19 Delta Scout
College is a time of great paradox. You spend a good portion of your day in class and, if you want to pass your classes, you need to spend a good portion of your night studying. Oh, and if you need money, you’ll also need to find a job. And heaven forbid that girl who you took home from the party now thinks you two are a couple. It was a constant juggling act trying to balance school, study, work , girls, and sleep because devoting too much time for one took away from the other.

My parents weren’t rich, so I didn’t want to ask them for money, and I wasn’t ready yet to join the military and let Uncle Sam pay for my college tuition. So I had to get a job.
I thought I had found the perfect job, one which paid me fairly decently while allowing me to study and do homework at the same time. Yup. I became a security guard. It wasn’t a bad gig because the site which I was assigned to was an office building which was located across the street to an FBI branch office in a low crime area of the city. I got there at four in the evening and escorted office workers to their cars until the building closed at five.

After five, I would do a few security patrols around the building, letting the cleaning crew into the building at eight in the evening and letting them out at midnight when my shift ended. In between that time, I was free to study and do homework from my desk inside the security office. I was basically on my own and for six months at that site, I only saw my security supervisor four times. Like I said, it was a sweet gig.

Then, one Friday before my shift was to start, I got a call from the security supervisor asking me if I wouldn’t mind working the graveyard shift for a few weeks out at a site located in what was known as the Great Dismal Swamp. The hours were from eleven at night to six in the morning and because the site was so remote, the job would pay an additional three dollars an hour. I quickly agreed because I could have used the extra cash. Since I got off at six in the morning and my first class started at nine, I had plenty of time to get ready for school.

I met my security supervisor at the main office at eleven that night and, once again, I was not impressed by him, which is why I was happy that I rarely saw him. He was middle-aged with a beer gut and absolutely no muscle mass on him whatsoever. His hair was, in my opinion, too long and scraggly to inspire confidence in someone who was supposed to be a security guard and he had a bushy porn-stache moustache. His hairy arms hid really tacky looking tattoos which he said he got while he was in the navy, but they looked like tattoos that you’d get while serving time in prison. In fact, if it wasn’t for the security badge and uniform that he wore, which was disheveled and un-ironed, his picture looked like it should have adorned the walls of the post office.

When I met him, he was visibly drunk and he smelled of alcohol. He told me to follow him and he got into his old brown and primer grey Dodge Al Bundy-looking mobile that had magnetic signs on the rust colored doors that read “A-1 Security Services.” I got into my brand new Chevy Camaro which I paid for during my senior year in high school from money I saved working part time jobs since I was fifteen and followed him as he screeched out of the parking lot and onto the highway.

It was a Friday night and, this being a huge military town, it was military pay day. The highway was packed, but traffic was moving quickly as we took the exit towards the city of Chesapeake, which was built on the Great Dismal Swamp. We were on the road for a good forty-five minutes, going deeper and deeper into farm country and passing several rivers and streams. The traffic had all but vanished long ago and the street lights were few and far between and still we had not reached the site. I was seriously thinking that this guy was bringing me out here to kill me and dump my body into the swamp, a suspicion that got stronger when he turned off the main, two lane, road and onto a gravel road which wound between vine-y trees and weeping willows.

The narrow road ended at a dilapidated parking lot at the end of which stood what looked to be an abandoned two story building. Behind the run down looking building was a canal which connected to the Elizabeth River. One tilted light pole holding two light bulbs which flickered on and off, illuminated the parking lot, and aside from the old building with vines crawling up its sides, there was nothing else in the area except dark, foreboding trees, swamp, and probably the ghosts of past security guards which this guy took out here to kill. To my surprise, however, the creepy old abandoned building was well lit from the inside.

“C’mon, kid” said my security supervisor. “Let’s get you inside. It’s not good to stay outside here for long.”

“Huh?” I said.

“”Nothing,” he answered.

As we continued walking, I saw several other run down structures next to the building, though these were not illuminated and hung in the shadows. As we got closer to the building, I saw that it had been vandalized, with several windows broken out and there was spray painted graffiti on the walls. There was also a slightly foul smell in the air, like wet rotting vegetation mixed with sweaty gym socks that was left inside your gym bag in the trunk of your car for a week.

“This used to be an old paper mill a few years back,” said my security manager as he opened the door into the brightly lit main lobby. The door hadn’t been locked. “The mill went out of business and just sat here until it was bought by a Dutch company that wants to start it back up sometime next year. Until then, they want us to keep watch over the facility to discourage vandals and such.”

We walked down the main corridor which was littered with broken glass, leaves and more graffiti, past a broken set of double doors and towards a room at the end of the hallway.

“Doesn’t look like there has been vandals here for a while,” I observed as our footsteps echoed across the tomb-like building.

“Probably not,” said my supervisor.

We got to the room at the end of the corridor which ended up looking like an old boiler room with rusty pipes and gauges and what not. A large table stretched across the wall where windows looked out across the canal outside. Three old black padded chairs were at the table.

“Well, here we are,” said my supervisor. “Be careful when you do your roving patrols as there may be some raccoons or other animals which have made this building their home. And watch out when you walk around outside for snakes and whatnot. Did you bring a flashlight?”

“Nope,” I said. “Wasn’t told that I’d need one.”

“Oh, okay,” he said. “Well, let me get out of here. If you run into trouble, just call 911 then call the night shift supervisor. Keep the lights on and I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Wait,” I said. “This seems like a pretty nice site. Peaceful. Nobody to bug you and you get paid extra? What’s the catch?”

My supervisor looked annoyed. “No catch,” he said leaving. “Just can’t get anyone to stay on this site. Roy, the new guy, quit this morning after his shift here ended.”

“Really?” I said. But before I could say anything else, my supervisor said, “Oh, one more thing. Ned is running late, but he’ll be with you here later. Remember, keep the lights on.”

He walked out before I could say anything else and I can’t say I was sorry to see him go. I looked around the boiler room and saw that there was a coffee pot and an old, dirty microwave at the end of the table that I guess the previous the security guards had been using, as well as an old, touch tone phone that I assume I would use to call the police if Jason Voorhees decided to rise out of the swamp and hack me to death. I figured I’d wait for a little bit and get settled in before going back out to my Camaro to get my school work. If I finished my assignment tonight, I’d be free for the rest of the weekend to use my Camaro for what it was intended for: to be a chick magnet.

I sat on one of the rusty old black padded chairs and nearly fell over backwards as the back support was broken and gave out. The creaking noise seemed to echo down the hallway. I rolled it aside and tested another chair and finding that this one was fairly stable, I sat down and scanned the table some more. I found the security duty log from the night before that was on a clipboard. The report from the new guy, Roy, was still on it, which meant that he never returned to the main office to turn it in. Apparently, he just hauled ass out of here this morning.

Roy’s printing was neat and tidy, all in block letters and easy to read. I wondered why he would just leave the log here when he knew he should have turned it in. That’s how a guard get’s paid. With nothing else to do, I read the log entries.

Midnight- Arrived on site. Security supervisor instructs me to ensure that the lights remain on in the building. Advised to call 911 if there is trouble.
0030- Conduct security patrol around inside of building. Several lights flickering on and off in upstairs corridors.
0100- Lights in parking lot flickering off and on. Thought I saw movement outside. Went to investigate but found nothing.
0215- Lights in the security room have gone out. Lights in main hallway downstairs flickering off and on. Going to look for breaker box.
0230- Cannot find breaker box but I thought I saw someone outside looking through a window in the security room . Going to investigate.

0250- There is definitely someone outside. Called to the person, but when I got around to where he was standing, he was gone.
The last entry was sometime after that. I’m not sure what time it was, exactly, because Roy did not write it down. However, Roy’s hand writing was no longer neat and uniform, but shaky, almost as if he was panicked. It simply said:

“All lights completely out. That’s not a person looking into the window. I’m out of here.”

I tossed the clipboard back onto the table. “So what,” I said to myself. “Did a badger scare you away?”

The lights in the room flickered for a second but came back on. I thought I saw something at the window out of the corner of my eye, but dismissed it as a trick of the flickering lights. I leaned back in my chair, wondering when the other guard was supposed to get here. Because I usually worked by myself, I didn’t know too many other guards. I had heard the name Ned before, but usually as Old Bloody Ned. I wondered if that was the same guy.

I decided that it was a good time to do a security patrol around the building to get a feel for the place. I use the term ‘security patrol’ loosely, as it sounded more professional than ‘having fun exploring a creepy old abandoned paper mill.’ As it turned out, as far as abandoned office buildings go, it was pretty unremarkable. Downstairs had a cafeteria and break room with long, aluminum tables and empty snack and soda machines. There was a front office and a conference room with empty desks and filing cabinets filled with old invoices, shipping and receiving documents and pay stubs.

By the way, if you used to work for an old paper mill in Chesapeake that went out of business, you might want to know that they have old pay documents that have your bank account information still on it inside old filing cabinets. The upstairs had two halls lined with offices and a store room which had cleaning supplies and a set of metal stairs which led to the roof and the air conditioners. Dust and cobwebs covered the corners and walls, as well as shattered glass that hadn’t been disturbed for ages, and aside from the lights flickering on and off occasionally, there really wasn’t anything particularly spooky about the place.

I then decided to go back out to my car to grab my school backpack and the dinner that I had packed, two double-decker smoked ham and bologna sandwiches with Swiss cheese and just the right amount of spicy mustard and mayonnaise with a tall can of Pringles chips and a couple of ice cold Red Bulls. This was going to be yummy as I had only eaten lunch about twelve hours earlier and I was famished. I returned to the boiler room, tossed my backpack to the side and laid out my dinner, anxious to sink my teeth into those delicious sandwiches. I first wrote a quick entry into the security log.

0130- Completed security patrol around building. Lights flickering occasionally but otherwise all secure.

Just as I turned to grab a sandwich, all of the lights in the building went out. I sat there in pitch blackness for about two seconds, annoyed that I’d have to look for the breaker box when the lights flickered and came on dimly. The lights were flickering when I heard a shuffling noise coming from the main hallway. Slowly, I got up, easing the seat back quietly in order to hear better. Yes, there definitely was something shambling down the hallway towards me. By this time the lights had come completely on again as I approached the door to the boiler room and opened it.

I was immediately confronted by a terrifying apparition. He was tall and skinny with a pot belly, pale, white and old with long wisps of white hair dangling down from his wrinkled, liver-spotted bald head. His nose and ears were large and broken teeth lined his open mouth. The apparition stared at me through crazy looking eyes.

“You must be Ned,” I said, reading the name on his dirty uniform. His uniform looked worse than my supervisor’s, and Ned smelled of cigarettes and alcohol.

“That’s me, boy” said Ned, pushing past me and walking towards the table. “Old Bloody Ned, they call me. Sorry I’m late. My son had to go pick me up after the bar closed so that I could get here.”

Ned slumped down on the seat I was sitting in. He’d obviously worked this site before. “Yeah. They sent me here to keep you company, boy. It appears all you young folks are too afraid to be out here in the swamps by yourselves! Ooooh, sandwiches!”

Ned picked up one of my delicious, double-decker smoked ham and bologna sandwiches with Swiss cheese and just the right amount of spicy mustard and mayonnaise and began chomping down on it.

“Hey, that’s my din…”

“”Do you know why this place chases off so many people?” said Ned, ignoring me.

“Because of you?” I said, slumping down on the broken chair.

“Don’t mess with me, boy,” said Ned, chunks of bread flying out of his mouth as he spoke. “I swear kids today have no class! No, boy. Take a look out the window, across the canal. You see all them trees out there?”

“Nope,” I said. “I see the reflection of some old guy eating my dinner in the window and a whole lot of black night.”

“Dammit, boy,” said Ned. “Well, if you could see out there, back behind them trees, is an Indian grave yard. Back before the white man came, this land used to belong to the Chesapeake Indians. That’s me, boy! I’m part Chesapeake Indian.”

“Okaaaaaaay,” I said. “Assuming that you are telling me the truth, the canal is pretty wide and the trees are far across the bank. That would put the grave yard pretty far from here.”

“They moved the markers, but they left the bodies here, boy!” said Ned. “Here! Right where they built this paper mill! They say it went bankrupt because they angered the spirits of my ancestors.”

I rolled my eyes at this drunken old creep. “Like in that movie?”

“What movie?” said Ned, now opening my can of Pringles.

“That movie where they moved the headstones but left the bodies, and that little girl got sucking into the television, then a stuffed clown tried to drag the little boy under the bed?”

Ned looked at me questioningly. “Are you on drugs, boy?”

Exasperated, I grabbed my other sandwich and my Red Bulls and rolled the chair to the far end of the table where I had thrown my backpack. At least I could get some school work done. I took out one of my extremely overpriced text books and turning my back on Ned, I tried to get in the zone to do my homework.

“You afraid of blood, boy?” said Ned. “Because I can’t stand boys who are afraid of blood. I always say that you don’t deserve to call yourself a man if you are afraid of blood. Hell, you may not deserve to live if you are afraid of blood!”

I slowly turned, now determined to keep an eye on this insane old man.

“No. I don’t spend too much time obsessing about blood, Ned.” I said.

“That’s the problem with you young kids these days. All weak and pathetic. I was in Vietnam, boy! We rolled around in blood and guts every day! Blood, boy! Buckets and buckets of blood!”

“My father did two tours of duty in Vietnam,” I answered. “He was with the Marines, and he never talked about rolling around in buckets of blood.”

“Phaa,” said Ned, waving his hands dismissively. “Blood isn’t death! Blood is life! I hunt, you know? Mostly deer, and every time I hunt, I take the blood of my kills and I put it in a metal tub! Then I get all naked and climb into the tub! I absorb the life of my kills in that tub. And I take the spirit of the deer by drinking its blood!”

“Well, I’m not hungry ever again,” I said, pushing my sandwich towards Bloody Ned.

“When my kid got old enough, I taught him how to hunt also.” Continued Ned. “When he got his first deer kill, we drained the blood into a bucket and I made my son pour the blood over his head! Blood, baby! Blood! Heh-heh-heh…”

With all Ned’s talk of blood and guts, I could feel myself getting nauseous. “You looking kind of white there, boy,” said Ned. “You ain’t afraid of a little blood, are you, boy?”

“No,” I said, getting up on wobbly feet. “I’m going to go do a security patrol and get some fresh air.”

“Don’t let them ghosts get you, boy!” cackled Ned as I left the room.

Sweating, with spots appearing in my eyesight, I staggered down the hallway and stepped outside feeling instantly better. Where in the world did they dig up that vampire? I walked to the parking lot, under the flickering light pole and took deep breaths until the horrific images that Ned implanted in my head faded away. It was deathly still with the calming sounds of water rippling down the canal mingled with the songs of frogs and crickets. Suddenly, the street light went out and all sounds seemed to cease. Even the lights coming from the building seemed to flicker and dim.

Without a flashlight, there was no point to be outside any longer. Reluctantly, I began walking back towards the building and back to where Ned was at. I decided that if he was still crazy when I got there, I would move to the cafeteria area and spent the rest of the shift there. As I walked towards the building across that dark parking lot, I could not help but feel like I was being watched. That made me not like Ned all the more, with his stories of Indian ghosts and burial grounds.

The lights were still flickering as I walked down the main corridor to the boiler room. The flickering lights would make it hard to to homework, but fortunately, they usually didn’t flicker for very long. By the time I reached the boiler room, the lights were back on. Ned was still in his seat, facing outside towards the window.

“I’m back, Ned,” I said. But he didn’t move. He didn’t say anything. I slowly walked up behind him. “Ned?”

I stood in front of him looking down. Ned was slumped down in the chair, eyes closed and completely still.

“Ned?” I said again, looking to see if his chest was rising and falling. It wasn’t.

“Ned?” I leaned forward, attempting to put my hand on his chest to feel for a heartbeat.

“Blood,” Ned cackled as he smacked his lips, dreaming. He turned over in his seat, getting comfortable in his drunken stupor. “Blood! Heh-heh-heh…” he said again as he began snoring.

“Damn it, Ned!” I said.

Then the lights went out completely. I stood in darkness for a second, noticing that the temperature had dropped. The hair on the back of my neck raised as I slowly turned around, feeling that eerie feeling again that I was being watched.

Outside the window, hands pressed against the glass, was what appeared to be a very, very white little boy, staring at me. Though he was pure, ghostly white, he had the round face, round nose and round facial features of a latino or native American. Short hair looking like it was cut in a bowl cut fashion framed two abnormally large eyes, colored pitch black, and his mouth was wide open, as if in a silent scream. As I stood there, too shocked and terrified to move, the most ridiculous thought came into my mind.

“You aren’t nearly as creepy as Old Bloody Ned, behind me.”

Though I could not see his eyes, I knew that the little boy was staring right through me. Slowly, he began to fade, as if being called back or swallowed by the darkness until he disappeared. Soon, even his little hand prints on the window were gone. When the boy faded away, the lights immediately came on. Strangely, even though I was terrified, I did not sense anything malicious coming from the apparition.

I took my backpack to the abandoned cafeteria in order to do my school work, thinking that if the little boy Pocahontas had a problem with us, he’d come back and get old Bloody Ned. In fact, please get Old Bloody Ned. I was working on my assignment for so long that I didn’t realize it was almost time for shift change. To my surprise, my security supervisor came into the building at around fifteen minutes before shift change. Old Bloody Ned was asleep the whole time until the shift change, when he finally woke up. My security supervisor shambled down the corridor, smelling of alcohol. His eyes blood-shot and he was obviously hung over.

Old Bloody Ned awoke and stumbled to the supervisor.

“Hey son,” Old Bloodly Ned said.

“Son?” I thought?

“Hey, pa!” said my supervisor. “I brought the car for you, dad.”

“Uggg,” I thought. “That figures. Old Bloody Ned is my insane supervisor’s father.”

“How did your shift go?” said my supervisor.

Ned pointed at me. “This little boy spent the night shaking in his pants, son. Hell, I couldn’t keep him awake through his shift! He’s an f-ing coward, son.”

My supervisor looked at me with disdain. “Boy! You are a pathetic sack of lazy crap, ain’t you?”

“Not really,” I said.

Old Bloody Ned got into the old, rusty Dodge and drove away, saying, “I’ll be back to pick you up at one o’clock , son! Your sister will be on stage at Gallery of Boobs at one o’clock and we need to give her as much support as we can when she climbs on that pole!”

As Old Bloody Ned drove away, I turned to my supervisor. “Hey, man,” I said. “I have a suggestion.”

My supervisor rolled his eyes. “What do you want, you cowardly little college boy?”

I let his remark slide off me as I said, “Look. This is a pretty easy site. During the graveyard shift, there doesn’t need to be two people here. When I come back tonight, Old Bloody Ned doesn’t need to be here.”
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Reba Petro
I don't think I'd work for that man. And that place needs alot of work. Thanks for your story.
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