Back in 2013, I decided to try my hand at writing about something I had little knowledge of, the paranormal. What had inspired this story was watching an episode of “The Haunting of…” on Lifetime. It was surrounding a celebrity who had filmed a movie in the infamous Pennhurst State School. She went back to the location with a medium to re-tell her experience. So much negativity and residual energy were in that place that it drew me in.
I have decided to posts what I have written so far. I haven’t touched it in a few years, so I highly doubt I will pick up on it any time soon. Enjoy!
“Saint Michael the Archangel, Defend us in battle
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the Devil
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray
And do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
By the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits
Who wander through the world for the ruin of souls.
Travis Starks recited an opening prayer before the team, The Netherworld Hunters, entered into a vacant historical building on Long Island, New York. Before the investigation began, the group made sure they had all of their equipment and began to set up for the night. After everything was set up, the wait began. The Netherworld Hunters was formed seven years ago by Travis and his girlfriend, Lily Foster; they met while attending Julliard. One night they were invited to join a few of their classmates for a ghost hunt at an abandoned warehouse close to New York Harbor. They enjoyed it and joined their friends for more hunts after that. Soon Travis and Lily presented the idea to their friends about becoming a paranormal investigation team. Everyone liked the idea and The Netherworld Hunters were born.
The group was starting to gain fast ground being known as one of the best paranormal investigation teams around the New York City vicinity; there was always some new place to track activity. Most of their investigations took place in cemeteries, but recently they had just started to investigate historic buildings that were known to have high levels of activities of paranormal energy. Everyone in the group got a huge thrill each time they captured something on film or recordings. It was a rush for them whenever they saw a shadow or form of mist captured in a picture or take place right in front of them. They were not lucky all the time on their investigations though. This particular night was an unsuccessful one; nine hours and no activity whatsoever. They packed up feeling defeated but knew the next investigation would be a success. They figured whatever energies were there did not feel the need to show up that night.
Lily arrived back to the apartment she shared with Travis and got ready for work; she was a teaching assistant for one of the music composition classes at Juilliard. She wished that she could travel outside of New York to other places around the world to have more encounters with spirits. One place that she wanted to go to was New Orleans, Louisiana. She had heard about the rich history of ghost, vampires, voodoo and black magic which intrigued her interest. Hopefully one day her dream would come true and she could share that experience with the team in New Orleans.
A few nights later, the group had their annual team meeting to discuss their investigations for the week ahead. Lily couldn’t hold back any longer and voiced her opinion about things.
“Guys, we need to expand outside of NYC and Long Island completely. How many times are we going to explore some of the same places around here because someone saw some paranormal activity going on again? We need to start looking for places around the U.S. to explore!” she said with frustration in her voice.
“How are we supposed to travel to these places? We’re not exactly like ‘Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?’ where we can just take off in a van and crisscross the country.” Jacob replied in a sarcastic tone.
Travis laughed and said, “Ha, we don’t even have a dog so you can’t compare us to Mysteries, Inc. dude! Lily is the only chick in our group; she’s much hotter and smarter than Velma and Daphne combined.”
Lily just rolled her eyes and continued to tell them why they should expand their investigations. She felt like this would be the perfect time to mention the idea of going to New Orleans. Jacob said he went on a graveyard tour there in New Orleans when he was in high school. He said he could feel the thickness of spirits wandering around in there as well as in the city itself. He said he had always wanted to go back and he liked the idea of going to investigate. Oliver and Simon were up for taking a road trip to the Deep South. They agreed that the group needed to look beyond their current surroundings. With everyone on board with the idea, Lily started to research different haunted sites around New Orleans and e-mailed a few historical societies in the area.
A couple of weeks later, an email came from one of the historical societies Lily contacted. In the email they told her there was one place that seemed to have a lot of paranormal activity going on. It was an abandoned mental institution on the outskirts of the city that was closed down in the 1970s due to a federal order. Some people who lived in and around the area reported hearing screams and saw beams of lights flashing randomly in windows at certain times during the night. Other paranormal investigation teams from around the U.S. and the world had tried to document and record the activity inside, but their equipment would get broken and some team members got gravely ill. Some would get so ill that they would die within 12 hours after exploring the hospital. Reading about all of that heightened Lily’s excitement even more about wanting to go.
She called an emergency meeting so that she could tell everybody about the information she received.
“I got an email back from one historical society in New Orleans with a place they said we could investigate, St. Dymphna State Hospital. I did some research of my own on this place and this is what I found out; it was mainly for the criminally insane that the state prison system could not handle behind bars. There were a few people who had developmental disabilities and mild mental illnesses that were there as well, but the prison population outweighed them. The property is situated on the outskirts of the city on 110 acres near swamplands. It was said that many criminals and civilians went in, but not many came out alive.” said Lily.
“Oh hell yeah! Count me in on this! Abandoned mental institutions are one of the best places to investigate! I wonder if they performed any experiments on the patients. Maybe we’ll find a criminal’s brain in a jar!” Oliver said in an excited tone.
“You are so demented! Maybe we should have you committed there.” Simon said in a shocked tone.
Oliver stuck his tongue out at Simon and turned his attention back to Lily. Chatter among everyone was when would the trip take place, how long would they be there and where would they stay. Lily looked over at Travis; he had a blank expression on his face. She asked him if he wanted to weigh in on the possible investigation. He said he would talk to her about it when they got home. He did not want to have his temper flare in front of the team. Once they got back to their apartment, Travis slammed the door behind him.
“What the hell is wrong with you?! We can’t afford to make a trip all the way to New Orleans for an investigation! For the love of Pete, we’re scraping by right now as it is and this would just break us financially! You can be so impulsive at times and not think things through. The Netherworld Hunters are not leaving out of New York!” Travis said in an angry tone.
“Travis Easton Starks! Don’t you dare take that tone with me! Just because the team was formed here in New York doesn’t mean we have to stay here and not branch out. This could be our big break! Think about it, we could probably accomplish something other teams have not been able to do. The lady said that other teams who have gone to investigate had to abruptly end the investigation due to sudden illness and even death of team members.” replied Lily.
“What! People have gotten sick or died just from going there?! Absolutely no way in Hell are we going there! I have seen a lot of shit over the time we have been investigating, but I don’t want to meet death doing it!” Travis said in a high pitched tone.
Lily threw her arms up and walked towards the kitchen to fix herself a cup of tea. Travis stood in the entry hall for another minute and then he walked into the den and turned on the television. Arguments between Lily and Travis were few and far between, but when they did happen, things could get very tense. When it was time for bed, Lily climbed in with her back to Travis. She felt as if her dream had been shattered by the one person who really seemed to understand her. She had supported his job as a guitar instructor at a local after-school youth program. She felt like he was selling himself short but she saw how happy he was teaching the kids how to make music. Tears began to form in her eyes and roll down her cheeks and onto her pillow. Travis scooted over, put his arm around her waist and pulled her close to him. She tried to push him away, but he held on to her tight.
“I’m sorry babe, I didn’t mean to get upset. I know how much it means to you to go do an investigation in New Orleans. I am just concerned about the cost of things and the what-ifs should we go down there.” he said in a concerned tone.
“Stop worrying about the cost and what-ifs, Travis. Like I told you, we may be able to accomplish what others have not. Maybe we could convince the historical society to help pay some of our cost for our trip. If not, then we will just have to work twice as hard to build our funds back up. Please, just do this for me baby; it’s not like we’re going tomorrow or next week. I know we won’t regret this and we can tell our kids about it.” Lily said as she rolled over to face Travis.
They both smiled at each other. Travis pushed some of Lily’s auburn brown hair behind her ear, pulled her into him and passionately kissed her. He told her that he was sorry for getting so stressed out over something that actually sounds fun. She smiled and thanked him for supporting her dream. She kissed him once again and fell asleep in his arms.
The Netherworld Hunters applied for a grant to fund their investigation in New Orleans. A few weeks later, a letter arrived saying they had been approved for it. Everyone was very excited about the adventure of a lifetime they were about to embark on. They had an interview to do before they relocated to New Orleans for the next few weeks. It was at an old firehouse that had been converted into apartments. The landlord was getting complaints from tenants that strange things were beginning to happen and some were threatening to move out because of it. Lily went to visit with landlord to see if she could get some history about the building before the investigation took place. There were times they would get calls to investigate only to find out the people thought they would be on a reality television show. She told Travis that they needed to screen potential clients more carefully.
The landlord was a washed-up singer the world had forgotten about. She and her husband bought the building thinking it would help bring in better income, but they were wrong. Lily asked her why she thought an investigation needed to take place aside from the obvious happenings.
“I can’t lose any tenant, that’s why! This is the only income my husband and I have! If some ghosts are going to haunt this building, I want them cast out of here.” she said in a stressed tone.
“Ma’am, we just investigate paranormal activity; we don’t capture them like Ghostbusters. A priest would have to come in here and do that.” replied Lily.
“Do you know who I am? I’m Penny Cooper; Princess of Metal! I called your team because you guys are in high demand around the city! Either you get them out or else.” Penny shouted.
“Ms. Cooper, our team can do an investigation, but like I said, we just document what we experience and report it back to you. I can give you the name of a priest who can do exorcism for you once we can confirm activity in the building.” said Lily.
Penny was very frustrated at this point. She thanked Lily for taking the time to come talk to them, but she did not want them to investigate just yet. Lily let out a sigh of relief as she walked back to her car. She could tell that Penny was hoping she would be on television and it would jump-start her career again. She was glad the team wouldn’t have to waste their time and not have a successful investigation before leaving New York.
Before she entered into her apartment, she smelled an aroma of spices seeping from under the door. When she opened the door, the smell hit her nose and caused a little burning sensation in her nostrils. She walked towards the kitchen and saw Travis cooking something on the stove. Before she could ask him what he was cooking, he had a spoon full of a clear soupy broth that he brought to her lips. It burned her throat as it went down and she started coughing after she finished swallowing it.
“My God that’s hella spicy! What is that?! Get me some water!” Lily said as she fanned her face.
Her face was bright red from the aftertaste the spices left in her mouth. Travis chuckled as he handed her the glass of water. He told her that he found a recipe for a Louisiana dish he wanted to make. He thought it would be fun to try the food before they went there. Lily asked him what it was and he told her it was gumbo; she told him to stick to music and ghost hunting. Lily told him how the short meeting went with Penny Cooper and that she turned down the team to investigate. He was glad that they would not have any more investigations for a while until New Orleans.
The day had finally arrived for The Netherworld Hunters to fly to Louisiana. They felt confident that they would be able to complete a full investigation and escape the ill fate other paranormal teams faced. While on the flight, Lily began to work on a schedule and what areas each member would monitor. She also had a list of places she wanted to visit in New Orleans as well. Three hours later, they arrived to Louis Armstrong International Airport and they were ready to get their investigation started. After they got checked into their hotel, they went to explore the nightlife on Bourbon Street. Tomorrow was going to be a full day of exploring St. Dymphna State Hospital during daylight hours so they could obtain more history and decide where to investigate.
Driving onto the property gave everyone chills and made the hair on their arms stand up. The road leading up to the administrative building was lined with oak trees that had hanging moss on their branches. Lily tried to imagine herself as a prisoner arriving to the facility and what was going through their mind. She pictured a 1950s style prison bus driving down this road kicking up dust as it rolled along the dirt road. When The Netherworld Hunters got closer to the administrative building, they were greeted by a building that looked like it came straight out of a horror movie. It was of gothic architecture and had gargoyles on all corners of the building.
“This is freaking awesome! I can feel the spirits walking around here and just waiting to tell their stories! I can’t wait until we get started with this investigation!” Oliver said with excitement.
His blue-green eyes were brighter than Lily had even seen them. Oliver had always been the more enthusiastic team members. He was the thrill seeker and never backed down from a challenge. One time he spent the night in one of the most haunted cemeteries in New York City on a dare from Simon. When the team saw him the next day, he looked like had gotten a good night’s rest rather than looking frazzled with bloodshot eyes.
A few minutes after they arrived, a green Volvo SUV pulled up next to their black sprinter van. A middle aged man with graying hair and dark sunglasses stepped out and approached the team. Paul Bergeron had been the owner of the property for 20 years and had lost many employees due to the paranormal activity there. He introduced himself to the group and then told them some of the history about the facility.
“St. Dymphna was built between the late 1940s and early 1950s to house mentally ill and behavior problem prisoners that the Louisiana State Prison system could not handle or treat behind bars. There are 17 buildings here on the property and from what I have been told they get very active late at night. One of the security guards said things start to happen around midnight. One night he heard screams coming from the Acadian building, which housed schizophrenic inmates. That seems to be where a lot of activity takes place, Acadian building. I hope y’all can survive long enough to tell me about your findings.” Paul said in his thick New Orleans accent.
“Was this place strictly for inmates or was the general population allowed to be admitted here?” asked Travis.
“Very, very small groups of the general population were admitted here. This facility specialized in the treatment and care of the criminal population.” replied Paul.
“Were there any female inmates that were part of the population out here?” asked Lily.
“A very limited amount of female inmates were admitted into St. Dymphna. In the beginning of the 1960s, the facility stopped accepting females after brutal rapes took place here. It became too much of a risk that the women could sue the hospital over damages.” said Paul.
Paul took the team on a tour around the property. Some of the red brick buildings were in fair condition while others had their brick walls collapsed into them. The slab for the basketball court had broken into sections and overtaken by grass and weeds. A courtyard with a fountain that no longer looked like a place anyone would want to sit around in and enjoy the fountain. The iron fence around the property was no longer a black color; it had been replaced with an orange rust color. A medium sized graveyard was located in the northwest part of the property with above ground crypts. The team spent the next few hours exploring some of the buildings including Acadian to see where they would set up their equipment.
Nightfall came quicker than they expected. The sun sunk down like a pink orb behind the oak trees and the stars started to appear in the darkened sky. All the equipment had been set up and everyone was ready to begin. Before they broke off into teams, they went to Acadian building together so they could have a contact session with the energies in there. When they walked in, Simon felt something heavy hit him in the chest and couldn’t catch his breath. Oliver turned around to see what had just happened. Simon was standing in the doorway clutching his chest and coughing very hard. Oliver shouted at the others to stop since Simon had stopped. They waited a few minutes to make sure he was okay and able to continue the investigation for the night. On their way to a room, Oliver asked Simon what happened back there.
“I don’t know! I was walking and then all of a sudden it felt like someone came out of nowhere and punched the crap out of my chest. If I have a huge bruise on me tomorrow, I am going to freak out!” replied Simon.
“You can’t go anywhere without pissing someone off.” Oliver said in a sarcastic tone.
“Hey, I didn’t piss anyone off! All I did was walk into the doorway and BAM, right in the chest.” said Simon.
“Maybe your face pissed off the ghost and it thought if it punched you then maybe you wouldn’t look so scary!” Oliver said while laughing.
“Shut up you asshat!” Simon said in an irritated tone.
The first night of the investigation was very successful. They went back to their hotel and began to analyze their findings. One image captured on camera caught Lily’s attention; it was a black mist floating in a corner of the room the team was in. It gave her an uneasy feeling as she looked at it; she had a feeling that it was a dark entity and not a former patient. Jacob and Oliver analyzed the EVP recordings from Acadian building; one of the recordings they heard sent chills down their spine. They called Travis over to their workstation to make sure they weren’t making stuff up in their minds.
“YOU’RE FUCKED!” the voice said.
They played it again for the others to hear as well; they also got chills down their spine. Lily couldn’t help but think the voice belonged to the dark entity she saw in the video. She knew that this dark force had something to do with the heaviness in the air around the property. As she lay in bed, her thoughts drifted back to the Acadian building and the dark mist she saw in the picture; soon she drifted off to sleep. She woke up and was surrounded by the darkness that was inside of Acadian building. She called out for the rest of the team members but got no response from anyone. She fumbled around in her back jean pocket for a flashlight and clicked it on. Suddenly she felt the temperature of the room drastically drop and felt like someone was breathing on her neck. She could see the mist of her breath in the glow of the flashlight; she knew that someone or something was there with her. Before she could do anything, she was picked up and thrown down onto the ground. She tried to get up but she was pinned down by a strong force. She started screaming for Travis to come help her but saw no sign of him. She felt like she was going to die right there.
Travis was woken up out of a deep sleep. Lily was thrashing around in her sleep and screaming at the top of her lungs.
“Travis! Travis! Where are you, Travis?! Help me!” screamed Lily.
Travis grabbed Lily and pulled her close to him. At that moment, her eyes popped open and she was trying to catch her breath. She hugged Travis very tight and started to softly weep; he kissed her forehead and wiped the tears falling down her cheeks. A few minutes later, he asked her if she wanted to tell him what happened.
“I was in the Acadian building by myself and a strong force picked me up and threw me onto the ground. I was pinned down and couldn’t move any part of my body. I could feel it wasn’t a human spirit; it was demonic. Travis, we’re not just dealing with disturbed human spirits at St. Dymphna; there is a demonic force there as well. I need to ask Jacob if he picked on something else other than the human spirits as well.” Lily said in a rushed tone.
She was about to get out of bed to go to Jacob’s room when Travis grabbed her arm. He told her to wait until the morning to ask him. When Lily’s mind got stuck on something she wanted to solve, it was hard to convince her to slow her brain down. She shot Travis a look and he released her arm. Jacob was woken up by Lily frantically knocking on his door. He opened the door and Lily burst into his room with a wild eyed look on her face. She asked him if he felt a demonic spirit during their investigation.
“I picked up on some very negative energy but nothing that I felt was demonic. Why is it so important to you at 4 a.m.?” He replied in a sleepy voice and rubbing his eyes.
“You’re the psychic medium here! You should know if a demonic spirit is among the presence of the human spirits!” Lily said in a loud whisper.
“Well maybe the demon didn’t want their presence to be known. It more or less could have sensed my psychic ability and disguised itself within the human spirit world. What has you so spooked?” said Jacob.
“I saw a black mist that was recorded on the camera. I think it came and attacked me in my dream I just woke up from. Jacob, I know it was a demonic spirit!” said Lily in a high pitched whisper.
Oliver slinked over to Simon’s side of the bed and put his arm around his waist. Simon smiled and scooted closer into Oliver. They met while in a piano class at Julliard and have been together for seven years. He went to move his hand across Simon’s chest and as soon as he touched it, Simon let out a painful scream. Oliver asked what was wrong and then he remembered what had happened to Simon yesterday. He asked him to lift up his shirt so he could see his chest. What Oliver and Simon saw was not what they expected; in the middle of Simon’s chest was a large bruise with a large fist imprint. Oliver grabbed his phone and took a picture of it and then texted it to Travis. It was proof that what Simon experienced was by a force stronger than any human spirit had.
After a day off for sightseeing, the team went back to the state hospital to do more investigating. This time they broke up into groups and kept in touch with hand held radios. Jacob, Oliver and Lily went to explore Acadian building again. Lily hoped that Jacob would be able to pick up on the demonic force she felt from the picture. When they were about to go in, Jacob blocked the entrance way with his body. He turned around to look at Oliver and Lily; the color had drained from his face. He was breathing very hard like something had knocked the breath out of him. It took him a minute to catch breath. Once he did, he told them there was definitely a strong demonic force in the building.
“As soon as I got right to the door, a powerful force hit me really hard in the chest. Oh my God, that was the most powerful demonic force I have ever felt! It has so much power and energy over this building.” he said with fear and excitement in his voice.
“The same thing happened to Simon the day before. That’s what left the huge bruise on his chest; he was hit by that same force.” Oliver said.
“I am getting the creeps now that we’re back over here, but I can’t back down now. Come on, let’s get this done!” Lily said.
As they entered in, a faint scream could be heard down the hall; it sounded like a scream of pain. Lily went to investigate where it was coming from. As she walked towards the sound of the scream, the temperature of the hall became very cold and it felt as if someone had just passed through her body. She had to stop and catch her breath. When whatever had passed through her, she felt a sense of fear and pain. Eventually she made it to the room she thought the screaming was coming from. When she entered into it, she saw there was a table with straps and a large machine behind it. This was the room that patients had electric shock therapy in whenever they acted out in an inappropriate manner with staff and other patients.
Jacob asked Lily where exactly she saw the black mist in the video. She led them to the common room further towards the back of the building. Trying to maneuver the halls was hard due to old typewriters and chairs in the way. Lily showed him it was close to a door that had been boarded up.
“Wow, this room is thick with activity! Behind that door is a closet they would use as punishment for anyone who caused trouble in this room. They would strap them to a body board, lean it in an upright position against the wall and leave them in there for hours.” Jacob said.
“Why would a dark entity appear from here? I mean did someone have an evil spirit attached to them and they died in the closet causing it to be released?” Lily asked.
“I’m not picking up on anything that indicates a patient died in this closet. This demonic energy actually floats all over the property. I don’t feel like anyone summoned this demon through a form of black magic or voodoo. It just showed up here on its own not too long after the construction for the hospital began.” Jacob replied.
“Maybe it showed up here on a mission from Lucifer.” said Lily.
“In Greek mythology there were spirits called Maniae; they consisted of madness, insanity, and crazed frenzy, closely related to Lyssa the spirit of rage, fury, raging madness and frenzy. Everyone in here seemed to be under the spirits of Maniae, so don’t discredit the fact that the demonic force was probably here on a mission by Lucifer.” Oliver said in an informative tone.
“Thank you very much Google of Useless Information for your two cents! I don’t know what you expect me to do with that information, but I will keep it in mind for a game show.” Jacob replied in an annoyed tone.
Travis and Simon went to explore the administrative building for active energies. Once they walked in, a loud crash came from somewhere in the building. They ran to find out where it came from. On the second floor, in the middle of the hall, was a heavy metal desk standing on its side against a door. Travis saw that there were fresh marks showing that it had just been moved.
“I think someone or something doesn’t want us here.” Simon said with a worried look on his face.
“Too bad if it doesn’t want us here. I want to find out what happened here and why these spirits are still here.” said Travis.
“Maybe we should get Jacob and the others over here. Jacob should be able to pick up on the energies on here.” Simon said.
Travis radioed to Jacob, Lily and Oliver to come join them in the administrative building. A few minutes later, the team was back together. Travis showed Jacob the desk and the possible room it was moved from.
“He wants us out of his space. He’s telling me to tell you to leave before he gets very mad.” Jacob said in a chilled tone.
“What is he going to do if we don’t leave? He doesn’t control this place or us.” said Oliver.
“He just told me if we don’t leave then we will face his wrath. This is no human soul you guys, this is a demonic spirit communicating with me.” Jacob replied in a scared tone.
“Hey demon, we’re not leaving! Come on and bring your wrath!” Travis yelled.
Right at that moment, the hallway became very cold. Everyone’s hair stood up on the back of their neck. Suddenly, Travis let out a loud scream and grabbed his back. The back of his shirt had been ripped open by what looked like claw marks and blood started dripping down. Lily quickly walked over to him, took his shirt off and applied it to the fresh wound.
“Well that was a stupid thing to say to the demon! You got his wrath that you asked for!” Oliver said in a sarcastic tone.
“Shut up, Oliver!” Travis replied in an angry tone.
“Hey, cool it you two! Let’s call it a day and go back to the hotel so I can bandage up these claw marks.” Lily said.
As they left the building, papers from the rooms shot out simultaneously and were scattered throughout the hallway. This was quickly getting to be a serious situation. Lily treated the wound on Travis’ back and talked about what happened. She told him not to play around with demon again. He said that he would keep his mouth shut from now on. That night, Travis had a hard time going to sleep due to the pain. When he did get to sleep, he dreamed he was in a dark hallway. All of a sudden, a bright blinding light shone in his face and then he was violently thrown against a wall. The light left as fast as it had appeared sending the hallway back into darkness. He felt like a pair of hands was around his neck choking him. Seconds later, a voice spoke up.
“You told me to bring my wrath and that is just what I’m about to do. Stay away from my territory or worse things will happen to you and your friends.” the voice said with a hiss.
“You don’t control me or what I do.” replied Travis.
“Ha, you must not listen very well. Let me put it to you like this; stay away or your pretty girlfriend will get what’s coming to her.” the voice said in a whisper.
“So help me God if you dare lay a hand on Lily!” Travis snapped back while trying to pry the hands from his neck.
“It won’t be me doing it, but someone among you will.” said the voice.
The force around Travis’ throat let go of him and he fell quickly to the ground. As soon as he did, he shot up in the bed covered in sweat beads. He saw that Lily was still asleep and that his thrashing around didn’t wake her. She looked so peaceful; her long auburn brown hair feathered across her arm and pillow as she slept. Travis lay back down and wrapped his arm around her waist. The dream he had was just that, a dream. He knew that nothing was going to happen and if they abandoned the investigation, Lily would be upset.