Duru Erkan is a sophomore honors college fellow majoring in biology and French with a focus on pre-dental at the University of Arkansas. Originally from Izmir, Turkey, Duru has been actively involved in student organizations on campus, including the Inspirational Chorale, International Culture Team, Volunteer Action Center, Recyclebacks, Honors College Ambassadors, and SURGE. In this post, having completed the Honors College Ghost Hunting Seminar, Duru reflects on her most vivid ghostly experience.
A couple months ago at around 2:00 a.m. on the fourth floor of Old Main, there was a distant sound of the cry of a baby. Mary—this is not her real name, I never asked for her name—was mopping the stairs. She heard the wail and wandered upstairs to pinpoint the source of the unnerving noise. The weeping was clear, and it was coming from the right wing. She called out to another custodial worker who was vacuuming the carpet nearby and asked her if she heard the child. They stood in the hallway and stared at one another, focusing on the eerie sound of the baby’s cry. They followed the weeping down to the clock room. Next to the wailing of the child, the clock ticked its rhythm. When they stepped inside the room, the sob became louder. It was almost overpowering the ticking and turning of the clock mechanism. Quickly it became deafening. Covering their ears, the two women asked for it to stop. They yelled for the child to be quiet, but it was so boisterous that they could not be heard. As they got more agitated with the sound, they roared “Stop! Please stop!” but the bawling got rowdier, and the clock started going faster; the mechanism was turning frantically, the cry of the baby and the ticktock of the clock were almost unbearable. Mary, pushed to her limits, screamed at the top of her lungs “Shut up!” And all at once, everything stopped. The crying, the ticking, the turning. And like that, the clock began ticking its rhythm once more.
After hearing this story from the cleaning staff during our final ghost hunt in Old Main, my first instinct was to inform Britney, a member of the paranormal research team TSS, who, in turn, immediately dragged our group to the clock room. When we entered, Britney—I must add that she is a “sensitive”— judged the energy of the room to be thick and uneasy. She did a lap around the glass exhibit and asked us to enter and form a circle around it. We tiptoed into the dark room, made our circle, and stood in the calm repetition of the clock. She turned on her voice recorder and began to talk: “The spirit in this room, I will ask you a series of questions and I would like you to answer them honestly. When we are done, and we want to leave, remember that you are not allowed to leave with us, you must stay here.”
So she began; first, she asked for the spirit to establish its presence.
Tick. Tock. Knock. (This knock was the type of sound a dropped water bottle from the floor above would make.)
She then asked for the name of the spirit.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Knock.
She asked why the spirit was there.
Tick. Tock. Knock.
She asked for the spirit to make the knocking noise again.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Knock.
She asked if the knock was how the spirit formed communication with us.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Knock.
I was feeling hot and on edge. The spirit was actually talking to us. This was the first real evidence I had for the existence of ghosts.
It was then asked of the spirit to confirm itself by making the knocking noise two times in a row.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Knock.
“I’ll ask again. Can you knock twice so that we know you are really there and that you are trying to interact with us?”
Tick. Tock. Tick. Knock.
The spirit of the room failed to fulfill the easy task it was asked to complete. Right up to this point, I was convinced that there was a phantom trying to communicate with our group of novice ghost hunters. I was squeezing my friend Hannah’s hand hard in fear but in that moment, I was more confused than anything, and I let go of her hand. This last question and its inadequate answer tipped me to the skeptical side. I began to count the ticks of the clock until the knock happened. I found there to be ten. Then I asked myself why we heard different numbers of ticks before we heard the knock after each question, and I quickly realized that some questions were merely shorter than others and posed at different times.
I would classify myself as a believer. Not necessarily a believer in ghosts but a believer in the possibility. We all came into the Ghost Hunting seminar with predetermined ideas on the theory and existence of the paranormal. I was largely skeptical at the beginning; but for the purpose of the class, I forced myself to be more open. I went through the last two weeks with the mindset that I would not discredit any experience I had or would have because of my prejudices. And this way, I got to have insight on a unique community that I didn’t even know existed before the class. I was interested and engaged during each lesson and field trip because I was open to the idea of believing, and on our last ghost hunt, I was genuinely scared of what the spirits of the building might reveal. The paranormal research in Old Main was consequently the most memorable one out of all our excursions. So next time you get to count the ticks of the clock before the knock in Old Main, don’t. Just listen for the knock and see what your mind makes up first. We must be curious in order to learn.