It is no secret that 322 individuals died in one day at the Ohio State Penitentiary on 21 April 1930, so even if it hadn’t been the location of several executions, if anything were to be haunted, this location would be highly suspect. The accusations involved in what has been noted as the worst prison fire in the history of the US contribute to the atmosphere of horror-ed history ghosts seem to like. Suicide has been a noted reason for residual hauntings, and the two which were apparently caused by accusations of guards against them as the cause of this fire, may well have lead to guilty bonds, or the same might be said of the guards accused of releasing the cell doors purposefully late.
Because these things had been capitalized on every October in my youth, I was completely aware of the history of the ground when I accepted the job as manager of the parking known as “The Arena District”. Indeed, though I had never ventured through “The Haunted Penn” as a youth, I had been in the arena itself on a Halloween where haunting screams echoed the spooky reminder of the tragic history where brick cells had been demolished only to be desecrated by hockey sticks and over priced parking. Although there had been rumors that screams could be heard in the arena at night, I was in serious doubt as to ghostly concerns about the Blue Jackets, even as I enjoyed the joking announcement.
Maybe it was because I was no stranger to the paranormal, that I had no fear of these particular ghosts. Even in the residue of tragedy, I do not believe that the hauntings are aware of the current time, and therefore nothing to fear. Ghosts, angels, daemons, ESP were all just things misunderstood by most people. I grew up being told that my grandfather knew I was coming before he was told that Mama was pregnant. Grandma never had to look in more than one place when I was hiding, and a long-dead grandmother visited me to sooth away waking nightmares I faced as a teenager. Simple ghosts are nothing to fear.
That does not mean that I do not become frightened by the visions they present. It may have been that my awareness and sense of danger were already heightened. It had been an exceptionally trying night, and I sent my crew home at around 2 in the morning. Alcohol, hockey and high parking prices do not make for a happy event for the people collecting the funds. Even those who knowingly paid high prices in advance often became more than just aggressive when traffic didn’t flow according to their personal needs. Enough was enough, and in appreciation of a job well-done, I sent them home as soon as I could. I had only one thing left to do-double check my drop.
That meant I was counting out a large amount of money all by my lonesome. I may have been under cameras and able to see through my glass encased office, but I was aware that I needed to be on my toes for those last few minutes. I didn’t need but five maybe; less was all I really required.
It started off with the heat. Even though unusual for February, I wrote it off to the paranoia of doing something as stupid as counting money alone at night, even when my hands started to sweat so quickly. Previously a heightened sense of awareness has caused my brain to fire in unusual ways, making me see glimmers of things that were not there, (in spite of my belief I still try to be reasonable), so when I thought I saw lights in the glass above me, I tried to stay focused on the task at hand. Shadow means a person, not light; get this money counted and dropped!
Then the screams started. The heat was enough to make my eyes sear even if the fear hadn’t been. Contained within the glass before me were hundreds of screaming men, flesh melting in the flames leaping at my soul! There is a unique different between the earthy smell of rotting flesh and the sooty scents of bodies burning. I can still hear the roaring fire competing with the terror-ed cacophony of human voices, a soundtrack to all future horrors of my life. These things can not be un-experienced.
It was not until I had quickly dropped the un-counted funds and , with barely capable fingers, locked the doors that I began to run; to run and to cry. If the circumstances had been different, I doubt I would have had that vision, but I was thankful for the lateness of the hour that allowed me to safely drive home in such a state. I was even able to return to work the next day. As I said, I try to be reasonable about these things, and I was aware that the circumstances had to be just right in order to produce those effects. I didn’t even feel it necessary to share it with others because, as previous experience has taught, people may see things where there is none if it is suggested to them.
Just like I had never told anyone how uncomfortable I was in specific areas of the garage. Again, I chose specific reasonable explanations: someone with mild claustrophobia is not likely going to be comfortable underground no matter how open the area. And if that feeling intensifies the closer you get to a specific place, well, that must be because your body unconsciously knows it is going further underground, or something else as rational. The best option is to avoid that area and just do your job.
Until an un-explainable circumstance forces your attention.
It was several months after my frightening incident, that they decided to break ground on an additional section of the underground area. I had employees assigned specifically to maintain the cleanliness of my facility, so there were several individuals shouting at me the day my horror became physical.
No less than three individuals insisted my immediate acquisition of an exterminator. None of them had ever seen so many bugs at once, not in such a size, nor could any of them identify it. I’d like to think their horror and shock exaggerated the “millions of scarab-like bugs pouring out of the ground”. They were at least as big as golf balls, and not something I was eager to look into, but I knew I had to, so down I went.
There was no evidence of a single insect. I looked at this small hole they had started to drill, listening to their insistent that they must have hit a nest and I needed to get someone in there right away! I remember feeling ill and hearing everyone from a distance. I was pretty sure that calling an exterminator was useless, but I was kind of glad I had not been there, but that someone had other evidence. I may be nuts, but that had nothing to do with the state of paranormal activity on that ground. I wasn’t the only one who opened those doors.
The big burly construction workers refused to enter that area until I had called an exterminator. I was right; not only were there no signs of infestation, there was no evidence that there had ever been any bug-like creatures at all. In addition, the exterminator obviously thought we were trying to put something over on him when the men described the insect to him. “Not possible! There’s nothing like that in Ohio; certainly not that big.”
I left that job before they finished that section of the garage. I have made it a point to go back, even though I know my previous experience is likely to impact my current reaction. I can’t seem to help myself. There is something about facing your fears-hunting it down and staring it in the eye-that gives me strength to face future challenges. I need not fear the other side, it is the reactions of humans to the other side that worries me.