There was an old, abandoned school in my town called the Florence Condon. It was the junior high school and then an elementary school until they constructed the Trenton Middle and Elementary schools. Even though it was abandoned they did not demolish it right away.

Some of the windows were boarded up, others weren’t. The doors were definitely sealed shut, but there were other ways of getting in. Or getting out. The older the place became, the more stories there were about the place. Questions started to be asked by the students of the new middle school. Why was the Florence Condon abandoned?

The teachers of the new middle school, many who had worked at the Florence Condon, simply replied that the new schools were bigger and better. They simply left the old one behind.

However there were other stories about the fifty-year-old school.

Stories that would send chills up the spines of the younger generation that heard it. Stories that compelled the younger students to break into the school and search around. One tale that I heard was that a girl had fallen down the stairs and died. People claimed to see faces in the windows at the back of the school around midnight. The people who broke in claimed they heard the murmurs of children, the PA system clicking on and off, and things breaking.

That’s when a group of my friends decided to stay the night there. I was only 16 and most of my friends only a year younger. So, there we were. A bunch of 15 and 16 year olds about to spend the night at an abandoned and supposedly haunted school for kicks. My closest friend, Emily, was probably the most frightened of all. I tried to remind her that the stories were not true and the only story that was true was that they simply abandoned the school because it was old. She retorted with the fact the school was only constructed in 1950, not too old by school standards, and I couldn’t disagree. The “true” story just made no sense at all. And suddenly the false stories started sounding a lot truer.

We had decided on breaking into the Florence Condon in the usual way (there was a shattered window near the front door) on Friday night. It was already Wednesday and with all the stories that could suddenly be the “true” one I started to get paranoid. Perhaps there was a fire that many children died in. Maybe it was a teacher that fell down the stairs and died. Maybe there was a shooting incident. Whatever the reason, I could not locate it anywhere. I checked the local news’ website for information on the Florence Condon. All I could find was the article about it being bought by a land owner.

Apparently, the land owner originally intended on turning it into an apartment complex then for whatever reason decided against it. And so the school sat there waiting to be renovated or demolished, neither happening for a long time. I slept uneasily that night, being startled awake for seemingly no reason every couple of hours. As a fairly light sleeper, any sudden noise can wake me, such as thunder. The problem with that though was that no sudden noises should have been made at three in the morning, when everyone is asleep, and the weather is calm. Although that worried me, it was hushed while I was awake, and I eventually ended up going back to sleep.

I spent the next day at the public library in the reference section looking at newspaper articles from the 1950's. It was really beginning to trouble me that I had no idea what we were going into. As I sat there reading these old articles I started getting the feeling that someone was reading over my shoulder. Every few minutes, I would end up looking back over my shoulder only to see nothing. I was sure the people around me thought I was looking at something naughty and didn’t want to get caught.

Nonetheless, I continued looking, article after article, finding only JFK assassination and other major events. If I did find anything on the Florence Condon it was about the students there getting recognition for doing things in the community. I was starting to get a bit drowsy after a while what with the lack of sleep and the repetitive nonsense I was reading. I started seeing shadowy figures out of the corner of my eyes which I attributed to the drowsiness. I figured I should go home and take a nap to prepare myself for what would come the next day.

“Friday. 6:34 PM. I am writing down updates at regular intervals to record for future reference the haunting of the Florence Condon. If nothing happens tonight, it will prove that the school is in fact not haunted and this journal will discourage others from trespassing and breaking the law as we are. Wish us luck.”

I clicked my ball point pen and closed the miniature journal. Dylan quietly laughed at me as I tucked them both into my pocket. He was Emily’s boyfriend and new at our school. He was interested in joining us on our undertaking. The whole group ended up being me, Emily, Dylan, Evan, and Tony (a couple more of my friends). The three boys were acting ridiculously as we strolled along the street sidewalk towards the school. They walked a couple feet ahead of me and Emily as we talked.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the shadowy figure again. I peeked over to where I thought it was and saw nothing. Emily took notice of this though and asked if I was alright. I told her I was fine and about my research in the library. She seemed concerned but we both brushed it off. It was just paranoia getting the best of us.

“Friday. 6:49 PM. We have successfully broken into the Florence Condon and are about to look around the school. It took little effort to get in and I find it a bit disquieting that anyone could get in so easily. School needs more protection.”

We clicked on our flashlights and took a good look at our surroundings. I couldn’t see for a moment because I sneezed a number times from the amount of dust in the air. When I ceased sneezing, the group was staring at me obviously irritated. I shrugged in a manner which suggested I had no control over it and we continued on. To our astonishment, the classrooms still had desks in them. Even though the desks were in a state of disorder, it was still interesting that the desks had not been removed. I figured that everything would have been taken out when it was planned to become an apartment complex, but no. Everything was still there. The desks, the books. There were even traces of writing left on the chalkboards.

We made a game out of figuring out what used to be written there. Equations, literary terms, etc. There was one classroom that still had actual writing on the board but we were a little apprehensive after we read what it said so we left immediately without investigating the room. The entire time we moved from classroom to classroom, I couldn’t shake the feeling of somebody watching us, following us around.

I kept seeing the shadows out of the corner of my eye so much so that they were starting to become constant and I could see more of the figures. I was sure that they were the figures of children. I mean, what else would have a shadow that tall? I didn’t mention it to anyone, not even Emily. I knew what the rest thought about ghosts and the paranormal. They would have told me that I was seeing things and I would not argue with them. I probably was.

“Friday. 7:09 PM. We have entered a classroom on the second floor to find the desks in disarray like in every other classroom. However, there is something odd about this room in particular. There is writing on the chalkboard. I do not feel safe repeating it. I am starting to see more of the shadowed figures in the corner of my eye. I feel like they are watching.”

We wandered down one of the staircases to the ground floor and as we did a lot of us made the joke that it was the famous staircase the girl or teacher fell down. Although we were laughing, it was wrought with unease left over from reading the chalkboard message. On the lower level there were bathrooms, a gymnasium, and a cafeteria. We explored one bathroom but found the stench unbearable and did not go into another. The gym was small and basically looked like a large, bare room with markings on the floor for sports.

There were no nets or benches. However, there was a scoreboard which looked like it might have been the highest standards in the 80’s but now was dingy and broken. If we spoke right there in the gymnasium we could hear our voices echo. It was so barren, so dormant, that we began to get anxious and left. We took to the cafeteria next and saw that many of the lunch tables were still there. I thought it was extremely similar to the desk scenario and brushed it off. We sat down at one of the tables to figure out our plan.

“Friday. 8:26 PM. We have not yet decided where to sleep for the night. Many suggestions have been tossed around and none of them sound like decent ideas. The bathrooms are smelly, the classrooms are creepy, the gymnasium echoes, and the cafeteria seems like the only place worth being in. Even then, it smells like mildew in here. Never mind, we decided on the cafeteria as I was writing this. Time to push some tables out of the way and set up camp.”

We stood up from our very “comfortable” seats and positioned our fingers on the underside of the table, ready to lift and move it out of the way. Suddenly, Tony cried out and quickly let go of his grip on the table, leaping away like a frightened animal. He looked down at his hands and at the same time he did I felt something under my grip on the table. I slowly and cautiously took my hands away to look at them and the rest of the group did the same. Tony was letting out gasping noises and I knew I had to look at my hands but I could feel the substance on my fingers. I knew what it was before I looked at it.

I swore Emily was about to start crying and Dylan was trying to prevent it but he too was also very shaken. Quietly, Evan suggested that we not stay the night there at all. I nodded at his suggestion while Tony breathed, Emily sobbed, and Dylan shushed. I wiped my fingers on my jeans, reminding myself to come up with a good excuse to tell my mother later.

Then a sweet aroma filled the air. A floral scent, like a sort of perfume but it was too strong. It reminded me of younger girls when they would clothe themselves in their mothers’ apparel and make-up, always putting on too much. With that thought, my eyes grew wider and I recalled the shadowy figures from earlier. Children. They were beginning to move from the corner of my eye and into reality, the scent proved it. I could hear the others whispering around me about the strange smell and it snapped me out of my reverie.

We picked up our things and started to jog towards the cafeteria door. We ran out into the hallway but stopped dead in our tracks before we could make it to the broken window. Right there, in the center of the hallway, just ten feet in front of us, was a small girl just about seven years old. I could not make out her face but she had brown hair, tied up in a ponytail with a bow.

She wore a pink, floral sundress which also featured a bow right in front on her waist. On her feet, she wore black shoes and white socks. After taking a good long look at her I discovered that I could not budge or speak so I continued to stare. And I did notice one more thing. She was standing right at the bottom of the staircase.

And then she spoke in her tiny, little voice, “Where are you going?”

So casual, I thought. It was like she was asking a friend of hers that unexpectedly wished to leave after playing together. And then I wondered, “Do we answer her?” Do we answer the creepy, little thing that was probably a figment of our imaginations or at worst a ghost? Then without warning she was no longer there. There was nobody at the bottom of the staircase. I breathed a sigh of relief and heard the others do the same.

Then she reappeared. Closer. Now she was only five feet away from us, half the distance she was before. I heard two people yelp and recognized the first as Emily then I found the other voice was my own. With the girl now right in front of us, I could now see that her neck was disfigured and you could see the bone protruding under the skin. From the looks of her right arm I figured that was broken as well. It was very evident that she was the one who plummeted down the stairs countless years ago. I could now also see her face. Her bangs masked her eyes but I could tell she was glaring up at us. With her mouth she gave us a large, daunting grin. She repeated her question.

“Where are you going?”

I thought this time someone should answer and somebody did. It was Evan who spoke.

“We were just… leaving.”

This caused the little girl to tilt her already tilted head even more. My legs began to quiver and I gulped. ‘This is going to end badly,’ I thought. ‘I need to write this down. People need to know.’ I dreaded to hear her speak again, not knowing if she would lash out or not. I dreaded that she might disappear again, not knowing where she would reappear if she did. The atmosphere grew denser and I found it more difficult to breathe, taking in only short, gasping breaths. A hand found its way to my shoulder and I jumped under the touch. I turned to find it was only Emily. Before I got the opportunity to glance back at the thing, it spoke again and I froze.

“Why don’t you stay and play?”

I took a deep breath in and shifted my right foot a step over. I was relieved to find that I could still move so I moved in front of Dylan, just a notch over to my right. I looked at the thing and it was still grinning. I wondered if the mouth moved at all when it spoke. My lips were still trembling but I had thought of the perfect reply. My analogy from earlier seemed to be the actual case. This girl thought we were playing and abruptly we desired to leave.

“It’s getting dark out and our parents will want us home,” I told the thing, sincerely hoping that was the case and that it would work.

The girl straightened her head back up as much as she could with a broken neck. She did this very slowly and without altering her facial expression the entire time. That grin was starting to impinge upon my very soul and I yearned to get out of there with all my being. Then, she disappeared again and I did not wait for her to reappear. I ran faster than I ever ran before and the others followed behind me. Sweat was pouring off me as I squeezed out of the only exit, the shattered window by the front door. As we lifted each other out, one by one, I could hear the quiet whispers of “go, go, go” from my friends still in the school. Once out we took a moment to catch our breaths on the sidewalk away from the school. I could not believe, as frightened as we were, that we still managed to move and speak.

“Friday. 9:04 PM. Never go in the Florence Condon Junior High School. We encountered a being that was not natural and should never be seen again. I still cannot believe as I am writing this that the thing let us out. I continue to ask “why” every few minutes. It makes no sense to me. The others just seem relieved to be out. They are lying in the grass of Emily’s front lawn, sweating out their fear as I am writing out mine. I don’t think any of us will ever forget the Florence Condon. And nobody would believe us.”

I got home around 9:30 that evening and expected my mother to ask about the blood on my jeans. When she did not I began to wonder if anyone else could see it. I looked at my hands just to make sure and saw they were still pinkish from the blood. After thoroughly cleaning my hands in the sink, I walked to my bedroom. I did not intend on sleeping that night and instead went straight to my computer. I spent all night trying to get my mind off the thing but ended up looking back over my shoulder multiple times when paranoia starting creeping up on me.

I could still see the shadows of children in my peripheral vision and I could hear them giggling. They called out to me. They told me I was being a coward. I listened to them all night until the sun came up. I was sure they would stop when the sun came up. And for a while, they did. I heard nothing. Until that afternoon when I heard the voice of little girl behind me. And I turned, and I saw the girl from before in my room. It asked to play with me. It asked to play with me every single day afterwards.

“Saturday. 3:54 PM. That thing did not let us out. We let it out. It asked us to. On the chalkboard. And we did. Oh, god. What have we done?”