I spent the night in a haunted house.

And not just any old haunted house – the Conjuring house.

This one. Right here. As pictured.

Well, virtually spent the night.

It’s like I’m really there…

When I was tipped off that The Dark Zone was going to be live-streaming 24/7 the Conjuring House (aka the Bathsheba killing-babies-for-Satan house), I was on it in a heartbeat. It was such a fun gimmick for un-fun times that I leapt at the chance and volunteered for the job.

(Well, more like begged Boss for the job)

While I off-and-on watched the fun during the week, I took a day off the 9-to-5 to stay up as late as I possibly could on Tuesday Night/Wednesday morning – the spookiest because it’s right in the middle of the week.

And I am no novice, my friends. I have ghost-investigation-watched-from-my-couch for many, many years. So, of course my first order to stay my (virtual) night at the haunted house was to build my base camp – a.k.a. my 2-story ghost fort:

The shark is a sensor/beacon for “cool” spirit activity

I knew it would be a long night, so I prepared:

You have to stay hydrated…

There were snacks, too, but less of those. Less is more, right?

After taking my old-person meds (always remember to take your meds before ghost hunting!) and vitamins, I snake-wriggled my way into my new home for the night. Glorious Spouse wished me well and left me to my own devices. My own ghost devices.

Glorious Spouse jealously posts my radness after bringing me cake
Into the darkness I go, prepared for my entire existence to be proven wrong…

The Beginning:

Oh, yes, let’s go back to the beginning. I hear it’s a very good place to start.

When I was a child, I actually hated horror and all things scary. That being said, I was incredibly superstitious (goes hand-in-hand with Catholicism) and after moving, I slowly became obsessed with ghosts. This is mostly due to my parents believing there are at least two ghosts in their house and I grew up there, so I was absolutely convinced.

From that moment on, I read everything I could about spirits and the supernatural, while still being absolutely terrified of it. At eleven, I figured that I would one day put all of my information to use and join as a member of “the Government’s O.S.I.R. (Office of Scientific Investigation and Research Department” when I was older because what else would I do with my life?

But here I am instead, writing about horror in a virtual haunted house with peach pie wine…so it’s even better than I could have imagined.

Anyway, it was in my mid-twenties when I started seeing…inconsistencies and oddities in the ghost theories. This was about the same time that I started to question the reality of a soul, of a heaven, of a hell – the whole nine yards. One kind of bottomed out the other is what I’m saying. And when I settled into atheism, I felt an enormous self of relief and joy. I was no longer afraid of these things, but rather, just enjoyed them. I had the opportunity to find pleasure in being scared or rattled that I never had before.

Now, this is not me knocking whatever you believe. You do you, man. I’m just giving some insight of my background and process to get to this point. At the end of the day, I still watch ghost investigation shows with utter enjoyment. I still listen to “ghost stories” and they are some of my favorite horror themes in movies and attractions. I find that there is something romantic and beautiful in the ideology and reverence we have for the spirit in our stories and cultures. I enjoy and appreciate it, maybe even more so now. Even if we don’t share the same theory, I still have respect for the idea – that people, wronged or hurt or dangerous people, can still impact our world.

And I am still enthusiastic to make a ghost fort and drink and watch an empty screen for anything to happen.

But we can all agree on “f*** this basement”, right?

Apps for Ghosts

I didn’t have any tangible things for ghosts to play around with (besides the piano that they keep ignoring), so I downloaded a few apps to try to make communication with. The first one was a Ouija board for one called Spirit Board and had 4 stars out of 5, downloadable for a smart phone. The reviews said that it was very scary – perfect!

 It even came with the classic warning/rules:

But CAN IT READ?!

I started out with basic questions: are you there? How are you? Are you here or in the virtual Satan house? What’s your name?

The ghost seemed to have trouble understanding me…as if it were a poorly written A.I.

Your name is “DONT BE SCARED”? Worst prank ghost ever

Eventually I started…asking other questions.

No, because I asked what color your…eyes…were.

After eventually getting bored (5-10 minutes), I switched to another downloadable app, “Ghost Hunting”. 4 out of 5 stars out of two thousand. I figured I could try it out.

Ha ha, what a funny story, Mark

It acted half like an ovilus and half like an EMF reader.

I’m a sucker for some sweet ovilus action. I guess I just love words being said randomly (Voodoo Priestess can attest to this). So this app was a little more up to my speed. I mean, there really wasn’t any rhyme or reason to it. Again, it was a pretty simple A.I., but it felt more enjoyable because of the spontaneity of it, like those late 90’s fishing games where nothing happens for, like, five minutes and then suddenly…

Oof, where are you going with this, spirit?

The Chat-rooms Demand More

I checked out the chat-rooms (are they still called that?) a few times, but it honestly made me feel bad for the house. I lot of people had the opinion that, since they paid human money, the house should somehow…perform for them? As one person put it, “with a house with so much history I want to see a little more action”, as if the house were a living, sentient being that could shake its ghostly money-maker for virtual sugar-daddies dumping sweaty bit-coin into its partially drawn curtains.

I guess that’s the benefit of low expectations. I expected nothing but regular house noises, annoying spirit-box sessions and night-vision cameras…and I got exactly what I came for.

Endless satisfaction

The End of the Night:

I stayed up as late as I could because, let’s face it, the soft glow of the dark-vision cameras and gentle hum of static was too much calm and peace for an old person. I stayed up until about 3:30 A.M. so I could at least pass the demon hour. After that, I slept soundly in the belly of the (virtual) haunted house until the morning came.

To be honest, it was peaceful, almost nostalgic. It reminded me back of my old days as a security guard, watching the feed and my mind slowly unraveling horrific tales while I was the only presence around.

In a way that Norwegians watch Slow TV to combat the fatigue of isolation during the winter months, I, too, connected with the live-feed. Being in isolation, but watching another person, in real time, as they go about their day was oddly satisfying. Ghost investigating without silly sound effects or sped-up cameras was actually relaxing and grounded.

As I said previously, it did remind me of the old fishing games, or even of actual fishing, where there is no rhyme or reason. Nothing is plotted or scripted – everything unfolds subtly, suddenly, or not at all.

The Bottom-Line of Spookiness:

If you want to know if it’s made me a believer again – short answer is no. It’s going to take a lot more than virtual ghost house. But I will give you believers this, I had the pleasure to see a few irregularities, such as distortion to a camera that didn’t have distortion any other time, and two things in other cameras whip past around the same time.

Also, it’s interesting that, of the eleven words from the ovilus game, one of them was “nose bleed”. I got this the morning after my “investigation” when still checking in and goofing around. The coincidental part is that the ghost investigator the night prior had a pretty bad nose bleed, so was walking around the house with a wad of T.P. shoved up his nose:

(Not pictured because I’m not an animal)

However, my crowning achievement was spotting a little ghost orb in the basement. Of course I didn’t capture it on camera or video because ehhhh… (shrug). But whatever it was or may be, I sure did annoy the heck out of my spouse by screaming up the stairs about it, so that has to be worth something…

Do I think all of that were the remnants of witchery, baby-murder, or death?

Well, let’s just say that I’ve always been rather fond of the American Atheist’s symbol. Their international logo is of an atom; however, one of the orbitals of the atom is broken, or so to say, open-ended. That is represent the unknown.

I cannot say 100% that, no, ghosts don’t exist. I rely on science and logic to recognize and reason out the world that surrounds me, but that doesn’t mean that there can’t be new knowledge in the future, and that doesn’t mean that we have all the answers.

So, I came into this haunted house with the only expectation of having an experience – either with someone else miles away from me via chats; with myself in the dark, meditative silence of my ghost fort; or with something that still remains unknown.

And with that thought, it was $20 well-spent.

About the Author

When not howling Tina Turner classics with Glorious Spouse under the hazy Detroit moon, J.M. Brannyk (a.k.a. Boxhuman) reviews mostly supernatural and slasher films from the 70's-90's and is HauntedMTL's dubious Voice of Reason. Aside from writing on HauntedMTL, Brannyk dips into the podcasts, runs the show on 'The Combobox', and is composer to some of HauntedMTL's podcast themes. They've also have contributed to other websites such as Gayly Dreadful's Pride 2020 and Nightmarish Conjurings.

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