This may have been the scariest thing that has yet happened to me on a tour.
I was feeling a bit more spooked than normal myself. Someone was reporting that the batteries that she’d just put in her camera were already drained – a common occurence at supposedly haunted places, though I’ve not known it to happen at the Congress before. Earlier, on the second floor, there were weird lighs flashing on the ceiling. Maybe they’re always there, but I couldn’t figure out where they were coming from and don’t think I’ve seen them before. I brushed them off as reflections and moved on.
And the congress HAD been “active” lately – at least, I’ve been feeling more spooked there normally. One night in he Florentine Room, the third floor ballroom generally regarded as the spookiest of the old ballrooms by the staff, I thought, for jsut a second, that I heard a harpsichord playing. Probably just my imagination.
Shortly after we wandered into the darkened ballroom, I felt as spooked as I’d ever been in that room. Enough that I quietly even broke out of a keychain to try Hector’s “pendulum trick,” at which I normally scoff. Suddenly there was a huge BLAM coming from one of the service hallways off to the side – the sound of a gunshot! A loud one. I honestly thought someone had fired a gun in there!
There were no footsteps following it. No scream, no sound of a body hitting the ground. And, when we opened the door to the hallway, no one there. Many of us thought something heavy had been dropped in there, but there was nothing. No bullet holes that we noticed. There were other doors in the hall, but none that were very “slammable.”
We spent the next several minutes scouring the area, trying to see if there was any way to explain the gunshot sound. There were some people who thought they detected some movement in the door to the hall itself, as thought it had been cracked ever so slightly ajar, then shut at the time of the door, but there wasn’t nearly enough movement to cause anything like the noise we heard. Even when we SLAMMED the door, it sounded more like a door slamming than a gunshot. The slight movement could have just been impact from the noise (which, again, was REALLY loud).
And, anyway, the whole floor seemed to be deserted.
When we ventured out, I went down and spoke to security, who insisted that they hadn’t faked us out. Certainly no one had been patrolling the area at the time.
As a skeptic, I keep trying to tell myself they – or someone on the staff – must have done SOMETHING. I never, ever say outright that anything that I see is actually, without a doubt a ghost. But, if someone was pulling a trick on us, they sure did a hell of a job. There was no trace of anyone there, no evidence left behind. This was no “fill a rubber costume with roadkill guts and stick it in a freezer” kinda hoax, if it was a hoax at all, not the echo of some long ago gunshot fired just outside of the old ballroom.
The moment after that noise was probably the most freaked out I’ve ever been on a tour. Of course, much of that is just that I thought someone had fired off a gun!