Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Wire clothes hangers should be illegal for any purpose other than roasting marshmallows.

I think I'll make it the theme this month to share some of the scariest occurrences of my life. This one is a two-fer and takes place in Arkansas. Enough said.

One night, I was hanging out in (We'll just call him GUY) Guy's dorm room, watching something like Die Hard or Gladiator with his roomie, who affectionately became my pseudo roomie too. We'll use initials and call him Bam. We're watching TV until we're interrupted by a phone alarm sounding off: it's curfew and I have to sign out of the all-guy dorm and go back across campus to my all-girl dorm.

HAH. Likely story. Guy would sign me out in the lobby and walk me outside. Once we were out of eye sight we'd round the corner of the building and climb the outside emergency exit stairs where Bam would be waiting with the door propped open and I'd sneak back into the guys dorm. Stealth. All of his buddies were in on it.

This one night, a buddy of theirs had some friends in town from back home and wanted a fun night of mischief, naturally. Our school campus was laid out so that the main lecture halls, buildings, cafeteria, student union, my all-girl dorm along with all the co-ed apartments were in one central area. Then, there was a nice 5 mile walk to the abandoned dorms called... The Twin Towers. From there, about a fourth of a  mile from The Twin Towers, was our current location, the all-boys dorm. How convenient! A bunch of boys have to walk past a vacant, eerie building and resist going inside for a peek. OHKAY.

Tonight, the guys wanted to explore The Twin Towers. I wanted nothing to do with it.

"Hey, I'm just going to stay in and watch movies while you guys go. I won't be any fun and I'll be the only girl, so go and have fun and don't get eaten by a hobo, ok?"

"Alright, but lock the door, I don't want you to get caught here after curfew."


The guys left, I locked the door, turned off the lights, and proceeded to watch a chick flick with the volume down low. About fifteen minutes into my movie I hear a THUD on the front door and then a series of pounding fists. I freeze.

There's a couple of explanations for this: A. this is an all guys dorm and wrestling in the middle of the halls is fairly standard. Stupid looking, but standard. B. Their door is across from the elevators which means there is always noise and chaos C. Guy was on the rugby team and had a lot of friends from the team that lived on his floor. These guys were BIG, rowdy, Russian, Fiji, Dutch, barbarians that probably didn't know their own strength when knocking on a door.

After waiting for another thud that didn't come, I assumed it was a mistake and ignored it. Then a deep, unrecognizable voice came echoing through the door, "Hey little mama, you had better open this door right now. I know you're in there alone."


I'm frozen. There are no weapons in this damn dorm room, just two refrigerators filled with gatorade.

I'm still frozen, not speaking.

Then I hear a very recognizable voice, "Amanda, it's me, I'm just kidding. Open the door, I forgot my flashlight."

I opened the door and slapped him.

After this incident, I was easily convinced to join the goons and explore The Twin Towers.

The guys that we were with were real adventure-seeking types, we'd later have adventures cave diving, scaling a cliff, and sneaking into the school's football field after hours to smoke cigars. But right now, I didn't know anything about them except that they were the reason I was being forced to tour a condemned building at 2 am on a Friday. I had the death grip on Guy and Bam and everyone was properly pre-warned that I was a complete wuss and would scream at the sight of a shadow.

We arrived at the two identical buildings, each with ten stories of glass windows, half of which were broken and jagged on the bottom few floors. We decide to not risk getting Hepatitis and instead go through the boiler room back entrance. This just screams BAD IDEA. The guys fumble for flashlights and finally Indiana Jones themselves into the boiler room. I decided to take a running start, closed my eyes and jumped. I survived.

This place was like a mausoleum, a concrete box with massive iron machines lined up wall to wall with narrow pathways between them. Half of the group wanted to stay in the boiler room and explore with their video camera on night vision settings and then find the basement... are you KIDDING ME?! I started to bargain with the guys, to no avail: promises of making cookies and letting them watch every season of Family Guy. Somehow I'm convinced to stay, find a door and make our way through the death tower to the roof. Shit.

The door leads us to the stairwell, and each floor was a deserted hallway with wooden furniture broken to pieces and littered on the floor like a bad bar fight. No one warned me that this place would look like an abandoned mental institution after an takeover or end of the world diseased outbreak. Half of the doors to the dorm rooms were closed, and some were entirely broken off their hinges with nothing left behind but splinted shards of wood attached to bolts. A few were tied open with a string around the handle and then tied to something else in the room. We walked into one room and found a mattress crudely cut to pieces on the floor with wire coat hangers that had been uncoiled and reassembled to look like a Medieval jousting weapon. We quickly left that room.

As we continued our exploration through hobo headquarters, I was protected by a box of men around me, covering all sides, like a civil war shooting formation. Honestly, they put up with me being ridiculous more than I expected, but they were pretty freaked out too. We kept making our way up the floors, each one as terrifying as the last.

Then, on the 5th floor, I decided to open my eyes, just a peek. In doing so, I was met with a pair of hollow eyes looking directly back at us. I let out .02 seconds of the start of a blood curdling scream when someone threw their hand over my mouth. We stared with horror as someone flashed their light on the door and the life-sized poster of a bikini clad woman, whose eyes had been cut out. Classy.

We finally made it to the top floor at the emergency exit stairwell, our rendezvous point. We waited for the rest of the group to meet us since they don't believe in the rules of horror movies and decided to SPLIT UP AND EXPLORE. A few minutes pass and we're all accounted for, so we walk further until we're staring at a metal ladder placed in front of us. We climb up the ladder and open the latch door and we're now on top of the roof of the Twin Towers. This is the first time I've relaxed in the last hour and willingly let go of whoever I had been using as a human shield. 

It's actually kind of pretty from this high up, you can see every building for miles, the stars are sprinkled all over the sky. Don't be fooled, that's just me trying to convince myself that there isn't a murderer following us through the building and preparing to kill us all while we let our guards down.

Boys will be boys, so I was not surprised that they brought soda cans to throw off the roof into the empty parking lot below. I thought your backpacks were filled with survival tools and knives?! The guys attempted to throw a curve ball soda can into the other twin tower across the street when we heard a crashing noise coming from the floor below us. The shenanigans are over. A loud, clash of metal and all the fun stops.

All the guys exchanged glances, except for me. I've instinctively closed my eyes and covered them and thought of every horrible outcome. Let's set the murder plot aside and think of all the consequences other than death. What if we're stuck up here?! What if it's a police officer and we're all under arrest?! Two guys elect themselves to check out the noise. A few minutes go by, and then they emerge, unscathed. The noise was a chain linked fence that sealed this ladder and roof door from the stairwell and it had swung closed. How a gust of wind blew it closed INDOORS was a question I didn't want to pose out loud. Everyone agreed we should leave and decided to take the quickest exit, down stairwell exits all the way to the ground floor.

A few of us met up for lunch the next day; the guys were all too excited to tell me about how some of the windows that were previously broken and shattered had been boarded up over night. Awesome news, guys! That's so exciting to hear that someone was watching and following us when we illegally trespassed into that building! PLEASE, tell me more.

I then proceeded to tell them that I spent what was left of my night/early morning researching the Twin Towers and didn't fall asleep until the sun came out at 6:12 am. I told them that even though we survived the ghost hobos and police confrontations, the real reason the Twin Towers were abandoned was due to a silent killer that had been living in the walls and ceilings of the building for decades:


So, that's what I did with a semester in Arkansas.

Dave, Rob, Brian, Seth, Parker, Kyle, TJ, Kevin?... I know I'm forgetting people, sorry. That night was kind of fun, thanks guys.

Some Days by The Maine