Gather ‘round the metaphorical campfire and I’ll tell you a story, alright? Eastern Michigan University has its share of creepy legends, like how Starkweather Hall is supposedly haunted by Mary Starkweather and Jones and Goddard have some thing about a faceless janitor or something. But I’m willing to bet you’ve never heard of the Echo ghost.
As you probably don’t know, the headquarters of The Eastern Echo is essentially a hallway in a building called King Hall. It’s OK if you’re not sure where on campus that is because no one does. It’s where the Early College Alliance students congregate and where WEMU does its thang on the fourth floor.
And of course, you have those overstressed, over caffeinated Echo editors who both hate themselves and love you enough to lock themselves in a tiny newsroom twice a week to crank out the very newspaper you hold in your hands. No need to thank us.
So anyways, the point is that King Hall is one of those buildings that, even if you attend college for four years at EMU, there is a good chance you’ll never enter. And since so few people actually bother going there, the Echo staff simultaneously lovingly and begrudgingly formed a special bond with it.
That bond resulted in several of the staff members, including me, spending long hours within its kind of inviting walls. There have been Echo sleepovers and let me tell you, no one pajama-parties harder than an angsty college-aged journalist.
That’s how we discovered the Echo ghost.
It started as this nagging feeling that despite the fact that no one else was in the office, something was there. And during the day, people would be working and think they heard an unusual noise.
Obviously, there are plenty of logical explanations for this kind of phenomena, but when you’re in an old, mildly creepy building, it’s just a lot more fun to blame stuff on ghosts.
Weird things did end up happening toward the end of winter semester last year. During one production day, everyone in the newsroom smelled what was interpreted as burnt marshmallows. To the best of our knowledge, no one was making smores. Then-copy chief Marissa Beste followed the odd scent back to her own office. To everyone’s collective horror, the light fixture was leaking.
Yes, you read that correctly. The freaking light fixture was leaking.
The sad thing is, we still have no idea what the sludgy, goopy black mystery substance actually was. All we know is that it stained Marissa’s new rug, and that was not OK. Also, we were pretty sure we were all going to die. And we were pretty sure that this unexplainable situation was the work of the fabled Echo ghost. Because, ghost.
And this is the stuff that happened while a group of us were present. Apparently, when you’re here all alone, things just get weirder. Senior staff writer Lisa Swearingen says she’s seen a billowing gray mist and sometimes hears muffled voices when no one else is in the office.
Design chief Vicki Behne claims a computer turned on all by itself while she was across the hall. Multiple staff members reported something slightly off in the area at the end of the hall by the comics office. And when I asked current copy chief Shelby Taylor about her experiences with the ghost, she wrote:
“HOW ABOUT THE TIME EVERY DOOR OPENED AND CLOSED BY THEMSELVES WHEN I WAS THERE ALONE SCARRED FOR LIFE”
This is exactly how it appeared in the email – all caps, no punctuation. This is coming from the copy chief. Trust me on this, it takes a lot to make a copy chief forget how to grammar.
Of course, these are just silly stories we pass down as part of our workplace lore. But then again, when we came into the office this morning to begin production, we found a mysterious JPEG on the desktop of one of our newsroom computers.
It was a collage of leaves and sticks spelling – and I quote – “FARTY.” No one in the office admitted to putting up this mystery photo, which was uploaded at 11 p.m.
Our conclusion? The Echo ghost strikes again.
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