Those of us local to the area would drive northbound down the highway near Liberty and see this creepy old building on the east. I remember making the trek once with my father and asking him, "Dad, what's that?" His answer, "I'm not sure. I think its an old school."
I had all kinds of ideas about what went on in that place. It was too far away from my home to investigate its history thoroughly and frankly, back then, I didn't know how to approach strangers and ask for insight on a curious old building. It was easier (and more fun) to let my imagination take control.
Well these northbound trips led to another discovery up in Atchison, Kansas. Yes, I know, haunted Atchison. I lived there for a little while before it became "Haunted Atchison" and the ghost stories abounded. There were all kinds of tales and everyone had an experience of some sort to share.
This too stayed with me, one building in particular, which I know as "The Old Witch's Home" an old Victorian complete with a tower room. Now, the house I lived in wasn't exactly "spirit free", but that Victorian grabbed my attention. I asked my friend to tell me about it.
The legend I heard was an old woman lived there with her cats. She died there with her cats. No family, no friends...and no one to care for the hungry cats. Cough. There was no electricity in several rooms and the house had been unoccupied for years. Still lights came on in the tower window. Strange noises were heard on many a night.
Years later, a friend of mine worked on that house when the owners put some attention into restoring it. He didn't know the history, but had a story to share. "That house--I was painting when all I heard was insane purring. I looked to my buddy, asked if he heard it. Sure enough. We looked all over and no one could find the damn cats."
Both buildings impacted me. I've always been fascinated by the paranormmal, but these two edifaces and their curious history fed my imagination. So much so that a decade later I pulled them into my paranormal writing. You'll find them in IMMORTAL HOPE and the continuing Curse of the Templar series.
Despite countless hours searchinng, the strange old building remained nameless and historyless. So I gave it a new history--the facade of the Knights Templar's American Stronghold. Beneath that crumbling brick you'll find a maze of stone works, a breathtaking temple, and sacred secrets hidden from mankind. The Victorian in the story belongs to my heroine and in its age-old walls, a treasure is hidden. A relic Azazel will kill to possess. In the caves near Atchison, where rumor says Satanic rites take place, battles between evil and the most holy occur at the gates to Azazel's realm.
I would learn this year, when I flipped on the news a few months ago, that my Knights stronghold was, in fact, The Odd Fellows' House. Long story very much summed up, it was owned by a secret society and the collection of property and buildings offered aid to its members and their families. The building I chose to work with was a hospital for widows and children. Very much alive with ghosts and part of the property is now incorporated in a paranormal tour. Ill be visiting that tour. Speaking to the attendees.
The old Victorian? It too is part of a paranormal tour in Atchison. And those tower lights that occasionally flipped on... Well, the tower room is still not wired for electricity and still that eerie light glows.
Maybe its a witch. Maybe it's the ghost of a lonely old woman. Maybe it's her cats, many who fed off her body.
Or perhaps, that unexplainable illumination is indeed, an immortal knight taking refuge from battle and nursing his dying soul.