The writing on the walls

[dropcap]B[/dropcap]efore I tell you about my experience with the paranormal, I want to stress that this is a true story. Not one made up to try and scare you, but instead one based on my best recollection of events that happened to me years ago.

Our story takes place at my old middle school. Being built in the early-’60s, it certainly had the elements of a school from another era. Strange old science equipment, dark and dusty untouched rooms, and some textbooks that had been left unopened for decades. Accompanying the age of our school always came the standard “ghost stories” of strange events and experiences.

The rumours were just as you would expect: books getting knocked off the shelf at night, the overnight custodian claiming they heard noises, that one kid who swears he saw some figure when he was alone in the school late after class.

However, there was never anything that I thought was really all that substantial. The kid who saw something was probably just exaggerating; the custodian was probably just trying to mess with the kids; and the books were probably knocked off by all the rats that were running around the place. Nothing to worry about. However, if there was one thing at my old school that made me uneasy, it would have to be the school basement — or as everyone called it, “The Dungeon.”

Anyone can recognize that basements are inherently creepy. Regardless of whether you believe in ghosts or not, once all the lights are turned off, you feel a certain sense of someone — or something — behind you, watching you, as you make your way up the stairs. My school’s basement was no different. I had never been to the dungeon, and that was a streak I wanted to maintain all the way through middle school. Unfortunately, that streak would come to an end when a teacher decided to send myself and a friend (let’s call him Adam) into the dungeon.

You see, it was near the end of the school year, and everyone had been allowed outside but Adam and I decided to stay inside and help our teacher clean out her classroom. She gave each of us a box of novels that needed to be put in the dungeon, and then gave Adam the keys to the basement door. She assured us that nothing bad was down there, nothing bad would happen to us, and that it was “just another storage room.”

She was a liar.

Reluctantly, we left her room and went to the dungeon, jokingly telling each other what kinds of terrible things were going to happen to us down there. When we got to the door, Adam used the key and we flicked on the lights that were right behind the door. Immediately in front of us was a flight of stairs, followed by a 180-degree turn to the right, and another flight of stairs leading to another corner and the main area.

We got to the bottom and took in the chamber. This place looked like a bomb shelter from the Cold War. No windows, all concrete, and spider webs that you would have to see to believe. The room was a bit smaller than your average classroom. Our school used this area to store the school’s textbooks, but it looked like it could have been used as a prison. The rectangular room was filled with bookshelves, all jam-packed with textbooks and novels. The lighting was bad, coming from two rectangular lights that hung in the center of the room. I certainly didn’t feel like Adam and I were the only ones inside the dungeon.  

“Does this place feel creepy to you?” Adam asked.

Regardless of whether you believe in ghosts or not, once all the lights are turned off in a basement, you feel a certain sense of someone — or something — behind you.

“Extremely,” I responded.

The walls were what caught my interest. I put my books down to examine them and the rest of the room. There was graffiti left by other students from previous years. Standard middle schooler doodles of smiley faces, their names and years, even that weird “S” people always used to draw. However, most of the ink was faded and very difficult to read. Adam wasn’t as interested in the writing on the walls, and he simply wanted to get back to the classroom. That wasn’t a surprise — the room wasn’t very pleasant.

We started looking around trying to figure out where to place the books, when something terrifying happened: we heard the door slam shut above us. Adam, without hesitation, dropped his box and ran to the stairs. As soon as he turned the corner to start going up the stairs, things got a lot darker. Literally darker. The lights turned off.

Shivers shot up my spine as a draft blew through the room. The chills of unease and concern were now overwhelming. I began hearing voices behind me. It sounded exactly like a classroom. Adam finally reached the lights and turned them back on. Looking around the room, something was different. Written over some of the older graffiti, standing out in clear, bold black ink, there were new words written on the wall. I didn’t have to read it before booking it back up the stairs into the hallway.

What freaked me out the most was the fact that the door closed before the lights turned off. The light was right behind the door; the only way it’s possible to close the door and then turn off the lights is to remain inside the room. Adam told me after that no one was at the lights when he got to them. Someone or something had turned off the lights and was in that basement with us. We just couldn’t see them.

So, the next time you’re going up the stairs, leaving your basement late at night, perhaps that unease you feel is more than just your imagination. Maybe it’s just something or someone saying goodbye, and watching you leave.