Everyone always told me I was born with a gift. I always saw it more as a curse. This rang especially true the first time I rode into haunted New Orleans. I had my bag lying beside me in the back seat of a cab, meditating on the upcoming investigation. A terrified family had urgently requested that I come to their haunted home in hopes of discovering what their ghosts wanted from them. I had never been to New Orleans before, so I jumped at the opportunity.
As my cab driver made his way down the crowded streets of the French Quarter, I began feeling a wrenching feeling in my gut. This unpleasant feeling was accompanied by cold sweats and an increased heart rate. These sensations were not unfamiliar, and typically I associated them with the presence of the dead. I closed my eyes and took three deep breaths, then opened them again. This time, instead of the streets just being crowded with the partiers and citizens of NOLA, they were also crowded with dead faces.
Some of these faces were soaking wet and had an expression I can only describe as complete misery and loss. Others were dressed in old-timey garb; likely from before New Orleans even belonged to America. I saw a few men running down the street holding muskets, charging for some opposing phantom army. I was fascinated because this was a first for me. More often than not, I only saw a ghost or two when I really tried to focus my energy on them. But here, in New Orleans, it was like the dead sought the living out instead of the other way around.
“That’s when I saw her.”
Just as I was getting an eye-full of all of the various ghosts of the city, I heard my cab driver’s blinker start clicking. That’s when I saw her.
A little girl was standing on the corner of Port and Royal Street. She was bleeding from her face, and her eyes were meeting mine. Her dress, one from the early 20th century, was dirtied beyond repair, and it looked like she had been beaten severely. I knew right then she was a spirit, since none of the passersby seemed to notice her. Her gaze pulled me in, and I could focus on nothing else while my cab driver turned left onto Royal. Just as we made our way through the turn, the little girl slowly raised her right arm and pointed in the direction we were heading. Right before she fell from my sight, her mouth opened in an inaudible, but terrifying nonetheless, scream.
Less than two minutes later, my cabby stopped, turned around, and muttered, “We’re here.”
I knew right then that the little girl’s apparition was pointing toward this home; my destination. The place where a family of four claimed to have been tormented by spirits for the last six months. I eyeballed my bag, my heart racing as the sight of that little girl’s spirit became etched into my brain. Then, before I had a chance to change my mind, I grabbed it by the handle, tipped the cabby, and approached the haunted home.