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paranormal tales In the Tower. Episode five Ghosts of Prague The first thing that strikes you as you walk the cobblestone streets of proud is that you were definitely in an ancient place. It isn't so much the streets themselves were the buildings, which were impressive in their age and beauty, but rather in the warn stones with steps that you take wherever you go and the natural footpath that you take without thought. Prague is a small city by modern standards filled with steeples, inspires and narrow, winding streets. It bustles with walkers, tourists, workers, Americans, Europeans on holiday, visiting the medieval town that somehow survived and survives the city has been the capital of an empire has seen the rise of Christianity, the power of the Catholic Church, the strength of the world's oldest continuous synagogue, the abuse and destruction of Nazism, the futility and neglect of communism and, finally, recently, the return to check freedom. Unlike other places that were so important in so many movements, Prague managed to survive major destruction, and because of this it remains intact, growing and changing. And yet still the original city, no Phoenix forced to be, were born from flame Prague did not require destruction to find new life. There's a continuity to places like Prague, a continuity that regimes cannot break, that dictators cannot destroy. It's more than the stones, the buildings, but they are part of it. You walk these streets and you see the warren grooves of generations, centuries, millennia that walk from before you. You're a drop in the river of time that where's that groove? Prod looks haunted. It looks like the scene. Your mind bills When you think about haunted towns ancient with churches and soft lights that breed long and twisting shadows around cathedral spires, there are corners and alleys to play with the sounds of those fellow travelers who wandered Elaine's with you. But just out of sight is that laughter coming from a tavern behind the church. We're from the church yard itself and from eternity. It's hard to tell on cool yet balmy evenings when the moon is hanging low in the sky, and it's full of promise and mischief when the light seems to get caught in the pregnant air and it settles around objects and people making the world glow. Prague's history is complicated, even if its people take it in stride. They shrug off the past like so much dust on a coach shoulder, but it's still there. Even in the shrug, there is the church, the empire, the Nazis, the Communists, the tourists all there is if toe warn you that today is just tomorrow's debris, having seen it all, little phases thumb. Still, the city is a wonderful piece of old world, whatever that might mean. The city is the city, always the city. Whatever else might come and go, the eyes of the older residents seem to apply that it will all go as it has always gone. And still the city will remain about 30 minutes outside of Prague. One finds oneself well and truly. In the countryside. The driving lanes narrow and lose whatever asphalt they'd had. The lights of the city, the fortresses, the cathedral's all dry up and you're in a thick, inky darkness and stillness that wraps around you like a cocoon, filling all the space between you and the night you swim in it. You almost drowned on such nights. In such places, those thoughts of science and proof and logic and reasonable nous gets sanded off of you. And in their place is the definitive faith in the continuity of the human spirit, the immortality of suffering, the eternity of loss. And, of course, land is haunted off course. The ghosts approach. After all. You ask them to do that. You walked into the canopy of 300 year old trees to a place that you knew others steered clear of because you wanted to know what you suddenly no. Along the road just outside the city, there's a large hospital complex. It's still in operation. It was built originally in the early part of the 20th century, when lunatic asylums were popping up all over the world. The treatment of mental and emotional elements have generally been a private affair before this time, with criminal cases being the exception, those hospitals that did exist were rarely more than holding cells of chaos and misery. As medical science struggled to understand the growing demand for treatments of diseases of the mind and some say the soul, melancholia, hysteria, manic episodes were treated alongside schizophrenia and psychopathy. They did not know what they did not know. Thes hospitals certainly started with the intention of providing help and respite But quickly they were swamped and the care suffered greatly until they no longer resembled houses of care and instead became horror houses where the unfortunates of society were sent to be for gotten and unfortunately, sometimes abused. The word asylum is defined as an inn, viable place of refuge and protection, a sanctuary. And these places began. As such, they were refuge for the lost and for the ill for those who no longer receive within their own minds. Yet time and isolation have a way of inviting in corruption and without constant vigilance. Even the most pure of vessel will crack when faced with wave upon wave of why no constant vigilance is impossible. Human nature has within it flaws and perfections, cruelty and carelessness, among them Boheme. Each e asylum is about 40 minutes outside of Prague proper. It's now a modern facility, yet it's still called a lunatic asylum. Today they treat emotional and mental illnesses and do not treat hysteria and homosexuality. The campus is large and attractive, and the houses that line the streets seem cozy and welcoming. And yet I wonder the stories of abuse or common medical experimentation neglect the salt. Some Ho came here in the past merely disagreed with the moral structures of their time, where the political climate were their place in the society, offended others. For so who lived here. Life did get better, and perhaps they left and lead happy lives. For many years, the asylum was a city unto itself, and as such, it maintained its own service's churches, kitchen factories and, of course, of course, its own cemetery. But for those who died here, however, whether through age illness were self violence, they all went to that. One place off the camp is another 10 minutes by car down a winding lane far beyond the farms and houses. In a place where modern streetlights have not yet reached is the boat Kenichi burial ground Just before you enter, you come upon a small plot of land completely overrun with thick and beautiful vegetation and surrounded by a chain link fence. Yes, there was a carefully cleared path that one could meander through in the dark with literally on Lee, a sliver of moon to light the way we approach the fence and we looked through. Although overgrown, one had a sense that the place was cared for, even loved. And yet, at that late hour, in the impossible darkness, it seemed unfathomable that people would ever be there. The place felt so silence alone, so tucked away like the set of a movie locked up until needed. Behind that chain link fence were small stones somewhere need some handmade, and they were for the beloved companions of the people of the area. It was a pet cemetery, weird in its own right. But there's nothing truly unnerve ing but the spirit of Fluffy or Ralph wandering the countryside. What acts could they have to grind? After all, what could keep a cat or a turtle, or even man's best friend tied to this mortal coil? And even if it was so, it seemed to beggar belief that they would stay here if they did walk the Earth. We're so but strangely charming and not at all off putting. But we were not at our final destination yet, and so we trudged another half mile of the dirt path to a large chain gate. Now this was no chain link fence hastily put up to keep out critters. No, this was substantial. The ornate gate was 20 feet high with pale brick columns and then ivy covered walls on either side. A chain looped through the gate with a massive, almost theatrical lock. And here we had arrived. Now I've spent many, many, many nights in places of haunted repute. Those of you who listen to this podcast now that I'm more than comfortable in such situations, and also that I created the dark and solitude of lost and rambling roads at night. Yet as we stepped into the cemetery did feel something I can't quite describe it. It was no darker on one side of the gate than the other. No colder, no quieter. And yet, if I'm honest, it was all of those things. We walked into the cemetery and stood in a circle before we branched off on her own. There were eight people in the group, and all one could hear was the footsteps and shuffling of each. As we found a spot at a crossing of pads within the site, we all agreed to shut down our lights and to just be quiet. It was truly unnerve ing. I felt beside me a movement, and I felt someone stepped to my left, leaning in as if listening intently to what the darkness was allowing us to hear. There was very little sound. No little night creature scuttled around. No bat wings flap, no wind. And the slim moonlight was not yet breaking through the tight canopy of ancient trees that covered us. When I say that I felt this, I mean, I truly believed that someone, a living person, had creep closer to me, leaned in and was straining to hear something. It felt like a strange over stepping of boundaries, as if someone was moving into my personal space and I was unsure who the group would have done it. I put my hand out to make them aware that I was close because the darkness was so total that I thought perhaps they didn't see me. Perhaps the thing we're unaware that they were about to bump into me. And as I reached out, my hand met with no resistance. There was no one there. And yet all of my senses, which I have come to rely on in this life, call that a lie. There was even the faintest of shapes darker than the darkness that my eyes still acclimating to the night had discerned, but there was no one there. There was no body there, and for all of my experience, I've found it unnerve ing. We walked silent through the site, the graves overgrown, vandalized stones stolen. The cemetery was the final resting place to patients of the asylum, but also to others from the area. There were soldiers from World War victims, of different outbreaks of diseases and even a suspected murderer and likely several victims of violence. As we move for the Browns, we came upon the remains of a chapel. The walls still stood, but no roof covered it, and just one slight door attempted to keep us out. It had been used in the 19 eighties in the film Amadeus as the pauper's grave. That Mozart body had been dumped in. It was likely, despite what the film showed, that Mozart was buried in a common grave, not a communal grave. A common grave is one that was owned by a regular citizen, and it was singular, but it was able to be reused in 10 years. Should the government require it, Aristocratic graves were not subject to reuse, and a communal grave would have been a grave that many bodies were placed in. Still, as we stood by the opening in the ground, it was obvious that communal burials did happen here. And there's something inherently sad about this, something that tugs at our sense of propriety and fairness and even responsibility, as if the indignities that one felt of social status past with us into the next life. And perhaps they do mass graves air offensive to our sense of uniqueness and fair play. Each of us, modern thought has us believe, is unique and valuable and a mass grave where our uniqueness is un preserved or acknowledged. Offense, that notion. It's worse when we consider the time of the burial and find that the people of that time would have felt the sting of it. But regardless, there's something about it that bugs us. These nameless people, forgotten by time, erased perhaps a fear of our own inevitable lost to time. On top of this, we knew that many of the people had been forgotten in life, a cz well, even those cared for and loved and treated kindly in the asylum ended up here buried beneath the cover his I V. The relentless Ivy. Once inside the rusted gates, the ground was utterly covered by this ivy. The slices of blue moonlight shot sharply through the canopy, highlighting this tree that broken cross this pathway and leaving others and shadow as if by design. I cannot overstate the beautiful hush that one was, in a pause, held breath, a simple hush, awaiting something after walking past one intact grave, that of Maria Toula, who, a local caretaker seems to have developed a crush on. Or, as the guy told us, quote, he says she speaks to him. We came to a wide expanse of ivy, surrounded by tall, even ancient trees, and just beyond them, the wall in the centre was a small clearing. The ground was littered with burnt out candles. There was no stone marking the grave, but there was an indented the ground, as if the soil it only recently settled. This was impossible. Is the cemetery enough and used in more than 50 years? Kids, no doubt another pursuers of arcane knowledge like myself. The ivy was worn in four paths leading to the spot or away. A beam of light fell upon the area and we all step closer. Listening to the story of the inhabitant of the grave. He was thought to be a murderer, but that was not correct. According to our guide, he was in fact a detective who had not solved a horrific series of murders in the area. So doggedly did he pursue the killer that the fact that the killer remained at large became a reason to suspect this man. How could someone who worked so hard and tirelessly not succeed unless, of course, he did not want to succeed, And that became his legacy after he died and was buried in the graveyard folklore took his truth and bent it and sculpted it. Another tale entirely became his truth, and his grave became the final resting place of a diabolical murderer and not a dog and determined detective. There were murmurs off That's not right. And oh, man, as the story was related, how much of it was true? Who really knows? Still, the grave was visited over and over by people who believe the tale, who berated the name of this man who accused and condemned the woman who was leading us kneel down as she told the story, and she apologized, saying that she had believed it, too. She had told the tale had sprint the lie. She lit a candle, and she asked for forgiveness. But she also asked for a sign, and with her beside the candle, she had one of the bells and whistles of the paranormal investigator and he enough detector. It's used to measure the electromagnetic field of a given area. Fluctuations register on it. Lights light up and beeps are made and in the midst of a cemetery, 40 minutes outside of prob, surrounded by landscape, unblemished by the signs of modern convenience. In other words, no electrical wires overhead. No telephone wires, no cell coverage. Many of us had commented before shutting down our phones a single beep in a single flash of light at just the right moment. I'm not trusting enough to think that it's impossible that someone intentionally made the light light and the beep beep. And yet I'm not sure how they would have done it with such precision. I'm familiar with this equipment, but really, I just don't think that they did. There was something in the moment, some emotional weight, some thickness to the air that we all felt, whether they came from the story or from our willingness and desire to feel something or from something external task that I can't say, I don't know. I do know that when it had gone, we felt its absence is strongly as we had felt its presence. Did something happen in the cemetery? Perhaps it certainly felt as if something happened. As we stood by the grave of someone accused of something terrible. There did seem to be a strange and sudden movement that came closer to us. Yet it did not feel malevolence. It did not feel threatening. Instead, it felt tired, curious, tired, perhaps of waiting to be heard or understood, curious to see if we would be the ones to understand. We had our equipment. It beeped, and it lit up in all those things that being 40 miles outside of the city with no electricity remotely close by, I should have stopped it from doing. And yet it wasn't the beeps that linger with me. It was the light of the moon, the isolation of the place, the quiet, unbroken and then ever so slightly broken by the lightest of footsteps. The windless night with swaying trees and the sense of someone leaning over my shoulder to see to here toe understand those four hours of my trip to Prague occupy a lot of my memory of the place. The quiet, the walls, the people, the ivy, the dead. Of course, the stories was there something more compelling about the location because the graves held the bad, the broken, the murdered. At some point, the stories didn't matter because the story's just set the table, but they didn't feed us. There was something else, too, something more transient, ephemeral but very real, something that says to me that in that place on that night, we did not walk alone among those grades, whether the stories brought life to a dark night or our belief in the possibility gave breath to something I don't know. But it made me think, as we wander through modern lights and down dark paths as we draw a bath or order a glass of wine as we slip through our lives on paths worn by the time in the footsteps of others. Perhaps we never walk from alone. Perhaps all that truly divides this world from the next is a moment spent sinking. Thank you for listening to paranormal tales. In the Tower was Episode five Ghosts of Prague. You can visit US online at www dot paranormal books NJ dot com, or hit us up on Facebook or Twitter. If there's something that you like me to cover, please feel free to send me an email or Facebook message and thanks again for listening.