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Lynchburg, Virginia

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by Braelyn

       Categories: touch, hand, bathroom, closet, apartment

What is it about Lynchburg? In 1969 I was a freshman at Lynchburg College, living on the top floor of Hundley Hall. At both ends of the long hallway which ran the length of the building were store room where luggage was kept, and no one ever went. The storerooms, as I recall, had no windows and were always dark, with eaved slanting walls and an air of bleak isolation. The storerooms had their scare-stories, tales of suicide and mysterious happenings, none of which I believed, but which were fun to talk about, which is exactly what we were doing in this particular weekend night.

A group of five or six girls were gathered safely in my room, sitting in a circle on the linoleum floor with candles blazing and a towel rolled up against the base of the door to conceal the smell of cigarette smoke which was prohibited in the rooms. There were displays of silly parlor tricks, jokes, and, of course, the hushed telling of ghost stories. During the middle of this, I heard an immense crash reverberate down the long ball outside my room. The sound was explosive, as if several detached wooden doors had fallen in an echo chamber. I knew it had come from the storage room on my end of the floor. I wondered if a stack of trunks had somehow fallen over, and immediately, I heard a deep lion-like voice growl my last name.
Every intuition I possessed recognized this voice as evil, and chills of fear ran through my veins. I looked in astonishment at my companions to see their reaction, but they gazed complacently back, which suggested to me that they were engaged in a prank against me. I said, ''you did it!'' They stared, uncomprehending. They had heard nothing. They heard no crash, no growl, or even no name-calling. I was confounded. The merry party continued as before, though a couple of my classmates slipped sidelong glances at me, as if assessing my sanity. Yet, several minutes later, I again heard the same shattering crash of the sound split into the quietness of my room. This time, a quiet girl that I'll call Nancy, jolted upright. ''That's not funny,'' she cried, tears forming as she confronted us, ''that's not funny at all. It's horrible and mean!''

An older girl, Karen, asked kindly, ''what's wrong? Are you okay?'' ''You know what I mean, trying to scare me like that! That voice!'' The other girls regarded Nancy with utter confusion; I could see they had no idea what she was talking about. ''I heard it,'' I told her quickly. ''I heard the loud noise,--'' I said while the others sat staring, looking from one to another. ''It called my name,'' Nancy whispered, more to herself than the rest of us. Angry tears pooled around her eyes. ''I believe you,'' I said. ''It called my name, too. '' I told her that.

Eyeing us with fear and disgust, she rose from the floor and left the room, seeming to shake the very dust from the air. She wanted no more of us, while I was almost afraid to be alone. After half a beat the party continued, and no one seemed to miss Nancy at all. She had been much too serious and disturbed, especially about a sound that nobody else had even been able to hear. I had no time to think about it very much at that moment, but I did know that Nancy and I had been called by genuine evil that night. I knew that she, like I myself, had instantly resolved to stay away from it forever -- that voice which held chaos and agony in its mere utterance.
Submitted by Cheryl


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