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飞越闹鬼的精神病院

更新时间:2013-10-26 11:57:41 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Getting Into the Spirit
飞越闹鬼的精神病院

Everyone has a ghost story, or at least that’s how it has always seemed to me. My mother’s best friend used to tell a doozy about a soldier she met when she was a bookkeeper in the Air Force. He claimed to be a ghost, then proved it by walking into the middle of a moonlit airfield and disappearing before her eyes. Another friend of my mother’s used to bring over a Ouija board when she baby-sat for me. As that plastic pointer whizzed around the board (with seemingly little help from her fingers), she spoke of the messages that the spirit world sent to her on a regular basis.

每人都有个鬼故事,或至少在我看来如此。我母亲最好的朋友讲过一个非常精彩的故事,主人公是她在空军当簿记员时认识的一名士兵。他自称是个幽灵,并且用事实证明这个说法:在月光笼罩下的机场,他当着她的面走了几步然后消失。母亲的另一个好友照看我时,常常携带一个通灵板。当塑料指针在板上吱嘎移动的时候(好像并不需要她的手指帮忙),她会说出灵异世界定期发送给她的信息。

Blame my mother’s friends, blame the hundreds of people who have since answered my favorite question, “Do you believe in ghosts?” with tales of lost loved ones appearing at the foot of their bed or disembodied voices heard in some shadowy hallway. But for as long as I can remember, I’ve been desperately searching for my own ghost story to tell.

都怪母亲的这些朋友,还有以亲身故事回答我最爱问题“你相信鬼魂吗?”的那几百个人。这些人中,有的看到死去的爱人忽然现身床头,有的在阴暗的走廊忽然听到神秘莫测的声音。但就我自己来说,我的鬼故事一直在寻找中,却至今没有出现。

That is how I ended up listening for suspicious sounds in the middle of the night at the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, W.Va. The building is rumored to be a hotbed of paranormal activity, and it is easy to understand why. Constructed between 1858 and 1881 to accommodate 250 patients, it housed nearly 10 times that number by the 1950s. They were a discontented bunch, and not just because they were in a mental hospital — many had been severely mistreated by other violent residents and a few were eventually murdered by them.

这就是我午夜出现在西弗吉尼亚州维斯顿市(Weston, W.Va.)的全阿勒格尼精神病院(Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum)并全力寻找可疑声响的原因。在传说中这座建筑是超常现象的多发地,个中原因倒是容易理解。这所建于1858到1881年之间的精神病院最初计划是容纳250名病人,但到了1950年代,病人数量几乎达到了当初的十倍。那是一群不快乐的病人,不只因他们患有精神疾病,而且他们中的不少人还遭到他人的暴力虐待,有几个甚至被折磨致死。

The place closed in 1994 (a more modern facility was built in the state), but Weston Mental Hospital, as it was known, has been reborn. Inspired in part by the demand created by popular shows like “Ghost Hunters” and films like “Paranormal Activity,” the asylum has for the last six years offered public tours with increasing frequency. A sample includes “October Ghost Hunt” (six and a half hours for $100), “Medical/Forensics/Geriatrics Ghost Hunt” (six and a half hours for $100) and even the fast and budget-friendly “Flashlight Tours” (30 minutes for $10).

这家精神病院在1994年关门停业(该州新建了一座更为现代化的精神病疗养机构),但这个俗称维斯顿精神病院(Weston Mental Hospital)的地方却获得了重生。受《捉鬼敢死队》(Ghost Hunter)和《午夜灵异活动》(Paranormal Activity)等影视作品的启发,这家精神病院在六年前推出了广受欢迎的惊悚旅游活动,并且越来越受游客欢迎。比如,一个叫“十月猎鬼”(October Ghost Hunt)的产品包括6个半小时的游览,价格100美元。此外还有“医学/法医学/老年病学猎鬼之旅”(Medical/Forensics/Geriatrics Ghost Hunt;6个半小时100美元)以及时间较短、价格廉宜的“手电筒之旅”(Flashlight Tours;30分钟,10美元)。

There were so many options that I called the phone number listed on the asylum’s Web site, trans-alleghenylunaticasylum.com, and asked Rebecca, the rough-voiced woman who picked up, which tour would give me my best chance of encountering a spirit. “The 9-to-5 tour,” she said. “That’s when the best stuff happens around here.”

各种选项多得让人费解,我只好到精神病院的网站(trans-alleghenylunaticasylum.com)找了个号码打过去,然后请教那个接电话的嗓音沙哑的丽贝卡,哪种旅行产品让人看到鬼魂的概率最高。“晚九朝五团,”她说,“那段时间本馆最好的东西就会出现。”

For $100, overnight visitors break into groups and are assigned a guide to tour the four floors and multiple wards of the asylum, attempting to make contact with the spirit world along the way. As if that wasn’t promising enough, in the wee hours of the morning, visitors are allowed to wander free, staying up until dawn, in search of ghosts.

缴纳了100美元的跨夜团游客会被分为几个小组,在导游带领下一起探索精神病院的四层建筑和多间病房,并试图与鬼魂建立联系。如果觉得这还不够稳妥,在凌晨时分到日出之前,游客可以四处游荡,寻找鬼魂。

Enthralled, I asked Rebecca if there was anything more I could do to up my chances, before spitting out an idea, “What if I brought someone with me, and we camped out in the most haunted part of the building?”

我被这个计划迷住了,继续问丽贝卡,是否还有别的做法可以提高我的成功率。没等说她说话,我又问:“不如我带个朋友,一起在大楼闹鬼最凶的地方彻夜扎营?”

“I’d know just where to put you,” she said, giving me an offer that she said was exclusive. “The ward where patients recovered from lobotomies. It’s off limits to everyone else. No electricity. No running water. I’m going to make you sign a waiver, cuz if one of you breaks a leg running from a ghost, I ain’t going to be responsible. Got it?”

“我知道应该把你放到哪儿。”她说,然后给了我一个所谓的独家提供。“以前额叶切除术之后病人康复休息的那个病房。外人禁止入内。没有电。没有自来水。我需要你签署一个免责条款,规定如果你跑离鬼魂的时候摔断一条腿什么的,我不必负责。明白了吗?”

I pretended to think things over, though the truth was Rebecca had me at lobotomies.

我假装思考了一下,最后让丽贝卡同意让我入住那间额叶术后康复室。

A week later, the gothic asylum loomed before me as I rolled up the long drive toward the front doors. Beside me, my boyfriend, Thomas, made the sign of the cross for easily the fifth time since we’d left Manhattan early that morning. When I first told him about the trip, he made it clear I’d have to find some other sucker to come along. Like everybody else, Thomas already had his ghost story — something to do with a door inexplicably slamming in his father’s basement. But after I ticked down a roster of friends, all of whom flat-out refused, Thomas reluctantly agreed to come along. To keep us safe, he brought a pendant blessed by Mother Teresa.

一星期以后,我长途驾车直奔恐怖精神病院的大门。坐在我旁边的是男朋友托马斯,自我们清晨离开曼哈顿以来,他已经是第五次在胸前划下十字。我首次告知他这趟旅行时,他明确说明我必须找其他笨蛋,他绝不会前往。像所有人一样,托马斯已经有了自己的鬼故事,他爸爸地下室的门有一天莫名其妙猛然关闭。但我好友列表上的人一个个直接拒绝,最后托马斯还是不情愿地陪我上路了。为了保佑我俩的平安,他带了一只被特丽莎修女开光过的吊坠。

We arrived hours early, and the place was mostly deserted. Waiting for us on a rocker outside the entrance was Miss Sue, a nurse who actually worked at the place from 1966 to 1990. As if to prove it, she wore an old nurse’s uniform. Instead of taking us to the lobotomy recovery room, she deposited us in a former office that was freshly painted and had electricity. No self-respecting ghost would be found there, I thought.

我们提前几个小时到达,那个地方一片荒凉。在门口摇椅上等待我们的是苏小姐,一位1966至1990年在这里工作的护士。似乎是为了证明这一点,她穿着一身老式的护士制服。她没有将我们带到术后休息室,而是以前的办公室,墙壁重新漆过,还装了电器。我心想,任何有自尊的鬼魂都不会出现在这间屋子。

When evening finally came, we met our guides, who gathered in a paranormal-free area on the first floor of the asylum that could very well have been a waiting room in any hospital. They showed us their vast array of tools, including electromagnetic frequency meters, motion sensors and something called a spirit box, which mostly seemed to record a lot of static and occasional voices from a nearby radio station. As if that wasn’t enough, some of my fellow ghost hunters had apps on their iPhones, like Ghost Radar Classic, that were sensitive to spectral vibrations. And someone carried along a Raggedy Ann doll that was supposed to light up when it sensed paranormal activity.

夜色终于降临,我们见到了导游。大家集合的地点是精神病院一楼一个没有任何异象的区域,那是一般医院都用作休息区的地方。导游向大家展示了种类繁多的工具,包括电磁频率计、运动传感器以及一种叫做精灵盒的东西,貌似可以记录附近电台偶尔传来的多种数据和声响。好像这些工具还不够用似的,一些前来猎鬼的游客还在自己的iPhone上装了“鬼魂雷达经典”(Ghost Radar Classic)之类的App来检测幽灵的震动。还有人带了一个破烂娃娃(Raggedy Ann)玩偶,据说检测到可疑活动时玩偶就会发出亮光。

Our little group would be led around that night by Copperhead, a man with shock-straight hair that looked as if it belonged on Gwyneth Paltrow and tattoos up his arms. The tools that he first chose in our hunt were relatively old-fashioned: flashlights. He led Thomas and me, as well as another couple, down a dark hallway, where he lined four of them on the floor, about 10 feet apart and facing the ceiling, all turned off. When it came to communicating with the beyond, I expected some sort of special language, but Copperhead began speaking in a tone one might use to coax out a recalcitrant teenager who locked himself in the bedroom. “Eddie, I know you’re upset with me,” he said, “but I’m hoping you’ll come on out.”

我所在小组的导游是“铜头”(Copperhead),他的头发顺直得仿佛是格温妮丝·帕特洛(Gwyneth Paltrow)的头发,上臂上有几处纹身。他为我们的猎鬼之旅选择的第一个工具比较老派——手电筒。他带着我、托马斯和另一对情侣走过黑暗的走廊,随后将四支手电筒放在地板上,关闭开关,竖直对着天花板,每两支间距10英尺。与鬼魂沟通,我以为能听到某种特别的语言,但铜头开始用一种家长哄孩子的语气与鬼魂说话,仿佛祈求一个躲在卧室的叛逆少年开门走出来。“艾迪,我知道你生我气了。”他说,“但是我希望你能出来谈谈。”

This one-sided conversation carried on for some time, until, at long last, Eddie, a former patient who had a penchant for playing poker, made the flashlight closest to us blink on and off. For one glorious moment, I felt that I was living my very own ghost story. But as Copperhead and Eddie kept shooting the breeze, the skeptic in me surfaced. I found myself wondering if perhaps that flashlight was placed on a specific floorboard with some sort of control hidden beneath it, or if maybe he had a miniature remote.

这种单边谈话持续了一段时间,最后艾迪(一个喜欢打扑克牌的前病人)终于回应了,距我们最近的手电筒开始忽明忽灭地闪动。我瞬间感到一阵兴奋,觉得我正在亲历属于自己的鬼故事。但随着铜头和艾迪聊天的深入,我内心的那个无神论者开始抬头。我开始怀疑,也许手电筒被放在地板上某个特殊的位置,下面藏着一些遥控装置,或者铜头有个微型遥控器。

When Eddie grew tired of chitchat and the flashlight stayed dark, Copperhead relocated our group to a dingy room with mountains of cigarettes on the floor. This, I learned, was something of a tradition: visitors bring smokes to the ghosts in hopes that it might lure them out. When no ghost reached forth from the beyond to communicate with us, or at least to toke on a Marlboro Light, he even pulled out the big guns: “We’ve got a girl with us, Fred, and I know how you like the ladies.”

艾迪厌倦聊天的时候,手电筒再也不亮了。铜头将我们小组带到另一个昏暗的房间,地板上堆着许多香烟。他们说,这是某种类似传统的仪式:游客带来一些香烟,希望吸引鬼魂现身。当再也没有鬼魂出来聊天甚至出来抽根特醇万宝路的时候,艾迪祭出杀手锏:“我们还带了一个女孩,弗莱德,我知道你喜欢女士。”

Amy, the sole woman in our group, later told me that she hadn’t felt vulnerable, sitting on the floor in the dark with four men, being used as ghost bait. Not that she’d been in much danger. She was a brunette, and that ghost is said to prefer blondes.

艾米是我们小组唯一的女士。后来她告诉我,当她坐在地板上、置身四个男人之间并被当成猎鬼的诱饵时,并没有感觉太多恐惧。原因不是她以前经历过这种事,而是因为她的头发是黑色,而那只鬼魂据说更喜欢金发美女。

By 2 a.m., I was getting sleepy, and my hopes of coming face to face with a spirit were fading. It was time for Copperhead to take us to the lobotomy recovery room. He led us along a warren of hallways, through a locked rusted cage door and down a flight of stairs. When we stepped into the room, I shined my flashlight to reveal platter-size slivers of paint peeling from the ceiling and shattered glass on the floor. Even though the only ghost I sensed in that room was the Ghost of Asbestos Past, I heeded Thomas’s objections to the place, and we settled on a hallway that led to dozens of isolation chambers instead.

凌晨两点,我开始昏昏入睡,面对面遭遇鬼魂的渴望也开始衰退。是时候铜头带我们去额叶术后休息室了。他领着我们走过复杂的走廊,穿过一个生锈上锁的铁笼门,然后走下一段台阶。走进房间以后,我打开手电筒,然后发现天花板的油漆已脱落了水果盘那么大的一块,地板上还散落着碎玻璃。尽管我发现那个房间里唯一的鬼魂是早已经过时的石棉(石棉是19世纪至20世纪上半叶广泛使用的一种建材,后因科学家发现其散发的石棉粉尘极大危害人体健康而在1980年代弃用——译注),但我注意到托马斯对这个房间有明显的抗拒情绪,于是我们在走廊里的一处地方安顿下来。那个走廊可以通往数十个互相隔绝的房间。

As soon as we set up our cots, a strange noise — like something heavy being dragged across a floor — started coming from a distant part of the asylum. Thomas sat up and asked if I had heard it. At first, I told him that it was coming from that ghost-free waiting area, which was not far away. But then we heard the sound again, this time unmistakably coming from the space near that rusted cage door that led to the lobotomy area. When we heard the sound a third time, louder than before, Thomas bolted.

我们刚搭好帐篷,就听到一种蹊跷的声音——仿佛什么沉重的东西被拖过地板,声源来自精神病院一个遥远的角落。托马斯坐起身来,问我是否听到那个声响。刚开始,我告诉他声音来自距我们不远的候诊区,而那里是没有鬼的。但很快我们再次听到那个声音,这次确切无疑来自生锈的笼门附近,而通过笼门就是额叶术后恢复区。第三次听到那种声音的时候(此时音量比以前更大),托马斯拔腿就跑。

He returned with Copperhead. The three of us walked quietly with our flashlights through a series of rooms, some with old hospital equipment still in them and bars on the windows, until we entered a room that had what looked to be roofing material on the floor. Copperhead stepped on it with his boot, and we heard that distinctive dragging sound. We were in the off-limits part of the asylum, where no one else was supposed to be, so that meant the noise we had heard had to be otherworldly. I couldn’t help but feel as if we were in a “Scooby-Doo” episode, and at any moment we would figure out who had been trying to scare us away.

回来的时候他把铜头也带来了。我们三人带着手电筒,安静地检查一个个房间,有些里面装配着陈旧的医疗设施,窗上安着铁栏杆。在最后那间房,地板上堆着屋顶建材之类的东西。铜头穿着靴子在那堆东西上面踩了几下,我们立刻听到了那种明显的拖拽声。此刻我们身处的房间是禁止入内的,没有任何人在这里,所以那些声音必定来自另一个世界。我忽然觉得自己身处《鬼屋历险》(Scooby-Doo)般的闹剧之中,而我们早就应该明白吓唬我们的到底是谁。

But Thomas had no interest in speculating. He soon gathered his things and headed out to the rental car, refusing to come back inside. Eventually I got in the car too. As we pulled out of the driveway, I looked back at the dim lights of the asylum and thought of all the people I knew who had a ghost story to tell. If only I could make myself believe it, I would finally have one too.

但托马斯再也没有心思去猜测。他迅速收拾好自己的东西,直奔我们租来的汽车,再也不回头。最后我也进了汽车。驾车离开的时候,我回望了一下精神病院昏暗的灯光,想起我碰到的所有遭遇鬼魂的人。我要是信鬼的话,我也终于有了自己的鬼故事可讲。

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