This is my ghost story. It concerns an experience I had with two other soldiers in a National Guard Armory in Maryland. By way of background, I believe in the possibility of the supernatural, but I am inherently skeptical of supernatural explanations. Nonetheless, I never found an explanation for what happened that night.
At the time I was in officer training, and my unit had recently relocated to a new (to us) armory. Arriving at drill one weekend, the unit was buzzing with talk of the armory being haunted. Some of the NCOs were outright nervous. For example, one pointed to a paper pinned to a wall that kept fluttering. I tried to be polite as I pointed out that it was over an air register.
Overhearing one particularly high-strung NCO I said, "Nonsense, there are no ghosts here."
He retorted, "Why don't you sleep in the basement tonight then?"
"That's not necessary, is it? I mean it's just dark and grubby down there. The ghosts could be anywhere in the armory, right?" I replied somewhat lamely.
The NCOs chuckled at me - thinking that my reluctance was fear as opposed to my concern for overall "grubbiness". Maybe they were a little right, but I wasn't going to cave in to silly ghost stories. So I ultimately agreed to stay down in the basement that night, with the proviso that two of my friends stay with me. In hindsight it was probably selfish to rope them into my mess, but they didn't seem to mind.
During the day and into the evening, my unit engaged in Close Quarters Combat (CQC) training, which entails clearing rooms at close range. For those unfamiliar, think of what SWAT teams do (though we were and are clowns compared to those guys).
The CQC training area was the basement, and there was a pretty simple layout to the basement area. Bear with me as the layout is important to the story. There was one staircase leading down from the main drill floor that opened into a long hallway, about 100 feet long I suppose. On one side of the hallway were a series of rooms with lockers and the kind of junk only National Guard units can accumulate and keep. The first room by the stairway was particularly large. To help with the training, tables were turned on their sides to make barriers and barricades to be defended by opposing forces.
Late at night, around 10:00 or 11:00 p.m., the CQC training was finished. It went so late because they wanted to do room clearing with night vision devices. I hadn't been particularly looking forward to this, and figured that all had been forgotten in the day's excitement. I hummed as I nonchalantly unrolled my sleeping roll on the drill floor. The NCO I had the exchange with earlier hadn't forgotten apparently, as the rascal came strolling over. "The sleeping bag would be easier to get in the basement rolled, don't you think?"
"Eh? Oh, yeah, I was just airing it out. Think I put it away wet or something... Smells funny," I mumbled and trailed off. Rats. I had been outed. There was no way to avoid the basement, and I reluctantly grabbed my two friends who, deservedly, made fun of me.
We went down the steps, and set up in the third room down the hallway, two doors from the large room. It was an austere bivouac with cots, sleeping bags, and a chemlight cracked for light. It gave off an unearthly, green glow. Seemed like a poor light choice, but it was better than the alternative of absolute darkness.
It took some time, but we each drifted into an uneasy sleep. A little while later, maybe around 12:30 a.m., I and one of my buddies were woken up by banging coming from the large room. It sounded like somebody was punching the old, rusted lockers in there. I immediately assumed that I was the victim of a trick, and that the whole armory would be awake from the racket soon. No-one came down the stairs to investigate, and I wasn't about to leave the safety provided by a sleeping bag, which gave the protection of an Abrams tank so far as I was concerned.
Not wanting to wake my buddies, but curious to see if they were up. I whispered, "Bob? John? You guys up?"
Bob whispered back, "I hate you."
"Because you're in a smelly basement, or because you heard that?"
So I wasn't the only one that heard it. I wasn't sure what to make of it, but I convinced myself that someone had hid down there to make a point, and I drifted back to an uneasy sleep. About an hour later, around 1:00 a.m., I awoke to a feeling of tension. I rolled over to face the open doorframe and could see the part of the hallway immediately in front of the door. The chemlight was still bright, and everything was visible in a green glow. Just as I thought nothing was going to happen, I heard a deliberate bootstep start down the hallway.
I had heard no one come down the stairway, but I was expecting to see one of my disheveled NCOs ambling down the hallway for a laugh. The bootsteps were slow and regular, but they were coming closer. He would have to walk past my door, and then I would have the devil. The steps were closer, and then it walked past the door and down the hall, growing fainter. That simply was not possible.
As it got to the end of the hall, it stopped for a moment, and then I heard it coming closer again. I squinted and focused on the doorframe as I have seldom focused on anything in my life. Step, step, step. Getting closer. Step, step, step. It's almost here! And again, whatever it was passed the door unseen. I should have got up to investigate - I know it. I just simply couldn't move. In pure exhaustion I eventually went back to sleep.
A few hours later I woke up again. Same drill. Step, step, step. Never saw anyone. By the time sunrise came around at 5:30, I was never so glad to wake up early. I eagerly started rolling my kit, humming again.
John said, "Well, what do you think?" with a sly smile.
"There's some strange stuff happening... But I don't know."
With that, a piece of cardboard that had been duct-taped over the window fell off. It almost seemed like it was violently torn away. It had been put up the night before to maximize the darkness for the night-vision devices, and had stayed up all night.
"You know, the rising sun could have warmed the tape, and made it fall off."
Both my buddies stared blankly at me.
"What? Just saying... Could be. Shut up."
To this day, I don't know what happened in that basement. The lockers, the steps, the cardboard. Each thing individually could be chalked up to the random odd happenings in old buildings. Taken together, it makes me wonder.
Thanks for reading. Sorry if it was dull. I didn't want to exaggerate or make it into something more than it was.