Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Zozo Investigation and that Demonic Haunting Story I Never Told You

So you guys know I'm normally keeping myself pretty busy, and especially at this time of year. Not only is football season in full swing, which means writing for the Orange & White Report and my weekly Fact or Fanatic column, but I'm in the middle of publishing eight novels (two more to go in digital; six more in print). And because I just cannot be too busy, this month is also October which means my mind turns none-too-gently to the paranormal world. 

We spent October of 2015 shredding the abysmal A&E television show Cursed: The Bell Witch and the absolutely execrable Destination America Exorcist Live! and putting together my blog series The Real Bell Witch, all of which you can see by going to the Paranormal, Bell Witch, & Zozo page tab at the top of the blog. noticed the extra name, didn't you? Well, that's because this year, I'm trying something different. 

I've been working with Tim Wood out at LiveSciFi on a series of articles about an investigation they're doing this weekend in Oklahoma City--an investigation into an entity known as Zozo or the Ouija board demon. If you've never heard of that name, do a quick Google search. You'll turn up over 34 million results. 289,000 of those results are YouTube videos. And Tim is the king of paranormal on YouTube with over 400,000 subscribers and 68 million views--and counting. This weekend, LSF is working with a guest investigator, Zozo expert Darren Evans. 

Let's link everything up real quick so that you can go see my articles, the Blogcritics interview, the LiveSciFi site, and Darren's blog and new book, just released in May, about the entity. That's my formal work. But this is my blog, so here I get to tell you about some of the crap that's gone on since I started doing interviews and crafting articles last week--and that leads me to a story I've hinted about, but never told before.

It's your lucky day.

Last Thursday, the three of us talked on a three-way call just as a preliminary. and you know me--I was taking serious notes. First off, I find paranormal things pretty fascinating, but primarily I was noticing similarities in Tim and Darren's stories. Not the 'they talked ahead of time' similarities, but elements that popped up in both their experiences that have also popped up, frighteningly, in mine.  One of the articles I did, Ouija Board Demon Zozo--Connecting The Dots outlined those similarities. What I neglect to include in the story was how I shared many of those characteristics, and they stem from my adolescence and two hauntings. One, of course, is the Bell Witch haunting in Adams, TN. You guys have heard all about that. The other was the demonic oppression of a friend of mine in college--an oppression that manifested in activity right before my eyes that absolutely could not be explained.

This is the story of that incident--an incident I referred to last year but did not tell. Seems appropriate to do so now. All the names, naturally, have been changed, and bear with me: by the end of this post, it'll all make sense.

My friend's oppression began after the death of his younger brother in a mysterious car wreck. The brother had been involved in a high school "coven" with nine friends. Of those ten kids, eight died: four in the same car accident, two by suicide, one murdered, and the last of some totally bizarre infection. I have no idea what happened to the other two. After his brother's funeral, the entity hopped to my friend, Jeno. 

Jeno was a smart, good-looking boy--football player and brain, infectious grin, and a sweet personality. I'd known him since high school, when he'd been in the same class I was. His family was Mormon and in every aspect he was just a normal, happy guy. But after his younger brother's death when we were both in college, everything suddenly went wrong. He literally started to almost wither into nothingness. Within a month, he looked gaunt and uptight. Our mutual friend Rob, Jeno, and I would hang out some nights. We usually would go to this bizarre park in the middle of Clarksville right off Crossland Avenue down this crazy steep hill. That park was basically some fifty year old swings and a parking lot, but behind it were a few trails and a creek. We liked it there. People rarely went there during the day, much less the night. 

On one of those nights that fall of my sophomore year in college, we went to that park. It was September, and still warm. Despite that, Jeno was wearing a turtleneck sweater. And as we sat in our usual spot in a clearing tucked out of sight of the road, Jeno told us what was happening. 

His house was haunted, he said, since his brother's death a few months earlier. He would wake up in the middle of the night, fighting with an unseen force pummeling him in the bed. Things would fly off his wall. Drawers would open and crash into the opposite side of the room. Voices would suddenly issue in an empty room, and terrible smells would emanate from his younger brother's closed and unused room.

I was fresh off my first investigation of the Bell Witch Cave and the Edens farm, where I'd experienced things much like what Jeno was talking about. In fact, I'd stood outside on the front porch of Bims Eden's empty house and listened as the living room furniture was rearranged--things that neither Rob nor Jeno knew about. So I was able to take Jeno's story at face value.

But what I didn't expect was the condition of his body. 

The first time he lifted his shirt and showed the massive bruising on his torso, I was startled--and I couldn't help but be slightly skeptical as well. What I couldn't figure out was a trio of scratches that started on the right side of his neck and continued in an unbroken, continuous diagonal across his chest and finally terminated on his left hip. It was like someone had taken one of those little three-pronged gardening forks down his body, but the cuts were too deep and sharp-edged for that. They had scabbed over, and even the scabs were precise and identical.

For a few days after, I tried to figure out if there was some way to do that to oneself. It was so weird because the scratches were the same depth, the same width, and completely seamless. On top of that, Jeno was right-handed. There was no way he could have done that to himself in such a perfect symmetry. But I didn't say anything to him about it at the time. When you're nineteen and a good-looking guy is telling you he's being attacked by a ghost his dead brother's coven conjured up, you figure it's probably not a good idea to comment but just to be supportive. 

A few weeks later, we were hanging out in the same park. It was October--my birthday weekend, in fact--and it was one of those perfect, crisp autumnal evenings you get in Tennessee when the season is changing. We weren't even talking about the haunting at the time; we were planning a road trip as I recollect. Jeno didn't drink, I couldn't drink, and Rob...was Rob. He was drinking, smartalec thing that he was. At any rate, we were laughing one minute and the next minute, Jeno screamed and fell backwards, landing basically on my lap. Instinctively, I grabbed his shoulders and his body was so hot (temperature) that I could feel the heat baking through his jacket and sweater.

The next thing I knew, three burns came up on the side of his throat. Each burn was as wide as my thumb. Rob pulled off Jeno's shirt and those burns followed the exact same path as the scratches had. 

I saw those burns pop up. If you're a woman and have ever burned the side of your neck with a curling iron, that's exactly what it looked like. Except Jeno was six feet tall and those burns crossed his body like a sash and disappeared into the waistband of his jeans while he was wearing a thick cable-knit sweater and a Member's Only jacket. (dated myself there) And these weren't surface burns either; they were second degree burns. We took him to the ER--I don't even remember the BS story we told to try to spin the whole mess. That night after he was released, we took him back to Rob's place, figuring he might be able to rest there. Jeno pretty much passed out as soon as we tucked him up on the couch, exhausted as he was and full of pain meds, while Rob and I sat across the room trying to figure out what in the hell we'd just seen. 

I had been at the Bell Witch cave just a few days before, and had gotten several EVPs (my first ones, actually) before the cave suddenly went spook-monster on me and drove me out. Ultimately I had been dive-bombed by crows on my way back up the cliffside trail. Creepy birds and animals tried to get hit by my car the whole twelve miles home--which has happened to me more than once on that winding country road between Adams and Clarksville. There is a strong voodoo element in the Bell Witch legend due to the fact the Bells owned slaves. The story is full of strange-looking black animals, blackbirds, dead men's lanterns, and "witchballs"--a kind of fetish the slaves made to protect themselves from the entity. So I was already a tad...jumpy and Rob knew this. But as we sat there trying to rationalize what had happened, the lightbulb in the hanging lamp over his kitchen table exploded. like--literally exploded, glass shattering, sparks in the wiring, sounding like a pop gun kind of exploded. 

Rob and I just stared at each other over all that glass, and Jeno said suddenly from the couch, "It followed me here." 

My first thought at the moment was uncharitable to say the least. Thank you so fucking much for bringing your pet ghost, Jeno isn't the best retort in such a moment. But Jeno's voice was hard to describe--terrified and quiet all at the same time--and it made such an impact on me that I couldn't say a word. Rob, bless him, instantly popped up with, "Man, we need to take you to a church." 

That's when we found out that the Mormon church in town had excommunicated Jeno. He'd gone to them for help when all the manifestations began after his brother's death, and they had literally shunned him. 

Rob and I were both Catholic. Clarksville is a military town. Rob's mother was Spanish; mine was French. 

So we loaded  Jeno into the back seat of my Bug (yes, I was a vintage VW kind of punk girl back in the day--a 1972 Superbeetle, Tennessee orange of course) and took him to the rectory next to the church both our families attended. Our parish priest was a great guy--a chain-smoking, Scotch-drinking, honest-to-God Irish lean whip of a man who had baptized, christened, and First Communion-ed me. The trip over lasted maybe five minutes, and it was the longest five minutes of my life. After what we'd already seen happen that night, and the knowledge of how Jeno's brother had died, a VW Bug didn't seem like the safest place in the world to be. On top of that, it was three o'clock in the morning, and we were going to wake up a priest. 

It's a testament to who Father Mike was that we didn't even hesitate to go to him though. This was the same priest I argued reproductive rights with, the same one who always told his congregation that if they were in spiritual trouble to come to him. I figured this would qualify, and all I wanted to do was to get Jeno to someone who knew what to do. 

The rectory is a sold-looking Victorian building next to the original Church of the Immaculate Conception in Clarksville. Rob, who was quite a bit smaller than Jeno, was literally hauling him up the front porch steps while I banged on the door and rang the doorbell. The porch light snapped on and Father Mike peered out when he opened the door. He took one look at me, then on to Rob and Jeno, and immediately pulled us all into the house.

And what happened from that point on is something I don't talk about. There were further occasions when Jeno was attacked in front of me--the worst happened one night after he'd been kicked out of his parents' home and was living in a small apartment right off-campus.Jeno had two couches in his shabby living room. I was asleep on one and he was on the other when suddenly he screamed. I jumped up like a scalded cat and he was fighting for his life against something that was only visible because it was under the blanket with him, like some huge freaking guy had crept up on that couch with him and crawled under the quilt to strangle him. I hauled Jeno off the couch into the floor, the blanket went flat, and the attack stopped.

We sat up the rest of the night in the floor with every light in the house on and my rosary beads around his neck.

But there was nothing else I could do. I couldn't help him and organized religion wouldn't. The response of both the Mormon and Catholic Churches to Jeno's situation made me angry--angry enough to forego religion for a long, long time.

As in decades. Father Mike protested on Jeno's behalf, and was moved to another parish within six months.  Before he left, he told me that it was dangerous to spend so much time with Jeno trying to help him and told Rob the same thing. But being know-it-all twenty year-olds, we ignored him. Unfortunately, Rob told Jeno what the priest had said.

Six weeks after that, Jeno left Clarksville and I never heard from him again.

So how does this all tie back to the Zozo investigation? 

Several elements of my story--French background, involvement with slavery, voodoo, blackbirds/crows, creepy-acting animals, death in a suspicious car accident, demonic oppression of friends or associates, Ouija boards, and paranormal activity--line up exactly with the similarities between Tim Wood and Darren Evans as I outlined in that Connecting the Dots article. 

All that is history. Let's talk the present.

Since last Thursday after I hung up the phone and began to research and write the articles surrounding this weekend's upcoming investigation of the Zozo house, I've been getting poked paranormally in my house. The notes I took that night and Darren's phone number mysteriously disappeared from my computer, even though I had saved my work (being a writer makes you autosave-suspicious) and turned off the computer that night. A pair of lights in my living room blew within three minutes of each other. One lamp fell from the end table for no reason--I watched it fall and there wasn't a cat near it or under it. My mother's rosary beads disappeared from my closed jewelry box in the bedroom. (found it under the living room couch)  Had a few random bangs on the front door and one from inside the linen closet in the hallway. (I live in a century-old house). I spent three days looking at the TV or computer screen with one hand over my eye due to an almost incapacitating migraine that wouldn't respond to any kind of migraine medicines. And one of our cats, a perfectly healthy eight-year old with no health issues, died for no apparent reason. Despite all this, I managed to get four articles and three press releases done on top of my normal, everyday workload.

Here's the thing. I know there are no coincidences when it comes to paranormal activity. For decades, authors working on the Bell Witch have reported losing their entire manuscripts. I know a writer who lost their entire book--back when writing a book required a typewriter and lots of Liquid Paper. Film crews would find their equipment malfunctioning inside the Bell Witch cave or the landing outside it--but it all worked perfectly on top of the cliff. This happened famously during the late 1980's when the show Unsolved Mysteries tried to film there. Also, when you're writing about the Bell Witch your source materials and research--particularly the Ingram book--disappear. So I know the history involved with writing about paranormal entities and resultant paranormal activity that interferes with that.

For the same thing to happen here makes me suspicious.

This weekend, Tim and his team along with Darren are investigating the house now infamously known as the Zozo house in Oklahoma City. Starting Friday night at 10 pm, they're going to live stream the investigation for the whole 72 hours. If you read my other articles, you'll see the history both Tim and Darren have with this entity. The chances of the entity not showing up for this investigation are practically non-existent. And it's fairly obvious to me that for some reason, I am being discouraged from writing about all this.

That never works.

So, I intend to live blog the investigation while it's ongoing with my thoughts, my observations, and how what occurs ties into the history I've uncovered and the theories currently percolating in my head. As you'll know from my blogs last October with those two aforementioned hokey 'reality' shows, my opinions will be unvarnished and blunt. If I think something is horseshit, I'll say so. If I think it's intriguing, I'll admit that too. And in the process, I'm hoping to create a unique narrative to accompany the investigation.

Plus I'm going to do a follow-up article to the interview piece I sent to Blogcritics.

I have to admit. This Zozo thing has me intrigued. Not in a "I want to play with a Ouija board!" kind of way, but in a "this history and entity makes me want to learn more" kind of way. So we'll see what happens. Check it out starting Friday night at 10 EST/9 CST, and join in what should be one of the craziest paranormal investigation events of the year. I'll be interested to hear what you think as well.

Author's note: Just as I hit send on the Twitter link to this post, Voodoo by Godsmack came on the radio. Think something's sending me a message? Timing is everything, isn't it?

ZoZo Ouija Demon House LIVE 72 Hour Broadcast