This is the last installment of my ghost story series. Spoiler alert: I live. Though that’s how it tends to go in true stories. It might not be the most climactic finish, but it’s true and sometimes that’s just the way true things are.
So, I was fascinated by the high tower room. Who wouldn’t be? My classmates and I couldn’t help but stare when we crossed it down the hall. It was like it had eyes was always staring back. It gave you that feeling. That uneasiness. I don’t remember ever having a causal conversation in that hallway and I walked through it several days a week for years. Often with friends. It’s just not a place you’d want to do that. Like someone could be listening.
But life went on. Sometimes we went for months without mentioning the room. It was a mystery after all. There were no new clues. It was a ghost story for the first years to scare each other silly. And maybe nothing would have happened had I not stuck my nose in too deep.
Like I said, I did research. I actually thought, you know that might make kind of a fun Halloween feature for the school paper. So, I wrote an article. I did my research, collected my facts. I like local history and I was a little shocked about how much I found that I could tie into the article. It came together pretty easily and went out a week and a half before Halloween. It was funny at first. I mean, I knew people read the paper in passing, but what I didn’t know was how many people read the paper. I got a page 6 half page and suddenly, I was overhearing comments from my classmates in passing like, “Oh, did you know this school is haunted?” or “I always wondered what the story was with that room.” While I was absolutely thrilled that people were talking about my article, often not realizing I was the one who wrote it, it did spark something that the a lot of the faculty hoped had died away.
One night, a few days before Halloween, there was an incident. I wasn’t there, but a close friend was, so he told me what happened. I don’t know how the topic of the high tower room came up. He’d been out with some buddies, drinking quite a bit after their rehearsal for an upcoming show. I don’t remember what it was exactly – we were different kinds of artists. But someone suggested going to visit the room.
It was a quiet night. The halls were empty, the offices dark. My friend said, “Why not? It’s probably locked anyway.”
But when they got there, it wasn’t locked.
The last few steps up before the door were dusty as though no one had been there awhile. “Have you ever seen dust on a carpet? It’s not like dust on wood. There has to be so much dust for it to show.” Their footprints left marks on the dusty steps before the door. They didn’t expect the door to open when they twisted the knob, but it did. Just like that. It creaked when they swung it back. He swore he felt a breeze rush out past them that he can’t explain. It gave him goosebumps.
“We’d better go in,” someone said. I knew that someone. He tended to be an asshole. I can’t help but imagine his prodding went further than that. Standing there outside the door was one thing. It wasn’t breaking the rules just yet, but it was somewhere close. We’d seen kids get expelled for less – a lot less actually.
But they went inside.
My friend said the room was a mess. Papers scattered. Books flung everywhere on the dark wood floor. There weren’t lights, just the dull light of their iPhone flashlights to see the way. Someone noticed names scrawled on the wall beneath the window. Former students with their class years scribbled in pen and marker. They all were eager to add their names to the collection. My friend didn’t tell me much about what was up there. He said it was hard to see. I believe it. It’s a big room. You can’t see everything with just the light of your phone. He didn’t like it up there though. Said it was uncomfortable. Like he wanted to leave just as quickly as he could.
That was kind of a weird detail. Unlike me, he wasn’t superstitious. He didn’t believe in ghost stories. But that room made him fidget. He didn’t talk about it all that much. He left fast and prayed no one would see him leave. These kids probably would have gotten away with it. They didn’t do much. Looked around and left, but it was shortly after that the door was found open, the room a mess. Messier than it was if that’s possible. I know that because those classmates of mine you’d left their names were asked about it. My friend told me, someone must have done real damage up there. None of them knew who did that or why. It wasn’t any of them. They weren’t the type to do that kind of thing. Not even the asshole among them. They talked amongst themselves about it too and really, everyone was surprised. That wasn’t just the cover story.
That room was locked after that. A sign was added the week of Halloween to further ward off any would-be trespassers. And within a few years, it’ll all be forgotten about again. No one was blamed for destroying the room. It wasn’t for lack of finger-pointing. The kids who’d left the room fast didn’t want to come back to it. There was a lot about it that just didn’t make a lot of sense. There still isn’t.
The room’s still there. I visit from time to time. I loved this school. I still see it there at the top of the steps. I still feel its eyes on my back. I’m older now, but its one of those things that doesn’t change. I’m not afraid of the dark, or rats or snake, or anything like that. I’m still afraid of whatever happened behind that door.