Spirit manifestations investigated

Dunedin artist Bruce Mahalski investigates paranormal activity with the help of an infrared...
Dunedin artist Bruce Mahalski investigates paranormal activity with the help of an infrared camera.PHOTO: SIMON HENDERSON
On cold winter nights do the spirits of the dead come back to greet the living? Reporter Simon Henderson joins an evening of paranormal research to see if the truth can be revealed.

A creak on the stairs is the only sound as a man in black ascends into darkness.

He takes out a hand-rolled cigarette and opens a can of beer.

He places them on a piece of paper at the end of the hallway, then traces around the objects with a ballpoint pen.

Then he sets up a night-vision video camera on the floor and walks to the other end of the hall, lowering his body to the carpet.

He waits in darkness.

All is silent.

Dunedin artist Bruce Mahalski is the man waiting patiently on the floor.

He has been invited to visit the top floor of a former hotel because of reports ghosts may be walking the corridors.

The hotel was built in 1875 and countless travellers have passed through the heavy double doors at the entrance.

There may perhaps be one or two residents ‘‘who are not of this world’’ he says.

One may be the spirit of a former publican, which is why he is leaving a cigarette and beer .

‘‘Those might be items a publican would enjoy revisiting.’’

Sitting up, Mahalski addresses the dark recesses of the hall.

He introduces himself, and indicates my presence as well.

‘‘Hello, if there is anyone here who would like to talk to us.

‘‘We are not here to disrespect anyone, we are not trespassing.

‘‘If there is anyone who would like to communicate with us, if they would like to make a noise of some kind, perhaps knocking on a wall.’’

We wait in darkness.

There is no sound.

Mahalski has an open mind about the paranormal.

‘‘I’ve been watching a lot of Russian paranormal research programmes recently.’’

Some of the footage was ‘‘absolutely amazing’’.

‘‘You’ve got to think that probably 95% of it is fake.’’

But even if 5% of it was real that would be very interesting, he says.

‘‘I’d just like to experience something myself.’’

One floor down from the silent rooms and dark corridors, all is alive with light in the lounge of Oscar Mitchell, who has been living in the hotel for about four months.

He has heard some unexplained sounds but the most dramatic experience woke him with a jolt in the middle of the night.

‘‘Approximately two weeks ago my wardrobe fell over.

‘‘I woke up and all my clothes were strewn across the floor.’’

He has also heard strange noises, doors opening, rattling of doors, and knocking on windows.

‘‘Things that are relatively innocuous, but quite repetitive.’’

He is curious to find out what is going on, although he is not frightened.

‘‘I still sleep soundly.’’

Upstairs in the dark corridor, the cold starts to get to me and I leave Mahalski to his silent observations.

A few days later Mahalski gets in touch with me.

Nothing happened after I left, and the cigarette and beer can had not moved.

But he will be going out again next week, bringing more monitoring equipment.

‘‘I think the next thing would be to stay over and come up here in the morning, things seem mostly to be happening in the early morning.’’

Only time will tell.

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