Tag Archives: #paranormalinvestigation

Reality Meets Fiction: Communicating with Spirits

by Barry Pirro

Don’t you just love spiral staircases? I know I do. You don’t see many in houses these days apart from the narrow, metal ones that are installed as an afterthought when converting a garage or some other such space into a proper room. But the spiral staircase I was climbing down this particular day was a real beauty. It was broad, carpeted in a deep white pile, and it was in a house in Ridgefield, Connecticut.

The young couple who contacted me were experiencing a lot of unusual, disturbing activity — the sound of phantom footsteps in the night, objects moving by themselves, and sighting of the ghostly figure of a man in a blue plaid shirt. They asked for my help in figuring out what was there, and hopefully to get rid of it. Of course, I was more than happy to oblige.

As I continued making my way down the staircase, a feeling of apprehension began to build, as if someone was waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs. The feeling didn’t frighten me because I’ve felt this kind of thing many times before. I’m never afraid during investigations, but I’m always curious. ‘Knock-Knock. Who’s there?’ I thought. 

I made one last turn of the helix, and as my foot left the last step and set down on the hardwood floor, I knew. Something was in the room with me, and it wasn’t happy to see me. This wasn’t exactly the warm welcome I was hoping for, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle.

I stopped for a minute and scanned the beautiful finished basement with hardwood floors. A leather couch faced a large stone fireplace, and sliding doors led to a deck overlooking a sunny, spacious backyard. Overall, it was a bright, cheerful space that anyone would love to spend time in. The only problem was, the place was haunted as hell. How did I know? I could feel it.

As I stood there allowing my intuition to take over, the thing in the room crept closer and closer to me. Then, it suddenly rushed at me and gave me a message loud and clear — You are not wanted here.

‘That may be the case,’ I thought back calmly. ‘But whoever you are, there’s something you need to know — I never back down. You don’t frighten me, so don’t even try. I’m here to help you. Why are you here, and what is it that you want?’

Although people’s stories about the ghostly activity in their home is interesting, I don’t really need to hear them. If a house is haunted I’ll feel it right away. What does it feel like? Each experience is different, but more often than not it begins with a feeling of being watched, observed, studied.

Imagine being in a room where there’s a security camera in the corner, and every time you take a step the camera follows your every move. It’s that kind of a feeling; as if I’m being scrutinized by someone I can’t see, but I know that they’re there.

Next comes a flood of emotions that usually have nothing to do with the way the surroundings look. I might walk into a warm, sunny room and suddenly feel sad, depressed, or lonely. Likewise, I can walk into a dark, dingy basement and be flooded with feelings of happiness.

Then, I begin receiving intuitive information. Sometimes the messages come in the form of names or dates, other times I see visual ‘snapshots’ of the past in my mind’s eye. One common thing about these clairvoyant messages is that they are always extremely persistent.

During one investigation, I kept “hearing” a voice say, ‘I’m Elizabeth. Ask them about Elizabeth.’ I pushed the message away, in case it was just my imagination, but it kept coming back and repeating over and over again — ‘I’m Elizabeth. Ask them about Elizabeth.’

Finally, I said to the homeowner, “I don’t know if this means anything to you, but I’m supposed to ask you about Elizabeth.”

“Elizabeth?” the homeowner said with a start, “Why, she’s the woman who lived here before I bought this house. She was very old, and I was told that she died in a nursing home. I never met her, but I’m certain her name was Elizabeth because that name was on all of the documents we signed when we bought the house. How did you know?”

“A little bird told me,” I said with a smile. “A little bird named Elizabeth.”

Most times, intuitive information is very brief. Just a word or two, then it’s gone. But other times it’s extremely detailed, as if I’m watching a movie. Once while taking a tour of an historic home, the group stopped in a bedroom on the second floor. The room was tiny with a small bed pushed into a dark corner. The tour guide was talking about the history of the house, but I was barely listening. I was beginning to receive intuitive information, and it was very strong.

As I stood there looking around the room, waves of happiness washed over me. In my mind’s eye, I could see lots of very young children running through the door and around the room. All of the children were barefoot. The boys wore light colored, loose fitting pants that went to the knee, and shirts with buttons. The girls wore simple, light colored dresses that went down to their ankles. They were running in circles through one door and out the other. Then they would loop back and run in again. There was a man sitting on the bed, and as the children ran by he was pretending to try and catch them. The scene was extremely vivid and filled with laughter and joy.

There had been no mention of children up to this point in the tour, so before we moved on to the next room I casually said to the tour guide, “There were a lot of children in this house, weren’t there?”

“Yes,” she said with a smile. “There were a LOT of children in this house. Eleven! And they were all born in this very room. You wouldn’t think that a house as small as this could hold so many kids, but somehow they made it work. They were a very happy family.”

Not all of the sensations I get are intuitive. Sometimes they’re purely physical. These include feeling pains and other feelings in various parts of my body. The pains usually correspond with what the spirit was feeling during their lifetime, or when they died. Sometimes I’ll feel sharp pains in my head or my chest, or I’ll feel short of breath. Once during an investigation, my legs suddenly became stiff and leaden, as if I had arthritis. It felt as if I could barely walk. I later learned that the person who lived in the home was an invalid, and that she walked with the aid of a walker.

Then there are the ghostly touches; soft caresses on my arms, face, and hands. And if you’ve never been poked by a ghost, I highly recommend it. Poking seems to be their favorite way of letting me know that they are with me. I’ll be walking down a hallway when all of a sudden I’ll feel a very strong jab in my arms, back, or shoulders. It feels exactly like someone is poking me a few times with two or three fingers. I usually only experience this once or twice during an investigation, but in very active houses I’ll get poked several times.

One of the most striking examples of a spirit communication happened during an investigation I conducted at a haunted day spa in Connecticut. The owner contacted me because she and her employees had been witnessing very disturbing paranormal phenomenon at the spa.

One morning two of the workers watched as a large, heavy metal bowl levitated off of a table, then floated down to the floor. Another day, one of the employees caught a glimpse of a man walking into one of the treatment rooms. When she went to investigate, the room was empty. Every morning, the person opening the shop finds objects thrown on the floor in the gift shop area. But the last straw was when the owner and another employee heard the blood curdling scream of a man coming from one of the treatment rooms. Needless to say, they investigated and there was no one there.

After interviewing the owner and staff, I did a walkthrough of the spa. I immediately felt a male presence in one of the treatment rooms. As I tried to communicate with him, the spirit would move to another room. After following him from room to room, trying to get him to tell me what the problem was, I decided to conduct a clearing and send him on his way.

The two women came into the room to ask what I had come up with when all of a sudden, soft music started playing in all of the treatment rooms. The owner was shocked, and totally baffled. The only way to turn the music on in the spa was to login to the computer with a password, login to Spotify, then choose the Meditation Music station. But neither of the women had touched the computer.

As we were talking about this strange occurrence, the music started playing louder, and louder. The ghost was actually turning the volume up on the speaker that sat on the shelf. The music in all of the other rooms remained quiet. He clearly wanted us to know that he was there.

The shop owner and her employee went back to the front of the spa while I conducted the clearing. To clear a space of a spirit, I talk to them and try to make them realise the situation they are in. They are no longer living, they don’t belong here, and there are loved ones waiting for them on the other side.

“It’s time for you to move on,” I said out loud. “You don’t belong here any longer. There is a beautiful place waiting for you filled with light and love. Your friends and family have been waiting for you for a very long time. It’s time for you to go to them.”

Suddenly, an overwhelming sense of sadness and abandon washed over me, and I could hear the spirit’s voice in my head. ‘There’s no one waiting for me,” he said. ‘I have no one. No one is waiting for me.’

The feeling of despair and hopelessness was so powerful that I felt it to my core, and the sadness and loneliness that came over me was so strong that I actually started to cry.

A few minutes later, the women came into the room from the front of the store. I told them that I finished the clearing, but that the spirit was refusing to move on. I didn’t share any of the details about the emotional exchange I had just had.

“I have to tell you,” the owner said. “While you were back here doing the clearing, we both got very sad. We both felt like we wanted to cry.” I was amazed. They had picked up the same feelings and emotions from the spirit that I had.

The most important tool in a paranormal investigator’s toolbox is his intuition. Cameras, recorders, meters, and sensors can give you a clue that a ghost is present, but the real proof comes from direct communication with the spirit.

My advice to anyone wishing to have these kinds of experiences is to stop blocking thoughts and feelings. If you walk into a room and it doesn’t feel quite right, let that feeling sit with you for a while. Silently ask, ‘Is there someone here with me? Can you tell me your name?’ Just don’t be surprised if you get an answer. It’s not just your imagination. Chances are, you just communicated with a spirit, and you’ve just taken the first step toward a new and amazing journey.


UPDATE: Due to lack of reader interest, Reality Meets Fiction will be ending in two months. That means, just two more stories will be published (October and November). If you’d like for the series of paranormal investigation stories to continue, please let us hear your voice in the comments.

“Reality Meets Fiction” is a series on non-fiction, real-life stories as experienced through personal accounts and investigations conducted by Barry Pirro, a paranormal investigator known as the Connecticut Ghost Hunter. Barry has over a decade of paranormal investigation experience and will share his stories every 4th Friday of the month. Don’t forget to catch the last article on November 26th. To learn more about the Ghost Hunter, visit http://www.connecticutghosthunter.com/.

READERS: Have you had or have heard of spirit communication and encounters? If so, tell us about it in the comments. Better yet, write your non-fiction story and send it to us: darksiremag@gmail.com (subject: Spirit Communication). Your story may be picked to appear on our blog as a follow up to Barry’s.

WRITERS: Use Barry’s real-life story to inspire your creativity! Write a story using spirit communication and then submit it to us for publication consideration: https://www.darksiremag.com/submissions.html.

As always, thanks for supporting THE DARK SIRE! If you’re not following us, please do. We are on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram under @DarkSireMag. And, of course, you can pick up a digital copy of our issues on the TDS website or paperback copies through AmazonThe Bibliophile Bookstore (Dover, Ohio), and now Poe’s New & Used Bookstore (New Berlin, Pennsylvania).

Until we meet again, take care!

Reality Meets Fiction: Voodoo Dolls

What do Barnes and Noble, Walmart, and Target have in common? They all sell Voodoo Dolls! And they’re not the only ones. You can buy Voodoo dolls and kits from hundreds of online vendors, and browsing through the many different types of online Voodoo dolls is quite entertaining. There’s the “Mini Office Voodoo Kit” that you can use to put a curse on your boss or co-workers; the “Happy Couple Voodoo Doll Kit” to cast love spells; the “Passion Masters Sex Voodoo Doll” to ‘attain massive, animal-like sex stamina’; and my favorite–the “Photo Revenge Voodoo Doll” where you send a photo of your ex, wait for the doll to arrive, then go to town sticking pins in the doll that has your ex’s face on it.

Those who use dolls in Voodoo-type rituals swear by them, but do they really work? Apparently so. In Connecticut, a Voodoo doll was used to cause the death of two people.

In 2008, John Brightman of New England Paranormal Research was contacted by a woman named Amanda in Westport who was experiencing paranormal activity in her home, such as objects moving on their own, and doors opening and slamming shut. In addition, a deceased family member was reportedly seen in the home.

During the investigation, Brightman learned that three people who had been living in the house had died several months earlier–Amanda’s mother, Esther, her brother, Roger, and her younger sister, Vivian. After the deaths, Amanda inherited the home. When she arrived to clean the house, she discovered a hand-made altar in Roger’s room. Four candles were on its surface, and in the center was a box about eight inches long and four inches wide. Inside was a stuffed doll, and tacked to it were three photographs. One was a photo of Amanda’s younger sister, and the other was of her mother. The third was of a man Amanda did not recognize. Small pins had been inserted into the doll in various positions, and it was charred in several places. The box also contained herbs, and small bottles containing oils and ointments.

Amanda told the investigator that Roger discovered that his sister Vivian had convinced their mother to cut him out of his inheritance. Apparently, he used the doll to put a curse on his mother and sister, and it worked. Esther died shortly after Roger found out about losing his inheritance, and two months later, his sister Vivian died of a ruptured spleen. But it seems that Roger’s scheme backfired because he died a few months later. So, in the end, three people died as the result of using the Voodoo doll.

In order to understand the use of dolls in ritual magic, it’s important to understand the concept of sympathetic magic whereby a magician believes that he can produce any desired physical effect merely by imitating it. In addition, there is the belief that whatever is done to a material object will also be done to the person that it was once in contact with. This is why dolls used in magic rituals are often constructed or decorated with hair, nail-clippings, or pieces of cloth once owned by a person.

The use of dolls in sympathetic magic goes back thousands of years. The melting or burning of ritualistic dolls was written about in great detail in some ancient Greek texts. In ancient Egypt, enemies of Ramses III used wax images of the Pharaoh in rituals to help bring about his death. Greek dolls, known as Kolossoi, were used for various ritual purposes, such as to restrain a ghost, to ward off an evil entity, or as a way to bind lovers together.

Voodoo dolls are the most familiar type of doll used in casting spells and curses, but there are actually a number of different types of dolls used in ritualistic magic and witchcraft. The oldest examples of dolls stuck with pins and used in ritual magic don’t come from Africa or the Carribean, they originated in Britain where during the middle ages, practitioners of magic called ‘cunning folk’–also known as wizards, wise men or women, or conjurers– would make cloth dolls made to resemble a person in the community who was thought to be a witch. The doll would be stuck with pins to do the witch harm, and to help break any magic spells she may have put on anyone. 

If you ever get a chance to visit England, be sure to visit the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Cornwall, England. Among the museum’s many interesting artifacts is a curious figure–a small, crudely formed female clay doll stuck with four pins. This type of ritualistic doll is known as a poppet, and this particular one appears to be blackened in places as if it had been charred by fire.

Poppets are made to represent a person and they’re used to cast spells on that person for good or for evil, or to put a curse on the person. They can be made out of a number of different materials such as carved roots, corn husks, a piece of dried fruit, wax, clay, branches, or cloth. Dolls made out of cloth are often stuffed with herbs or other materials thought to have magical properties. Poppets that have a curse on them would be hidden in a home to make sure it is close to its intended victim.

Now let’s get one thing straight, Voodoo has very little to do with so-called Voodoo dolls. In fact, the name Voodoo isn’t even the actual name of the religion. Vodou (the proper spelling and pronounced VOO-dow or VOE-do) originated in the 17th century French colonial empire among enslaved West Africans. An 1685 law required all slaveholders to Christianize slaves within eight days of their arrival, and this was often Catholicism. Over time, the slaves combined elements of their religious beliefs with Roman Catholicism. Because they were forced to adopt Catholic rituals, slaves gave them double meanings and in the process, many of their African spirits became associated with Christian saints.

Vodou is a fascinating and complex religion, and although dolls are used in Vodou, they are usually used for good, or for protection against evil, similar to the use of religious statues in churches and homes. Dolls are used for a variety of purposes such as love, healing, guidance, fertility, and empowerment.

When West African slaves were brought to the United States, they retained their religious practices of using dolls. One type of doll that they made was called a fetish which was thought to be possessed by spirits connected to the doll’s owner. The fetish would be worn for good luck, or to access magical powers. Fetish dolls are also used to create a bond between the physical and spiritual worlds. They are also known by the names ‘juju’ and ‘grisgris’. The term ‘grisgris’ also refers to charm bags filled with magical powders, roots, herbs, bones, spices, stones, feathers, and so on. So, grisgris bags are actually a type of magic potion–a combination of ingredients designed to produce an intended outcome. The bags are usually worn by a person, but they are sometimes tied to fetish dolls as part of a spell.

Psychologists say that Voodoo dolls work only if you believe in them, and that there is a real psychological benefit to getting your frustrations out on another person by sticking pins in their effigy.  But as we’ve seen, you don’t have to believe in a curse to be affected by it. In fact, you don’t even have to be aware that you’ve been cursed for the curse to take its toll.

If you’re interested in experimenting with Voodoo dolls, I would advise you to keep the Wiccan “Rule of Three” in mind. The rule of three states that whatever energy a person puts out into the world, be it for good or bad, will be returned to that person three-fold. So, using a doll to help heal or to bring joy and happiness to someone should bring you a handsome reward. But be warned–before you go sticking black pins in a doll made to resemble your worst enemy, keep in mind that, in the end, the person you’ll be hurting the most is yourself.


UPDATE: Due to lack of reader interest, Reality Meets Fiction will be ending in two months. That means, just two more stories will be published (October and November). If you’d like for the series of paranormal investigation stories to continue, please let us hear your voice in the comments.

“Reality Meets Fiction” is a series on non-fiction, real-life stories as experienced through personal accounts and investigations conducted by Barry Pirro, a paranormal investigator known as the Connecticut Ghost Hunter. Barry has over a decade of paranormal investigation experience and will share his stories every 4th Friday of the month. Don’t forget to catch his next article on September 24th. To learn more about the Ghost Hunter, visit http://www.connecticutghosthunter.com/.

READERS: Have you used voodoo dolls or have heard stories about them? If so, tell us about it in the comments. Better yet, write your non-fiction story and send it to us: darksiremag@gmail.com (subject: Voodoo Dolls). Your story may be picked to appear on our blog as a follow up to Barry’s.

WRITERS: Use Barry’s real-life story to inspire your creativity! Write a story using voodoo dolls and then submit it to us for publication consideration: https://www.darksiremag.com/submissions.html.

As always, thanks for supporting THE DARK SIRE! If you’re not following us, please do. We are on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram under @DarkSireMag. And, of course, you can pick up a digital copy of our issues on the TDS website or paperback copies through AmazonThe Bibliophile Bookstore (Dover, Ohio), and now Poe’s New & Used Bookstore (New Berlin, Pennsylvania).

Until we meet again, take care!

Reality Meets Fiction: The New England Vampire Panic

by Barry Pirro

A century after the 1693 Salem witch trials, citizens of Rhode Island began hearing whispers and rumors of something that frightened them even more than witchcraft. They began to suspect that there were blood sucking vampires in their midst. Even more disturbing, they thought that the vampires were members of their own families, and that they had to be stopped at any cost. But like Stoker’s Van Helsing, these would-be vampire slayers were determined to hunt down each and every one to make sure they stayed where they belonged–in their graves. 

In June of 1784, The Connecticut Courant and Weekly Intelligencer published a letter to the editor from a Willington, Connecticut town councilman. In it, he cautioned readers against being influenced by a local doctor who was encouraging families to dig up and burn their relatives’ bodies. The letter said that several children’s bodies had been exhumed at this doctor’s request, and that families were told that the burning of the bodies would stop consumption, now known as tuberculosis, from spreading throughout the family. 

Today, the claims in the letter may sound far-fetched. Even laughable – but they were true. In the late 18th century, people actually were digging up their dead family members’ bodies and burning them because they thought that they were vampires. 

Where did this gruesome practice of exhuming and desecrating dead bodies originate? Many immigrants came to America from Europe, and with them came their traditions, folklore, and superstitions. Throughout Europe, exhuming the bodies of those thought to be vampires was not uncommon. Some corpses were beheaded. Others had their feet bound with thorns to keep them in their graves. If a body was badly decomposed, the skull would be placed facing backwards, and the rest of the bones were carefully rearranged to prevent the vampire from rising. Further methods used to keep the undead down included placing a sickle over the skeleton’s neck, putting a stone in the skull’s mouth, or pinning the skeleton to the ground with a stake. 


The first recorded case of New England vampirism was that of Rachel Harris Burton from Manchester, Vermont. In 1790, Rachel died of tuberculosis less than a year after marrying Captain Isaac Burton. A year later, the Captain married Rachel’s stepsister, Hulda, and soon after she began exhibiting symptoms similar to Rachel’s. 

Around this time, rumors of vampirism had begun spreading across New England, so family and friends began to suspect that Rachel had risen from the grave as a vampire and was making Hulda sick by sucking her blood. The Captain agreed and decided that something must be done about it. So, on a frigid day in February of 1793, three years after Rachel’s death, over 500 Manchester residents gathered at the cemetery to watch as the liver, heart and lungs were removed from Rachel’s exhumed, rotting corpse, placed on a blacksmith’s forge, and set on fire. 

Sadly, Hulga died seven months later. Because the ‘cure’ didn’t work, the townspeople figured that Rachel hadn’t been a vampire after all. Their conclusion? Witchcraft must have been responsible for Hulda’s sickness and death. 


One of the most famous cases of the New England vampire panic occurred in 1799 in Exeter, Rhode Island. One night, a farmer named Stuckley Tillinghast had a disturbing dream in which half of his apple orchard died. A few days later, his daughter Sarah came home complaining that she wasn’t feeling well. She took to bed, and, within a few weeks, died of tuberculosis. 

Several weeks later, the family was still grieving Sarah’s death when her brother James came down to breakfast one morning looking pale and sickly. He complained of feeling very weak, and that it felt as if there was a heavy weight on his chest. Then he said something chilling: Sarah came to him in the middle of the night and sat on his bed. He said that she didn’t speak, but that her pale form sat on the edge of the bed and stared at him all night long. Weeks later, James was dead. 

Shortly after James’ death, two more Tillinghast children died after saying that Sarah had visited them in the night. The family began to suspect that Sarah’s nocturnal visits meant that she was a vampire, and that she was returning from the grave to draw life from the remaining family members. 

A few months later, three more of the Tillinghast children died, then Honour Tillinghast, mother of the deceased children, became ill. She told her husband that all of her dead children kept coming to her in the night, and that she could hear their voices telling her to come with them. 

For Stuckley Tillinghast, this was the last straw. Early one morning he and his farmhand, Caleb, went out to the cemetery where his daughter Sarah was buried. They took with them a long hunting knife, a bottle of lamp oil, and two shovels. As the sun was rising, the two men dug up Sarah’s casket and turned back the creaking lid. 

Even though she had been dead over 18 months, Sarah looked as if she was just asleep. Seeing his daughter’s face looking flushed as if with blood, Stuckley took his hunting knife and thrust it deep into his daughter’s chest. He would later claim that as soon as the knife blade cut into her body, the wound gushed blood. Digging through flesh, muscle and bone, he cut out her heart and lay it on a nearby stone. There, he doused it with lamp oil and set it on fire. He and Caleb watched until the heart was reduced to ashes, then the two of them reburied Sarah. 

In the end, Stuckley Tillinghast’s dream had come true in a symbolic sense. Half of his ‘orchard’ (seven of his fourteen children) had died. After burning Sarah’s heart, Honour Tillinghast recovered from her illness, there were no more deaths in the family, and there were no further reports of Sarah appearing at night. To the Tillinghasts, the vampire curse had finally ended thanks to Stuckley’s intervention; and because the entire town knew how he had saved his family from further deaths, the belief in vampires was strengthened and the word spread near and far.


For the record, although the exhumation of bodies and the burning of hearts and other vital organs were often clandestine, lantern-lit affairs, some were quite public and even had an air of festivity. In 1830, one “vampire heart” was set on fire in front of a large crowd in the Woodstock, Vermont, town green; and in Manchester, up to a thousand people turned up to witness the burning of the heart, liver and lungs of a suspected vampire.    

Mary Brown of Exeter of Rhode Island has the distinction of being known as the last American vampire. George Brown must have felt as if his family was cursed. In 1883, tuberculosis claimed the life of his wife Mary. Six months later, his 20-year old daughter, Mary-Olive, succumbed to the same disease. Then in 1890 George’s only son, Edwin, contracted tuberculosis as well. George watched helplessly as his son struggled to breath, and constantly coughed up blood. While Edwin grew weaker and weaker, his 19-year-old sister Mercy died. 

George Brown was at his wits end. He had to do something to save his son Edwin, the only remaining member of his family. Since medical science failed to help Edwin, residents of Exeter began to suspect that vampires were the real culprit. They thought that either Edwin’s mother or one of his sisters must be one of the undead, and that they were leaving their grave at night to suck the life out of poor Edwin. 

On March 17, 1892, George Brown reluctantly agreed to allow his relatives and neighbors to exhume the bodies of his loved ones interred at the Chestnut Hill Cemetery in an effort to stop the disease. George said that he did not believe in vampires, but he was willing to try anything. 

That morning, a small crowd gathered in the graveyard behind the town’s Baptist Church, and the bodies of Mary Brown and Mary-Olive Brown were exhumed. They opened their caskets, but the only thing they found inside were bones–no surprise, since both had been dead and buried for nearly ten years. 

Next, they turned their attention to the casket of Mercy Brown who had been buried just eight weeks earlier. When the lid was lifted off of her coffin, the townspeople gasped in horror. Mercy was lying on her side, and her face was flushed as if she was still alive. Someone quickly took a long knife and thrust it into Mercy’s chest, then cut out her heart and lungs. Mysteriously, there was still blood in her heart and veins.

While he was unable to explain why Mercy was lying on her side in her coffin, Dr. Harold Metcalf, who had raised objections about the exhumations from the very start, said that the preserved state of the body was simply due to the short amount of time Mercy had been dead, and that the cold weather had preserved her body. 

The people of Exeter ignored the doctor’s explanations. They built a fire on a pile of rocks in the churchyard, then took Mercy’s heart and lungs and cremated them. But their job wasn’t done just yet. The group went to Edwin’s house with the ashes of his dead sister’s heart. They mixed the ashes with water, then fed them to him. Disgusting? Yes! But it was thought that this was the only way to prevent Edwin from dying. Sadly, and not unsurprisingly, the “cure” didn’t work, and he died two months later. 

Looking at the timeline of events, it’s baffling how anyone could have suspected that Mercy was responsible for her family’s illness, vampire or no vampire. Her mother and sister had died nearly 10 years earlier than she had, and her brother had become ill two years before she died. But cases of mass hysteria grow out of fear and superstition, and those caught up in the hysteria rarely stop to think whether or not any of it makes sense. 


In 1990, a group of boys playing near a hillside gravel mine in Griswold, Connecticut, found something that they thought was really cool–a skull that was in a grave with other bones. One of the boys ran home and showed his parents. The police were called, and it soon became clear that the bones were more than a century old. Archaeologists were called in to excavate the site, and they discovered that the bones were part of a large family burial plot from the colonial-era. 

A stone crypt was unearthed, and when the slab that covered the coffin was removed, archaeologists were shocked by what they discovered. Some time in the distant past, the bones of the individual buried there had been completely rearranged, and the skeleton had been beheaded. The beheading and other injuries to the bones were thought to have occurred roughly five years after death. The conclusion of all who examined the man’s remains was that he was suspected of being a vampire, and that his heart was removed to prevent him from rising out of his grave. 

The New England Vampire panic died out in the late 1800s after science finally discovered the cause of tuberculosis. But it illustrates what lengths people will go to protect themselves and their families. It’s only a matter of time before some new mass hysteria panic rears its ugly head. Whatever form it may take, historians will surely shake their heads and wonder, “What in the world were they thinking?”


“Reality Meets Fiction” is a series on non-fiction, real-life stories as experienced through personal accounts and investigations conducted by Barry Pirro, a paranormal investigator known as the Connecticut Ghost Hunter. Barry has over a decade of paranormal investigation experience and will share his stories every 4th Friday of the month. Don’t forget to catch his next article on August 27th. To learn more about the Ghost Hunter, visit http://www.connecticutghosthunter.com/.

READERS: What real-life vampire stories do you have? If you have experience with vampirism tell us about it in the comments. Better yet, write your non-fiction story and send it to us: darksiremag@gmail.com (subject: Vampirism Story). Your story may be picked to appear on our blog as a follow up to Barry’s.

WRITERS: Use Barry’s real-life story to inspire your creativity! Write a story on VAMPIRES (as predators!) and then submit it to us for publication consideration: https://www.darksiremag.com/submissions.html.

As always, thanks for supporting THE DARK SIRE! If you’re not following us, please do. We are on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram under @DarkSireMag. And, of course, you can pick up a digital copy of our issues on the TDS website or paperback copies through Amazon and The Bibliophile Bookstore (Dover, Ohio).

Until we meet again, take care!

Reality Meets Fiction: Premature Burials

by Barry Pirro

In his short story The Premature Burial, Edgar Allan Poe wrote, “There are certain themes of which the interest is all-absorbing, but which are too entirely horrible for the purposes of legitimate fiction. To be buried alive is, beyond question, the most terrific of these extremes which has ever fallen to the lot of mere mortality.”

In Poe’s day, fear of being buried alive was very real. During epidemics of plague, cholera, and smallpox, stories of people being buried alive found their way into local newspapers with increasing frequency, and public panic ensued.

A French newspaper of the time told of a young woman who was thought to have died from cholera, and she was buried the following afternoon. When the sexton started shoveling dirt into the grave, he heard a noise in the coffin, so he quickly sent for the medical officer. Upon unscrewing the coffin lid, the onlookers were horrified to discover that the now dead woman had been alive when sealed in her coffin. A terrified expression was frozen on her face, and there were deep scratches on the inside of the coffin lid from attempting to claw her way out.

In another story, a young woman died after a short illness, and the doctor who was present certified her death. He recommended that she be buried immediately due to the intense August heat, so she was laid to rest in a mausoleum just six hours after her death. Several months later, the woman’s husband decided to remarry, so the mother of his late wife decided to have her daughter’s remains removed to her native town. When the vault was opened, a horrible sight presented itself. The woman’s corpse lay in the middle of the vault. Her hair was disheveled, and the cloth that had lined the coffin was in shreds, having been torn apart by the poor woman as she fought her way out of her coffin.

The British Medical Journal ran an article about a case of premature burial that resulted in a court case. A woman from Naples, Italy, was buried after all of the proper steps were taken to assure that she was dead. Several days later the mausoleum in which the woman had been placed was opened for the reception of another body. Her body was discovered lying outside of her coffin. The clothes she wore were torn to pieces, and the woman had broken several bones as she attempted to extricate herself from the living tomb. A trial was held, and the doctor who signed the death certificate and the mayor who had authorised the interment were both found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

One of the earliest and most well documented cases of premature burial is that of Alice Bluden of Basingstoke, England. One day in 1674, Alice made herself a drink of poppy water–a type of tea made from poppy seed pods that contains morphine and codeine. Taken in small quantities, the tea acts as a sedative, but Alice must have ingested a substantial amount of poppy water that day because soon after drinking it she sank into a coma so deep that she appeared to be dead. She was examined by a doctor, but he failed to detect any breath or a pulse, so she was pronounced dead.

Alice’s husband, who was away on business at the time, asked for the funeral to be postponed until his return, but, in those days, freezers weren’t available for body storage. In addition, Alice was a large woman and obese bodies decay at a faster rate than lean ones. At the behest of the doctor, Alice’s family agreed that it would be best to bury her without delay.

Because the burial was so rushed, there was no time for a custom-built coffin, so Alice’s large frame was put into a casket that was so small that poles had to be used to force her arms and legs down so that the lid could be securely nailed shut. But Alice’s coffin wouldn’t remain closed for very long.

Two days after her burial, children playing in the graveyard heard mysterious moans and cries coming from underground. They reported this to the headmaster of their school, but he didn’t believe them. The following day the headmaster decided to check out the children’s story himself. He visited Alice’s gravesite and he too heard the strange sounds coming from underground, so he quickly had the body exhumed.

When the coffin was opened, there lay poor Alice, alive but bruised and bloody from trying to escape her coffin. She was so weak from the ordeal that she collapsed and died yet again. Unfortunately, no one thought to call a doctor to check if she was actually dead, so for a second time, Alice’s body was forced into her tiny coffin and she was reburied.

This time, the family hired a guard to watch over the grave to listen for any suspicious noises coming from underground that might suggest that Alice was alive. But sometime during the night, it began to rain and the guard headed over to the local pub to stay warm. Little did he know that amidst the claps of thunder and the rush of falling rain was another sound–muffled, blood curdling screams coming from Alice’s grave.

The next morning the family discovered that the guard had left his post, so they had the grave dug up just to be sure that Alice was indeed dead. To their horror, when the coffin was opened they discovered that Alice had revived sometime during the night. In her frenzied state, she had forced her hands from her sides and clawed at the inside of the coffin. Witnesses said that her hands were bloody and torn to shreds from attempting to escape. But this time, Alice was truly dead. She most likely suffered a heart attack brought on by the terror of being buried alive not once, but twice.

In Victorian times, fear of premature burial was so strong that a society was formed to prevent such a thing from happening. It was aptly called The Society for the Prevention of People Being Buried Alive, and over time people devised a number of methods to make sure the person thought to be dead was actually dead. Some of these methods were… well, let’s say they were a little off-putting to say the least.

Paris physician Antoine Louis had the idea of blowing tobacco smoke into the rear ends of the dead to awaken them if they weren’t quite dead yet. Why? No one is quite sure, but it does give the expression “blowing smoke up your ass” an entirely new meaning, doesn’t it?

Other methods assumed that pain would sort the living from the dead. One involved pouring scalding hot water on the corpse’s arms. If they blistered, the body was considered to be alive. A French clergyman came up with the novel idea of thrusting a hot poker up the rear end of the newly dead. In 1854, another Frenchman invented the “pince mamelon” (nipple-pincher), a particularly strong pair of giant tweezers designed to shock the supposed-dead back to life by squeezing the nipples very hard.

But there was a much simpler way to make sure that someone was actually dead. Don’t bury them right away. The term “wake” comes from the practice of waiting three days before burying a body to make sure that it doesn’t wake up. In Victorian times, wakes were held in the parlors of people’s homes. By the 20th century, funeral services were moved to funeral homes and the home parlor took on a new name, the living room, because it was no longer used to display the dead.

Some thought that three days wasn’t enough time to guarantee that a person was actually dead, so the Germans came up with their own solution–Leichenhäusers or corpse houses, chambers designed to hold the recently dead until their bodies began to rot. The first Leichenhäuser held up to eight bodies at a time, and it was kept constantly warm with pipes that fed the room with steam to hasten the decomposition of the bodies.

Between 1795 and 1828, Leichenhäusers were built all over Europe. Heaps of flowers were placed around the building to mask the stench of decay, and professional “death-watchers” placed mirrors and feathers in front of the corpses’ faces to check for any hint of breath. The bodies were periodically stuck with pins to check for a physical reaction, and they were attached to a system of strings and bells so that any movement would be immediately detected.

After a while people actually began paying admission for the privilege of wandering amongst the bodies. In Paris, viewing the dead became so trendy that a special morgue was built as a public exhibition space. Behind glass on slanted marble tables were the naked bodies of unidentified victims of crimes, drownings, and suicides. Although the intent was to have the public view the bodies in the hope that some might be identified, the Paris Morgue instead became a wildly popular tourist attraction with thousands visiting each day.

Fear of being entombed alive eventually led to the invention of a number of patented devices known as “coffin alarms.” Some included battery-powered alarms, spring-loaded rods that would raise flags to the surface of graves, ducts to feed fresh air into the coffins, and even ladders so the not-quite-dead-yet could climb out on their own.

Poe was well aware of such accounts of people being buried alive, and he played on the public’s fear by incorporating the theme into five of his short stories: Bernice (1835), The Fall of the House of Usher (1839), The Black Cat (1843), The Premature Burial (1844), and The Cask of Amontillado (1846).

With all of the marvels of modern medicine, you would think that the possibility of being buried alive would be a thing of the past. Not so! In 1994, an 86-year-old woman was declared dead, and the examining doctor had her body sent to the morgue. Ninety minutes later, an attendant noticed that the body bag the woman was sealed in was moving. She was quickly moved to the hospital emergency room where she recovered, but she died a week later.

In 2007, a 33-year-old Venezuelan man woke up during his own autopsy when the medical-examiner began cutting into his face with a scalpel. When the grieving man’s wife arrived at the morgue to identify his body, she was shocked to find him alive and waiting for her in the corridor.

In 2014, doctors examined 91-year-old Janine Kolkiewicz and declared her dead. Eleven hours later she awoke in the hospital mortuary with a craving for tea and pancakes. That same year, 79-year-old Walter Williams from Mississippi was declared dead by a hospice nurse. The next day, he woke up at the funeral home. When asked about the experience, he said that he thought that he had just fallen into a deep sleep.

Talk about a close call! A 24-year-old man from Johannesburg, South Africa, was declared dead after an auto accident. He spent two full days inside a cold metal box in the mortuary before workers finally heard his cries and rescued him.

Poe tells us that the terror of being buried alive is “too entirely horrible for the purposes of legitimate fiction”. But fiction is the place where the subject of premature burial should stay, because the reality of waking from the sleep of death entombed in a cold, dark, damp, silent box six feet underground is far too terrifying to imagine.


“Reality Meets Fiction” is a series on non-fiction, real-life stories as experienced through personal accounts and investigations conducted by Barry Pirro, a paranormal investigator known as the Connecticut Ghost Hunter. Barry has over a decade of paranormal investigation experience and will share his stories every 4th Friday of the month. Don’t forget to catch his next article on July 23rd. To learn more about the Ghost Hunter, visit http://www.connecticutghosthunter.com/.

READERS: If you have experienced or have heard a real story of being buried alive, tell us about it in the comments. Better yet, write your non-fiction story and send it to us: darksiremag@gmail.com (subject: Non-fiction Buried Alive Story). Your story may be picked to appear on our blog as a follow up to Barry’s.

WRITERS: Use Barry’s real-life story to inspire your creativity! Write a story on premature burial and then submit it to us for publication consideration: https://www.darksiremag.com/submissions.html.

As always, thanks for supporting THE DARK SIRE! If you’re not following us, please do. We are on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram under @DarkSireMag. And, of course, you can pick up a digital copy of our issues on the TDS website or paperback copies through Amazon and The Bibliophile Bookstore (Dover, Ohio).

Until we meet again, take care!

Reality Meets Fiction: A Demon in Upstate New York

by Barry Pirro

Of all the paranormal cases I’ve been involved with, the following is one of the most disturbing; not only because of the bizarre and frightening nature of the activity reported, but because I discovered that this was not a haunting–this was a demonic infestation. 

Demonic infestation often begins with the typical innocuous haunted house stuff, such as the sounds of mysterious footsteps and disembodied voices, the sighting of ethereal figures, and the movement of small objects. But unlike a haunting, the activity doesn’t end there. It quickly escalates and transitions into physical and mental attacks; bizarre and grotesque hallucinations; the smell of rotting flesh; cuts, bruises and burn marks on the skin; horrific nightmares and sleep paralysis; severe illness; and suicidal thoughts. And, once a demon enters your life, it is very, very difficult to get rid of.


When Claire and her sister Linda moved into their charming two bedroom apartment in Upstate, New York, it seemed like the perfect place. The apartment complex was quiet and meticulously cared for, and the property had a sweeping lawn that overlooked a small river. But a few months later, out of the blue, all hell broke loose in the sisters’ apartment. 

It started when Claire woke up one night with a feeling that something just wasn’t right. She looked over at her window and was gripped with fear as she saw thick red blood dripping from the shades. Claire stared in amazement at the horrifying sight, then watched it slowly fade away. The vision left her terrified and confused, and she spent the rest of the night trying to figure what she had just experienced. Coincidentally, Linda woke up one night to see her sister Claire slumped over in a chair in the corner of the room. Claire’s lifeless body was riddled with gunshot wounds which soaked her nightgown with blood that ran into puddles on the floor. Linda was terrified because the vision was so real, but after a while it dissipated, then vanished.

Later on that week, Claire and Linda were regularly woken out of their sleep where they would see strange, grotesque objects floating in the room, including knives and axes covered in blood. They would never witness these things together but, in the morning, they would compare notes and were shocked to discover that both were having the exact same experiences. 

A few weeks later the demon finally decided to show itself. It first appeared as a hooded figure dressed entirely in black. The demon came to them in their dreams, and when they woke it would be standing next to their bed, close enough for them to touch it. In another appearance, it showed itself as a monstrous looking creature with a large trunk that seemed to be a conglomeration of a number of different types of animals. And yet another time, it showed itself as a ghoulish looking little creature with rows and rows of fangs in its mouth. The demon kept shifting its appearance, sometimes even taking the shape of a huge spider-like shadow that would crawl up the wall and slowly melt into it. 

The scenes of horror, and the visitations by the hooded man and the grotesque animal creatures, continued nightly for over a year, wearing down the sisters and affecting their health. The demon’s activity increased to the point where it began to enter their bodies when they were sleeping. Both sisters would wake to a feeling of being held down in a state of paralysis; they would have to fight the demon to get out of its hold before they could open their eyes.

The women called in a Catholic priest to bless the apartment, but it didn’t do any good. In fact, the activity increased. Attempts to use holy water and prayers seemed to make the demon retaliate, as it would litter their dreams with images of unspeakable sexual acts between animals and demonic looking creatures.


The reason that a simple blessing didn’t work is that getting rid of a demon requires a priest conducting the rite of exorcism multiple times, and it can take over a year for it to be successful. Knowing this, I contacted the Archdiocese of New York to find out if an exorcist could intervene, but their only advice was to have the women contact a local priest. Since that had already been tried, I decided to contact a demonologist. Although this person was not a priest, he had a reputation of being able to help people who were afflicted with demonic infestation, so the sisters agreed to work with him.

The demonologist came to the house and tried to banish the demon with prayer. During a reading from the bible, the demon actually showed itself to all who were present by flying above them, then disappearing into the wall. In the end, the demonologist’s prayers and rituals didn’t work and the sisters moved from their home, hoping that the demon wouldn’t follow them–but it did. 

Today, six years later, the women are still plagued by the demonic entity that entered their lives for no apparent reason. They hope that someday the church will grant them permission to be exorcised of the demon.

Although religious leaders warn that playing with Ouija boards, attending seances, conjuring spirits, or even getting an innocent Tarot card reading is enough to cause a demon to enter your life, we don’t really know why demonic infestation happens. I’ve conducted three demonic investigations in my life, and in all three cases none of the people involved have admitted to being involved in activities that might account for the demonic presence that entered their lives. In his book, Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Contemporary Americans Possession, Father Malichai Martin warns, “Possession is not—nor was it ever—some tale of dark fancy featuring ogres and happy endings. Possession is real; and real prices are paid.” Unlike fiction, real life stories are by their very nature open-ended, and life isn’t always fair. Every day, people develop catastrophic illnesses or get into accidents that change their lives forever. In the case of those afflicted with demonic infestation, some are freed from their plight and go on to live perfectly normal, happy lives, while others fight for years to be freed of their living nightmare. For Clair and Linda, the nightmare continues.


“Reality Meets Fiction” is a series on non-fiction, real-life stories as experienced through personal accounts and investigations conducted by Barry Pirro, a paranormal investigator known as the Connecticut Ghost Hunter. Barry has over a decade of paranormal investigation experience and will share his stories every 4th Friday of the month. Don’t forget to catch his next article on June 25th. To learn more about the Ghost Hunter, visit http://www.connecticutghosthunter.com/.

READERS: If you have personally had a real-life encounter with demonic infestations, tell us about it in the comments. Better yet, write your non-fiction story and send it to us: darksiremag@gmail.com (subject: Non-fiction Demonic Infestation Story). Your story may be picked to appear on our blog as a follow up to Barry’s.

WRITERS: Use Barry’s real-life story to inspire your creativity! Write a story on Demonic Infestation and then submit it to us online for publication consideration: https://www.darksiremag.com/submissions.html.

As always, thanks for supporting THE DARK SIRE! If you’re not following us, please do. We are on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram under @DarkSireMag. And, of course, you can pick up a digital copy of our issues on the TDS website or paperback copies through Amazon and The Bibliophile Bookstore (Dover, Ohio).

Until we meet again, take care!

Reality Meets Fiction: Shadow People

by Barry Pirro

There is a paranormal phenomenon known as shadow people, and the sightings people have of them are often terrifying. Shadow people are humanoid figures that witnesses describe as looking ‘blacker than black’ or ‘totally devoid of light’. Unlike a real shadow, shadow people look solid.

While some appear to be bulky and muscular, others have been described as being incredibly thin. The creepiest sightings are those of inky black, paper-thin figures that bend around objects as they navigate their way through rooms. In all cases they are solid black, and they are often accompanied by a feeling of negativity or even evil.

The following story comes from a woman who contacted me about a shadow person she saw when she was a young girl.


            Like most people, I don’t remember many details about my early years. I don’t remember how I learned to tie my shoes, or when I first learned that blue and red paint mixed together makes purple. I don’t remember a lot of things about my childhood, but there is one thing I vividly remember. The night of my seventh birthday. What’s more, I’ve thought about it every night for the past thirty-one years.

All the kids in my class had come over for my birthday party that day, and by bedtime I was really wiped out. Sleep came quickly, and I slept soundly until around 2 AM when I awoke suddenly. At first I thought that a bad dream might have woken me up, but that wasn’t it. Something just wasn’t right. It felt like someone was in the room with me, and that they were standing there in the dark just staring at me.

My room was dim, but it wasn’t totally dark. I looked to see if my mom or dad had come in for some reason, but the only things I could see were the shadows of discarded clothes on the floor, and the pile of presents that sat on my chair. The room was deadly quiet, but the feeling that something was watching me grew by the second, and mixed with it was another feeling; whatever was watching me was bad–very, very bad.

My eyes scanned the room. The farthest corners were lost in murky shadows, but the area near my window was fairly light. Next to the window was my dresser, and next to it stood something tall and dark that at first puzzled me, then terrified me. It was a deep black shadow, blacker than the blackest black, and it was in the shape of a man. This shadow man stood in front of my dresser, and even though I couldn’t see his eyes, I could feel him continuing to stare at me. I’m telling you, this wasn’t just a child’s imagination, this was real.

My dresser had a mirror attached to it, and the shadow figure blocked both the dresser and the mirror. It was very human looking. It stood about six feet tall, and apart from the fact that it was completely black, there was nothing unusual about its appearance. It had a normal sized head, arms and legs.

The thing moved its arms ever so slightly, as if it was becoming impatient from trying to stand still. That’s when I noticed its hands and the thing it was holding–a “shadow knife” about the size of a large kitchen knife. He was holding the knife in his right hand and holding it down on his right side so that it was close to his thigh, and the tip was pointed down toward the floor. The hand that held the knife moved up and down, ever so slightly.

This pitch black figure continued to stare at me, and it seemed as if it was trying to gauge the best time to spring at me. That was one thing I wasn’t going to let it do, so I called out as loud as I could to my mother.

“Mom! Mom! Come in here quick!” I shouted. The hall light came on, and my mother rushed into the room to see what was the matter.

When she came into my room I became even more frightened because she didn’t see this figure standing there. She walked right past it as if it wasn’t there at all! The dark figure never moved, even when she walked right in front of it, which I found terribly scary at the time. Now that I’m older it makes me wonder why this thing stayed so still.

Seeing how frightened I was, my mom stayed in the room with me, and all the while she was with me I could see this black figure standing there. I never told her what I was seeing because I was so scared I couldn’t even get words out of my mouth, and I thought that if I did tell her it might attack us.

Despite how young I was I could tell that it was very negative. Although I didn’t understand it at the time, the way that it made me feel only caused me to be more afraid of it. As best I can remember, it took about an hour and a half for the shadow figure to leave. It either faded out into the air, or it ran out of the room – I can’t recall which.

Years later, I came across an article that talked about the paranormal phenomenon known as shadow people. I was amazed to read that many people have seen these things, and that they described them as looking exactly the way the man in my room looked. I didn’t read about anyone seeing these creatures holding knives, but they’ve seen them moving around rooms, and they sometimes leave by walking right into walls.

I know now that what I saw the night of my seventh birthday was a shadow person, and to this day it’s something I wish I could forget.


The shadow person the little girl saw that night was clearly trying to intimate her. The knife it held was most likely something it manifested in order to appear menacing. But why would it do this? Why try to scare a little girl? What threat could she possibly pose to this incorporeal being?

I think that this particular shadow person was there as an observer, a type of alien or interdimensional being sent to gather information for some unknown purpose. It had probably been in the girl’s house for an extended period of time, and its “mission” was to simply watch the family going about their normal routines. When it was spotted by the little girl, it borrowed a symbol from her mind that it knew she would be terrified of–a knife. It knew that she would be too frightened to tell her mother about it that night. It also knew that no one would believe her if she told them about a dark shadow man holding a knife, so it would be free to continue watching the family for as long as it needed to.

There are many theories about what shadow people may be. These include aliens, ghosts, interdimensional beings, djinn, sprites, fairies, and demons to name just a few. Whatever they are, have no fear. Shadow people are harmless. They can intimidate by sending out feelings of fear and evil, but they can’t do any physical harm. They are literally ‘no body’, and nine times out of ten they’ll literally run away when spotted.


“Reality Meets Fiction” is a series on non-fiction, real-life stories as experienced through personal accounts and investigations conducted by Barry Pirro, a paranormal investigator known as the Connecticut Ghost Hunter. Barry has over a decade of paranormal investigation experience and will share his stories every 4th Friday of the month. Don’t forget to catch his next article, Demon Encounters, on May 28th. To learn more about the Ghost Hunter, visit http://www.connecticutghosthunter.com/.

READERS: If you have personally had a real-life encounter with Shadow People, tell us about it in the comments. Better yet, write your non-fiction story and send it to us: darksiremag@gmail.com (subject: Non-fiction Shadow People Story). Your story may be picked to appear on our blog as a follow up to Barry’s.

WRITERS: Use Barry’s real-life story to inspire your creativity! Write a story on Shadow People and then submit it to us online for publication consideration: https://www.darksiremag.com/submissions.html.

As always, thanks for supporting The Dark Sire! If you’re not following us, please do. We are on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram under @DarkSireMag. And, of course, you can pick up a digital copy of our issues on the TDS website or paperback copies through Amazon and The Bibliophile Bookstore (Dover, Ohio).

Until we meet again, take care!

The Creative Nook with Barry Pirro

by Maureen Mancini Amaturo

The Dark Sire has paired up with Barry Pirro, ghost hunter and paranormal investigator, to bring you a new series of articles, “REALITY MEETS FICTION.” Barry will be sharing his real-life paranormal stories with you every 4th Friday of the month. His first story is on Shadow People, coming this Friday, April 23. But for now, it is our pleasure to introduce you to the man behind the real-life stories, through an interview with the paranormal expert. Sit back and relax as we delve into the investigative world of the paranormal.

TDS: What attracted you to collaborate with The Dark Sire literary magazine?

Barry Pirro: I’m a paranormal investigator, so I’ve been to every type of haunted location you can imagine–private homes, historic buildings, businesses, cemeteries, outdoor locations, you name it. I’ve seen ghosts with my own eyes, seen objects move of their own accord, and I’ve recorded the voices of spirits on my digital recorders. But my experiences pale in comparison to those of the people who actually live in a haunted house. Their experiences are ongoing, and while some of them might sound downright bizarre–they’re true.
            I’m really excited to be collaborating with The Dark Sire because these stranger-than-fiction paranormal experiences that I write about are the perfect source of inspiration for horror fiction writers. Some of the best fiction is based on fact, so I’m sure that horror writers will have a field day incorporating some of the more unusual paranormal phenomena into their works.
            The Japanese, for example, believe that there are different classifications of ghosts. There is the Funayūrei, the ghosts of those who died at sea. These seabound spirits are often depicted as scaly, fish-like humanoid creatures who sometimes resemble mermaids or mermen. Or take the Zashiki-warashi, the mischievous ghosts of children. Just imagine the horror stories that a writer could build around these mysterious entities.

TDS: What does “Reality Meets Fiction” mean to you?

Barry Pirro: Reality meets fiction is obviously not a new style of writing. There are countless examples of authors who have based their main characters on real people. Oscar Wilde based the character Dorian Grey on a real person, John Grey who was a poet, translator, and priest. Truman Capote practically invented the genre of the nonfiction novel when he wrote In Cold Blood. So why should horror fiction be any different?

TDS: How do you think the real experiences you’ve encountered can inspire writers, artists, and photographers?

Barry Pirro: I’m sure that horror writers are hungry for unusual topics, and true paranormal stories can provide an almost endless source of macabre material. People have reported seeing mysterious doppelgangers, inky black shadow people, unspeakably horrific looking demons, and the ghosts of loved ones. They describe seeing floating apparitions, solid looking people who suddenly vanish into thin air, and ghosts who leave a room by walking straight into walls. My clients have reported seeing cryptid creatures skulking in the shadows of their backyards, and black apparitions with red, glowing eyes roaming the hallways of their homes. There are chilling Ouija board stories and tales of haunted objects being brought into homes that end up causing havoc. In the hands of a skilled writer, any one of these topics can be woven into a truly terrifying horror story. I can’t wait to see the horror fiction that contributors to The Dark Sire come up with after reading my true paranormal stories.

TDS: Do you think your experiences with the paranormal are effective examples of “Reality Meets Fiction?”

Barry Pirro:  My own experiences are the perfect example of reality meets fiction. The saying “you can’t make this stuff up” really applies to most of the cases I get involved in.

TDS: What can you share that could help/inspire others to be more receptive to the spiritual world around us?

Barry Pirro: Although I can sense spirits–and I often pick up very specific information while conducting an investigation, such as suddenly blurting out the name of someone who died in the house–I don’t have any special intuitive gifts. Everyone is intuitive, they just don’t know it. Anyone can be more attuned to the spirit world. The secret? Stop blocking it! If you walk into a room and you feel uneasy for no particular reason, don’t push it away. Get in touch with that feeling. Allow yourself to feel it, and allow images to come to you. Don’t consider it as just your imagination. Start to voice your impressions and see if any of them make sense.

TDS: Do you have a sense that more and more people are accepting that the spiritual world is a reality? More believers now than in the past?

Barry Pirro: There are far more believers in the supernatural than there were a decade ago, and people are more open to talking about their experiences. Even celebrities are opening up about their ghostly encounters. These include Keanu Reeves, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Helena Bonham Carter, Kate Hudson, and Matthew McConaughey to name just a few.


We look forward to hearing Barry’s stories unfold in explicit detail. Don’t forget, his first article on Shadow People will be right here in The Dark Sire this Friday, April 23 at 11 AM (EST). Then join us again every 4th Friday of the month for more fun-filled eeriness.

Those inspired to create gothic, horror, fantasy, or psychological realism short stories, poems, and art should consider submitting their work to The Dark Sire for publication. Works based on the “Reality Meets Fiction” series will be given special consideration.

If you have any questions for Barry, please comment them below. But, if you want to learn more about him and his investigations, simply visit his website: ConnecticutGhostHunter.com. Until we meet again, happy hauntings!

Reality Meets Fiction

by Maureen Mancini Amaturo

Introducing REALITY MEETS FICTION, a new addition to The Dark Forest blog.

To kick off our Spring issue (launching April 30) and to honor the lore, legends, and influence of all things gothic, The Dark Sire will spotlight the continuing fascination gothic holds in the contemporary world by sharing experiences from modern life that mirror the haunting nature that defines gothic. To unveil our series of dark, true stories, we are honored to partner with well-established, highly respected paranormal investigator, Barry Pirro.

Ghost hunting since the age of 12, and professionally for almost 20 years, Barry has encountered the unimaginable, unexplainable, and unholy first-hand. “There are particular physical sensations you get when you are in a haunted house, areas that feel off or make you feel ill. Names pop into your head for no reason. You experience sudden pains in parts of your body, or you suddenly feel very hot or cold. The tools I use are for the benefit of the homeowner. They corroborate or expand on what my intuition is telling me.” The tools in his “ghost bag” are remarkably low-tech: digital recorder for EVP (electronic voice phenomena), EMF (electro-magnetic field) recorder, camera, and a vibration sensor, not unlike what pet owners may use to keep a cat off the couch. Barry not only conducts investigations but also does clearings. “A clearing attempts to rid a house of negative energy and encourages spirits to vacate the premises.”

Now, Barry will be sharing true stories from his experiences in all their eerie, mysterious details. Every 4th Friday of the month, one of Barry’s articles will be available to read. He will discuss Shadow People in his first article, out this Friday, and then for May he’ll discuss demons. You’re not going to want to miss it!

Writers and artists: Since truth is stranger than fiction, what Barry has to tell will be as inspirational as it is fascinating. Could reality inspire fiction? We hope so, as that’s the goal of the “Reality Meets Fiction” series. Imagine the stories, poems, and images lurking in the dark waiting for a bite of inspiration. Write a fictional piece based on Barry’s real-life encounters and then submit it to The Dark Sire for special publication consideration. And, if you have a non-fiction story to tell that aligns with Barry’s paranormal series, send it directly to the EIC of TDS by emailing darksiremag@gmail.com. Your story may be published on The Dark Forest blog, too.

Barry’s book on his life as a paranormal investigator that features expanded stories and experiences is forthcoming, and we will keep you posted on when it’s available. Until then, look forward to the articles that Barry will write for The Dark Forest. And if you’re hungry to find out more about this paranormal expert, be sure to visit his website: connecticutghosthunter.com

EXTRA, EXTRA!
As an extra treat, I’ve interviewed Barry about his collaboration with The Dark Sire, which will appear on The Dark Forest blog tomorrow. Watch for The Creative Nook with Barry Pirro beginning at 11 AM (EST).

What supernatural experiences have you had? What subjects do you hope Barry will write about? Have you already written fiction based on reality? Tell us about your stories in the comments below.