Even though I may be tough, I am often scared of what I can feel, so I take my cues for response from people around me. I also have such a wild imagination that I am fully capable of freaking myself out, which I have owned up to in other posts. What happened here scared the holy crap out of me, but I did not "allow" myself to acknowledge out loud whatever it was, at the moment. I very strongly believe in intention and try not to give in to negative energy. Sort of the awake version of putting one's head under the covers, hoping "It" goes away when a monster crawls out from under the bed. Thank you for taking your time to read this.
Unlike most of the stories I have shared with you, my fellow YGS readers, this is not one that has anything I can "prove" to myself by what other people "saw" or experienced with me, but it terrifies me the worst to this day. I could not sleep last night, thinking of it, still scared. Please forgive the length of this post.
The location and names I will keep for privacy. I hope I make sense explaining it to you. I was already grown up when my parents moved to a tiny desert "base" town in Utah. This story is embarrassing because I was too scared to act or respond.
My mom was the school librarian for 23 years at the little public school, built in the 50/60's (?) The main building was a kind of an H layout, with some outside "modular" classrooms. The admin office, staff WC/lounge, gym and cafeteria were all by the front, South entrance hall on the center "bar" of the H. My Mom's library was a couple doors down, on the "outer" side of the lower "leg" or Southeast wing of the H. There were self-locking "exit only" fire doors at the end of each hall, which can be used, but not held open, without setting off the alarms. The entire campus was demolished, the year after my mom retired. I do not know if the new school got built there.
As a visitor, I always went in through the front doors to the office. I may have been in the cafeteria once, but I never really went past the hall where you go from the office around the corner to my Mom's library. I had entered a few of the classrooms on that wing and the teacher's lounge during daylight hours.
I had only visited my Mom a few times during school, in her little library. It had a "reading dragon" and a "life sized" statue of a beloved fictional character. I was not personally fond of this odd, adorable statue, but my mom talked to it and dressed it for holidays. The little kids loved it, too, of course. I always felt overgrown and out of place, even in her library. One time I was there to see my sister in law dressed up as Clifford the Big Red Dog for the book fair. Happy thoughts, happy thoughts...
I chalked up my general dislike for the building to the fact that it always stunk like grubby little children and rotted wood. Sorry to those who love kids; they do leave a stink. I disliked how the school felt, but shrugged it away. Many public schools out west are flat, plain, painted cinder block buildings, with upper inside windows along the halls. The open layout makes it so you can see into most hallways and classrooms from outside or the opposite wings. All my elementary schools had looked, dismally, more or less, the same. Many of them also had given me the same used, unpleasantly familiar, crowded but empty, "old" feeling when I was young. So no biggie: some schools I'd visited were much larger, older and creepier in the poor rural regions of my childhood. (I am looking at you, Middleton JHS.) However, I had never been to any of them alone after dark.
When my mom retired I came from the West Coast to help her clean her library and trim the collection. She struggled with tossing anything. I flew to help close her deadline to clear out. I love my mom, and I also hoard books, but I pushed her pretty hard to save what she could and damn the rest. I have worked in Used Books so I am accustomed to the heartache of "Discards". We filled many boxes of donations. Piles of books lined the halls outside. We also had to pile up the trash there, as we'd be locked out trying to get to the dumpsters. The custodian was on vacation. My mom was worried about how he would react to all the piles of trash bags and recycling in the hall when he got back.
Anyway, on previous visits, I had found the teeny tiny stalls and tinier toilets in the student bathrooms were way too little for my large person to use. So I had avoided going in there since, and I had never been on the "Boy's" side until I needed garbage bags to help my mom clean that summer day. The custodian supply room was just inside past the doorway to the boy's side bathroom. Because I have worked as a janitor I have a habit of announcing my femme self when entering a Men's room. These restrooms had no doors, and were side by side, where the entrance hall met my mom's wing, opposite the staff lounge.
When I first went in on the boy's side, I felt what could be the normal, elementary school transgressiveness of being in the (gasp) wrong bathroom, even though we were, for sure, the only ones there. Alas, I have spent way too much time cleaning bathrooms for there to be much novelty in that. With each trip into the "closet" for supplies my feelings grew to a more specific and very VERY unwelcome menacing absolute of something bad watching me and lurking close by. Eventually I just grabbed up a bunch of stuff and decided not to be in there again. This was on my first day of the trip. I felt like a ninny for being scared, even though it was a strong, involuntary, physical response.
That first night we stayed until seven or so, before it was dark. Mom said she wanted to be out by nine and I assumed it was district policy.
The next day was Friday, we barely had time to meet the deadline. Once again, after 3 or 4 pm we were the only people in the whole school. I was a little out of patience with my loving mother when I discovered that, in addition to the treasures of her library, we also needed to clear out two large storage spaces. These unused areas were located across the hall from the bathrooms, between the teachers lounge and office area. Leaving my mom to tearfully catalog a stack of stragglers, I set out to basically toss or recycle twenty years worth of holiday and book fair decorations.
That whole time I was very much aware that I was NOT alone and I worked as fast and as quietly as possible. I did not want to be there in the hall or those storage cubbies after dark, no sir. The lurking feeling got stronger and more ominous, it seemed to seethe down the hall, up to the doorway of the library, coming from the bathrooms. I felt cornered in, followed, and watched in the small storage areas. It was all I could do not to run away back to my mom. After a stern lecture to my coward heart, I gave up on sorting the mess, and just shoveled it all into trash bags. Thus I quickly finished the storage areas.
My mom was tired, and sad to leave her school. We still had a very steep amount of cleaning and at least three sections of shelves to trim. We were up to our eyeballs in dust and books, working until it was dark and only the "emergency" lights lit the halls. She had turned on the real lights right in our part of the hall, though. The evil feeling was still there, but worse. My mom also locked us in, once it was dark, without saying anything. I felt safe enough with her, in the library, even if I felt like something was lurking near us in the empty hall. I felt very much like we were cornered by some angry, vengeful watcher.
Eventually Mom said she wanted to go home. I looked at my watch. It was only 8 pm, we still had an hour; so I said we should grind on. The end of our task was in sight. We powered through and managed to catalog or trim all the relevant materials. All that was left was to load some personal things and donations to take them away. We decided to do it the next day, because the car was full. At least the district's to-do list was complete in time for her to turn in her keys.
I do remember forcing myself not to look back as I walked to the end of the hall and the lights of the fire exit. I waited, arms full, while Mom locked her classroom door. Mom went around the corner to drop her keys to the office, then hit the hall lights off. I have never in my adult life been more afraid of the dark than in those few moments it took for my mom to come back down that very short hallway. I have huge goosebumps now trying to write this. The dark shadows from the rest of the school seemed rushing to eat us both alive. I mean to say that I could feel with every inch of my being that some thing or many things was angry and present. Like "the predator is actually right beside you about to gobble your ass-NOW RUN" type of physical, animal certainty. My mom moved slow and tired toward me. I tried to be cool and not scream. There was nothing to be seen or heard. I felt like if I showed an inch of fear or acknowledgement, my mom and I would both be done for.
My mom is a tough cookie, but her retirement and gutting her collection had her in an emotional state. I had also further upset her by throwing stuff away, which she had just found around the corner. (Note: I am not much of an actor and a worse liar.) So I did not say anything or run screaming outside.
We left, checked the door behind us, and crammed into the car. Since I was also tired, and I watch way too many movies, I just shook off the horrorshow feeling. Honestly, everywhere I go in Utah has some level of scary crappy energy. I did not want to complain or to scare my mother. I was just very glad to be done. Also I did not want to admit what a chicken I am.
My mom said something about how she hoped any restaurants might be still open, and I realized my watch was on Pacific time. So we had left the school around eleven thirty, not nine-thirty like I thought.
The next morning we went back to fetch the remaining items. School started that next week. Many of the staff were prepping their classrooms. One of them waved and sent his teenage kid to open the fire door for us, the one we had exited the night before. Everything was too sunny and loudly fine. My mom went into his classroom and after introductions, the kid politely offered to help me carry things to the car. My mom stayed to chat with her colleague.
The boy says casually, as we walked up the hall "So, you were here late last night-did you hear ghosts?"
Trying to be cool, I was all, "Noooo...has that happened to you?"
Then this young kid tells me, all nonchalant, how he has heard ghostly children voices. That people had seen ghost figures, or heard footsteps across empty halls and the empty roof of that wing, for many years. How no one ever stays at the school alone or after dark, even the janitors. I tried not to barf or cry. He sort of smiled kindly at the look on my face and said "it scares my dad too" and that his dad, "won't be here anymore alone or at night" since the one night "he and another teacher chased some voices that also slammed doors but no one was here." I felt like someone was pouring ice into my guts. Even the dusty sunlight seemed scary. I could tell he was trying to be nice by changing the subject of conversation. I did not tell him what happened or how scared I was, but he seemed to feel bad for bringing it up.
Needless to say, I packed up fast and with his help made just that one last trip.
Once we were both safe in the car again I brought up what the kid had said. I told my mom how scared I was in the bathroom, and the night before, and just then in broad daylight with other people. In response she just casually threw out how the staff had "all heard and seen creepy stuff FOR YEARS," especially in the tunnels (WHAT?!) which go from that boys bathroom, under the school, to the other side of the gym. She calmly said that is why "she tries to be out by nine, because she knows she cannot fight whatever 'It' is, alone or after dark, since she wouldn't let 'It' into her library." At this point nothing on this Earth could have got me back in that school.
She is very religious so her matter-of-fact reaction surprised me. Three cheers to my mom, the brave little librarian who apparently educated several generations of kids while terrible lurking nasties crept around their school. (Her beloved fictional character's statue got moved to the office for that last year. I like to think he helped guard my mom, and then that very last class of students after she left.) I had no idea if Mom coped with that same level of hateful, lurking, carnivorous evil energy for twenty something years, day after day, but DAMN.
I did not know what to say sitting there in the bright summer sun. I just cried. It was a terrible, no-good, very bad weekend. I really hate to visit Utah.