The World English Dictionary defines the word "paranormal" thusly: "Beyond normal explanation."
If we accept this definition as fact, is it possible for a person to live a life where the supernatural has become so commonplace in their everyday existence that they've come to view the natural world around them being paranormal? In my particular case, the answer to this question is, "yes." I have lived with the paranormal for so long now that it has become ordinary; I have grown so accustomed to strangeness that the natural world seems out of place. So how did this happen to me, you may be asking? To answer this question we have to travel back in time to when I was still a child.
I was only seven years old on the day that I had my first encounter with the paranormal. Due to what I experienced I can still recall exactly how my sister's bedroom looked to this very day. My sister (who was six years old at the time of the incident) loved the color white. She loved it so much, in fact, that my mother had painted everything in her bedroom white. The walls were painted white, and so was all of the furniture in the room. The typical fan-girl posters of the time period, such as Michael Jackson (who was still just a kid himself in those days) and David Cassidy were tacked on every available inch of wall space. A glossy white dresser was placed against the wall next to the bedroom door, and a portable record player that was only large enough to play 45 RPM records sat on the floor next to it. One day while my sister and I were sitting on the floor in her bedroom listening to music on that very record player, my mother appeared at the bottom of the stairs and announced that she was going to make a trip to the grocery store. My sister (who loved shopping more than anything else in the entire world) promptly jumped to her feet and announced that she was going to go to the store with her. About five minutes later, as I was still sitting on the floor in my sister's bedroom, I heard the door leading from the kitchen to the garage latch shut and the sound of my mother's car backing out of the driveway. My personal taste in music varied wildly from my sister's, so the second I knew that they were on their way I sprang to my feet and went to my own room (which was right next door to my sister's room) to retrieve some Beatles 45s. Returning to my sister's bedroom and sitting down again on the floor in front of the record player, I reached down and removed the record she'd been listening to and replaced it with one of my own. Just as I was about to place the needle down on the record, a loud and clear female voice called out, "Marcus? Marcus!"
I was so startled by the sound of the voice that my entire body jerked involuntarily. For the very first time in my life I felt a chill run up my spine; I felt a cold prickle wash over my skin and the hair on my arms stood at attention.
"Mom?" I called back in a shaky voice, even though I was certain that whoever had called out to me wasn't my mother. I sat there on the floor, too terrified to move, listening for a response. There was only silence. The voice that called out to me had sounded from the bottom of the stairs, I was certain of it. From my vantage I could clearly see the bottom of the stairwellóthere was no one there. After a time I mustered my courage and got to my feet. I somehow managed to walk from my sister's room to the landing at the top of the stairs, even though my legs felt like they would fail me with every step I took. I descended the stairs and methodically walked through the entire house, carefully checking each and every room as I went. Every widow in the house was closed tight. Every door leading in and out of the house was locked. With the exception of myself, the house was empty. There was no explanation for the voice I had heard.
Many years after the incident had taken place, I finally spoke to my father about what I had experienced. As it turned out, he had some very interesting insight to share with me. My mother and father divorced when I was around eight and a half years old. My sister and I continued living with my mother in the same house where the incident had taken place until I was ten years old, at which time my mother sold the house and moved us to a more rural area in the same county. The house in which the incident had taken place was hand-built from the ground up by my father and my grandfather on previously undisturbed land. Even though the house was brand new and therefore had no prior history or occupants, my father told me that he firmly believed that the house had been haunted from the very first day our family had moved in. My father explained to me that as soon as we had moved into our new house he also started experiencing strange events for which there was no rational explanation for; he eventually came to believe that these events were paranormal in nature. He told me that he would often hear the sounds of footfall and closing doors when he was all alone in the house.
He also told me about a bizarre incident he'd experienced one morning in the laundry room in our basement. My father explained to me that he had gone to the laundry room to do a load of wash, and as he entered the room he noticed that the plastic lid that covered the hole in the cement floor, which housed the sump pump, was missing. After searching the room for the missing lid he eventually found it behind the washing machine. After retrieving the lid from behind the washer, he placed it back where it belonged over the sump pump, started his load of wash, and left the room. About thirty minutes later my father returned to the laundry room to put his load of wash in the dryer. Upon entering the room he noticed that the lid to the sump pump was missing once again. Considering the fact that he was alone in the house at the time, he wondered how that was possible. Searching the room for the missing lid he found it again behind the washer, in the exact same spot he had located it the first time. For the second time he pulled the lid from behind the washer, placed it where it belonged over the sump pump, put his wet wash into the dryer and left the room. Mumbling expletives to himself he slammed the door shut behind him. As soon as he did this he heard a loud crash sounding from inside the laundry room, followed by a series of muffled thumps. Turning sharply on his heels and reopening the door, he saw that the lid to the sump pump was lying on the floor in the middle of the room and that everything had been knocked off of the two shelves he had installed on the walls. Whatever was haunting our basement clearly didn't appreciate having the lid to the sump pump replaced.
My father went on to me about many other paranormal incidents that occurred in our house, including items being moved from one shelf to another in our living room and a disembodied female voice that would whisper in his ear late at night, waking him from his slumber. Near the end of my mother and father's relationship, my father would be awakened to the sound of the voice whispering, "Just one more game, Bill, just one more game." In the years since these incidents, I've oftentimes wondered if the disembodied female voice my father had heard was the same voice that had called out to me on the day I was listening to records in my sister's bedroom. I've been told many times by my parents that I was a very hyperactive child, and many paranormalists believe that otherworldly entities, poltergeists in particular, are drawn to hyperactivity. I've even often wondered if I was the sole cause of the paranormal activity that took place in our house.
When I reached my early teens I developed a fascination with witchcraft, which served to further my attraction to the unseen and the unexplained. One day while accompanying my aunt to a local library I wandered into the esoteric section and was enthralled by what I found there. I was drawn to one book in particular, even though I couldn't explain exactly why I was drawn to it. I had no previous knowledge or exposure to arcane subject matter, and yet for whatever reason, that book captivated me. I can't recall what the book was titled, but I do remember that it had a black cover and that a symbol I had never before seen was embossed on the cover. Inside the book were photographs and text about Mandrake root, African tribes, and a generous amount of information about witchcraft. Even though I recall being somewhat frightened by the words and images in the book, I came to cherish it nonetheless. So much so, in fact, that when it came time to return the book to the library I was heartbroken and didn't want to let it go. Upon seeing my despair with having to part with the book, my aunt took pity on me and told the librarian a little white lieóthat the book had been irreparably damaged and that she was willing to pay for its replacementóso that I could keep the book for myself. Somewhere over the years the book and I eventually parted ways, but I clearly remember that I had owned it for a very long time.
With all the strange events and obscure reading material to which I'd been exposed in my early years, I had led a rather unusual childhood, but by far the highlight of my paranormal existence came to pass in 1980 when I was just twenty years old. From 1980 to 1982, I was the guitarist and lead singer for a musical group called Entropy. Over the span of those two years, my band mates and I were contacted by a powerful, otherworldly entity we came to call the Gray Man. This entity enveloped the members of Entropy in his power, and held sway over every facet of our existence. The Gray Man led the five of us on one of the greatest paranormal journeys that anyone has ever experienced, and the bizarreness of the events we lived through still impact our lives to this very day. The story of Entropy and the Gray Man is chronicled from beginning to end in my new book, Playing With the Devil: The True Story of a Rock Band's Terrifying Encounters With the Dark Side. If you want to know more about this terrifying paranormal experience, you'll have to get a copy of the book and read it for yourself; unfortunately, there wouldn't be nearly enough room in this entire article to even begin to scratch the surface of our story and the paranormal entity we encountered.
Because of all of the paranormal events I'd experienced over my lifetime, I decided in 2005 to assemble my own team of paranormal investigators in an effort to further my research and understanding of the unseen and unexplained. My team, which I dubbed WISP (an acronym for Witches in Search of the Paranormal), is still going strong to this day. I've spent a great deal of my adult life prowling cemeteries and the haunted places of our world in search of a deeper understanding of the never-ending enigma we call the paranormal. During WISP's investigations I've been know to say to my teammates, "So, what do you think the weird people are doing tonight?" I have spent so much time in the presence of ghosts and unearthly entities that it has become an inherent part of my very existence. So much so, in fact, that I have come to view the natural world around me as being paranormal. Not that I have any regrets about that, mind you. For many reasons and in many ways, the dead are oftentimes much more dynamic and entertaining than the living. But in reflection I suppose that's entirely understandable. Living a life that's "beyond normal explanation" can be one hell of a lot of fun.