I went beyond the black veil

Syd Rosas, Photo Editor

When my classmate Ozzy asked if I wanted to join him for a ghost tour at the Muckenthaler Culture Center, I immediately got flashbacks. Thoughts of every horror movie that scarred me for life, every jumpscare that made me scream, every haunted house I sat out of flew through my mind. 

Of course, I said yes.

My designated role for this spooky event was photographer. Score! A perfect excuse to hide behind my camera and stand in the back, away from the scare. 

When we arrived, we were an hour early. Still, the sun was setting, and there was a flashing light outside that immediately made Ozzy and I wary of what was ahead of us.

The Muckenthaler After Dark: Beyond the Black Veil was a sold out event. Attendees watched a presentation on the locations N.O.P.S investigated. (Photo by Syd Rosas)

We entered to get our wristbands and found ourselves surrounded by people dressed elegantly. Black gowns, veils, and top hats- I realized we also happened to be the youngest in the room. Not only were we terrified, but now we stuck out like a sore thumb in our jeans and graphic tees.

We snapped pictures of the building while we waited for the event to start. But, soon enough, the lights dimmed.

A presentation was brought onscreen by the North Orange Paranormal Society. Video after video played, society members in the dark, some creepy thing happening, and then an explanation of it.

Some of the videos made me uneasy. A knife drops on the ground, and the camera picks up a child, calling “No!” in a basement. A few jumpscares had me out of my seat for a moment. 

I wanted a chance to further explore the building without too much commotion, so I slipped out of the presentation room to explore. I was all on my own, and a bit frightened as well, so I hid behind my camera and clicked a few more shots.

There was talk of a tarot card reader, and I was interested in the free readings she was offering. I waited in line, flipping through some pictures I got, hoping I managed to get a shot of something spooky. I would have freaked, but it would have been pretty cool to get a ghost picture.

Tarot card readings are a practice in which a question about the past, present or future is posed, and then, using the cards drawn, an answer is interpreted. Terri Kennedy, the owner of the shop Ipso Facto, has been doing tarot readings for 33 years. (Photo by Syd Rosas)

When it was my turn to get my reading, I was intrigued. Right away, she began talking about my energy and what it meant. She told me the cards said I was being gossipped about behind my back and that I was the “therapist friend.” The experience was both enlightening and somewhat disturbing; how was she able to get such a clear understanding of my life without ever knowing me before that moment?.

Some things she said were very interesting, however. She mentioned that I would have a successful career in the arts, and that I would manage to see through some sort of facade and realize something in my life was toxic. She said that once I dropped it, I would begin to see benefits of leaving it behind.

I walked out of that room, now somewhat heedful of what was to come in my future, but satisfied. 

So far, nothing too creepy or out of the ordinary happened. I was slightly disappointed, but also relieved. I wasn’t sure if I wanted something big to happen for the content it would surely provide, or if I was content disproving any suspicions I had about paranormal activity. 

Then my camera got possessed.

Seriously. My fully charged, working-perfectly-all-night camera, stopped working. At first, I assumed I was careless and grabbed the wrong battery pack. But when I replaced it with a battery I was certain I had charged and it still refused to reawaken, I began to wonder.

It didn’t soothe my anxieties that every staff member assured me that the resident ghost of the building must be haunting my camera. Lovely. Not only could I not get the photos I needed, but now a ghost was just hanging out in my camera and, knowing my luck, I would probably get possessed next.

I resorted to taking pictures on my phone, cursing the ghost for causing me such a minor inconvenience. I mean, did I really have to get possessed then? Not 30 minutes later when I wrapped up my photo-taking for the evening?

I figured this was a sign to return to the presentation room and to try and enjoy the rest of my evening. I was all alone now- my partner called it an early night and left. I had 2 hours of this event left, just me and my possessed camera.

Clearly, nothing could go wrong.

When I returned to the presentation room and I saw a group of people holding hands over a ouija board, I retracted my previous statement. I almost backtracked and left right then and there. I would have braved the 90 minute walk home had a swarm of people not entered behind me, effectively pushing me forward into the room.

Did I want to book it out of there as fast as physically possible? Yes.

But did I want to look like a wimp in front of every single person in this room?

Silently cursing my willingness to try and branch out, I sat in the front row.

I witnessed a seance, dedicated to communicating with a spirit named Eliza Rose that was rumored to linger in an old porcelain doll. 

At first, I assumed they would just use the ouija board, but obviously, it wouldn’t dare to be that simple.

They began pulling out what was labeled as “professional ghost hunting equipment.” While setting down items completely foreign to me, demonstrators informed us that these tools would help us all witness the presence of a paranormal spirit.

Absolutely splendid. I wasn’t terrified at all.

The doll inside the case was owned by a girl named Eliza Rose, and is rumored to contain her spirit. (Photo by Syd Rosas)

What looked like a cult summoning began; all of the NOPS people started holding hands and chanting. They welcomed the spirit of this doll into the space and invited her to answer by ringing a bell.

I swore to the person sitting next to me that if the bell rung at all, I would exit immediately.

Yet, just my luck, I was interrupted by the unmistakable dinging of a bell.

I wish I was kidding. I wish I was able to follow that up with, “It was all just a prank” but no. I might lie and say I know it was fake, if it weren’t for the fear of ending up like my camera did- dead.

The seance commenced. Writing that wasn’t there previously showed up on a chalkboard. The planchette- the little teardrop shaped thingy- moved across the ouija board. Whatever spirit happened to linger in the room guessed the name of an audience members late father.

A lot more definitely happened, and there was a lot more details I’m sure I could share, but I spent a lot of the night hiding behind my hands, dead camera in my lap, relying purely on my other senses to tell me what was going on, counting the minutes until I could leave.

After it all ended, everyone clapped like they hadn’t witnessed the most terrifying thing to ever happen before their eyes. They filtered out. I lingered, still struggling to process the most horrific night I ever did witness. 

In turn, I got to help clean up after the event, collecting the fold up chairs and storing them away. This meant one-on-one with my favorite creepy doll. Lovely.

To sum up the rest of my night, the camera got un-possessed. I didn’t get any photos of ghosts or lingering spirits. I didn’t get possessed. All was well. 

Will I ever volunteer for another ghost tour again, if the opportunity arises? Definitely. Even though it took me a few days for the smallest of noises to stop making me jump, I had fun.

Case in point, if you ever see a porcelain doll by the name of Eliza Rose, just run. Trust me.

Photo-Editor Syd Rosas had a tarot card reading at the Muckenthaler After Dark event. (Photo by Syd Rosas)