In the days leading up to Halloween, we mortals go about our trivial, daily lives, perhaps spicing them up with a few bat stickers on our windows, or some tiny chocolate bars to shorten our already finite lives, but otherwise unconcerned with the change in the world around us. But to the creatures and entities that inhabit UFV, it is the biggest week of the year, a time to manifest their energy towards whatever malevolent and terrifying goals they hold within their unknowable minds.
Considering myself a fearless and intrepid photojournalist, I did what few would dare to do: I visited UFV on a Friday night, a time when it is silent, abandoned, where none would hear my screams if I ran into the beasts that surely dwell within our campus. But I didn’t want to avoid them; I wanted to find them. I was looking for the creepiest, most haunted places at UFV, but nothing could have prepared me for the terrors that lay within.
An Ominous Warning
I should have known the moment I arrived that I needed to turn right back around and go home to cower in safety. Only a few cars dotted the parking lot, an unheard of sight; normally, finding one space is as rare as a full-sized chocolate bar when trick-or-treating. But a near barren lot? It was a warning. None stayed this late by choice. These were the vehicles of those who could not leave. Was I about to join them?
What Needs to Be Contained?
As I began to walk the perimeter of the campus, with no sounds save for the distant hum of highway traffic and my own purposeful footsteps reaching my ears, I neared the bus stop outside of A building. That’s when I heard it. Ka-thump. Ka-thump. Ka-thump. A steady pounding of flesh on metal, each impact followed by the faint rattle of a chain. I listened carefully and crept towards the noise, soon finding the source: a short, sealed cube. It bore no signage, no indicator of what was inside. But something was inside. With each thump, the doors bulged slightly, and the lock rattled. Whatever was trapped within longed for a freedom that I — having seen a horror movie or two in my time — opted not to give it. Even as I walked away, the steady ka-thump followed me, echoing in my head, even after it was out of earshot.
Class Is In Session
And then it happened: my first encounter with the undeniably supernatural. My route eventually led me to C building, and as I rounded the corner and it came into sight, my breath stopped short in my throat. There was a light on ahead of me, not just an always-on hallway light, but an actual classroom’s. Not just that, but inside I saw figures sitting at desks, their stares unbreaking as they followed some sort of leader around the room. Ghosts. It had to be. No student would be in class on a Friday evening. These were the poor souls of students who were damned to eternal torment by an unworkable class schedule, condemned to always receive registration dates later than the rest of the school. No human could take that kind of torment, and now, as the rest of the campus was abandoned, they eternally studied courses they never even wanted but had to take because nothing else had space. Clearly, C building warranted a closer inspection.
I know C building is dominated by visual arts people, but I found something strange that I don’t think was just art: bizarre, not quite symmetrical triangles of varying sizes embedded in the floors, pointing me to some unknown destination within its labyrinthine halls. I shouldn’t follow signs like this blindly, I know that. But this was not a mission of self-preservation. This was a mission of discovery, and I wanted to discover what these ominous markers were leading me to. As it turns out, it was a staircase.
I Can’t See Them, But They Can See Me
There’s something intensely disconcerting about climbing the stairs in C building in the dead of night. Giant windows, which probably let in the rare glimpses of sunlight our climate allows, turn into massive one-way mirrors in the dark. As I ascended the stairs, I looked outside, but saw only my reflection, trying not to quiver as I took this photo of the seemingly infinite reflection and wondering who — or what — might be looking at me from the other side.
But when I glanced back down at the screen to see my photograph, I found only a blank mirrored surface reflected back at me. Must’ve been a weird angle.
Once I’d examined the second floor of C building and found nothing scarier than a bunch of offices belonging to business professors, I came down a different staircase, not wanting to expose myself to the prying eyes outside the one I’d ascended. This back route was less creepy, I assured myself. How wrong I was. At the bottom I found this strange cart. It was probably three feet deep and six feet long, and appeared to have been scrubbed clean inside. What was it for transporting? I couldn’t help but notice the sizable dimensions were the ideal size for a human… possibly one who could no longer walk with their own two legs. As part of my journalism training for The Cascade, I’d recently completed a tracking course, and noticed faint tracks leading from the wheels of the cart out a nearby door, so of course, I had to follow them.
The tracks led to a strange, rusted metal hatch between D building and the SUB, its heavy cast-iron lid latched tightly shut. Nothing pounded on this portal like the one I’d encountered earlier in the night, but the plants around it showed signs of having been rolled over by the cart’s wheels. Whatever had been in the cart was dumped down this hole. Maybe my paranoia was getting the better of me, but a faint rotting smell seemed to find its way to my nostrils as I examined the sealed hole, warning me of my potential fate if I lingered too long. A shiver worked its way up my spine, and I decided it was time to get back inside.
On the third floor of D building I found a “quiet study area,” just like the one on the floor below, but with one noticeable difference: there were no couches (and, as The Cascade previously reported, these were excellent couches). Where had they gone? The marks of their presence remained on the floor, a grim reminder of the impermanence of everything and everyone. As I examined the dark space, I caught another glimpse of the sign overhead, and a stomach-churning realizing hit me: quiet study area. I’d seen how students on couches were. They weren’t quiet. They chatted and yammered and disobeyed these kinds of signs. Some of them must have been a bit too noisy, and whoever insists on this quiet decided to take matters into their own hands. The couches surely would never come back. Maybe the noisy students wouldn’t either.
Passage to the Underworld
I followed a winding path through the upper-floors of UFV’s infrastructure to the tallest tower of A building, and started to climb down the stairs when I happened to glance over the railing. I only peeked for a second, but what I saw looked like a gaping black maw, a portal into the underworld. This was it. The source of UFV’s demons and ghosts, no doubt about it. I clutched my camera tightly, worried that if I dropped it into this abyss, I’d never see it again. Suddenly, a wave of vertigo washed over me, and the walls seem to distort and twist around me, closing in. I felt ill, my air supply cut off. And then, I heard it. Or at least, I thought I did. Footsteps, climbing up from that pit to the underworld. I paused, listening again, but heard nothing. An echo of my own footfalls, no doubt.
The claustrophobia of the stairwell was too much for me. I had to get outside. I bolted for the door and ran onto the sidewalk, taking a deep breath of the crisp night air. My heart was racing, and my vision started to blur, but I sat down to catch my breath. My head pounded as it raced to comprehend all that I’d seen, and I contemplated hurrying back to my car to get out of there before I lost my chance. I’d seen enough. I knew without a doubt that UFV was inhabited by all manner of terrible and terrifying creatures. I could leave. But then, I looked up and saw a strange blue glow in the distance. A wisp of light, dancing in the darkness, not threatening, but mysterious. Journalistic curiosity got the best of me. I followed it.
The Murky Swamp
The strange light guided me across the deserted Green, across dew-soaked grass, and over crisp leaves — its movement steady. But when I saw where it was leading me next, I froze, and so did it. It hovered above the entrance to the tree-covered path through the murky swamp, a place I knew the biology department enacted all manner of experiments, strange and foreign to an arts student like myself. I knew, however, that nothing good came of wandering into a scientist’s swamp in the dead of night with nobody around while following a mysterious light. I’m not stupid. I don’t want to get eaten by some kind of bog monster. So, like any rational person, I took off at a full sprint away from the treacherous will-o’-the-wisp, wanting only to find my way to safe refuge. But, as I went, I heard what sounded like a heavy sigh behind me, followed by even heavier footsteps. I wasn’t alone.
A Landmark in Ruins
I had tunnel vision as I ran, with that something hot on my heels, its breath seemingly in my ears. Maybe it was nothing but a mind driven mad by all that I’d seen, but I wasn’t about to take the chance, and I wasn’t slowing down to look back. That is, until I found what could’ve once been a point of refuge, defaced into another sign of the horrors that had taken over UFV. Bucket Corner, a favourite meeting place for students and staff alike, had been attacked, defaced, and damaged by some fiend. Because what but a fiend could shatter the visage of one of UFV’s most famous landmarks? I knew at this point that the campus had truly fallen to the creatures of the night, and that I would be their next victim if I lingered any longer.
Don’t Be Afraid
I sprinted for the near-empty parking lot, not another soul in sight, but eyes seeming to stare at me from every shadow. In the distance I saw a bright red glow — at first, I was worried a demon was coming towards me, but as it came into focus, I recognized the iconic sign of the Visual Arts Student Resource Room, a cruel taunt to my current plight. “DON’T BE AFRAID” blared in blinding neon ahead of me, as what felt like the hordes of Hell bared down on me. Don’t tell me how to live my life, Visual Arts Student Resource Room, I’m absolutely terrified.
I kept running, and finally saw my car. There was no more time for pictures — what good was my job if I didn’t have my life? I fumbled with my keys as I tried to keep an eye on the ground, knowing that a stumble over a stray branch could spell the end. The footsteps behind still chased me, pounding faster than mine. Whatever it was, it was catching up. I collided with the side of my car and jammed the key into the lock, hopped in, and slammed the door shut, locking it. Key in the ignition. Turn. A pathetic whine. It wouldn’t start. I looked out the window — a giant, dark silhouette came closer. I tried the key again. Nothing at all this time. I was trapped. I hurriedly fired off my report of what I’d seen to my editor, along with my photos, and prepared to face my fate.
Editor’s note: we haven’t seen any sign of our reporter since that email. However, he did send a second message, just 30 seconds after the first. There were no words, only this one, solitary image.