William & Mary

Evidence of a ghostly encounter in Tucker?

Following is a first-person account by Erica Fredericks ('07), who remains skeptical about her encounter with a ghost in Tucker Hall. She advises tact and caution nonetheless. —Ed.

Let me begin with a disclaimer. Before coming to William and Mary, I never gave a thought to ghosts. Had you told me three years ago that I would be writing about my encounter with one, I would have scoffed at the suggestion.

In the Spring of 2005, Tyler Trumbo (’07) and I worked on an independent-study project in conjunction with a touring Frankenstein exhibit that Swem Library brought to campus. With a handful of short films under our belt, we had nothing out of the ordinary to report. This project was to document “Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature” on film. Early on we realized the undertaking would demand more time than we could have imagined. In the three weeks preceding the screening of our documentary in May of 2005, neither of us slept more than 10 hours in total. We left for the summer not wanting to think about Frankenstein again, but we returned in the fall and had to distribute DVDs of the final project to the people involved in the exhibit. Having finished the film, we planned to spend an entire day burning the DVDs. The editing suite was located in the Charles Center in the basement of Tucker Hall. Among film concentrators, the suite is fondly known as Xanadu. It should be noted that our adviser, Sharon Zuber, visiting assistant professor of English, is fond of saying that filmmaking is problem-solving.

One October morning, Trumbo and I met to settle into Xanadu for the day. Our problem was that the computer kept crashing when we tried to convert our documentary into the appropriate format for burning. The final time the computer crashed, it would not turn back on. We slowly backed away, left the building and gave the computer some space.

Trumbo and I returned an hour later and—surprise!—the computer started right up. Playing it safely, we looked at our film one last time and everything looked good. We quickly converted it into the correct format and began burning 15 DVDs. To make the process move faster, we copied the file onto Trumbo’s laptop so we could burn two DVDs at one time. At 2 a.m., when the laptop ejected the 15th DVD, we jumped for joy. Before I could tear out of the room, Trumbo wisely insisted that we watch the DVD to ensure that nothing had gone wrong during the transfer from desktop to laptop.

What we saw was completely unexpected. There were strange effects that we did not include and even stranger shots that were not even on the computer while we worked. We immediately recognized the handiwork of the ghost of Tucker. The most memorable “ghost effects” were some black-and-white footage of children reading, the image of a Spanish dancer in a long dress and extreme close-ups of some of our classmates’ mouths. As we re-burned the DVDs that night, Trumbo and I stayed together. If one of us needed to go upstairs to use the bathroom or to get a snack, we both went upstairs.

I understand that you may not be convinced that a ghost was responsible for our problems. My own experience with ghosts is limited, but I wonder if we should be on guard. The new media center has opened in Swem Library. Since then, Xanadu has gotten no traffic from film concentrators. How does the ghost feel about this? Abandoned? Elated? Is she compelled to stay in Tucker? Will she revel in the empty space? Or when she finds out where we have gone, will she attempt to follow us?

Now, I can’t imagine that Trumbo or I would ever suggest that the ghost of Tucker is evil because she did not physically injure either of us or even try to do anything so dramatic. All the same, we feel that a reasonable amount of fear and awe is appropriate under the circumstances.

That being said, should the ghost happen to read this article, have I mentioned that she is a beautiful ghost—beautiful and powerful and talented and brilliant and … ?