In January 1996, a massive snowstorm made travel along West Virginia back roads nearly impossible to traverse.
At the time, I was employed by the Federal Prison Camp Alderson. With the storm at its most severe, I got off from work one night at midnight. The previous night I had walked home only to sleep a few hours and then walk back to work for the 8:00 AM shift.
This night, I chose to find a place to sleep at the prison. At first, I thought maybe sleeping in the floor of a counselors office might be ideal, then decided against it as possibly being too disruptive for a good nights sleep.
Davis Hall was the old prison lock down unit for disruptive prisoners. A jail building inside a prison for all intents and purposes. At the time it was vacant with no housed prisoners or working staff. Just big silent and empty. The ideal place to sleep peacefully or so I thought.
The yard officer took me to Davis Hall sometime after midnight. We had an extremely difficult time getting the side door open because of several feet of snow drifted against it. No one had been in the building obviously in quite a while.
After the yard officer locked the steel bars then the side door, I began to think about my situation. Locked alone inside a huge two story, vacant, escape proof, brick building with no radio, keys, or access to a telephone.
Right away, I changed into a pair of coveralls that had been in my truck. I dropped my uniform garments into the washing machine prisoners had used before. As soon as the water began to flow it was blood red in color from rust buildup in the pipes.
To pass time I found a book just lying around and started to read it. All of a sudden, I noticed, “excited whispering” over the din of the washing machine.
Every time I tried to locate the source of the whispering, it was nowhere to be found. Finally, my uniform was washed, dried, and permanently stained. I sought out a bed to lie down on. One of the rooms was unlocked with the bed made up. I walked right in and laid down. The whispering had changed mostly to voices but what gave me the creeps the most was when it felt as though someone was touching my face.
I rolled over and buried my face as deep as it would go in the pillow and slid my hands under the sides of the pillow to shove it up around my ears. I was determined not to see or hear anything that would totally freak me out. Especially knowing there was no escape until the yard officer unlocked the doors in the morning.
Somehow, I managed to go to sleep. When I awoke the next morning and let out, I never intended to spend another night in Davis Hall ever again. Most staff who heard about what I did said, “Only a crazy person would spend the night locked up in Davis Hall alone”.
Davis Hall was torn down later.
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