Good Evening, and Happy Halloween, dear readers! To help you get into the creepy spirit here is an original short story I wrote, just for you. It is inspired by true events, with names of persons and places changed to protect the innocent. It involves a group of college freshmen, a creepy janitor, and a trip through the sewers near their school. Read it…if you dare….
The Legend of the N3
No one quite knew how the tradition began, but it had long become a rite of passage at Siloam University for upper classmen to lead the freshman boys on a mysterious trek through the sewers near the school. The newly-minted freshman would blindly follow not knowing where they were going. It was dangerous which was why the school frowned upon it, but also why the students persisted to do it. It was a well established fact that if you tell college kids, especially those out on their own for the first time, not to do something they are inclined to do it.
Despite the possible dangers they always seemed to make it through the sewer safely, usually coming up through the street at the other end, and even though they probably smelt like poo, go and get dinner at a nearby restaurant. Something about it brought out the spirit of adventure inside even the most timid newbie. Sometimes a few of those same freshman boys would try to lead their girl friends through the same tunnels, thinking it made them look like brave leaders.
That’s at least what Jack Crosby and his best buddies Chris Jordan, and Luke Holster thought when they decided to bring Jack and Luke’s new girl friends, Gwen and Kelly, down with them. They were about to embark on a trek with plans to grab a take and bake pizza at the grocery store afterwards.
“I still don’t see what the pizza was about,” said Gwen.
Jack put an arm around her and said, “Two words; Ninja turtles. They lived in the sewers and ate pizza. This is childhood come true.”
“And what better way is there to celebrate Halloween?” asked Luke.
“And with that any mood is killed,” said Kelly as she headed down the stairs.
“What time is it?” asked Gwen.
Chris glanced at his watch, “Almost 11:30. And thankfully, tomorrow is Saturday.”
“All the better for exploring the tunnels,” said Luke.
“Ahhh, no wonder Jack’s still out after 10,” said Gwen with a playful poke at her boyfriend’s ribs. It was well known to everyone who knew him that Jack tended to go to bed early in order to be up for his class in the morning.
They walked through the hall where the janitor was busy mopping the floor. He looked up from his work and glanced at them, noticing how muddy their shoes were. It would be another long night of work for him already, and this just added to it.
“Would you kids mind wiping your feet next time?” he asked.
“Oh, sorry,” said Jack.
“Just don’t let it happen again,” said the janitor.
“We won’t,” said Chris.
“Good, “said the janitor. “Now where are you kids heading at this late hour?”
No one answered. They knew that the school did not approve of the sewer excursions, and if anyone ever found out they could get a written warning. It may be a fun story to tell later on, but now it was the kind of thing to keep secret among friends.
“You were in the sewer, weren’t ya?” he asked as he leaned against his mop.
The kids were shocked. The janitor was amazingly perceptive, and none of them were too keen on trying to figure out how he deduced this information. They also weren’t going to respond one way or another for risk of incriminating themselves, especially to an overnight janitor. No one really knew them as they tended to worked at the hours when even the most persistent night owls on campus were asleep.
“It’s ok,” said the janitor. “I’ve been there before even did a trip myself my freshman year. Just be careful not to end up like the N3.”
“The N3?”asked Chris.
“You mean to tell me you kids have never heard of the legend of the N3? Thought they told you that story at orientation.”
The kids shook their heads. The janitor, who had shaggy dark hair and a thick beard, wore a simple grey janitor’s coverall with the letter J stitched in the corner.
“Why else do you think the powers that be don’t want you playing in the sewer? It’s not just to keep you kids safe, it’s also because of the N3.”
“Who was the N3?”asked Jack.
“You know that empty floor over at Neil Hall?”
They nodded. Years ago there had been a bad fire at that hall. No one knew why that room hadn’t been repaired, some assumed it was a matter of cost.
“Well,” said J. “That floor housed a group known as The N3. About eleven years ago, the same year as the fire, they were the most infamous floor on campus. If there was something weird or strange going on, they were behind it. They put fish in suggestion boxes, shoved mashed-potatoes in the presidents PO box, wrote the word “moot” on walls, and put deer heads in the girls bathroom.Why they were responsible for all the shower curtains in Neil Hall vanishing and even managed to move the big rock in the courtyard into the president’s parking spot.”
The Janitor laughed as he thought of that prank and smiled as he mopped the floor.
“Was it a Halloween kind of thing?”asked Kelly.
“Hardly,” said J. “They did one at least every other week. They lived for pranks. However if there was anything they loved more it was making trips through the tunnels. Then something happened that brought it all to the end.”
“Did they get expelled?” asked Luke.
“A likely story,” said J. “And if you ask anyone in charge here that’s what they’ll tell you. Or that they moved up a grade or transferred. But no, that’s all PR. After all, what parent would send there kids to a school where something like the incident involving the N3 happened.”
“So what’s this horrifying truth?” asked Chris, who was eager to leave.
“See,” said J. “The real story is something else. Some said they took a wrong turn and met their fate. But others said something else happened.”
“Oh?” asked Jake. “And what was that?”
Jake was a journalism major and always on the lookout for a good story. Even if this was a fish tale, it still sounded interesting. He could always corroborate the story later with someone who clearly hadn’t been inhaling the fumes of industrial strength cleaning solutions all night.
“The N3 had a rival floor that they were at “war” with so to speak. Well one night the N3 pulled off a prank so heinous there was only one form of retaliation.”
By now Kelly was starting to get scared. She had a very weak tolerance for frightening stories real or otherwise. She could always tell just when they were getting too intense and try and leave the room. Already she had taken Luke’s hand and was drawing closer to him.
“Wh-what stopped the N3?”she asked.
“It was the night of a huge fire in the laundry room. Now, some said it was an accident but most thought someone at the rival floor was behind it. After that fire, the N3 was never seen again, and some assume that their rival floor chased them into the lake. Regardless of what happened to them, it’s been said that they still haunt those sewers. In fact if you listen carefully when the night is cold and the moon is full, you can still hear their cry of “moot”. But be careful. If you hear their cry while you’re down there and they catch you, you join their number.”
“Is….”stammered Gwen. “Is there any way to avoid them.”
“Reach the entrance of the tunnel. Once you cross the lip of the tunnel, you’re home free. Or so they say.”
With out another word, J returned to his work, whistling an old sea shanty. Opening a door, the young friends made their way outside, thinking about the story. Chris was the first to speak. He was skeptic when it came to such things, especially about ghosts. As far as he was concerned the janitor was just a lonely guy who needed some entertainment, and found it in scaring college freshman.
“Don’t worry guys, the old guy was just fooling us. There’s no such thing as the N3.”
They scaled down a small hill and headed towards the gapping maw of the sewer. Crouching over like cave people they made their way inside. The girls had been nervous before, but the janitor’s story had made them even more so. Quickly, Kelly and Gwen took Jake and Luke’s hands as they headed inside. They could hear the faint sound of water trickling through the pipes.
“We probably should have gone to the bathroom before we left,” said Chris, trying in vain to lighten the mood.
There was a cold wind blowing through the tunnel. The narrow space made it sound like they were inside some kind of howling creature, and the limited light made it worse. Chris took out a flash light and turned it on, casting eerie shadows on the walls.
They had barely made it a yard when Kelly said, “I changed my mind lets go back.”
“C’mon,” said Chris. “There’s nothing to be scared of.”
“I—I’m afraid I have to agree with her,” said Gwen.
“Don’t worry ladies,” said Chris. “We’ll protect you from any big bad boogie men.”
“But the N3!”
“There’s no such thing!” said Chris. “Here. I’ll prove it.”
With that he took a turn down a corner and shinned a light, showing there was nothing to be afraid of. He handed his light to Jack and headed inside. Moments later he started to scream.
“AHHHH! It’s got me!”
The girls shrieked in terror and Jack pointed the light inside. Luke was ready to run in when Chris turned and said, “Boo!”
Chris laughed and said, “You should see the looks on your faces.”
“That was not funny!” said Kelly as she slapped him.
Chris just kept laughing, smiled, shook his head and said, “Uh, yeah, it kind of was. Makes me wish I brought a camera with.”
That was when Luke heard something. “What was that?”
“Cut it out!” said Gwen.
“It’s not funny anymore,” said Kelly.
“So you admit it was funny the first time,” said Chris.
“No,” said Kelly. “It wasn’t.”
“No,” said Jake. “I hear it too.”
“I got a bad feeling about this, “said Luke.
“C’mon guys. It’s probably just the wind,” said Chris.
“”Not like any wind I’ve ever heard,” said Jack.” It sounds like…voices.”
“I-is someone else down here?” asked Gwen.
“N- not that I know of,” said Luke. “We were the only ones heading out.”
“Hello!” called Jack. “Who’s out there.”
The only word in response, save his echo was the word, “Moot.”
“Let’s get out of here!” said Luke.
All they could hear were the faint sound of the word “Moot” in the distance. Wasting no time, they turned and ran as fast as they could inside the tunnel. Chris dropped the light and hurried to catch up with his friends, screaming at the top of his lungs.
However the sound of him screaming wasn’t enough to get them to turn back. When it came to circumstances like this, it was every person for themselves. At last they saw a light in the distance. It was the school. Climbing out of the sewer they hurried up the sidewalk, threw open door and ran inside. They expected to find the janitor still working but to their surprise the room was empty.
“M-maybe he finished and went to another room,” said Luke.
“Yeah,” said Jack, hoping his friend was right.
They saw the janitor’s door open and figured they would check .They knocked and saw a man seated at a desk, watching the weather channel. The man smiled and commented on how late it was.
“Uhh, can we speak to J?” asked Chris.
“J?” asked the man. “Don’t know anyone by that name.”
“You got to!” said Kelly as she gave a quick description of the janitor who told them the story.
“Lots of guys look like that on our staff,” said the man. “ But the guy you described sounds familiar.”
“He does?” asked Jack.
“Yeah,” said the man. “He sounds like someone I actually went to school with here. He had been on N3 our freshman year. The year of the fire.”
They didn’t wait to hear the rest. They quickly thanked the man for his time and hurried back to their dorm. As they raced up the sidewalk to the residence hall they paused a moment to catch their breath.
“Think…think anything’s following us?” asked Gwen.
Then she turned looked at the wall behind them and screamed. Written on the cold brick was the word “Moot” in bright red letters. They hurried inside the residence hall and slammed the door behind them. No one saw the janitor named “J” again. They never went back to the tunnels either, due in no small part to the school finally covering them with steel bars. Not that it mattered. When word spread amongst the student body about that ghostly sighting, everyone was too afraid to go down there. However, on those cold, dark nights when the moon was full, Chris, Jack, Luke, Gwen, and Kelly swore that they could still hear the word “Moot” being carried on the wind.