St. Augustine Lighthouse: The Mona Lisa of the Paranormal

St. Augustine Lighthouse

Mme. Blahblatsky and the Talking Mongoose recarp St. Augustine Lighthouse, episode 19 of the second season of the putative reality show Ghost Hunters, in which a couple of fake plumbers continue their attempts to become paranormal answer to Penn and Teller.

MB:  Hey – what did you do to that lighthouse?

TM:  I shortened it, for Steve and his acrophobia.

MB:  How thoughtful.

So it’s been a while since we’ve done this.  The Talking Mongoose has been nagging me (Mme. Blahblatsky, the default secretary of the Ouija Board), insinuating that we are missing out on some fabu stuff by abandoning ship in the middle of the second season.  There’s no way I’m going to continue to transcribe every single asinine episode, but I’ve consented to do a few select ones.  The Talking Mongoose promises this one makes up for the other lighthouse episodes.

TM:  I did not.  I said it might.

MB:  I thought there was going to be a real ghost!

TM:  I don’t know. Maybe.  Maybe not.  Who can tell?

MB:  There’d better be.

Disclaimer: Sole proprietorship and full blame for the quoted dialogue belongs to Pilgrim Films & Television, Inc., who saw fit to disseminate it on the public airwaves. We still think they’ve got an illegal dump for the out-takes  somewhere off Block Island.

Announcer: On this episode of Ghost Hunters, TAPS hunts for spirits in Florida’s oldest lighthouse. Will Steve’s fear of heights hamper the investigation? And what has the team frantically running up the stairs?

There is a lot of fast-cut commotion.  Then Brian issues the singular judgment:  “This is the Mona Lisa of all paranormal activity.”

MB:  Well, that’s all I need. I’m in.

TM:  I told you so.

The old credits roll, with everyone trying to look extra-dashing and earnest.

TM: Look! Donna is still the case manager.

MB: And Brian has been reduced to a mere investigator, but why is Dave still an investigator-in-training when he’s the only one who figured out the Queen Mary hoax?

TM: That would be why!

MB: Oh. Look.  Race Rock Lighthouse, when we were all younger and stupider.

TM: I miss those days.

MB: Me, too.

There are big snowbanks in front of the TAPS storefront in Warwick.

TM: You’d think Warwick was in the Yukon, they use that same damn snowbank shot so much.

MB: They were probably very proud of that snowbank in Warwick.

Jason: “So are you guys ready? St. Augustine, Florida. Nice lighthouse out there.”

Grant: “The warm weather?”

Dustin, Brian and Steve are lined up in chairs facing Donna, Grant and Jason.  They all look like they feel as foolish as they look.

Jason: “There is a lot of history to this lighthouse, a lot of the locals talk about it being haunted. Donna’s actually got a bunch of information on it.”

Donna: “Basically – uh – the history of the lighthouse – it was built in 1871, completed in 1874. It has some tragedy attached to it. A man hung himself – one of the caretakers hung himself on the front porch. People think that they hear footsteps and little girls running up and down the stairs, and they’ve heard the female voice of the 12-year old girl calling out so there’s a lotta – a lotta history and events attached to this lighthouse.”

TM: Oh, hey – I looked this up. Nobody hanged himself.

MB: Well, maybe not technically. Maybe he hung over the railings. People often do that on porches. Although – most lighthouses don’t have porches.

TM: It’s the house. The house is the thing that’s supposed to be haunted. Or it was. These days they only talk about the tower. All because of this.

MB: This?

TM: Episode 219.  Ghost Hunters is largely responsible for the homogenization of ghost stories on the internet, you know.  Repeating the same tired stuff over and over and over…

MB:  Like we’re doing?

TM:  Never mind.  Carry on.

Jason: “Yeah, I know a lot of the locals talk about it being the most haunted place in St. Augustine. We’ve got a heck of ride ahead of us.” He chuckles. Heads bob all around.

MB: Did you know that St. Augustine is the oldest continuously inhabited city of European settlement in the continental United States?

TM: Yes.

MB: Did you know that the datil pepper was…

TM:   The foundation of the famous St. Augustine hot sauce Dat’l Do It!  Yes.

MB: Oh, for god’s sake.  We’re not providing free advertising here.

TM:  Datil peppers are “rare and elusive,” quite like ghosts, so I would think datil hot sauce is a worthy cause, unlike certain paranormal societies.

MB:  You just want a free gift basket.  You’d have to blog about hot sauce all the time.  And then you’d have to declare it as income.

TM: Forget it, then.  Wait – do bloggers earn money?

MB:  Certainly not!  We do it for…  You know, we really need to keep moving here.

Donna: “Well, I’m really jealous but I can’t go with you guys.”

Jason: “Don’t worry about us guys. We’ll have a blast.” ha ha ha all around.

Donna: “You have a good time.”

Grant: “Thanks, Donna.”

Jason: “Let’s go.”

Jason interviews outside the office: “We have a tech department that we’re running out of the downstairs here so…”

So they’re not ready to go before Steve and Brian pay a visit to the basement equipment wizard.

Ron in the basement: “Hey, Steve. How’s it goin’?”

Jason: “We got Ron Milione who’s heading that up. He’s an inventor and he’s been building equipment suited to our needs.”

TM: Now there’s an opening.

MB: I expect they’ve got him working on a trumpet that floats.

TM: Or a remote-controlled tambourine.

MB:  Or an electronic ouija board.

TM:  Already got it.

Ron in the basement: “The latest thing that I have would be a portable Geiger counter system.”

TM: Okay, I didn’t see that one coming.

MB: Aren’t Geiger counters usually portable?

TM: If they aren’t, Ron probably doesn’t need to be working in the basement of TAPS anymore.

Ron Milione, Research and Development interviews: “We got some big new cases happening – uh – he wanted to do – is expand some new equipment.”

Ron in the basement: “It’s pretty simple.”

Steve: “Tell us about these things, Ron.”

He pretends the Geiger counter is a microphone.  Ron is justifiably not amused.

Ron: “Take the cap off, first. Turn the power on.”

Steve interviews: “A lot of scientists think that a Geiger counter would be useful in paranormal research because one of the theories out there is that paranormal phenomena or ghosts or spirits does [sic] emit some sort of radioactive detectable frequency.”

TM: One of the theories out there.

MB: Where?

TM: I don’t know. Some alternate universe that Steve visits, apparently.

MB: Oh, yeah – the one where the fear of ghosts is perfectly rational because they’re radioactive.

TM: Some ghosts glow, don’t they? Although I always thought that was more of a nontoxic glow-in-the-dark kind of thing. Like my X-Files t-shirt.

MB: Oh, yeah, and these must be the same ghosts that they’re expecting to pick up on the thermal imaging camera because they’re shedding hot radioactive isotopes!

TM: You got it. And I thought I was the scientific one.

MB: Jeezum crow.  Radioactive ghosts.  I thought they’d given up on this after Altoona.

TM:  No, it was Mike Dion’s Geiger counter at the New Bedford Armory that Brian was showing Steve how to zero-ize.  They gave up on night-vision goggles after Altoona.

MB:  OMG – for use in zero lux!  I’d forgotten that.  And zero-ize.  It’s so much more fun when Brian’s around.

Ron: “So what that’s doin’ right now – we measure some background radiation.”

Ron and Brian hold their sensors to Steve’s head.

Ron: “I got some real radioactive sources here.”

Steve: “Petroleum?”

Ron: “Uranium.”

Steve: “Uranium.”

Ron: “Uranium.”

There’s a rattley whirr coming out of the Geiger counters.

Brian, gleeful: “It’s acting crazy.”

MB: They’ve got uranium in the TAPS basement.

TM: Wait, can we go back to the petroleum?

MB: Best not.

Ron: “You hear that? And once that tone starts getting louder and louder, you get into a concentrated area of maybe some entity out there.”

Brian: “Okay.”

Steve: “And then we melt.”

Ron: “You got something active right there, so you zero in on it.”

Steve: “So as soon as we get a Geiger reading, or an EMF reading, it’s time to do EVP, time to take pictures, time to…”

Ron: “Yeah, exactly. The cool thing about all the devices is now we can take all the data that we capture – we can really focus on getting closer to an answer about this paranormal activity.”

MB: Oh, dear.  More useless data to store.

TM:  It can go right next to all the hours and hours of video tapes of nothing.  Didn’t they have an archivist once?

MB:  I think so.  The poor thing probably had a nervous breakdown ages ago.

Ron sends Steve and Brian off with their handy new portable Geiger counters.

The doors on the black caravan slam shut. An instant of road flashing by, and bang! It’s the “Welcome to Florida the Sunshine State” sign.   The editors aren’t wasting valuable time on the road.

Grant: “At least it’s warm down here, right?”

Jason: “Yeah.”

Palm trees pass.

Grant: “58 degrees compared to 20.”

TM: 20.

MB: Poo. 20 is a heat wave.

TM: 58 is what you keep your house, Mme!

MB: Tropical, then.

Brian and Steve are traveling in the van.

Brian: “See the drawbridge?”

Steve: “Yeah, it’s pretty cool.”

TM: Drawbridges are cool. We don’t have enough of them.

MB: We don’t have enough moats, either. I don’t know why moats went out of style.

Jason on walkie-talkie: “Make sure you take a left over the drawbridge.”

Dustin is in the back seat behind Jason.

Dustin: “Does this place have power? I remember the other one didn’t have power.”

TM: The other one.

MB: This is like the third lighthouse they’ve done. They could do a whole season of nothing but lighthouses.

TM: What is it with lighthouses?

MB: Well, I have a theory…

TM:  If it involves stairs, I’ve heard it.

MB:  Well!  Okay then.

TM:  On this 10-most-haunted-lighthouses list, St. Augustine is the 8th most haunted, but on this one, it’s the 6th.

MB:  It’s 8th in front of Ledge Lighthouse as 9th, and there’s no 10th.

TM:  And Ledge Lighthouse isn’t on the second one at all.  Silly internet. I thought they were better at copying each other by now.

Jason: “Yeah, there’s actually power here.”

Grant: “Bathrooms?”

Jason: “Yes, there’s bathrooms.”

Grant chortles: “Sweet.”

TM: Is it just me, or do you think he is happier than he needs to be about bathrooms?

MB: I don’t know. I like to have bathrooms nearby at all times, too. It’s not like he’s going to use it to thread strings through his jacket, is it?

TM: Tch. I thought we weren’t going to talk about that.

MB: I’m not. I said he wasn’t.

Steve on walkie-talkie: “Is it both patrons and employees who say they experience things?”

MB: I wonder if they still get filmed having these distracting radio conversations while driving one-handed now.

TM:  We’d have to watch new episodes to find out.

MB:  Forget it.

Jason: “People have been camping around here and they’ve come in the next day and asked who lives there because they heard people talking so even visitors have experienced a lot of things.”

Steve: “That’s good. So we may have a good probability of capturing something.”

Grant: “This lighthouse – how is it different from other ones?”

Jason: “It’s really tall.”

TM: Me! I know! It’s striped!

MB: It’s in Florida.

TM: You can’t fish from it.   Unless you’re hoping for squirrel.

Grant: “Okay.” He chortles obediently.  “Yeah, the ones we’ve been to haven’t been that tall.”

Jason: “Tall.” He points to the tower, to reinforce his thesis.

MB:  I think we’d better see the tower au naturel, in order to appreciate Jason’s nuanced description.

TM:  Oh, all right.  St. Augustine Lighthouse

MB:  Ooh.  Poor Steve.

Grant: “Gosh. There it is right there.”

Jason: “It’s tall.”

Grant: “It’s beautiful.”

Jason: “And that’s the house right in front of it.”

Grant: “Ah. That’s weird. You got like a lighthouse in the middle of [?] on the coast.”

MB: I’m not sure I understand why St. Augustine needs a lighthouse.  Does it look like ships are going to crash here in the middle of town?

TM: Well, let’s say you’re cruising off-shore in your shrimp boat, and you want to go to the Cracker Barrel Restaurant in St. Augustine. How are you going to know you aren’t going to end up at the Cracker Barrel in Daytona Beach instead, were it not for the lighthouse?

MB: Shrimp boat?  And you’re not allowed to make cracks about crackers in Florida, because you’re a foreigner.

TM: Applebee’s then. IHOP. Whatever.

MB: I see your point. It’s a locational beam.

TM: Exactly. The pirates didn’t want to cruise up and down the coast looking for places to pillage.

MB: Pirates?

TM: Like Ponce De Leon.

MB: Ah! Who claimed the entire continent right here.

TM: Did you know he was 4’-11”?

MB: That explains a lot. The Indians should have squished him like a bug.

TM: Someone taller would have come along anyway. Hey, remember that X-Files episode where Mulder escaped from an office retreat and got trapped under the Everglades by leaf monsters who were actually conquistadors who drank from the Fountain of Youth?

MB: I thought they were mothmen.

TM: Yeah, that ep was a mess.

Jason: “You can see the water. You can definitely see the water. [mumble]”

They grunt as they get out of the cars. Someone whistles. “Wow.”

Jason: “That’s a tall building.”

MB: Well, I think it’s been established that this is a tall lighthouse.

TM:  I think my version is cuter.

Steve interviews: “Your first reaction when you see something like that – having a fear of heights – is uh – you know – I’m not doing it and uh – you know I did tell Jason and Grant if you guys – you know there’s no way I can get up there and investigate that. My first response was definitely there’s no way I can go up there.”

Grant: “All the activity is at the very top.”

Steve: “Are you serious?”

Grant: “No, I’m just kidding.”

Everyone chortles.

Jason: “All right, whyn’t you two start getting the equipment ready. Steve, let’s go in.”

MB: You’d think he could afford some treatment by now.

TM: The TAPS health insurance plan specifically excludes mental illnesses.

MB:  I wonder if they get workman’s comp if a ghost pushes them down the stairs.

The Investigation

St. Augustine Lighthouse

Saturday 5:33 PM

Paul: “Hi, guys.”

Jason: “I’m Jason.”

Grant: “Grant. How you doin’?”

Paul: “Nice to meet you, Grant.”

Steve: “Steve. Hey.”

Paul: “Steve, nice to meet you.”

Paul Wenglowsky, Director of Education interviews: “I don’t know what TAPS is going to find but hopefully Jason and Grant can answer our questions if there are spirits here at the lighthouse.”

“Wow.”

There is another view of the very tall tower.

Steve: “We’re gonna need a lot of cord to get up there.”

MB: We?

Paul: “It’s the eighth tallest lighthouse in the entire United States. While they were building this lighthouse there was some tragedy involved. The – uh – supervisor that was in charge, Hezekiah Pittee, moved his entire family down here while they were building the lighthouse, and in order to get the supplies up from the beach, they had a hand rail car type system. Now his children would love to get into the railcar and ride it down, and one day unfortunately the brakes failed and the car plunged into the ocean. Two of his daughters – Mary and Eliza did drowned [sic].”

TM: Let’s not mention the third poor little girl, because she was probably a maid. Maids don’t count.

MB: Excuse me?

TM: I’m being sarcastic. They don’t even remember her name.

MB: Pity.

TM: Nope. Something else.

MB: Eh.

Grant: “Jeez.”

Paul: “Let’s go in.”

Grant: “Wow. It’s beautiful.”

Paul: “It’s only 219 steps.”

Steve: “Yeah. Only?”

Grant: “We’ll take a picture.”

Jason: “Ready for this, Steve?”

Steve: “I’ll go up as high as I can.”

Jason laughs.

Paul: “Guys ready? Here we go.”

They start climbing upwards.

Steve interviews: “I didn’t really want to investigate in the lighthouse. I told J. and Grant that – you know – Dustin and Brian do that if they need someone else.”

TM: But look at that. There he goes.

MB: Oh, sure. He goes up now. Wait until it’s time to run those extension cords, or retrieve them. Then we’ll have to get out the smelling salts.

The climbing has become plodding.

Paul: “It’s approximately a hundred feet in the air right now, guys.”

Jason: “How you doin’, Steve?”

Steve grunts, as he presses himself to the tower wall, away from the open stair rail.

TM: It’s not like you to make fun of people with disabilities.

MB: Humph. I’m not sure I believe this one so much anymore. If it were that bad, should he be keeling over right now and clutching his chest?

Paul: “Now at this landing up here has been spectivity [sic]. This bucket simulates the weight of oil that the lighthouse keepers would have to carry.”

There’s a large metal bucket in front of a large photo of a former light keeper, with a sign that says “Try our hand again at “Toting the oil.””

TM: Here, Mme. I copied this for you. It’s the label on that sign:

“Each night the light keeper would stand vigil to the needs of the lighthouse, tending to the light burning in the tower and winding the clockwork to rotate the lens every two and a half hours. The keeper would heat the fuel in this room and then carry it up the 219 steps of the tower five gallons at a time. Try lifting the fuel bucket the keeper used. It held five gallons of fuel, and weighed about 30 pounds. Now imagine that you are carrying the bucket as you climb the 219 steps to the top of the tower. What might you do to make this task easier?”

MB: Ha! I’d claim acrophobia and make the assistant light keeper do it!

TM: It was lard, too.  Melted.  That’s a lot of pie crust.

MB: No wonder this place is haunted.

Paul: “And people inside the tower have heard it been picked up [he picks it up] and dropped.”

Paul drops the bucket, producing a huge reverberating clang.

Grant: “Can’t miss that.”

Paul: “No. That goes through the entire tower.”

The editors splice in someone we have never seen and will never see again.

Allan Studer, Retired Lighthouse Guide interviews: “Just as I was going up to the top of the tower there was a very long, delayed, drawn-out groaning sound that just emanated from the interior of the tower.”

TM:  That certainly adds to – wait.  What does that add?

MB:  Atmosphere.  It is the clanking of chains before the spectre appears.  Dragging its hot lard bucket.

The metal stairs rattle loudly as the group forges on.

Paul: “Right now you’re standing at a hundred forty feet up in the air.”

They have gone through a doorway, and are outside at the tippy-top of the lighthouse, with a lovely view of the Atlantic Ocean.

Jason: “All right, Steve?”

Steve has remained in the stairwell, probably leaning against the wall with his hands clamped over his eyes.

MB:  If we are to believe him.

Steve: “Yeah, I’ll be right there, guys.”   He peeks out briefly.

Grant: You stayin’ in there, Steve?”

Steve: “Yeah.”

Steve interviews: “I was able to get all the way to the top of the lighthouse. I wasn’t gonna go outside though. Once you get up there, there’s a viewing tower, that viewing stoop, where you can look down and there was no way I was gonna go on there, and J. knows when to push me appropriately and when not to push me appropriately, and he let me stay back in inside so it was good.”

TM: See how brave he is?

MB: Pft. Yeah. He’s a hero.

Paul: “Every evening the closing person will close that door and padlock it. Numerous times the opening person will come in, come all the way up to the top, the door’ll be open, unlocked, and the alarm in the tower has not gone off.”

Jason: “All right.”

Grant: “Has that been investigated by the alarm company?”

Paul: “It has been, but nothing has tripped the motion sensors or anything causing the alarm to go off. People have also seen either a woman in white or a little girl in period dress up at the top of the tower during severe storms.”

We miss out on Steve whimpering and crying all the way down the 219 stairs, because suddenly they are outside, at the base of the tower.

MB: See, we don’t actually know how he behaved on the way down. He could have skipped down whistling the William Tell Overture, for all we know.

Jason: “All right. From here we’re headin’ into the house out there?”

Paul: “From here we’re gonna head into the house and this is where the lighthouse keeper lived. Now the room that you’re entering right now is the parlor – what would have been the parlor room for the lighthouse keepers.”

The group heads for a two-story house across the way.

Jason: “Now what kind of activity goes on in here?”

Paul, smiling: The last lighthouse keeper, James Piffin (?), when he was inside this house he heard footsteps. Lights would turn on and off, uh – he heard voices, so he refused to sleep in this house. Instead, he slept in a little Coast Guard bungalow. I’m going to take you downstairs now.”

They descend to the basement, via another spiral stair.

Grant: “Can you handle this one, Steve?”

TM:  Burn!  The weasel gets mean!

Steve: “Yeah, this will do.”

Paul: “Now the basement is where the majority of the activity has been found.”

Grant: “Anything in this room right here?”

Paul ignores him.

Paul: “Now in that room over there our executive director, of all people, saw an image of a man walk past. She called out to him, and when she walked in here, there was nobody there. And other people have also reported seeing a man walking in that area.”

Grant: “People ever report any details about the guy that walks around?”

Paul: “They know it’s a male, and it looks to be a uniform that he’s wearing.”

Grant: “Maybe this guy slides across.” He points to a cardboard cut-out of a British Revolutionary War soldier. There is obliging chortling from all, despite the fact that it is not in the least funny.

Paul: “Exactly.”

TM: I think that’s the same cardboard cut-out that’s in this video.

MB: Well, that is just truly lame. But it’s a lot funnier than Grant.

Jason: “Thanks, Paul. We really appreciate the tour. What we’re gonna do now is set up all the equipment in all the different areas and – uh – start investigating.”

It’s dark now.

Paul: “Well, good luck!”

MB: Heh. I like Paul.

TM: Me, too.  But we always like the clients.  It’s partly the contrast with creepy TAPS.

MB:  Oh.  Yeah.

Paul interviews: “I’m not a so-called believer in the paranormal. I’d like to be proven wrong so I hope TAPS finds some evidence that I am proven wrong. Being a man of science, I need those cold, hard facts.”

MB: Go, Paul.

The Investigation

St. Augustine Lighthouse

Saturday 7:37 PM

Grant, Steve and Jason find Brian and Dustin slouching in porch chairs.

Grant: “There they are.”

Jason: “What’s goin’ on?”

TM: I think the answer to that is nothing!

MB: Ghost Hunters is a lot of nothing.

TM: “Waiting for Ghost Hunters.”   Haven’t we seen that one before?  Brian is Estragon.

MB:  Yeah, but not with Dustin.   Steve has to be Vladimir.

TM:  And here are Pozzo and Lucky!

Grant: “Gentlemen.”

Jason: “A little cool for Florida, huh?”

Dustin has his hands firmly tucked into the pockets of his hoodie.

TM: Yeah, it’s probably down to 55 by now.

MB: 56 is my cut-off for balmy. He’s allowed to be cold.

Dustin interviews: “We’re looking for a couple of things tonight. Reports of people talking inside the lighthouse, shadowy figures in the basement, so. If we get everything set up then we just gotta see what we’ll catch.”

Jason: “Well, we got a lot of room to cover tonight.”

Dustin: “Where’re we settin’ up base?”

Steve: “We’re setting up right in the main building.”

Grant: “So how we gonna cover the actual tower itself – the lighthouse?”

Jason: “I’m thinkin’ the best thing to do is have a camera at the bottom shooting all the way up – one of the big – uh – DVR cameras.”

Brian: “Show me where they go and we’ll be going.”

Jason: “Okay, let’s do it. I think it’s gonna be a real good investigation. It’s gonna be a tough set-up but once we get it all set up and start goin’ – uh – everything will fall into place.”

MB: How much of our lives have we wasted listening to this drivel?  No, don’t answer that.

TM: They may not have captions for the hearing-impaired, but they certainly are generous with the verbal explications for the dumb.

MB:  And I actually write them down.

Brian, staring at the stairs, sighs: “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven – at about four levels up we’ll run the wireless audio.” He starts running up the stairs. “Like Rocky. All right. Now we’ll put the wireless audio right here. Learned my lesson with other places with steel that if you put it on the steel itself the reverberation of your voice make everybody sound like a robot. So I gotta make sure it dangles off so it doesn’t hit that metal and doesn’t’ reverberate like that.”

MB: Brian sounds much more intelligent when he’s on his own.

TM: Everything’s relative.

He ends up back at “base,” where Jason is lolling around, idle as usual.

Jason: “Hey, Brian – is the wireless audio up?”

Brian, peeved: “Yeah. It’s about the fifth or fourth floor.”

Jason: “I didn’t say halfway up. I wanted to get it as high as possible.”

Brian: “Yeah?”

Jason: “Cause there’s been reports of sounds [here he laughs witheringly, to indicate the measure of Brian’s folly] up near the top.”

Brian: “Well then – tell Steve that ‘cause he told me halfway up.”

Jason: “All right, well – get it up top for me. Okay, thanks.”

Brian interviews: “We’re having a little problem with the wireless audio. Steve told me to put it up half – about half-way so I put it up more than half-way, about three-fourths of the way.”

Brian goes to fuss with equipment, as Steve looks on.

Steve: “What’re you gonna do?”

Brian: “I’m gonna go to the top floor now and put the wireless audio.”

Steve:  “Why?”

Brian: “J. wanted it all the way up.”

Steve: “He wants it all the way up at the top.”

Brian, peeved: “Yeah.”

Brian interviews: “So I go all the way back up there, went up to the top floor, come all the way back down…”

Brian enters “base,” now occupied by the idle Grant: “How you doin’?”

Grant: “Did you check the battery in there?”

Brian: “Yeah, I checked everything.”

Grant laughs, skeptical: “Cause it’s – we’re not pickin’ anything up.”

Brian: “Really?”

Grant: “No. We had it and it cut out. Look. I got – I just recorded there and then it stopped. So I stopped it.”

Brian: “Aw. You gotta be kidding me.” He sighs.

Brian continues his interview: “Grant said it’s not working anymore so then I had to go all the way back there and make sure the battery was working and everything else was on and the battery was on and the battery was not drained. Came all the way back down.”

MB: See how convenient a fear of heights can be?

TM: Are you implying Steve is faking it???

MB: I’m just making a logical observation.

TM: Okay, Mr. Spock.

Brian in scene: “Well, it better be working now ‘cause if it’s not I’m not going back up there.”

Grant: “It was – it was working but it’s coming in fuzzy. How far up the tower is it?”

Brian: “All the way.”

Grant: “Well, no wonder we’re gettin’ crappy signals. It’s at the top.”

Brian: “Well, that’s great. I’m not goin’ back and changing it.”

Grant: “Then there’s no point in recording.”

Brian interviews: “And Grant said it was not workin’ – it was very tinny. So most likely it was the steel inside the building itself not letting the wireless feed go back and forth to the transmitter.”

Grant: “All right. Well, at the top is not gonna work so we gotta put it back.”

MB: Aaaaaagh! WE! Again!  Poor Brian.

Brian huffs and puffs his way back up the stairs.

MB: Really, this is cruel and unusual.

TM: Eh, he’s enjoying it.  Sometimes it’s fun to be the victim.

Brian interviews: “So then I had to go back to the top of the lighthouse, put it back on the bench that I originally had it on, and it’s working fine now, so. I did about 800 stairs in the last half an hour so, and everything – my legs are all wobbly.”

TM: It’s actually more like 1400 stairs.

MB: See?

TM: But it’s not like he’s carrying 30 pounds of hog fat.

Jason: “All right, so – we got wireless, we got digital recorder…”

Brian: “Oh, we got wireless all right.”

Jason: “Eh – the camera’s all set to go, so let’s – kill the lights. Lights out.”

There is a crashing of chords as someone hits the switches. Darkness descends.

Basement

Light Keeper’s House

Brian: “So what’s supposed to happen down here, Steve?”

Steve: “Down here, Brian, is where they hear a lot of noises and they see black shadows. In this hallway here and in this room they’ve seen supposedly apparition in soldier uniform.”

Brian: “Well, let’s sit back and relax and we’ll find out.”

Steve: “You have EVP going?”

Brian: “Mm-hmm.”

Steve: “Sweet. Could you please tell us your name?”

Grant interviews: “EVP stands for electronic voice phenomena. This is a phenomena [sic] that happens very frequently. It’s when we capture voice on recording device [sic] that you don’t hear with the human ear at the time.”

MB:  Human ear, as opposed to dog ear, or your third eye.  I wish Grant just once could get out a half-way intelligible definition of EVP in two sentences.

TM:  Maybe he could memorize the Wikipedia one.

Brian: “Are you one of the three girls that died? In this area? When we go on a case for an investigation we wanna get scientific proof of an actual ghost. I wanna sit there with a camera and watch the ghost walk through the room. Even if I feel it and Steve feels it and Jason feels it, if there’s no seeing it on the cameras, there’s no proof.”

TM: Some would say that seeing it on TAPS cameras is also no proof.

Steve: “If you’ve passed, why are you still here?”

Dustin: “What the hell is that?”

Brian: “Did that sound like a girl?”

Dustin: “Yeah, it sounds like a guy and then a woman.”

Brian: “There’s no woman in it _?”

The guys are creating something of a hubbub, and are milling around in the dark.

Steve: “Ssh. Ssh. What was that?”

Brian: “What the hell was that?”

Dustin: “Did you hear that?”

Steve: “Yeah.”

Dustin: “That was weird.”

Steve: “Where’d it come from?”

Brian: “It sounded like it came from inside that thing.”

Dustin: “No, I was standing right there. It sounded like it came from somewhere over this way.”

Steve: “All right. Let’s go.”

TM: I don’t think they should allow any three TAPS underlings to investigate together. They just make each other hysterical.

MB: I want to see Steve look for cold spots again.

Steve interviews: “When Brian, Dustin and I were in the basement investigating – uh – all three of us thought we heard a female voice, and there are no females with us investigating.”

Steve in scene: “Does it sound like it’s coming from anything?”

Dustin: “No, it sounded like it was coming from somewhere over here.”

Steve interviews: “We looked around and we couldn’t figure out where it was coming from.”

MB: Well, so much for that.

TM: You see? Useless.

MB: Where are the EMF meters? The Geiger counters?

TM: Perhaps they’re saving them for the witching hour. It’s going to be a long night.

Meanwhile, in the tower, Jason and Grant are preparing their assault.

Jason: “All right – the thermal. We’ll do a walk-through.”

Lighthouse Tower

9:25 PM

Jason: “I say we set this up so it just shoots up while we’re walking.”

Grant: “Okay.”

Jason interviews: “When Grant and I headed into the lighthouse we decided that we were going to set the thermal camera at the bottom pointing straight up.”

MB:  I thought Jason told Brian and Steve to set up one of the big DVR cameras here.

TM:  Ha.  He did.

MB:  So why…

TM:  The plot may be thickening.  Or not.  Just saying.

Jason in scene: “All right, lemme see that monitor so I can see what I’m shooting at.”

He messes with his camera at the bottom of the stairs.

Jason interviews: “It being stationary would be able to catch anything that might lean over the railing or any change in temperature.”

MB: And why are they expecting something to be leaning over the railing?

TM: Aha! I don’t know, but I have an idea.

Grant: “That’s good. All right. Let’s go up. I wanna get up to that bucket so we can just get the sound of that bucket.”

Grant interviews: “One of the claims of the lighthouse was that there was a bucket that would raise up and slam into the ground and make just a huge noise.”

Jason interviews: “Grant and I are gonna see if we can debunk the sounds of the metal bucket.”

MB: He seems to be trying with that “me and Grant” thing. I wonder if his third-grade teacher got in touch with him on Facebook.

Grant in scene: “Well, look right here.”

Jason: “You got a window.”

Jason interviews: “We found a window being held shut by a sandbag.”

Grant in scene slams the window with a clang: “If the wind hit that…”

Jason: “Yeah.”

Grant: “You wanna drop that bucket?”

Jason: “Yeah, I gotcha.”

He picks up and drops the bucket, which results in a very loud metallic crash.

Jason: “Holy crap.”

Grant: “All right. Here’s the window. You ready?” He slams the window in its frame.

Jason: “It’s pretty close.”

Grant: “Wanna do the bucket again?”

More crashing.

Grant: “Window.” Another slam, which does indeed sound almost identical.

Grant interviews: “We debunked the sound of the bucket. We found that the window slamming makes almost exactly the same sound.”

TM: Okay, for once they’ve done it right.

MB: Big deal.

TM: You’re bitter.

MB: I am bitter. I am cowslip leaves in June. I am dandelion greens in August.   It will always be too little, too late now.  Forever.

TM:  You need a new hobby.

Jason: “Let’s go down a level or two.”

Light Keeper’s Bedroom

3 Hrs. into investigation

Steve interviews: “We’re gonna investigate the entire living quarters, especially where the bedrooms were. That’s where most of the activity happens and that’s where I think we have our best chances of finding something.”

Steve in scene: “If there’s anybody in here, please tell us your name. We understand there is a light keeper here that you’re finding quite a bit and you wouldn’t sleep in here. We’d like to see what made him so scared.”

MB: Has he been swilling down beer or something? Because that is gibberish.  And I got it right, too.

TM:  He’s still light-headed from the tower.

Steve interviews: “I didn’t really want to investigate the lighthouse – uh – because I do have a fear of heights. I’m afraid of a lot of things. Um – I don’t like spiders, I don’t like heights, I don’t like flying. It seems to me that the one thing I’m not afraid of is ghosts.”

TM:  Except when Blinky looked like he was going to cry at the Lighthouse Inn.

MB:  And you think I’m mean about Steve.

Steve in scene: “This is a Geiger counter. It detects radioactivity. Can you give us a sign of your presence? Would you please show yourself? Is there anybody here with me that would like to communicate? Perhaps make a noise?”

The Geiger counter starts chirping.

TM: Ack – look!

MB: What’s it reacting to?

TM: If it isn’t gamma rays from a UFO, there could be a potato truck passing by. Or somebody could be having a banana and cocoa in the next room.

Steve: “Well, that’s a little weird. That’s a little more of what you’re lookin’ for when you – when you think of – a reading from this Geiger counter. So that was a nice little spike we had there. This Geiger counter’s great and works appropriately. I’m not quite sure how this is going to – uh – fit into – you know – our arsenal of tools, but I’m sure we’ll make good use for it.”

TM: Yeah.  Sure.

MB: He sure likes the word “appropriately” a lot.  I think it’s the inner prig talking.

TM:  There.  I only called him Blinky.

Back at the tower, the FLIR camera monitor screen indicates it is 1/15/06 11:41:10 and the temperature is currently 49.6 degrees.

MB: January 15, 2006 is a Sunday, by the way. I made a point of looking that up for you.

TM: Why, thank you.

Jason and Grant are still fumbling around in the dark, climbing the lighthouse tower stairwell.

Grant: “You gonna be all right in here?”

Jason: “Yeah.”

Grant: “Watch this step here.”

Level 2

Lighthouse Tower

11:38 PM

Grant: “All right. Here’s the wireless audio.”

They are on one of the stair landings, somewhere  half-way up the tower.

Jason: “Yeah. Sweet. Let’s just listen.”

Grant: “Okay.”

There is some faint human-sounding babble in the background, somewhere.

Grant, whispering: “Do you hear talking?”

Grant interviews: “Jason and I, we started hearing some weird noises, and we decided to just be quiet and listen and see what we could hear.”

Grant in scene: “Hellooo. Okay, so it’s not an echo.”

Jason: “Anybody here?”

We seem to hear voices, but there’s so much extraneous noise from the damn soundtrack guy, it could be anything. Jason looks at Grant.

Jason: “Did you hear footsteps? That sounds like a girl’s voice.”

The Investigation

St Augustine Lighthouse

Saturday, 11:57 PM

Grant: “Hellooo.”

Jason: (again) “It sounds like a girl’s voice.”

Level 2 Lighthouse Tower

5 hrs. into investigation

Grant nods.

Grant: “I hear a man, then a girl.”

Jason interviews: “When me and Grant were in the lighthouse we could hear steps and voices coming from above us. There was something there and it was moving. It kept us on the move.”

Jason in scene: “Hellooo.” He whispers: “There’s like a conversation.”

MB:  It kind of does.

TM:  Maybe.

Grant: “Totally.”

Jason interviews: “We’d actually hear conversations. It would sound like a man talking to a woman, uh – sometimes a woman talking to a child.”

Grant: “You can totally hear someone just chattering.”

They both are looking up the stairwell intently.

Grant interviews: “It was very clear to us there were voices so we tried to follow them up the tower.”

A minor ruckus breaks out.

Someone – Jason?: “Holy shit! All the way up, all the way up! Did you see it?”

MB:  I don’t think this voice sounds like either Jason or Grant.

TM:  A crew member breaking silence?  Hmm.

MB:  Out of shock?

TM:   That would be interesting.

Grant: “What’s up there, dude?”

Jason: “Yeah.”

Grant: “Did you see that?”

Jason: “It was like it walked by the window.”

Grant: “It totally blocked out the window. Right there. It did it again.”

Jason: “I don’t think we’re alone.”

Jason interviews: “We were able to witness a shadow back up under a set of lights – just floated, just floated right up against the wall, kept on going.”

Grant: “What is that?”

Jason: “There it is.”

Grant: “I saw something look down at us. Oh, my god! Did you see it, too?”

Nothing is discernible.

Jason: “It looked just like some dude was just looking right over the railing.”

Grant: “Yeah.”

Grant interviews: “Jason and I saw a figure lean over the railing at us not more than ten feet away from us.”

We sure don’t get to see that, unfotunately.

Jason: “Wait. Do this. Hold this light right here. Make sure nothing goes up those stairs. Hold it. Don’t move it. Keep it right there.”

Grant interviews: “We saw something move in and out of the light, and – uh – Jason wanted to intercept it so I had the light on the stairs to make sure nothing came off the landing.”

Someone: “Hey, it went up another flight!”

MB:  Again, I can’t tell whose voice that is.

TM:  No, that’s Grant.  And I don’t see a bloody thing.

Jason: “Another flight?”

Grant: “It went up and around.”

Grant interviews: “I saw something come off the landing and swoop up the staircase.”

Grant in scene: “You’d see it now, dude.”

Jason, half-whisper: “There’s nothin’.”

Grant: “It was – it should be right on this landing right here.”

Jason: “Ain’t nothing.”

Grant: “This is really some _?”

Grant interviews: “I was watching the staircase the whole time and uh – nothing came off that other floor above him. He would have come and run right into it.”

Grant in scene: “You all right?”

Jason: “Yeah.”

Grant: “I watched it – walk right on the stairs, right on _?”

Jason: “Mm hmm.”

Grant: “Right here. Right – these stairs.”

In between Grant’s bouts of gibbering, there is what sounds like a woman’s voice somewhere in the distance.

Jason: “What the frig was that?”

There’s been a lot of frantic looking up and down the stairwell by Grant at this point.

MB:  If he’s acting, he’s doing a much better job than he usually does.

Jason: “Sounded like a lady.”

Grant: “It did.”

They are both looking up and down, in a swivet.

Jason: “It sounded like a lady said ‘help me.’”

MB:  It actually did.

TM:  Kinda.  If only Grant would shut up.

Grant: “Oh, my god. Did you hear that conversation?”

Jason: Yeah. ‘Help me.’ It didn’t sound like a child to me, man.”

Grant: “No.”

They keep going up the stairs.

Level 7 (Second from Top)

12:37 AM

Jason: “Something keeps moving above us.”

Grant: “Well, whatever it is, it can only go up ‘cause we’re blocking the way down.”

Jason, whispering: “Well, what we have to do is when we go up there if we go out the main door the only (mumble).”  He rotates his finger in a horizontal circle to show the path around the tower.

Jason interviews: “You know we came up to the top with the whole idea that nothing could get by us.”

In the scene, a light at the top suddenly floods on as Jason and Grant climb the last stairs. They stop in unison, like a pair of cat burglars, and look down the stairwell, as if expecting to see someone at the bottom.

Jason: “That scared the shit out of me.”

Grant: “Motion-activated?”

Jason interviews: “A motion light went off. It was an extreme shock. It – we – we had been walking around in the dark for the last hour.”

Grant: “Well, that kills the whole sneak up and surprise it.”

MB:  That’s kind of cool.

TM:  I guess I shouldn’t tell you there might be a way to blind motion sensors.

MB:  Yeah, you can leave that until later.

Grant interviews: “As we continued to investigate – uh – we went all the way to the top to make sure no one was playing tricks on us.”
Jason: “It’s frickin’ padlocked.”

Grant: “So is that. Boom, boom.”

Jason: “There’s no way out.”

Grant: “That means whoever was up here would be standing right there.”

Jason: “Yeah, he ain’t gettin’ in or out of this.”

Grant interviews: “We came to a dead end with two padlocked doors. There’s no way anyone could have gone anywhere and of course we were like – where did this thing go?”

Jason interviews on site: “Me and Grant are going to take a break for a few and we’re going to sent in Dustin and Brian, see maybe if they can get some EVPs while they’re in there.”

More helloos in the tower as the new shift enters, while Jason and Grant sit in Mission Control looking at the monitor.

TO BE CONTINUED


MB:  I thought we were going to plow on through this to the end.   I mean – it’s swell to maybe hear a voice, and on Pilgrim equipment, no less, but we’re not exactly at the real ghost part, are we?  I haven’t seen a thing.

TM:  But it’s lunch time.

MB:  It’s always lunch time.

TM:  Okay, but I don’t want you getting too excited.  I can’t take the drama if you get disappointed later.  You need to consider the story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf.

MB:  Yeah, yeah, yeah, but the last time he cried wolf, it was a real wolf, and I thought you were promising a real wolf here.

TM:  My dear Mme., this is a year and a half after Race Rock Lighthouse, a year after the DeVille Door, and half a year after the Queen Mary.  They’re capable of anything here.  Maybe it’s real.  Maybe it’s not.  Fort Dearborn is still 2-1/2 years in the future.  So I think we should fortify ourselves with grilled cheese before we press on.

MB:  Oh, all right.  I suppose I have to make it.

TM:  Tomatillo salsa on mine, and a side of green olives for both of us.  I don’t suppose you have any Dat’l Do It?

MB:  No.

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