Some people can't resist the lure of abandoned schools and hospitals that were outgrown by their neighborhoods, or maybe asylums that were outgrown by medical knowledge. From ghostly specters and disembodied voices to terrible legacies and very real danger, these urban explorers from Reddit share their most disquieting moments; maybe these buildings are not as abandoned as they appear.
My friends and I snuck into an abandoned hotel once. We found this massive room with a long-drained pool sunk into the tiles. Everything echoed strangely, even our own breathing. We all jumped when my friend knocked over an old cup, because the noise it made was super loud due to the echo. Then, as we all stared at each other in the ringing silence, about two seconds —and suddenly, we heard a huge BOOM from somewhere upstairs.
It seemed like it shook the entire hotel. That’s the fastest I’ve ever run in my life.
One night, we were walking around the French Quarter in Louisiana and we found an abandoned bar. Naturally, we decided to go inside. All the mirrors were cracked and all the beers were full of brown murky stuff. The building was old and creaked a lot as we walked. Suddenly, one of my friends tripped and knocked over one of the mugs of brown stuff.
We all froze and, to our horror, we heard something make noises behind the wall of the bar. It sounded like something hitting a wooden object and dress shoes walking on a marble floor, and it was loud, but there was nothing there! We got out of there fast.
I live in an area that is near a beach and very touristy. So touristy that in the winter, the place is completely devoid of life. There were a lot of apartments and hotels around that were under construction—basically just shells, with no windows or doors installed yet. At about 2 am one night, I went out to go to the local gas station to grab some smokes.
The streets were dead quiet and I could hear the teeniest, tiniest sounds, like a piece of newspaper rustling in the almost non-existent breeze. I was walking past one of the empty buildings when I suddenly felt like I was being watched. I carefully looked up and around but I couldn't hear or see anything, so I carried on walking.
I slowed down and tried to be as quiet as possible while listening for anything strange. Then it happened...and I almost wet myself. Suddenly, every single dog around just went crazy barking. It made me jump about 10 feet. Feeling like eyes were on me again, I looked up—and there, on the 3rd floor of an apartment with no windows or doors installed yet was a single dog, just staring at me.
I literally turned around and walked straight back home, figuring that I'd just go get smokes at a more reasonable time.
I decided to climb a tree with a friend in the middle of a large college campus at 2 am one night. We sat up there chatting for a while, and then fell silent as a car pulled up and parked nearly right below us. One guy got out, and the driver stayed put with the engine running. 5 minutes passed with all of us just frozen in place.
Then, a whistle came from behind a nearby building, and a whistle was returned from the guy below us. A few minutes later, someone new walked up. There was a short exchange, and we could hear and see everything from our position in the trees. Then, the newcomer walked away, the first guy back into the car, and the car left.
We were silent and frozen for at least 10 minutes. Then, we hand gestured to each other and decided it was go time. We dropped out of the tree and ran. Technically, it was those guys who should have felt "not alone," since we were watching them, but instead we felt like people were watching US for weeks. We were so sure we had been spotted, and we were waiting for the axe to fall.
There was a decommissioned Naval Base in the town I grew up in. We used to sneak into the old barracks to explore. One time, we had been exploring for a while, confident that we were the only people there, when all of a sudden I turned a corner into the hallway and made a chilling discovery. There was a lit cigarette on the ground. The smoke was still curling up through the darkness.
I froze—there was nobody around from what I could see or hear. I should have heard someone walking away, as the floors were creaky wooden boards—but I heard nothing. We got out of there pretty quick after that.
I was exploring an abandoned rehabilitation center near my house with two of my friends. There were a few buildings and while we were inside one, it had snowed enough to cover the ground. When we finished that building, we approached another one, and when I looked down, I saw a very large set of men's footprints in the snow, heading into the building.
We continued anyway, since we always went prepared to defend ourselves, and we opened the door...to a completely silent, empty building. Feeling on edge, we moved quietly across the old floor. There was a staircase to a tiny loft, and we went up—still, no sign of the man to whom the footprints belonged.
Then, one of my friends noticed something strange: someone had cut a makeshift door in the wall to what was presumably an attic space on the other side. We positioned ourselves defensively, our hearts pounding, and then opened that door too—and there was still no one. Confused and creeped out, we made out way back down, searching fruitlessly as we went.
We never saw anyone but when we got back outside, those footprints were still visible in the snow, going in, but none coming out except our own. I haven't been back since.
There’s a moderately well known abandoned mental hospital close to my town and a few months back, some friends and I went to explore a bit. In one of the rooms on the ground floor, we found a setup of a few folding chairs and a couple of old mattresses with blankets piled on them. We stayed there for about 10 minutes and then went on with our adventure upwards.
It was pretty uneventful from then on; we saw a few really cool graffiti murals, and there was an awesome view from the roof. When we were coming back down, we passed through the room with the chairs—and suddenly froze. All of the chairs had been folded up and neatly stacked against the wall, and the mattresses had been made up like beds.
Whoever did it would’ve most likely known that we were there and must have waited for us to leave to do all of that, as it was only a timeframe of about 45 minutes. There were no threats or anything, just an eerie feeling of KNOWING we had been watched in an abandoned mental hospital.
I once explored an old makeup factory that had empty cages in the basement for animal testing. Those were creepy on their own. The place was extremely dilapidated; half of it had fallen apart. There was no access to the upstairs because every staircase was either disintegrating from water damage or so riddled with holes and rotten boards that it would constitute a flat-out suicide mission to attempt to climb it.
As my buddy and I found another dead end and accepted that we couldn’t get upstairs, we heard something that made us stop in our tracks. Someone was running on the floor above us, and it sounded like they were coming straight towards us! My buddy flipped his knife out, ready for some psychopath to just hurl themselves down what was basically a straight drop to the first floor due to the mostly disintegrated staircase ahead of us...but the footsteps suddenly just stopped.
We couldn’t see anyone, and after a moment, we looked at each other and started back the way we came as fast as we could. I still don’t think anything human could have gained the upper floor in that factory, but that’s what it sounded like!
We decided to explore an old flour mill on Harbor Island in Seattle, which had been abandoned and locked up for a while. We were working our way through some of the regular block areas, and our buddy suddenly stopped us and swore that he heard something. We all stopped dead in our tracks, lights pointed down, just listening.
The amount of noise a dilapidated building makes when you're trying to be quiet is amazing; constant creaking and wind noises. Then I started to hear it–it was shuffling, with the sound of somebody dragging something across concrete. At this point, I could feel my heart jumping out of my chest, and the blood pulsing in my ears and head. I was hyper-aware as I tried to pinpoint the sound and associate it with something I knew, but I couldn’t.
By the time we were sure it wasn’t just the wind, we had all heard the noises (there were 5 of us) and we were starting to think it was coming from near the stairs. We slowly, achingly, crept our way over broken glass and dirt. When we came upon the stairwell, we shone our lights down and up to the adjacent landings and couldn't see anything.
My buddy turned around and stepped on an old water bottle on the ground, making the loudest crackling a water bottle has ever made in the history of recyclables. One of my other friends, looking back down the factory area we had just gone through, got startled and swore loudly at the sound of the water bottle.
We immediately heard the most chilling, deep, scream I have ever imagined. At that instant, we all just put the gas on and ran the heck out and didn't stop our dead sprint until we got back to our cars. We figured it must have been some homeless person we scared with our creeping around and sudden expletive, but we never saw the person or identified the sound. So who knows?
Some friends and I broke into an abandoned mental institution. In one of the rooms, we found a fist-sized white and red box with medical markings on it. It was sitting on the floor on top of a broken vinyl record. One side of the box was busted open and inside there was what appeared to be some sort of organ. There was blood all around the box that was just starting to congeal around the edges, so it was clearly fairly fresh.
We obviously should have booked it out of there as soon as we saw that but, being stupid kids, we decided to leave the room with the box and keep exploring. We explored one more room with patient records and, needless to say, we took some and then started home. Afterward, we went to eat at a diner and started going over the paperwork to see what we had found.
Among the papers, we found a single page out of a photo album with 6 photos on it. Here’s where it gets unbelievable: 3 out of the 6 photos had my friend’s mom in them. She was dressed in a uniform and was clearly working at the institution. My friend had had no idea her mom had ever worked there. What makes it even weirder is that they were the only photos we found.
What are the odds that, out of all of the old papers and photos that littered the ground of that place, we would pick up the ones of my friend’s mom?
There is a building in my city that has been abandoned for over a decade. The building itself is massive; it covers over 40 acres. As a result of this, if the cops are called they won’t search for you inside, but instead wait for you to come out. The second time I went to explore this building, it was about 3 am and we were looking for a way inside. We came across a section of the building that was a large outdoor amphitheater, so we walked down to the center and went up to the boarded-up windows.
As we were looking for any loose boards, we started to hear voices. We followed the sound and determined it was coming from behind one of the boarded-up windows. We listened and, sure enough, on the other side of the wood you could hear talking. But the more we listened, the more we began to realize that it was only one voice; there was someone having a full-on conversation with themselves on the other side of the board. We started to feel pretty creeped-out and got out of there.
About 14 years ago, I was living in China, and when I got bored, I’d go out riding on my motorized scooter and just explore various roads. One night, I decided to check out a place I had been to in the daytime. There was a little settlement where they were building a whole bunch of new things, including an apartment building that was at least 20 stories high. It was just a shell; no windows or doors or even stairs, just the concrete floors and some of the walls.
That night, I rode to the partially completed apartment building and stopped, because something was different. There were bamboo ladders leading up to the first few floors, and more bamboo ladders inside going all the way up the building. The entire building was filled with people. They had little fires going and were cooking, and I could see adults and children and even babies.
There were hundreds of people living there, and as I stopped with the engine running, more and more heads started appearing over the edge of the building, all of them watching me. The creepiest part was that they were all silent; nobody called out. They just looked. So I rode off again, feeling spooked.
I explored part of an old Nike or Atlas missile site one night with a few friends. We weren’t doing anything bad, just looking around. As we were leaving, things got weird. I was looking at my friend, and a bright red dot from a laser appeared in the center of his forehead. We instinctively ducked and looked toward the woods, thinking someone was shining a laser pointer at us from the cover of the trees.
Somehow, we couldn’t actually see where they were though, even though that’s usually pretty easy to do with laser pointers. I still wonder if it was just a laser pointer and not a laser sight instead.
One day, three of my friends and I decided to explore a local ruined mansion that was once owned by a rather eccentric millionaire. It featured a 14-story penthouse, with an elevator shaft up to it from the two-story mansion below. The driveway itself was the only way onto the enormous property without using a boat, as there was a moat around the entire house.
The tower was very visible from a local highway, so we knew exactly where it was, and we decided to hike in. After some time exploring and honestly not seeing much that was interesting, my friend decided to tell us a story about a party that had happened there a decade ago. A young teenager had had a bit too much to drink and had tragically fallen down the elevator shaft to her death.
At first, I didn’t believe him, but after consulting Google, it turned out to be very real, which freaked all of us out a bit, as it was very dark outside by then. As I scrolled down, I saw that there were even a few articles claiming the tower was now haunted. We carried on exploring a little more, and then got to a lounge on the second floor.
I looked out from a window—and at that exact moment, I saw a flock of birds take flight from the woods, like there was something out there that had set them off. I told myself they were just birds, and we continued exploring. At that point, I was on edge myself but, not wanting to appear weak, I figured I’d keep exploring until my friends were ready to leave.
We found a kitchen on the second floor, and that’s when things started to get truly terrifying. The kitchen was deep into the house, with no windows to the outdoors. We all froze when we heard a door open on the floor below us, and then the sound of footsteps. We all stopped dead in our tracks and got as quiet as we humanly could, listening for anything.
We could still hear these footsteps downstairs, and we quietly decided that we needed to sneak out of the mansion as fast as we could. We were able to squeeze out of a broken window and onto the first story roof, above the garage. We jumped down from there and bolted as fast as we could. I remember turning around as we ran—and seeing the silhouette of a figure standing at the front of the house, no doubt the person we had heard when we were upstairs.
Near an apartment I used to live in, there was an old hotel that was abandoned and boarded up. One night, we decided that exploring the old hotel would be a brilliant idea. We made our way over and explored a couple of the rooms. They were moldy, dirty, and broken down, but didn't have anything unexpected, just graffiti on the walls and some garbage in the rooms.
Then, we went into the office/lobby area. As soon as we walked in, we froze. There, in the distance, in the darkened lobby, was a man staring at us. He didn't move, just stood there and stared us down. We bolted, quickly, and ran at a full sprint back to my apartment. Thankfully, the man (homeless, drug addict, we didn't know) didn't follow us.
A few days later, my friend was back over during the day. We were talking about the experience at the hotel and, this time spurred on by daylight, decided to look in the hotel lobby again. When we entered, the man was still there... standing in the same spot, staring us down... and, illuminated by daylight, clearly made of cardboard.
We had gotten freaked out by a cardboard cutout advertising the hotel's website and online bookings.
Every morning my mum used to take my brother and me to our grandparents’ while she went to work. Near my grandparents’ house, there was a huge abandoned factory, and I had always wanted to go to see what was in there. So one day, I begged my uncle (he lived at my grandparents' house) to go with me to explore that building. He said yes, so we went to the building and searched for an opening to get inside.
Once inside, we started to look around the place, and obviously found nothing except old machines and stuff like that. We searched through the whole building. Then, when we were about to leave, we started getting an eerie feeling like we were not alone. We got quiet, and then jumped as we heard noises coming from upstairs…and then footsteps.
Then, we both saw a shadow coming towards us from the end of a shadowy hallway, so we got the heck out of there, running. That was the first and last time I explored the factory, and I don’t think my uncle ever went back either!
My friends and I explored an abandoned psych hospital in Suffolk County, Long Island. After checking out the building and finding some really cool areas, like an old cafeteria and an abandoned bowling alley, we decided to leave. As we were making our way towards the entrance, I realized that I had left my flashlight back in a patient room, so I told my friends that I was going to go back quickly to grab it.
On the way back to retrieve it, alone now in the musty hallways, I started to feel uneasy. I made my way down the hallway to the room where my flashlight was, and started to feel even more nervous. Then, my heart stopped; the door to the room I was aiming for was closed—and there was flickering light visible through the crack under the door. I forgot about my flashlight, turned tail, and ran back to my friends.
My father does architectural salvaging for a living, and I help him out from time to time. One day, he told me that when he was touring Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts, he was following two other salvagers and the foreman through the attics. Upon turning a corner, they all paused and stared. There, sitting in the middle of a dusty shaft of light from a shattered skylight, in an otherwise completely empty attic, were two children's Easter Baskets.
When I was about 9, a friend and I had finally worked up the courage to explore this super scary-looking dilapidated house in our neighborhood. It was boarded up really solidly; nobody was getting in or out without a ton of work prying off boards from door or window frames. After searching exhaustively, we figured that the easiest way in was to just widen a small hole we had discovered in a section of exposed drywall at the back of the house.
It took us a while, but we did it! As soon as we stepped in, we froze, nearly wetting ourselves in terror. There was something vaguely human-shaped at the top of the stairs. We bolted back through the wall, screaming, and took off running, covered in drywall dust.
My friends and I grew up in a town with a large, abandoned psychiatric hospital. People went in there all the time, so my friends and I decided to sneak in at around 2 am one night in our senior year. We got up to the third floor, just goofing around, but then we all froze when we started hearing footsteps from around the next corner.
We decided to turn the flashlights off and hide in a room, to see who it was. We watched this big, black figure shuffle slowly into view, cross the open door of the room we were in, and then continue down the hall. We held our breath the entire time, every hair on our bodies standing on end. When the shuffling sounds finally faded, we ran the opposite way down the hallway to another stairwell and got the heck out.
Back in my teenage hoodlum days, some friends and I did some urban exploration in an abandoned medical facility. It was perched atop a steep hill with only one road in and out, surrounded by a small forest. It had been totally left to rot…or so we thought. The first thing we noticed was that there were some ambient lights on—the place was not totally off the grid, like we were led to believe.
We figured they were probably just there to scare off troublemakers like us. The rest of the facade was dark, and there were no cars in the lot. We got inside through a boarded-up broken window. Once inside, it became clear that place was not abandoned. There were interior lights that came on as we wandered around, and some equipment was scattered about.
I started to get an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach, but my friends seemed to be enjoying themselves, and I didn't want to be the one who got scared. Yet I couldn't ignore the sense of pure dread that was getting stronger every second I was in the place. Finally, I convinced them that we needed to leave, fast.
We scrambled back out the window, climbed in the car and peeled off, turning off the only road that leads up the hill and stopping at a nearby gas station. A few of my friends went inside to get drinks, but a few of us stayed in the car. From the spot where we parked, we could see up the hill to the outside of the facility.
As we watched, a security car with flashing orange lights pulled up to the front, followed shortly by a police car. We must have missed them by two minutes. If I hadn't listened to my gut, my hoodlum friends and I probably would have spent some time in jail for breaking and entering.
One night about 8 or 9 years ago, a few friends and I were out driving around in two cars, and we stopped for a bathroom break in a small parking lot on the side of the road. There was a path on the other side of the lot to a gated house, another path that led down to a beach, and also an opening through the old, damaged gate.
One of the guys ventured a little further, and came back saying he’d found an abandoned-looking trailer in the middle of the forested area, with camping chairs set up outside it. We all looked from our position at the gate; it did look in disrepair and the window was smashed. No signs of life. There was a clear sky that night, so the moon gave us some visibility.
We decided to slowly sneak up to the trailer, maybe have a look inside, and just go from there. The silence was eerie. I felt goosebumps race across my skin—like something was very wrong. Then, as we got close to the caravan, I suddenly noticed an old-looking bike propped up against the side of the trailer that we hadn’t seen before.
Alarm bells instantly went off and I started to whisper to the lead guy to let him know—but then someone suddenly jumped out from a bush, just past the caravan. That was, without a doubt, the 2nd scariest moment of my life so far. The scariest moment happened seconds later. We had all started screaming and sprinting back to our cars, and I was overtaken by the lead guy of our group, leaving me last in line.
As I reached the gate, I heard VERY quick, heavy footsteps behind me. That was scary moment number 1 of all time for me so far, and I sped up even more, using my last ounces of strength to run the last few steps to my car. It was absolute chaos, everyone seemed to be running in all directions, screaming. I switched the engine on, which turned on the lights, which illuminated the guy who was chasing us—and the long, metal-tipped harpoon that he was waving around.
He hit the hood of my car with the blunt end and started screaming something. Two of my friends jumped into my car, but the driver of the other car couldn’t get his keys out of his pocket, so he and the rest ran out of the parking lot onto a completely dark, 60 mph road that went steeply downhill. I somehow had enough nerve left to reverse while being careful not to hit anyone, and then drive out of the parking lot while the guy stood there, still waving his harpoon and shouting, but thankfully he didn’t chase me.
We managed to rendezvous some distance down the road; the guys who ran had covered a really impressive distance in a short amount of time. The next step was to retrieve the other car, as the guy finally got his keys out. To be honest, we expected harpoon dude to have smashed it up a bit, but he never even touched it. I had to drive right up to the other car for the driver to retrieve it.
I was exploring an abandoned hospital near my house with my buddies. The complex was huge; it had a college, living areas, and a massive main treatment center. After several weekends of exploring the area, we found lots of cool things: old surgical equipment, rooms blocked off and covered with radiation warnings, and massive machines we could only guess the purpose for.
One weekend we were very lost in the main area and found a back staircase in some random back room that went up to a floor that wasn't marked on the floor plans or main stairways. The floor had no windows at all, so we had to rely entirely on our flip phones’ screens on full brightness as flashlights. We went in the first room, and there was only a single, horrifying thing inside: a human-sized cage.
It had a locking door and that little sliding thing on the bottom to put food trays in. There was only a small cot in it, and a very small toilet. We were a little freaked out and tried to pretend it was possibly a cage for something else, but then we went down the hallway and looked in each room, we found only the same large cages in each one. We quickly got out of there, and they have since torn down the complex.
One night, we couldn’t find our cat, so my brother and I were out looking for him. There was an old abandoned hotel up the road, and we figured it might be a good cat hideout, so we went to check it out. The place was way larger than we realized and had a highly creepy vibe. There were still shoes and clothes hung in closets and even places where people had just left their tea or possessions behind.
Everything was covered in a layer of dust and cobwebs; it looked like people left in a huge hurry and never came back. We never did figure out why, because there were no signs of fire or anything. All we knew was that it had been vacant for about a decade. We searched all four floors, more out of curiosity by that point.
The final place we had to search was the lobby. We went down, and I was busy staring at this perfect ream of white printer paper. It was the old kind, with perforated strips of holes down both sides, but what interested me was that it was perfectly pristine. It had no dust and no water damage, despite the floor around it being covered in about an inch of a mixture of dust, shards of broken glass, and rotting floorboards.
While I was considering the paper, I suddenly saw movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked up—and there was a woman standing by the reception desk. Standing totally normally, as if she worked for this long-forgotten hotel. I swear that I heard her say, "Hi there. How can I help you?” I've never been so scared in my entire life. I felt frozen.
She somehow made no sound walking up to us in a place where you simply could not move silently, due to all of the debris on the floor. Her demeanor was bizarre, and I thought there was no way she was real, I had to be imagining it. My brother, who evidently saw her too and was apparently a bit braver then me, decided to engage with her, and explained why we were there.
She told us that she "looked after the cats." Then, she asked us to come fix a pipe on the third floor. My brother followed her as if it was a perfectly normal request, but all I could think was "holy crap, she's going to kill us." Not wanting my brother to get shanked by some drugged-up cat hoarder alone, I decided to follow at a distance, picked up a shard of glass, and hid it in my sleeve.
We climbed the rotten stairways like we were on our way up a marble staircase in the Ritz. To my surprise, there WAS a broken pipe. We determined that the pipe couldn't be fixed though, and went back downstairs. She sort of excused herself and left. Afterward, my brother also said he was convinced that she was a ghost at first. Why he spoke to her is beyond me to this day. I thought he'd lost it.
My friends and I once explored a huge abandoned apartment complex. We had to climb in from the roof and were working our way down. The stairs brought us past at least 200 individual apartments. Every door was open, or at least unlocked, except the one on the third floor at the end of the hallway, C46. I have a lock pick set and I'm pretty good with it, so we camped out for at least 30 minutes trying to get into the room.
After finally accepting that we couldn't get in, we left, a little creeped out, because the lock seemed normal and normal locks were usually easy for me to pick. Once outside and in the truck, I turned back to the building one final time–and felt my stomach drop. The locked room had a light on and, even though it may have been the curtains or just my head, it looked like someone was standing there, in the window, staring down at us.
It really freaked us out, because we had been outside the door for quite a while and had not seen or heard anything.
I explored an abandoned hospital/asylum at a State School a few times. Some of the rooms even had padded walls. The moment I walked in, I felt like I wasn't alone. The air felt very strange, and I always walked back out with a terrible headache that went away as soon as I left the building. A psychic friend refused to walk near it, since he also got a strange vibe from it.
When development finally started happening, the poor demolition crew lost a lot of members due to them hearing disembodied screaming, and being touched by something that wasn’t there while cleaning the buildings out. I felt relieved when they finally tore it down.
My friends and I were exploring an abandoned restaurant in this beach town one winter’s night. We snuck in through a broken window on the shore side, to avoid being spotted by any cars driving by. Inside, there was a long bar, with tables and chairs tossed about haphazardly. We walked downstairs into a wine cellar, and started walking through the labyrinth of hallways, finding that the basement was deceptively larger than we would have expected for a beachside restaurant.
As we went further, I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that we were being watched. We wandered into this room off of one of the hallways and shone our flashlights around the edges. There, in a corner amid the dust, we saw an unmade cot on the floor, along with a safety razor next to a mirror and some random other belongings.
Our stomachs immediately dropped as we realized we were currently in someone's living quarters, and promptly vacated the premises. To this day, we still don't know if the person was hiding in the basement with us, waiting for us to leave, or if we stumbled on it while they were out and about. Either way, we couldn't shake the feeling of being watched by someone from the shadows of that basement.
One night, my friend and I were walking back to his place after a concert. It was pretty late, and we decided to take a shortcut through a construction site because we were tired. Since all the streets around the construction site were closed, it was completely empty, as if the whole area was abandoned in a zombie apocalypse, with just the two of us left in the South Loop area of Chicago.
While we were crossing a small bridge and just chatting away about what we liked the most about the show, I was looking at him and then turned my head forward—and found myself face to face with what looked like a zombie rat. Someone had taken a mummified rat or squirrel or something and used wire to position it like it was pouncing mid-air at your face.
Scared the heck out of me. The combination of the abandoned construction site and the zombie rat freaked both of us out, so we ran until we hit a busy street with other people around.
One summer when I was a kid, it somehow got popular to explore the storm drainage system underneath our neighborhood. These were cylindrical tunnels made from pre-made pieces. Getting into the pipes required crawling through a tight fit for 15-20 feet, but after that, we could stand up easily. Occasionally there were odd structures, like huge grates that looked like prison bars that only covered the bottom half the pipe.
Very rarely, there was light coming in from a grate in the road above, but most of the time we needed flashlights to see anything at all. Every single sound was nerve-wracking, because technically there shouldn't have been any sounds other than running water down there. One day my brother, who was essentially fearless, and some of his friends decided to explore a tunnel none of us had ever ventured into.
I’ll admit it: I was too scared. I don't know why I was creeped out on that day, but I was. So two friends and I stayed at the junction while my brother and his two friends went exploring. After they were gone for ten or fifteen minutes, we heard terrified shouting and running footsteps echoing down the tunnels, coming toward us. Finally, through the dark tunnel, I heard one of my brother's friends shout a single word: "Go!"
We all ran down the big tunnel that we knew led to a pond exit, because instinctively we knew that whatever was down there would catch us if we had to shimmy back through the small pipes to get out the way we had gone in. So we ran, hard, flashlight beams bouncing off the walls, until we finally started seeing light from where the tunnel emptied into the pond.
One by one, we all reached the drop and just kept running into thin air, falling into the pond below. I was terrified of heights and I didn't even know how to swim very well, but that didn't stop me. As I was making my way to land, my brother and his friends came shooting out of the pipe and into the pond. For a moment I thought they had been playing a prank on us, but my brother immediately insisted that we all go home.
He wouldn't even tell me what happened on the entire, dripping wet walk. The whole group went to my house and my brother told my mother what happened—his story still sends a chill down my spine to this day. Apparently, they had stumbled across a spot where light was trickling in from above, illuminating a pile of trash and debris built up around one of those half-pipe-high bar grates. And, lying within that pile of trash, they had seen a man. When their flashlight beams hit him, he had raised his head, reached out towards them, and started crawling out of the trash in their direction. So they ran.
My mother called the police. They asked my brother to guide them to the location in the pipes where this happened, and they found exactly what he described...but the man was gone. Within minutes, there were at least a dozen police cars around our neighborhood, and people and dogs searching that drainage system from end to end.
They wouldn't tell us any details, but we do know that they never found the man. The dogs followed his scent to the end of the pipe at the pond, but they never picked up the scent anywhere on the ground around the pond or creek. As far as I know, none of us ever went into the storm drains again.
One night, while exploring a large abandoned building, we found one of the boarded-up windows where the wood looked like it wasn’t fully secured. We pushed it back and there must have been some bricks piled up against it on the other side, because there was a crash when we pushed it open. RIGHT when that happened, we heard someone running away, yet we still ventured in, thinking it was probably just another explorer.
When we had climbed inside and walked around a bit, we stepped into a scene from a horror movie. We found a room in the basement that had blood all over the floor. We panicked then and tried to get out, but it started to feel like we were trapped. We were walking in circles, we kept taking different turns and ending up at the same place!
We finally realized that we were in a section that was blocked off except for the one hole in the wall through which we had entered. Just as we were about to call the police for a rescue, thankfully, we found the room with the hole and got out of there.
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