Saturday Night Dare: (My Darkest Write Yet)
This was the night I had waited for, and honestly, I cannot say for sure I am happy about the whole situation. I worked as a four-color pressman for a local newspaper, and there was a building beside the location that was once a hospital for the terminally ill. Sadly, it was basically a last stop for them within this world. The building is old, and is far too unstable for any further use to anyone. The newspaper is still next-door, and they store the large rolls of paper used on the press on the bottom floor. No one ever went to the second and third floors for two reasons. The building was not safe, and then there were the rumors of what actually took place before and after the hospital closed. I have been dared to stay in the building overnight, which had been rumored to be haunted by spirits of those who died there. I planned to stay in the building alone, on a Saturday night, starting at midnight and ending as the sun came up, approximately seven hours. My time had arrived.
Setting the stage: The list of items I took with me was limited to just what I was able to carry. I took two flashlights, one was a heavy duty one like the police use, and the second a smaller, but still bright one. I had night vision goggles just in case both flashlights failed. Keep in mind the building is somewhat unsafe, so watching where I step is crucial. I had extra batteries for the flashlights. I had my cell phone with an extra battery for that. I had a digital camera, a small video recorder to have a record of certain areas within my voyage in the night. I also had a commercial type two-way radio, and my friends Jake and Randy had one, as well. I took three small bottles of water and a thermos of coffee. All of this remained with me within my backpack, so all I needed was close at hand. My friends Jake and Randy would remain outside the building for the night for the purpose of being witnesses to my staying within the building, plus the fact that they would be there in the event of an accident or whatever else may happen.
12:00 Midnight...I walked into the alley that separated the newspaper building from the building I was to stay in that night. I removed my large flashlight from my backpack, and slid the large door open just enough for me to enter. Jake and Randy wished me luck, and I closed the door behind me. My night had begun, and I must admit that I was already feeling a little hesitant about this whole idea.
I stood just inside the door and looked around the room...There were the large rolls of paper used in the pressroom scattered all over the room. I noticed there were blocks under each side of the rolls to keep them in place. On the north side of the room were several doors, each of them were fairly small rooms, maybe 12 by 10 feet. I walked closer and did a quick inspection of each. There were shelves in each room, but they were all empty. In the middle of the main room were the stairs that lead to the second floor. For about the next twenty minutes, I walked around the first floor, which was dark and for the most part, empty except for the rolls of paper.
12:25 A.M. I stood at the bottom of the stairs. I seemed hesitant about taking the night to a new level. I would probably be the first to climb the stairs for about twenty years. That was a scary thought, but when combined with my anxiety and the darkness, I was not exactly overflowing with motivation to continue. I didn't really expect to find anything, but this environment is unsettling for anyone, especially me. I slowly began my way up the stairs, being careful with each step. The stairs were weak, and I could feel the rotting wood being tested with each step I took. Finally, I reached the top, and I just paused and shined my flashlight all around to see what was before me. There was a large room that must have been the area where the doctors and nurses were stationed during the day when the patients were going through their daily routine. Straight away was a long hallway that went the full length of the building, with rooms on both sides all the way down. I heard a sound that scared me so badly I almost dropped my flashlight. I shined it on the floor just in time to see a rat scurry by in front of me. I knew at that moment, it was going to be a long night.
12:35 A.M. I removed the two-way radio from my back pocket and called for Jake or Randy. Randy was the one who replied. "Are you OK?" he asked. "I am fine, so far. I just made it to the second floor, and I am about to go exploring. I just wanted to hear another voice; I am already freaking out a little." I felt sweat running down my forehead. The Texas weather did not help my situation. "I am going to continue now." I did not even wait for a response from Randy. I knew I needed to move now, or I would not be able to do so. I placed the radio back into my pocket.
I walked all around the large room just to get a closer look at the other side of the counters and to at least ensure myself that I was alone before moving into the hallway. Other than a couple of desks, chairs, and two small tables, all that would present this, as a former hospital was gone. There was one door on the east side of the room that was closed. I thought to myself that I might as well get used to looking behind doors, because the building was full of them. I opened it very slowly, and was relieved to find an empty closet. I left the door open, and decided at that moment that leaving doors open as I moved about would be my policy.
I walked across the room, and paused right at the beginning of the entrance to the hallway. I looked at my watch and saw it was 12:55.
12:55 A.M. I took my first step into the hallway, and immediately felt as if the temperature dropped about twenty degrees. As hot as it was, you would think the cold would be welcome, but it was not something that could just be explained, so it simply added to my anxiety. I shined the light down the right side of the hallway, paused at the very end as I looked closely, then slowly looked all the way back to me on the left side. I saw nothing but the intrusion of my light into what has been dark for decades.
1:32 A.M. I had gone through most of the rooms on the second floor, and had seen nothing really out of the ordinary. I had checked each room on both sides as I made my way to the end of the hall, with the same sense of panic as I opened each door. And yes, I did keep to my new policy of leaving every single door open as I exited each room. At this point, I had two rooms remaining on each side. The first two rooms were completely empty, nothing even deserving of a second look. As I entered the next room, I felt the temperature drop drastically, and at that very moment, my flashlight went out. I was fumbling with the light and I felt something brush up against my arm lightly, but enough to knock me slightly off balance. My flashlight came back on and I heard a screeching sound just outside the door that faded down the hallway toward where the stairs that led to the top floor. I shined the light to where the sound seemed to be coming from, but saw nothing. I was shaking uncontrollably and the first thought to hit me was to talk to either Jake or Randy. I grabbed my radio and called for them, but there was no response. I called a second time, but still there was no answer. I placed the radio back in my pocket, leaving it on in case Jake or Randy tried to contact me. In my moment of fear, I could only imagine that they were not downstairs waiting for me, and that certainly did not make me feel any better. I checked the last two rooms, found them empty, and decided to take a break and rest before going any further. I sat in the last room, on the floor, and poured myself a much-needed cup of coffee from the thermos. I was still quite shaken by the one experience in the last room, plus I wondered why I could not contact Jake or Randy.
3:05 A.M. I was awakened by a loud thump coming from directly above the room I was in, and it felt like it shook the walls. I could not believe that I actually fell asleep. I must have been really tired from the anxiety, and the fact that I had only a couple hours of sleep last night. I was certainly wide-awake now. I replaced the batteries in my flashlight, and placed my thermos back into my backpack. I stood and grabbed my radio, tried to contact Jake or Randy again, and even tried to call them on my cell phone, but did not reach them. I found that very strange. They were pretty excited about the venture, and I wondered if they had just suddenly vanished without telling me. That is just not like either of them.
3:15 A.M. I walked back into the hallway and shined the light toward the end I had already searched. I saw several rats running around near the end of the hallway. I removed my camera, opened it and took a picture. I at least wanted to be sure that the camera worked in case I needed it later. I snapped the picture, then turned the camera around to view the picture. I could not see the rats in the picture, but what I did see scared the hell out of me. At the end of the hall, I could see a human like shadow coming from a room into the hallway. I tried to convince myself it may have been some kind of shadow created by the beam from my flashlight, but I knew that was far from logical. I felt my pulse increase, and I could feel the sweat coming from my body. I turned and slowly walked toward the end of the hall, which was only a few feet away, and paused. Before me were the stairs that led to the third floor of the building. I stood there for what seemed hours, hesitant to take that first step toward the top.
3:30 A.M. I felt a relief knowing that I had made it halfway through the night, but at the same time felt a sense of panic, for some unknown reason about the third floor. I slowly took the steps, one by one and finally reached the top. At the top of the stairs, were double doors made of metal, unlike all the other doors, which had been wooden. My guess is that these doors had always been locked. The third floor is where the mentally ill were kept, and that included those who had committed horrible acts, even murder to their victims. Because of the lack of mental stability, they had been sent here instead of prison. The doors were stuck, so I used my shoulder and hit the door hard enough to break the natural seal time had placed there. I then, slowly pushed open both doors until they were wide open. I instantly began to shiver from the cold. Even though it was 85 degrees outside, it had to be no warmer that 50 degrees where I stood. I shined my light down the hallway to get an overview of what would soon be my next venture. The hallway was just as the second floor, but the rooms on the left all had the regular wooden doors, while the right side had metal doors with a small window with vertical bars instead of glass. I could only guess that the right side was for the violent group of those who called this home. Suddenly, one of the metal doors swung open, making a loud echoing bang of metal against metal. My heart felt like it was going to come through my chest. I reached into my backpack and removed my video recorder, and turned it on and pointed it down the hallway. Now, my pulse increased even more. I looked at the video, as it was recording, then down the hall, and finally back at the recording. When I looked down the hall, I saw nothing, but both times that I looked at the video, I saw a male figure in the background. The figure disappeared, and the metal door immediately slammed shut. I stood frozen, afraid to move in any direction. Before moving on, I decided to take a quick break. I needed something to drink, so I sat down, removed a bottle of water from my backpack, and sat there with my light in one hand and the video camera in the other. What I had just seen was replaying over and over in my mind, and the more I thought about it, the more anxious I became. I sat there long enough to calm myself a little and to finish the bottle of water.
4:15 A.M. All of the doors to the rooms on the left were locked, which to me seemed a little odd. I had made a quick look as I made it to the end of the hall, and decided to look more thoroughly on my way back toward the stairs. That idea of moving toward my exit seemed to give me a sense of accomplishment, plus it meant that with each movement, I was closer to ending my adventure. I started looking at each of the rooms with the metal doors; some were open and some of them were locked, so I just peered through the little window in the doors. I made it about halfway down the hall, and the next door slowly opened, producing a horrible squeaking sound until it hit against the wall. I think it was the same door that opened before. I wanted to run but felt frozen where I stood. I turned on the video recorder, and just stood there knowing in my mind something was about to happen. I stood there for at least five minutes, but nothing happened. I realized that I could not just stand there, and there is not where I wanted to be, anyway. I moved to the side where the wooden doors were and slowly began walking toward the stairs. What happened next, is beyond any fear I have ever imagined. Just as I walked in front of the metal door that had swung open, all of the locked wooden doors opened at once, and slammed against the wall. At this point, I didn't care about the darkness, the weak floors, or anything. I took off running to the stairs, holding my still running video camera in front of me. I made it to the stairs, then slowed as I made my way down them. I could hear voices coming from the third floor, although I could not make out what they were saying. In only moments, I was back on the second floor.
6:15 A.M. I started down the long hallway on the second floor, wanting to hurry, but the floor felt weak, not to mention I was completely consumed with fear by this point. I paused for a moment thinking of the fact that the video recorder was still running. I re-winded the video a little then started it. I suddenly felt weak as I watched the video. It was shaky since I was practically running, but I could see shadows of people running back and forth from room to room. There were hundreds of them, and without knowing it; I was running right past them as I moved. I knew at that moment that I had to get out of here. My time was almost up, but that was the least of my worries. I moved slowly but steadily down the hall. I could hear sounds around me, but I just kept moving, focusing on the end of the hall. Just as I almost reached the end of the hall, I heard a loud crash, and when I finally made it to the end, I knew the source of the crash. The stairs leading to the first floor had collapsed, and there was just a pile of rubble where the stairs were only seconds earlier. I could hear what sounded like someone running behind me, and I knew I had but one choice. In one motion, I jumped, hoping to clear the rubble. I landed just beyond the collapsed stairs, and twisted my ankle pretty badly. Although in pain, I could see the door that led to the outside. I could see signs of daylight coming through the cracks in the walls and the space between the doors.
7:00 A.M. I slid the door open and was welcomed by the early light of the day. Jake and Randy were standing there waiting. They both asked at the same time why I did not answer on the radio or my phone. I simply told them to just take me home. I would explain everything to them later. I knew my mind would never be the same, and that the next time someone dares me to do something, I would simply say no.
Later that day, I explained to Jake and Randy what I had experienced. When I tried to show them the pictures and the video of the night, I found both to be completely blank. They still do not believe my story.
Vic Damico 2012