“Watch out, Betsy, some of these old floorboards may be treacherous.” I followed Aunt Maggie through the rooms full of cracked plaster, floor debris and the ever-present graffiti sprayed on the walls of the former tuberculosis hospital.
Aunt Maggie was a tiny woman at four-foot-eight, and the world often towered above her. Her height was the only part of her that was small. She had the strongest will and the biggest heart in Texas.
“This is going to be great when we film here on Halloween, the scariest night of the year. I’m so glad you decided to help us out and took a few hours away from your tip-writin’ column. The Pecan Bayou Texas Paranormal Society thanks you, and if we find a ghost – boy howdy – I thank you.”
For our other-worldly walk-through today, Aunt Maggie dressed for the occasion with a black cap on her head adorned with glow-in-the-dark letters that read “Paranormal Investigator.”
“You like it?” she asked, noticing my gaze. “I ordered one for everyone on the crew and a few extras. I thought we ought to look official, bein’ on TV and all.” My aunt’s honey-colored bouffant hairdo was all crammed up in the cap with sprayed curls poking out in places.
“Can’t wait to wear mine.” I was not someone who looked terrific in a ball cap. At least that was what Barry had said. Funny how after all these years I still felt rejected by him.
Maggie crunched around on the fallen trash in the main hallway. As we came to the end of the hallway, her voice lowered slightly. “This up here was what they called the ‘dead tunnel.’ I saw it in the blueprints Howard had.” Howard was the head of Aunt Maggie’s paranormal group. Even though sometimes he looked like a person mental health officials might be interested in observing, he was extremely intelligent and had a doctorate in paranormal psychology. I didn’t even know a person could get a degree in ghost hunting, but Howard had achieved this greatness.
Maggie continued her story. “It was the tunnel they used to wheel the bodies to the morgue. That way the patients wouldn’t see someone had died.” I never was one to get too frightened by horror movies, but coming into this part of the hospital certainly had me qualifying for an official case of the heebie-jeebies. The dead tunnel was windowless and grimy, and I felt as if we were walking into a mineshaft, not a morgue.
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