A Dark tale for WU: Sounds in the Theatre

Elise Barnett, Washburn Review

“We’re almost done right?” I ask, trying not to look as bored as I feel. Helping a friend with a final project is one thing. Helping a friend finish a final project into the late hours of the evening as the building empties and the great expanse of dark theater seats begins to look more and more haunting is another thing entirely.

“Last shot,” Arissa calls from behind her camera lens. She clicks the shutter open then closed and the project is finished. “Well that was fun. Thanks you guys for helping me.”

Ashley, Sam and I all shrug something to the affect of “no problem” as we stand gathered near the center of the stage.

“You know what would be really cool?” Ashley asks to no one directly. “If we did an EVP reading in here.”

“You mean like they do on Ghost Adventures?” Arissa asks rhetorically and with the present glow of true enthusiasm.

“What’s an EVP reading?” Sam asks as I try to look cool and pretend I already know the answer.

“It’s an audio recording to try and pick up spirit voices. We all sit really quiet with the lights out and talk to the spirits. It’s freaky what you hear sometimes.” Ashley clarifies as Sam and I look fearfully at each other.

“That sounds a little terrifying.” I manage to say, throwing my perceived coolness to the wind.

“Exactly.”

Arissa prepares her iPhone for the recording while Ashley and Sam decide to form a pair to turn off the lights. I am instructed to stay standing where I am in the center of the blank, bare stage surrounded by nothing but empty seats and darkness. I hear the count of the lights. One, two, three… blackout. I hear the shuffling footsteps of Ashley and Sam as they blindly end up somewhere beside me. We sit down. The light of Arissa’s phone illuminates a small section of the darkness for us to gather around. She starts the recording.

For a few moments our breaths are quick and irregular and slightly panicked in the vacant, hollow black of the theater. We hear footsteps, high heels clicking down a hallway, and for a moment we forget that we are in the center of a school building that is not yet entirely empty, though nearly so. A few moments later there is nothing. We sink into the darkness, examining its every creak for signs of otherworldly contact. The wind blows hard against the outer door, creating an echoing rhythm of shuddering metal. A shiver rolls up the curve of my spine and spills across my arms. I can feel my heartbeat pounding in my ears as the room feels colder and colder, ice cold and then nothing.

“Okay, let’s see what we got,” Arissa says, pressing buttons on her phone again. Sam rushes fearfully to the light switch and flicks them all back on again as Ashley locks her eyes on the phone, searching for the possibility of spirit evidence. Everyone is silent again. Arissa begins to play back the recording.

Breathing, footsteps, Ashley sneezing, the door, more breathing, but beyond that there is something, something else.

“Do you hear that?” Ashley surveys excitedly.

“It’s just the feedback from the phone speaker,” I think out loud, destroying Ashley’s hopes for only an instant before she decides to ignore me.

“It’s a hum. It’s a spirit! We did it!” Ashley rejoices.

All of a sudden Sam starts spouting off about how she heard the theater was haunted by a woman who killed herself, or was murdered or otherwise died tragically.  Arissa is also convinced, though less enthusiastically now, of our evidence. I remain skeptical. I heard no voices.

We decide to try another area and then another. Each time we hear and feel something different. We hear children laughing, a woman crying, a boy who wants to play around on the catwalk, but each time they are just outside the range of comprehension, un-captured.

After two hours of still darkness and empty stomachs we decide to end our ghost hunting adventure vowing next time will be different, undisputed, but first, Taco Bell.