A theme for a fair portion of my stories will be stupidity. This one isn’t that so much as being a teenager and not listening. You know how it goes. You spend your whole life being told not to do something, so at some point you do it. You’re not scared of anything.
My cousin Brandon and I were stubborn teen boys. We had a Sunday afternoon routine of going to Ft. Wayne, IN to hang out and hit the stores and just screw around. He was 17 or so, I was about 14. The perfect age to push boundaries and see what happened. With the exceptions of a soybean field and a late night slide into a ditch, it never did any harm.
Then there was the day in early November that left us scarred. In all reality it left us scared, but that was a secret. Our whole lives we were told to not stop at The Way. It was a college in a small town south of where we lived. The group of people were rumored to be a cult. The whole history is pretty sketchy, so I won’t swear to anything or go into details of anything but this day.
We were on our way to hang out when we decided it was time to stop. This building was enormous. The cold weather had set in and we were in our heavier winter coats. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t warm. This comes into play a little later.
We pulled into the empty parking lot of the approximately 600 acre college and looked around. There was not a soul around. It was eerily quiet. The only sound was our footsteps and the wind.
We looked up the side of the three story building. Nothing at all around. We decided to go see if we could get in, because when the place freaks you out, that’s what you do. Right?
We approach the door and see two long hallways up a small flight of steps past the entry. As we looked around we, again, saw nobody. The door was locked. The lights were off. As we turned to leave, disappointed and still freaked the door opened.
We turned around to see this tiny elderly woman greeting us.
“Oh, hello boys. How can I help you today?” she asked.
Brandon looked at me as we turned around and asked, “where did she come from?”
I had no idea. But, there she was. Very sweet, very polite and very creepy.
As we explained that we were just there to look around and see the building a little bit up close, she started sharing stories with us about the history of the building. She told us how it had been a celebrity spa back in the 1920’s. It had been a Catholic Monastery, and was appointed a safe place for the End Times. Fascinating place.
Then it got scary. She got started on the story of when it was a college. She told us about the garden out by the dorm buildings that used to house the fraternities, and how they “Just aren’t with us anymore.” Naturally we had to ask where they went.
“They just aren’t with us anymore, boys.” she said again. “I was just on my way out there now to pick some tomatoes. We have a garden set up by their dorms.”
I looked at Brandon and we noted the weather. It was too dang cold for tomatoes to be growing. We ignored it as best we could. We continued to visit and we never made it in the front door. We held the door open with our feet as she stood there talking about her stoner son, that she was so proud of, the local schools, people who had graduated 10-15 years or more before we were at the school, and more about the college.
We about exploded with excitement when she offered to let us see the chapel.
“Go on down the sidewalk to the chapel door and I will meet you there.” she said.
“Okay, great.” we said, as we started down the sidewalk.
Before these 2 young healthy teenage boys made it half way down the sidewalk to the chapel, we saw her open up the door to let us in. I have no idea how she covered the probably 200 feet before we had even made it half way. But, she did.
I looked up and noticed something terrifying.
I looked at Brandon and asked, “Dude, where the heck are her hands?”
As we got closer he freaked out more too, because very clearly, she was minus two hands.
What was she waving at us so clearly with? How did she beat us to the chapel at that distance and what we assumed was 230 years old? What happened to the frat boys? Where did she come from at the entrance?
The questions raced through our minds as we felt our hearts pounding faster and faster. We didn’t know what was going to happen next. In the days before cell phones, we were screwed. If we went missing, they would never find us.
When we entered the chapel we saw some of the most beautiful Italian Marble and stained glass windows we had ever seen. The room was ornate and huge. The bluish marble hung from floor to ceiling in gigantic slabs. The pews were ornate with the standard wood finish. The windows gave the room a very welcoming glow and this helped. The room was UNBELIEVABLE.
We didn’t stay in the chapel too long. It was time to get out of there and head anywhere but there. As we wrapped up the tour, she asked for our phone number to give us a call for a tour. Brandon gave them his dads phone number and we left.
Neither of us said a word until we were about 10 minutes away when i shouted to Brandon, “WHERE WERE HER HANDS!” He yelled back, “I DON’T KNOW! WHAT JUST HAPPENED?”
We started going over details and realized that in the probably 30 minutes we talked to this lady, she never blinked. Her sense of time was way off, and her lack of hands all led us to believe that she was dead. Very very dead.
We went to Ft. Wayne for the day and hung out a little bit. The events of The Way never left our minds. When we got home we told the whole stories to our parents, who got a great deal of humor out of our horror.
I don’t know any more of the woman. I went back to check out the building again several years later and found a few more creepy things laying around that really didn’t make much sense. It’s a fascinating place. I have heard countless stories about things that happened there. I just have no proof. Just a no-handed non-blinking dead lady. Maybe I can take my wife to visit.