|Steamy ghost story...Eastland Water Spirits
The Eastland Water Spirits: 844 Days of Purple Neon Horror
The first of the 844 "Eastland Water Spirits" appeared at 7:29 a.m., July 24, 2015, in the kitchen of Taquería Torres on Chicago's Southwest Side.
When Ana Torres turned on the tap, nothing happened. Instead, a deep purple vapor rushed out, filling the tiny eatery. The temperature dropped 20 degrees. Everyone smelled orchids. Señora Torres and ten diners were paralyzed, but all could see and hear. The purple haze glowed like neon. At once, each customer heard a boyish moan: "Willie Novotny". Three times, distinctly. The purple fog abruptly lifted and each witness puked a purple river. A dazed customer asked, "Quién es Willie Novotny?"
Next day. 7:29 a.m. Alderman Petacque paused at the City Hall water fountain. Ignoring its ever-present wad of gum, he turned the fountain on. Instead of the usual weak squirt, the fountain spewed a glowing purple gas. The thirsty Alderman was instantly paralyzed, along with 27 other City Hall denizens and passers-through. The temperature plummeted as everyone heard a women's voice croak: "Frieda Kannberg". Three times. The Alderman and 27 others let loose with an awful violet-hued upchuck. Thinking of Frieda.
Hazmat guys arrived but were befuddled. Purple ash, smell of orchids, lingering chill.
Next day. 7:29 a.m. A pipe burst on the Hancock's 96th floor. A lavender fog raced down to the basement. Some 1,200 people felt the purple paralysis, heard a husky voice intone "John Debnar" three times, then puked 96 stories worth of glowing grape vomit.
Every day following - 7:29 a.m. - a toxic neon purple haze would rush from some Chicago sewer, fire hydrant, toilet or garden hose. Temperature would drop, orchid scent would billow, witnesses would be paralyzed for a minute, a distant voice would be heard by all within 100'. Then, insane vomiting.
A googly Loyola student was the first to spot the link among the names being pronounced by the purple paranormals. Willie Novotny, Frieda Kannberg, John Debnar and every other name were all victims of the Eastland Disaster. The deadliest tragedy in Chicago history, 844 people on a company picnic drowned when their overloaded and poorly-designed excursion boat capsized while moored on the Chicago River at Clark Street. July 24, 1915. 7:29 a.m.
Experts descended on Chicago's waterways and sewers. The Chicago River was dredged at the century-old disaster site. Chemists and hydrologists tested sediment. Historians and reporters probed the tragedy anew. Barfologists and seers were recruited. Some speculated that the victims' souls had sped to the riverbed after the capsizing and seeped deep into the City's watery infrastructure.
Chicagoans flinched every time they turned on a faucet. It was not without peril. A senior suffered a fatal stroke at a Hegewisch laundry. An open hydrant purple-paralyzed the intersection of North and Damen just as a CTA bus careened through, killing six in a fiery crash. After 30 German tourists puked their guts out when Buckingham Fountain spewed a violet violence, all Chicago fountains were unplugged. No one flushed a toilet or turned on a shower. The Eastland Water Spirits showed up like clockwork, daily. Residents fled. The Mayor replaced the sewer system.
By November 15, 2017 - 844 days after the Willie Novotny incident - each Eastland victim had been heard from.
Then, at 7:29 a.m., all 844 victims spoke simultaneously. It emanated from the site of the disaster with an unearthly glow, a deafening ghostly chorus. Purple haze pulsed like a toxic lightning bolt east through the locks and into Lake Michigan, whose lavender luminescence was seen from space. Eastland Water Spirits flew up and down the Chicago River and its tributaries, voices echoing, inducing purple puke as far as Wilmette and Joliet. Anyone within 100' of any waterway was frozen and heard a Water Spirit's testimonial. Three million people were reminded and then retched. Purple paralysis caused a barge to ram the Michigan Avenue Bridge, killing a sailor and 12 Mag Mile shoppers.
The next day - 7:29 a.m. - nothing happened. The Eastland Water Spirits had spoken, individually and together. Chicago's 844-day purple neon horror was done. The victims could now rest...until July 24, 2115. 7:29 a.m.