Set aboard The Queen Mary
Submitted by filmmaker Lynne Hansen
Listen to the audio version of the ghost story here, read by Allison Ledbetter from Episode 36: Zombie Girl with horror Filmmaker Lynne Hansen.
When you visit one of Time Magazine’s Top Ten Haunted Places, you’d better be prepared. I wasn’t.
In 2005, my novel The Change was nominated for an EPPIE award for Best Young Adult Novel. The black-tie awards ceremony was held in Long Beach, California on the Queen Mary. Ghost sightings on the ship include a sailor who died in the engine room, soldiers who died in a collision during World War II, and a young girl who drowned in the ship’s pool. I was giddy at the chance to have my own ghost adventures on the ship.
I had to get through the awards ceremony first, though. Not only was I nervous about being nominated, but to make it worse, earlier in the night my friend and oft-collaborator Sally Bosco and I had to present the EPPIE award for Best Action Adventure Novel.
We wanted our time on stage to be memorable, so we faked an argument about how difficult it was to write together. As our conversation became more intense, a spirit orb moved toward the stage, and then another, and another. Audience members snapped photos.
Our argument escalated into a fake fistfight, and as our big finale, I threw Sally onto the floor. Photos from the event show her boot sticking out from behind the podium–and 15 spirit orbs all around us.
People applauded. We announced the winner and headed off the stage. We wouldn’t know until later, but four of the orbs seemed to follow us.
There were three stairs coming down from the stage. My gown was floor-length, so I took each stair slowly, carefully. I had both feet squarely on the second step when suddenly my knees buckled. I flew forward onto the floor, landing on my hands and knees .It felt like someone had kicked the back of my knees, but nobody had been directly behind me.
Folks helped me up, and once back in my seat, I took photos of the ceremony. Several had spirit orbs, but none had nearly as many as the photos taken when Sally and I were on stage. There was one more absolutely spectacular photo, though. As the winners for Best Anthology were being awarded their amulets on stage, I took a photo of a bright orb with half a face on the left side, and a multi-layered glowing membrane around the outside. I’d never seen anything like it.
That night my novel The Change won the EPPIE for Best Young Adult Novel and I promptly forgot the shenanigans on stage. I chalked up my fall to clumsiness, and spent the night celebrating. When I finally went back to my stateroom, I couldn’t get any sleep. I thought I was just excited–too wound up to sleep soundly.
Ifell asleep quickly, but awoke time and again to strange voices and odd knocking from inside the room. A high school orchestra group had checked onto the boat that day, so I didn’t think much about it at the time. Odd thing was, my husband didn’t hear the voices at all.
I didn’t discover the photographic evidence of my encounter until I got home.I wonder if the noises weren’t spirits, still trying to show how annoyed they were at me for pushing down my friend.
For the first time in 12 years, I’m going back to the ship this April for Stokercon, the professional conference of the Horror Writers Association. I wonder if the ghosts of the Queen Mary will remember me.