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Seemed like an appropriate date to start my first volunteer assignment with the Australian Paranormal Phenomenon Investigators (“APPI”) group – (black) Friday the 13th, and the day was living up to its reputation.
I was due at the Fairfield City Museum and Gallery (“FCMAG”) at 6pm, and being a veteran of commuting in Sydney’s nightmare traffic, I knew Friday afternoon peak hours were the worst of the week, so I instinctively knew the supposed 50 minute drive would be much longer than that, so I set off at 3.15pm.
The traffic, coupled with the storm cells that swept across Sydney that afternoon with drenching rain and hail, created the perfect traffic storm – bumper to bumper nearly all the way out to Fairfield, where I eventually arrived at 5.30pm – 2 hours and 15 minutes later. But anyway, I had arrived and made it with 30 minutes to spare.
Being a bit early, I had a quick look around the FCMAG, which is a collection of old and re-created historical buildings in a tight cluster. The “feature” building is the old former Fairfield Council chambers, built in 1913 and then converted to a family residence in 1921 and was occupied by the same family members until 1980
The APPI girls and guys were soon there and setting up things, which was done very quickly and efficiently. With time to spare before the guests arrived APPI supremo Peet then explained in detail how their equipment worked and what it was designed to measure and/or detect. Peet also said the old council chambers was the most active of the buildings, so I grabbed a K2 device (which measures changes in the surrounding electromagnetic field – (see Peet, I was listening)) to investigate on my own – one of the perks of being an APPI volunteer.
Immediately on entering the building the K2 lit up – however I put this down to the electrical equipment that had been set up generating an EMF. So I moved away from the back of the building to the front, where I still got the same “reading”. One of the lights on the K2 was also flickering, so I asked one of the equipment guys if this was normal, to which he replied no. He advised it was probably the battery, so he kindly took some time out to put a new one in, and we went back to the chambers, where the K2 behaved exactly as before. Anyhow, he left me to it, so I continued, and soon I was alone in the house. I asked some questions and got no response, then I said “this is a lovely house” and immediately got a response on the K2. I made a few more nice comments about the house and got a response each time! I then went to another building where I got no response at all.
Now to the new old guy on the block, this was quite interesting and exciting, so I told Peet about it, but Peet was not at all surprised, and I need to remember that I am in a professional group who live and study this stuff, so this is just small fry to them.
Anyhow, the guests arrived and the evening began. Each building had been set up for a different type of “experience”. The old council chamber had been set up to provide guests with a sensory deprivation experience, another building for table tipping etc etc. Peet started out with a short video, then told the story of the presence of a girl who was engaged to a soldier who was killed in WW1 had been reported. The guests where split into groups and then assigned a tour guide and volunteer. Me, being the new guy, got to go to each of the “events” to see how they were conducted.
The groups were then taken to various parts of the site, and I wandered around checking things out and generally trying to stay out of everyone’s way!
It was not long before various people in groups started to tell me things. One lady said they had clearly heard via the ghost box from a man named Mark who was killed in WW1 – she advised it was as clear as anything.
The groups were rotated every 20 minutes or so, and I went into the old grocery store where one group was very intently doing something. They had a ghost box and K2 and were getting responses. They told me a female had responded via the ghost box, and when I asked her name I “thought” I heard Mary. The group confirmed they had already established her name as Mary, and then the K2 stated going crazy, as Mary responded to the various questions she was being asked, including my question as to whether Mark was her fiancé, which got an immediate response.
One lady (Lee) was looking at the K2 device in absolute shock and disbelief, and I asked her if she was ok and was anything wrong? She replied “That [the K2] should not be doing that”, and puzzled I asked her why? She responded “because the battery just died”. Just a few moments before I walked in the K2 stopped working, the ghost box died at the exact same time and an EMF pump showed that no life was in the K2 - then it suddenly started working again when it shouldn't have. Glen also remarked in the four years he had been involved he had never seen anything like it before.
Anyhow, it was time to rotate to the next event, and I went to the table tipping, a Victorian pallor game from long ago (like, before Foxtel and Presto). To be totally honest, nothing happened, which was unusual as one group experienced heaps of activity. Then on the next rotation I went to the school building where APPI guide Lynda was based.
Now, what happened here was totally weird. This group sat in the old school room, making jokes about APPI guide and “teacher” Lynda, who quickly got things underway. There were reports about a young girl named Evelyn, who died at age sixteen of natural causes, being in this area. Lynda started the activities and put her torch on a table at the front of the room. After only three minutes or so, the torch started to flash on and off. Lynda looked at me and said that her torch has never done that before, and had not done it with the previous groups that night. Lynda asked if that was Evelyn, and the torch immediately responded.
There was also toy teddy bear in the room, called a Boo Buddy, used by APPI as an interactive device. The bear “talks” at regular intervals saying things like “I love hugs”, and its stomach and paws light up, As Lynda spoke to Evelyn, the torch would flash and the bear would “talk” at that exact same moment.
Then the rem pod at the back of the room activated, and Lynda had to ask Evelyn to turn it off as it was making a racket, which it did. Then, Lynda asked everyone to do a “heads down, thumbs up” exercise, where you lower your head and stick out the thumbs on both your hands to see if someone touched them.
Almost immediately the back of the room became very cold, and a young boy named Sam (who was aged about 16) immediately felt his hands go very cold, then he reported “someone” sitting next to him. Lynda moved him to a desk at the front of the room, where he again experienced the same sensations. He also stated that his desk was beginning to shake, which another person reached across and confirmed it was moving.
Lynda asked Evelyn if she liked Sam, and the torch immediately flashed on and off and the teddy bear started talking at exactly the same moment. Sam then reported feeling light headed and a strange sensation around his neck, as if someone had their hands (gently) around his neck. Lynda asked Sam if he wanted to go outside, but he said he was ok. One of the group had set up a camera at the front of the room, and it suddenly turned itself off and could not be turned back on.
Anyhow, the torch continued to flash to questions and comments to Evelyn from Lynda until it was time to finish. Someone actually advised Sam he needed to tell Evelyn that she should not follow him home.
The rest of the night was uneventful – I went back to the grocery store at the end of the night with a K2 to see if Mary would talk to us again. The original group came with me, but we got no response, although we all agreed the “atmosphere” in the old store had definitely changed.
With three of the other APPI guides we tried the table tipping again, but again with no response. Then one of the guides remembered that the group that had had all the activity was the group young Sam was a member of – no doubt Evelyn was following him around!
Anyhow, the night ended, the guests seemed suitable impressed with their experiences, we packed up quickly, and both the storms and traffic had passed, so I headed home, guided by my trusty Tom Tom. Except the stupid thing gave me a bum steer (pun intended) and I missed my exit off the M2 and ended up five kilometres down the road.
But all up, my first night as a volunteer was, to say the least, very interesting, and I now perfectly understood why Peet didn’t get excited about my first solo investigation. Compared to what happened with Mary and Evelyn, it wouldn’t even rate on the APPI experience meter, and rightly so!
Ross “soaking wet” Downie
13 November 2015