We enter the cottage, and the late-evening sky outside seems to grow instantly darker. Sybil closes her eyes, her scarf and flowing robe rustling gently in a breeze of indeterminate origin. I close the cabin door, and turn on my tape recorder as she speaks to whatever presence she senses.
"Is there anyone here?"
In the dark, I sense something taking hold of her. Her voice deepens and changes, moves outside of her physical body, the psychic channel opening a pathway through Sybil to this plane of existence.
Sybil's own voice returns.
"Why are you still here?"
"I've leased this cabin, I have. Through the end of June."
Suddenly, I see a vague, misty shape in the far corner of the cabin. The apparition hovers in the moonlight, eyeing us with suspicion. I cannot perceive legs of any sort, but the face is remarkably well-delineated, that of a man with deep-set eyes and hollow cheeks. He looks bewildered and confused, as do so many of the souls trapped between this world and the next.
Sybil has been with me on many such explorations, and without my prompting, she attempts to find out what dark secret keeps the ghost trapped in this location. Often the spirit is held fast by a murdered friend buried under the floorboards; the corpse of an unwanted child concealed behind the chimney bricking; a lonely, half-remembered suicide.
"What is it that holds you here?"
"What the hell's THAT supposed to mean?"
Another voice is heard, higher-pitched, female, but very distinct from Sybil's own.
"Who's there, luv?"
"Some nosey bitch, and a twit with a tape recorder."
A second, female phantasm arises from the bedsheets, staring in our direction. Both now seem agitated, and I know from my poltergeist studies that the anger of the dead can manifest as physical force in this world. Sybil continues her conversation with the presence.
"What year is this?"
"2004. Are you insane?"
"What is your name?"
"None of your bleedin' business. Who the hell are YOU?"
"I am Sybil Leek, and this is my friend Hans Holzer. I wish to communicate with you, but I cannot do so unless you calm down and let me reach out to you."
"Hans Holzer? From the telly?"
"My mother loves your programmes, but if you ask me, yer just preyin' on the gullible. Bleedin' hypocrite, crackpot sell-out."
Sybil looks at me wide-eyed and throws up her hands in dismay. I decide to speak up, since this spectre seems to be very aware of its surroundings in this world, and I sense that perhaps it will hear my own voice through Sybil.
"Hello? Hello? Can you hear me?"
"I'm not deaf, ya bastard."
"Yes, yes, of course not. The persons who live here now wish us to find out what is keeping you here, and help send you on to the next world. How can we help you?"
The female apparition reaches towards a nightstand, and suddenly the room is filled with an unearthly yellow light. As our eyes adjust, we are surprised to see that both figures remain clear, well-defined, and pissed.
"I think you're in the wrong bloody cabin, mate."