Excerpt from “Recollections of a Future Ghost”

Old South Pittsburg Hospital, South Pittsburg, Tennessee – Photo by Heather Dobson

One of my most favorite places to investigate is Old South Pittsburg Hospital in South Pittsburg, Tennessee. Yes, I know, you’re looking at the name of that town and thinking, “Shouldn’t there be an ‘h’ at the end of that?” I also used to think that. But, truly, that’s how it’s spelled.

When I wrote Memoirs of a Future Ghost, it was originally much longer than what was eventually published. I broke it up in to two sections and the second section is what will be released on Halloween. That meant that some of my favorite chapters had to be held back. This is one of those chapters that I’ve been itching to share with you all. So, without further ado, here is a brief glimpse at the chapter “Old South Pittsburg Hospital” from Recollections of a Future Ghost.

“Jordan! Jordan! Jordan! Jordan!!” the shouts reverberated through the walls.

“What?! What?! What?! What?!” Jordan’s answering yells responded.

I muttered, “What. In. Fresh. Hell?!” Looking at my watch, I saw it was four o’clock in the morning. The sun was still playing hide and seek below the horizon, and I had just fallen asleep an hour before. Tucked into a queen-sized air mattress next to me was Tammy. I looked at her to see if she was still sleeping.  If so, the shouts were all part of a dream and I could drift back to sleep. But, she was as wide awake as I found myself.

“What on Earth?” she groggily wondered aloud.

The shouts continued from next door. “Jordan!  Oh, my gosh!  Wake up!” 

“What, Jeremy?” Jordan hollered back.

“Well,” I heavily sighed, “I guess we’re getting up now.”

We rolled off the air mattress, refusing to step out of our sleeping bags, waddling across the room, through the Jack and Jill bathroom, and into the adjoining bedroom, rubbing sleep from our eyes. We came upon my friend Michael, a guest on this evening’s investigation, still asleep in his sleeping bag on the floor near the bathroom door. An Iraq War veteran, it seemed that Michael was able to sleep through not just Jordan’s and Jeremy’s panicked shouts, but also whatever paranormal shenanigans had awoken them.

We glanced left toward the beds at the far side of the room to discover Jordan and his friend Jeremy, standing, running their hands through their hair, looking absolutely bewildered. Earlier in the day, Jeremy expressed excitement that he could experience his first paranormal encounter. Now that it had finally happened, he didn’t look all that happy. Tammy and I just stood there, staring, refusing to wobble any closer.

“What. The actual. F*ck, y’all?!” I asked, using my best disgusted mother voice.

Jeremy turned and was as pale as the white walls surrounding him.

“I had just fallen asleep, Heather, and I swear that someone came into this room and sat on my bed.”

I looked at Tammy, she looked at me, we both shrugged our shoulders at one another, turned around, and shimmied back toward our room, our sleeping bags hindering us, making us look like the slowest potato sack race in history.

Jordan and Jeremy followed us through the Jack and Jill bathroom and into our girls’ room.

“I had just fallen asleep,” Jeremy continued, dragging his sleeping bag behind him, “when I heard footsteps. In. The. Room. Something walked toward my bed. I thought maybe it was Michael or one of you. And then, I heard it walk right up to the bed and felt the bed dip when whatever it was sat down on the edge, right next to me. I opened my eyes, and there was no one there!”

“I swear,” Jordan said, “all I heard was my name being shouted, and I think I levitated out of my sleeping bag!”

I just shook my head and rolled back onto the queen-sized air mattress. Tammy gracefully joined me, and we both looked over Jordan and Jeremy who promptly announced that there was no way they were staying in their room for the rest of the night. As they made themselves comfortable on our room’s couch, Michael emerged from the adjoining room, bleary-eyed and bushy-headed.

“No way am I staying in there alone!” He plopped down on the floor and began softly snoring a few minutes later. It seemed our after-investigation sleep had turned into a slumber party.

“Welcome to Old South Pittsburg Hospital, boys,” I muttered, “where the nurses are still checking on their patients, twenty years after they all left.” And then I promptly fell back asleep.

I can’t wait for you all to read my next book! You can pre-order your own signed copy here or you can click on any of the links to the right of this post and order from another site.

Investigating the Paranormal – Book Excerpt

Whenever I tell people that I’m a paranormal investigator, initial responses vary between, “Ohmygosh! Can I go with you on an investigation?!?” and “Wow. Yeah. All the nopes.” People are always a mix of curious and terrified and I want my book, Memoirs of a Future Ghost to be bridge between those two emotions. I wanted to show the curious people how amazing it is to do this and also demonstrate to those who are frightened that hunting ghosts isn’t always scary. Sometimes? It’s downright comical.

I have a little gift for all of you today, thanks to my husband Tyler. He mentioned, “Hey! You should totally put an excerpt of your book up on your web site!” I hemmed and hawed and finally decided, “Why not?” So, I present to you “The Reality of Hunting Ghosts” – one of the many chapters in my book. It’s gone through a self-edit and a grammatical edit, but believe me when I say that my book is going through MAJOR content edits. This chapter will probably look completely different when it’s all said and done and you may not recognize this chapter when you finally have my tome in your paws. But, until then, enjoy this light-hearted look into what it’s REALLY like investigating the paranormal!

I’m sure you can picture this. Gary Ghosthunter with his perfectly-themed bad-boy tattoos is in his crisply-ironed black pants and Ed Hardy shirt. He swaggers into the latest historical site, found by his production team and paid for by a TV channel. He acts like he owns the paranormal activity occurring there. His television production crew sets up his Hollywood-funded equipment while his black-clad co-stars munch on craft services that serves food tailored to their dietary specifications. Over the course of several days, they have complete access to the location. They are handed the historical documents and information by a hard-working, little-recognized production crew. Witnesses come out of the woodwork to tell their stories of paranormal experiences because they might be on TV. During the several nights of investigations, Gary and his crew dramatically react to whatever shadow they see and noise they hear. They’re convinced that it’s a dark spirit and that they now have a demonic attachment. Muscles bulging, voice straining, Gary fiercely calls out whatever is there and tells it to go away and leave them alone. After all is said and done, the television production crew pours through the audio and video collected over, probably, four nights of investigations and they “capture” a class A EVP or a shadow figure on film. All of this is condensed down into a 42-minute show with the best reactions, the best stories, and the most compelling moments put forth for your viewing pleasure.

In real life, paranormal investigations are quite different. It’s 3:30 PM on a Saturday and I’m getting ready to meet my team for dinner. The location is two hours away and we’re carpooling, so I need to leave NOW to get there in time. I’m rushing around the house lint-rolling my team shirt because it’s covered in cat fur. I can’t find my flashlights because the kids got into my investigation kit and played with them. They even raided my stash of AAA batteries. I can’t even get out the door because I’m dealing with parental guilt because the kids have all whined, “BUT WHY DO YOU HAVE TO GO, MAMA?!?!?” and made me feel like the recipient of the “Worst Mom of the Year” trophy.

I finally make it to my fellow investigator’s home and we all pile into one car for the two-hour drive to a restaurant near the client’s location. We talk, laugh, discuss the case, and catch up on our lives. When we’re done eating at the restaurant (which is probably going to give my intestines a run for their money) in this random small town in Georgia, we load back up and trek to the client’s home. Once there, we find that the house should probably be on an episode of Hoarders and the client should probably be on Dr. Phil. But, hey, we’re here. So, we do a walk-through of the house, have the client sign some paperwork, and set up our self-funded equipment. During the investigation, we’re dealing with a dog in the back yard that is howling and a cat that keeps setting off our REM pod. There is dust everywhere and when we’re not sneezing, we’re trying not to sit in any cat pee because woo-doggies can we smell it. Meanwhile, my stomach is NOT happy about that burrito I had for dinner and while I might not be experiencing paranormal activity, my intestines make it sound like the house has 12 demons infesting it. In between EVP sessions, we hang out in the car, sucking down cheap coffee and local bodega honeybuns to try stay awake. Four hours later, we pack up and call it a night. We will most likely never step foot in the client’s house again because most investigations are one-off gigs. The two-hour drive back home is quiet, except for intermittent, “I SMELL CAT PEE!!!” exclamations from around the car. When I finally make it home, it’s nearly 3:00 A.M., I throw my cat-pee soaked jeans in the washer, and stumble into bed.

Two days later, I admit to myself that I need to listen to my recordings for audio evidence. I do so unshowered and in my wrinkled PJs, finally realizing I’ve captured exactly NO EVPs (except that one stomach rumble which would have made an AWESOME demonic growl and, yeah, Shawn needs to stop farting). A week later, I finish watching four hours of video footage from the client’s master bedroom. I’ve had to watch it in 20-minute increments because it’s so boring that any longer than that would make me want to weep and curse and cry. The only thing the footage showed is that, yes, that’s one dusty house and, no, that movement wasn’t a ghost but it WAS a raccoon at the bedroom window.

When we finally turn in our final report with no audio or video evidence and one personal experience involving a cobweb and an air vent, the clients are in no way appreciative because documented paranormal activity would have either A) Made them feel special because they love Ghost Adventures and they hoped having documented paranormal activity could pave their way to a guest spot on a paranormal TV show spot or B) Convinced them they aren’t crazy.

Two weeks later, we have a group meeting where we catch up on all our investigations, who has to still watch video footage, who is writing the final report, which clients are lined up for investigations, and who is calling which of them. We all speculate how nice it would be to investigate a clean house in the “Country Club of the South” community. Instead, it looks like we’ve got a 20-year-old single-wide near the Alabama boarder on tap for the end of the month. Two IR cameras are on the fritz, so we take up a collection for new ones. I remind everyone to make sure when they write a blog post for our website, they add all the “tags” to each post because we have no advertising budget and search engine optimization is the only way to get our site to show up early on the search engine lists. We discuss recording a podcast, trying to wrangle a date and time that’s good for everyone. We grumble that our operating budget is well below $200 a year and wonder how we can get a FLIR camera donated to us. We then remember that’s a fantasy, say our good-byes, and start the process all over again. AND WE DO IT ALL FOR FREE, with no TV production crew in tow.

That is what it’s like investigating the paranormal in the real world!

Make sure you leave a comment below and tell me what you think! And thanks for reading!

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