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The Collector

I am a collector.

My collections began with small, unimportant, irrelevant pieces. You see, I was a paranormal investigator. No, not the ones you see on TV shows. Zach Bagans is not a real investigator, he’s just an actor, and not a good one might I add. I would go into properties which claimed unusual happenings would occur. Some were true, some were not; but that was the business I was drawn into. I say business loosely.

As outstanding as those cases were and how much evidence we collected, and trust me there were some doozies, I was still on much more of a skeptical level. There was no reason for this mindset, not really. I’ve seen a lot of unexplainable things but for some reason I just never became a true believer; at least not from these paranormal investigations.

Early on in this “career” I was gifted a railroad tie off of an old railway track from Martinsburg Roundhouse in West Virginia. There was nothing special about this artifact aside from its historical value. As a history buff, I thoroughly appreciated and cherished this piece of history. This was the beginning of my paranormal investigation collection.

This tradition continued on throughout years and countless investigations. Some of the more intriguing pieces of the memorabilia included things like a Ouija Board from the Archive of the Afterlife, an old book original to building from the Wexford Antiques General Store, and a bone from the Anchorage Mansion. Now, as excited as I was to receive that macabre addition to this collection, I'm unsure what or who this is from; it could be a chicken bone from all we know!

Our investigations continued but we were also constantly asked about the collection as the word made its way around the niche community. With this reputation, every location we ventured into volunteered some relic to add to the collection. My obsession began at that point to continue to add to it and even tried to push further over normal boundaries in hopes of more macabre and disturbing pieces. That was the first mistake.

The Gun

Initially I did not pursue any relics of any nature, not even ones which fit in or were of historic value. The first time I dipped my toes into this more ‘black market’ collection I simply mentioned my intentions in passing to the owner of the After Hours Tattoo Shop.

After we finalized our first investigation about a month later, I received a call from this owner. He was frantic and unnerved. We seemed to uncover some deep dark secrets from the basement under his shop in relation to murders, and possibly even a serial killer from the Civil War era. He explained to me that he decided to take it upon himself to use a metal detector on the old dirt floor. 

Here, he uncovered an old pistol. He wasn’t entirely sure of the make or model but there was a date etched into the handle of 1864. He sent me a few pictures of it and we returned for our follow up investigation. He passed it off to me knowing of our collection during which time he did give us a warning of sorts. He explained that there was just an off putting sensation to it and a story of a couple who were interested in getting a tattoo. They sat in the waiting area, where he temporarily displayed the weapon, only to get violently ill and were forced to leave the shop. Strangely enough, just as they exited the building their illness faded and they were completely fine. They ventured back in, after a little coercing, and as they sat back down the man got a horrible headache while the woman broke out in a strange rash right around her chest, over her heart. He wouldn’t have really thought much more of this except this happened three more times. 

Aside from the unnerving circumstances there was also an unspoken disappointment in losing income and clients. Following that third occurrence, he took the gun to his apartment where he kept it locked away in his safe under his nightstand. The next day, he found his cat dead with an odd bare spot on his chest and a vague explanation from the veterinarian of sudden heart failure. 

He was so distraught, more like pissed off, that he actually threw the gun in the dumpster behind the pet hospital. As he arrived back at his shop, he explained that he had his phone in his hand, ready to dial us to tell us of the strange happenings. He changed his mind as he heard a loud bang from inside the shop. His first instinct was that a light blew or someone put foil in the microwave - again. He swung the door open ready to tear into an employee (he said he hoped it was the intern so he could really lay into him) but there was no one inside.

After making a quick sweep of the store, his jaw dropped and his stomach instantly twisted. That gun was laying on the table in the waiting area. There was absolutely no explanation for this and instead of telling us of these happenings, he decided at that moment he wanted to get rid of that thing.

Even though these tales were quite unsettling and disturbing I wholeheartedly accepted this offering, naturally, against the paranormal team’s wishes. I kept it safe, locking it away in the storage unit, albeit nicely displaying it at the front of the metal walled room. 

I thought that was the end of this strange acquisition but less than a week later I received an email to not be concerned about a police presence at the storage unit facility. I wasn’t overly worried about this until the evening news explaining that a maintenance employee had a massive heart attack and died on the spot. The reporter was standing around the yellow roped on area; it was right outside my unit!

No more than a week following this unfortunate death, there was a widespread report of a cold case describing a serial killer in northern Pittsburgh. He was said to be active during the Civil War. His modus operandi was that he would poison his victims, watching them slowly suffer, then finally shooting them in the heart as one final blow knowing that it was his choice that they died when they finally perished. This was all documented in an old journal considered an heirloom to a family residing in Mars, PA. He was never captured and disappeared into Ohio, possibly leaving a wake of destruction and death in his path.

My first thought: Is there even the slightest chance that I now owe the gun of this newly surfaced serial killer?

The Hat

Following what felt like years of no vacations and barely even leaving our home in Pittsburgh, my wife and I took a much needed vacation. Our ideal getaway always involved a beach no matter where we decided to vacation. This adventure took us to Kingston, Jamaica and this was no ordinary vacation. We stayed at a beautiful resort including food and single day excursions. This was the vacation of a lifetime, at least at first.

After a full week of relaxing and enjoying the atmosphere, the people, the time together we wanted one last memorable adventure before our long flight back home. We had made friends with some of the bellhops and maintenance workers on the resort (mainly by tipping them nicely) so we built our nerve up to ask them about some off the resort and unsanctioned excursions. 

While we failed to exploit our friendships with some of these employees, there was one younger bartender who decided to open up and help guide us through these not so friendly streets of the otherwise gorgeous island. His name was Willie and, during our walk through the small town just north of Kingston, he was called out by his nickname of “King.” As we followed this King Willie we felt like he just exuded some type of energy which demanded respect. Whether it was his demeanor or his confidence we followed him without much more of a thought to it.

After entering his rusted out old coupe, we sat in the back seat in awe of the beauty of the island. The ride lasted nearly two hours but it didn’t feel like anywhere near that. The partially paved roadway decreased in quality the closer we got to our destination. The gravel roadway built up and cart ruts could be seen (and felt) until the greenery opened up on both sides of us and the road seemed to just stop. The journey culminated in a gorgeous view of the onlooking ocean in the distance barricaded by a thick pure green wooded area. Immediately in front of us there were stone slabs and columns featuring shells from the ocean just barely gripping on as an old facade. This platform and foundation was clearly aged and must have been constructed centuries before anyone would have called this home, let alone the name of Jamaica. 

King Willie welcomed us to the outskirts of Galina, an area which was said to be home to the first people who inhabited the island. They were said to use an ancient form of Voodoo to help bring nourishment and wealth to the island. My wife asked if there was truly gold in the island to which he cackled and explained their version of wealth was not monetary but rather in sustenance and a long, healthy life and extended family.

He dropped an arm after helping us out of the dilapidated vehicle as if to direct us toward the concrete. As we followed his lead, we noticed a bright blue light flash across the sky. We initially feared a storm which would just ruin our final day on the island. To our pure astonishment, this light occurred again and could be traced to a group of half dressed older men forming a circle on the rocks below us. The way they manipulated this light was astounding but more so was the way they controlled a man in the middle of the group.

The chanting increased and grew into an almost hum, dull and drilling into our heads. This sensation was nothing less than encaptivating. The man in the center of the circle was much like the other men but his head was adorned with a black top hat surrounded by a slew of feathers and small bones woven into it with a silky looking fabric. He was also very old, his skin wrinkled and nearly falling from his skeletal form. This elder also wore a necklace incorporating what looked like ears from all types of animals sewn through it.

There was no way this man could move naturally in such a way. His dance (that’s as close of a description as I could make of it) was reminiscent of a young child. His uncontrolled limbs swayed in unnatural rhythm with the dull humming and increased percussion of the drums. His eyes were pale blue as if he were blind and yet he danced around a fire so close that his eyebrows were smoking from the heat and close enough to the entourage of singers that they could see the yellow tinge to his teeth and the pink pockets of his gums where teeth used to be protruding. 

This man’s dance continued on for nearly a half hour as we were entranced by this. Eventually, King Willie convinced us to move closer to the circle, nearly becoming part of it. During this group’s finale, a sudden bolt of lightning struck the ground near the man in the top hat. This blinded us for a long moment but as we regained our composure, once more in sheer amazement, this man was transformed. He was no longer an old frail man with deteriorating leathery skin and flaccid useless limbs. This man was now a young and fruitful man of no more than thirty years old. 

Following this flash of light, the humming and chanting came to an abrupt end. During this period of silence, including the unnerving quiet of nature, this man locked eyes with me. They were no longer the pale color of a blind man, rather they were now a gleaming yellow almost snake-like and they pierced a hole through me. Fear set in as he approached and yet my wife just looked on in awe, in a trance perhaps.

No more than a foot from me, he stared not at me but through me. A sly grin slowly grew from ear to ear. Just like moments before, another flash of light lit the entire area. The man was gone. All that remained was his black top hat still holding bone fragments and burnt feathers. The group gestured to me to pick it up as it lay at my feet. I did so reluctantly just as my wife came back from that deep trance. She too helped convince me to pick up the hat.

Reluctantly, I picked it up just as King Willie grabbed my arm, surprising me to such an extent that I jumped up and nearly out of my own shoes. He beckoned me to follow him back to his car which I had no problem following him just to get out of that rocky area. My wife wrapped her arm around mine and gingerly placed her head on my shoulder. She was humming that odd tune so lightly that I could barely make it out. 

The car ride back was a blur. It should have taken another two hours but it only felt like minutes. Maybe I nodded off? I don’t remember, but regardless, I was drained both mentally and physically. We exited his car back to our complex and as we walked slowly, almost at the pace of a tipsy drunk couple, my wife couldn’t help but smile and tell me how wonderful of a time she had during that unplanned excursion. That was the last I ever heard her talk about it. She claims that she doesn’t remember any of our final day in Jamaica.

On the plane ride home, the hat sat on my lap but during one moment when my bladder was about to burst, I left that hat on the empty seat next to me to use the facilities. Upon my return, a young child had snagged the hat from my seat and placed it on his head. Obviously much too big for him, the hat drooped down past his nose. He let out a shriek as I approached and reached for the hat. I was going to crack some kind of terrible “dad joke” but his cry took me back. Instead of a joke, I grabbed the hat and tossed it back down on the seat as he scurried off.

My wife asked why I was so brusk with him but I had no idea what she was talking about. With wide eyes and an extremely confused look, she explained that I told the child that he was disrespectful and a little brat. I apparently then made some kind of face that scared him so much that he ran off.

As I shook this notion of amnesia off, an older woman with an intense stare approached me with her young son in tow. That boy I supposedly scared off was in tears and pale as a ghost. I was scolded so much that a flight attendant had to restrain the woman. With more confusion I was eventually told by a much calmer flight attendant that the face I made was contorted so that I looked like a completely different person. Apparently my eyes twisted from their normal circular brown state into a curved yellow variation and that my jaw had protruded so far out that it could have touched my nose.

I remembered none of that. And I tried to force that memory out of my head where it stayed - until a doctor visit. After we arrived home and unpacked, I immediately made a trip to my storage unit where that hat has remained safely.

About a week or so following our return to normalcy, my hair began to change. It’s normal brown, thinning but soft texture warped into a gray and thick matted mess. I made a doctor appointment as soon as I could but by the time I got into her office, my hair had completely changed with no semblance of its former appearance.

I was told that my head came into contact with some type of substance that left a residue that acted like a poison. I was asked if I had left the country or visited any type of unusual location. Obviously the answer was yes with the Jamaican trip but what was puzzling was that residue was not just poisonous but it was also irradiated somehow.

With no answers, the doctors convinced me that my body adjusted to it and there was nothing to worry about or be concerned with long term. As long as I was okay with a very unique hair style, that would be the worst that came of it.

As I left the office with a puzzled and just overall overwhelmed sensation I held the door for an older woman and a young boy with thick gray matted hair, the same boy who put my hat on his head on the plane. He glanced back over his shoulder as I exited and we made eye contact. His yellow, reptilian looking eyes left me with nightmares for weeks.

The Doll’s Head

This piece is just a disturbing artifact. There’s no real reason behind it other than it’s a dismembered doll’s head with burnt hair, a broken glass eye, and a grin so unnatural that no child would have felt comfortable or happy alone in the same room with it. To top this off, it was encased inside a fogged over cracked glass box. It’s situated on four thin brass legs in the semblance of clawfoot tub feet.

This was also a special piece to me as it served as the first relic I yearned for and the first I hunted down in order to add to this growing oddity collection.

Following us being sought out by a local private residence, I began to do some research on their property only to find out…nothing. Absolutely nothing happened here in the past and to add to the nothingness, the apartment complex was built five years ago and was relatively new. There was no past, no history, nothing. Normally, with lack of a past, we’d skip over this location but there was something about this location that drew us in and compelled us to investigate these supposed phenomena.

Our first visit to this residence yielded a few odd occurrences and some paranormal experiences. During our time here, there was a strong pull from this three room apartment. The pull seemed to emanate from a small, football-sized, thick cedar box. This box was stuffed under the owner’s bed and locked up tight. She explained to us that the box was here before she even moved in and just never thought much of it. We felt that there was something either inside the box or the box itself that exuded some type of energy or force. We weren’t too open and honest with the girl, even though we did have some evidence and enough to write up a report. My intense draw to that box grew to such an extent that we withheld some of our findings in order to attempt a return investigation, well more like for that box.

After a rather successful follow up investigation, we had more than enough experiences and evidence to claim that the location was indeed haunted. We attempted a minor and simple cleansing of the apartment but had unwittingly asked for the box in return. She was very reluctant but eventually did come around and agreed to give us the box (as long as it didn’t have hoards of money inside). 

Following about three weeks of owning the box, my draw grew so intense that I threw open the storage unit’s roll up door and didn’t even wait for it to come to rest before I ran inside and snagged the box. That night I busted open the padlock and pried open the rusted hinges to reveal this…this…this atrocity of a baby doll.

I began to take this doll head around to our investigations but was forced to stop because of the odd trances it would put me in right in the middle of an active location. I was told I would suddenly freeze up as if I had some type of seizure and just stare at the box. What was I staring at? I guess I’ll never know. But I would begin to drool and hum and just be extremely uncomfortable to be around. Obviously this led to some failed investigations and even more canceled investigations and events.

This doll head began my wife and my split as we started to drift apart the moment I brought that head inside the house. I would just space out and completely lose track of time. Obviously this led to our issues and ultimate failure. 

Eventually I was able to manage these urges to lose control, enough so that I took the doll head with me everywhere I went. It was like my own little companion, my sidekick, my best friend. It even began to speak to me in my mind.

The Box

Time continued on, these pulls continued, my collection grew. Some items seemed to have an energy about them, others seemed to have some type of supernatural abilities. I was asked why I continue to grow the collection but my response is that I don’t grow it. It grows naturally and on its own, it doesn’t even need me.

My obsession grew so much and my means of getting these artifacts grew violent, even malevolent. This was the point my wife truly left, timed simultaneously with my exit from our paranormal team. By exit I mean the team kicking me out. My life was in shambles but I still had my collection.

This strange artifact was gifted to me years ago while working at my second job. As I picked up my paycheck, the office attendant pulled me aside knowing full well of my work in the paranormal field. She asked if I wanted this odd item which she truly could not describe with words. She explained that after her son tragically passed away of a drug overdose that she cleaned out his room months later. She stumbled upon this odd purple wax covered box. It looked like a simple jewelry box but was completely engulfed in this sticky substance. 

Unaware of its true purpose or meaning, I accepted this gift. As the box was firmly in my grasp she continued on with her story explaining that her son apparently dabbled in the occult. To what extent she did not know but she was aware that he would hold seances and meet up with other like minded individuals. 

I never felt anything odd with this box but I did attempt some testing with it and further research. It fell into the category of a Dybbuk Box but was extremely vague in its descriptions with the symbols. The odd symbols were wiccan for the most part but they did not make much sense or match up with any typical symbology. I utilized some of my paranormal tools like K2 meters, Rempod, and Mel Meter but these devices never activated to give me any sign of anything inside. I simply tossed it in the storage unit and there it sat - until my falling out and desperation which consumed my life at that point.

One day as I was simply sitting amongst my collection, with just a dim flashlight to light the room, I heard a light knocking. It was as if my neighbor had been pounding on the separating wall. I ventured out into the hall to notice no one was around, the motion activated lights above weren’t even on. Confused but not surprised, with all the energy in that room it’s possible one of these pieces wanted to grab my attention. What did surprise me was where this knocking emanated from; that old Dybbuk Box. The knocking continued but grew louder with each iteration eventually drawing me to that old sealed box.

As I stood looming over this box, I still felt nothing, not even a draw to it. I snatched it up without much more of a hesitation and the knocking ceased. I truly have no idea why my next action concurred but I shook it. There was certainly something inside it that moved around but with any cursed box similar to this there should be a crystal, something of the Earth, and some inanimate object to bind the supposed spirit inside of the box to to lock it inside. I shook it once more but suddenly it felt heavy. The weight increased almost to the point of me dropping it.

I placed it on the ground gently so I didn’t break the seal. The knocking picked up, but grew louder and louder and louder - until a voice in the back of my mind whispered with a hiss telling me to open it. I still was hesitant to believe and, to this day with everything I’ve experienced on investigations and all of my odd memorabilia, I have no idea why. So I followed my gut instinct and reached for my keys. I drug the house key (the house I was unceremoniously kicked out of) around the outside seal of the box. Each time I knocked a little more wax off creating a pile of this purple wax next to it. Finally, with one more deep scratch, the seal was broken. 

Unlike with all those YouTube videos I’ve watched on opening these boxes nothing happened. No strange movements, no wind, no changing atmosphere, no bright lights; nothing. Instead, I opened the box slowly revealing what looked like some type of antique puzzle box. This was no ordinary wooden puzzle box, oh no, this was finished with a slick black lacquer covered in arcane symbols which were etched in a shiny golden outline.

My fingers gingerly brushed across the surface until they started moving magnificently on their own as if I had let myself go, given full control of my mind and body to my hands. As I pressed one portion of the box up, the other down, left to right, right to left, the box now transformed into different shapes and configurations but more astonishing was a sublime yet simple melody which played from an unseen mechanism. The sound was enchanting but terrifying. I wanted to stop but I could not. 

Finally, I snapped the pieces into their final spots. The music stopped but now piercing my ears, and my soul, was the tolling of a bell in the distance. My final memory was that of the flash bright of a light green light.


I have a purpose. I have a reason for my existence. A raison d'être if you will. After meeting with them I got all of the answers I could have ever needed. I reached the limits of reality and explored the further regions of experience. My soul was torn apart, reassembled, I was displaced from my original self and distorted beyond any believable appearance.

But still, my collection grows. It lives, it breathes, it has its own purpose for being. I add to it to this day. Whoever they tell me to collect, I do so without hesitation and with pleasure. 

My new collection is no ordinary relic or artifact collection, hell, it’s no haunted or possessed items collection. Sure, those items are still there and hold energies in that storage unit down on Smallman Street, and occasionally they like visitors but it’s new purpose is to house those lost souls who are unfortunate enough (or fortunate enough, depending on your perspective) to be claimed by them, collect by me and allowed to have their eyes open to real pleasure and pain for all eternity.


And I hope that answers all of your questions as to who I am and what I’m doing here. 

I’m just here to collect.


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