Monthly Archives: October 2010

NaNoWriMo and other random stuffs.

Juggling a lot these last couple weeks. Trying to work through some evidence so I can throw together a couple more Stanley evidence vlogs. Don’t worry, they’re on the way. Just trying to play catch up and be thorough.

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Also, as I’ve mentioned a couple times on the Twitter, writer Neil Gaiman is pushing for a new Halloween tradition of giving a scary book to a loved one on the holiday. I think it’s a brilliant idea and would no doubt join in if I had two pennies to rub together to pass a book along. But apparently it’s the thought that counts, at the very least, and I’ll push again and again Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves – best read with the lights off, by candle or flashlight. Or if you’d rather, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, a post-apocalyptic horror novel of a much different variety, with a language so poetic it might squeeze the tears from you like a juicer.

Feel free to shoot me a comment on what books have scared you, and what books you’ll be passing along this year for All Hallows’ Read.

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I’ve also alluded on the Twitter to an annual event I’ll be again promoting and participating in, National Novel Writing Month.

If you’re not familiar with NaNoWriMo, it’s a contest, a challenge, to write 50,000 words between midnight on November first, and midnight on November 30th. Yes, fifty-thousand words is quite a feat. Yes, you’d have to work your ass off to win. But the goal isn’t so much to win as it is to finally give yourself that push to get yourself writing, working on that project in the back of your mind you’ve always wondered about, to finally do something creative you may have always been driven to but felt that you cannot for whatever reason, do.

I’ve never won NaNo myself. Usually after a strong start, I watch my word count fall further and further behind, to the points of realistic catchup, to weekend binges, to hopelessness. But as I’ve said, it’s not about the 50k.

At my best, working on my third novel this summer, I managed to get to the 50k mark in two months of hard work without the influence of school. And earlier in the year, I worked two to three months on my second novel, only getting to about 35,000.

That said – with marketing one novel and two others in progress, ebbing and flowing with my activity level outside them, I don’t care to spread myself so thin as to have three works in progress, so this year I plan to try to finish my two already in-progress works, to at least get to the point where an end is in sight, to know where both stories are going. My real goal? To have one (and if I really push it, even two) full first draft(s) by New Years. Will I make it? Honestly, doubtful – I’m horrible at writing deadlines. But will I try? Definitely.

And I strongly encourage you to try with me. Whatever story you want to write. However far you get. Come along for the ride. Hop on over to Nanowrimo.org and check out what’s happening there on the more organized level,

and let’s win.

I’ll be posting frequent twitter updates as to my word count, and likely a few things over here at the blog.

It’s gonna be fun. Sure, sometimes it won’t be. But it’s rewarding. Getting in touch with your creative side is one of the truest pursuits you’ll ever know. I promise.

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The October Collection (part 4)

The children are excited for the night. There is some rush that gives their bloodstream a special energy and they stare eagerly through the windows at the dusk. Vampires wearing gym shorts without cloaks stare through blank window panes at the gray of the twilight. Their hearts race. Their feet dance on the ground with impatience.

Doorbells ring, interrupting toasted cheese and soup dinners, early tricksters arriving on doorsteps. Children strain their necks to see who is there. Parents dish out candy. Anticipation building, they eat their food all the faster in order to journey into the shadows.

Screams and laughter echo through the neighborhoods. The smell of smoke accents the air.

From Hallowtide


Copyright 2010 Karl Pfeiffer

The October Collection (part 3)

“A child looking at ruins grows younger
but cold
and wants to wake to a new name
I have been younger in October
than in all the months of spring…”
W.S. Merwin. The Love for October

 

 

Copyright 2010 Karl Pfeiffer

Striking.

It’s my personal undertaking to study the mysterious, the unknown, the peel back the darkness, and stretch with blind eyes,

to see.

I write; I explore mystery and the depths of human emotion and perseverance, possibilities. I hunt; I walk into the darkness on weekend evenings and I pore over recordings, frame by frame, listening for the tiniest whisper, and watching for the fleeting shadow. I study; I sit in classes and I learn about the philosophy of perspective, of science, of religious experience, of how much we truly don’t know and how much we can only imagine.

And then some days it strikes me. I look at what we’re doing, breaking a divide for millennia unknown.

Right now, loved ones are contacting the dead. They’re talking to those dead for years and the dead are speaking.

Whether through ITC, induction probes and spirit boxes, whether conversation about the work or their family, whether an hour or three seconds, a whisper, a murmur in dark corridors and basements or through a cutting-edge device, we’re listening.

They say, “It’s beautiful here.” I hear it more and more. Or they’re trapped in a loop of the scene of their deaths, hospitals as they were in the nineteen seventies, revolutionary war forts.

Like a reaffirmation, that difference between the bang you question and the apparition, the sound of footsteps above your head that cannot be anything but a human being, a human being not there, not in our space, not that we can see.

“The mystical experience is often ineffable,” the professor lectures. “We try to describe in words what we cannot. An inherent paradox. The mystic experiences a new life-changing perspective on the universe. We throw out questions of sanity, we study the experience itself, common elements, what the experience implies and…” And the professor lectures. And we brainstorm. And we study the logical and the sensical. And we write our arguments. And we publish.

And in the darkness, we meet with them and we ask what it is like and they say, “Like nothing we thought.”

Or a sigh, words unclear, a rise and a fall, a syllable, a break,

a breath

It doesn’t matter how deep the conversation. How insightful. There’s a veil. And it’s torn.

And every one of us that pushes from our side is a part of it.

And some days that just strikes me.

 

My inspiration tonight was again the work of Andy Coppock and Michelle brown,
this time through the blog of April Slaughter,
http://aprilslaughter.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/its-not-what-we-thought/

Stanley Evidence Vlog (part one)

This is my first evidence-centered video log. As I say in the video, I find it a little easier than typing everything up and trying to build a story on the blog with it, so here you can watch it and see and hear the clips right in one place. It does cut off a little abruptly when I realized that there was no way I could keep this to a reasonable length, so I’ll be posting a part two with a lot more voices and different kinds of sounds we experienced through the night. So either watch for that here on WordPress or go subscribe to my channel over on YouTube.

Of course, you’re very welcome to give feedback, let me know if you think I’m off base or onto something interesting, I’d be happy to hear from you. (Just be polite, yeah?)

And as always, I hope you enjoy.

The October Collection (part two)

 

What fearful shapes and shadows beset his path, amidst the dim and ghastly glare of a snowy night! With what wistful look did he eye every trembling ray of light streaming across the waste fields from some distant window! How often was he appalled by some shrub covered with snow, which, like a sheeted specter, beset his very path! How often did he shrink with curdling awe at the sound of his own steps on the frosty crust beneath his feet; and dread to look over his shoulder, lest he should behold some uncouth being tramping close behind him! and how often was he thrown into complete dismay by some rushing blast, howling among the trees, in the idea that it was the Galloping Hessian on one of his nightly scouring!
– – – Washington Irving (“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow“)


 

 

Copyright 2010 Karl Pfeiffer

The October Collection (part one)

“The sun sets on the fall afternoon, lighting the grass, trees, and plants with a golden orange hue. The sky is that perfect purple shade and the air has a nip in it just warm enough to keep the shiver from coursing through your body. Dead leaves litter the sidewalk. The grass is neat and the trees that have not lost their leaves are the rich rust color of late October, before the dead November. It is vibrant, warm and alive, yet whispers, hinting at the cold that night will bring.”

from Hallowtide

 

It’s early, still. October is only still in its infancy. There are still trees unlit, the pumpkins are still waiting. There is a breeze on the air that still smells of summer, and every so often the lightning will still flicker across the eastern sky.

Give it time, relish in the color, the richness, the warmth.

Autumn celebrations were about preservation, about hope, about facing those fears of the dark and cold that the winter would surely bring.

More in time.

 

 

Copyright 2010 Karl Pfeiffer

Whistling Through the Graveyard

It’s been over twenty investigations now. I’ve been across the state of Colorado. I’ve been up and down the East Coast, in England, abroad. I’ve been searching to quench that desire to experience a spirit in a way that I can’t deny, in a way that validates everything I’ve felt so drawn to for the entirety of my life.

You go through cycles when you put yourself in a situation like this, when looking for a truth you can only find through personal experience, knowledge found immediate. There are ups and downs as you search, there will be moments of doubt. No search for truth can be without them. You’re first discouraged, then drawn back again, excited, perhaps to fall discouraged again, only to bounce back.

It’s been like this for the last two or three years for me, since I’ve been seriously investigating. I’ve been to the most haunted places in America and I never found that experience. It’s not a joke when those experienced in the field say that you can go for years before finding a satisfying haunt. It’s true. Sometimes the spirits do not come out to play. Sometimes still they don’t play with you. And further still after that, they don’t play the way you want them to. They don’t act on command.

Lucky for me that a series of events has led me to the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, and I’ve found my first experiences there, and everything has changed.

It’s like a cycle, between the amateur and the intermediate investigators, the expert above all else. I became fully intermediate, well versed in the stale residential haunts – those haunts of enthusiasm and fear. I walk into buildings. I carry on one-sided conversations with empty walls. I listen to hours of empty evidence over and over. And I’m be asked in interviews and by friends, “Do you ever get scared?”

No.

I never did. Sometimes I’d feel unsettled, yes, generally only for a documentable period of time. A few minutes in a corner that struck me as funny – perhaps a spirit was communicating in the only way it knew how. Perhaps the dark had finally gotten into me, if just for a moment. Perhaps I finally let my thoughts run too far and away.

But it was that skeptical mindset and lack of experience that kept me in control. The place wasn’t haunted until it impressed me. And none of them impressed me, and likely they wouldn’t.

The Stanley changed that. I gave summary in an early blog of my first experiences there, the near constant bangs circling around our rooms, the flashlights blinking on and off with a timing too well to doubt, the table tipping sending the flashlight nearly rolling. Since then, I’ve had more and better experiences, ones to validate with audio and video I’m still analyzing, looking to put into words and another blog forthcoming at the end of this week.

I’ve been in the presence of spirits, and for the first time, I’ve known real fear on these investigations.

It’s so easy to sit back at home and watch the doors close on television, hear the disembodied voices and long for the experience. It’s so easy to walk into a building and ask to be impressed, to feel comfortable enough to sleep. You echo to the homeowners to talk to their spirits, to treat them as just unseen people. That there’s nothing to be afraid of.

And most times, there’s not. But fear is still their instrument.

The dark can be a scary place for many. An endless depth of the unknown. A face could be inches from your own and you’d never know. It’s the fear of the unknown, Lovecraft and many others have reminded us, that’s the greatest. It is. In the darkness for the skeptic, the darkness may well not hold an unknown. it’s easy to think of those spirits, should they be there at all, as formless, abstractions, imagination.

I’ve heard the kind of footsteps over my head that can be nothing other than a person having broken into the building walking with slow step, one, and then another, above my head, but with no body there. When you hear their voices and you know that the sounds they’re making can be not of this world, there comes a face in the shadows. Perhaps moments from manifestation, a touch away, real.

The investigation becomes not just a waiting game, but a game of tensions. The sound in the hallway coming closer, the footsteps louder, and nearer. Your equipment is moving and something is about to happen. Your nerves stand on end.

Your physical responses change. I’ve had them change in perfectly calm settings, when tension hasn’t been building, when the ghosts are being playful, that lead me to believe there may well be a feeling that comes with certain spirits, a passing of emotion and energy manipulation that scares us. It’s not rational, it’s not from within, but it can move you to your bones.

The hardest part as the skeptical investigator faced with a true haunting? Keeping your skepticism, keeping your imagination and your control in check. Just because a place is haunted, without argument, does not make those sounds spirits, when in any other place, they’re settling, natural sounds.

It’s become a new step, to regain footing again. These spirits, many of them, are people, and there is nothing to be afraid of. But that’s what makes it more difficult. Calming yourself and keeping a sane head on an investigation is all the more challenging when the sensations are from beyond you, or are not of your mind, but instinct.

It’s not like it is in the books. It’s not like it is on television to actually be there. The black shadows flicker and the unknown has moved from the question of whether they exist, to the question of whether they are who and what you think, and not something we’ve come to associate with the night, and the black, something dark, something that wants to harm us that we cannot see.

It’s hard when a faceless black shape fleets in hallways just out of sight, making sounds never on command, but skirting immediacy. They can mess with you. They do.

Lucy or Paul, two of the resident ghosts of the Stanley, are happy to play with the flashlights and close their doors. There’s little fear there. You’re communicating with a friendly spirit, but the fear is what takes you when you hear the distant sounds and no one says hello, when possibility comes formless, dark and watching.

It’s my next step. Overcoming the fear of the supernatural. The fear that comes from inexperience. I love it. It’s something the investigator needs to master. You should not run. You should not lose control. Your team needs that, and you need that. But fear is good; that excitement that knots your gut, the anticipation. It means something’s happening, and that’s the feeling you look back upon when you’re done. That’s the feeling I’ve been waiting for all my life.

Finally the dark has looked back and said hello.

And I come back each week for more.

So be patient, and the spirits will come. But be prepared. It will get scary.

I don’t care how seasoned you are. Just be chill about it and stay. Take those deep breaths, whistle through the graveyard, shake the feeling when the feeling gets too much, but remember when you’re there that it’s when you get that feeling that means it’s happening, what you came for; it’s this feeling that you’re going to remember the next morning, that you’re going to be unable to put into words for your friends when they ask you how it went; and it’s going to be this feeling that you’ll be looking for when you go back again.

I don’t know what’s next for me. I’ve found experiences I cannot argue with. That have shocked and surprised me. Perhaps next will be the pinnacle, the apparition, the feel of their touch. And then what? I don’t know, but you bet you guys will be there with me.

Copyright 2010 Karl Pfeiffer