Due to an unexpected and fortuitous event, which was strange since it was a funeral, I had an opportunity to spend the night at a haunted house, The Asylum 49.
As professional haunts go, the Asylum is moving into the top position not only in its state but in national rankings. Asylum 49 succeeds in part because it comes with an almost corporeal fear that cannot be attributed to anything physical about the place or the design of the haunt. Its creepiness transcends any of its scenery or props.
Asylum 49 started off as a residence, then an old-folks home. In 1953 it was converted into a hospital. But early on, the hospital seemed paralyzed by something unknown that kept it locked in the past. The hospital gained a poor reputation from years of inadequate patient care which stemmed mainly from what was viewed as arcane facilities and treatments. Over time its reputation grew to the point that even routine procedures there would cause one to wonder if they should take a long drive to a better hospital or risk life and limb for a simple colonoscopy.
Its location, right next to a cemetery, didn't help matters much either. It seemed as though something knew the outcome of a stay beforehand and decided to make the trip from hospital to the graveyard as efficient as possible. There's even a chapel across the street where most funeral services are performed.
After decades of questionable care and above average mortalities, not to mention an sharp uptick in accounts of seeing things in the halls and rooms, the hospital closed in 2000. It remained silent and empty for six years, plenty of time for the restless souls of unneeded deaths to claim residence not to mention any graveyard dwellers who may choose to join them.
Asylum 49 took over in 2006 as the owners became fascinated by the history as well as many stories that were told by both patrons and staff. A place born to be haunted has now become a haunting attraction. Is it any wonder sightings have increased and images and audio purporting to prove that entities exist there have increased so dramatically.
During the off-season, the place is open for tours and ghost hunts. I received my invitation to attend a hunt and spend the night if I wanted. I accepted both.
I'm a skeptic. For all my writing on theory, I do not follow the practices based on paranormal beliefs. However, my skepticism does not translate to an expressive cynicism. While I doubt the reality of the paranormal, I respect those who do believe enough to climb down the rabbit hole. I'm willing to remain silent about my doubts and join them on a hunt just to observe.
We were given a storytelling introduction with photo and audio evidence of sightings. Somewhere around 2:00 a.m. we went with the guides through the hospital. They entertained our group with personal anecdotes of the guides' own encounters as we went through each corridor and open area.
It was all very interesting and fun. But for all of their tales, I saw, heard, and felt nothing. This surprised me by itself. I have been in many old buildings alone or nearly alone. They are never still. HVAC systems creak and thump. Lights hum. Wind whistles through cracks. You feel drafts and hear noises that can unnerve you. I once stayed up for almost an hour in a place hearing a strange and upsetting scratching sound that turned out to be a beetle caught upside down inside a folded piece of paper. None of that was here.
The anomaly of the hunt was its peace. The atmosphere remained inherently creepy, but on this particular night, it seemed free of anything suggesting the macabre. I wandered the building with a guide and alone and felt surprisingly relaxed and at rest. The absence of uncertain sights and sounds made the place feel truly empty; as though it was missing a part of itself.
Perhaps it was the calm before the season of awakening. The haunt cast is busy with final rehearsals and preparing for the start of the blessed season. Maybe the real residents of the place are themselves getting ready and I caught a break.
Perhaps it was my fatigue. I'm definitely getting too old for staying up way late and chasing unknowns. By 3:30 a.m., I headed to my designated hospital room and slept in one of the hospital beds. Never once did I feel creeped out or at risk, but I was also overwhelmingly exhausted.
Perhaps this says more about me than anything else. It may be I am just at a stage where if such things do exist I can accept it as easily as I do foul language on T.V. and Russian ads on Facebook. Maybe things that once bothered me and unnerved me no longer do. Maybe that's why I have returned to my love of this dark holiday. Maybe it's my way of accepting, even celebrating the fact that I am growing nearer to being part of the macabre with each birthday.
Maybe spooks don't exist at all. Truth is, that's the most likely explanation for why most of us do not have any paranormal experiences. I could be wrong. I hope I am wrong. But either way, I think I'm cool with it.
I will be returning to enjoy the haunting by the cast and crew. I'm a sucker for these attractions and Asylum 49 is very attractive. Maybe it's my love of all of it that keeps the ghosts at bay. I'm just no fun to haunt. You can follow the link below and check out the Asylum 49 for yourself.