Life has been crazy lately, with packing and preparing to close on our new home, so I haven't had the chance to be creative in what seems like forever. A few days ago, Henry and I went to a furniture store and the salesman there told us about this plantation that was a few minutes up the road from where our house is being built. But the plantation didn't intrigue me as much as the abandoned house he told us about. I don't normally shoot abandoned photography, but I was so curious about this house that I had to go check it out. So we decided to go on a little road trip yesterday to see it.
The house was overgrown with thorny brush, almost as though it were a warning to stay out, but we entered anyway. A screened door was the only barrier we had to cross. There was no locked door or even a door to lock, for that matter We peered inside and I called out, "Hello?" No response. I took a deep breathe and pulled the handle, slowly creaking the screened door open. The hallway was relatively empty aside from a shirt on the floor and a few random objects on the mantle of the fireplace. I stepped inside and called out again, "Hello?" Again, no response.
Curiosity compelled me to move forward. The front rooms (left and right) were empty, except for a few scattered leaves on the floor. I tip-toed down the hallway and peered into the left room beyond the fireplace. Surprisingly, the floor in this room was covered in what appeared to be an explosive eruption of clothes. What happened here? There was no dresser or closet to speak of. Where did these clothes come from? I stepped away and walked towards the room across the hall. Nothing, except a few neckties strewn about the floor. That's odd, I thought. Why are there only neckties in this room?
There was a sunroom on the back and a small room attached to the left of the porch (probably a laundry room), but I dared not venture that far back. The floor was rotted through and it didn't look very safe. I walked back to the front door where Henry stood and said, "Lets set up the shoot here." I wanted to create another ghostly image like some of the ones I've done in the past, but in the end, that didn't really work out.
On our way out, I looked back towards the staircase and once again, curiosity compelled me to explore more. I turned to Henry and said, "Let me check out upstairs first." He nodded okay and waited by the door. I carefully climbed the staircase, testing each step to make sure it was secure. When I reached the landing, I noticed the layout of the second floor mirrored downstairs (four rooms and a sunroom). Every room was empty, except for the front right, which only contained a rusty metal trunk that was hanging on the edge of a growing hole. The floor was rotting through and it seemed as though it would collapse through the ceiling at any moment. I wonder what was in that trunk? An uneasy feeling grew in the pit of my stomach, so I decided not to linger.
We returned to the car and I changed into my costume. Then we set up the camera on a tripod at the base of the stairs. I framed up the shot and then I heard it . . . footsteps? No, that must be the wind. There was no one in the house. It wasn't possible, I checked every room. I ignored it and focused on my camera. Then I heard it again. It was clear this time. There was no way the wind made that sound. It was the same creaking of the floor that my own footsteps made as I walked across the upstairs landing just above us. "Henry," I whispered, "I hear footsteps." He stopped and listened. Thump, creak, thump, creak. The footsteps were stronger this time and much louder than before. Something clearly wanted us to know we were not alone. "Fuck this shit!" Henry exclaimed as he grabbed the camera, hightailing it out of there. I was quick on on his heels, but stopped at the edge of the porch. I can't leave without a picture. I"ll regret it if I don't.
"Henry!" I yelled out, "Give me the camera, I'm not leaving without the shot." He reluctantly, handed me the camera and followed me back to the doorway. With my heart thumping hard in my chest, I set up the camera as quickly as I could. I took one blank shot of the hallway, then walked to the fireplace so that Henry could shoot the part with my character. I was planning to composite the images to create a haunted scene, but like I said, that didn't quite work out. We only shot a handful of images before the heebie-jeebies set in and our skin began to crawl. Something didn't feel right. We were clearly not welcome there. Henry swears up and down that there was a ghost of a woman upstairs and she was not happy that we entered her home. He has a pretty good sense about these things.
In the end, this was the only shot that was worth a damn. It was erie enough without adding any ghostly figures to it, so I kept the editing simple. After that, we went on to Hampton Plantation and took more photos. Our racing heartbeats subsided as we wandered through the house, comforted by the fact that we were with a tour group. Perhaps it was all in our head. Was it just the wind? Or was it something else, warning us that we had crossed a line? I don't know, but if I've learned anything from the movies, when the hair stands on the back of your neck and your gut tells you to get out of there, then you get the hell out of there! It was definitely one hell of an adventure that I will not soon forget.