The Soul Collector – part 1

I was warned to never talk about him.

Never write about him.

I was told to completely erase him from my memory. If I didn’t, there was a very good possibility that he could come back to find me again. I held onto this story for several years, trying to do what they told me to do, but I just couldn’t.

I needed to tell my story.

I wasn’t in a very good place when he found me. I was at the end of a two-year relationship with someone I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. When he walked away very suddenly, it left my whole life in shambles.

With my entire family living a thousand miles away, I didn’t have anyone to turn to. After spending weeks locked inside my house with the curtains drawn, I finally decided to get out and do something. People told me that staying busy was the best cure for a broken heart. So I tried.

I had been ghost hunting for several years and found it to be a fun, exciting way to pass the time. By this time, I’d already developed a true knack for getting EVPs, Electronic Voice Phenomena. When I turned on my digital voice recorder and asked questions during an investigation, the spirits spoke to me. I didn’t understand why they singled me out, giving me very clear responses to my questions. I was just happy to be successful at something. My entire life up to that point felt like a near miss.

I’d spent twenty years trying to find my way as a writer, only to be shot down by countless agents and publishing houses. I tried to open my own pet store in the early eighties, but was stopped short due to financing issues. I was married for nearly twenty years, but found myself divorced and all alone at forty-two. After the failed relationship that ended with a blindside, I needed something to cling to, something I could claim as my own. So I dove deeply into ghost hunting.

At first it was just pure entertainment. I was invited to explore creepy places where I had the opportunity to speak with actual dead people. As I got more confident, I became fearless. I would be the first person who dared to go into the darkest, scariest places. I’d crawl into basements, sit by myself in a totally dark room and invite the spirits to touch me and communicate with me. It was an adrenaline rush, a way to push my life to the edge, a way to feel something other than misery. And I became good at it.

I booked investigations at the creepiest locations I could find. Sometimes I had two ghost hunts in one weekend. I was completely captivated.

Imagine: actually speaking to the dead.

I asked questions I’d always wanted to know the answers to, and I began getting very clear responses. They told me that Heaven was beautiful. They told me they were lonely, that they enjoyed talking with us. They told me their ages, the places where they lived, the reasons why they still clung to their homes.

I began to really tune into the way my ears began ringing when I was on investigations. I started learning that each spirit had a different tone. I could track them around the room, knowing immediately where they were. And they spoke to me on my digital recorder. I didn’t understand why all this was happening to me until I came far too close to one.
We investigated at a location I won’t name. I don’t want other thrill-seekers to go there and try their luck. I’ll just say that it was a place where very bad people once resided, a place I had no business visiting.

Nothing exceptional happened during the investigation. We sat in the dark, asking questions and marveling at how our equipment was responding. When I got home, I had a strange feeling that just wouldn’t leave me. My ears were ringing with a strange tone, and I had the almost constant feeling that someone was standing right behind me. When I listened to the audio I had recorded the night before, I heard something that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

“Who are you?” I had asked.

“John,” was the answer, spoken directly into my recorder. It was an intelligent response!
(I deleted many files after this experience, so I don’t have a copy of this evp.)

I was elated. People were always trying to debunk my evps, telling me it was just the wind, or someone clearing their throat. But, there was no denying this very clear response. Someone had answered my question.

Then, a woman began talking to us. She told us she was back in.

And another told us that it was cold in there.

I listened some more, hoping for something more. What I heard nearly made my heart stop.

“What do you want us to do?” I had asked.

“Fall,” came the answer.

“What are you doing here?” I asked again.

The answer came swiftly. “Following.”

I tried to shake it off, but the feeling of being watched was so strong I couldn’t ignore it. My ears started ringing even stronger and I began to get mental images of a very scary man frowning at me, looming over my shoulder. My moods became dark. I lost track of time, finding myself sleep walking at night. I became jumpy. The least little thing scared me. I stopped being the first person to crawl into dark places during investigations. I spent a lot of time glancing over my shoulder and I hardly slept at all.

My bedroom became a torture chamber for me. The minute I walked in, I could feel something there, standing in the corner. I started seeing movement out of the corner of my eye. Strange sounds began to happen throughout the house. Suddenly ghost hunting didn’t sound like such a great idea. What had I messed with?

It just got worse. My cats began watching things come into the room and drift over the top of my bed. They both stared with the same intensity that they would watch a housefly, except it was winter and there weren’t any bugs. I tried to debunk it. I looked for any possible explanation, but there weren’t any. I had picked up an unwanted hitchhiker.

Being a paranormal investigator with a few years under my belt, I knew about sage and the process of cleansing a house. I did this frequently, filling my house with the rich smell of burning herbs. I followed up by telling the spirit to leave. I prayed, asking for protection. I recited the Saint Michael’s Prayer. I did everything I could think of, but nothing worked. He hovered over my shoulder, making my life miserable.

Probably the worst part was having to keep all this to myself. If I started talking about having a ghostly attachment, people would surely think I was crazy. I tried to maintain a normal existence and continue living my life as if nothing horrible was happening to me. I posted happy, silly things on Facebook, worked feverishly on my first book, Lightning Strikes, and spent time with my nearly grown children. I wouldn’t understand what was truly happening to me until I began spending time with a very powerful psychic.

Thanksgiving was a very depressing holiday for me. With my family a thousand miles away and my promising relationship having hit the rocks, I had nowhere to go. My two children were spending the holiday with their father’s family. I didn’t want to spend the holiday by myself.

I put out a very needy plea on Facebook, asking if anyone had room at their table for me and my wish was quickly granted. I was invited to spend the holiday with several of my ghost hunting friends in Maine.

I made the trek, trying not to think about all that I had lost, but I couldn’t help it. After nineteen-years of marriage, I had spent five lonely years trying to find my place in the world. I thought I’d finally found it and had embraced all the opportunities, only to find myself completely alone again. I wasn’t sure I was up for the challenge. Having to spend a family-oriented holiday with near strangers seemed like the end of the world to me. And then it got worse.

Much worse.

The minute I walked into the door, the psychic took one look at me and said four words that nearly rocked my world off its axis.

“We need to talk,” she told me.

That was when I learned that my suspicions were right. I did have a negative spirit who was following me around. What she said next would leave me with nightmares for months.

“It’s bad. Really bad,” she told me. “He’s a soul collector and he has his sights set on you.”

The next six months would be the worse months of my life.

…to be continued

Joni Mayhan
Many of my experiences with the soul collector ended up in my paranormal trilogy, Angels of Ember. Lightning Strikes, the first book in the series, is available on for Kindle for only $2.99.

The unglamorous truth about Ghost Hunting

ImageIt is 4 o’clock in the afternoon and I’ve only been awake for three hours. I am exhausted. My legs and arms are covered with bug bites and my back hurts from standing in one place too long. It will take me days to get back to normal.  What did I do to get this way? I went on a paranormal investigation last night.

If you’ve never been on a ghost hunt before, the first thing you need to know is that it’s nothing like what you see on the paranormal television shows. There isn’t a production team following us around doing all the hard work.  We do everything ourselves and we do it all for free, digging into our own pockets to cover the expenses.

The location we investigated last night was a private home. It hasn’t been occupied in many years, but the owners would like to turn it into apartment units. Before they can, they want to understand what is causing all the commotion when the building is seemingly empty.

Doorknobs turn on their own accord. People are frequently locked out of the building. Voices and footsteps can be heard in vacant areas. Mechanical items break the minute they are brought onto the property. Is it paranormal or just bad luck? Hopefully we will help them find an answer.

The location was far from lavish. The rooms smelled of mold and were no less than ninety-degrees in temperature. In order to get some air ventilation, we were forced to open several windows. Some of them were screened, but some of them were not, letting in bugs of every size and shape. We sprayed ourselves with a foul-smelling organic spray that the bugs seemed to truly enjoy.

Was it exciting? Not really. Never once did we race down a hallway, chasing an entity. The closest we came to this was marveling at the sound of footsteps above us in a second floor that was most certainly unoccupied. Our equipment lit up several times, seemingly in answer to our questions, and the responses we heard on our Spirit Box were interesting and intelligent.  No furniture flew across the room at us, nor did we hear any deep guttural growls. No one was scratched, unless they did it themselves trying to get at a bug bite. By the time I got home at 4am, I’d drank my weight in coffee, leaving me wired and unable to fall asleep until dawn lightened the horizon.

Then the fun part started. For every hour we spent in a stifling hot room, recording audio and video, we need to spend that same amount of time reviewing all the potential evidence. I crawled out of bed at one in the afternoon, well aware that I’d already wasted half the day sleeping, and made my way to my computer to listen to my audio. I took frequent breaks, trying not to notice that most of my friends on Facebook were enjoying a Saturday at the beach or at cookouts, and then went back to my computer. I weeded my way through four hours of audio with my headphones on, clipping segments to analyze. If I find something interesting, I’ll send it to the rest of my team to review. When we are all finished, we will present the evidence to the owners.

At times, it’s like having a weekend job that I don’t get paid for. Don’t get me wrong. I love ghost hunting. I’m thrilled when I get the opportunity to actually communicate with the dead and I’m satisfied when we are able to help a home owner.  I just get a little grumpy when people suggest that it’s a thrilling, glamorous hobby. 

It’s a passion.

You either have it or you don’t.

Joni Mayhan
Author of the “Angels of Ember” paranormal thriller trilogy available on
Lightning Strikes
Ember Rain
Angel Storm


Most things happen for a reason…

I’m a firm believer that most things happen for a reason. It’s just a matter of interpretation.

I came to this belief when I was in my mid-twenties. Having worked in the pet industry for several years, I decided that I wanted to open my own pet store.

The thought was alluring. I’d be my own boss. I could select the products I wanted to sell and spend the day happily immersed with helping people with their pets. I found a location that would suit me well. It was a small space in the middle of a huge shopping plaza. As I sat there in the parking lot, watching people go in and out of the various stores, I was delighted.  This could really work for me.

I found suppliers who would sell me the products I wanted. I devised an ordering system, planned out the store aisle by aisle, and began working on my business plan. The only thing left to do was find funding.

As things turned out, finding investors was nearly impossible. No one wanted to loan a twenty-five year old woman the amount of money it would take to get started. After several months of searching, I finally was forced to give up. It was the worst moment of my life. All my hopes and dreams vanished in an instant. I turned away from my dream with tears in my eyes and went to work for someone else.  Then six months later, I saw the reason for the failed attempt.

The anchor store for the plaza went out of business.  One by one, all the cute little stores flanking it closed their doors as well. A year later, the plaza was nothing more than a ghost town. Had I opened a store, I would have been among them, losing everything I had and everything I worked for.

It took several years before I realized that opening my store really wasn’t my destiny. Something inside me struggled to get out. I began staring at blank pages in my typewriter, watching as they filled up word by word with stories. It didn’t take long before the words became a book, then two books, then three. I was an author!

Getting my books out to the masses was another obstacle. After being turned down by countless literary agencies, I realized that it wasn’t my time. I needed to live more, experience more, before I could truly be the writer I wanted to be. I finally decided to self-publish and the results have been incredible. I’m not a best-selling author with my books in major chains, but people are actually reading – and loving – my work. Had I reached my first dream, none of this would have happened.

Now, when something bad happens to me, I shake it off because I know that something better (or different) needs to happen to me instead.  If nothing else, it makes life easier, makes the bad things feel like opportunities to find good things. I just try to listen to what the universe is telling me.

It’s all in the way you look at it.

It’s just a matter of interpretation.

Joni Mayhan

Author of The Angels of Ember Trilogy- available on for Kindle or in paperback

  • Lightning Strikes
  • Ember Rain
  • Angel Storm