Sunday, October 18, 2015

After The Ball Is Over (1929)..WHAT IS DEATH? WHAT ARE GHOSTS?... 10/18/15

 

They say the dead have no sense of time. Even more than that. They say time is just an illusion. The omniverse is a swirling morass of infinite points in space and their accompanying occurrences. And the thing is, every point in space-time occupies every possible point in space-time. Everything is everyplace... Just like it says. The dead just float in it. Perhaps that's what the ether is?

To be dead for an instant is the same as being dead for all eternity. I'm not talking about what goes on after death. We're not addressing God here. He may very well retrieve righteous souls from the bubbling pot and deposit them safely upon another shore. And even if He does not, eternity still feels but an instant, though one that never ends

But what about ghosts? What are they? To that I must say they are not monsters or frightful creatures from gothic novels. They are just people, devoid of any material presence, but people. They are the true essence of what we are. Call it energy, or spirit, or soul. They are what is left when the great engine of physical life stops running.

Students of these things say they separate from the ruins of their bodies soon after chemical reactions and synapses between neurons cease. Is that a shock, or a blessing? I don't know.

Could be the ghost has a choice to make. Do they flee this realm, or remain for a while? Do they stay with the living, or catch up to those who've gone before?

Those fortunate enough to experience familial spirits consider it a gift. They know 'life' in its truest form goes on. They've seen beyond and that can be a wonderful thing.

Troublesome hauntings are rare. Restless spirits rattle the china and tap the floorboards precisely because they are not acknowledged, especially by those they love. So it's best to recognize their presence. They only want to go on.

Long term 'hauntings' (if that is the right word)...spirit presences that last beyond the time when all earthy contemporaries have already passed over too, usually involve spirits more attached to surroundings than people. Sometimes they never had much family, but loved their home, or workplace , or various vistas encountered in life. So they walk the halls of old apartments, or visit the offices where they were employed. Now these spirits can become intrusive if they think the 'living' fail to value these sites. So it's always prudent to consider the feelings of everyone, whether in the flesh, or not.

Now we will get back to our regular story, but I saw an episode of 1st Look, that comes on after SNL and being October and Halloween and all, they aired segments about hauntings, one of which involved the centuries old, vast, semi-ruined, dungeon-like, Eastern State Penitentiary right here in Philadelphia....
But there's one ghost story they skipped...

It happened a few years ago. They touched up the place a bit to ready it for tourists. The ancient decrepitude was maintained. New wood and steel beams were carefully installed to preserve the structural integrity of the building (really a labyrinth of discreet wings and constructions, rather like an old, European castle). Near the end of the project, painters were brought in to artistically restore assorted nooks and corners without obfuscating the (very early) nineteenth century originals. They worked in dim, forgotten passageways and maze-like spidery cellars, dabbing somber color amongst the cracks, chips and old, brown (quite genuine) bloodstains. They'd talk quietly, the painters I mean, but sometimes near quitting time, sad muffled voices would join them. They always attributed these utterances to crews working 'round the corner,' or on the other side of the wall. But the walls were very thick and the passages very long.

One night, as the others left, a lone painter remained to get the job done. He toiled at the end of a long interior hallway. There were some old, iron doors along its length, but all were securely locked. The lights hanging from the twelve foot high barrel ceiling had yet to  be connected and the solitary artist worked with a mechanic's light plugged into the one working outlet. There were no windows... not even traffic noises...

And then it happened. The bulb in the mechanic's 'trouble' light fizzled and went out. Complete solid darkness... Nothing... The painter, who'd been working up toward the ceiling,  clambered down his ladder and attempted to find a replacement bulb. He tried to make as little noise as possible. No one likes to announce their presence in such eerie circumstances.

But he began to hear footsteps... far off... at the other end of the hallway... Shambling footsteps, as a prisoner in chains might take.... He froze... The only muscles moving within his body were those necessary for circulation and respiration. Maybe he blinked, but that's all. Still, the footsteps drew closer. He heard breathing... raspy wheezing and every so often a low mumbled word. Then whatever it was started banging on the heavy iron doors as it passed. 'It' knew where things were. 'It' could 'see' him.

He prayed. The painter prayed. But the walls wouldn't vanish and he could not escape.

Then it was upon him. He could smell the rotted breath. He could feel the tangible presence of some hulking thing there before him. He pressed against the wall and whispered 'no, no, no,' as he slid down to the cold, cement floor

Whatever it was reached down and grabbed him, pinning his arms to his body. He whimpered. The thing roared and the sound echoed from the old, crumbling plaster. Then is smashed his head against the wall and that was it...

They found him in the morning sprawled on the cold cement. But there was a thick smear of paint and blood tracing a stripe from high up near the ceiling all the way down to the floor.... and the bulb in the trouble light was on.

He lived. The painter lived. They interviewed him. The story was everywhere. All the papers had it. Tourists flocked to the gray, artistically crumbling 'castle.' Psychic researchers came too, some for their own purposes, some to learn the truth.

And that's it too.....

What have you seen? What have you heard? Please comment. Share. I'm sure we'd all love to read them all.

'Life' goes on.....

<more next time>

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