It was the summer after we graduated highshool. Each one of us had their heart set on a collage in a different city, so we knew it might be a long time before we are together again like we have been thought out school days. Realization slowly sank that we only have this one summer together and I knew one thing: we must do something unforgettable with it. In our group of friends I was the one who instigated all the activities, I was the one who came up with crazy ideas, planed and organized our parties. Everybody would have to skip out on match when I wanted to go to the movies. So something like this could have only been born in my head- going on a summer long road trip to every abandoned location in the country and looking for ghosts and signs of paranormal activity.
I began planning this sometime around Christmas but didn't tell my friends until after graduation exams were over. I wasn't sure the others would agree to this idea and for the first time in my life I was ready to drop it if no one felt like doing it. Normally I'd keep pushing whatever I wanted to do until we did it. First Lenny refused because she lived out in the country ,outside of town, and summer was the season when there was a lot of work to do. Then Darcy refused because she had a job she sighed up to do and was starting in few days. I began to think the road trip was not going to happen- Lenny was one of the two people in our group that had a driver's license. I began to think we would spend the summer meeting in the mall and going to the beach and the movies like usual.
When I brought it up to Eli she seemed interested in the road trip part. She asked if her boyfriend Darren could come along. I figured having a man would provide some safety. While had was skinny looking but he worked in a warehouse and I've seen him lift heavy crates on several occasions. Out of all the guys Eli dated in her life I liked Darren the best. He seemed more like he was one of her brothers more than a boyfriend. The two looked like family: same blond hair, light blue and light grey eyes. He looked incredibly similar to Eli's younger brother Adrian, same curved shape of the nose. Around him I could relax, he didn't give me bad vibes like the others. She dated many guys but they were all not right somehow. One turned out to be an obsessive psycho who locked her in his bedroom and threatened to commit suicide if she broke up with him him. Most others were just perverts who lost interest after a third date when they realized she wasn't going to sleep with them.
Eli was my childhood friend and my best friend. When we younger I practically live at her house. We knew eachtoher enough to finish eachtoher sentences. So the idea of going ghost hunting wasn't a big shock to her. I did have to do some explaining and convincing with Darren but he agreed. He was the second person with the drivers' license in our group. Eli insisted on bringing her younger brother Adrian along since her mother and older brother were going away to a sanatorium for a month. Her older brother was sick since he was born and didn't attend school. Adrian was fourteen and a problem child who got kicked out of elementary school for stealing a mobile phone, then got caught because he took it to school the next day as his own. He was bad since he was little. Eli was perhaps the only person he really listened to, and he never truly listened to anybody. Leaving him alone for a month was not an option and with the three of us managing him was a possibility. I knew Eli would not go if she could not bring him.
I never like Adrian much. He was a brat in the worst ways. No one ever spoiled him but he was somehow spoiled rotten still. Whenever he didn't get what he wanted he would throw violent temper tantrums and tried to beat people up. He would sometimes steal things but he was never clever or subtle about it and would get caught which just got his mother into more trouble. She was not a bad parent, she tried to manage him but he was just impossible to manage. No matter how much Eli insisted he had gotten better I would still see him as the same two year old boy who would great people who entered the apartment by trying to stab them with a kitchen knife. He was always evil, since the day he was born probably. That kid was like the devil to me, compared to his sister who was a pure angel.
The car I had in mind for this trip belonged to the father of my father. He had a van he used to transport logs or chickens, or building material whatever was needed. He helped out in constructions repairs and whatever else. He had recently bought a new but used van. I made up a lie about going across the country to visit all the colleges and universities to make a final decision on where we all want to study. He said we can take the old one once he is done fixing it up. This gave us some time to prepare.
I made a list of places to visit and ranked them based on how close they were and how much ghost activity was reported in them. Not that I really expected to find any ghosts. This was just some stupid but fun thing to do with friends. Regardless I still got some equipment: a cheap camera for filming, some recorders, and EVP detector. No Ouija boards or anything like that. My excuse was that we were trying to find ghosts not summon them and the Ouija board had a chance of summing a demon more than contacting a spirit.
In the week grandpa was fixing the van, Eli passed her driver's license tests, giving us a second driver. We decided to paint he van since it was white with scratched off paint and rust. At first the idea was to get some cool looking graffiti but something like that standing outside an abandoned place would just look suspicious so we ended up painting a greyish blue. We spray painted it ourselves to save money. We got everyone, even the people who were staying home to come and sigh on the side. It was the evening before leaving that we sat down and had a little good-bye party. Adrian was the one who came up with the idea that we need a name.
"If we're gonna have a name it's going to be cool" I said
"Like ghost hunters?" Adrian said
"I'm sure that one is taken already."
"Paranormal explorers." Lenny said.
"How about Ghost Raiders" it sounded cool in my head.
"Like the movie?" Eli was skeptical.
"No, that's Ghost Rider. Ghost Raiders like in Raid. As in we're going to raid to those buildings that are haunted, cuz we're hardcore." I explained.
"If no one has any other offers, I say let's keep it"
"Sure, why not" Darren agreed.
"That's cool" Lenny agreed
"Yeah" Darcy agreed too.
So we ended up spray painting that above the spot where we signed our names.
The next morning after breakfast we set off on the road. Darren was at the driver seat, me and Eli siting on the long passenger seat upfront. There were no seats in the back. The space was empty for transporting cargo. We put in an inflatable mattress in there to sleep on and attached some crates where be put in food and large 5 liter canisters of drinking were. Fresh from my grandparents well. We also made sure to get two spare tires, some first aid stuff and repair tools for the car. Adrian, who had a problem waking up earlier than 3 p.m. was asleep in the back. We also packed a tent and some sleeping bags. Some locations as I examined them with "Google map" were far from any path or road so we might have to leave the van and walk to them.
We had decided to do a test run and drove to a town near our home town. It was about a half an hour drive away. An old rehabilitation sanatorium was closed down and left abandoned just a couple years back. It was just outside the city in the pine forest. We spent the night inside the place, walked around took some photos, filmed a bit, recorded some absolute silence and caught a radio station on the EVP detector. Adrian put on a monster mask and tried to scare us. We got scared by some bird that woke up from our flashlights and later by a cat that knocked something over. It was a black cat but none of us were superstitious since our friend Darcy was the proud owner of a black and it had crossed our paths more than once whenever we came to visit. We played some card games and went back to the car to sleep around three in the morning. It was a fun but otherwise uneventful night.
In the morning we were having coffee in the local bakery. I asked some teens about local legends. One said it was something his grandparents told him. Out of town by the train tracks that used to be a school and somewhere around was an area where during WWII the Nazis brought and killed Jewish people. He claimed that at night you can hear the gunshots. His grandparents used to graze their cows in that field and early in the mornings would go to milk the cows and passed that old school.
I was skeptical but we needed to find something. Not sleeping at night and doing goofy fun things was alright but I realized it was going to get old fast and we might be turning around by the end of the week. We found and old windowless two story building made from cement bricks by the train tracks. It was hard to tell what original purpose it served. We had spent the day in town, and went to the beach. Took a nap in the van then around midnight went in. We didn't hear any gunshots but a train drove right by several times at night. Nothing showed up on camera or EVP. We were tired so we went to sleep. In the morning we listened to the audio recorder, we would turn in on and off at random intervals for short amounts of time to conserve battery. Me and Darren were in the van while Adrian was still asleep, Eli was outside heating water for coffee on a portable burner we brought. I decided to listen to the recordings and delete them after if nothing came up since the recorder had limited memory space. It was the last one, the very last recording. Adrian was being whiny because he wanted to record something too and just took the recorder, just as a train was going by. I don't know why I didn't delete it on the spot; it was just a minute long recording of a train going by. So I thought. At the very end of it after the train was gone there was something. I had to put on my headphones on and even then it was so faint. Like something popping but barely audible. I gave Darren a listen.
"Doesn't it sound a bit like gunshots?" he said.
"But we were there, and I didn't hear it." I said
"Neither did I, but the recorder picked it up."
We listened to it again after uploading it to my laptop and enhancing the volume.
"I sounds a bit like a fart" Eli said making us laugh.
But the laughter died down soon. Every time I listened to it I got goosebumbs on my skin. And when I looked at Darren I could see the hair on his arm was standing up as if from a chill.
This was it, this was something. Nothing concrete but definitely strange enough. There was a chance we could encounter something like it again if we continued the trip.
I had been around abandoned since childhood. In the neighborhood across from Eli's was this old abandoned manor like building. We were in elementary school so around eight years old. We would go inside and scale up the wall to play. It wasn't a scary place, just empty- no furniture, no people. But what got me interested in it was a rumor I heard the teens at school talking about. They were drinking beer in the basement illegally since all them were under aged and then decided to play hide and seek. On guy claimed he saw a cow walking thought the wall of the house. He was drunk so no one believed him. But the strange thing was that one day while walking around the meadow in the back Eli tripped over something. And we noticed a horn sticking out of the ground. We got sticks and poked and dug the ground. Attached to the horn was a skull of a cow, it still had some flesh on it and maggots so we didn't poke it any further. The skull was right next to the wall of the house. It always left me wandering if a ghost cow was true or if the guy just saw the skull and made it up. We never went to the basement, it was pitch black and if any of us left the house with a flash light we would have been in so much trouble. But since then I was interested in stories like this. Then some time later the house got renovated and made into a store that sells paint and other building supplies. Somehow I never got the guts to go in there and ask if they saw a ghost cow wandering around the place.