Late in the evening on Christmas eve in 1980 I received a frantic
call from a fellow police officer and good friend of mine "Mark"
concerning a mutual friend "Tom" on the police force who was on duty
at the time. My friend repeatedly told me that I needed to come to the office
because "Tom" had just had something happen to him. Although
"Mark" refused to explain what the situation was I assumed it was
serious because of the urgency and tone in his voice.
When I arrived at the police station, "Mark" and "Tom"
were both waiting for me in the briefing room. "Tom", one of the
physically strongest and toughest people I have ever met was visibly shaken
and my immediate impression was that something serious had occurred to him.
"Tom" explained that while doing a building check on the campus he
continuously heard footsteps on the floors above him. The building was four
stories high and long so that the hallway on each floor was narrow
(approximately 5 feet wide) and on each side of the hallway were offices up
and down the hallway. There were grand old wooden staircases on each end of
the building and an old abandoned elevator shaft on one end. This building had
been the original women's dorm but had been converted to offices for the art
department. "Tom" continued that he was aware that there must be
someone cleaning on the floor above him but every time that he went up a floor
the footsteps sounded like they were coming from the next floor up. Finally he
reached the fourth floor (top) and began to check some office doors fully
expecting to find a cleaning person in one of the offices. He had checked a
couple of doors (all locked) with no results and was surprised to hear at the
end of the long hallway footsteps coming towards him.
The darkened hallway was approximately 100 feet long and only lit by small
exit signs on either end. "Tom" said he squinted but couldn't see
anyone but could hear the footsteps definitely coming closer. Finally as the
footsteps were within 25 feet of him he drew his weapon and shouted stop. When
the footsteps were within 15 feet of him he leaned up against one of the sides
of the hallways and listened to the footsteps walk past him just as if someone
would have done so in the daytime although he couldn't see anyone. He said
that didn't bother him as much as being able to see the letters on the
bulletin board directly across from him flutter as the footsteps passed him. I
watch "Tom" intently as he spoke and fully believed he was reliving
a traumatic event...after he finished his story I said to both
"Mark" and "Tom" that we should go on over and see for
ourselves. "Mark" was ready to go however "Tom" said he
was not going back into the building! I was shocked at "Toms"
Both "Mark" and myself tried to shame him into it, he steadfastly
refused to go back into the building. We finally got him to drive us back to
the building. "Mark" and I had brought a recorder and of course as
police officers we were armed. We checked the downstairs floors first and
finally entered the fourth floor. We were confident that whatever was there we
could handle because we were armed and I had just completed police
self-defense instructor school. Upon entering the fourth floor we immediately
began to hear bumps and other noises coming out of one of the small offices.
It sounded to me as if someone was packing stuff. We observed a padlock on the
outside of the door so we knew no one could be inside the office. We quietly
sat down in the hallway across from the closed door and every time we heard a
noise I would turn on the recorder. The exit to the staircase was just to the
left of "Mark", I was directly to the right of him and the office
doorway was right across from us not 4 feet away.
We were there only a short time when the sounds of activity in the room
began to increase and finally as I was about to turn off the recorder a
tremendous bang came from the other side of the door as if someone standing on
the other side of the doorway had hit it with all of "its" might.
Because I thought that something was coming towards my face my immediate
reaction was to duck to my left side, hit the floor and pull my weapon. This
response was not planned because I had no time to think, it was pure reaction.
It was immediately quiet from the room but I looked up and noticed that
"Mark" was already going down the stairs. I hurriedly picked up the
recorder and followed him down the staircase all the way out to parking lot
where "Tom" patiently waited for us. Tom knew by our reaction that
something had happened and we immediately told him of the event. All three of
us discussed going back up to see if it would happen again, after all, we were
three tough, armed police officers.
We decided against it...
I finally went back to this building last year. It is now renovated, well
lit and quiet..... but I did go back during the day!
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