Haunted Tour After Hours

Haunted Tour After Hours

A Story by Sarah J Dhue
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Story I wrote and submitted to the 2021 #ShareYourScare contest.

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     “It should just be a few more blocks, then hook a left,” Shannon said to her best friend, Hadley, as they made their way along the dark sidewalk.  Shannon was tall and fit, with blonde hair in a pixie cut, while Hadley was short and slender with long, brunette hair.

            “You’re sure you remember where it is?” Hadley asked doubtfully.

            “Yes, of course I do!”

            Shannon and Hadley had met in college and been friends for several years.  They were vacationing in a small river town, just a few days to get away from everything and unwind.  Both women were fast approaching thirty and couldn’t remember the last time they’d taken more than a few hours to just relax, let alone a few days.

They had just completed a haunted bus tour of the town and decided to walk back to some of the locations now that it was after dark.  One of the stops on this tour had been an old jail, built back in the 1800s and used up until the 1970s.  Some people had claimed to see an apparition of a man pacing in the upstairs window with a large ring of keys attached to his hip, presumably a jailer.  Contractors working on the building had a fast turnover, as many had complained about their tools going missing and other such unexplainable inconveniences.

Shannon and Hadley had reached the point at which Shannon had said they would need to turn and when they did, they could just see the old jail past a spanning antique shop’s window.  They walked past the shop and reached the corner.  Both women stopped, staring at the structure, illuminated by a single streetlight across the road from it.

“It’s creepier than I expected it to be,” Shannon commented.

“Yeah,” Hadley replied.

The building had an interesting architectural design.  It was constructed of mostly brick and mortar, with a granite foundation.  It had towers on two of its corners; one looked like a fortified tower while the other had a domed turret.  Most of the windows were glass-paned and curtainless, allowing for an easy view of the inside, but several of the first story windows still had iron bars set into the brick from when they had been cells.

The two stared at the building a moment longer, standing on the adjacent corner.  A weird vibe had set in, but they both tried to dismiss it as just the thrill of exploring a supposedly haunted building.

“You ready?” Shannon said, taking a step into the street toward the jail.

“Yeah, let’s go,” Hadley followed, her phone already in her hand ready to capture photos and video.  The two started across the intersection, Hadley breaking into a jog and passing Shannon, beating her to the curb.

They stood at the base of the fortified tower, several large windows in front of them, but it was too dark to see inside without shining a flashlight.  Hadley turned hers on since she already had her phone out, but it reflected harshly off the glass.  Shannon took a few tentative steps forward, cupping her hands around her eyes, but hesitating before putting her face to the glass.

“Well, go look.  Or are you scared?” Hadley teased.

“Of course I’m scared; what if something moves?” Shannon retorted.

“Yeah; I do hope there isn’t someone in there,” Hadley said nervously.

“Exactly,” Shannon replied, putting her face to the glass.

“I meant someone alive,” Hadley added, shaking her head and sticking her tongue out at Shannon.  Hadley had always found hauntings and ghosts interesting, but wasn’t quite sure if she believed in them.  Shannon, on the other hand, was a firm believer.  After a moment, Hadley joined Shannon at the window.

Inside the building was falling into disrepair: the walls were crumbling, and parts of the ceiling had fallen to the floor.  There was a weathered wooden cabinet against one wall and a potted plant sitting on one of the large window sills; it looked like it had been dead a long time.  The two continued around the building, reaching the base of the turret and finding a moldy door set into the backside of it.  Shannon tried the handle, but it was locked.  Shannon pulled out her phone, snapping some pics of the dilapidated building.  Who knew; maybe if they didn’t see ghosts now, they’d catch something on camera.

The sound of a shoe scuffing the pavement around the side of the building caught both women’s attention, and they were quickly reminded that they were alone in an isolated part of an unfamiliar city.  After a moment, Shannon leaned around the building to look, Hadley close behind with the flashlight.  There was no one there.  “You heard that too, right?” Shannon said, and Hadley nodded.  After a moment, Shannon shrugged, “Probably just someone walking by…  Nothing to worry about.”

They continued around the building until they found themselves at the front door, the township’s name hand-painted and faded on the glass.  They both looked up at the building, “It’s just so creepy looking,” Shannon restated.  “But cool!”

“It is really cool,” Hadley started fiddling with some settings on her phone.  “I wanna get a walkaround video.”

“Okay, sounds good,” Shannon shot Hadley the thumbs up, and they started around the building.

Since the only light was from the single streetlight, Hadley had her flash on, the light reflecting off of each window that she passed.  Sure, she was spooked, but one had to be careful when exploring abandoned places like this, haunted or not.  She felt better knowing that Shannon was right next to her.  As she reached the corner of the building, she turned to say something to Shannon, “Hey, what do y-” She stopped talking abruptly.  Shannon wasn’t there.  Just then, she heard shoes hitting the pavement and turned to look over her other shoulder, Shannon hurrying toward her from the front door.

Shannon had stopped to get a good photo of the door, but had noticed Hadley about to go around the corner of the building and didn’t want to lose sight of her.  The closer she got to Hadley, though, she could see that she had a strange expression on her face and had stopped recording.

“I thought you were walking next to me,” Hadley said, a slight tremor to her voice.

“Yeah, sorry, I stopped to take a pic of the door-”

“No.  I heard you walking next to me…  Then, you weren’t there.”

“Oh.”  The two stood in silence for a moment, Shannon laughing nervously.  “You, uh, gonna finish your vid?”

“No.  I think I’m ready to leave,” Hadley said, clearly shaken.

“Okay,” Shannon agreed.  “Still want to walk by the church?” she asked - another location from the tour that was just a few blocks past the jail.

“Yeah, sure; then we can circle back.”

As the two young women walked further away from the jail, they felt the tense vibe that had set in seeming to dissipate with each step.  They laughed at themselves for getting so scared, turning the corner and looking down the street for the gargoyles atop the church.  But they both froze.

“No…  No way,” Hadley said, gripping Shannon’s arm.  In front of them stood the old jail.  Shannon was sure that she had counted the blocks correctly; she was good with directions.  But there was a chance they’d just gotten turned around in the dark.

“We must’ve just taken a wrong turn,” she stated, nodding.  “Let’s try again.”

“Okay, but I’m not walking on the same side of the street,” Hadley said, pushing Shannon to the sidewalk on the other side.

“No argument from me,” Shannon said as they passed the jail.  She couldn’t help but stare; it felt like the building was watching them walk past.

They walked down two blocks - Shannon counted out loud this time - and turned right.  There it was again.  “What the heck is going on!?” Hadley cried, gripping Shannon’s arm in a white-knuckle grip.

“I don’t know.  Let’s just go back the way we came,” Shannon turned around, pulling Hadley with her.  Once again, they ended up back at the jail.  “But that… that’s impossible.”

“Let’s just keep going; we have to get back to the hotel eventually,” Hadley said.

The two women walked past the antique shop with the large window.  They turned toward the hotel and were back at the jail.  No matter which way they went, the result was the same; they ended up back at the jail, dark and looming on its corner.

“I’m going to call an Uber,” Hadley said, unlocking her phone, only to see that she had no bars.  She tapped to open the app anyway, but it wouldn’t connect.

“Let me try mine,” Shannon said, but found that her phone also had no bars.

“What do we do?” all of the color had drained from Hadley’s face.

“We keep walking, I guess.”

The two women continued walking, caught in a loop - prisoners of the old jail.

© 2021 Sarah J Dhue


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wtp
I enjoyed this story, although it struck me as more "The Twilight Zone" than a truly scary story (like your "An Unforgivable Sin"). I wonder if it would be more frightening with a more ominous experience at the old jail... Shannon and Hadley encounter a locked door, peer through some windows, and hear footsteps. Considering they deliberately went out on a nighttime ghost tour, this doesn't seem like enough to justify their fear.

One last comment: I wonder if the last sentence was necessary. It might be a little scarier if Shannon said "We keep walking" and left the reader to speculate on their fate.

As with "Unforgivable Sin", I could envision this as a nice short film (preferably in black and white, with a Rod Serling sound alike to narrate.)

Thanks for sharing!

Posted 7 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




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[send message][befriend] Subscribe
wtp
I enjoyed this story, although it struck me as more "The Twilight Zone" than a truly scary story (like your "An Unforgivable Sin"). I wonder if it would be more frightening with a more ominous experience at the old jail... Shannon and Hadley encounter a locked door, peer through some windows, and hear footsteps. Considering they deliberately went out on a nighttime ghost tour, this doesn't seem like enough to justify their fear.

One last comment: I wonder if the last sentence was necessary. It might be a little scarier if Shannon said "We keep walking" and left the reader to speculate on their fate.

As with "Unforgivable Sin", I could envision this as a nice short film (preferably in black and white, with a Rod Serling sound alike to narrate.)

Thanks for sharing!

Posted 7 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on September 25, 2021
Last Updated on September 25, 2021
Tags: Sarah J Dhue, Dhue, Share Your Scare, Lulu, contest, horror, 2021, jail, haunted, ghosts

Author

Sarah J Dhue
Sarah J Dhue

In the author's lair, IL



About
I am Sarah J Dhue. I am an author, as well as a photographer & graphic designer, currently going to school for web design. I've been writing since I was in elementary school. I live in Illinois. My f.. more..

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