STEVE VOLK tries to recreate a British author's paranormal awakening--and succeeds in failing.
He asks another few questions, pausing between each one, and then announces, "End of EVP" as he reaches for his recorder.
He plays it back. After each question the sounds begin, which strangely resemble human voices nearly obliterated by static.
"What do you think?" asks Gentile.
"It's suggestive," I say.
"What does that mean?"
"Well, it does sound a lot like a voice in all that static."
"Okay," says Gentile. "Wait. We're just building up energy."
We go through several rounds of questions, followed each time by Gentile playing back whatever he just captured. I feel simultaneously spellbound and stupid, like a kid spending the night with my crazy uncle. Occasionally I catch a small scraping noise, which seems to come from the same general area every time. I ask Gentile if he hears it.
"Probably plaster falling from the ceiling," he says, and starts EVP No. 4.
"Is there something here preventing you from leaving?" he asks.
In response to that question we get static, static, some sounds that don't quite cohere and then rising to the surface for the first time all night, two noises that sound just like, "They are ... "
|Tools for the job: When Gentile investigates a haunting, he takes along a suitcase filled with monitoring equipment.|
I'm well aware that in trying to perceive words in all this noise I will find them. The human mind is trained to look for familiar patterns. That's why some perceive images of Jesus on a grilled cheese sandwich. But my suddenly leaden stomach can't be denied. So I close my eyes and feel, by precious inches, rationality ebb out of my body.
Another round begins.
"Are you naked?" asks Gentile.
"Do you have a checking account?"
"Have you ever gone to Best Buy and purchased a wireless router on sale?"
I nearly burst out laughing. Then Gentile hits play and something happens that surprises me. His questions are all there, sparkling with insane glory. But this time, in the gaps between, there's almost total silence. The amount of noise generated is perhaps 10 percent of what it had been before. None of it sounds remotely like a human voice, wafting on radio static or otherwise.
"Usually," Gentile whispers, "when I ask stupid questions, they get angry and scream."
He asks another round of stupid questions, including "Do you ever eat at Popeyes Chicken?"
PW's 2015 Philly Spring Guide