Part 3 of my “No Sleep” series.
I got Stanley’s email address from Danielle and told him I wanted to talk to him about the thing in Faye Hall’s basement – the thing that I’d also seen on the 3rd floor. Not more than 5 minutes after I’d sent the email, I got a reply:
“Call me,” followed by a phone number.
I grabbed my phone and dialed his number immediately.
“Hi, is this Stanley?”
“I take it you’re Danielle’s friend?” he said, not bothering to confirm that he was actually Stanley.
“Yeah,” I said.
“I’m going to make this quick,” he said. “I know more about the thing in Faye Hall, but I want to tell you in person. Do you live around campus?”
“I do,” I said.
“Good, so do I. Meet me in front of the Student Union this Saturday at 1,” he said.
“Alright, I’ll see you after lunch on Saturday, then.”
“No, no. 1 AM.”
I didn’t know what to think about that proposal. Meeting a stranger in the middle of the night didn’t sound too safe, but he was Danielle’s friend, so I was pretty sure I could trust him.
“Okay, I assume you have a good reason for that,” I said.
“See you then,” he said and hung up before I could say goodbye.
After that call, I knew I was getting deep into something that was probably not safe, and that’s when I got the idea to start keeping a journal of everything that had happened. If I went missing, I wanted people to know exactly what had very likely led to my disappearance.
I told Danielle what was going on as soon as I hung up with Stanley, and then confessed to John that I’d talked to Danielle and Stanley about what we’d seen. He wasn’t mad, but he wanted nothing to do with Faye Hall.
Danielle, on the other hand, was curious. She was the type of girl that was scared shitless during horror movies, but still went and saw every single one that came out.
“You really don’t want to get involved in this,” I said.
“I may regret it, but I’m coming. Two of my friends survived seeing this thing, and if there’s another chance to see it, I wanna see it too.”
Danielle and I showed up in front of the Student Union at 1 AM on the dot. Stanley was already there, and upon seeing Danielle, I couldn’t tell if he was happy to see her or mad that I brought her with me. They exchanged greetings before he extended a warning to her.
“I have no right to stop you from getting involved in this, but as your friend, I beg you not to,” he said.
“Not gonna work,” she said. “I wanna know what’s going on.”
“I’m not surprised,” Stanley said with a slight smile.
“So, why did you call me out here?” I said.
“I want to show you something,” he said. “If you think you’re scared of Faye Hall now, wait until you see it at night.”
Chills ran down my spine. He had called me to campus to bring me to Faye Hall?
“Whoa, whoa, are you serious? How would we get in even if I agreed to go? I don’t have access to the building at night, you know,” I said.
“Completely serious. I’ll explain on the way there,” he said and began walking toward the section of campus with the female dorms on it. Danielle seemed unfazed by his suggestion, but I was terrified. I tried my best to hide it, though, and I think I did a pretty good job.
“See this?” Stanley said, pulling a key out of his pocket and holding it up so we could see it.
“What is that for?” Danielle asked.
“It’s Valerie’s spare key from when she lived in Faye,” he said.
“How did you get that?” she asked.
“When she and Kelly moved out after the incident in the basement, I guess the dorm coordinators hadn’t gotten the move-out procedures in order yet since it was only 2 weeks into the semester, and they never asked for a key back from either of them.”
“They didn’t change the locks?” I asked.
“Trust me, I’m as surprised as you are. That was the first year of all of those budget cuts, and I guess they couldn’t justify the expense, even with keys missing.”
“I’ll bet they kept that under wraps,” I said.
“They did. They even lied and sent out an email saying that the locks were changed, I guess as a deterrent to people that still had keys. I decided to try mine out anyway one day while I was doing work in Faye, and it still worked.”
“Aren’t there security cameras or a night guard or something?” Danielle asked.
“Security cameras, yes, but I know how to avoid them. As far as a guard goes, I’ve been there twice at night, and I’ve never seen anyone there, but I don’t know for sure, so we still have to be careful,” Stanley said.
When we arrived at Faye, I had psyched myself up so much that I was actually feeling a lot better. However, looking at that building at night with only a few lights on around it gave me the creeps, and I was back to feeling nervous again. We followed Stanley around the back, and just like in the story I’d heard from Danielle, he began to peel back the latticework at the end of the deck.
“Whoa, whoa! We’re going through the scary ass tunnel?!” I asked.
“No, that tunnel wasn’t the secret passage,” Stanley said. “I’m still actually not sure what it is.”
“But doesn’t that…that…that thing know about this tunnel?” I said.
“That thing knows everything in the building,” Stanley said. “Trust me, I’ve done this before.”
We made our way under the deck, stopping at the vent-looking thing with the panel covering it.
“That’s the tunnel,” Stanley said. “Don’t ever go into Faye using that.” I didn’t ask why. Didn’t care either, since I had no plans to use it.
We kept moving, eventually past a pile of garbage that had somehow accumulated under the deck, and around the corner where the actual secret passage was. It was a small door with a broken latch that was obviously used often, as there was a path in the dirt leading up to it.
“I’ll go in first,” Stanley said. “I know it’s a little unnerving down here.”
I immediately looked at Danielle and Stanley, but they didn’t seem to notice the noise. I figured I must’ve been imagining things.
We climbed through the passage, which was about 6 feet long, and exited right into a hallway to the right. As soon as we emerged, I realized where I was.
“Oh man, this is the maintenance entrance on the west side! No wonder girls could sneak their boyfriends in through here,” I said. The janitors were notoriously lazy at night and basically just sat in their boss’ office and played cards. They did it during the day, too, when the dorm coordinators weren’t around or they could otherwise get away with it.
“Yup, no cameras,” Stanley said.
We continued down the hall until we came to a card access door. Stanley pulled out the key, unlocked the door, and slowly pushed it open.
“The guys that sneak in go down that other hall and up the maintenance stairs where they can jimmy the lock with a credit card,” Stanley said. “Quite a few of the locks in this building can be picked like that.”
We shimmied under the only camera in the lobby and made our way to the door that protected the hall that led to the basement. I was about to ask how we’d get through that door, since an old student key wouldn’t unlock it, but right then, Stanley grinned, took out a credit card, slid it in the doorframe by the bolt, jiggled and pushed it around a bit, and turned the handle.
“Wow, breaking and entering, lock picking, and hopefully a creepy monster thing. This is turning out to be an exciting night!” Danielle grinned.
We went down the hall and descended the stairs at the end. The basement door was very uninviting. It was old and bound with a chain, just like I’d heard.
“Oh, before we go in, I have a question for you,” Stanley said, staring directly at me. “When Danielle told you the story about my incident in this basement, did she tell you about Daphne?”
“Yeah,” I said. Stanley grinned and turned back to the door.
With that, Stanley took the lock on the chain, lifted it up, twisted it around on the chain, and suddenly, it popped open.
“It’s been broken ever since the first time I was down here,” he said.
“Wow, they really need to put more money in the budget for locks,” Danielle said.
We walked into the basement, and for some reason, I felt like I’d already been there. It was just like in the story. A couple of boats sat in the middle of the room, old mops and brooms off to the side, a thick layer of dust on the floor – I couldn’t help but wonder why such a seemingly useful room would go unused. All of the basements in the other dorms were used by maintenance staff or for storage of useful things, not old crap that was far beyond repair.
Stanley was quiet as Danielle and I began looking around the room, not sure what we were supposed to find there. I noticed the stack of newspapers and went over to it. The top paper was surprisingly not as dusty as I felt like it should’ve been, and I immediately recognized the headline: “Girl dies in university lake, ruled as accident.” The date on the paper was 20 years ago, and despite the age and lack of care given to the paper, the text under the headline was still readable.
I skimmed through the article for a few seconds, stopping dead in my tracks at the name of the girl that had drowned. Her name was Daphne Sills.
“Done exploring yet?” Stanley asked. “I think it’s about time to show you guys what you’re here for.”
I was confused. I thought we were already seeing what we were there for – the creepy old basement.
“Daphne, are you there?” Stanley called out.
“Is that you, Stanley?” a voice came back.
“Holy shit!” Danielle screamed. Though I managed to not shout out in surprise, I did jump, and not just a little bit. I’d been standing by the stack of papers, and after I heard that voice, I was against the wall almost 2 feet away.
The girl appeared in front of us, just like I expected her to look. She looked to be about 18 years old, kind of short, and wearing a sundress and the cutest smile I could fathom seeing on her face.
“You brought new friends!” Daphne said.
“Yeah,” Stanley said. Daphne walked over and looked Danielle over first, then she did the same to me.
“You’re the one from the other day,” Daphne said, standing on her toes and staring me in the eye, probably no more than a foot and a half from my face.
“Have we met?” I asked.
“No, not really, but I did help you when you were stuck in the telecom closet,” she said. I froze as a tingling sensation ran through my entire body. It felt like all of the hair on my arms and legs was standing on end.
“You…what?” I stammered. I didn’t know what to say.
“The bad lady was going to hurt you, but I stopped her.”
I looked at Stanley, recalling from the story when Daphne talked about “the bad lady.” She’d never said who the bad lady who, though, or what it was, for that matter. I just knew it was that thing I saw.
“You stopped the bad lady?” I asked.
“Mmm hmm!” she smiled.
“Thanks,” I said. It was short and it sounded weirdly ungrateful after it came out, but I didn’t know what else to say.
“Daphne, I think he’d like to hear what the bad lady is,” Stanley said. I don’t know why, but that surprised me. I thought Daphne would get mad or something if we asked her.
“She’s the bad lady that drags people to the lake and drowns them.”
I stood there, silently, thinking, “No, that can’t be true,” but the silence only made the oh-too-horrifyingly-familiar sound that followed more audible.
“She’s back,” Daphne frowned. “Stanley, you and your friends need to leave.”
“Alright Daphne, thanks for having us,” Stanley said.
SCRATCH SCRATCH SKRRREEETTTTT
It was such a horrible sound that the thing made. It scraped at the cement like a dog with metallic claws. I didn’t turn and look toward the source of the noise, though. I didn’t want to see that thing again, and I noticed that even Danielle, who had wanted to see it, wasn’t looking back. I was scared, but I felt safe for some reason, as if that sweet 18 year old girl would really protect us.
We walked calmly out of the basement, up the stairs, and continued out of the dorm just as we’d come in. By the time we made it back outside, it was around 1:45.
I didn’t have to ask Stanley why we’d left Daphne in the basement. I already understood what she was, and even who she was. The headline in the paper 20 years ago about the girl dying in the lake – that was Daphne. She’d drowned in the lake, and for some reason, she was now a friendly ghost that haunted the basement of Faye Hall, protecting its residents from “the bad lady.”
As we walked back to our cars, I did have one question I wanted Stanley to answer.
“What causes ‘the bad lady’ to attack people? There are tons of people in that dorm; why haven’t they all been attacked?”
Stanley stared up at the night sky for a few moments. Maybe he was thinking about how to answer my question, or maybe he was admiring the stars, but either way, I could tell he was a little scared. It was the first time the entire night that I’d seen any aura of fear surround him. Even in the basement when we’d heard the scratching, he looked completely fine.
“It’s the dark places,” he said. “Every place that sees more darkness than light. Those are the only places she attacks, as well as a solitary dorm room on the 4th floor. That’s why Daphne stays in the basement.”
“But didn’t she pull the fire alarm to get everyone outside during your encounter?” I asked. “The whole dorm wasn’t dark, right?”
“She did do that, but she won’t tell me why. Whenever I start questioning her too much, all she’ll tell me is that she’s vowed not to let anyone else end up like her.”
“Like her?” Danielle asked. She apparently hadn’t connected the dots, but it was a good thing she hadn’t, because there was something I’d missed, too. I got that Daphne had drowned, but I didn’t get how.
“That thing – ‘the bad lady’ – drug her out of Faye Hall, into the lake, and drowned her 20 years ago.”