Brown River Queen cover art

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Things That Go Bump #3

Welcome to this, my third installment of the Things That Go Bump series!
For today's blog, I visited two cemeteries. I took my camera, my Zoom H1, and the new Velleman Super Ear.
I paid a visit to Oxford's own literary superstar, novelist William Faulkner. His grave is pictured above; note my mics on his markers, and the airline bottle of Jack Daniels left as a gift by one of his many admirers. 
Sulking perhaps at the small volume of whiskey contained in the bottle, The Faulkners were silent during this session.
But they were the only residents being quiet. During my ten minute stay there, I recorded a dozen snippets of voices, screams, yells, thuds, bangs, howls, and, quite possibly, an entire operatic performance of 'Fiddler on the Roof.'
Hey, I don't write private eye fiction without having learned a thing or two. I rendered myself in film noir black and white. pushed my fedora down at a jaunty angle, and I walked the mean streets of Oxford until I discovered the source of these hellish vocalizations.
A bunch of kids were beating the ever-loving crap out of each other with those flexible foam pool noodle things not a block from the gravesite.
So I've tossed out the entire Faulkner EVP session. A choir of poltergeists could have covered Led Zepplin's second album two feet from my microphones, and they'd still have been drowned out by little Sally's furious pummeling of that awful Randall kid from two houses down.
But fear not, gentle readers, because I have something amazing to offer despite this.
My next visit, to the Civil War cemetery on the University of Mississippi campus, was anything but mundane.

The University of Mississippi Civil War Cemetery

Tucked away on the edge of campus, the Confederate Soldiers Cemetery occupies a small hill and is bordered by a waist-high brick wall.
You can read the official description on the marker.
What the marker doesn't mention is a bit of campus lore the campus had no doubt rather forget.
According to the story, the University decided to spruce up the graveyard sometime back in the 1950s. A truck was dispatched, and workers were instructed to carefully load the grave markers onto the truck, so that they could be taken away to be cleaned.
A nice gesture. The work was completed. The freshly cleaned markers were loaded back onto the truck, and the truck returned to the cemetery, and it was only then that the awful truth became apparent.
No map or plan of the location of the graves had been prepared. There was no way to tell which markers went where.
I can only assume that the single mass marker which now stands at the top of the lonely hill was quickly erected, probably in the dead of night. 
Nevertheless, I entered the graveyard, armed with my recorders and cameras.

 I was there for approximately 17 minutes.
During my stay, I captured two strange audio instances, and one photographic one.
Let's begin with the photo.
I take a lot of photos during an EVP session. Hundreds of them. It's a digital camera, why not? And most of the images -- the vast majority of them -- are just pictures. Nothing unusual at all about them.
But take a look at the image below.

Dead center is an odd purple aberration that didn't show before or after. 
Lens flare? Not so sure. If there was anything brightly reflective in the foreground, I'd attribute the haze to that. But there isn't.
Aside from the central marker itself, that is. I don't see anything bright on it. And doesn't the general outline of the blur suggest an oblong figure in front of the camera? Man-shaped, sort of, in a gauzy, insubstantial, Hollywood spectre sort of way?
I'm not calling this a ghost. I'm not calling it anything. It's just odd. 
I mentioned two pieces of audio.
At about 16 minutes and 45 seconds into the main session, as captured by the Zoom, I thought I had a voice.
I really did. I'm walking, you see. I say 'I'm halfway to the gate,' as I exhort anyone who wishes to speak to do so, before I leave. A few seconds pass. I reach the gate, and say 'All right.'
My Zoom seemed to capture a single word in that brief silence.
In preparing it for presentation to the blog, I removed some of the noise. I isolated the sound. Amplified it. Looped it.
Thankfully, I also identified it.
No ghost here.
I have new sneakers, you see. Sketchers. They have these annoying little suction cups on the soles. When I walk on a tile floor, I sound like an octopus engaged in frenzied tap dancing.
But of course the cemetery is simply mowed ground. My shoes were silent on that -- until I stepped on one of the half-hidden flagstones that make up the path from the gate to the central marker.
And that's the sound I captured. I won't post it.
But what I will post is nothing short of amazing.

The Ghost On the Wall

At about 5 minutes and 30 seconds, my Velleman was resting on the wall that surrounds the cemetery. So was my Zoom.
So was I.
Let me preface this by saying I was absolutely alone. No one was in sight. I heard nothing at the time of the recording. No car was driving past. No kids were engaged in gleeful assault with battery.
I was alone.
Or was I?
As I rested in the shade, I remarked that the cemetery was 'very peaceful.' There is a silence. I then comment that the cemetery is probably the only speck of real estate safe from development, because of the bodies.
I even took this picture.

What the Velleman captured in the space of my comments came as quite a shock to me.
I looped the voice for clarity. What it says seems obvious to me. But you be the judge.

You don't even need headphones for this one.
Again, let me make it plain that I was alone. No women were present. No one was.
So what did I capture?
Was it wind noise, combined with pareidolia? I don't think so. The character of the voice doesn't sound like anything else in the entire recording.
A stray voice?
If so, why didn't the Zoom capture it? I checked the same time, listened to the space between the same comments. 
Look at the picture. They're maybe nine inches apart. One caught a female voice. The other caught nothing.
And why didn't I hear it, if it was merely a voice?
Explanations? I have none. Voices don't simply emerge from thin air, except when they do. 
I suspect -- and I'm only thinking out loud here, folks -- that so-called EVPs originate from very small spaces located close to the recording microphone. I mean small. Microscopic, even.
I can think of no other set of circumstances that would explain why two recorders in close proximity might result in a recording by one device and failure to record by the other. 
This point-source supposition might also explain why I never hear the sounds my devices capture.
It doesn't explain the nature of the sounds, of course, but there wasn't enough booze in Faulkner's bottle to even begin to tackle that question.
So did I manage to record some invisible entity saying the words 'a ghost?'
I don't know. I have the recording. That's really all I can state for sure -- that my device captured these sounds.
I hate to leave you with more questions that answers, but for now, I have no choice.

A Gift For You

Finally, gentle readers, I leave you with a spooky gift, suitable for hanging on your walls.

I enjoy art. I have a twisted sense of humor. 
Some of the things hanging on my walls are not quite what they seem, at first glance.
This diploma is an example. Ever wanted to be a certified Evil Overlord, with the papers to prove it? 
Well, download the form above and fill in your name and your desired degree. Hang it on your office wall. See how long it takes anyone to notice.
Yeah, I made this. All the Latin translates to 'Evil is Better,' 'No Mercy,'  and 'No Fear.' My degree is in Applied Hostile Geometries. The images are pulled from public domain woodcuts.
If you want me to add your name and degree in fancy text, email me and let me know. Looks pretty good, even in a cheap Walmart frame. Show those fancy-pants ingrates at work what a REAL degree looks like!

Things to Come

Next week, I add wind screens to the Velleman, and plan a daring twilight EVP expedition!
So stay tuned, and stay safe!
Links to the full Civil War EVP sessions are below, in case you are eager to torture your ears with my accent and running commentary.


  1. I wish I could have heard that lady's voice, but I can't really tell WHAT I was hearing. The shape is definitely there, but what it is? I don't have a clue. Love the suggestion to the white background, definitely easier for me to see.

  2. I listened to the snippet without a clue as to what I'd be hearing, and I did think it sounds like a woman's voice, but I thought she was saying "headphones." Maybe she was trying to get you to put on your headphones so she could murmur sweet nothings in your ears? Don't do it, Frank! She'll turn you into a purple cloud!

  3. Upon further analysis, it appears the female entity was inquiring as to my satisfaction with my current cell phone carrier. Kidding. Glad you guys like the Easy on the Eyes edition! I'm going to keep both going, every week.