Author and friend T. M. McLean sends us this story from Germany. A place possesses a spirit, and the spirit remembers. This spirit of place can dream as we do, and sometimes what we see as a ghost is really a re-occurring nightmare, time worn thin. The events echo, playing out again for us to witness. Like a person, a place can be traumatized. Tim sends us a story about such a place. You'll just need to read to the end to find out where. Thank you Tim.
We've had some great true tales so far this season, and I've got many more waiting for me to post. Keep reading. I will be posting a story each day through Halloween.
Hatch Girl of Hohne
Submitted by T.M. McLean
The place where I work is apparently haunted. At times it even gives me the creeps, although I’m not as jumpy about it as some of the younger members of staff. It’s easy to see why people find the place scary, and there are many good reasons why it might be haunted. The place where I work is a swimming pool on an army base.
The manager’s office at the entrance to the pool complex has a hatch in its ceiling. It’s difficult to reach, but one day, when the manager wasn’t working, someone allegedly climbed up there. I say allegedly only because no one ever admitted doing it, but the cover was moved, leaving the hatch open a little. Ever since that day things have been strange, andsometimes incredibly frightening.
It started off mild at first. Sometimes things would turn up in places they hadn’t been left: a pen that was meant to be in a drawer was discovered on the windowsill, someone’s coffee mug was upside down on the floor in the staff room for no reason, that kind of thing. Just when people started to blame each other for the weirdness, something even weirder happened.
Two of my colleagues were in the staff room talking. About two meters away from them, near the room’s entrance, the kettle switched itself on. Just like that. Completely unexpected and completely impossible. No one was in the complex except the two members of staff in the room, and yet the water was boiling. Needless to say, they were completely freaked out and they babbled about it to anyone who would listen. I’m skeptical even now, but they assure me that it happened.
A giggling girl has also been heard, always when the place is quiet and there is no one around. It isn’t a disturbing sound, not in the slightest. I’ve been told that the laughter sounds completely genuine and joyous. The fear only comes into it when the person who heard it checks to see if anyone’s there, only to find that the main doors are closed and no one has been there for hours. I can only imagine how creepy that must be. This giggling girl, nicknamed Hatch Girl, is now blamed for the movement of stuff as well.
Strange bits of hair have been found around the women’s showers as well. You might think this is nothing strange, given that people are prone to losing some hair while they shower, but this hair is always in the exact same place and is completely raven-black. If it is the same person losing that hair every day then they would be bald by now . . . unless of course Hatch Girl has an endless, ectoplasmic supply.
It’s probably nothing.
Three times a day certain checks need to be performed by the duty lifeguards. It is incredibly important that the chlorine, water temperature and pH levels are checked. This is the most frightening part for most of the staff. Shadowy forms have been seen in the pump room. They loom between the three rooms that make up the pump room, flitting between doorways or dashing up and down the stairs.And, to make it worse, this place is set away from the offices, hidden from the rest of the camp by a thick treeline on one side and the structure of the indoor pool on the other.And it’s loud with the constant drone of the pumping equipment. People really don’t want to go there.
Some nights require people to check well after sunset. The walk to the pump room is completely dark; there are no street lights or any kind of illumination. This is the bit that gives me the creeps. A dull red glow is just visible through the pump room’s window (this comes from a control panel located inside), but to get there you have to walk the length of the 50 meter outdoor pool. You can’t see it, not really, but you hear it. The water sloshes about in the darkness. It’s an eerie sound and it makes you turn up the brightness on your mobile phone, just so you can see something. The wise thing of course would be to take a flashlight, but I’ve never remembered to do that. In the pitch black a little bit of light can be worse than none. By illuminating a small section, you make the rest extra dark and shadows dance and float as you desperately try to hurry along, not so fast that you can’t keep your attention focused, but fast enough so you’re not dawdling. You know—you hope—that there’s nothing there. The sounds you hear are probably just geese flying overhead, the water in the pool, trees rustling in the breeze…
Now and then you glance up to look at the red glow that shines like a beacon of safety against the darkness, but then… then you remember the stories: the kettle, the girl, the strange clumps of dark hair that always turn up in the same spot in the showers… the shadow people in the pump room. It dawns on you: you’re rushing away from the hell outside to reach the place where the shadow people dash around, where Hatch Girl’s shadowy form giggles in the red glow, the place where most of the other staff members don’t want to go during the day. But you’re there at night. It’s at that moment that you spot something skip past the red light, momentarily blocking it, and you want to turn around and run to the car, turn on the engine and get the hell out of there. But you don’t. You do the checks, just like you’re paid to do, and then you walk back to the office. You take your bag out of your locker and you go home. That’s it. Until tomorrow, when God knows what might happen to you.
Chances are that it’s all nonsense. After all, any number of natural phenomena or simple imagination could easily explain everything away, right?
What if I told you that the place where I work is called Hohne? Does that mean anything to you? How about if I tell you that it’s an army camp in a little place in northern Germany called Belsen? What if I also told you that the town I live in is called Bergen? Would that change your opinion at all?
|The army base on the grounds of the old Nazi camp|
Ever heard of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp? I work as a lifeguard in a swimming pool built by the Nazis to train for the Berlin Olympics… not even a mile away from the mass graves of the poor people that met their end at the hands of some of the most extreme cruelty the world has ever known. Do their spirits still wander the area?
The religious among you might hope not. After all, surely no God would force their eternal souls to forever be lost in the place of their torment. Maybe Hatch Girl is one of them…?
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Noodledoodle Publication - Editor Tim McLean. Check out some of their anthologies, which include a couple of stories by Horror Writers Association member, T. Fox Dunham:
Now available from Noodledoodle Publications, Fear's Accomplice, featuring a tale of horror from T. Fox Dunham. Editor T.M. Mclean
Some stories challenged the way I thought about a horror story, while others made me laugh out loud.
-- Nadine: Amazon Reviewer