by James L. Choron
This happened to my son, the infamous Erich the Awful, last December, when he was back in Texas on leave. Now some of you know about Erich, and his equally infamous sidekick, Teddy the Turd... They're in the U.S. Army, and stationed in South Korea.
This one bit me in the butt. Not a good thing to happen to a professional Paranormal Investigator. but it happens. . Like I said. Erich was in on leave last December. He went back to Center, Texas to visit my mom. Anyway, one night about two o'clock, our time (it figures...) he called me, and asked me what was on the second floor of Center High School (there in our home town) when I was going to school. I told him that there wasn't a second floor, that the old two-story school had burned down several years before I started high school, and I went to the one that's there, now, which is built on the same foundation, only one story, with two "wings" added. He said... "Dad, you're not going to believe this... but... I was on the second floor. I went to visit some of my teachers, and friends (he's got one or two friends who graduate, this year, younger than him) and as I walked in, things kind of went "goofy" and changed. There were staircases on each side of the auditorium doors. I went up one of them and was on the second floor".
My natural reaction was "Bull**t, and we both know it". He went on and on, and the tone of his voice was such that I began to believe him. Erich is "sensitive", all of the men in my family are... but... this is something new. I told him that I had no idea what was there, but would find out. I called a friend who is older than me by a few years, and asked him about it. He described the second floor, just before the fire, and it matched what Erich told me EXACTLY. He even saw the class photos lining the wall and a trophy case full of football trophies. He even told me, correctly, where the bathrooms were, and that the Principal's office and Janitor's closet were there, in exactly the right place!
That school burned almost to the ground in 1964. I didn't start High School until 1968.
Keep in mind that Erich had no way of knowing anything about the layout of this building, at this time, let alone how the actual second floor looked. There is, as far as I know, only a handful of photos of this building, all are exterior shots. There is no possible way that he could have had access to any photo, or any information about the physical appearance of this building, on the inside. I even emailed the Historical Society and the newspapers. That kind of thing just doesn't exist, or if it does, no one knows where.
Erich then told me that he had been in the basement. That wasn't strange, because there are two basement rooms, one on either side, and underneath the stage of the auditorium. They used to be shower rooms for an athletic dressing room that was connected, to the front of them. There was also a boiler room underground. I knew about this, because the basement rooms were used as classrooms when I went to school. The dressing room and boiler room had been filled in.
Now... here's where THIS gets strange. Each of those basement rooms have their own entrance, now. I thought that they always had. Erich said that he had gone downstairs through a central stairway, that was under the right hand stairway going to the second floor, and opened into what he called a "field house". At the time, I didn't know it, but before the fire, that was exactly how you went downstairs. The two separate stairways to the rooms that they use, now, were built after the fire, because they had to fill in the old dressing room and boiler room to make the new foundation. The ceilings on both of those rooms had collapsed in the fire. The roof over the two shower rooms hadn't.
The fire was started by a couple of boys with some "stomp balls" or "torpedoes". You know, those things that you can throw down, and when you step on them, they pop. They tossed out a couple of boxes of them during an assembly, and one of them set fire to the drapes and curtains in the auditorium. The school was almost thirty years old, and the stuff was dry. The fire took off like mad, and spread to the wooden stage and seats. It was a total loss in less than two hours. Two kids died in the fire, and the two guys that did it (I'm serious) just got out about five years ago.
We always had the idea that the school might be haunted. One or two people that I know of actually saw an apparition, and I sensed them on several occasions while I was in school. I didn't say anything, because anyone who has my "talent" was considered "weird" back then. It's not so bad now, I've heard, but it was then. The hauntings aren't active. People generally don't see them, just sense them there, and occasionally the common "weird thing" will happen, like something being moved and then reappearing... Things that would be easy to explain, if you didn't already know the story...
As far as I know, no one has ever had this... what Erich experienced... happen. Now, I'm really anxious to go to the school, the next time I'm in, and do a proper investigation of it. I don't think what happened to Erich can be duplicated. I have no idea what could cause it. I am interested to see what kind of EMF readings I get, and what some IR photos would show, especially of the exterior of the building, at night. I'm almost willing to bet that the second floor is still there, or somehow phases in, from time to time, and is simply not noticed, unless you are in the... exact... right place, at the... exact... right time. It has to be a random occurrence, or at certain times of the year.
I asked Erich if anyone else had been in the building, at the time. He said he didn't think so. He had gone after school was out, hoping to catch some of his teachers. It was mid December, and the schools hadn't let out for mid-term yet. His friends were all in band, and were in the band hall, which is a separate building. He told me he figured that the custodian had stepped out. It was a Friday, and none of the teachers were still there, or at least not in the main building. There are several new buildings on the campus. The main building is too small for the student body, now.
Since Erich told me about this, I've talked to several friends who went to school in that building, and one or two retired teachers who actually taught in it. I didn't tell any of them what I was doing, just asked them to describe the second floor of the old school. Every single one of them have described it just as Erich saw it, apparently the way it looked immediately before the fire.
James Choron is a featured contributor to this WorldOfTheStrange website.
Contributions include: !Is Ufology Dead?, King Bird Fifty, The Tunguska Incident - An Overview, School Days, In a Class By Herself, Dawn at the Alamo, Three Times A Hero, Lady With the Lamp, The Little Girl in the Garden
Website: http://wintersteel.homestead.com/home.html (dead link)
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