Ever since I can remember I have been sensitive. So it should’ve been no surprise to me the events that would take place in my early twenties.
I am in the military and so, because of this, cannot identify specific locations since this particular incident took place on a military installation.
I was 21, fresh out of boot camp and well into my final stages of technical training. I was training to be an avionics specialist, a primarily male-dominated field of maintenance and therefore I was always on guard trying to be the best and not be any less than that. So I was naturally distracted by my goals and not in touch with my normal sense of intuition.
We had just been assigned a class on the midnight shift when it started happening. At first I chalked it up to nerves and my body trying to adjust itself to sleeping during the day and going to school at night. About two weeks in I was finally acclimated and comfortable. Well, not exactly comfortable. You see, the base we were at was an older one as most Air Force bases usually are. But our schoolhouse was in what used to be the old training hospital during WWII, the Korean War, and then Vietnam. It wasn’t until those two weeks of adaptation had passed that one of my guys made the observation that the building was shaped like an H.
事情发生的时候，我们刚刚被分配在夜班时间上一节课。刚开始，我努力调整自己的神经和身体，以便能在白天睡觉而晚上去上课。大约两周后，我终于开始逐渐适应并开始觉得舒服了。当然，不是完全的舒服。要知道，我们所在的基地和大多数空军基地一样，都是很旧的。而我们的 原本是二战、朝鲜战争、越战时期的实习医院，直到我们两周的适应期过完后，我们当中的一个人才发现 的形状像个“H”。
It made sense. The floors were all concrete linoleum and instead of stairs in the building there were two gurney ramps per floor, at 180 degree angles from each other that traversed you through the levels. It was not until one night, we were doing our clean up details (the military saves money on janitorial services by farming out its students to indentured servitude) that I got curious. I wanted to see what was on the top floor. From the outside it looked like there were three stories, not including the basement where our break room was located. So I, with my push broom in hand, climbed the ramps. I asked if anyone wanted to go with me. No one wanted to join me, so after resoundingly calling them all a pack of wises I ventured off solo.
I climbed seven floors. I counted. They all looked the same. I figured this was weird but was not too bothered by it. I stared up the next ramp into black abyss and decided that I should get back, for all I knew this could go on forever. I came back down to find my classmates staring at me. I looked at all six faces in puzzlement. Finally, my best friend, Lance, said, “Berk, why didn’t you answer us? Where did you go?” I answered that I just kept following the ramps but I could never find the top, which I found weird, why do you ask? They all chimed in that they had called me numerous times and even ventured up a couple ramps but couldn’t find me. I never heard them. No one believed me and just thought I was trying to be funny. I found it all a bit unsettling, but quickly became immersed in other things.
It was after these two weeks had past that I was awake enough to notice things. It’s odd, when I am tired but not totally downtrodden is when I am my most sensitive. Like a primal survival instinct moves to the forefront of my mind, or something. I started to feel uncomfortable in the bathroom. My eyes would always be drawn to the 2 x 2 foot air vent on the wall where it met the ceiling and went on through the labyrinth of the building. I always felt like if I looked up quickly enough, I would see a pair of red eyes or whatever it was that was watching me. I never saw anything but felt that there was something there, just out of sight in the gloom, breathing and watching.
One night I went to the latrine while everyone went down to the basement break room. I came out, hurrying as usual, and proceeded down the ramps. When I got to the first floor I stopped. This was the floor that we had our original class room. We called it the meat locker because no matter how hot it was outside or even in the hallway; you could almost see your breath as soon as you crossed the threshold.
I focused in on what had caught my attention. It was a flickering florescent light at the end of the hall by the exit door that led out to the enclosed external stairwell. I didn’t think much of it till it went out completely. As I was about to walk away, it came back on as the light in front of it flicked off. It did this in rapid succession down the hall towards me, faster and faster. The truly terrifying part was not the lights but the racing shadow it created on the floor. It was as if an impenetrable black mass was charging me at ramming speed. Filled with inexplicable horror and certainty that this was the same ominous thing in the bathroom, I turned on my heels and started down the ramp only to be shoved, hard, by something. I tumbled all the way down and somehow managed to roll into a crouching position, sprang to my feet and kept running till I hit the bottom ramp. Whereby I collected myself enough to catch my breath and walk the rest of the way down. In passing the two big shut doors adjacent to the last ramp I had another weird feeling of certainty and realization: this was a hospital (we already know that.) This basement used to be the morgue. The first level with the meat locker classroom was the operating wing that would explain the red linoleum versus the equally aged brown stuff on the subsequent floors; for all the blood spillage during surgeries. You know there were a lot of deaths here; it was a training hospital during war time.
In the following weeks I saw many things that would’ve normally unnerved me a bit. I saw more ghosts than I can count. More than I ever did in childhood. In some ways it was comforting knowing that I still had this sensitivity but sad to know that I will always know way more than I ever wanted to. I saw nurses and doctors mostly. Irritatingly enough, it was usually when I was alone, not that I wanted to share it with anyone. I wouldn’t want them to think I was buckling under the pressure.
The only time I was ever scared was on the first floor with the red linoleum. About a week before we were due to graduate I found myself alone on this floor. I always got cold and anxious there. Finally, I saw him. It was strange. I felt the animosity, believe me it was almost overpowering, but it was like being in the eye of a raging storm. He was in a green army air corps uniform. Handsome. Angry. Dead. I don’t know why he chose me as the focal point of his anger. I still don’t. But I know that I will never forget that moment. It was as if time stood still. In that instance he just stared holes into me. I don’t know if it was to show me that he could have done something more but chose to show benevolence or if he saw something strong in me, like one warrior sizing up another.
We graduated shortly thereafter. As we were marching home, I turned to look at the schoolhouse. And who should I see, but my soldier in the first floor window. Just staring. I haven’t thought too much about him since then, but I’m sure we’ll meet again when I go back to be an instructor.