Happy Halloween! In honor of this day, I thought I’d share a real-life ghost story that I witnessed just four weeks ago.

Our investigative team wanders the third floor of the Millionaire’s Club, a once exclusive establishment in the late 1800s in Virginia City, Nevada. Housed on the two floors above the Old Washoe Club, it once held a ballroom, pool room and brothel.

The brothel, located on the third floor, exudes an oppressive energy unlike anywhere else I’ve visited. The rooms crowd together, some divided by canyon-like hallways that are no more than three-feet wide. In places, it’s downright claustrophobic.

Six of us stand in a dark hallway. The only male in our group, Mark*, presses against the wall. Energy is crowding him, he says. As his wife approaches him, the sensation dissipates and he feels comfortable once again.

We resume our conversation as his wife goes to peek around a corner. Mark’s smile disappears. “It’s starting again.” This time, his friend, Amy* places her hand on his arm. The energy doesn’t vanish like it did when Mark’s wife had been there.

In a teasing, lilting voice, Amy says, “Hey girls, he’s all mine. Leave him alone.” She giggles just a bit.

We laugh and start exiting the hallway. I stand at the entrance to the next room, waiting for Amy. The moon doesn’t penetrate this deeply into the building and the only window is one above the interior door. I have a large Maglite and shine it her way.

“Ouch!” Amy blurts.

I move the beam of light up her body. She’s holding the crook of her arm.

“Something scratched me!” She lifts up her sleeve, revealing a bright red mark.

Not much longer than a quarter of an inch, it’s a thick line with one jag in the middle.

“It looks like you’ve been burned,” I say.

“Yes, it burns.” She’s shaking her head.

Right then, I recall what my friend Janice Oberding, an esteemed ghost historian and author, had told me a week earlier.  She said a ghost hunter had been scratched here a few weeks earlier. I hadn’t mentioned it to anyone, because it sounded so absurd and I didn’t want to plant any ideas or fear in the participants’ minds.

An hour later, the redness was gone, but a white outline of the odd branding remained.

Apparently the spirit hanging with Mark didn’t like Amy teasing her. She didn’t get the joke.

*Not their real names.

See my other posts about investigations at the Washoe Club: Inside Moon and Dancing with the Ghosts.