Monday, June 20, 2011

Haunted Chattanooga

I'm going to have to quit my day job soon or go crazy trying to juggle everything.  So here is the cover for my next book.  I had help with this one from Amy Petulla of Chattanooga Ghost tours.  She's absolutely brilliant and if you are ever in Chattanooga I would definitely take her tour.  Haunted Chattanooga will have some wonderful stories in it including:  the haunted Chattanooga Choo Choo, Old Green Eyes from Chickamagua,  A Quarry Ghost or Two, and the Ghosts of Lookout Mountain. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Are Snakes a Sign of a Haunting?

A reader sent me an interesting story a few days ago.  He is a writer and has been following the story of a house close to where he lives with great interest.  He wasn't entirely sure to make of events, but thought a haunting might be involved.  Apparently,  the house he has been following was the site of a double homicide a few years back.   A father shot his son and then himself.  Since that time the house has become infested with snakes.   New residents in the house have left the house, unable to live with the resident snakes.   The writer was wondering if I knew of any connection between ghosts, evil, and snakes.

Of course, Christianity has always linked snakes to evil and they are a sure sign Satan is near.  Ever since the serpent tempted Eve in the garden of Eden, snakes have been a symbol of evil in Christianity.  Infestations of many kinds are often indicative of supernatural activity and plagues of frogs and flies have been seen at haunted locations on prior occasions.  I am not entirely convinced snakes in and of themselves are a sign of the supernatural, however.

I found an interesting story in the newspaper this morning that was very similar to this writer's story.  A house was sold to a young family and they discovered it to be infested with garter snakes.  The family described the house as like "living in a horror movie" and like "Satan's lair."  They describe living in terror and having PTSD after living in the house.  They tried sueing the real estate agency that sold them the house since it was apparently well known that the house had a snake problem but it was not disclosed to them.  The prior owners didn't mind as much.  The law suit failed, but the cause of the snake infestation was well documtented by biologists.  Although the residents thought the house was evil, in truth it was built on the site of a hibernaculum.  This is a place where snakes gather in large numbers to hibernate during the winter.  In the spring and summer, the snakes travel and hunt, in the winter they gather in the same place for heat and spring breeding.  The house was built on a know hibernaculum and the snakes weren't going to change their lives for a few people.

So, could the snake infestation of the house with the double homicide be haunted?  I believe it is possible, but in the absence of other, more definitive evidence of a haunting,  it seems more probable that biology and not ghosts are haunting this house to me, although I love it when people disagree with me.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Kingdom: The Danish Miniseries From the Twilight Zone

The Kingdom is a Danish mini-series that aired about seven years ago.   The show begins with a rather poetic introduction about a marshland riddled with the dead. Time has passed and a hospital as been built on the marshland.  It has become the epiphany of all things scientific and is filled with the most respected scientific minds in the field.  Maybe it is because of their hubris, or maybe because of their utter lack of faith in he spiritual, but the gateway between this world and the kingdom has begun to open again beneath the hospital that is most appropriately named,  The Kingdom.

This strange miniseries begins slowly introducing all the doctors and characters.   One o the characters is a ghost hunter who fakes new illnesses on a regular basis to be admitted to the hospital and chase the hospital's mysterious ghosts deeper and deeper into the dark core of the the kingdom.  The show features child ghosts, dog ghosts, phantom ambulances, zombies, evil neurosurgeons, and ghostly pregnancies.

Although The Kingdom is not a movie,  it is listed on 1001 Movies You Need to See Before You Die.  Steven King saw it and produced an American version called Kingdom Hospital that was set in Main.   This bizarre Danish film is a must see for anyone who loves the strange or the haunted and it is available on Netflix Stream. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Ghost of Six Flags

Everyone has heard of six flags.  Throughout the country,  these parks are known for there thrilling rides that become increasingly more terrifying and death defying.  This year when we went to Six Flags in Atlanta,  we found a roller coaster that goes straight up at a 90 degree angle and descends at the same nauseating angle.  There was a roller coaster that puts you on your stomach, like superman, and twirls you around.  There is ever manner of terrifying ride, but the rides are not the only horrifying thing at Six Flags, Atlanta.

Just a little bit of research into the Six Flag theme parks reveals that death seems to linger around these amusement park like a grim specter.   Here are a few examples of some of the deaths and injuries that occurred at Six Flags:
*On May 11, 1984, eight teenage visitors were trapped and killed when the Haunted Castle attraction was destroyed by fire.
*On June 17, 1987, a 19-year-old woman died after falling from the Lightnin' Loops shuttle loop roller coaster.
*On June 28, 2008, a 17-year-old male was decapitated  by a passing train  of Batman the Ride in Atlanta after he hopped two six-foot fences and entered a restricted area. Initial reports said that the victim was allegedly trying to grab the feet of a rider as the train went by; later reports said that the victim was merely trying to retrieve a hat.
*On July 18, 1989, an 11-year-old boy became unconscious while riding Z-Force. Park staff performed CPR, but the victim was pronounced dead after being taken to the hospital.

If you enjoy these stories, wikipedia has an entire page dedicated to deaths and injuries at the Six Flag amusement parks.  Some are clearly caused by the stupidity of the guests, others are caused by park problems, but the sheer volume of them makes them an interesting read.

Strangely, the ghost of Six Flags in Atlanta doesn't have an origin story.   Most haunted amusement park ghosts have a back story.  The Disney ghosts all died somewhere near the ride they haunt and you would expect the same of Six Flags.   However, the ghost of Six Flags is just a little girl.   She is said to wander the park looking for the lost and lonely.  She picks them out of the crowd and asks for help.   The hapless victim inevitably tries to help the little girl.   She leads them into the woods around the park and when the victim turns the girl vanishes leaving the victim somewhat lost and completely confused. 

I didn't see any ghosts when I went to Six Flags, nor did I see any death or mayhem.  All I saw was happiness and sunshine and several teens vomiting in the trashcan after a particularly nauseating ride.  It is interesting to think, however, that behind the screaming crowds a little girl ghost wanders forever searching for her next victim.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Remains of American Adventures

One of my favorite blogs is Above the Norm,  This blog features many photos of forgotten and abandoned places.  They are both beautiful and haunting.  I thought of this blog when I went to White Water in Atlanta with my children this weekend.  Oddly, the entire water park seems to be surrounded by an abandoned amusement park.  Old rides, thick with ivy, surround the park.   Abandoned buildings sit in the parking lot speaking of forgotten places with sad stories.  It seemed to me an odd place to have a water park, next to the skeletal remains of a dead amusement park, but the story is simpler than it seems.

Wikipedia described the history of this dead park in one brief paragraph:   "First opened in 1990, the American Adventures family entertainment center operated next door to White Water, even using the same parking lot. This facility included a number of common carnival rides and other attractions geared towards families with small children. While the park was a separate gate from White Water, the two promoted each other often, to the point of having a connecting pathway between the two park entrances. When Six Flags acquired White Water in 1999, American Adventures was included in the purchase, and the park was considered one of Six Flags' minor parks. However, in May 2008, the park was leased to a new operator, Zuma Holdings, which no longer co-branded the park with Six Flags White Water. In 2010, American Adventures closed its doors for good, citing "circumstances beyond our control."