CHELSEA --- Ssshhhhhhhh.
Hear that sound? It's like the wind, only not the wind. It comes from inside, and sometimes it seems to fly right past
Or maybe it's not like the wind at all. Maybe it's like a low moan pleading for help or footsteps creaking along the ceiling.
Don't hear anything? Then maybe it's just that feeling that someone —something — is watching, those shivers
that run down the spine when the thermometer is set at 70.
Some say those things are just the wind; an over-active imagination powered by suggestion.
But members of the Michigan-based group Parahaunt wouldn't be so quick to close the books.
Approximately 60 local residents met at the Chelsea District Library in October to hear the group's members tell its ghost
stories, and to share some of their own.
For all the reasons humans have not to believe in ghosts — fear, lack of evidence — there is a reason to believe.
Some of those attending missed their loved ones and believed they may have received messages from those who have passed
These are the people who dream so soundly they don't realize they're dreaming, who will visit a loved one's cemetery during
the day but won't go near one at night.
Parahaunt leader Scott Hattis said he began questioning the existence of ghosts after one of his young sons died. He wanted
to know there was life after death.
He said his ghost-hunting expeditions, which have taken him around Michigan, as well as several personal hauntings confirm
his religious beliefs.
Several of those investigations have taken place in nearby towns, including Adrian and Belleville.
According to the group's Web site, Hattis, while investigating an alleged haunting in Adrian, participated in a "circle,"
where people silently hold hands while meditating and praying for a ghost to appear.
During this particular circle, the members made contact with two ghosts, a male and a female.
When the group finished its contact with the female spirit, Hattis writes that she finished the prayer by saying "Amen."
Upon beginning contact with the male ghost, however, the group was told to "burn in hell."
"There is life after death, believe me," Hattis said, who said he believes ghosts are the result of the freewill God gave
He believes when people die, God gives them a choice to go to heaven or stay behind, he said.
"There are a lot of different reasons to stay behind," he said, adding that some may choose to see their children grow
up, while others stay behind to avenge their murders.
Area residents told stories of dead horses that they believe still roam their pastures, relatives who have visited them
in their dreams and apparitions who have scared family members.
At one point in the discussion, a Stockbridge resident told the group she believed her house was haunted.
The ghost, she said, had been friendly to her, but her husband has had nightmares of feeling suffocated and threatened.
She wanted to know if perhaps multiple spirits haunted her home, she said.
Minutes later, Hattis told her there was only one ghost involved.
The ghost, Hattis said, had dark hair and dark glasses and died of a respiratory illness. It wasn't her brother, he added.
"He is not a real threat," Hattis told the woman.
The woman said it sounded like the ghost of a family friend who had recently died and used to have a crush on her.
"You just described him to a tee," the woman told Hattis, later telling The Chelsea Standard she wanted to speak more with
Hattis on the subject.
She later refused to comment further.
Another woman said she lived in a house where she would hear creaking going down her stairs. Her dog would go crazy, barking,
and the curtains would begin to move back and forth.
It didn't take long for her to move out, she added.
While many people choose not to believe in ghosts, Hattis said weird animal behavior is some proof that ghosts do exist.
"I have to tell you, my cat, he is crazy," Hattis said, adding that animals have a built in sixth sense for the spiritual
"My cat, on a full moon, he swats at things that aren't there," he said, describing other bizarre cat activities as well,
such as hissing and running without reason. "Animals are spiritual."
While many in attendance said they had experienced hauntings or other paranormal occurrences, others came for curiosity's
Some weren't sure if they believed in ghosts, but were open-minded to the idea that a paranormal explanation is just as
strong a candidate as the wind.
These are the people who site scientific theories on thermodynamics. They believe a person's energy cannot be destroyed
and that the 28 grams each person loses when they die isn't just gas, but our spirits leaving the body.
Hattis said his curiosity often gets the better of him.
"If I'm beckoned into the middle of a woods by a spirit, I'm going to see what she wants," he said.
Chelsea Standard Staff Writer Maria Sprow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.