I was on routine patrol one evening many years ago when I arrived at an old condemned school that was used by the County as a storage site for obsolete equipment. The windows had been boarded up and all of the doors nailed shut with the exception of two doors. The main reason that I was there was to check the old cafeteria which was pressed into service as a training center for the Division of Fire.
As I rounded the rear of the building, I stopped my cruiser and exited my vehicle in order to perform hand checks on the doors. As I looked toward the main building, I observed the second floor door standing open. I drew my service sidearm and proceeded up the fire escape to investigate.
The fire escape was heavily rusted and made quite a bit of noise despite my best attempt at stealth and I stopped at midpoint on my ascent. As I looked more closely at the open door, I noticed that the door had actually been shattered and that approximately one fifth of the door remained nailed to the door frame. I backed down the fire escape and took up a defensive position on the ground and called for back up.
My back up arrived approximately 11 minutes after assignment and we proceeded up the fire escape and entered the building. All of the classroom doors were open and we heard nothing. Further, we noticed nothing out of place or unusual except for the pungent, musty odor. As the basement was normally flooded year round, I don't believe that the smell was unusual.
We searched the rear and side classrooms and then began to walk forward toward the front classroom when that door suddenly slammed shut with such force that I expected it to go through to the other side. My partner and I both froze as we heard a shambling on the other side of the door retreating from the entrance to the classroom.
We looked at each other and my partner mouthed "Let's get the F### out of here." I agreed and we withdrew to out cruisers and called for K-9 for a live subject extraction, while we set up a perimeter on the building.
K-9 arrived and we briefed the officer on the nights events and he and his dog went up the fire escape. As the K-9 officer reached the open door he called in to the building and announced his presence and instructed anyone inside to come out or he would send the dog in for them. After he repeated his warning three times, he released his dog and entered the building. When the K-9 officer and the dog exited the building some minutes later he said that there was nobody inside.
My backup and I could not believe it. The classroom door had been slammed in our face, we had heard the shambling footsteps retreating from the door and we had set up the perimeter. There was no way in hell that building was empty.
When I went inside to check the front classroom that had given us the trouble, only the dogs paw prints and the footprints of the officer was visible in the dust on the floor.
That was the first incident at that facility, as the year progressed there would be many more. Such as the steel door, padlocked in its frame laying six feet from the cinderblock wall where it was once installed and not a mark on the door save where it was scratched from sliding across the asphalt and the fasteners torn through the material and pressed into the block. The force used was always extraordinary and the damage was always from inside, heading outside.
The school was in the process of being transformed into a cultural arts center for the County and a series of strange incidents occurred on site. The final incident occurred over a year later when the construction was nearly complete. I was training a new officer when, as I was driving alongside the school I noticed a silhouette in a first floor window. I hit my alley light and illuminated the window, but the silhouette remained black. The building materials stacked behind it was lit as was the ladder in the background, but the figure remained dark.
I accelerated to the rear of the building and exited the cruiser and entered the school with my trainee in tow. We both had seen the figure and we both had seen that it was not illuminated when everything else in the room had been, but our search turned up nothing.
Several officers involved in these incidents were reluctant to return to the building and some even flat out refused to ever return. Since the completion of construction and the new usage of the building, there have been no further incidents. To this day I don't really know what was in that building or if it will ever return, but every time I think of those incidents I get an uneasy feeling.
Contributed by William R. Stout and Copyright © 2007 all rights reserved. No part of this story may be used without permission.
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