it was more than a little mind-blowing.
Keep tuned for the second half of my recap! Ups coming soon!