You don't want to sass off to the Dark One
This was Marisa's big idea. It was based off a 2005 Alibi article in which Music and Food Editor Laura Marrich dared herself to stay overnight in a supposedly haunted East Central motel room. This time the plan was to harvest scary dares from people around the office then execute them with 49 percent skepticism and 51 percent spirit of metaphysical adventure. Because other staffers were too afraid to take part, I was the chosen accomplice. Out of numerous spooky dares, we picked a graveyard séance (for which Staff Writer Simon McCormack provided assistance), summoning Bloody Mary in a dark bathroom while drinking Bloody Marys, dining at a haunted restaurant and playing the Ouija board while listening to Slayer in a haunted room. I brought my camera to document the endeavors, some of which were unamazing, others legitimately frightening--enough so that the two of us had a hard time sleeping that night. (JCC)
The Dare: Hold a séance in a graveyard
Execution: The scariest part of this dare was the fear that some poor mourner would be visiting a cherished relative and stumble across three idiot writers in Halloween masks holding hands around a candle. We crept into the graveyard, holding our masks as inconspicuously as possible, crumpled in our sweaty palms by our sides. The sky was stormy, and a light breeze passed through the trees in the beautiful old graveyard on Yale. The liquor store beckoned from across the street as noisy cars annoyed one another on their trek home. It was a very unspooky 6:30 p.m. A man slowly walked back to his car, head down, a dog at his side. We all held our breaths like teenagers up to no good and tried not to look at him while simultaneously monitoring his progress. He drove away, and Jessica set us up photo-shoot style. We all wore black, Simon thankfully borrowing a shirt from Jessica's boyfriend and avoiding the skintight girly dress thing Jessica first picked out for him. We closed our eyes, held hands and tried to summon La Llorona. Nothing happened. I tried not to peek at my summoning partners, but one of my biggest failings as a human is that I'm incapable of denying myself sneak peaks. We looked really dumb. The sun set, and still, nada. Graveyards actually strike me as pretty and peaceful places. We weren't scared at all. As Jessica said later, "I didn't feel anything. I felt extra nothing."
Conclusion: Graveyards are nice places to hang out and bad places to summon spirits, unless you're talking about the other kind of spirits, the kind you can summon for about $6 at the liquor store across the street. (MD)
The Dare: Perform "Bloody Mary" while drinking Bloody Marys in a haunted bathroom
Execution: Simon ditched our ghostly endeavor, and Jessica and I headed down to the Albuquerque Press Club, built in 1903, for the food of drinks, a Bloody Mary. We descended two narrow flights of stairs to the bathroom in the basement, which was cramped with barely enough room for two standing people. Streetlight illumination streamed in from a high window, shrouded in pale curtains. The mirror was an old-fashioned oval affair, perfect for the occasion. I had a list of all the different versions of "Bloody Mary" troublemakers can perform, procured from the Internet. We said, "Hell Mary" seven times. Nothing happened. Jessica snapped pictures, trying to find the right angle. We said, "I believe in Mary Worth" three times. Jessica opted to cover the flash with her hand to preserve some of the ghostly lighting. These pictures came out dark, if normal, and you could only see Jessica's masked face in the mirror. We said "Bloody Mary" 13 times while Jessica snapped pictures. We glanced at the digital screen in the process to see if the photos were working out. After we said our 13th "Bloody Mary," the picture was suddenly blood red, encompassing the entire room instead of just presenting a small portion of the mirror. There was a white, misty blur on the mirror and something vaguely human floating behind us. We were terrified. I wish I could brag that neither of us screamed, but we were actually so scared we couldn't. Jessica managed a "Let's get out of here" and we hurried upstairs to gulp down the rest of our drinks. Just thinking about it still freaks me out.
Conclusion: No matter how skeptical you are (and I'm pretty skeptical), don't mess with the spirit world, yo. (MD)
The Dare: Dine at a haunted restaurant and leave a place setting for a ghost
Execution: We arrived at Old Town's Church Street Café around 8 p.m. The restaurant, which appeared to be hot with tourists, sits behind San Felipe de Neri Church and is among the oldest (and, reportedly, most haunted) structures in the state. Upon entering the New Mexican dining establishment, neither of us sensed an unusual or ghostly presence. Still shaken from our Bloody Mary experience, we began to relax as we were seated and served more much-needed drinks. While there would be only three of us dining that night, we slyly told the waiter we might be expecting four. He brought a water for our fourth and as dinner progressed (with spoooky margaritas and spoooky salsa and spoooky sopaipillas) we made like there was another person with us. Frankly, it was disappointing. Not once did we feel so much as a glimmer of otherworldliness. On the other hand, one could describe my agave margarita as "out of this world."
Conclusion: The marriage of eating and spirit-summoning is possibly star-crossed. (JCC)
The Dare: Play the Ouija board while listening to Slayer in Co-owner Dan Scott's haunted Alibi office
Execution: For our fourth and final dare, we dropped by the Alibi offices for late-evening heavy metal-listening and more spirit-summoning. One upstairs office, according to a former janitor, was haunted by an angry spirit before the paper took residence here. My own previous trips to this upstairs room did yield eerie feelings and urges to leave. Tonight Marisa and I felt slightly uncomfortable almost immediately but attributed it to the room's odd lighting. We proceeded to set up our Mystical Oracle Ouija board (circa 1938), press play on our Slayer mix tape, and light our cigarettes and sacred heart of Jesus candle. Next we turned off the lights and gingerly rested our fingertips upon the planchette, asking if the ghost of Dan's office was present. Slowly and gradually, the magic window of the planchette began to indicate letters that spelled nothing. Marisa and I continually accused one another of moving the planchette, and both of us continually denied it. After more questions and an indication on the board that the ghost didn't like Slayer, the two of us were sufficiently spooked. Quickly, we grabbed our things and left the office.
Conclusion: Some say the motion of the planchette is due to an ideomotor effect and not members of the spirit world. Either way, I wasn't moving it. (JCC)