1408 (2007) and the Nine Circles of Hell

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Featured Horror Mystery and Lore Scary Movies and Series

Although not a critically acclaimed horror movie, 1408 (2007) was actually an incredibly enlightening horror movie; this movie, for a lot of people, may have come across as a simple ghost story narrative in a haunted hotel room, when in reality the story was a lot deeper than that. Adapted from a short story written by Stephen King, 1408 is actually a modern-day narrative that parallels Dante’s journey into the depths of hell in Dante’s Inferno (1427).

1408 (1999) A Short Story by Stephen King

1408 by Stephen King – Audiobook Part 01
1408 by Stephen King – Audiobook Part 02
1408 by Stephen King – Audiobook Part 03

1408 (1999) is a short story that was penned by Stephen King, it was released as the third story in an audiobook collection titled Blood and Smoke. In 2002, it was collected in written form as part of a twelve-part collection of Stephen King’s short stories under the titled Everything’s Eventual.

In the Introduction, King tells us that 1408 is really just his version of the “ghostly room at the inn,” this was his way of describing the theme of a haunted hotel or motel room within the horror genre of fiction.

The Plot of 1408

Stephen King spins the tale of a non-fiction writer named Mike Enslin–he writes about the paranormal and his goal is to find evidence that ghosts exist. Although Enslin privately does not believe in the paranormal or ghosts for that matter, he feels guilt that stems from his books being best-sellers.

Enter the Dolphin Hotel on 61st Street in New York City–a hotel that has one room with a sinister reputation and Enslin plans on staying there as part of the research for his next book, “Ten Nights in Ten Haunted Hotel Rooms.” Before being given his key to the room, the hotel’s manager, Mr. Olin, gives Enslin the details of the morbid history of it; room 1408 has been responsible for 42 deaths, including 12 suicides over the span of 68 years. Olin insists that Enslin not stay in the room, because he believes there is something evil that resides within, even if he himself does not believe in the paranormal.

One interesting detail that Olin provides is that the Dolphin Hotel doesn’t have a recognized 13th floor, so even though room 1408 is labeled as the 14th floor, it’s really on the 13th. What’s worse, is if you follow the rules of numerology, the room’s numbers even add up to the number 13 (1+4+0+8=13).

The Great Poet Dante Alighieri, and His Famous Inferno (1427)

Dante Alighieri wrote the Divine Comedy, the first part of which was the famous Inferno (1427), a poem told from the perspective of the narrator, who happens to be lost in a dark wood wherein he is attacked by three beasts from which he cannot escape. Virgil, the Roman poet having been sent by Beatrice, rescues him from these beasts and together they begin the journey into the Nine Circles of Hell.

Dante's Inferno
Dante Alighieri’s Inferno by Gustave Doré

First Circle: Limbo

The First Circle of Hell is inhabited by virtuous non-Christians and unbaptized pagans–here they are to endure a punishment which is an eternity within a subpar form of Heaven. Those in Limbo live in a castle that has seven gates which are there to symbolize the seven virtues–it is here that Dante recognizes many prominent non-Christian people from classical antiquity like the author Homer, the philosophers Socrates and Aristotle, the statesman Cicero, the physician Hippocrates, as well as the infamous Roman consul, Julius Caesar.

Second Circle: Lust

The Second Circle of Hell is the level at which Dante and Virgil find people who in their lives were overcome by lust. Their punishment is to endure an eternity of being blown violently back and forth by tumultuous winds which prevent them from finding any peace in their afterlife. The winds symbolize the ferocity with which a person pursues the object of lust and the restlessness they find by being led by their desires for the carnal knowledge of their object of lust. Once again Dante sees many historical and mythological people of note–Egyptian pharaoh Cleopatra, the Cornish Knight Tristan, Helen of Troy and many others who were adulterous or let their lust control their path in life.

Third Circle: Gluttony

Upon entering the Third Circle of Hell, Dante and his companion see the souls of gluttons who guarded by a worm-monster Cerberus. The sinners in this particular circle of Hell are forced to lay in a vile slush that is caused by an constant sleet. The slush that lay in symbolizes the personal degradation of those who overindulge in food, drink, and other worldly pleasures. Even though there are others laying beside them in the slush, they have an inability to see each other, which represents the sinner’s selfishness and coldness.

Fourth Circle: Greed

The Fourth Circle of Hell, they find the souls of people who committed the sin of greed; this circle is divided into two factions of sinners, those who hoarded worldly possessions and those who spent it on unnecessarily lavish things. These two separate groups are meant to fight each other for all eternity, using enormous weights that they must push with their chest to symbolize their selfish desire of fortune within their lifetime. The damned within this circle is watched over by Pluto–likely due to his ancient Greek origin as the god of the underworld. In Dante’s narrative, he claims to see many clergymen including greedy cardinals and popes.

Fifth Circle: Anger

The Fifth Circle of Hell is reserved for the wrathful and the sullen; while being transported via boat by Phlegyas over the river Styx, Dante and Virgil witness the wrathful fighting on the surface and the sullen drowning below the surface. This punishment symbolizes their sins in life, where the wrathful show their anger on the surface and the sullen drown in their own turmoil.

Sixth Circle: Heresy

The Sixth Circle of Hell is where Dante and Virgil see the heretics that have been condemned to an eternity entombed within their flaming crypts.

Seventh Circle: Violence

In the Seventh Circle of Hell, the two companions see that it is divided into three rings–the outermost ring houses murderers, as well as those who were violent to other people and property in general, wherein they are sinking into a river of boiling blood. The middle ring houses those who have committed violence upon themselves and have ended up within this circle by taking their own lives–these people have been changed into trees and bushes where they are fed upon by harpies. Within the middle ring Dante also sees profligates as they are chased and ripped to shreds by rabid dogs. The innermost ring is reserved for blasphemers and sodomites, who are doomed to inhabit a desert of burning sand as a burning rain falls from the sky.

Eighth Circle: Fraud

Those who are fraudulent are meant for the Eighth Circle of Hell–they are watched over by Geryon, a flying monster with different natures, just as the fraudulent have ever-changing natures. This circle is divided into ten bolgias, or “evil ditches” that have bridges between them. The first is for panderers and seducers, the second is for flatterers, the third is for those guilty of simony (such as those who sold tickets to heaven, or a heavenly pardon to those already passed). The fourth ditch was for sorcerers and false prophets, the fifth for corrupt politicians, the six for hypocrites. The remaining four ditches were reserved for thieves, evil counselors and advisers, divisive individuals, and in the last various falsifiers, like alchemists, perjurers, and counterfeits.

Ninth Circle: Treachery

The Ninth and final Circle of Hell is divided into four different rings and who is housed within them is in accordance to the seriousness of the sin. While all of the inhabitants are frozen in an icy lake, the more severe the sin, the deeper within the ice they are. The first ring is named Caina, after Cain who killed his brother Abel. The second ring is named Antenora, for Anthenor of Troy the primary counselor for Priam during the Trojan War. The Third ring is named Ptolomaea, after Ptolemy, and the fourth ring is named Judecca, in honor of Judas Iscariot, the famous apostle who betrayed Jesus.

1408: The Philosophical Depths That Horror Can Reach

Real Dimensional Pictures on Youtube does a great job making this Philosophical argument that can made when the movie 1408 (2007), or Stephen King’s short story 1408 (1999) are put in juxtaposition with Dante’s Inferno (1427).

Ghosts Are More Than Just the Spirits of the Dead

Categories
Horror Mystery and Lore
Take a walk through a creepy forest
Photography by Jack Cain

What Are Ghosts?

Are they the benevolent spirits of our loved ones who have passed on? Or are they malevolent specters haunting the shadows, waiting for the moment to attack unwitting victims? Modern folklore says that ghosts are the souls or spirits of a dead person or animal that can often be perceived by the living. These apparitions vary widely in descriptions, whether they be completely disembodied sounds, translucent forms of a person who has passed, or wisps, orbs, shapes, and other realistic silhouettes. From firsthand experiences and stories passed down through the ages, it seems that these entities can be fully aware of their surroundings, or simply faded recordings tragically repeating moments from within their own lifetime.

There is a widespread belief in the afterlife, including the manifestation of spirits which is highly intertwined in the ancestor worship that has appeared in cultures across the world since before the written word. These beliefs have led to funeral rites, exorcisms, and attempts to contact those who have passed as a means to put the spirits of the dead to rest. Contacting those who haunt your halls can be done in a number of ways, most notably through a séance wherein participants use Ouija boards or mediums.

Disembodied spirits are identified not necessarily by their appearance as apparitions, but by the displacement of objects, strange or flickering lights, as well as an auditory presence—laughter or screams with no origin, footsteps when there is no one else around, ringing bells or other spontaneous music that comes from untouched musical instruments. Haunted locations are believed to be associated with possessing spirits who still have a strong attachment to the location from their own past, whether it be sorrow, fear, or distress due to a violent death. People can be haunted as well—not entirely unlike possession, but the person being haunted does not have their body inhabited by the spirit itself, instead, they are likely associated in some way to the unhappy experience that keeps the spirit tethered to the world of the living.

Ghosts walking down the road
Photography by JR Korpa

There are multiple types of spirits that are known to haunt the living, even in the modern age. First, is called the interactive personality—these are considered the most common of all and are often human in nature. Whether it’s your deceased Aunt Sally coming to tell you that she’s not happy that you took her vintage jade brooch or a person lost to history they’re not always kind apparitions. These personalities can make themselves known in a variety of different ways, whether visible or not, some can speak, make noises, touch you, or even cause odors reminiscent of when they were alive (i.e. a perfume they used to wear, or cigar smoke). Those who study and hunt for ghosts are convinced that these spirits retain their personality and can still feel the emotions that would have been relevant to them during life.

Not all of the commonly acknowledged apparitions go out of their way to communicate with people—if you’ve ever heard of the White Ladies, you know that most if not all of these women keep to themselves, by lingering mournfully in a cemetery, or an aging historical building. These White Ladies are described as being dressed entirely in white and can be heard sobbing, crying, or wailing over the painful loss that drove them to take their own lives. They’re not known to necessarily interact with their environment, so much as to be painfully aware of where they are and continue to wallow in the depth of grief that keeps them stuck where they died.

The term poltergeist would most likely conjure images of a swirling vortex and alternate dimensions resulting from disrespecting ancient burial grounds of Native Americans, but it’s not the most accurate portrayal. Poltergeist is actually one of the most common names for a ghost that can interact with their environment—except that instances of these spirits are more often associated with violent interaction with their physical environment. They can knock items off of shelves, open cabinet doors, slam doors, stack chairs, or generally displace objects from their original resting place. Not too surprisingly, poltergeists are the most terrifying because they give us the impression that if they can move things around us, then they can also take physical action upon us.

So, whether you’re experiencing unnatural phenomena throughout your house or are out hunting ghosts in an abandoned building, you may find that there are multiple types of entities that you come across. Ghosts are herein described as the spirits of people or animals that have passed away that may have an unordinary attachment to the world of the living–good or bad, it depends on the person they were in life. Due to the lack of documentation that has been proven to be authenticated, it’s unlikely that you will be able to capture viable evidence that would declare with finality that ghosts are real. It is, however, important to continue to try to document proof of the existence of ghosts, because otherwise, we may never know.

Hood River Oregon’s Haunted Hotels

Categories
Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

Hood River sits in the Columbia Gorge along the Columbia river surrounded by fields, orchards, vineyards, and at the foot of Oregon’s tallest mountain, Mount Hood. “The area was inhabited by Native Americans when the Lewis and Clark expedition passed through on October 29, 1805. Here they found a campsite called “Waucoma,” or “place of big trees.” The camp was located near what became known as the Dog River.” – City of Hood River Website. The town was established in 1858 and was originally called “Dog River.” The Columbia Gorge is a wonder of nature unto itself stretching 80 miles and at times is 4,000 feet deep. The Columbia River that flows through the gorge near Hood River is notorious for windsurfing and kiteboarding. On any given day you can see the sails and kites littered about the massive river.

Haunted Hood River Hotel Side View
Haunted Hood River Hotel

The quaint town of Hood River is an outdoor adventurer stronghold. Sprinter vans, mountain bikes, kite and windsurfers, and craft beer are everywhere. The town is home to about 8,000 people and it’s a blend of farmers, migrant workers in the summer working the vineyards, mountain sports enthusiasts, beer lovers, surfers, and about anyone else who loves outdoor activities.

Scenic Map of The Columbia River
Scenic Map of The Columbia River

The town is also the home of two of Oregon’s most haunted hotels. The “Hood River Hotel” and “The Columbia Gorge Hotel.” The Hood River hotel established in 1912 is now over 100 years old and the magnificent Columbia Gorge Hotel will turn 100 next year in 2021. After a century in business, these hotels have seen some life and even some death. The town was originally a major hub for trade before being discovered as an outdoor person’s hot spot. With hundreds of thousands of visitors a year there are stories to tell.

The Haunted Hood River Hotel

Haunted Hood River Hotel Front
Haunted Hood River Hotel Front Door, Hood River, Oregon

The original hotel named the Mt Hood Hotel dates back to 1888 which was strategically located near the train depot in the center of town. It is the oldest hotel in the city of Hood River. Local lore tells of the original owner Ola Bell still inhabiting room 319 even though she died in 1942. She owned the hotel for over 30 years and her ghost is said to still haunt the hallways. The haunting ranges from sheer terror guests have experienced such as mortal fear when entering a room and disembodied footsteps to less terrifying events such as doorknobs moving with no one in sight, phantom phone calls. The most horrifying account comes from a guest staying in room 310. The guest reported opening the door and becoming overcome with dread, this the statement left in their review of the hotel room ” I nearly knocked my poor daughter down trying to get out. Every hair on my body stood on end, every rational thought left my brain and all I could do was yell GO GO GO GET OUT GET OUT.”

The Haunted Columbia Gorge Hotel

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Haunted Columbia Gorge Hotel, Hood River, Oregon

The Columbia Gorge Hotel was built by Simon Benson, who was involved with the Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway. Benson envisioned a hotel at the end of the highway and completed the Mission style hotel in 1921. The new hotel was built on the site of the previous Wah Gwin Gwin Hotel, built in 1904. Between 1925 and 1952, the hotel went through several changes of ownership.

The then-48-room hotel closed in 1952, when it was sold to the Neighbors of Woodcraft, a non-profit fraternal benefit society based in Oregon since 1905, and converted into a retirement home.It was sold again in 1978, with the new owners planning to reopen it as a hotel. After a $1-million renovation, the now-42-room hotel reopened in September 1979. 

In January 2009, the landmark hotel closed its doors again, due to foreclosure. The foreclosing bank later re-opened the hotel before selling it to Vijay Patel’s A-1 Hospitality Group in October 2009 for around $4 million. Between 2009 and 2012, the hotel underwent a major renovation. The hotel is currently open and you can take a virtual toor.

Haunting and ghost sightings within the hotel vary. There are sighting of a woman in White attire who allegedly committed suicide at the hotel, most recently sitting at a park bench on the ground. Scents of cigar smoke with no identifiable cause possibly related to a retiree who died on the premises when it was a retirement home. There are other sightings of a ghost of a child near an area that once held a pool. Room 330 has reports of another female ghost of unknown origin. Rooms have been found barricaded with no known cause and a man wearing a frock coat and a top hat been seen.

Recent guests report strange dreams such as this guest in 2020 “I saw a black mass hovering above my the nightstand next to the bed. In the dream, it started to smoke and the room started on fire due to this presence.” In 2018 Another guest reported, “I saw a human form walk around the foot of our bed and to my side of the bed, suddenly I couldn’t move or speak.” That was not the only guest who was left paralyzed in fear. Another man in 2016 reported “my wife said she couldn’t move, speak or open her eyes, she was in a frozen state. I woke up when something felt like tugging or sitting on the blankets on my side of the bed that sent tingles up my legs.”

Columbia Gorge Hotel Information Guide
Columbia Gorge Hotel Information Guide

The town of Hood River is beautifully nestled along the Columbia River Gorge. It is home to some of the best outdoor activities in Oregon but it also has a long and haunted history. It’s well worth a visit for ghost-hunters, historians, and anyone who visits the great haunted state of Oregon.

Want more Oregon Lore, check out these articles?

https://puzzleboxhorror.com/tag/oregon/

Index
https://cityofhoodriver.gov/community/history/
https://www.columbiagorgehotel.com/
https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g51909-d114266-r605770471-Hood_River_Hotel-Hood_River_Oregon.html
https://thoughtcatalog.com/amy-venezia/2015/09/i-spent-a-night-at-the-columbia-gorge-hotel-after-i-heard-stories-of-its-haunted-rooms/
https://www.oregonhauntedhouses.com/real-haunt/hood-river-hotel.html
https://www.oregonhauntedhouses.com/real-haunt/columbia-gorge-hotel.html

Shadowend Funeral Home

Categories
Featured Haunted Places Indie Horror Indie Horror Creation Indie horror writers Short Horror Stories
spooky old haunted house

“Shadowend Funeral Home?” Robby Falcon turned his gray F-150 off the main road of Baker High School and onto the service road that led to the interstate. “Brayden, that placed stopped being scary when we were in elementary school.”

Brayden Briley, packed his dip can with a loud pop and said, “Look, Falcon, it’s not about being scary man. It’s about having the place to ourselves.” Brayden opened the dip can, swiped out some tobacco, and stuck it in his front lip. He wiped his lip and checked his face in the side mirror to make sure no remnants of tobacco hung on. He looked at Falcon again. “Remember? Privacy?” Brayden reached in his back pack and produced a dime bag of weed and a fifth of whiskey.

Falcon did a double take. “Brayden, dammit! Put that away man. People can see!” Falcon slapped at him with one hand and kept the other on the steering wheel, then turned left to merge onto the interstate.

Brayden chuckled, “Don’t be such a baby, Falcon. No one can see.” Brayden stuffed the alcohol and weed into his back pack, hiding it underneath his history and math book.

Falcon’s face relaxed when he saw Brayden stow their stash away. “And how do you know Shadowend will not be occupied with other said teens engaging in underage drinking and other shenanigans?” He checked the rearview. His curly, sandy blond hair was damp and disheveled from 7th hour P.E.

Brayden placed an arm on the seat and grabbed Falcon’s shoulder. “Look man, that placed stopped being a party spot in the early 90s man. Sure, in the 80s it was the place to go. The stories were fresh then and people were looking for a scare. The place is so dead now, that not even the cops go out there. It’s perfect. The funeral home is considered so lame and overdone, its almost like its not even there.” He removed an empty plastic water bottle from the cup holder and spat.

Falcon sped up and merged. “Did you invite them?”

“Yeah.” Brayden spat again.

“And?”

“And they said they’d come. What’s the big deal?”

Falcon gave Brayden a backhand to the chest. The slap made a hollow echo throughout the cab. “What do you mean ‘what’s the big deal’? I’ve been trying to go out with Sarah since like 8th grade.”

Brayden made an umf sound and almost spat his dip on the windshield, then giggled. “I know, so don’t screw this up. Which, by the way, when I talked to Annie and invited them, she said that Sarah had told her just the other day about how hot you looked in your baseball uniform.” He jabbed Falcon in the ribs. “Huh? Huh?? Hey slugger?”

Falcon swiped at Brayden’s hand and gave a half smile. “What time did you tell them to meet us out there?” Falcon took his exit.

“2:00 am.” Brayden scratched his head, disturbing his short and wild black hair.

“2:00 am it is,” Falcon said, and took a left.

The full moon hung high over Shadowend that night. It directed its rays on the dilapidated funeral home like a spotlight, as if the structure was a lone actor on a stage of rustling tree branches and waving grass. Falcon and Brayden pulled up to the building five minutes before 2.

Shadowend sat on ten acres of land. An overgrown road with busted asphalt led back to the main building, which sat encircled by a wrought iron fence. The once active funeral home and cemetery stayed in business until 1980, when unexpectedly, the owners fled or disappeared. Soon after, the rumors circulated about the owners. A Satanic cult, eaters of the dead, child murders, aliens, and whatever else the imaginative minds of teenagers could come up with. But the truth was, no one knew.

The lights on Falcon’s truck shined on the face of the funeral home. The Victorian looking house, once a pristine white, now faded old and graying, like a sad elderly man in his last years of life. The windows were cracked, and some had holes the size of baseballs in them. The screen door sat cockeyed on its hinges, and the post which held up the awning of the porch was leaning..

“Oh, nice pick Brayden,” Falcon said, staring through the windshield. “I hope someone doesn’t fart too loud. They might knock the place down.”

“She’ll hold, capn’,” Brayden said in a terrible imitation pirate voice. “Now come on.” Brayden grabbed his backpack and got out the truck. Falcon killed the engine and followed.

A few seconds later, headlights appeared. It was Annie and Sarah. The two girls hopped out of Annie’s white Mustang and Sarah waved a bottle of vodka at them. “The whiskey won’t be enough, boys.” She said and winked at Falcon.

Falcon gave Sarah a nervous smile. Man, she looks so hot, he thought. Her red hair glistened in the moonlight, as if each particle were made of rubies. “You look nice.” Falcon said, then regretted how awkward it sounded.

Brayden snickered then said, “Yeah Sarah, I tried to talk Falcon in to wearing his baseball uniform, but he refused.” He put his arm around Annie and gave her a wink.

Sarah cut her eyes at Annie, then Brayden.

“Oh whatever,” Annie said. “We all know you have the hots for one another. Just get it over with.”

Falcon and Sarah exchanged skittish smiles, then Falcon reached out his hand. “Come on, let’s go explore the house.”

Sarah flipped her hair over her shoulder and grabbed his hand. Falcon walked her down the cracked cobblestone walkway and up the porch to the cockeyed screen door. Annie and Brayden followed.

Falcon turned his phone light on, then opened the front door. The light reflected off a dangling chandelier, hanging almost head level. Directly in front of them were red, carpeted stairs with white railings. Strewn across the floor were broken pieces of furniture, mortar from the ceiling, and numerous beer cans.  In the back of the room, a dark hallway drew their attention.

“What do you think is back there?” Sarah asked.

“The morgue,” Brayden said and stepped through. “Come on, or you just gonna sit there and stare at it all night?”

The four teens eased through the doorway and let the screen door bang behind them. They skipped to the hallway, as if dodging landmines, trying not to trip on all the debris scattered across the floor. With all the lights on their phones shining, the group followed Brayden down the long hallway, then half way down, turned left.

Their lights gleamed back at them and reflected off a rusted chrome table, littered with grass, dirt, empty cigarette packs, and other pieces of trash that had deteriorated into unrecognizable black smut. A tube from the embalming station dangled over the side.

“Come on, Annie. Climb up there and lay down.” Brayden raised his eyebrows and winked.

“That is so disgusting.” Sarah coughed and placed a hand over her mouth.

Annie slapped Brayden. “So romantic.”

A deep humming noise, hollow and echoing, buzzed from the back of the mortuary.

“What was that?” Falcon asked.

Brayden motioned with his head. “Sounded like it came from the cold chambers.”

“Cold chambers? What’s that?” Annie tilted her head.

“The place where they would store the bodies.” Falcon said and followed Brayden to the back of the room.

The cold chambers sat along the wall in rows of threes. The doors were open, and the table on the one at the bottom left was rolled halfway out.

The humming noise came again.

“Where is that coming from?” Sarah stepped closer and squinted into the darkness.

Falcon shined his light on the cold chambers. “Sounds like its coming from one of those.”

The sound flowed again, this time softer.

Brayden eased forward and knelt by the cold chamber; the one with the table rolled out. He held his hand over the opening, palm facing forward. “I feel a breeze.”

Falcon knelt beside him, crawled halfway into the chamber, and shined his light into the back. “You guys aren’t going to believe this.”

Sarah placed a hand on Falcon’s leg. “What?’

“There’s an opening back here. Like a tunnel or something.” Falcon crawled further in. A trash bag had been duct taped over an opening and it crackled as a breeze waved it. He pushed the bag aside with the back of his hand and shinned his light through the opening. “Oh yeah. It’s a tunnel.”

“Sweet,” Brayden said. “Let’s see where it leads.”

“Um, no!” Annie grabbed Brayden’s jeans by the waist and tried to pull him back.

Sarah cracked open the bottle of vodka and took a swig. “Come on, Annie. Don’t be such a little bitch.”

Annie snatched the bottle from Sarah and took a sip. “Fine.”

“Hey give me some.” Brayden tried to grab the bottle.

Annie pushed his forehead. Brayden chuckled, took the bottle, and drank.

“Hey assholes, y’all coming?” Falcon’s voiced flowed from the tunnel. He was already in.

The three teens giggled, then joined Falcon.

The tunnel sloped in a slight decline, and there was dirt on all the sides, top, and bottom. They could still feel the cool breeze coming from ahead of them. The air smelled musty, like an old library. Falcon fought his way through spiderwebs and other retreating insects.

“Hey Annie, let’s hope they ain’t got no rats down here,” Brayden joked.

“Ew, shut up.” Annie slapped his butt.

“Hey! Stairs!” Falcon yelled from the front of the line. Before him, the tunnel widened to a winding metal staircase. The teens scurried down the steps, and when all their feet touched the floor, they stood, mouths agape at their surroundings.

“What is it?” Sarah turned in circles, shining her light. She then snatched the bottle from Annie.

“Stain glass window. Pews. Looks like a church,” Falcon said.

“Buried under ground?” Annie asked.

Falcon shrugged, still glancing around.

“Holy shit! Look at that!” Brayden pointed his light straight ahead.

The teens stood at the back of the sanctuary. The middle aisle led to where the pulpit should be, except there wasn’t a pulpit. What looked to be an old pine box rested in the middle of the stage, having been covered with stacks of old Bibles and religious relics. Only the corners of the pine box remained visible. Bibles and relics had even been piled on the floor around it and up the sides.

Falcons started down the aisle. “That’s odd. Like really odd.” He craned his neck around and glance at his friends, then smiled. “Let’s check it out!”

Brayden raised his eyebrows and followed.

“Look,” Annie protested. “I’m sure there’s a perfectly good reason why that box is covered with Bibles and stuff. We should leave it alone.” She eased behind Brayden.

Falcon arrived first and blew the dust off some of the Bibles. “What do you think’s in the box?”

Brayden lifted his shoulders, then he and Falcon exchanged mischievous glances. “Let’s find out.” The boys began to push and fling the Bibles and relics onto the floor, making loud thuds and clanging sounds.

Sarah drank more vodka, not at all interested in this little adventure anymore.

Annie bit her nails and fidgeted with her hair.

The top of the pine box had torn out pages from the Bibles glued to it.

“You think it’s a coffin?” Brayden asked and ran his hands along the pages.

Falcon nodded. “Sure looks like it.” He studied the relics on the floor, then grabbed one. It was an old iron cross, with the end fashioned in a point. Falcon jabbed the point between the lid and the box and pried. He went along the entire left side, popping all the nails loose. He threw the relic to the ground, then called to the girls. “Hey ladies, time for the big reveal.”

Brayden rubbed his hands together, giddy as a school girl. Sarah huffed, drank some more vodka, then shuffled over rolling her eyes. Annie tip toed over with sweaty palms.

“Guys, like I said, that thing was buried for a reason. I don’t think opening it…is a good idea.” Annie bit her lip.

Brayden rubbed her back. “Oh come on. Are you serious? It’s probably just an old decaying corpse.”

“Yeah and besides, we’ve found something here no one else has. Who knows? Maybe this discovery will make this place poppin’ again.” Falcon grasped the lid with both hands and lifted it opened. The old wood groaned in protest.

Brayden shined his light into the coffin, and his mouth fell open. Annie clamped a hand over her’s with a gasp. Sarah dropped the vodka bottle, and Falcon furrowed his brow.

Lying in the coffin was a body no more than five feet long. It was wrapped in faded cloth. Written on the cloth were more religious symbols and phrases in Latin. White hair snaked out from the corpse’s head, and a small opening was cut over the mouth. In the opening was a rolled-up piece of paper.

Falcon went to pull the piece of paper out its mouth but was stopped by Annie’s hand clamping around his wrist. “No. Absolutely not,” she grimaced. “This isn’t right. This doesn’t feel right. We need to go.”

Falcon jerked his arm away and dismissed her.He retrieved the paper and unrolled it.

“Well?” Brayden asked.

Falcon handed him the page. “More Latin.”

Brayden tossed the paper on the body. “Too bad none of us can read it.” A movement caught Brayden’s attention out the corner of his eye. He stared down at the corpse. “Hey did y’all see that!”

Falcon waved a hand at Brayden. “Stop messing around. I’m gonna shut the lid.”

“Thank God,” Annie mumbled and rubbed her arms with her hands. “Feels like it’s gotten colder since we’ve been here.”

“No I’m serious look at her mouth!” Brayden pointed.

The group leaned in to get a better look. The cloth around the corpse’s mouth moved in and out, as if it were breathing. .

“That’s it I’m done.” Annie pushed away from the coffin and sprinted down the aisle toward the stairs. The other three turned their attention away from the coffin and watched Annie in disbelief.

Sarah was the first to look back at the coffin. When she did, she screamed. The corpse sat up, and the breathing became more visible, as the cloth around its lungs expanded and relaxed. In reactionary manner Brayden, who always carried a folding knife with a four-inch blade, whipped it out and started stabbing the corpse in the chest. He than worked on the stomach and tore away the old cloth. A translucent liquid poured out, followed by a flurry of baby eels.

“Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod!” Brayden dropped the knife and leaped back.

Falcon slammed the lid and dashed towards the stairs. Sarah had already joined Annie. The four teens scurried up the stairs, crawled through the tunnel and out the cold chambers. They ran back down the hall, then paused at the front door. A shadow moved passed the window, and faint moaning sound came from the porch.

“Is there another way out?” Sarah asked between breaths.

“The back.” Brayden turned toward the hall and sprinted, the others right behind him.

The teens arrived at the back door, which was a faded and chipping white. Brayden turned the brass deadbolt and opened the door. Concrete steps led down to a cobblestone walkway. The walkway led to the abandoned cemetery. Through the clearing they could see a tall hill. The full moon hung over it and illuminated the top. They watched as shadows loomed. Something approached from the back side of the hill. As the things moved closer, the shadows took form.

They looked human.

A few seconds passed, then a mass of human figures appeared. They walked with contorted and jerky gestures and moaned. Some tripped over each other and rolled down the hill.

Brayden slammed the door and locked it back. “Guys we are seriously…”

“The truck,” Falcon interrupted. “It’s our only chance. We can make it if we go now.”

The others nodded, and they took off down the hallway. Falcon led the way. He went to pass by the mortuary room but jolted to a stop. The others bumped into his back.

“What the hell? Why’d you stop!” Sarah shrieked.

Annie shined her light ahead, then let out an ear-piercing shrill.

The corpse from the coffin stood in the middle of the hallway. The grave cloths hung off her in shreds. Her skin was as pale as the moonlight. Symbols were cared into her body; not the religious symbols that once decorated her coffin, but different ones. Evil, dark looking ones. Eels still pumped forth from her stomach, falling to the ground with sloshing and splattering sounds. Her white hair seemed to glow, and her eyes looked like dark red marbles. She opened her mouth and her tongue flopped out, falling all the way to the floor with the eels. The end danced and curled on the floor. Yellow eyes formed in the tip of her tongue, as did a slit. The slit opened, and the bottom unhinged like a snake, revealing fangs.

Annie turned to run away. The tongue wrapped around her ankle and tripped her to the ground. The eels were on Annie before her face thudded against the floor. In a matter of seconds, they had eaten her skin off.

Brayden went to grab the tongue. When he got close, it struck him on the hand. He felt a warm liquid pump from the fangs into his hand. The fluid filled his entire body within moments, and a burning sensation hit him all over. He looked at his arms, and his pores leaked a red and purple liquid. Brayden fell to the ground in pain, where he sweated his insides out his pores till he died.

Sarah and Falcon couldn’t move. Fear deadened their limbs. They gawked as the tongue grew in length and thickness. The tongue coiled up and stared at them with its yellow eyes and flickering tongue. It struck Sarah first, right in the mid-section. She screamed and grabbed for Falcon. Falcon tried to hold on, but the snake proved too powerful. He watched with tear-soaked eyes and a pounding heart as the tongue-snake swallowed Sarah. Even when she was in its belly, he could still hear her screams.

Falcon backed away and stepped into the mortuary. The tongue shrank and rolled back into the lady’s mouth. She matched Falcon’s steps, going with him into the mortuary. A clattering sound rang out as Falcon backed into the embalming table. The lady’s hands extended with a slow, smooth movement towards Falcons’ neck.

Falcon stared deep into her dark red eyes. His head spun, and he became disoriented. He fell back and laid on the table. The last thing Falcon saw before he died was the embalming needle moving up his nose.

The lady didn’t bother to dispose of the bodies. She even left Falcon lying on the embalming table. She shuffled out the room, then went down the hall toward the front of the house. She walked around the staircase and into the sitting room. She sat down in her rocker and rocked. She reminisced about her days at Shadowend, when the home was in its prime.

The Beleaguered Buckner Building of Whittier, Alaska

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Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

The Buckner Building stands in Whittier, Alaska—the gateway to Prince William Sound—as a relic to a forgotten past. It is tucked away in the hidden port town of Whittier, a town that can only be accessed by boat, plane, or through a single train tunnel that moonlights as a passage way for big rigs, and automobiles. The bay area that surrounds Whittier is solely deep-water ports that stay ice-free year round and the railroad port is one of two, all-weather ports that supplied Anchorage with military necessities and during times of war was of key importance in order for it to stay functioning and safeguarded. The climate that the port operates under is one of nearly constant cloud coverage, which is beneficial in the respect that it protects the port and its facilities from air strikes. With all aspects of this port town taken into consideration, Whittier was possibly the most perfect place to have a military base of this caliber.

The Buckner Building in Whittier, Alaska
The Buckner Building in Whittier, Alaska Photography by Mary Farnstrom
The Buckner Building in Whittier, AK
The Buckner Building in Whittier, Alaska
Photography by Mary Farnstrom

The Construction and Function of the Buckner Building

Early in the course of World War II General Simon Buckner, the commander of the defensive forces of the state of Alaska was highly concerned that the state would be vulnerable to air attacks. Buckner also believed that the best type of facility would be one that autonomous, with its own power plant, sufficient storage space, and bomb-proof. The Cold War began two short years after the end of World War II and in 1953, six years into the second red scare, the construction of the Buckner Building was completed, and having been cast in place by reinforced concrete on a bedrock of slate and greywacke the building was on stable ground not susceptible to seismic shifting from earthquakes, or from thawing of any remaining permafrost.

The building was once listed as one of the largest in the state, it stands six stories tall, is approximately 500 feet long and between 50-150 feet wide (depending on which part of the floor plan it is)—all of this adds up to around 275,000 square feet of space. This massive concrete building was built in seven sections, each section having been separated by eight-inch gaps—as a means to have the structural flexibility to ride out large magnitude earthquakes and concussive forces.

In its heyday, The Buckner Building once housed the entire city of Whittier, Alaska—within its walls were also all of the relevant services were located. There was a small hospital, a 350 seat theater, four-lane bowling alley, six-cell jail, church, bakery, barbershop, library, radio station, rifle range, photography lab, commissary, officers’ lounge, as well as a mess hall, and innumerable sleeping quarters for military personnel and their families.

The Earthquake of 1964

In March of 1964, Alaska was hit by the most powerful earthquake in the history of North America (second most powerful throughout world history)—registering at a magnitude of 9.2 and lasting a full four minutes and thirty-eight seconds, the Great Alaskan earthquake caused multiple ground fissures along south central Alaska, but it also collapsed structures and caused multiple tsunamis—all of this resulted in an estimated 131 deaths. Whittier itself was not immune to the natural disaster, with thirteen people dead and damages to private and federally owned property that were over five million dollars. The Buckner building itself was also slightly damaged, although the structural integrity was not compromised due to the foundation upon the bedrock—the rest of the town received considerably more in damages due to the unconsolidated sediment that it rests on.

The Abandonment of the Base

The building was in operation until 1966, when the military finally pulled out of the Port of Whittier, the building was then transferred to the General Services Administration; after being vacated by the military, however, the ownership of the building changed hands several times. At one point Pete Zamarello, a man dubbed as the “Anchorage Strip Mall Czar”, obtained ownership of the Buckner Building with ideas of turning it into the state prison—but his deal with the state fell through and it was purchased by the citizens of the new City of Whittier in 1972. By the 1980s, the building had fallen into disrepair, windows and doors were missing, so the building began to decompose—being exposed to the elements allowed water to begin accumulating, and the building itself being in a constant state of freeze and thaw.

By 2014, nearly every inch of the building, inside and out, had been vandalized—the floors were covered in at least an inch of water, and was riddled with asbestos, mold, and mildew—suffice it to say it was no longer a safe environment for people to go exploring in. The problem was, was that there was hardly any regulation in place to keep people out of the building—so they began to crack down on trespassers on the property.

The city of Whittier came under the ownership of the Buckner Building in 2016 when the building officially went into foreclosure, it was at this point that a fence went up around the building to keep trespassers out. While the Whittier Department of Public Works and Public Utilities has done work on the property, and the city continues to express their desire to maintain it in order to preserve history, the Alaska Department of Environment Conservation has recommended demolition. While there have been many discussions to demolish the building, it has been ruled as being cost-prohibitive—this is due to the sheer amount of asbestos that is in the building and that the only land route in and out of Whittier. This route is through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, a two and a half mile railroad tunnel which allots thirty-minute windows for cars to travel through at certain times during the day—the only other option to remove debris would be on ships.

Having been abandoned for over forty years has taken its toll on the interior—where the ceilings are falling in, the light fixtures are and some parts of the exterior of the building which is tagged and degraded. The Buckner Building does still stand as of July 2020—it stands as a crumbling, darkened, cracked, and adulterated monument of an era of military and government ambition that has not since returned.

A Look Inside the Abandoned Buckner Building

Is the Buckner Building Haunted?

While this enormous abandoned building in Whittier looks incredibly spooky against the typically overcast, grey dreary skies of this hidden port town, there are also rumors of the building being haunted. While this writer’s personal investigation didn’t result in the capture of any evidence of the paranormal, other people have reported encounters and experiences that they have been more than happy to share. The Buckner Building is closed to the public, so going into the building itself is a no-go unless you want to risk health complications (mercury, lead, and asbestos poisoning is possible), injury, death, or–most likely, a hefty fine from the local police. Locals of Whittier are pretty vigilant to keep people away from and out of the building, but it doesn’t mean people haven’t ventured in to get an up-close and personal experience inside of these reportedly haunted walls. There are believed to be multiple presences within the building, although there are no records to explain these hauntings.

Due to the dilapidation of the building, the first basement is only accessible through a hole in the wall now, where the second basement is now only accessible through a hole in the floor. These two rooms are said to house an entity of “pure evil,” and people are warned to stay away from the area completely, especially the stairwell that has red, detached wiring hanging from the ceiling. Far southwest stairwell, the second corridor on the second floor, the jail, and the third floor are all haunted by apparitions–in particular, an entity that is witnessed hanging from water pipes on the second floor, and a little girl who is seen wandering the third floor crying. Room three to the right of the mental ward of the hospital, within the corridor right before the jail is reported to be especially haunted, to the point that the entity within will only allow certain people to enter the room. If this entity does not accept the person trying to enter, the door will slam shut before they can enter and seems to be locked from the inside.