As if a pandemic wasn’t frightening enough, I spent the night alone at a haunted home.


Linville Manor is a haunted house with all the trappings: a basement unfinished, four-poster beds, and a study filled with taxidermy. If you are into scary things, this is the place to be.

I am serious when I say that I have had a low tolerance for scary things. M. Night Shyamalan’s 2002 film, “Signs”, destroyed me. Universal Studios’ “Jaws” ride with its jerky animatronic sharks. That was the part that made me weep.

The pandemic was a disaster. Why not risk putting yourself in danger? I searched for “haunted rentals in D.C.” and found the allegedly haunted property that was built in 1852.

Many people believe that ghosts exist, but I’m not one of them. After avoiding horror movies for most of my life, I decided to binge-watch some horror movies to get myself in the right mindset for this trip.

4:32 p.m.

You will need to travel through an American suburb to reach Linville Manor. The gravel road climbs up to the property’s four acres. There is no way to choose which house was haunted in the neighborhood.

The big white house’s lion head door-knocker rang, and I felt a rush of anxious anticipation. Winn Brewer Clark and Josh Yetter Clark opened the door for me, their sole guest, that evening. We began what would be a three-hour tour that covered every supernatural occurrence on the estate as either witnessed by the hosts or overnight guests.

Brewer claimed that the estate was once a 200-acre plantation owned and managed by John Smith. This is similar to colonist Capt. John Smith, whose life was saved from Pocahontas (although the matter is still debated). It was home to 40-50 enslaved persons who raised the tobacco, corn, and hogs on the plantation.

Brewer stated, “There has been living in the house, and there has been a death in that house.”

I nodded as if hearing such things were a part of checking in to an Airbnb.

Brewer purchased the house in 2018 and it lived up to its reputation. Some of the mysteries they listed were: seeing people pass through the house or in its hallways, furniture being rearranged, hearing strange voices, and door handles rattling even though no one is there.

They claimed that the ghosts of the manor start ramping up their activities at 1:11 AM. I set out to discover if this was true.

6:16 p.m.

Brewer showed me a video that paranormal investigators had taken of the mansion. I was anxious and twitchy. The Conservatory was the most haunted room in the manor, and this is where the video was taken. This bedroom Brewer originally intended to be a bridal suite. However, he believes that it was once a nursery.

The video shows guests hovering around an electromagnetic field radiation detector reader (EMF), which is a device that can detect spirits. The EVP machine emits an apparent response as guests ask the spirits questions. Orbs of light flicker in the room while the EVP machine beeps.

I felt a throbbing sensation around the left collarbone as I wrote down notes about Conservatory. My weight increased and spread from my shoulder to my entire body. It felt like my legs were giving someone a piggyback ride. It was not something I mentioned, as it was anxiety and not ghosts pulling my chain.

Brewer stated that some Conservatory guests felt a lot of pressure while they were sleeping and that they saw a male figure at the foot of their beds. That was cool, I thought. I didn’t see “eyeless ghost lurker” on my bingo card.

As he was telling this part of his story, I noticed that my phone’s microphone had stopped working.

My delight was that even the outside areas were said to be haunted. The estate’s old cemetery was located down the road. There were also some railroad tracks that the Goatman used. Who is the Goatman, exactly? Thank you for asking. You could have told me more about him if you wanted. According to legend, the Goatman is a half-man and half-goat who used an ax to behead his victims in the 1970s.

Brewer pointed out a large tree that was swaying in the autumn breeze in the front yard. He said it was the third-oldest beech tree in Maryland. Brewer explained that the tree’s supernatural energy has attracted people who are interested in its otherworldly nature. He said, “Some even claimed that there is a kind of portal or gateway there.” Classic.

I was back inside when a thick spider touched my arm.

7:29 p.m.

We said goodbye and I was left alone in the living room to finish dinner and use my laptop.

Here is where I tell you how I did my work and had fun taking photos with creepy objects. Maybe I even soaked in the tub. It was a great way to end the evening. That would be a lie.

My nerves were stretched to breaking point, and I scanned the room from dark corridors to the windows in pitch black to the fireplaces that stared back at me. The lights were all on, but I needed more. Floodlights or flashlights are what I wanted, just like you’d find in your father’s garage. Maybe I would be less afraid if the rooms were brighter.

I stressed-ate the bag of Combos that I brought along, followed by a hamburger.

To have the best stories, I chose to stay in the most haunted area on the house tour. The darkness had penetrated my bones and I wasn’t sure I could do it. I took my overnight bag with me and walked up to see what options were available.

Brewer had earlier told me that the top of the stairs was the most haunted area for spirits. But I found comfort there as it was centrally lit and well-lit.

9:26 p.m.

Instead of choosing a bedroom, I decided to abandon ship and go outside to touch the ghost portal tree. I grabbed my phone and started filming. The darkness was all around me. Documenting the experience helped me feel more confident.

As I turned the corner from the porch, some leaves fell from the tree’s crackling branches like confetti. The bugs hissed and rattled. There was nothing I could do except touch the tree. So, I walked over to the bark and placed my hand on it. Brewer said that people feel the energy from the tree. My body could only feel my terror.

I turned around and ran in the other direction.

As I examined creaks, clicks, and whooshes back in the dining area, my eyes wandered among the dolls, mirrors, and full-body armor that adorned the house.

The fireplace was shaken by a rumbling sound, almost like a plane flying overhead. The noise eventually stopped and then picked back up later. Brewer said that the previous owners had taken down all but one fireplace from the manor. Did it have to do with ghosts haunting the fireplaces? They couldn’t bear the constant harassment by fireplace ghosts so they took them out. What were the chances of fireplace ghosts returning to me?

These are paranoid thoughts that you might have if you spend the night in a haunted home.

I needed a break. I pulled out my laptop and started listening to music that soothed me.

I was tired and it had been hours since I used the bathroom. I decided to go upstairs to the “non-believers’ bathroom. Previous guests who used it said that it locked on them and that they believed in ghosts after the experience. I did not give the ghosts a chance; I used the bathroom fully open.

1:11 a.m. — Ghost time

It was 1:11 AM and it was time for me to start walking around the haunted manor. My already high adrenaline levels soared.

My brain woke up and said, “A knife for what?” I planned to stab ghosts.

I didn’t get my knife out.

Instead, I began my first Instagram Live. I’ve seen live streams of celebrity interviews, cooking demonstrations, and other topics throughout the pandemic. But, I never recorded one.

Friends and strangers on the Internet began to tune in so I started my tour by walking down to the foyer. My skin became red and blotchy, just like it does when I’m anxious. I was able to trust the Instagram element and go down to the basement. This would have been my final chance to die.

It was now time to go back upstairs to my bedrooms. While downstairs was full of frightening shadows, upstairs was filled with fear. In the Overlook master bedroom named after Stephen King’s novel “The Shining”, I had performed several doubles takes to make sure that I had seen something on carpets or in corners earlier. Now, I had to return during the witching hour.

As I entered the terrible room, a crackling sound was heard from the corner of the Conservatory door. It was bugging getting into the light, so I figured it was a bug infestation and entered the room. My anxiety reached a crescendo.

I felt something hit my ankle. I was expecting to see something terrible grabbing my legs. It turned out to be a moth. It was, at least, what I thought it was. I ran out of the door and back up the stairs to escape the moth before I could process what had just happened.

After an hour of streaming, Instagram Live shut down automatically and I was back alone.

2:25 a.m.

there was a kind of sound that you hear when a clock rings, but it was much faster and perkier. This was a strange time considering I hadn’t noticed it earlier in the day. I heard almost simultaneously a man grunt. To preserve my sanity I reassured myself that it was Clark or Brewer.

I was carrying an EVP reader around with me all night pretending to be paranormal investigators. The device had been forgotten about until 2:20 a.m. when it started to beep. It was all I could do to rationalize the situation, other than grimace at it. I was too afraid to even get in a bed, much less move.

I couldn’t enter the demon-inhabited Conservatory. I closed the portal to hell and chose to rest in the Overlook. I turned on “Kitchen Confidential”, an audiobook by Anthony Bourdain, to wind down.

3:31 a.m.

I wanted to be able to sleep in a bed. I turned on every light in the Scariest haunted house in Ohio, so the bedroom door was always open. Once the stairs were visible, I climbed into bed and was fully dressed. If the ghosts woke me from my sleep, I would prefer to run for my life in my sturdy jeans. It’s amazing to think that I was an adult who believed in ghosts a day before.

7:01 a.m.

The first thing I did when I awoke was roll over and check if there were any imprints from a ghost near me. I was able to feel relief and disappointment at the sheets. Although I was still tired and anxious, it was much less than what I felt the previous hours. It was now the sun rising, and there was still a thin fog around the manor lawn.

I crept up to the master bathroom, and I slowly turned the handle of the doorknob to see if anyone was there. There wasn’t. The bright green tile shone in the morning sunlight, instead. I pulled down the curtain and took a quick shower, trying not to blink.

Brewer, downstairs, greeted me warmly. Brewer had breakfast and coffee waiting for me. I was unsure what to say. I was embarrassed to the point that I couldn’t sleep and wanted to know if my experiences were comparable to his. I asked him about the chimes that I heard at 2:25 am and if he might have set the clock to the wrong time.

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