Drawing of a device, labelled "Sure'n'true EVP", with a waveline on it. Caption reads: "There was a voice!"

Paranormal short story by Iris Carden

I grew up in a haunted house. Well, all the kids at my school thought it was haunted. It was big, and dark, and nothing much grew in the yard. Oh, and a lot of my family members had died there.

My great-grandparents owned it first, and they both died there. Great Grandma apparently died in childbirth having my Granddad. Great Granddad died of a heart attack in his 80s, which is when Granddad and Grandma inherited it.

They’d been living with him for a couple of years, because he wasn’t all that well by then. Grandma slipped walking down the stairs during the night. When Granddad got old, Mum and I moved in to look after him. My father disappeared just after I was born. He didn’t die in the house. He may still be alive for all I know.

So a couple of years after Grandma died, Granddad got Alzheimer’s. Mum looked after him at home, until he died, and Uncle Jack inherited the house.

Uncle Jack let us keep on living in the house. Then Mum got breast cancer and died. She died in her favourite recliner, so I guess that was good. Then Uncle Jack fell off the roof and broke his neck. I looked after him while I finished high school, until he died. Not being mobile, he’d not been able to stay healthy and he picked up pneumonia and died.

That’s how I inherited the house just after I finished high school.

So I had the house and a little bit of family money, but I really needed a job of some sort. An old high school friend suggested, since everyone in town knew I lived in haunted house, maybe I could get some equipment and start a paranormal investigation business.

I watched some tv shows about paranormal investigations. At first I couldn’t work out how they made money from it. Then I realised, I was watching tv shows about it. I just had to record what I did, upload it to YouTube, or maybe get a TickTock, and get some followers. I could make money from ads, or however they made money with those things.

I needed the right equipment. I looked on line and saw an ad that told me if I wanted the best, I needed to “Remember the baby blue. Get Sure’n’true.” I went to the Sure’n’true website and sure enough all their products were coloured baby blue. I don’t know why.

I got the Sure’n’true mini handheld EVP, that’s Electronic Voice Phenomena, a recorder with playback, the Sure’n’true mini EMF, that’s an Electro-Magnetic Frequency detector thingy. There was lots of other stuff, but I figured I’d start out slow, and build my way up. I still have to learn how to use these things.

The first thing I learned was it’s really hard to record yourself on a mobile phone while holding one of these hand-held devices. I was probably going to have to hire an assistant or two, but that would have to wait.

The EMF just bounced all over the place, the guage that is, I didn’t bounce the $500 device. It could have been electro-magnetism all over the house, or it could have been the high tension power lines in the street outside. I checked on the internet. Power lines can effect EMF.

So I tried the EVP. The way EVP works on the tv is that you start recording and ask questions to whatever ghosts, or spirits or entities are around the place. Then you play it back and get lots of static and try to imagine words in the static.

I turned on the “record” function on the EVP, and asked: “Is there anyone here? Who is there? Do you have anything to tell me?”

I left it a moment between questions and at the end. Then I turned off the record function and turned on the playback. It wasn’t like the static on the tv at all. I heard real voices.

My voice said: “Is there anyone here?”

My Uncle Jack’s voice answered: “Billy, what’s that thing you’ve got there? Is that some kind of recorder you’ve got there? Wow, that’s not like my old cassette recorder is it? Hey Dad, look at this recorder Billy’s got.”

My voice said: “Who is there?”

Uncle Jack’s voice said: “Don’t be a silly Billy, surely you know my voice.”

My grandfather’s voice said, “What’s that Jack, a new kind of recorder? That tiny thing? Remember that huge reel to reel recorder I had when you were a boy? Hey Julie look at this tiny recorder thing your boy Billy’s got.”

My voice asked: “Do you have anything to tell me?”

My mother’s voice answered: “Yes, I do. When did you last clean up around here? The house is a pigsty. I’m sure I raised you better than this. And why are you wasting money on these silly toys? Money doesn’t grow on trees you know. Dad, were you encouraging this? Were you, Jack?”

Another female voice said, “Julie is that your Billy talking directly to us? If he’s listening tell him to make sure he’s wearing clean underwear. He should always wear clean underwear, because you never know if you’re about to fall down the …”

The recording stopped.

I looked around at the empty air, and thought about how many generations of my family were in that house, watching me, judging everything I did.

That’s why I returned the baby blue Sure’n’true products to the shop. I sold the house and used the money to buy a flat and go to uni. I’m studying to be a lawyer. I’m pretty sure that’s a better career choice than being a paranormal investigator.

I’ve got some advice from my short-lived dive into the paranormal: listen to your family and find out everything they want to tell you while they’re alive, because they only get more annoying after death.

While you’re here…

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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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