Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Nick Pope - Useful Idiot of the Far Right

It’s a very, very, very, very small thing on one of the most significant days in modern American political history, but hours after we watched a very courageous young woman sit before a Congressional committee to detail Donald Trump’s attempt to replay Mussolini’s “March on Rome”, Nick Pope (who still bills himself as the “UK’s Fox Mulder” long after that claim has been revealed to have been a massive exaggeration) wandered on to Fox News this evening to talk about UFOs with the execrable neo-fascist Tucker Carlson. In doing so, he yet again decided that there’s no such thing as bad publicity in his never-ending quest to monetize his three-year stint decades ago shuffling paperwork at the British Ministry of Defence, and there’s no low that he won’t embrace in order to try and sell a few books.

I know it might come as a shock to #UFOTwitter, more than a few of whom travel along the same path as the conspiracists and dead-enders who populate the Big Lie cult of Trump, but there are more important things than UFOs. The very real threat to democracy is one of them. 

As for Pope, his fifteen minutes of pseudo-fame has long ago passed it’s best-before date. By shamelessly trying to hang on to any relevance, even within ufology, which is in and of itself about as irrelevant as it gets in the grand scheme of things, he has become nothing more than a useful idiot for those, like Carlson, who desperately want Americans to ignore both what happened on January 6th, and what continues to be done by the far right to undermine American democracy. 

Shame on him.

Paul Kimball

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Who Are They? What Do They Want?

 It’s Ed, and he wants his lawnmower back.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

An Empty Suit


Agree or disagree with the late Stan Friedman, or the late Dick Hall, or the late Errol Bruce-Knapp, or their colleagues from years past, but you could count on them being serious of thought, erudite, and, in the main, gentlemen (if ones with the occasional sharp intellectual elbow in the corner of the rink, a la Gordie Howe). The late Mac Tonnies, who was at the forefront of a new generation of researchers until his tragic death, was both smart and imaginative, curious and cultured.

Those days are long gone. Now ufology gets the likes of Jeremy Corbell, who apparently thinks that profanity is a sign of gravitas. The only thing worse than his crass gutter mentality is the odious slogan he hangs it all on - "weaponize your curiosity", which appeals, no doubt, to a certain, targeted constituency. In the end, Corbell is all about the marketing. He doesn't stand on the shoulders of those who came before him. He's just kicking their memory, and their accomplishments, in the shins.

And to think that people wonder why I turned my back on ufology years ago. Each time I check back in, it's just gotten worse.

So long as it pushes the likes of Corbell to the forefront, the "field" is nothing more than an empty suit, hanging on a sad sack of bones, waiting for burial.

Paul Kimball

Monday, September 09, 2019

Synchronicity, Irish Style

Reporting From Dublin, the Republic of Ireland...

Sometimes, even my wife Linda still gets amazed at the weird zone of synchronicity / coincidence (you pick) in which I operate. At the last minute Saturday morning, I decided we should go to Howth instead of Glasnevin Cemetery, where we were planning to go. We just made it to catch this particular train. I took this picture without her knowing, and without any thought to who else was in it. See the three folks on the left (two men and a women - you can barely see the top of her head). We wound up sitting down next to them on the full train, and I realised quickly that they were Canadians, as they were talking about Canadian politics (something only Canadians would do). But then I saw the woman was wearing a ring... a ring that I would recognise anywhere. It was an “X” ring. So she had attended college in Nova Scotia. 
Anyway, we didn’t interact with them, but as we were all leaving the train at Howth, I walked up to her and said, “As an Acadia grad, I have to admit you X folks have the best rings,” and she laughed and held it up in front of me, and we had a good chuckle. Then we went our separate ways.
Linda and I spent about four hours in and around Howth, including a death-defying walk along the Howth cliff path, and then we decided to head back to Dublin. I wanted to catch the train at 5, but she wanted to go at 4:30, and that was fine by me, so off we went. The first car we walked onto was jam packed with students. Not a seat to be had, and I didn‘t want to stand for half an hour, so we hopped off and then hopped on to the next car in line. Crowded, but there were two vacant seats across from each other, so we grabbed them without looking at who was sitting there, and then I looked up and saw the X lady right across from me. We both laughed, and she hummed the Twilight Zone theme.
Turns out she grew up in Halifax, not far from where Linda and I live now (she lives in Ottawa now). We had a lovely chat on the way back to Dublin.
Linda posted the picture above before we knew any of this, just after I took it. It was only when we got back to our room hours later that she looked at it more closely, and then turned to me and said, “Of the six pictures you took on the platform, look who is in this one photo that I posted, but none of the other ones.”
And then a whole bunch of other synchronicities / coincidences happened. It starts with one...
Paul Kimball

Monday, January 28, 2019

Project Blue Book - A Review

The following picture constitutes my review of the Project Blue Book tv series.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Stan Friedman Retires

Stan Friedman is retiring.

Stan is the person who most shaped the course of modern ufology over the past fifty years, for both good and ill. While I didn't always agree with him (or even often agree with him), Stan remains one of my favourite people, and I wish him a long and happy ride off into the sunset. He's earned it.

The Daily Gleaner, the local newspaper in Stan's hometown of Fredericton, New Brunswick, reported the news on the weekend.

The article is behind a paywall, but here is the text:


Longtime UFO researcher Stanton Friedman of Fredericton is retiring.

"I'm turning 84 in July," Friedman said in an interview. "I'll look at the Internet, but enough is enough."

Friedman said he gave his first lecture on unidentified flying objects in 1967.

"That's a long time."

The author and former nuclear physicist began lecturing about UFOs while doing engineering consulting work, and his family moved to Fredericton in 1980 because his wife, Marilyn, was born in New Brunswick, he said.

He's travelled the world speaking about his belief in the existence of alien life, his views widely publicized at home and abroad through lectures, writings and his monthly column in the MUFON (The Mutual UFO Network) journal.

"One of my last events will be the Roswell International UFO Museum Festival in July in Roswell, New Mexico," he said.

Many believe a UFO crashed in the area in mid-1947, and that the United States military has covered it up ever since.

"I'm the original civilian investigator of the Roswell incident. I've been invited. I accepted."

Friedman said he will be giving several lectures at the event, which last year attracted 9,000 visitors for the weekend festival.

Retirement doesn't mean he won't be thinking about UFOs, he said.

Friedman said he has never doubted the existence of life beyond Earth, and the evidence of alien life visiting our planet has never been stronger.

"I came at it as someone who worked on far-out stuff. We now know that there are planets all over the place. In our own galaxy, they are in the billions."

The odds are very good that we're not alone in the universe, he maintains.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Halifax gets Haunted!

You can read the article online here.

Haunted premieres in Canada on Eastlink on October 17th at 9:30 PM AST.

Paul Kimball

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Haunted Extra, Vol. 1.01 - Queen's County Museum Revisited

We just finished the first episode of Haunted Extra, an ad hoc compilation of bonus materials for the series Haunted

In this episode, Dillon Garland and I discuss our trip to the travel to the 2017 East Coast Paraconference in Liverpool, NS, where we got the opportunity to re-visit the Queen's County Museum a few months after twe investigated it for the first season of Haunted.

Joined by paranormal researchers Ryan Sprague and Greg Bishop, we tried to replicate REM-Pod activity that they experienced at the Museum in April when I attempted to contact my old friend Mac Tonnies (who passed away in 2009).

The results were fascinating, and the video evidence we recorded at the Museum on 11 August 2017 is included here.

Paul Kimball

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

2017 East Coast Paraconference - Remote Viewing Panel

I had a great time at the 3rd annual East Coast Paraconference in Liverpool, Nova Scotia this past weekend.As always, the hospitality of the folks in Liverpool was outstanding, as was the speaker line-up: Greg Bishop, Ryan Sprague, Micah Hanks, Chris Styles, and others.

Because one of the presenters, who was due to talk about remote viewing, couldn't make it at the last minute, Greg Bishop, Micah Hanks, and yours truly volunteered to discuss the subject on Saturday morning, August 12th.

During the panel we covered the nature of remote viewing, how it might tie in to other aspects of the paranormal, Project Stargate and other government programs, our own efforts in different ways and contexts to experiment with remote viewing, and the possible ongoing interest in the subject by intelligence agencies, perhaps in black projects that are not officially acknowledged.

It was all very improvisational and on-the-fly, but it was also a lot of fun.

The company I work for recorded all of the lectures, and they will be posted here over the next few weeks.

Paul Kimball

Sunday, August 06, 2017

2017 East Coast Paraconference - August 11, 12, 13

If you're looking for a good time with some fascinating speakers talking about the paranormal and some down-home Maritime hospitality, then I hope you'll join me, Greg Bishop, Micah Hanks, Ryan Sprague, Chris Styles, and all the other great speakers next weekend at the 3rd annual East Coast Paraconference in historic Liverpool, Nova Scotia. The irrepressible Tim Binnall will also be popping by for the third year in a row, so it's kind of like a "New Cabal" gathering..

My good friend Greg returns for the second straight year, and will be speaking, in the loosest of ways, about Roswell's 70th anniversary, and what it means for the study of UFOs (which he tells me will get into his intriguing co-creation hypothesis). Ryan is best known for his interest in and work on the subject of UFOs, and he will no doubt work the subject into his talk "Beyond the Bermuda Triangle: Visiting Other Mysterious Triangles Around the Globe." Micah will be wading into some truly thought-provoking ideas with his presentation on "Magic, Mysticism, and the Molecule." Chris will, of course, be offering an extensive presentation on the Shag Harbour UFO incident, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this October.

Historic Liverpool, Nova Scotia, home of privateers, rum-runners, and plenty of ghosts!

Other speakers will be tackling subjects such as the Oak Island mystery, consciousness and remote viewing, and psychic mediums. The local Crossed Over Paranormal Society, who conduct investigations along Nova Scotia's very haunted South Shore, will also be there, presenting some of the things they have discovered and experienced over the years. They will also be running the evening ghost walks and paranormal investigations, which are always great fun.

I'll be kicking things off with the keynote presentation on Friday evening, where I'll be talking about my experiences over the past few months shooting the first season of our television series Haunted. I'll also be giving folks an exclusive preview of some of the most interesting evidence we collected, as well as some of our scariest moments when we were filming.

You can find out more about this year's festivities here. Hope to see you there!

Paul Kimball

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Haunted - Cooper's Inn Outtake #2

An outtake from our investigation at Cooper's Inn in Shelburne, NS, on May 2nd. It isn't going to be one of our first season episodes on Eastlink, but we still had a fair bit of interesting and puzzling stuff happen, including a camera microphone "malfunction" that left us all baffled. Of note is that it began in a room that Dillon had previously dreamed about, just as he began to relate the story of the dream (which involved a malevolent presence). 

As I always say about these types of things, context and timing matter.

For more information on Haunted, visit Winter Light Productions.

Paul Kimball

Haunted Outtake - Cooper's Inn (Part I)

Here's a piece of trivia for you - I hate ghost investigation shows on TV. I've never made it all the way through an episode of any of them. I particularly loathe Ghost Adventures, but Ghost Hunters is almost as bad. I've only watched as much as I have to over the years in a professional capacity as a producer and director, in order to see what other shows in the ghost investigating genre look like, and how they are presented. Not so that I can copy them, mind you - rather, so I know what not to do.

It all seems so fake to me, because almost all of what you see is "action" (much of it, I am convinced, being faked, or at the very least highly exaggerated). That's not how it really works in "the field". A lot of time is actually spent sitting around, talking to your fellow investigators. I wish the ghost shows would give us more of this, and less of the staged "bumps in the night" stuff. 

I think this is critical because it helps the viewer understand the investigators more as people. As I'm convinced that if there is anything at all to the paranormal, it has as much to do with the people involved, their journey, and their personal interaction with whatever might be out there as it does anything else, then understanding the people, and who they really are (as much as that is possible in any television program), is vital to the overall story.
That's what we try to do on Haunted

We investigated Coopers Inn in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, in May 2017 for Haunted, and while the location won't be one of the places that makes it into the actual series (you always film more locations than you need), there were still some cool things that happened when we were there, both from an experience point of view but also from the personal point of view. 

Falling into the latter category is this seemingly good-natured exchange between myself and my fellow co-host Holly Stevens, which indicates that while everything seems fine on the surface, there is an edge developing between us, largely due to some of the things each of us did (or might have done) in relation to the other in the course of our previous investigations at other locations during the course of filming. 

It's all fun and games until someone summons a demon, or invites some entity to possess a co-host.

Paul Kimball

Haunted outtake - Cooper's Inn from Paul Kimball on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Aaron John Gulyas on View 902

In the debut episode of my View 902 Podcast last December, I chatted with my friend historian Aaron John Gulyas. We covered an eclectic range of subjects, including  the strange life and times of Albert K. Bender and his role in creating the Men In Black mythos (the subject of Aaron’s presentation at the 2016 East Coast Paraconference in Liverpool, Nova Scotia), why people gravitate towards the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis as the go-to explanation for UFOs, Ornette Coleman as a metaphor for consciousness, and some 19th century American history, including a debate over who really won the War of 1812. We also fielded a couple of questions from a message forum on The Paracast radio show, and conclude with a shocking revelation about President-elect Donald J. Trump.

Aaron is an historian, author, lecturer, and sci-fi nerd. He is an associate professor of history at Mott Community College in Flint, Michigan, and also serves as a faculty technology consultant for the college’s Center for Teaching and Learning. His books include The Chaos Conundrum: Essays on UFOs, Ghosts, and other High Strangeness in our Nonrational and Atemporal World, The Paranormal and the Paranoid: Conspiratorial Science Fiction Television, Extraterrestrials and the American Zeitgeist: Alien Contact Tales Since the 1950, and Conspiracy Theories: The Roots, Themes and Propagation of Paranoid Political and Cultural Narratives.

The Shadows of Český Krumlov

Yours truly by the castle at Český Krumlov, 2009.

One of the fringe benefits of shooting a television series on the road is that you can always build a vacation into the process, which is exactly what Holly and I did in late May and early June of 2009 once we had finished filming the four episodes of Ghost Cases in the United Kingdom. After all, we were already there, which meant that we didn’t have to pay for the airfare from Canada to Europe, so we took advantage of the situation. In many ways it had been a stressful eight months since we had begun production on Ghost Cases, much of it a carry-over from the Eternal Kiss shoot, so Holly and I were definitely looking forward to some time to decompress.

After we bid adieu to our good friends Dave Sadler and Steve Mera in Manchester we made our way south via London to the small village of Gillingham in Dorset, where we spent a couple of days with my old friend and colleague Will Fraser, who had hosted The Classical Now a few years back.[1] With Will as our gracious host and tour guide we visited the ancient sites of Stonehenge, Woodhenge, and Avebury, as well as Salisbury, where we all climbed to the top of the Cathedral (and I also got to see the grave of former British Prime Minister Edward Heath, which I’m pretty sure I found more interesting than either Will or Holly did). I remember at one point, as we wandered about the Cathedral, that Holly made a joke about how we were still spending most of our time with dead people. We both had a good laugh.

After our stay in Gillingham Holly and I headed back to London where we saw five musicals in four nights (for those keeping score, the musicals were: Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King, Les Miserables, and, on the spur of the moment, the final performance of Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at the Apollo Theatre, which blew the lid off the joint). We toured Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Baker Street, the British Museum, The Tower of London, and the Imperial War Museum, and also attended the lecture at the RSA by Michio Kaku that I discussed earlier.

From London it was off to Scotland, where I had studied in 1987 and 1988 whilst an undergraduate student. Back then I spent almost all of my time in the eastern part of the country at the University of Dundee and the surrounding region, so this time I decided to see what the western side had to offer. We flew into Glasgow, rented a car, and made our way up through Loch Lomond and Crianlarich to the Highlands, where we walked amongst the Three Sisters and Glen Coe, and then caught a ferry from Oban to the mystical Isle of Mull.

Three days on Mull based in Tobermory provided for some great whisky, a couple of castles, some ancient standing stones in Lochbuie and castle ruins at Aros, hill-walking galore, and a day on the Isle of Iona, which is one of those places that everyone should try to visit before they shuffle off this mortal coil.[2] I also made sure to visit every cemetery and burial ground that I could find because I’ve always been drawn to the history that one can discover there, and the connection you can make with the past. Luckily I had a great traveling companion who felt the same way, or was at least willing to indulge what many other people might consider my ghoulish interest in the final resting places of the dearly departed.

Our trip back from Mull took us through Inverary, which was beautiful. We then spent two days and nights in Glasgow where we wandered the streets, poked about more old churches and cemeteries, drank some great beer, and unfortunately went to see Terminator: Salvation, a truly dire film. Still, that evening had a memorable moment. Before we went into our theatre in the multi-level cinema complex we popped by the bar for a beer. As we sat there chatting I noticed that there was a small black spot on my leg (I was wearing walking shorts). I took a closer look and discovered a heretofore unnoticed tick that I had picked up whilst hill-walking the day before. It was the second one on the trip; before we left Mull, the very nice lady who ran the bed & breakfast in which we stayed had removed another one that was… well, let me just say that it was too close for comfort for any man!

Having observed our host’s technique for safe tick removal in Mull Holly said she would help me out. I figured it could wait until we got back to the hotel after the movie so we went in and found a couple of good seats. After five minutes of sitting in the theatre, however, I couldn’t stop thinking about the bloodsucking little devil, so I asked Holly if we could get rid of it before the film started. We went out to the lobby where we quickly realized that we would have to use the child changing room given that she couldn’t go into the male washroom and I couldn’t go into the female washroom (a lesson I once learned the hard way after a night of heavy drinking in San Juan, Puerto Rico).  

We waited until the coast was clear and then snuck into the room and locked the door. I can only imagine what the people who were walking by must have thought when they heard the following rather animated conversation coming from inside.

“Do you see it?”

“It’s so small”

“I can see it from here, and you’re kneeling right next to it – how do you not see it?”

“Okay, there it is. I’ve got it… I’ll just give it a twist.”

“Be careful!!

“Does that hurt?”


When we eventually exited the changing room there was a small crowd gathered in the hallway, evenly split between those patrons who thought we were horrible people engaged in some sort of carnal escapade, and those who thought we were really cool people engaged in some sort of carnal escapade. I admit that I did nothing to disabuse them of their notions as we went back into the theatre. For those who were unfortunate enough to join us for Terminator: Salvation, at least we had provided some entertainment.

As our time in the United Kingdom drew to a close we flew down to London and stayed overnight at Heathrow before our flight early the next morning for the final destination on our grand adventure, the Czech Republic. Neither Holly nor I had ever been on the continent of Europe before, so we had debated where we would spend our last week on vacation. Romania was a contender because we both thought hiking through the mountains around Cluj and checking out the land of Dracula would be great fun. Greece was also a place we considered, for more leisure-oriented reasons, as was Italy, but we eventually settled on Prague, which came highly recommended by a number of our friends back home who had been there.

I’m sure Romania, Italy and Greece would have been wonderful (and I plan to visit all three someday), but we made a good call with the Czech Republic, where we had an amazing time. We spent the first five days in Prague, walking around the city for hours each day. Part of the charm and romance of Prague is getting lost on a walkabout, and we certainly managed to “misplace” our bearings on more than one occasion. One local I chatted up while asking for directions congratulated me on being so far from where I thought I was and then told me that if you didn’t get lost in Prague you hadn’t really been there, which I thought was pretty zen.

We popped into myriad shops and cafes and restaurants, and toured the magnificent Prague castle, where the Kings of Bohemia, the Holy Roman Emperors, and the presidents of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic all held “court”. We also attended enthralling performances at the State Opera (Prokofiev’s ballet Cinderella) and the National Theatre (Dvorak’s Rusalka, which I mentioned earlier), and I managed to catch a little black light theatre while Holly was doing some shopping for her mother.

While we were based in Prague, we also wanted to see some of the rest of the Czech Republic, so we took two day-trips outside of the city. The first sojourn was to Terezin because I wanted to visit the former concentration camp. It was a very moving place, and both Holly and I came away with a different perspective on our world after spending the day there. We also continued our habit of poking about in places where we weren’t supposed to go when we opened a door and walked into a series of dark tunnels which ran underneath the fortress. Eventually we made our way out to what had once been the grounds on which prisoners were executed by firing squad. Only when we looked behind us did we notice the sign indicating that the tunnels were off limits, presumably for safety reasons.[3]

For the second day trip we hopped a train to Kutná Hora, where we immediately made our way to the famous Sedlec ossuary, which contains the skeletons of between 40,000 and 70,000 people (a wide margin of error, but at some point when you’re piling up skeletons I imagine you lose count). It was definitely a creepy place, with skulls and bones placed everywhere. As we walked out I once again thought to myself that for two people who were trying to decompress from several months of ghost investigating we were certainly spending a lot of our time in places where you would expect a few ghosts might be lingering.

We had some wonderful goulash for lunch and then took a tour of an old mine that was so dark and confined I was sure I was going to get stuck underground (having had a double portion of the goulash probably didn’t help as I tried to navigate the tightest spots). I don’t like dark, confined spaces, so it was definitely a “confront your fears” moment. Finally, we visited Saint Barbara's Church, one of the most famous Gothic churches in central Europe and a UNESCO world heritage site. Somewhere along the way Holly managed to get us lost. As with our rambles in Prague, however, her error in Kutná Hora led to something we wouldn’t have otherwise seen – a beautiful field of tulips on the other side of town, far from the regular walking routes taken by tourists.[4]

Holly and I decided to spend the final two days of our trip in Český Krumlov, a small city in the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic best known for the fine architecture and art of its historic old town and the State Castle of Český Krumlov, second only to the castle at Prague itself in size and splendor.[5]

I love riding trains so I convinced Holly that we should take the four hour train ride to Český Krumlov instead of what would have been a somewhat shorter trip by bus. It was a bad decision. The train was old, which was great, but it was musty, which aggravated my hay fever. Opening the window made it even worse as it was the beginning of June and pollen was everywhere. I spent four hours with watery eyes, a runny nose, and more than one roll of toilet paper next to me by way of tissue paper. To her credit, Holly never once said, “I told you so.” Of course, she spent most of the time sleeping, which is probably what I would have done if I had been her sitting across from a de facto Snuffleupagus.

I had booked us a double room at the Pension Ve Vezi, an inn shaped like a small wizard’s tower about a ten minute walk from the castle and another five minutes from the old town.[6] Unfortunately, when we got there things went from bad to worse. The new owner of the inn, who had taken over after I made the reservation two months earlier, had placed us in a room with only one bed, and all of the other rooms were occupied. He apologized profusely for the error and assured us that he would switch us to the room with two beds that we had reserved the next evening, but this still left us in a bit of a quandary.

We could have moved to another inn, but it was late in the afternoon, we had just arrived in town, I was still suffering from hay fever, and we really liked the Pension Ve Vezi. After all, who wouldn’t want to spend a couple of nights in a wizard’s castle? We told him that the arrangements would be fine, and he reimbursed the cost of the difference in rooms and gave me a break on the total price by way of apology, which was a nice gesture that I appreciated.

Holly and I made our way up the winding staircase to our room. It was quite cozy, and would have been great for a couple, but we were not a couple, so someone was going to have to sleep on the hard floor. Holly offered to do so, but I am nothing if not a gentleman, so I insisted that she take the bed. With a smile on my face I assured her that as a Star Trek fan I fancied the idea of sleeping on a good, solid floor, just like a Klingon warrior would. I’m pretty sure that she didn’t believe me, which might have had something to do with the way I kept looking down at the floor and wincing, but I was insistent and she eventually agreed.

As it had been hours since we had eaten we decided to take a walk through our section of town, past the castle, across the bridge that spans the Vltava River, and into the old town square, which was ringed with hotels and restaurants. Despite our grumbling stomachs we couldn’t help but meander because there was so much to see. There were cubby-holes, narrow lanes, and winding side-streets that made Prague look like wide-open Los Angeles by comparison, and we were drawn down more than a couple of alleyways by the sight of an interesting looking shop or building.

As we walked along, I turned to Holly and said, “Now this is a place where we should have come to look for ghosts.”

She nodded, and then replied, “Maybe we’ll see some while we’re here.”

I just shook my head, smiled and said, “I certainly hope not. I’m retired from ghost hunting.” Before she could answer, I began to imitate Dave Sadler in a most exaggerated manner, and she broke out into laughter.

We eventually made our way to Lazebnicky bridge where we got a great look at the castle, which was perched precariously on top of a rocky outcropping like something out of a fairy tale. The bridge itself is fairly short, with statues of various religious figures on the sides, including a very impressive one of Jesus framed with the castle as a backdrop.

We found a nice restaurant in the town square and plunked ourselves down on the patio. A very friendly waitress came by and immediately made us feel at home. She recommended the goulash, which was fine by me. Holly and I each ordered what turned out to be really good Czech beer and settled in for a couple of hours of great food, people-watching, and conversation, during which we conducted a spirited recap of our zany adventures.

One of the subjects that came up was the question of whether she and I might be carrying any “negative energy” (for lack of a better term) from our ghost investigating. Perhaps even more ominous, we considered the possibility that by opening the door as we did time and again to “contact,” maybe we had allowed something unwanted to come in and attach itself to us, something about which we had been warned by more than a few people we had met over the preceding months.

Holly had discussed this subject at our blog a few months previously when she wrote:
There's always a risk you'll get burned when playing with fire, and the idea of a spiritual realm is definitely a metaphorical fire, if not a literal one. Paul and I have joked from the beginning about having to travel to Peru at the end of the series to be "cleansed," but perhaps there is more truth there then I initially realized. I've never doubted the significance the unknown can play on a person's physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, and with that knowledge, I have entered the world of "ghost hunting" with my eyes wide open, so to speak. However, being aware of the unknown doesn't make one any better equipped to deal with it. With the number of completed episodes mounting, and unexplained experiences increasing, I've recently redirected my research back to this idea of "aura cleansing." Just in case.[7]
As the conversation continued I casually mentioned to Holly that I knew a priest back in Canada who was an expert on exorcisms, and that perhaps he could save us the price of a trip to Peru, or some of the other destinations we had considered for some sort of shamanistic retreat. She thought it would be a good idea, although she still wanted to test the transformative powers of ayahuasca.

Holly enjoying a local beer at dinner; behind her is the town square.

“If it helps break down the walls we erect and allows our own minds to battle the demons we all have within us,” she said to me, “then paranormal or no, I'm all for it.” I agreed, even as I wondered whether some cheap Czech absinthe might do the trick just as well. Still, a trip is a trip, and all doors open to the same pathway of elevated consciousness, which is something I either heard Jim Morrison say once or read on the wall of a dingy bathroom in an even dingier bar in northern Alberta. But I digress…

As I chatted with Holly I thought about relating an anecdote from Three Men Seeking Monsters, by my good friend Nick Redfern. In chapter nine, the Bard of Birmingham recounted a meeting he had with an alleged witch named Sarah Graymalkin. “You don’t realize that while you are looking for these things,” she told him, “believing in them and telling others about them who also become emotionally charged believers, they are manipulating you and your followers as a food source.”[8] In the end, I decided to keep that tidbit of information to myself, particularly as our own “food sources” has just arrived.

Speaking of Nick, he and I had discussed the question of being “stalked” over margaritas in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 2005. We were there investigating the legend of the chupacabra for my documentary Fields of Fear, and had just spent the day interviewing a number of people in rural areas who claimed to have seen the alleged vampire-like creature. One in particular stood out for me because he was convinced that the chupacabra was actually a demon from hell sent to torment him. I remember asking Nick as we sat on the hotel patio next to the Caribbean Sea whether he ever got worried about the forces that we might be dealing with.

Nick thought about it for a moment, then smiled and shook his head.

“Bring ‘em on,” he said defiantly.

I wasn’t quite sure whether he meant the forces of evil, or another drink, as he had just finished his margarita.[9]

The interesting thing about the chupacabra, as I look back on our adventures in Puerto Rico, is that it easily fits within the “performance art” interpretation of the paranormal. I think the vast majority of sightings of the alleged creature have simple prosaic explanations, but there were some cases recounted to us that were far more bizarre than just a few chickens being attacked in a cage by what was surely a wild dog. For example, a man named Pucho and his family told us about seeing a strange, shadow-like creature that resembled a huge bird. His account was not all that dissimilar to what I experienced at St. Edith’s church in Shocklach, and the link is made even more interesting by the fact that Pucho’s sighting occurred next to a small rural church (The Church of the Three Kings). Pucho ascribed it to the chupacabra because that was the meme his culture had created as a sort of “one size fits all” explanation for weird happenings, whereas with my interest in science fiction my first thought had been some sort of Star Trek-like trans-dimensional void. But what we both described was more or less the same thing.[10]

With this on my mind Holly and I finished our dinner and then meandered through the streets of Český Krumlov for about an hour, during which time I noticed a toy store that intrigued me because all of the toys were made locally and by hand. I filed a mental note to stop by the next day and see if there was anything there that would make a good gift for friends or family back home, particularly my niece and three nephews.

By the time Holly and I made it back to the wizard’s castle it was about 10:30 pm. We chatted for a little while as I tested the floor, which I discovered was every bit as hard as it looked. Holly gave me all but one of her blankets, which provided at least a bit of separation and cushion from the floor, although it was a far cry from the comfortable beds that I had gotten used to on the trip. Around 11:20 pm we turned out the lights, intent on getting an early start on our sight-seeing the following day.

Within a couple of minutes I realized two things. First, the less time I spent lying on the floor the better, because I’m definitely more Ferengi than Klingon. Second, my hay fever was still acting up, which added insult to injury (I think it was probably the dust on the floor). After a few minutes of trying to get comfortable, and not sniffle every five seconds, I gave up. I turned on one of the lights and told Holly that I needed to go for a walk to clear my sinuses. She asked me if I wanted her to come along but I said that I would be okay. After all, how much trouble could I get in on a weeknight in a beautiful and peaceful town like Český Krumlov?

I wandered out into the night and stood in the small garden next to the inn. I let the cool breeze waft over me for a few moments which definitely helped clear up the sinuses. The area was completely deserted as I started to stroll down Pivovarská. I had my MP3 player with me and I was listening to some Radiohead as I passed several buildings on my left and trees on my right. After a few minutes I reached Latrán, the street which cut through the center of the town. I hung a left and headed towards Lazebnicky bridge across the Vltava River and the town square on the other side.

Despite not being very late, at least by my reckoning, there wasn’t another person out and about, which I guess wasn’t surprising given the fact that it was a Monday evening in early June, before the real height of tourist season hits the town. A few lines from an old song I had written years before but never recorded suddenly came to me as I took in my surroundings:

The streets are quiet in this old town
the bars are closed and the girls have gone home,
The streetlights shine, from end to end,
and I wonder about the message that they send…

As I ambled along, stopping to look into shop windows or down darkened alleyways, I played a little game that I often engage in whilst on a walkabout where I sort of experiment with time travel, at least as a concept. I look at a place further along on my route and take a moment to imagine myself standing there. I continue on until I reach that point, and then look back at where I was and remember myself from that time. Sometimes it almost seems like I can see myself in the future, and then in the past.

By the time I reached the Lazebnicky bridge I had worked myself into a routine of picking the two points and then walking between them, almost like I was attaching pitons one by one as I climbed a mountain. I imagined myself at the end of the bridge, attached my mental piton, and then started across. When I got to the other side I leaned against the railing, looked back across the Vltava to where I had been standing just moments before, and pondered where and how we all fit into the grand scheme of things.

The lyrics from another old song of mine intruded on my thoughts again:

Sly scissors separate the threads,
look to see if the time, it does fit,
as it slips through the needle.
Stare softly at this sudden leap of faith,
catch the wind and fly away,
no destination, just a landing.[11]

My gaze wandered down to the river. I picked up two small stones and tossed one into the water below. As I watched the ripples move out from the point of impact I thought to myself that in many ways the interaction between the stone and the water served as a metaphor for our lives. I threw the other stone into the river at a spot a couple of feet to the right of the first one and watched as the ripples from its impact eventually met up with the ripples from the first stone. Then I continued on to the town square, having indulged myself in enough philosophy 101 for one evening.

Český Krumlov central square at night. I was sitting on the bench in the 
foreground when I saw the shadowy figure for the first time.

When I got there everything was closed and there still wasn’t another person to be seen. I sat down on one of the benches scattered about the square and enjoyed the solitude, the location, and the crisp night air, which was invigorating. I spent ten minutes looking around at the various buildings and imagining the people who might have lived in them over the centuries. From time to time I glanced up at the sky to see if I could pick out a satellite or a stray meteor.

Then, as I was looking down the street towards Lazebnicky bridge, I realized that I was not completely alone after all. I turned my head and saw what appeared to be a man walking slowly across the square at about roughly the same pace I had been moving at earlier. He was perhaps twenty meters in front of me. Although the square was lit to a degree, the level of illumination was insufficient for me to get a good bead on him, particularly as he wasn’t looking in my direction. I didn’t really think much more about it as he reached the center of the square, and I turned my head in a different direction. A second or two later, however, I felt obliged to have another look at the man – when you’re in a foreign country, alone in a strange town at night (no matter how peaceful it might seem), it pays to be careful. When I looked back to where the man had been walking, however, he was gone.

I surveyed the entire square but there was no sign of him. What made it strange to me was that he had been walking at a slow and deliberate pace, and he was nowhere near the edges of the square or any of the various hotel doors when I looked away for just a second or two. I hadn’t heard anything that would have indicated he had suddenly run to a door and opened and closed it, even if he could have made it in time.

Maybe, I thought to myself, I had looked back towards the bridge for five or six seconds instead of just one or two, but I immediately ruled that out. I remember shaking my head and saying aloud to myself, “I know the difference between a quick glance over my shoulder, and a shift that lasts several seconds longer.” Eventually I just shrugged and figured that it was time to head back to the inn for some shuteye because I was obviously starting to see things.

I stood up and gave the area a final, curious look. I thought back to Dave Sadler’s story of the young girl and the “time slip” at St. Edith’s church in Shocklach, and wondered whether something similar had just happened to me. Then I laughed, and asked myself what I would have said if someone had told me, just a year before, that I would be standing in the town square of Český Krumlov talking to myself about shadowy figures and time slips. I know that I probably would have dismissed the idea as ludicrous.

As I made my way down the street towards Lazebnicky bridge I decided to stop and have a look in the toy store I had noticed earlier in the day. I leaned up close to the window and surveyed the display. There were wooden cars with little mice driving them which I thought were cute and would make a perfect tongue-in-cheek gift for my former fiance at the time, Linda, who has a pronounced phobia about mice.[12] As I moved closer to see if I could make out a price tag I once again saw something out of the corner of my eye. I lifted my gaze up from the wooden mouse, and over my shoulder I could clearly see the reflection of a shadowy figure in the shop window.

I immediately clenched both fists, stepped to my left, and turned around – not because I expected to meet someone from the Men in Black, or a demon, or anything like that, but because I thought I might be about to get mugged. Somewhere in my mind, as I turned to face whoever was standing behind me, I was kicking myself for having forgotten my standard operating procedure for walkabouts. I’ve spent years living in Halifax and taking long walks every night, and the one thing that I’ve learned is that the best way to stay safe is to stay focused on your surroundings. The five months I spent as an RCMP special constable in the wilds of northern Cape Breton in the summer of 1990 also taught me that you react defensively to an unknown situation first and worry about whether or not someone gets offended afterwards.

In one sense I need not have worried, because as I stared out into the street I found that I was still alone. But while the lack of a mugger was a relief, the situation I now faced created an entirely different set of concerns for me. I had definitely seen the reflection of someone in the window, only to turn around and find that there was no-one there who could have made that image.

For the first time I felt a very palpable sense of unease, mixed with a tinge of fear. The disappearing man in the town square had been one thing because he hadn’t been right next to me, so it wasn’t really a threatening situation. But a figure appearing in a window over my shoulder when there was no-one there was something else altogether.

As I left the toy store I quickened my pace a bit. I reached the bridge, and started to walk across. At about the half-way point, next to the statue of Jesus, I heard footsteps behind me. The sound was as clear as the horse’s hooves had been in the cemetery at St. Edith’s a month before. I came to a stop, and could feel my jaw locking, which is something I do when I’m nervous. Trying to play it as cool as I could under the circumstances, I turned around slowly.

The statue of Jesus on Lazebnicky bridge.

The footsteps stopped. There was no-one else on the bridge.

And then I felt it.

A force on my shoulder, like a hand. Not hard like a blow being struck, but the kind of feeling I imagine you would get when a police officer walks up behind you and places a firm hand on your arm.

I pivoted at the same time as I took a step forward, away from whatever was behind me. I’m not a fighter, but I learned a couple things during my stint in the RCMP.

One again there was no-one there.

I didn’t run, although somewhere deep in my soul I wanted to take off as fast as Dandelion, a particularly speedy rabbit character from my favorite novel, Watership Down.[13] But after eight months of myriad strange experiences my curiosity had come to equal my fear, at least to the point where I maintained a semblance of dignity as I got off the bridge.

With a brisk pace, and more than a few nervous glances over my shoulder, I walked up Latrán, hung a right on Pivovarská, and made my way back to our inn. By the time I got there I had calmed down a bit, although when I pulled the key for the front door out of my pocket I dropped it on the ground. My hand wasn’t shaking, but it wasn’t perfectly steady either.

When I got back to the room Holly was asleep. Normally I would have washed up and changed before going to bed, but I just closed the door and lay down on the floor. I didn’t care about how uncomfortable it was – I was just happy to be back inside with someone else in the room.

I thought about waking Holly and telling her about what had happened but I decided against it. I wish I could say that I let her sleep because it had been a long day, and as a gentleman I figured at least one of us deserved a good night’s rest. The real reason, however, was that I didn’t want to tell anyone about what I was already starting to think of as the “shadow man.” As was the case at St. Edith’s church in Shocklach, my natural inclination is to keep an experience like this to myself lest I seem like a fool to others.

I pulled out my MP3 player, turned it on, and put the headphones into my ears. I cycled through the music until I found Radiohead. I scrolled down through the songs and finally came to the one I wanted: “Where I End and You Begin”. I hit play and leaned back to listen as Thom Yorke sang:

There's a gap in between
There's a gap where we meet
Where I end and you begin…
X will mark the place
Like the parting of the waves
Like a house falling in the sea
In the sea
I will eat you alive
There will be no more lies…[14]

As I lay there on the floor I noticed a narrow ray of light coming into the room from the small window. After a moment, I held my hands out in front of me and started to form shadow figures on the wall, as I thought back to a song lyric of my own from 1993:

A troubled shroud it calls out loud
amidst the music and the singing,
it is ignored
by the guilty ones,
condescend to turn around
deduce the nature of this conversation,
try to remember
what you once were…[15]

We’re all guilty of something, I thought, as I closed my eyes and tried to get some sleep. Maybe what we see on the outside is a reflection of what we have on the inside. In its own way, that notion was as disturbing to me as the possibility that I had actually encountered some sort of supernatural being.[16]

When we got up the next morning I had a sore back to go along with more questions than answers about my strange experience the night before, but I didn’t mention either to Holly. It was the second last full day of our trip and there was much to see and do in Český Krumlov, so I didn’t want to provide any unnecessary distractions.

After a quick breakfast at the inn we walked up to the castle, which is even more impressive once you get inside. We toured an art exhibit located in underground catacombs and climbed to the top of the castle tower, which tested my fear of heights just as much as the ascent to the top of Salisbury Cathedral had a couple of weeks earlier. The other highlight was a guided tour through a section of the interior of the castle where we got to see the antique furniture, paintings, and other artifacts from centuries past.

After the guided tour we wandered around the grounds for another hour or so and then made our way back to Latrán, where we proceeded towards Lazebnicky bridge. As I walked across the bridge I thought about my experience the previous night for a brief moment, but I was having such a good time with Holly that I didn’t dwell on it. The toy store was open, and we both went inside and browsed for what was probably close to half an hour. I bought some small toys for my nephews and niece, and the wooden car with the mouse behind the wheel for Linda.

As we left the store Holly and I decided to split up. On our trip we had spent almost all of our time together (particularly in the evenings – my walkabout the night before had been my first such solo foray at night during the entire trip), but from time to time we had wanted to see different things so we would head in separate directions for an hour or so. In this case, Holly was on the hunt for some gifts for her mother, while I wanted to check out a book store I had seen earlier. We agreed to meet in an hour at the restaurant where we had eaten the night before, and headed off in our separate directions.

The strange drawing I saw on a wall near where I had an encounter with the shadowy figure.

Almost as soon as I turned a corner down the side-street that led to the bookstore I saw something drawn on the wall of a building that made me stop in my tracks. Outlined in black was a giant eyeball with three lines that ran straight down from the center like legs, and two hooked lines that jutted out from the sides like arms, or tendrils. What I found most interesting, however, was the center of the eye, where someone had drawn what appeared to be the shape of a shadowy figure.

I thought it might be my over-active imagination so I took a closer look. As far as I was concerned, the center of the eye was definitely not the kind of thing that you would expect someone to place there if he just wanted to indicate the pupil. I took a photograph of the strange graffiti, and then made my way to the bookstore.

Holly and I met up as planned in the town square where we had another lovely dinner, after which we decided to find a bar and sample more of the local beer. As we walked back towards Lazebnicky bridge Holly noticed a sign hanging over a door. She skipped over and stood next to it in the way a Price is Right model stands next to a car in the final showcase showdown. A big smile crossed her face.

“C’mon,” she pleaded. “This is perfect!”

I walked over and stared up at the sign. It looked like a piece of abstract art, and had just two words on it: Horor Bar.

Sometimes you just have to shrug your shoulders, and go with the flow. This was definitely one of those times.

We walked in and immediately descended a staircase to the cellar of the building where the bar was located. All you really need to know about the Horor Bar is that it looks like a dungeon out of a 1930s horror film, and it has a coffin for a table where patrons can sit and enjoy a beverage. In other words, it comes by its name honestly. I almost expected to see Bela Lugosi hunched over behind the bar, hissing “yes, master” as Basil Rathbone ordered a nefarious-looking drink.

The joint was sparsely populated when we walked in. While neither Baron Wolf von Frankenstein nor Ygor were present, my disappointment was immediately ameliorated when I saw the waitress leaning against the bar. Wearing a Lana-Turner-at-the-soda-fountain face, she was possessed of the kind of physical beauty that carves a permanent little corner in your memory as soon as you behold it, like a first kiss, or a magic hour sunset.

Standing across from her was an older man whom I pegged for either a regular or the owner. There were a couple of locals huddled together at one of the tables near the bar talking to each other in low whispers, and a group of three young Americans tucked into a corner table by the door who were much more animated.

The waitress came over and asked us what we wanted (at least I assume that’s what she said, as she was speaking Czech). As soon as we replied in English, she smiled and said, “Ahh… more Americans,” a statement which drew a few glances from the group of boisterous gringos in the corner.

“Nope,” I replied good-naturedly. “Canadians.”

Her smile disappeared in an instant, and she became very apologetic.

“I’m so sorry,” she said in English that, whilst broken, was a lot better than my Czech. “Many apologies.”

I smiled and shook my head. I had seen this more than once in my travels. A few Canadians with low self-esteem get offended when they’re mistaken for our southern cousins, and I suspected that she must have run across a couple of these obnoxiously defensive types at some point.

“No worries,” I said in a cheerful tone. “Tonight we’re all Czechs!”

She smiled again, broader this time, and asked us what we wanted to drink. I told her to bring us whatever she felt was their best local beer on tap, a gesture of confidence in her knowledge of the local scene that she clearly appreciated.

In a couple of minutes she returned with two very fulsome brews. As this was our last real night of the trip Holly and I were planning on making it a late evening, so I inquired when the bar closed.

“When the last customer leaves,” answered the waitress with a friendly laugh.

“My kind of bar,” I said, as she smiled and then moved off to check on the Americans.

 Holly and I raised a glass to toast eight months of adventures together.

“It’s been a wild ride,” she said enthusiastically, and then took an approving sip of her beer.

“No kidding,” I replied, as I tasted what turned out to be an excellent lager. I gave the waitress a wave of thanks and a nod to indicate that she had definitely made a good choice.

“Flirt,” joked Holly.

“Absolutely,” I countered.

“She’s pretty,” Holly commented, looking over at the bar.

I took another sip of beer and played it cool.

“Hadn’t noticed.”

 “Well, if you want some alone time,” Holly said, tongue planted firmly in her cheek “just let me know, and I’ll take an extended bathroom break.”

“Deal,” I replied with a grin, but knowing full well that I wouldn’t go beyond casual flirting.

As the evening wore on Holly and I descended into a state of happy-go-lucky inebriation as we conducted something of a retrospective of our time working on Ghost Cases.

“What would you say was the scariest experience you had,” I asked at one point.

Her face tightened as she took in a deep breath.

“Churchill Mansion,” she said quietly, and then exhaled, as if it had been a Herculean effort just to say the words, much less conjure the memory. There was no need for her to say anything else. I remembered that investigation very well.

Churchill Mansion in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

Churchill Mansion is an old home in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, that had been converted to an inn. It has a well-known reputation for being haunted, and we weren’t the first television show that had filmed an episode of a paranormal-themed show there.[17]

The stories at the Mansion revolved around the original owner, Aaron Churchill, a famous seafarer and entrepreneur who was said to haunt the place with lascivious intentions towards any female guests, and his niece Lottie, who eventually suffered a mental breakdown and wound up in an asylum in Boston.[18]

On our first night there, Holly, the crew and I sat down with the owner, a gnome-like old-timer named Bob, who related to us all of the various stories surrounding the mansion.

“I don’t really want to go on the record with this,” Bob told us cagily, although I’ve always found that as soon as someone says something like that it means that they really do want to go on the record, so I always keep the camera rolling unless they specifically request that I turn it off (at which point I always oblige). In Bob’s case, the persuasion came from a bottle of whiskey that he kept close by. After a swig or two, he continued. “One of the stories is that Aaron and Lottie had…” He paused, and swallowed hard. “A relationship.” Churchill died in 1920, but Bob explained that in a small town like Yarmouth there were some stories that you just didn’t discuss publicly, at least not with outsiders. I knew exactly what he was talking about because when I was stationed with the RCMP in northern Cape Breton, perhaps the most isolated region of Nova Scotia, we often had trouble getting people to talk about various crimes. They preferred to keep it “in house,” and then let us pick up the pieces after they had served their own rough brand of local justice.[19]

“This is hard to do without getting into trouble,” he said. “We feel that there was a special connection between Aaron and Lottie. She was brought up as his daughter, and maybe she even was his own daughter. Lottie I think thought a lot of Aaron in ways other than as her uncle. There was certainly a connection between the two of them.”

Bob intimated that Lottie may have murdered a servant at the mansion, which he hinted was covered up. He then quickly moved on to other areas of the overall story, and we didn’t press him further as we all shared in the free-flowing whiskey.

After a while Holly left the living room. I assumed she was going to the bathroom. A few minutes later I was feeling peckish, so I stood up and asked Bob if there was any food in the kitchen. He told me that I was welcome to rifle through the large and well-stocked fridge and take whatever I wanted.

As I turned the corner from the living room and headed down the hallway towards the kitchen, I saw Holly leaning against the wall. She had clearly been crying.

 “Hey there,” I said without my usual sarcastic edge. “What’s wrong?”

“Can I have a hug?” she answered with a quavering voice.

I’m not much of a touchy-feely type, but a friend in need trumps my naturally reserved nature, so I embraced her, and we just stood there for twenty seconds or so. Then she lifted her head, said “thanks,” and we stepped away from each other. I didn’t press for an explanation as she wiped the tears from her eyes. I just waited for her to get comfortable and tell me on her own time what was going on if she wanted to.

“He’s here,” she eventually said, her voice steadier, but still a bit uneven.

“Who is?” I asked.

“Aaron,” she answered. “I can feel him.”

 “Is there anything I can do?”

She looked around her and shook her head. I could tell that she was getting her bearings again.

“I think I’ll be fine,” she said, and went back to the living room while I continued on to the kitchen. As I piled various types of deli meat onto a couple of slices of whole wheat bread I found myself hoping that Holly was all right, and wishing I could have done something more to help.

When we finally called it a night I went to my room at one end of the upstairs hall and Holly went to hers at the other end. Mine had originally been Aaron Churchill’s room, and she wanted no part of that, so she wound up in Lottie’s old room. The crew had positioned small digital cameras to monitor us as we slept, because allegedly paranormal activity had been reported in each room.

I managed to fall asleep in short order, only to be woken up about an hour later by Holly knocking on my door. In the episode, she described the circumstances as follows:

I tried to fall asleep, but couldn’t shake the feeling that there was someone else in the room with me. I was so spooked that I went down the hall and asked Paul if he would come up to Lottie’s room and keep me company while I tried to fall asleep.
I had never seen Holly quite so shaken before. She was almost on the verge of tears again, but there was something else at work, something that ran even deeper. I went back to her room (where we left the door slightly open, lest anyone get the wrong idea if they wandered by), and sat down on the second bed. We chatted for about half an hour and then she finally fell asleep. I nodded off shortly thereafter. All the while, the DVR camera kept recording, which gave us a record of what became a very strange and disturbing evening.

The camera recorded Holly tossing and turning in what she later described as one of the most restless nights she had ever experienced. She wasn’t the only one who found the room uncomfortable, however; I was lying on top of the blankets and was woken up by an intense chill, after which I crawled under the covers for the rest of the night.

As Holly and I were trying to get a decent night’s sleep in Lottie’s room, the digital camera we had stationed in the hallway recorded the door to a crew member’s room suddenly and violently opening and closing. There was no draft whatsoever that could have accounted for the savage force with which the door was moved.

Meanwhile, back in Lottie’s room Holly was still having trouble sleeping.

“It was made even more disturbing,” she later explained, “by the fact that I also couldn’t roll over. It was as if there was a person in the bed next to me.”

We both got a surprise when we reviewed the camera footage once we got home, because we discovered what appeared to be an unnatural indentation beside Holly in the bed as she slept, as if someone else was indeed lying there.[20]

I asked her about it all again as we enjoyed another beer at the Horor Bar.

“It was almost as if I could sense the presence,” she recalled, as if it had just happened. “Remember the footage where I suddenly woke up shortly afterwards?”

I nodded.

“I could definitely feel something or someone in that room with me,” she said.

I thought back to the strange shadowy figures I had run into the previous evening and the feeling of the hand on my shoulder as I stood on Lazebnicky bridge. I wanted to say something to Holly – to let her know that I understood exactly how she felt. But we all cast our own shadows, and we have to walk with them by ourselves, so I just nodded, took a sip from my beer, and changed the subject.

The answer most often given by people who believe there is a paranormal aspect to ghostly phenomena is that ghosts are the spirits of the dead who simply refuse to accept the nature of their situation, and so they remain trapped in a netherworld between this life and the next. To the disbeliever, on the other hand, ghostly phenomena are nothing more than a trick of light here, a coincidence there, and any one of a number of other prosaic factors everywhere else.

In the vast majority of cases I have no doubt that the disbeliever is right. Indeed, there were times whilst filming Ghost Cases where we uncovered clear evidence of a hoax, or a story that had simply spun out of control over the years. But when confronted with experiences like those that Holly and I had in multiple locations in 2008 and 2009, I’m forced to conclude that there’s probably something more at work – something that reminds us of who we really are deep down inside.

I don’t believe, however, that these unexplained experiences represent the spirits of the dead haunting us, at least not in the sense of “my dead grandma is sitting on my bed with me.” There may indeed be something waiting for us beyond the grey wall that is death, a subject I will address in greater detail a bit later, but in my opinion it doesn’t involve our being trapped in this realm of existence to wander the same hallway or haunt the same bedroom for all eternity. I can’t imagine that the afterlife, should it exist, is so banal.

As far as I’m concerned we either die and that’s the end, which is an outcome that has a certain poetry to it, or there is something much more interesting waiting for us. Even purgatory would involve something more than aimlessly puttering around your old house as a disembodied “spirit,” unless of course we choose to posit that “God the almighty” has no more imagination than a reality TV producer.

Of course, there are those who think that ghostly phenomena are brought about by demons. But what is a demon, exactly?[21] Once you cut through the clutter and ideological detritus of thousands of years of religious dogma, myths and legends, a “demon” represents nothing more than an advanced non-human intelligence. Over the years it has suited organized religion, as a tool of social control for political authority (regardless of how that authority has been constituted), to present us with a Manichean view of good versus evil, and angels versus demons. God is on “our” side, which is of course the “good” side; the “demons” are on the other side. But that has been an interpretation, and as with all interpretations one must consider the circumstances and the motivations of the people who created it. As I look at it, it’s an interpretation based solely on a desire, a need even, to keep people divided and shackled by fear, and to keep them from thinking for themselves.[22]

As far as ghostly phenomena goes, I think that as with UFOs one can reasonably speculate that at least some unexplained cases of the phenomena we ascribe to “ghosts” are brought about by an advanced non-human intelligence, interacting with us under a different guise but for the same reasons.

I’m a big fan of Cirque de Soleil. I’ve been to Las Vegas several times over the years and always go to see a Cirque show when I’m there. While they are all wonderful entertainment experiences, my favorite remains the original, Mystère. As the name implies, it’s a mysterious and magical journey that touches upon all aspects of the human condition. I’ve seen it four times, and each time I’ve taken something different away from it.

The second time I saw Mystère I was with the actress Kris McBride, a friend who had narrated my film Best Evidence. We managed to get seats in the front row of the upper section of the theatre. There was a wall about four feet high between us and the walkway which separated the two sections. During the show there’s so much going on that your attention wanders all over the place and you can sometimes lose track of the various performers who engage at different times directly with the audience. Anyway, as Kris and I were sitting there, watching a spectacular act on stage (I think it was the aerial high bar, but I can’t recall), some performers had made their way out into the crowd. I remember them as “bird people” because to me their costumes had a distinctly avian character. You could see them crawling on the walls and slinking along the walkways and floors. Given what was happening on stage, neither Kris nor I paid them any real attention. To us they were like shadows, lurking at the corner of our awareness.

With Kris McBride and Greg Bishop in Los Angeles in 2007.

As the act on stage ended and the audience erupted into well-deserved applause, one of these “bird people” suddenly popped up from behind the wall right in front of us so that the performer’s face was no more than seven or eight inches from Kris’ face. The performer’s appearance definitely startled me and the people sitting around us, but our response was nothing compared to Kris’ reaction, as she grabbed my arm with a vice-like grip and let out a shriek of terror that could be heard throughout the theatre. I suspect that the Cirque performer had never encountered a reaction quite that visceral because he stumbled away from the wall in surprise and fell back onto the walkway.

He quickly regained his composure, gave me a concerned look as if to say, “hey, make sure your friend doesn’t have a heart attack,” and then he beat a hasty retreat to the opening at the end of the walkway which led backstage.

Meanwhile, Kris still had the vice grip on my arm, even as she was being consoled by a very nice elderly couple sitting next to her. For at least twenty seconds she was breathing rapidly and deeply, even as she kept muttering over and over again: “What the hell was that?”

She finally calmed down, although she remained on a bit of a manic high for the rest of the evening. Everyone in our vicinity had a good laugh about it all, including Kris after she had regained her composure.

Over drinks after the show she and I both agreed that while it had been scary for her at the time it was something that she was going to remember in a good way for the rest of her life, just as the memory of the house of horrors in Prince Edward Island has remained with me for decades.

 “I felt so alive,” she said as she took another sip of her drink. “It was real.”[23]

That’s exactly how I felt in the cemetery at Shocklach, the jail cell in St. Andrew’s, and on the streets of Český Krumlov. I’m willing to entertain the possibility that those experiences could well have been a form of performance art by an advanced non-human intelligence designed to appeal to one of our most primal emotions: fear. In doing so, perhaps that intelligence is giving us greater insight into the full range of human experience and thereby helping us to a more complete understanding of ourselves.

Then again, like the filmmakers who created hits such as The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, and The Exorcist, or even the Cirque performer Kris and I encountered, they may just want to entertain us (and themselves), and see how far we’re willing to go in the face of the unknown.

H. L. Mencken believed that the one permanent emotion of what he called the inferior man is fear – fear of the unknown, the complex, and the inexplicable.

“What he wants above everything else is safety,” Mencken wrote. “His instincts will incline him towards a society so organized that it will protect him against all hazards, and not only against perils to his hide but also against assaults upon his mind – against the need to grapple with unaccustomed problems, to weigh ideas, to think things out for himself, to scrutinize the platitudes upon which his everyday thinking is based.”[24]

It’s a point of view with which I have always agreed, and something I wrote about in “All Afraid,” one of my first songs as a young musician.

What are you so afraid of,
What has brought you to this state?
Where are your natural emotions?
You’re such a sad, sad thing…[25]

An advanced non-human intelligence would understand that reality is far more complex than we can imagine. Many things may remain inexplicable even to them. But they would also understand that safety isn’t an option if one is to progress. Fortune, after all, favors the bold. But we have been taught to fear the unknown, to the point that we live in a world where fear seems to be the guiding principle. We have become the “inferior man” of whom Mencken wrote.

Perhaps an advanced non-human intelligence has built a “haunted house” and opened the doors to all of us, to see if we can understand our own fears, confront them, and overcome them. If this is the case, then there’s only one question that we really need to answer.

Do we have the courage to enter, or will we let our shadows of our fear continue to haunt us?

Paul Kimball

[1] Will Fraser, “Bio,” Fugue State Films.

[2] See Isle of Iona Visitor’s Guide.

[3] For more information on Terezin, see Ludmila Chládková and Miroslava Langhamerová, Terezin and Litoměřice: Places of Suffering and Braveness, trans. Petr Kurfürst (Prague: Jitka Kejrova, 2003).

[4] For more information on Kutna Hora, see “Kutna Hora Regional Information Service.”

[5]State Castle of Český Krumlov,  mesto Český Krumlov.

[6] “Pension Ve Vezi,” Krumlov Hotels.

[7] Holly Stevens, “Ayahuasca - Paranormal Investigator's Ghost Buster?” Paul Kimball & Holly Stevens, 10 February 2009.

[8] Nick Redfern, Three Men Seeking Monsters: Six Weeks in Pursuit of Werewolves, Lake Monsters, Giant Cats, Ghostly Devil Dogs, and Ape-Men (New York: Paraview Pocket Books, 2004), 113.

[9] Nick recounts our adventures in Puerto Rico in Memoirs of a Monster Hunter: A Five Year Journey in Search of the Unknown (Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page Books, 2007), 207 – 231.

[10] Ibid., 226.

[11] Paul Kimball, “Horseshoe Heart,” Perf. Tall Poppies, Tall Poppies - All Points in Between (2012).

[12] Her version of Hell would probably involve spending eternity in a room full of mice and ouija boards.

[13] Richard Adams, Watership Down (London: Rex Collings, 1972).

[14] Radiohead, “Where You End and I Begin,” Perf. Radiohead, Hail to the Thief (London: Parlophone, 2003).

[15] Paul Kimball, “Guillotine,” Perf. Tall Poppies, Tall Poppies - All Points in Between (2012).

[16] For a good look at the Men in Black phenomenon, which bears some resemblance to my experience in Český Krumlov, see Nick Redfern, The Real Men in Black: Evidence, Famous Cases, and True Stories of These Mysterious Men and Their Connection to UFO Phenomena (Pompton Plains, NJ: New Page Books, 2011).

[17] Rescue Mediums, “Churchill Mansion,” (Toronto: Lamport-Sheppard Entertainment, 2006). Television.

[18] Aaron Churchill was an ancestor of mine. Yet another small coincidence, or synchronicity. For a recounting of Churchill’s exploits as a sailor see Michael Rafuse, “Aaron Flint Churchill,” Yarmouth and the Age of Sailing Ships.

[19] This theme is a staple of Maritime fiction. See, for example, Vernon Oickle, One Crow Sorrow (Chester, NS: Bryler Publications, 2010).

[20] The Churchill mansion investigation can be seen in Ghost Cases, “The Case of the Haunted Mansion,” directed by Paul Kimball and Dale Stevens (Toronto: Breakthrough Entertainment, 2009). Television.

[21] For an interesting take on how some people within the UFO research community view “demons,” see Nick Redfern, Final Events, 109 – 121, 201 – 205. Nick also discusses how demons might be related to the Men in Black stories in Men in Black, 221-233.
[22] One of my favorite Bob Dylan songs, “With God on Our Side,” addresses this idea of “God” taking sides throughout our various wars. Bob Dylan, “With God on Our Side,” Perf. Bob Dylan, The Times They Are a-Changin'  (Columbia, 1964).
[23] Kris is one of the most creative people I’ve ever met. She had the lead role in the first run of Doing Time in November, 2007, and did a wonderful job, but like Veronica Reynolds she was replaced in one of the lead roles for Eternal Kiss because the distributor didn’t think she had enough experience. I handled it all very poorly and she hasn’t spoken to me since, which I greatly regret (I also don’t blame her). A mutual friend told me that she moved to western Canada a couple of years ago and directed me to Kris’ writing blog. I wasn’t surprised in the least to see that her work was very good. Wherever her journey takes her, I wish her nothing but success and happiness. See Kris McBride, The Best New Blog on the Internet.

[24] H. L. Mencken, Prejudices: Second Series, (London: J. Cape, 1921), 76 - 77. Available on-line at:

[25] Paul Kimball, “All Afraid,” Perf. Tall Poppies, Tall Poppies - All Points in Between (2012).