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people

It’s dark outside, the air is heavy, and the wind moans. Inside an old

are like round balls of floating light. Usually, it turns out to be light

Victorian house, Jeff Young, forty-nine, steps through the doorway

reflecting off a dust particle or insect, which is visible if the image

of the attic. A board creaks beneath his weight, and then all is quiet.

is blown up or if the orb falls, like dust would, on a video. But once

His heartbeat increases as he prepares to take the next step and

Jeff was using a voice recorder to capture what’s called an EVP

readies himself to find a ghost. As his foot strikes the ground, the

(electronic voice phenomenon), voices that electronics can pick up

door behind him slams shut with an echo and Jeff turns on the spot.

that humans can’t hear. And Jeff recorded a male voice saying, “He

There’s nothing there.

got one.” Later, when looking at photos, there was a big orb above

47

Jeff’s head. In cases like these, things aren’t so easy to explain. That day, Jeff, who hunts ghosts with Arkansas Paranormal Investi-

“That’s the kind of stuff we get excited about,” says Jeff.

gations (API) in Rogers, Arkansas, determined that the attic wasn’t haunted. “It was a swollen floorboard, and if you stepped on it just right, the door closed,” says Jeff. Sometimes that’s what happens. People hear noises in their home, and it ends up being a squirrel under the porch or a leaky toilet that sounds like mumbling voices in the dark. But Jeff still believes. “I have a healthy skepticism. We

MY PARENTS TOLD ME IT WAS JUST MY IMAGINATION,

don’t take things at face value.”

BUT WHEN SOMETHING

For each experience that has a rational explanation, there is one

HAPPENS TO YOU, YOU

that doesn't. Jeff says, “Once we were at an abandoned hospital on the third floor at night. All of our equipment was off. I looked down the hall and saw what I thought was another team member, a solid figure with light reflecting off him. The woman beside me and I joked that it was a ghost. Well, he took a few more steps and was gone. Then the person who we thought it was walked up the

KNOW IT’S REAL NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE ELSE SAYS.

stairs behind us.” Experiences like that one, called full-body apparitions, are rare. But

Jeff has been with API for the last three years. As part of the group,

it’s what got Jeff interested. “When I was younger, I was staying

he conducts one or two investigations a month, free of charge, usu-

with my grandparents at their old farmhouse. I was in one of the

ally at a private home or business. The group shoots for a two-week

spare bedrooms and saw someone who wasn’t there. And it’s star-

turnaround and uses equipment including infrared cameras, elec-

tling to feel like someone is watching you, and then you see this

tronic voice recorders, and devices that monitor changes in tem-

guy who’s not part of the family. My parents told me it was just my

perature and static electricity. “We’re looking for anything out of

imagination, but when something happens to you, you know it’s

the ordinary and assume there’s a normal explanation first,” says

real no matter what anyone else says.”

Jeff. “Some people say, ‘If you can prove my building is haunted, I’ll advertise it.’ But we don’t gain anything either way. We don’t sell a

When people call API for an investigation, it’s often because they’ve

service of ghost-be-gone. We just present them with what we find

encountered something they can’t explain. They feel like they’re be-

and let them decide.”

ing watched, they hear strange noises or feel a cold spot in their house. Maybe an item has been moved, or their pets refuse to go

Daniel Brown, who’s twenty-nine, a veteran, and lives in the Arkan-

to a certain part of their home. Jeff says, “People can be sensitive to

sas town of Farmington, has been with API for a couple of months.

electricity and old wiring. It can make you anxious. It can make you

He says, “I got interested when I was stationed in Germany, on

feel like you’re being watched. It can even make you see things.”

leave from Iraq. No one went to the fourth floor of the barracks, but we’d hear doors slamming and people speaking German. Later we

Often, it’s that simple. For example, many ghost hunters use cam-

found out that the barracks were formerly a German base during

eras and video recorders to look for something called orbs, which

World War II. The Allies bombed it, and a lot of guys died there. It

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