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Ghosts of the Queen Mary

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As you may or may not know my family and I spent two nights on the Queen Mary earlier this month. As you also may or may not know the Queen Mary is renowned for (among other things) being extremely haunted. As my intention here is not to write about the specifics of those hauntings allow me to direct you to this article that enumerates many of the reported incidences.

My older children (10 and newly-8, for those new to this blog) are currently very much into ghost hunting. With this in mind we booked one of the paranormal tours offered by the Queen Mary, which embraces its “Most Haunted Ship in the World” designation. My children weren’t even supposed to be allowed on the tour, as they normally only allow ages 16 and up. But with a little finesse and finagling we got the powers that be to allow it and off we went on a two-hour nighttime tour to the most haunted areas of the ship, many of which are off limits to the general public.

For the most part our tour was uneventful, contact-wise. Our tour guide was excellent and possibly the most informed human being on the face of the Earth when it comes to the Queen Mary. A lot of the problem may have been due to the fact that the QM was playing hostess to a tattoo and motorcycle convention. Just about everywhere we went there was bleed-through noise from public areas of the ship where people were carousing. I can see how this might have a negative impact on the spirits.

There was, however, one set of events that I want to chronicle because, taken as a whole, they seem like too much to be coincidence. They concern the ghost named “John”, mentioned in the article above, and the area of the engine room near Door 13.

We arrived in “John’s” area as approximately the third stop on our tour. I was standing with my back to Door 13 as the guide began telling us about how “John” died, and then indicated that it was the very door I was nearly leaning against. I yelped and shot over about six feet, away from the door. In my new position I leaned against the railing that ran the length of the metal walkway we were on. Immediately upon doing so I began to experience a pronounced pitching and rolling. It felt very much like having sea legs (something I experienced for days last year after having taken an hours-long cruise around SF Bay). There were several points at which I hastily grabbed the railing because I felt as though I was in danger of falling over. At a break in his spiel I asked the tour guide if we were moving. He explained that, no, there was a very slight movement from the tidal change in water level but that the ship was moored so firmly that it shouldn’t be noticeable. He mentioned that people will have physical reactions to spirits being nearby, including things like chills, goosebumps, temperature change, etc. For my part, I kept thinking surely it was all in my mind. Several times I tried to convince myself I wasn’t feeling the pitching and rolling and I physically tried to center and steady myself, but it continued.

While we were standing there the tour guide pulled out a pair of dousing rods and asked for someone to hold them. Johnny (the then-7-year-old) volunteered. The rods were metal but had plastic sort of grips on one end. The plastic grips fit loosely and moved independently of the rods; in other words, it would be impossible to subtly twist the grips and turn the rods. And I can assure you that my darling son is many things, but subtle is not one of them. He is very bright and very curious but also very sincere and true-hearted and it would never even occur to him to try to skew the results for something like that to make it more interesting.

That said, there was Johnny with the dousing rods. Once he was gripping them correctly (these had a tendency to turn outward, away from each other, by the way) the tour guide began speaking to “John”, asking him to cross the rods. And the rods crossed. Johnny got excited and jiggled them and they uncrossed, so the tour guide asked “John” to cross them again. They crossed. I really have no explanation for this as I was staring at Johnny’s fingers the entire time, making sure he didn’t subconsciously move the rods somehow.

The tour guide took the rods back, talked some more about the various things people have seen or heard, and then asked “John” if he’d give us one more sign – anything – that he was there. As soon as the guide made the request a large piece of machinery on the wall kicked on (and every last one of us, to a man, jumped at least three feet in the air). In the interest of accuracy it should be noted that this was a functioning piece of machinery that is supposed to run. However, it does not operate on any particular schedule and our guide stated that he has been in the engine room for as much as ninety minutes at a time and has not had the thing turn on.

The guide then asked, “John, will you turn it off?” He paused, but nothing happened. He then said, “Okay, John, we need to move on. You are welcome to follow us but it’s time for us to go,” and he turned around to leave. He had not gotten two feet outside the door and I’ll be damned if that machine didn’t shut off, God as my witness.

The tour continued after that with nothing to report, at least on my part. Am I completely sold that we experienced spirit contact? No. Nothing definitive happened. I take the dousing rods with a grain of salt, and the machinery could be chalked up to weird coincidence. The pitching and rolling I felt is my most inexplicable experience. It was so pronounced and so real as to make me feel like I was losing my balance. To be fair, I should disclose that I do have some issues with water, especially deep ocean water. At the time we entered the engine room the tour guide informed us that we were, indeed, underwater. So it’s possible that the pitching and rolling I experienced were psychosomatic symptoms of my phobia. But I should also disclose the the pitching and rolling stopped – dead, cold stopped – the minute we walked out of “John’s” area – despite the fact that we remained far under the water line for at least the next hour.

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