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I am working late in this school that the town has decided to renovate. This school use to be an old state hospital and just looks like a giant lost cause. I have no desire to be here, never mind until midnight. I am going to be buffing the floors and polishing the wood in the new library. I will also be sweeping, vacuuming, and making sure all the last details are done and clean now that the contractors have cleared that area. I have been at my job for the last five years bouncing from school to school. To put it simply, I go where I am needed. I usually work with a partner, but she called out tonight due to being sick—as if I haven’t heard that excuse several times before. I am upset because we are the dream team of clean and typically get everything done quite efficiently. Most of the time we can either leave early or play cards before securing the building for the night. Tonight is going to be long, lonely, and boring being stuck by myself. I have heard a lot of rumors about this place and it’s not anything good. I guess the state hospital held more than just tuberculosis patients. It was also home to doctors with what some might call sinister intentions. It is because of this that the state hospital has very dark secrets and heartbreaking tragedy inside its walls.
One of the state prisons was overcrowded and the hospital decided to take the overflow inmates, under some special circumstances. Inmates being transferred to the hospital went in with the understanding that tests and experiments would be tested on them. Once this was agreed upon the history just gets worse. Often the inmates wouldn’t even read the forms they were signing, because they were just happy to be leaving the prison. Unfortunately, for them the prison would’ve been safer. At least 30 lobotomies were being performed each month on the inmates. One doctor had a particular fascination with the most mentally deranged inmates, most of which were serial killers or rapists. He was known to laugh with great pleasure as the inmates would scream in pain. There are so many horrific stories and deaths encapsulated within these walls. I could not believe the town was going to allow this to be a school of all things.
Apparently, our town needed a new high school due to overcrowding, how ironic, and the next best thing was this building because they could also incorporate grades six, seven, and eight. The town also opened a daycare center in the building for staff or young mothers trying to graduate. The only cool thing, I think, that came from this project was the old staff house on the property that they converted into a restaurant for students. This provided jobs and the added ability of learning how to cook, run a business, and overall contribute to society. The restaurant gives students an idea of the real world that they will soon be entering. I was also bidding on the daytime custodial position, so I could escape these long nights in this dark creepy building. As of right now all eyes were on me to be the permanent night custodian, but I am 100 percent against it. I want no part of this job opening. There is just something dark and uncomfortable about this building and it seems to be worse at night.
Anyway, I take a deep breath, say a little prayer to St. Michael, and open the doors to the school. It’s dark, cold, and oddly damp for a place that’s supposed to be almost finished. I search for some lighting, but grab my flashlight in the meantime. I try to turn the switch on and nothing, nothing is turning on and at this point. I’m laughing to myself because this means I need to find the fuse box. You would think contractors could at least get the power on right? I text my boss and ask him what he would like me to do. I am hoping deep down he tells me to jump ship and go home, but I am not so lucky. In fact, I’m so unlucky that I need to go to the basement and see if a fuse has blown in hopes that I can get the lights on that way. I swallow hard and suck it up because I have no other options. I am armed with just my flashlight and cursing my sick partner. The basement must have been the old morgue because in my search for the fuse box, I found a steel examination table and the body storage lockers still lined the wall.
After what felt like hours, I find the fuse box, I flick all the switches, and everything turns on. I take a deep breath and think to myself, “I can do this.” I get a little brave and decide to explore the room I’m in. I see the steel exam tables, an overhead light fixture, a strange side table, and some freezers. I could see someone had been there earlier in the day and was starting to take the freezers apart, but why shut off all the fuses? The floors were redone, and the place was rather clean. It was creepy; I wondered what they would use the room for after the renovations were complete. Just as I am getting ready to head up the stairs, I could have sworn the table had moved. I look back, but everything seems to be in its place. I shake off the feeling of being watched, chalk it up to mind tricks, and head back up the stairs. I arrive at my little work area and gather my supplies for the evening. As I am filling up my mop bucket I think I hear footsteps running around on the top floor. I push my fear deep down, also attributing this to mind tricks because I am the only person in the building. I need to focus and just get my tasks done so I can go home. I decided I needed a distraction because, if not, I am probably going to end up running out of the building and quitting my job over an old creaky building. I can’t seem to shake this overwhelming feeling of dread as I am finishing up in the library.
Once again, I take a deep breath, talk myself into relaxing, remind myself that I have this under control and that I’m the only one in the building. I go to grab my window spray and start cleaning up the glass tables and the small glass windows. As I am cleaning the tables, I am suddenly struck by the appearance of hand prints on the glass. These weren’t old handprints because they were appearing as I stood there checking my work. I stand there with my jaw on the floor and frozen with fear, but also in awe of what I’m witnessing. Just as I am about to take off running, the door to the library slams shut. What in the hell is going on! I want to run and escape this place, but I can’t. I am overcome with nausea and the desire to scream all at the same time. I am calling my boss, telling him I quit, telling him what has occurred, and that he can clean this hellhole on his own. I gather myself up and start to walk towards the door. I am shaking with fear, but this is my only exit and when I make it to the door it opens with ease. I must look crazy, I am talking to myself, grabbing at my phone, and dropping it because at this point I’m a mess. Just as I am getting myself together, having successfully escaped the library nightmare I just experienced, all the doors in the hallway slam shut.
Suddenly, all I can hear is laughing and crying coming from every direction. It was at this moment that I found myself curled up on the floor in a pile of tears and I may have pissed myself out of sheer panic. I manage to call my boss, who doesn’t pick up. Then I decided to call a friend to come and get me. I gather myself and again conclude that this didn’t happen, it wasn’t real, and I was being crazy. The very last thing that happens to me in this building is also the worst. All the lights go off and I can hear the same deranged laughing and morbid screams coming from the basement this time. All I can think of is the doctor from all those stories that had practiced his macabre experiments on those inmates. My little work space gets so cold that I can see my breath and just outside the doorway stands a figure that appears to be an inmate. Was this who I heard screaming in the basement? I direct my flashlight towards him revealing blood coming from his nose, a partially exposed skull, an exposed brain, and he is reaching out to me asking for help. I can’t move because I can’t believe what I am seeing. In fact, I am so paralyzed with fear that I just stand there letting him get close to me. He eventually gets nose to nose with me and all I can focus on is the way he smells, this putrid mixture of decay, burnt flesh, and the distinct odor of death. I have tears running down my face and I am a solid mass of fear. Just as he is about to touch my shoulder, my phone rings, and suddenly he disappears as if he was never there.
My friend has arrived, but I am still unable to move. My friend enters the school and finds me a sobbing blubbery mess. I am beside myself and my friend spends the next hour trying to convince me that it is ok to walk to the door. My friend locks the school up for me and calls my boss who doesn’t pick up again, so she leaves a message. I decided to leave my car there for the night, as I am in no shape to drive or be alone. As we are leaving my friend looks over at the building and slams on her brakes. She is just blankly staring out of the car window and, finally, points up to the building. Much to her shock and my dismay, gazing out of the window at us is the man that I had just been standing nose to nose with. I instruct her to leave as quickly as possible and we leave the building behind us in the distance.
That was my last night ever as a custodian. I quit my job, and started work in a small office down the street from the school. I have heard stories from the students of experiences they had inside the school, but nothing like what I experienced. I have had nightmares and anxiety attacks from what I went through that night, in fact I’ve never really been the same since. I ran into a teacher at the grocery store the other day and she told me she gave her notice too. Her reasons were due to a feeling as if someone was always watching her and this once incident where she felt someone breathing on the back of her neck when she was alone in her classroom. She also told me that the basement door is always locked and the switch box had to be moved because the lights constantly turned on and off all day without a logical reason. The staff is hard to maintain and people are constantly leaving in abrupt manners because of the odd things that happen when they are alone in their rooms. I am glad I left that job, I always see help wanted ads in the paper, offering sign up bonuses, and great benefits for the night shift custodian position. Good luck to the poor soul that unknowingly takes that job. As for me, I am fine with my nine to five job. Life is much more peaceful working during the day at an office, but some nights when I arrive home I swear I can still smell the stench from that old decaying inmate.