This story is by Tom Housden and was part of our 2022 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“So, what haunted building are we looking at today, then?” Meg asked with enthusiasm in her voice.
Danny showed her a rather imposing-looking building on a computer screen. He emitted a childlike quality when talking about haunted buildings.
“I bet it is full of secrets and places waiting to be explored. Once we get there, I promise you’ll like it. And don’t forget, you’re still very much learning on the job.”
Danny was an established ghost-hunter, but Meg was sometimes a little too easily spooked. Even though she looked forward to hunting for ghosts, this building looked a little sinister to her.
She told herself to stop being so scared and just go.
As they approached the building, it started to rain, and the sky became very black. They could hear thunder but couldn’t see any lightning at that moment.
They both got out of the car.
“I’m still not sure about this. It looks quite sinister,” Meg said cautiously.
“No more sinister than where we went last week. That was so sinister, it could have been called Sinister HQ!”
“Ha ha ha. This is a different sinister. It’s also covered in scaffolding.”
“Are you scared of some scaffolding? The Sinister Scaffolding is coming to get you.”
“Hilarious, course I’m not scared.”
The building looked very imposing as they stood outside. It seemed like it had been abandoned a long time ago. However, there were notices for language classes on the windows. From the outside, it looked unloved, uncared for, but it looked modern, and there were no signs it was ancient. It was unlike the other buildings that they investigated.
As they step in the double-doors, which were, to his surprise, not locked, Danny wrote some notes down for their blog. He read his precis out loud to Meg.
“Good afternoon, folks. Today – it looks like an ordinary building on the outside, but what is lurking inside? Stay with us to find out on “Paranormal UK.”
“What are you waiting for, Dan? Lead us in…” Meg quipped.
“Blog intro written. Let’s explore!”
“What did you say this used to be?”
“From what I read on the sign on the outside as we came in, it was part of an academic place or college. For all we know, it still could be.”
Apart from a staff room, which was locked, and a lift, there was only one room on this floor. From the outside, it looked quite forlorn. It wasn’t locked, so all it took was a small nudge.
The room was quite small with three large rectangular desks round the edge. Chairs were tucked underneath. They immediately noticed the boarded-up broken window.
“Meg, look, there’s something written on the wall here – ‘Welcome to The Detention Room.’”
Was this a room for students that had been naughty?
“H… h… hello. Is there anybody there?”
“Who are you talking to? There’s no-one here.”
“I thought I saw a figure out of the corner of my eye.”
“I didn’t see anything.”
“1, 2, 3, 4, 5.”
“What are you doing?”
“According to The Shining, if you count to 5 with your eyes shut, the figure disappears.”
“First, you’re not an 8-year-old boy, you’re a grown woman. Second, this is not a hotel, and third, he counted to ten, not five.”
“Oh, Mr Clever-Clogs Danny.”
“I guess. Come on, let’s go upstairs.”
They ascended the staircase slowly.
“Even the light fittings look spooky.”
“They’re just light fittings, Meg. Nothing spooky about them. You’ve been watching too many horror films.”
“Well, I think they look spooky, okay?”
“We’re on the first floor now. No creaky floorboards though, bit disappointed about that.”
Opposite them, there is another room.
“Just another deserted room. It is still quite cold, though.”
“What’s that?” Meg screamed nervously.
“What’s what? I can’t see anything?”
“That ghostly figure over there!”
“It was towards the back of the room. But when I stepped forward, it faded away.”
After a few seconds, the figure reappears.
“There’s another ghost in here too!”
Danny stepped over to look but doesn’t see anything. Just to make sure, they both left the room for a second before re-entering.
“Where have they gone?” Danny asked, curiously.
“They were here a minute ago.”
“Thanks for stating the obvious. I saw them as well.”
“Ok, ok. Don’t get snappy.”
They climbed the staircase to the next floor and opened the door that was directly opposite. After a while, they could just about make out ghostly figures, turning their lifeless bodies to Danny and Meg.
“Danny, could they be the ghosts of past students? If so, why? None of this makes sense.”
They tentatively climbed another staircase and found themselves standing in a corridor that was deathly quiet.
“It’s just a normal corridor with… artwork strewn all over.”
“This must have been the art department.”
Danny holds up a piece of artwork which looks like the Mona Lisa.
“I name this picture the “Mona Meg!”
“Ha ha ha.”
“It looks like this art has been here forever. It looks quite faded.”
“You never know, it might be haunted as well.”
Danny wanders into one of the rooms, with Meg following.
“These rooms are filled with more art.”
“Danny, how come these rooms are also unlocked? Surely, they’d want to keep this artwork under lock and key.”
“Sorry, I …”
“I just saw something walk in front of me and disappear into the wall!”
“Yes. Please tell me you saw it, too.”
“No, I … Woah!
Danny stopped dead in his tracks.
“Told you I wasn’t seeing things.”
The ghosts disappeared suddenly before the door slammed behind them.
“Meg, don’t slam the door.”
“It wasn’t me!”
“This corridor is freaking me out.”
As they were about to climb the stairs, they saw a lift. Despite being scared, Danny used the lift whilst Meg used the stairs.
“So, is the lift haunted?”
Danny laughed. “The lift haunted? That’s the most ridiculous thing I have heard in my life. Anyway, put your money where your mouth is – you take the lift, and I’ll take the stairs,” Danny challenged Meg.
“Ok, you’re on.”
“Feeling brave, are we?”
“Yep. I want to prove to you I am up to these paranormal investigations, even though I am learning on the job!”
“I’ll meet you upstairs, Meg.”
Meg got in the lift and pressed the number 4 to go to the fourth floor.
“Is it haunted?” Danny asked.
“I didn’t see anything to say it is. But what was strange is the clock in there says a year ago. Also, why is there a clock in a lift, anyway? Also, it’s quite dark in the building, lifts need electricity.”
“I don’t know, but there’s another door here. There are only four steps leading up to it, though. I assume it’s another classroom.”
They climbed the steps.
“So it …”
There was a distant noise coming from downstairs, sounding like doors being locked.
“What was that?”
“Let’s go downstairs and see.”
The double-doors are locked.
“No! We’re trapped!”