A Selection of “Ghosts” Haunting the Daily Mail: Ghost Photos, Leamington Spa, and the Suspicions of Mr. Whicher

sheet ghost

Previously: A Poltergeist Chair, a Driverless Van, and More.

Time for more ridiculousness from the Daily Mail! Alas, there seem to be fewer ghostly tales in it lately, so I’ve only got four for you this time; I have, however, found in one of them what might just be the greatest job title of all time: “Supernatural Liaison Officer” for the National Rail. In fact, let’s start with that one, shall we?

1. Leamington Spa Employs ‘Supernatural Liaison Officer’ to Monitor Train Station’s Ghosts

leamington spa

My only frame of reference for Leamington Spa is the Tom Stoppard play Dogg’s Hamlet; as such, bear in mind that my angle coming into this story involves an absurdist retelling of Hamlet and a mode of speech in which the phrase “useless, git” means “good day, sir.”

Anyhoo, it seems that the Leamington Spa National Rail station in the UK employs a “Supernatural Liaison Officer,” Nick Reese, to keep its ghosts in check. First put into service in 1852, the station is said to be one of the most haunted places in Britain (at least, according to the Mail and a few other similar rags); Rees’ duties include “checking ghosts’ tickets, ensuring that they do not eat customers’ sandwiches, [and] directing them to their train.” The passengers don’t really seem to have anything to worry about, though, as the most spooktacular areas of the station are the office building, which was built in the 1880s, and a disused basement under platform three. The basement apparently has a partially blocked off staircase that leads to nowhere, and, well… you all know how much I love a good staircase to nowhere.

Rees, a father of two, apparently volunteered for the gig after Chiltern Railways approached him about it; he seems quite affable, so I’m sure he’s a big hit with the station’s passengers. I’m not sure whether the whole “Supernatural Liaison Officer” thing is just a Halloween stunt, or if it’s going to be a year-round position, but I suppose if it’s all in good fun, then we might as well enjoy it.

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Abandoned: The Fading History of the Knox County Poorhouse (Photos)

Knox exterior edit

Previously: The Sanzhi UFO Houses.

In Victorian literature, there’s always one place you never, ever want to go, even if you’re as down on your luck as it’s possible to be: The poorhouse. Such was the case with the Knox County Poorhouse, located in the hamlet of Bangs, Ohio, just west of Mt. Vernon. First built in 1875, the facility was neither wholly hospital nor asylum, homeless shelter nor orphanage; instead, it housed any and all unfortunates who lacked a place to call their own: Abandoned children, the elderly, those suffering from physical or mental illness,and every conceivable type in between found themselves at the poorhouse when they had nowhere else to go.

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The Most Dangerous Games: The Staircase Ritual

staircasePreviously: Hyakumonagatari Kaidankai

I’m not totally sure where The Staircase Ritual originated; it’s credited on most creepypasta repositories to someone going by the name “CousinSpookyNoodles,” but the site on which it was found is never specified. In any event, though, this one is long and involved, so it’s best not to undertake it unless you can devote at least two days to it — including an uninterrupted 13-hour stretch for the second half. It’s not quite an exorcism, but if you’ve got something weird going on in your home, it’ll help contain it by banishing it to the first floor. It also places a series of obstacles either slowing down or stopping whatever might be plaguing you from making its way from the first floor to the second. You’ll have to face it eventually, though, so be prepared for a fight.

As always, play at your own risk.

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The Search Terms from the Black Lagoon: “Something Chill and Slender in This World” and Other Queries Answered

abandoned computer

Previously: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Haunted Dolls.

Hey gang! We’re back with another addition of The Search Terms from the Black Lagoon, in which I attempt to figure out what you were searching for when you found The Ghost in My Machine. We’re getting poetic this time, so get ready for it.

 1. “Don’t remember childhood memories creepypasta”

A huge number of creepypastas deal with the subject of memory; it’s an imperfect thing that we can’t always trust, which is why I think we’re so endlessly fascinated — and frightened — by it. Unfortunately this particular search term doesn’t give me a whole lot to go on, since so many pastas feature people who have suddenly recalled events from their childhood they thought they had forgotten. A couple of my favorites, though, are these:

2. “The ghost of witch tree lane”

At first I thought maybe this one referred to a story, myth, or creepypasta; accordingly, some preliminary searching pulled up the West African legend of Gang Gang Sarah, the Witch of Golden Lane, the Chesterville Witch’s Grave in Illinois, and a creepypasta called “The Witch’s Tree.” But I search specifically for the phrase “witch tree lane,” a children’s novel by Ann M. Martin, widely known for The Baby-Sitter’s Club series, called Here Today popped up repeatedly. There’s also a Nancy Drew mystery called The Witch Tree Symbol. My money’s on one of those two books being the solution.

3. “Something chill and slender in this world”

This phrase is from the John Burnside poem “On the Fairytale Ending,” published in his 2011 collection Black Cat Bone. The quotation it’s from reads as follows:

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Haunted Road Trip, TGIMM Special Edition (Part 2): Chasing the Ghosts of Clinton Road

Clinton Road GPS

Previously: Bannerman Castle.

Finding Clinton Road was trickier than it looked.

We set out from Beacon at 10 o’clock in the morning after filling up on eggs, French toast, and what was probably far too much coffee at the Beacon Bread Company. (You should go there, by the way — it was amazing.) It’s not that the route was particularly difficult to navigate — and in the era of GPS, you’re never really lost, anyway — but when you approach from the north, the turn off of Warwick Turnpike in West Milford, New Jersey is so blind as to be almost invisible. We ended up having to backtrack — something which would be a recurring theme for this part of the trip — eventually finding the left hand fork that led to the fabled road from the southeast.

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Haunted Road Trip, TGIMM Special Edition (Part 1): Scaling the Ruins of Bannerman Castle

Bannerman through trees

During the first weekend in October, one of my best friends and I took a mini-haunted road trip. This week, I’ll be posting a two-part series detailing our adventures. All photographs appear courtesy of Anjoli Anand and myself.

It was pouring, of course; after all, we were going to hunt ghosts.

To be honest, I didn’t actually think we were going to find any — but that wasn’t really the point. The point was to visit a few places we’d hitherto only read about, and to see whether the legends held true. If you’re going to take a haunted road trip, there’s no better time than of year than fall — so on October 4, one of my frequent partners in metaphorical crime, Anjoli, and I set off in a borrowed car and drove north, leaving New York City behind in favor of the Hudson River Valley.

Our first stop: Beacon, NY. Just off the coast of Beacon in the middle of the Hudson River lies an island. It’s uninhabited, but that doesn’t mean that it’s empty; on the contrary — it’s full of history. The island is known as Bannerman Island, and it houses the remains of an honest-to-goodness Scottish castle.

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Creepypasta of the Week: “The Art of Jacob Emory”

unfinished charcoalPreviously: “A Few Suggestions.”

Confession: I know almost nothing about the origins of “The Art of Jacob Emory.”  It’s credited to someone called “Peterdevine,” and the Creepypasta Wiki categorizes it as a “classic”… but beyond that, I couldn’t find a damn thing about where it came from. It’s not the most complicated of pastas; nor are its themes of hubris and Marlovian overreaching anything new. But a story doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective, and it doesn’t have to be groundbreaking to be worth your time. Sometimes, all you need is a good old fashioned yarn to spin while you huddle round the campfire.

Just don’t let Jacob draw you any pictures.

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