NIGHT IN A "HAUNTED HOUSE." PT 1.
Dr. Richard Hill had just finished his latest "SummerTime" talk before the group gathered at the mid- town library. The three dozen or so members of the audience seemed suitably satisfied with his lecture, and the Q&A period had included some thoughtful questions and comments. "Not bad at all," he thought to himself, "maybe I'm finally attracting a more open minded audience."
It was July, and Dr. Hill had just finished his third presentation on investigating the paranormal. He was scheduled to give two more, at different locations, before the start of the fall semester at the university.
His summer work load was light, so he had agreed to speak to six different groups about the shoddy and unscientific work being passed off as "a genuine search for truth" by paranormal groups being popularized in the media. He began teaching a course on the subject at the university during the past year, and the response had been overwhelming. So many students had tried to sign up to take the course as an elective, that it was capped at seventy- five, and the classroom had to be moved to the auditorium.
Towards the end of the spring session, he was approached by the Head of the Dept., with an offer to give off campus talks on the topic to interested groups during the summer.
He had been reluctant at first, but Dr. Barnes was able to convince him that it would benefit the Philosophy Dept. "We can never have too many undergraduate majors, and the publicity might convince students who are undeclared to sign on with us."
"...and...," he continued, "...a two- hundred dollar fee per event is not chump change."
Hill had finally agreed, but with the stipulation that he would have sole control over content, and that he could cut any meeting short if the audience was rude, disrespectful, or overtly hostile. He was forty- eight yrs old, and had gained tenure just a few years ago. There was no reason to place himself at the mercy of some out of control Anti- Government/Science nut case.
End PT 1.
NIGHT IN A "HAUNTED HOUSE." PT 2.
Hill was putting the last of his notes away, when a voice suddenly addressed him through the open door of the conference room.
"You people never change. Can't conceive of anything beyond your five senses."
As he looked up, Hill wasn't the least bit surprised. Statements like that he was used to. The fringe element of society had a standard set of catch phrases, and seldom deviated into new ground.
The person in the door appeared to be a male in his mid twenties. He had long bushy hair, and was dressed in sweat clothes. As he walked into the room towards him, Hill noticed that he also had several days growth of beard on his face. His friends and colleagues new that Dick Hill was no slave to fashion, but was always neat and well groomed, especially if he was working in a professional capacity. However, this guy looked like he just rolled out of bed.
The man stopped several feet from the lectern Hill was standing behind, and with a mirthless grin said, "My name is Gary Bates and I'm from SPAD." With that, he handed Hill a business card.
Hill quickly glanced at it, and immediately handed it back. "I've heard of your group," Hill said, attempting to keep his face passive. Inwardly, however, he felt a growing feeling of annoyance and wariness.
SPAD was an acronym for The SOCIETY for PARANORMAL investigation AND DISCOVERY. Hill had come across them from time to time, usually on campus. They were a regional group of loosely connected "Teams" that investigated reports of the paranormal. Their lack of proper protocols and procedures, together with a history of sloppy methodology, meant that no one in academia took them seriously.
To Hill, SPAD and groups like them, were at best a mildly amusing set of science hacks. However, they did represent a disturbing and growing phenomena in the U.S. It was the increased acceptance of the general public to not critically evaluate claims of paranormal activity. Essentially, this gave a pass to every charlatan, quack and con-man with a good story and make believe "Evidence."
Hill, now quite ready to leave, began to walk around the visitor. "I am familiar with your case studies," he said, "and see no room for discussion. You, and your group, have refused in the past to have impartial researchers and investigators accompany SPAD on an actual real time investigation. You make money exploiting the foolish and the gullible. Excuse me." With that, Hill continued to walk to the door.
Behind him, the following words said, "Would you like that chance, can you practice what you preach?"
End PT 2.
Fiction- Stories, Myths and Legends.
NIGHT IN A "HAUNTED HOUSE." PT 3.
Hill stopped in mid-stride, and slowly turned around. The words spoken did not surprise or disturb him. He had words like it before, they were a standard way of creating confrontation. SPAD and similar groups tried to get the true researchers and academics to take the bait and act emotionally, creating the publicity they craved. It was the sign of an amateur with no real interest in valid scientific investigation.
"Mr Bates," Hill said to the visitor looking him straight in the eye, "spare me your juvenile prattle. I see no reason to waste my time talking to a person who represents a group that patterns their research methods after reruns of GHOSTBUSTER movies. You can spare me the 'Incredible New Evidence,' you may have on video or audio. I have used such 'Evidence' in the classroom, and exposed it for the irrational rubbish it truly is. Trickery, Anecdotes, Unfounded Conclusions and Sloppy Methodology are your stock and trade. So don't waste your time and mine."
"Not this time Doctor," Bates said quickly before Hill could turn to leave. "SPAD has just completed a three week investigation, and in our opinion have made the strongest case ever for a genuine haunting. The evidence is so compelling, that we defy anyone to explain it away." Bates puffed up with pride as he finished talking.
Hill chuckled, "Than what do you need me for, a stamp of approval?"
Bates didn't flinch at the insult, but replied stoically, "If you agree to spend one night in the home, we are convinced that it will change your perspective completely. An endorsement by you, after events transpire in front of your eyes without explanation, will go a long way in establishing our credibility."
Hill looked at Bates carefully, and was convinced of his sincerity. Of course being sincere meant nothing. The Deluded are often sincere in their beliefs.
"Alright Mr. Bates, I will agree to spend a night at this unique location, but under certain conditions. They are not negotiable, so be sure of your position in this matter."
End PT 3.
Fiction- Stories, Myths and Legends.
NIGHT IN A "HAUNTED HOUSE." PT 4.
The visitor from SPAD was speechless for a moment. Then, with a note of wariness in his voice asked, "What do you mean conditions?"
Hill placed the briefcase containing his notes on a nearby study table, and crossed his arms. In a steady and confident voice, he looked Bates straight in the eye, and replied."It is quite simple. If you want my expertise in examining this HOUSE, it will be done by my rules. I will not be a pawn in SPADS on going campaign to dumb down the public, by using unscientific procedures and phony methods that do everything to promote an irrational and self- serving agenda."
Bates, a bit taken aback by Hills reply said, "I guess that would be OK, but the Director of Investigations would have the final say. He would want the particulars, before agreeing."
"Very well", was the response from Hill, "The conditions are as follows; #1 You do not make public any information regarding your investigation. That means not informing me or anyone I bring to assist me. This includes the Address, Age, Condition and History of the Home. We will agree on a date which will have an official start time of sundown, and end at dawn."
"Number 2, I should arrive at the address two hours before sundown. To this end, SPAD will pick us up at my office on campus at a time that makes this possible. My assistant and I will have total access to the dwelling, which will last until nightfall. During this time, NO ONE ELSE WILL BE ALLOWED INSIDE THE BUILDING, AND ALL POINTS OF ENTRY WILL HAVE BEEN PROPERLY SEALED."
"Number 3, I will enter the house with one individual, who will operate a hand held camera. SPAD will also be limited to two individuals, who will enter the house at the appropriate time. I suggest one of them also have a camera."
"Number 4, While it would be impractical to attempt filming the entire evening, I will keep an audio record the moment the SPAD members enter the building. In fact, they should do the same."
"Number 5, SPAD may employ other instruments while inside the home, but I want a complete list of such tools seventy- two hours prior to the day of my visit and investigation."
"Finally, my fee is $200.00. To be paid upfront. If I am acting in a professional capacity, such as tonight, a fee is expected. Since my visit to this house will occupy an entire night, not just the three hours that usually elapse at lectures like I gave here, the fee is not unreasonable. Plus, I will pay the assistant out of my own pocket."
Bates nodded when Hill had finished. "Alright Doctor Hill," he said, "we should get back to you in a couple of days. If we were to select a day, lets say a week from Saturday, would that be alright?"
"Fine", replied Hill. "Until then, goodnight." With that Hill turned and left.
End PT 4.
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Fiction- Stories, Myths and Legends.
NIGHT IN A "HAUNTED HOUSE." PT 5.
"Doctor Hill, are you sure those precautions are going to work?", asked Jack Fryman, as they both sat sipping coffee in "Charleys Diner", a popular local hang- out near the campus.
Fryman was in his fourth year of graduate school at the university. Dick Hill was his advisor, and they had known each other since Jacks Freshman year. He was to accompany the Tenured Professor on the overnight investigation, which was to occur in five days.
Hill grinned, and replying to the question asked by the grad student said, "Jack my boy, I've been doing this long enough to understand the opposition. SPAD, and groups like them, invariably contain three types of members. Our job, as investigators, is to overcome each through methods that remove any reasonable objections to the conclusions that the evidence points us to."
"Three types, what do you mean?", asked Jack, with a look of curiosity in his eyes.
Hill finished the cup, and with a smile and wave, motioned to the waitress for a refill. He had been coming to the diner for years, and enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere. Many a discussion and argument had occurred over Bacon and Eggs, or a Double Cheeseburger and Fries.
"Unlike the opinions of some of my colleagues, not every member of these organizations is deliberately dishonest, reporting only data that supports their position, and deliberately ignoring and omitting evidence to the contrary."
"Yah," replied his companion, "I remember that from the debate last year, but it's still a little vague. Sorry, but my Thesis doesn't give me much time to contemplate anything else."
Hill, thanked the waitress as she refilled his cup, and refreshed Jacks without asking. "Well", he began, "First you have the Fanatic, who Breaths, Eats and Sleeps the Paranormal. From Psychics to Phantoms or, Demons to Doppelgangers, they accept Lock, Stock and Barrel anything that is part of the 'Spirit World' or 'Existence beyond our Five Senses.' No one, not even their fellow 'Researchers' takes them seriously, because they live in a world that doesn't include Logic, Reason and the Scientific Method."
"Then why are they allowed in", asked the younger man, "if they're a liability?"
His mentor laughed deeply and heartily, receiving a few wondering looks from neighboring tables. "Jack", he spit out finally, "What is a close second, just behind The Search for Knowledge, in importance when we speak of the world of Academia."
Jack looked puzzled for a moment, then slowly began to smile. Nodding his head, he answered, "FINDING PEOPLE TO FUND THE SEARCH FOR KNOWLEDGE."
End PT 5.