Back in 2007, I was into ghosts. Like, really into ghosts. I spent time watching videos of supposed ghost activities, looked into the equipment needed to find evidence of ghosts, and even went so far as to write fake stories about my fake encounters with ghosts.
I shared one of those fake ghost stories on a website called “The Midnight News” in order to scare some people on the internet and to add my own invented anecdote to haunting lore (unfortunately, the story I wrote is no longer available — trust me, I looked).
While I don’t remember the entire story, I know it had something to do with a previous owner’s child dying in my house in the early 1900s (you know, like every ghost story) and mysterious, unaccounted for sounds emanating from the basement. Yeah, 14-year old me wasn’t exactly exploring new literary frontiers with my ghost stories.
To my horror, somehow my made-up story made its way to the producer of an A&E television show called “Paranormal State,” a series about a group of Penn State college students who investigated claims of paranormal activity.
One night in August 2007, this email arrived in my inbox:
Hello Nick –
I hope this email finds you well. I’m contacting you through your
story/address that I found at The Midnight News. I’m writing to find
out if you are still in search of help.
My name is Chris and I’m currently working along with the
Paranormal Research Society. Founded six years ago, the PRS has
become a nationally recognized organization because of the incredible
work that they have done in helping people investigate and deal with
issues of the unexplained.
The PRS have assisted young, old, religious and non-religious – and
they have worked in conjunction with everyone from local police
authorities to the Catholic church. Their main goal is to help those
Due to their record of people’s lives that have been positively
affected by their work – the PRS is now being followed by a camera
crew from A&E television. I am one of the individuals looking for
people who may be wanting, willing and able to have their case
handled by the PRS.
There’s much more that I can tell you about this, but I will first
wait to hear your thoughts on the matter. Please feel free to email
me at your convenience.
I appreciate your time. Thank you Nick.
I was terrified.
This was, arguably, worse than a real ghost would be. Somehow my fake ghost story had manifested itself into a real-life thing — having a crew of amateur ghost hunters come to my house and film it for national TV. I wasn’t prepared for that pressure as a 14-year old child. And, at that age, I absolutely did not have the authority to allow a group of paranormal investigators and an A&E television crew access to my house for a night of filming, at least not without talking to my parents first. How exactly was I supposed to explain to them that I had spent time making up ghost stories on the internet?
In my panicked state, I did what anyone would’ve done: I didn’t respond to Chris’s email for eight years.
Eight long years.
He sent his original email in August 2007 — finally, in September 2015, I responded to the producer with this email:
I made that story up. #EightYearsLater #TheLongCon
Chris responded almost immediately saying “Mind. Blown.” and asked me how I had saved his email all these years, and why I made up the ghost story in the first place?
It’s been two years since he asked me those questions… and I still haven’t returned his email.
Stay tuned for an update in six more years.