Let it be known to timid and adventurous souls alike: there is paranormal activity right here in humdrum little Kirksville. Jason Haxton, a faculty member at A.T. Still University, owns a box which he claims houses a demon of Hebrew lore known as a Dybbuk (or Dibbuk).
The new movie “The Possession” is loosely based on a book written by Haxton and published by our own Truman State University Press, entitled “The Dibbuk Box,” which recounts Haxton’s experience and reportedly unexplained afflictions after acquiring the box.
My curiosity was piqued upon learning such strange occurrences might be happening locally. Before committing myself to belief or skepticism, I decided the matter warranted further investigation. Like any normal college student, I went online to see if anyone had already done the investigation for me, and they had. The earliest known information about the box, which is really a little wine cabinet, is that it was purchased in Spain by a Polish woman, who was on her way to America fleeing the Holocaust, according to Dibbukbox.com, operated by the box’s owner.
Decades later it was bought by an antiques collector, reportedly to the great relief of the woman’s family. Since, it has been auctioned on eBay several times, accompanied by a series of stories about unfortunate occurrences that plague each owner, according to a 2004 L.A. Times article.
If this box’s mysterious origins and frequency of changing hands between frightened owners reminds anyone of the old “Goosebumps” horror series, you are not alone. To me, this box sounds like one of those chain letters that will make you die in a fiery car crash if you fail to pass it on to ten other people.
Well, no owner of the box has died so far, but they all claim to have been distressed by terrible, otherwise unexplainable phenomena, including horrifying nightmares involving an old hag, suffering a stroke, smelling cat urine, losing hair and the most terrible of all — burning out lights, according to Kevin Mannis’s eBay post selling the box. Okay, that last one is pretty silly, but someone really did attribute an overabundance of burnt-out bulbs to ownership of the box.
Haxton claims to have suffered from medically unexplained conditions, including full-body welts and constant choking. These illnesses, Haxton claims, continued until he performed a cleansing ritual and put the Dibbuk box into a bigger, custom-built anti-Dibbuk box, at which point he coughed up two handfuls of a “slime-like substance.”
Now, in my opinion, this is all really gross, but cool stuff. I think there could be an angry Hebrew-spirit-demon-thing locked inside this box. The skeptic in me, however, compels me to ask a few key questions. How many of the people who had old hag nightmares were told scary stories about an old hag beforehand? How old was the woman who had a stroke on the very same day as receiving the box? How many of the people who smelled cat pee actually own cats? What was the recommended versus actual wattage on all those light bulbs that burnt out? And how many doctors at A.T. Still or other medical centers can confirm that Haxton’s condition was “medically unexplainable?”
Without answering these questions, I cannot be certain this box is the real deal. I suppose the only way to know for sure is to buy the box from Haxton and see for myself whether or not it really inflicts terrible suffering upon the owner and others around it.
Of course, I would never do that, because it would expose hundreds of other dorm residents to needless risk. Yeah, that’s why I won’t buy the box. I’m not scared. No, really, I’m not scared at all. Maybe I should go read that book and find out how to do those cleansing rituals, just in case.