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paranormal, lit, stay lit

Chapter 4

Guess who got a heavy dose of Creative Burnout™ this year? It is I, the primary creator of the things that pertain to our brand, Amy & Ryan's Weird Adventures, formerly Full Dark Paranormal Explorers, formerly formerly, Full Dark Productions. I needed, and still am working on, rebuilding my mentality and ambitions within the paranormal and occult. It's a *process*, I'm not alone, I am okay.

Hello again, weirdos.

Everything about this memory is starting to feel like badly generated AI art.

Listen, I don't want to throw my age around, but 5 years ago there were less places to land content, and when I dipped into the paranormal "officially" in 2011 (instead of amateurishly), there were only very new places to land content. And twitter didn't suck so much. The paranormal community at large has really changed since then. Intrinsic things stay the same - like teams of investigators naming themselves with ever-more-clever monikers as they create their group persona for the internet. Photos of lovely old headstones in a particular Lightroom preset style. There's the same but more in those cases. The new parts are surprising; fantastic new personalities gracing the home pages and haunts. But with many new people come many new discussions of what's right and wrong, what's stolen from other creators when something goes beyond inspiration, who has what intentions, etc. Some of the discussions become very cruel, and very strained, and very public.

Much of that has occurred in 2023, just this winter into spring. I don't know if it's my own perception of the community at large just having an in-fighting sesh lately, or if I've got some skewed lens I'm seeing it through. Maybe the algorithms pour the tea and I've stopped to notice long enough that it's just pouring me more. Either way, it's a little dark out there and not just from this intense Canadian wildfire smoke in the air. Everything outside looks awfully apocalyptic right now and my eyes itch, so let's go back to a time when in-fighting and confusion were running wild on a particular paranormal team, who had a particular night in store for them.

It's 2012, I think it's summer? Fall? I only remember being in t-shirts and one team member not having electricity in their apartment, and they showed up late to a team meeting where we were introduced to... The Team Psychic. Which, to be honest is a weird moniker for this new individual, as the team leader had professed to be psychic on so many levels it made them seem like a Marvel character. They'd actively stated that they were "training" two of us as well, myself being one trainee, in how to uSe oUr AbiLitIeS. I hate to even say that, it Fake. Pseudo. This is after the leader spent a year not so much training myself and this other team member, as expressing the psychic things they experienced and went through constantly and how perilous it was to be able to do and see and feel the things they did. Then, without so much as a warning or a vote on the matter, they brought to the group a new member to be THE psychic medium.

Previous members were trial based, usually they felt it out for a night or two and then committed where they could, and there were discussions on who seemed to fit well and who didn't. This person was on the team right then and there, and so was their entire faith-based spiritual system. It makes no sense on it's head or right side up. Consistency was not always reliable on this team. I think I've expressed that in these chapters before, but I state it again because these stories become difficult to articulate due of that all-over-the-placeness I experienced.

So in the parlor of an historic building sits the team and I, early evening. In the arrangement of chairs, I was across from a friend named Rick who held a lot of the same reservations about the direction of the team at that time that I did. We'd only had so few conversations in the past couple months about how the "science-based/healthily skeptical" team was turning more toward what members felt or interpreted in investigations through their various abilities. Suddenly everyone was psychic. (I've skipped a few memories and key people so far, but maybe in future chapters I'll write them as well, just because they're unbelievably strange too.)

Side bar: Mysterious exits from team members and "reasons" relayed by the leader at the next meeting would become a regular thing as time went by.

As the new psychic came in and sat down, they did so with a briefcase of paperwork they proceeded to have on hand and started passing packets around as they introduced themselves. This psychic medium was a Spiritualist, and you have use Google so you can look up what that is if you don't know, but it comes with the belief that spirits, or Spirit, is deceased people, consciously existing after death and able to communicate with living people. "Everyone is psychic", but some are trained, tuned in, and therefore the "chosen one/special person" trope can very easily be present in these personalities. This person went through what I'd consider a prepared monologue on Spiritualism and what they could bring to the table as a psychic on a team of paranormal investigators. Then the clincher happened. The butt-puckering "oh shit" moment - if anyone besides myself and Rick were paying attention, of course.

Rick asked, "So do you believe everything we experience in the paranormal is dead people?" And without missing a beat, the psychic medium replied, "Yes."

Rick looked at me, I looked at him. I think we exchanged imperceptible expressions of concern and then the psychic went right on speaking about their beliefs and their degree from the University of Metaphysics (now Google "nationally accredited university"). We then somehow finished out this meeting and went on our way as a group of 4 team members, myself, the other psychic trainee, the leader and the new psychic medium, to an investigation at a pizza shop. This is where it gets weird and hairy, not a combo you want on any night let alone one with pizza and/or ghosts.

Upon arrival, the leader who had made such an importance of doing certain things a certain way, altered it on the fly by having me follow himself and the psychic around the basement of the establishment, writing down what they said as they felt the space out. I mean, sure, for the sake of some sort of data collection or record, I suppose writing it all down could help. But the leader was also holding a digital recorder so .... what the hell was the point? Already weird. But weirder still, he kept the other member of the team upstairs and didn't allow her to see this part. To not create a bias for investigating later? I don't know. I don't know, still, why I had to follow these two people around a basement writing random "significant" words down. My own bias just growing concerned for how much faith was being applied immediately and without question to this one person none of us had met before, and none of us knew how the leader had met them either. Sudden and strange.

I had been part of other paranormal events including mediums, tarot readers, palm readers, aura readers and others in the years before the team. I had an awareness of mediums and their methods, but I'm just gonna throw this in: a child could have read this room and seen the stark truth of what was unfolding. This individual had hardly taken a breath before they'd tapped into several conscious spirits occupying the place, how they felt, their potential names or letters their names started with and what age and time period they came from. And where in the room they hovered or kept to.

Listen, if there is a single, tiny, skeptical bone in your body - feel it. Feel it now. This was the most awkward and, I have to be brutal on top of my sincere and constant transparency here, absurd thing I'd witnessed in the paranormal. Not only that, it was the exact opposite direction and rigorous dogma of everything that paranormal team had stood for and espoused for over a year before that, and even before I joined. A literal 180 into "the psychic will pick things up first, then the science team investigates". I mean, the leaky, slow spread of confirmation bias just oozing through the team members from the first introduction of this person, to the years that ensued, is so apparent now it's sad.

So we left the basement after 10 or 20 minutes of this slow walk and the psychic enacting some physiological symptoms of mediumship, to the other team member (or more? I can't remember if anyone else was there that night) sitting in a booth with the pizza employees talking amongst themselves across the room. The leader dismissed the psychic, saying their part is done, and as had been decided earlier, us team members expressed interest in going over what the hell just happened in the basement and figure out how to investigate these pizza folks' claims. But no.

The team leader then got that smug look he used to have often when he was "in control" and really that meant "manipulating the situation", and said we're not not discussing anything the psychic might have said. I don't remember specifics because years are in between then and now, but myself and the other team member's confusion and frustration at the situation playing out suddenly and at the leader's own private discretion increased, and it got heated. Unnecessarily heated, because this was a person in charge of the evening's events who found pleasure in maneuvering situations into their favor, so that they knew what was best, their experiences in the paranormal outweighed anyone else's, their harrowing knowledge of the Other meant they knew how to interact best. They were still, of course, the ultimate psychic. *They even said as much out loud. They were the one with many spirit guides of both past humans ultraterrestrials. The one who knew how many spirit guides each of their team members had and what type of psychic they were and what abilities they'd be best at. This was not in the intention of helping any of us, it was in controlling. Just know that.

You can see where this night went. I was pissed. I went into that pizza shop basement with a digital recorder and talked mostly to myself, under my breath, sitting on the dusty stairs and crying.

Yes. Crying. I was so confused. And so misled. In the single moment some people can create a narrative where you're the problem, the one who's wrong. It's bizarre. An utter lack of compassion emerges and a calculating villain looks out at you from someone you thought you knew. That's the thing with those personalities, you never fully know them or their truth, and that's creepy. The investigation went on another couple hours with - if I recall correctly - nothing significant caught on video or audio. I don't even remember if we ever went back there, just that the teenage employees of a maybe haunted pizza place witnessed the weirdest night of their lives too. I ended up apologizing to the leader that night, leaving angrily and slamming his car door by the end of it. How I ended up being the bad guy is clear now, it's what narcissists do best when they twist the experiences of an entire evening into a storyline that makes them right, righteous, correct, in control. The supreme leader.

That was the Pepperoni Hug Spot of my past. No AI involved, but the events are true. The next chapter might have to be the night of Spiritualism School and the Indigo Child's Psychic Awakening on the Second Floor Landing.

Until then,

Amy B.

EDIT: These chapters are now the only ones going on public internet. They're now also abridged versions after editing and further writing. Guess we'll find out where the rest is going later. :)

I'm Amy L. Bennett, a writer, multimedia artist, recovering archaeologist and YouTuber from Upstate, New York. I've been invested in all things strange and unusual since my dad gave me the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark trilogy when I was way too young. Along with my fiancé, Ryan, we've explored countless haunted locations in the US and abroad in search of the Weird.
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