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My Favorite Ghost Story
Sylvia Browne's Favorite Ghost Psychic Sylvia Browne, World-renowned Psychic Sylvia Browne pictures by Sylvia Browne

It was 1990, and my life was busier than ever. I was in my twentieth year of television appearances on everything from talk shows to In Search Of and more network specials than I can remember. I was touring the country giving lectures, I was averaging twenty private readings a day, and I was devoting countless pro bono hours to my consultation work with both law enforcement and the medical community. In fact, looking back, I might have been trying to stay too busy to think. I was just recovering from a serious personal crisis, proving once again that I don't have a psychic bone in my body about my own life, and I tend to compulsively run myself ragged when I'm fighting my way out of a depression.

So when an invitation came out of nowhere to do a haunting investigation of the Queen Mary in the Long Beach, California harbor, I said yes before I even had time to realize that my schedule and I were already on serious overload. I wasn't even quite sure who'd issued the invitation. I caught the name "Herman," and something about a brother and a Halloween show, and a reference to CBS, with whom I'd enjoyed a long-standing relationship. I also noticed that the date they wanted me happened to coincide with a trip to Los Angeles I'd committed to anyway, so I had nothing to lose but a few hours I couldn't really spare. And when you're in the middle of compulsive workaholism, it doesn't get much more irresistible than that.

Stepping onto the Queen Mary, if you've never had the experience, is like stepping into a beautiful, gleaming, elegant past-life dream. There is dark polished inlaid mahogany everywhere, with gorgeous brass railings and massive crystal chandeliers, history preserved in exquisite craftsmanship. I was wondering why such stunning surroundings felt so oppressive when a young production intern dashed up, welcomed me, and offered to show me to the cabin where I would be spending the night. With apologies, she explained that "Our Host" wouldn't be joining us until the next day, as if I might be terribly disappointed about a delay in meeting someone I'd never heard of. I kept my apathy to myself and simply assured her that I was too preoccupied with the idea of meeting the ghosts on board, if there were any, to worry about when Our Host was arriving.

My cabin was as lovely as the dinner I was served, and throughout the meal I kept my antennae up for any ghosts or spirits who might be hanging around trying to get my attention. Nothing. I smile to myself, a little perversely, as I pictured a Halloween special in which I walked Our Host around this huge ship for an hour on film saying over and over again, "Nope. Sorry. There's nothing here." But Halloween special or not, if I came to the conclusion that the Queen Mary wasn't haunted, there was no way I would ever claim it was, just for the sake of ratings, or to feel that I gave these people their money's worth. This was their bright idea, after all, not mine.

I hadn't realized until I sank into bed how exhausted I was. In fact, I was almost too exhausted to realize that I'd become a banquet for swarms of mosquitoes that were flying in and out through the open porthole of my cabin. I finally swatted my way to the porthole, slammed it shut, and went back to bed, only to discover after a few minutes that with the porthole closed, the cabin was sweltering and the still air was so stifling I could barely breathe. Great choices, I thought, feeling sorrier for myself by the minute. Being eaten alive by mosquitoes, or smothering to death. I finally opted for the mosquitoes and stomped over to open the porthole again.

It was at that moment, well past midnight, that I heard footsteps running up and down the hall outside my door. I didn't think much about it at first. There was a whole television production team and crew on board, so it could easily have been any one of them. But the more I listened, the more I realized that these sounded like awfully tiny feet, taking awfully tiny steps, to belong to any of the production staff. I craft to the door and very quietly opened it. And there in the hallway, playfully dashing around all over the place, was the very real but indistinct ghost of a little boy. He was filmy, more like a figure made of white smoke than anything solid, but I could make out knickers and a newsboy cap on his small frame. He didn't talk to me, didn't even notice me, just kept right on playing what looked like a solitary game of tag, and after watching him for several minutes I left him to his private illusions and fell into bed among the mosquitoes again, thinking as I drifted off to sleep that maybe this Halloween special wouldn't be completely uneventful after all.

I was sleepy, cranky, and very itchy the next morning when I told the production team about the little ghost boy in the hallway, and you've never seen a less impressed group of people in your life. I had no details to offer, since the boy never spoke to me and I couldn't get a clear enough image of him to come up with any psychic facts I could rely on, and there were certainly no witnesses, so the reactions ranged from polite patronizing to blatant eye-rolling. The crew was wondering what kind of lunatic they were stuck with and I was wondering if any of them cared how miserably tired and mosquito-bitten I was when the young intern I'd met the day before flew by to suggest we start the tour without Our Host.

"He'll catch up with you shortly," she excitedly assured me.

Who cares? I muttered silently to myself.

We followed orders and started our tour of this gorgeous ship - or, as I was now thinking of it thanks to my mood, this stupid boat. Audiotapes were rolling and cameras were at the ready to capture my every encounter with every ghost and spirit we ran into along the way. The problem was, there weren't any. Cabin after cabin, deck after deck, from the dining rooms to the ballroom to the magnificent captain's quarters, there wasn't even a hint of the afterlife to be found. Not even the little ghost boy from the night before put in an appearance. My fear of being part of the dullest Halloween special in history, kind of the Sylvia Browne version of Geraldo Rivera unearthing Al Capone's vault, was becoming more and more real by the minute.

After what seemed like weeks, we reached the lowest deck on the ship, where it looked as if a swimming pool used to be. And suddenly to my completely surprise, a ghost, as real and distinct and in full color as the rest of us, materialized from out of nowhere. I stopped cold, then stepped forward. The crew stayed where they were, not seeing a thing, but rolling their cameras on the off chance I wasn't crazy.

She was young, maybe nineteen or twenty. She was wearing a midcalf-length white party dress, a sleeveless sheath with heavy beading at the hem, a long strand of pearls around her neck, very much like a flapper from the 1920s would wear. She had on opaque white stockings and white low-heeled Mary Jane shoes. Her hair was short and jet black, in finger waves framing her face. Her eyes were dark, dramatic, and slightly Indian looking reminiscent of Merele Oberon, the strikingly lovely actress whom I've probably watched fifty times in the classic Wuthering Heights with Laurence Olivier. She was dancing, arms high in the air, and when I stepped toward her she changed course and began twirling in circles around and around me. There was no joy in her wild, whirling dance. Instead, it looked frantic and driven, and the incessant smile on her face seemed much more insane than happy. All ghosts are desperately confused and disoriented, of course, but I'd never seen one as manic as this one.

I asked her what her name was.

"Mary," she said, spinning closer, pleased to be noticed, and acknowledged. She looked up and down at me and added, "You're dressed so oddly."

Any impulse I might have had to offer up the pot-calling-the-kettle-black cliché was lost immediately when, for the first time, I could see angry red open wounds on the inside of both her wrists. It didn't take a psychic to figure out that she had taken her own life, and I asked her if the cuts hurt her.

"Not anymore," she laughed, and then added defensively, "and they're not cuts. They've just scratches."

"No, they're deep cuts, Mary," I said quietly. "Tell me what happened."

She never stopped moving, never stopped her dizzying dance as she told me her story, her occasional giggling inappropriate for such a tragic chain of events. There was a man. His name was Robert. She was deeply in love with him and had ecstatically accepted his proposal of marriage. Then, with no warning and no apologies, he simply vanished one day, running off to marry another woman he'd decided might be more to his financial advantage, she later found out. Mary was disconsolate, and her parents, whom she called "Mommy" and "Daddy" in what sounded like a contrived childlike voice, virtually dragged her onto the Queen Mary as the first leg of a three-month trip to Europe they hoped would mend her broken heart and help her forget about this man they'd never approved of in the first place. As far as Mary was concerned, this was the third day of their cruise -- in other words, very probably the day she'd descended to the lowest deck of the ship and killed herself.

"You know what's going to happen?" She laughed, dropping her voice to a low, secretive murmur as she twirled by.

"What's going to happen?"

"He's going to leave her and come back to me. You'll see, he's going to wire me through the ship's captain and tell me he's waiting for me in England."

I wanted to tell her that Robert was dead. I wanted to tell her that she was dead, so that she could go Home and finally be at peace. I approached the subject gently, knowing how seriously disturbed she was. "Mary," I started, "you can be with Robert right now if you'll let me help..."

I was interrupted by a quiet baritone voice behind me, asking, "Who in the world are you talking to?"

I turned around and found myself looking into the beautiful, sensitive face of a man who was so obviously charismatic I knew he had to be our long-awaited Host. I actually blushed, partly because I realized that, from his point of view he'd just caught me having a rather emotional conversation with myself, and partly because his eye contact was so intense.

We introduced ourselves, and then I quickly began telling him about Mary and her tragic story, not sure if I was making myself less crazy or more as I explained that no, I wasn't chatting with myself, I was chatting with a ghost. She was twirling wildly around both of us now, and I noticed that she was listening intently and vain enough to love knowing that we were talking about her. Our Host listened intently, without judgment, the exact kind of open-minded skeptic I appreciate.

"She's here right now?" he asked.

I nodded.

"What's she doing?"

"She's whirling around us in a circle, like she's been doing since I got here," I told him. For some reason at that moment it occurred to me that she was in a sleeveless dress in the chilly air of that bottom deck, and I turned to her and said, "Aren't you cold?"

"Why do you think I'm dancing?" she answered. Her tone reminded me exactly of my granddaughter Angelina's tone when she thinks I've asked a stupid question. I decided Mary was probably a Scorpio too.

Our Host, in the meantime, was looking all around, clearly unable to see Mary but genuinely wanting to if, in fact, she existed. There was no way I could help make that happen, but if he was open to the idea of experiencing her, there was one thing I knew might be worth trying.

First, I told Mary to stand still. She loved all this attention so much that she actually did it. Then I took Our Host by the hand. He was brave enough not to hesitate, even though he didn't have a clue what I was about to do. And then, without a word, I simply walked him right through Mary's ghostly body.

I'll never forget how huge his eyes were after he'd stepped through her, "Oh, my God!" was all he said, clearly shaken.

"Did you feel that?" It was a rhetorical question. I could look at him and tell he's felt it.

"Fee it? How could I not feel it?" he replied. "Whatever it was, it was freezing cold."

I decided to play the devil's advocate. "Well, to be fair, it is chilly down here."

He shook his head. "Not like that. That wasn't any kind of cold I've ever felt. It went all the way through me, right down to my bones, and just in that one spot you walked me through."

"Anything else?" I asked.

"Absolutely," he said, shuddering a little. "It was like walking through a wall of cobwebs. I can still feel them all over me."

I'd had that same feeling myself during ghost encounters, and I knew that even though the sensation itself would pass quickly, he would never forget it. I smiled and kept my response to a simple "So now you've met Mary."

He just nodded and looked at me. All the skepticism was gone from his eyes. He believed. I didn't convince him. Mary did.

Mary had lost all interest in us by now and went whirling away into her own lost world again. The producer and several members of the crew were excited to tell me it was on the lowest deck, in this exact spot, where the employees of the Queen Mary had heard the most unexplainable noises, seen the most unexplainable visions of something filmy white, and been the most frightened. I wasn't surprised, and I appreciated the validation.

Our Host suggested we go find a place to sit. I'm sure he needed a chance to regroup, and I was grateful for a chance to quietly and privately learn more about this handsome, charismatic, oddly familiar stranger. WE settled onto a bench on an upper deck and started talking.

To this day, all these years later, we haven't stopped. As most of you have probably figured out, our host's name was Montel Williams.

That's how we met.

And that's why the Queen Mary is and always will be my favorite ghost story.

Sylvia Browne is without question, "America's #1 Psychic," an internationally known psychic and medium.

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By cherry, Wednesday, May 17, 2017 01:53:52 PM
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By Hina, Sunday, January 22, 2012 04:53:39 PM
I love this story!!!! Encore, Encore, Encore!!! God Bless.
By evelyn, Friday, March 13, 2009 10:24:30 PM
Of all the stories Sylvia has told this is the one that touched my heart. You can feel and see the connection she has with Montel. A love in another life? It certainly has all the signs. Souls touching and a deep remembrance of shared joy. It's a beautiful gift and one we all hope to have in the journey life.
By christine, Wednesday, November 19, 2008 10:49:17 PM
being an ex-employee of the good ol' rms queen mary, i can tell you that area sylvia describes has a certain feel to it. in fact a lot of the places on the ship do. my old supervisor still won't go to that level of the ship because of certian goings on there. the ship also has two vortex's and countless other ghosts there including my personal favorite john pedder who haunts the engine room.
By Sue, Wednesday, October 29, 2008 11:04:16 AM
Very cool meeting.. of the ghosts and Montel.. it was meant to be... you never know where it may lead....until you looked back! Sue, Palmdale
By April, Friday, October 24, 2008 01:46:37 PM
I love that story. Thank you for sharing :o)
By MARISOL, Wednesday, October 08, 2008 12:42:28 PM
By Donna, Tuesday, October 07, 2008 09:09:37 AM
Sylvia, Something that keeps scratching at my brain is this question concerning the Queen Mary.......wouldn't it have been nice if the air conditioning system had been working as well as the attention to beautiful decorating had been addressed? Then you wouldn't have had to open the window to the cabin and let all of those nasty mosquitos inside to bite you! Just my musings! Donna (the nice one)!
By shirley, Sunday, October 05, 2008 07:06:01 PM
Dear Sylvia, I too have been on the Queen Mary and loved everything about it. I really love Victorian everything and marvel at the quality and detail of the ship. I would have loved to spend a night in one of the beautiful cabins. Lunch was in a rather small eatery and I was told that all the furiture was original. I remember the area where the pool would have been, but did not feel anything special. Does anyone remeber seeing the heel marks on the brass flooring..marks made by the voyagers of past? Sylvia, thank you for YOU!!! You have changed so many lives inclduding myown. We love YOU!! Shirley Texas
By Pamela, Saturday, October 04, 2008 11:22:15 PM
Thank you Sylvia for just a wonderful story. God Speed to you and Montel. Best wishes and keep us posted.

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