The Tortured Souls of St. Albans Sanatorium


Creepy story of the abandoned St. Albans Sanatorium in Redford, Virginia. Written by Allison Dienstman of Colonial Ghosts.

Places where torment took place on a regular basis become hotbeds for paranormal activity, and Virginia’s St. Albans Sanatorium proves no exception. From electroshock therapy to lobotomies, the treatment for the mentally ill at St. Albans caused tremendous suffering for its patients. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that St. Albans ranks as one of the 25 most haunted places in Virginia.

Located in Radford, a small town in western Virginia, the sanatorium dates back to 1892 when it first functioned as a Lutheran school for boys. Later, in 1916 it became a hospital for the mentally insane. While the owner of the new psychiatric center had high hopes for the institution, it ended up functioning as a torture chamber more than a hospital.

St. Albans Sanatorium, Redford, Virginia

Photo by Rick Stillings, public domain.

With a staff to patient ratio of 48 to 6,509, the patients certainly did not receive proper attention for their ailments. Not to mention, psychiatric medicine at that time resembled torture more than treatment. Doctors would cut open patients’ skulls and shock them into a stupor with electroshock therapy. Insulin-induced comas and lobotomies left patients brain dead… or in some cases, actually dead.

One particular room had an especially high concentration of suffering. Here, patients would receive hydrotherapy treatment that, according to today’s standards, would have had the place shut down. Some doctors would wrap patients in freezing cold towels while others would strap people down in steaming water vats, where they remained confined for days. They would also blast patients with fire hoses. No wonder this room became known as the Suicide Bathroom. Apparently, at least four people killed themselves in this room.

The building shut down in 2003 before one of its former patients purchased the property. Today, the current owner runs haunted attractions within the former sanatorium including an annual Halloween haunted house. However, not all of the ghost sightings in this building result from the staged haunted attractions.

It seems the unfortunate souls who received brutal mistreatment here in life remain trapped in the building in death. Most visitors immediately experience the feeling of depression and unease when inside the building. Others report seeing the spirit of two young females roaming the basement.

Paranormal investigators often come to St. Albans including from TV shows like SyFy’s Haunted Collector, The RIP Files, and Travel Channel’s The Dead Files. During an investigation, a woman felt the icy grip of a ghost’s hand in the Suicide Bathroom. Another team caught the video of a shadow moving down a staircase.

Do the tortured spirits continue to haunt the hallways of St. Albans Sanatorium? Those who dare can visit the former insane asylum and find out for themselves.

Learn More:

St. Albans Sanitorium, Radford, VA

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St. Albans Sanitorium, Radford, VA 37.139172, -80.580138 Story: The Tortured Souls of St. Albans SanatoriumPlaces where torment took place on a regular basis become hotbeds for paranormal activity, and Virginia’s St. Albans Sanatorium proves no exception.


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The Haunted Bridge of Lookout Mountain, Alabama


Creepy true story of a haunted bridge that once stood near Lookout Mountain, Alabama. Written by Irran Butler.

I live four miles out of town on a narrow county road, which connects two high traffic paved roads. On my road there is an old iron railed bridge, which has a wooden plank floor, and it makes a very distinct and creepy sound when a car passes over it. In the quiet of the evening, I can sometimes hear clearly the sound of the old bridge complaining as vehicles cross from one side of the creek to the other.

On a number of occasions, before I moved to the area, I was told the story of the bridge being haunted and some of my friends and I made trips to see this bridge and, hopefully, the ghost. The story I heard told was of a woman and her very young baby being killed as she attempted to cross the bridge. It happened one very foggy night almost a hundred years ago when she was walking home from a friend’s house.  She carried a lantern in one hand and the baby on her other arm. As she started to cross the bridge someone in a speeding horse drawn carriage came upon the bridge in such haste that the woman was unable to retreat from the narrow confined deck of the bridge before the carriage struck her. The woman fell to her death in the water below and the fate of her baby was assumed to be the same by the friends and neighbors who came to assist when they learned of the accident. The baby was never found.

Haunted Bridge Lookout Mountain Etowah County Alabama

The haunting actually consisted of two parts. One part claims that the lantern can be seen moving along the road and onto the bridge, where it drops from the bridge into the water below. Just before the light drops from the bridge, the bridge rattles as though the speeding carriage was rushing across it. The second part is said to be hearing the baby crying from somewhere in the darkness below the bridge. Foggy nights are said to be the prime times to witness these events.

I was never a believer in this sort of thing, but one night I was driving toward the bridge through a light fog, when from a distance, I saw a dim yellow light ahead near the bridge. I was driving very slowly and it took the better part of a minute to reach the bridge. The old bridge was positioned in a curve in the road and the full length of it could be viewed as it was approached from my direction. I could see the light and could tell that it was then almost certainly on the bridge. I slowed almost to a dead stop and watched. My headlights shone on the fog which limited my visibility to just a few feet; beyond that was only the dim yellow light. As I came to the edge of the plank flooring I was still fixed on the light, which suddenly dropped from the left side of the structure and disappeared into the darkness.

I drove onto the bridge and stopped about midway. I reached for my flashlight and opened the car door. Stepping to the railing, I shined my light down into the fog-shrouded darkness below the bridge. Seeing only the leafy undergrowth on the creek banks and muddy, rain-swollen creek hurrying along on it’s way downstream, I really expected to see something… but there was nothing. Looking up and down the creek from my vantage point, I saw no sign of anything that had not grown there on the creek banks. My thinking was that, I had just witnessed the haunting of which I had always heard… though I had remained skeptical… until that moment. There was no doubt that I had seen a light and that the light dropped off the bridge. To the best of my knowledge there was no other person anywhere near that spot at that time and if what I had seen was a prank, it was a very good one. That was the first and last time I saw a light near the bridge.

On one occasion since that foggy night, I was walking along the road near my house accompanied by my dog. We had walked to the first spot on the road where the bridge could be seen from the high ground. I paused and looked up at the near-full moon through the light patchy fog, when I heard what I was sure was a horse drawn carriage moving rapidly along the road near the bridge. The moon brightly lit the countryside with a ghostly glow as it filtered through the fog. Looking at the road leading to the bridge, from where I stood; I could just make out a dark form of some size moving along the road in my direction. As it drew nearer to me, I could clearly hear the hoof beats of a horse and the rattle of a wooden carriage. What I was seeing and hearing had to be a horse drawn carriage, no other vehicle makes that sound. The view of the road was blocked in one spot at the foot of the hill just yards from where I stood waiting to clearly see whatever was moving toward me. I watched as the dark form disappeared into the blind spot…and suddenly, the sound was no more… only an unexpected gust of wind in the trees. Instead of a carriage passing me on the road, I felt that surprising and short-lived gust of wind push past me and stir the moonlit fog. My dog, which had followed me, stood and watched intently the empty roadway. He may have been expecting to see something too… or… maybe he did see something… he didn’t say. I looked both up and down the road for the phantom carriage, which had apparently vanished into the vapor. Only the quietness of a fog-shrouded night surrounded us and since that time, I’ve never seen or heard the phantom carriage again… and frankly, I hope not to.


From the Author: This was actually written while our Haunted Bridge was still resting in the place where it had been for many years. In 2007 it was removed and replaced by a soulless concrete structure that is likely safer than our old bridge, but completely lacks any of the charm possessed by its predecessor. I miss its charm, as do any of my neighbors with whom I have spoken about it. We miss our bridge and remember fondly the years we had with it. Hopefully, this story will help preserve the memory of a piece of Lookout Mountain’s past and pass it on to the young folks who never actually got to see, touch and hear our old reliable bridge.

This bridge was located in Etowah County, Alabama, about four miles northeast of Gadsden between Tabor Road and Lay Springs Road. I had heard several versions of the story of the bridge and everyone was sure that their version was the “real thing”, because their granny or somebody told them. I took the best of the stories, combined them and placed me and my dog in the story because that’s the mood I was in at the time. I have never seen anything that resembled a haunting at or near the bridge, but always liked the stories. Like so many other stories of hauntings, some folks will swear its true, others laugh at it… me, I’ll keep an open mind.

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Get Back Jack: Florida Ghost Dog Story


True (kind of) dog ghost story from Florida of a beloved pinscher who protects his owner from beyond the grave. Written by Patrick McNicholas.

As many of you may know, a few months ago I lost my puppy dog. His name was Jack. He was a miniature pinscher from the Doberman Pinscher lineage. Jack was a small dog. He only weighed about 10 pounds when he died. Jack passed away unexpectedly from a bronchial sickness and I truly miss that dog. We buried Jack in the backyard in the far back corner and I put a statue of St. Francis there to mark his grave. I keep fresh flowers and doggy treats out there at his statue and change them out every couple of weeks. Sometimes when I’m in the backyard, I can feel Jack’s presence. I have three other dogs and I think they can feel him there too. Every once and awhile I will see my other dog Nono just sitting there staring at that statue like she can see something I can’t.

st. francis copy

Well one night at about two in the morning , I woke up to use the bathroom and there above the toilet is a window in to the back yard and you can’t help but to look out the window while you are in the bathroom. I was staring out the window in to the back yard and all of a sudden, I saw something moving in the darkness. I looked more closely and I could see the back gate open up and a dark shadowy figure move across the backyard. Of course, my heart sank in fear. As I stared more closely and as he moved closer to my house from the fence line, I could see a silver shiny object in his hand, reflecting off the moonlight that was shining down in the back yard. When I looked back up I could see the man’s face staring at me. He saw me through the window and raised the knife so I could see it. He had the true look of evil on his face! All I could think of was my phone is on the dresser in the bedroom, so I ran as fast as I could and grabbed it and started dialing 911.

I ran back to the bathroom and looked out the window again to see where the intruder was and I was shocked at what I saw. The man hadn’t moved. He was frozen in the middle of the back yard. Just then I could hear it…this horrible growling noise. As I got closer to the window the noise got louder and louder. It sounded like a mad, mad dog or a wolf of some kind and I could tell that the intruder could here it as well. The noise was coming from the far back corner of my yard back by where Jack was buried. At this point my other dogs came running out in to the backyard through the doggy door barking and growling, but as soon as they stepped off the back porch they became silent and just stared at the man in the darkness. Just then, the 911 operator came on the line and I quickly gave her my name and address and told her there was an intruder in my backyard with a knife. As soon as I got those words out, I looked out the window again and I could see the man now cowering in fear and backing away from the corner of the back yard. Just then I could hear the growling noise again; this time is was so loud , like it was in my head and all around me. All of the sudden the man turned and I could see the absolute fear in his eyes as he ran past my house along the side and over the small fence in to the front yard. My dogs came running back in the house. Following the man was a black mist, like a cloud of darkness. I ran to the front of the house and I could see the man hunched over my bushes and screaming “get it off me, get it off me”! I could see bite marks appearing on the man’s skin and I could hear flesh being ripped from his body, but there was nothing there with him. Just then the police pulled up and the man ran to them screaming, “please save me”! They immediately took the man in to custody. He had large bites marks all over him and was bleeding profusely. I told the officers that I saw the man enter my backyard with a knife in his hand. The police told me they were not able to find any weapon on the man and they searched my yard looking for it, but could not find it.

The officers noticed my dogs, which are all very small and could not have caused such bite marks as what this man had endured. The police were very puzzled and asked me if I had another dog? To which I replied “no.” The officers told me that once they calmed the man down and got him in to ambulance he said he had been mauled by a very large and very mean Doberman Pinscher! A couple of weeks later, the police informed me that the intruder they apprehended in my yard that night was linked to a home invasion and double homicide in another town not far from here.

The next day, after all had calmed down, I noticed all three of my dogs were laying down at the foot of Jack’s grave. Laying there in front of the statue was the large kitchen knife that the intruder was carrying.

I still make sure to keep fresh flowers and dog treats out there for Jack.



FROM THE AUTHOR: To answer your question, yes there are elements of the story that are based in reality. I did have a dog named Jack who passed away on July 10th of last year. I did put a statue of St. Francis in my back yard to mark his grave. All if that is true.

Of course, I never actually had an intruder enter my yard with a knife. That is all fictional.


The Ghost of Thurber, Texas


True story of the rise and fall of Thurber, Texas – a mining ghost town with a real ghost? Written by Bob Hopkins

Science has made phenomenal discoveries within the last one hundred years but even still some things just can’t be explained. One such ghostly tale must be among those unexplainable events as it occurred many years ago in a soon-to-be real Texas ghost town, a place forgotten by a world of high tech devices, modern conveniences and the worries of the day-to-day rat race. The place was a small community called Thurber located in the far ends of the Palo Pinto hills just on the Palo Pinto and Erath County lines.

Today, the only thing that remains of the old mining town is a very impressive smokestack towering next to row of aged brick buildings, one of which houses the Smokestack restaurant on Interstate 20 about 75 miles west of Fort Worth. During the late 1800s Thurber was a thriving coal mining town with a population of approximately 8,000 souls. Unlike most towns, especially in Texas, Thurber was constructed and owned completely by the Texas and Pacific Coal Company which was headed up by Robert Dickey Hunter and H.K. Thurber of New York.

Hunter constructed the town while dealing with the dissident union miners associated with the “Knights of Labor,” who had been working in the mines there since the mid 1880’s. He fenced off the property owned by the company constructing an entire town and mining complex complete with schools, churches, saloons, stores, houses, a 650 seat opera house, a 200 room hotel, an ice house and an electric plant. The union was not allowed inside.


Eventually the miners’ strike ended and the families moved into the company owned town. Along with the mines, the company owned commissary stores where the town’s people purchased necessities with the use of “scrip’s” which were redeemable anywhere in Thurber. In 1897, a large brick plant was built as well. Hunter, also a partner in this enterprise employed many other types of labor. A stockade, armed guards and barbed wire fence restricted labor unions, peddlers and other unauthorized people from gaining access to the town.

Hunter retired in 1899 and a man named William Knox Gordon took over retaining company dominance about the community. Concentrated efforts by Gordon to keep the union affiliation out of Thurber failed by 1913 and Thurber became a union stronghold for the immigrant workers and remained so until about 1920. By that time locomotives, the primary source of transportation, began to burn oil instead of coal. Gordon, being an opportunist, discovered the huge Ranger oil field just west of the Thurber mines and changed the company name to Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company in 1918.

The conversion of the nation from coal to oil along with the consistent union strikes led to Thurber’s demise. The need for workers began to dwindle and many miners moved away by 1927. The brick plant remained open until 1930, a general office until 1933, and commissary stores until 1935. By 1939, the company basically dissembled most of the town and concentrated their interests toward the oil fields. The once thriving Thurber became a ghost town.

It was during those declining years that an eerie thing occurred. On a summer’s night in 1930, eleven year old Walter Kostiha and his older brother Frank had an encounter that would stay with them for the rest of their lives. Walter was 82 years old when he shared the tale from the safety of his store within the quaint village of Strawn, located just down the road from Thurber. Walter said, “I remember the night well, always have, always will. A boy never forgets the odd things of life and that one was surely odd for me.”

It was the beginning of the Great Depression which hit Texas harder than most other states. Many grown and able-bodied men were out of work and taking any job they could find so it was rare that two boys could find work. But they did. Walter and Frank would walk down to a local Mexican restaurant on Saturday nights, one of the few establishments left in Thurber, after closing hours to assist the owner with rolling tamales. “One particular night,” Walter said, “was very clear with a beautiful full moon hanging low upon the summer horizon.” The two boys finished their work at the restaurant about midnight and after collecting fifty cents each, they headed home down an old dirt road that paralleled a set of railroad tracks that took coal cars to the town of Mingus, a few miles north of Thurber.

Kostiha said, “We came to the place where we left the road to cross over a fence in order to get to the house.” In those days many fences had “stiles” built upon them…steps in which one could easily climb up, over and back down without having to climb the fence. “We were approaching the stile when the ghostly thing appeared. Here came this beautiful silver-looking thing.” He went on to say, “My brother looked at it, screamed and ran as fast as his feet would carry him toward the house, unfortunately, the long way. I followed but he was bigger and faster than me leaving me further and further behind. Once my brother cleared a considerable distance from the ghost he slowed then finally stopped until I caught up to him, both of us out of breath and scared half out of our wits. Only then could we gather enough courage to look back at it but it was gone.”

The boys, going the long way home to avoid another face-to-face with the specter, immediately went to their father and told him of the frightful event. Walter asked his Papa if someone was pulling some kind of prank on them. His father replied, “No, this was no prank.” He then explained to the boys that what they saw was something rare indeed, something that very few people in the Thurber area have encountered. He told them the story of an incident that took place in Thurber years before when it was a booming community. A carnival had made a stop in the village. There was a beautiful woman with the carnival who would sing with a voice even more beautiful than she was. She was tragically killed by a local resident who had become obsessed with her. “The woman”, he said, “avenges her murder by returning to haunt the streets of Thurber.”

After that night, Walter said his brother refused to speak of the incident and didn’t want anyone to know of their encounter with the ghost. Walter went on to say, “If people say that I didn’t see a ghost, you tell em to come see me! I saw it with my own two eyes and I know what I saw.” Rumors of the haunting floated in and around Thurber for a few years, however, Walter only personally knew of only one other person who claimed to have witnessed the ghost. The man, a friend of Walter’s father, told Walter and his family of the night he was walking toward his mother’s house, just about the same spot where Walter and Frank saw the ghost. He claimed on a moonlit night he came upon the ghost of a woman sitting on the stile at the fence. He said he was somewhat under the influence of strong drink when he approached the woman thinking it was his mother. “Suddenly”, he said, “she began to rise up into the air before fading away right in front of my eyes.” He then said he’d never sobered up so quick in all his life.

Since then, the road no longer exists. Pasture has reclaimed it and the fence has been gone for many years as has anyone who may have encountered the specter. Walter unfortunately passed from this world in 2006 taking any other information of the ghost with him.

The ghost town of Thurber, Texas was once a thriving place teaming with immigrant workers, mostly Italian, Hungarian and Mexican trying to make a living for themselves and their families. The great flu-pandemic of 1919 took the lives of at least 20 children and several adults in Thurber. Other sicknesses and difficulties plagued the immigrant town as well. A ghost in Thurber could be just about anybody.

Walter had many fond memories of growing up and living in the Thurber and Strawn communities. The coal mines are long gone but reminders of their existence still dot the countryside around the area of southwestern Palo Pinto County. No record exists of the murder of the beautiful carnival queen but that doesn’t mean that the event didn’t happen. Such a person in such a transient profession could have never been reported as the carnival moved on to another town.

If a ghost still exists in Thurber, the only live people it would find to haunt would have to be at the Smokestack restaurant which has reported their own accounts of ghostly happenings over the years. But if you want to see the ghost of the carnival woman, you’ll have to stand out in the field where the road once was. The problem is nobody knows exactly where that was or at least, none of the living. Happy haunting!


To learn more about Thurber, TX:

Wikipedia page on Thurber, Texas
Texas State Historical Association – Thurber, TX

Thurber, Texas

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Thurber, Texas 32.506599, -98.418121  Story: The Ghost of Thurber, TexasGhost town of Thurber, TX. From Wikipedia: \"Thurber is an unincorporated community in Erath County, Texas, United States (near the Palo Pinto county line), located 75 miles west of Fort Worth. It was, between 1888 and 1921, one of the largest producers of bituminous coal in Texas and the largest company town in the state, with a population of over 10,000.[1] The population of the community is 48 per the 2010 United States Census.\" 

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Absence of Light, and Occurrence of Time: Virginia Ghost Story


True story of unexplained paranormal phenomena in a Virginia suburb. Written by Benjamin Stevens.

My friends and I will never forget our most eerie night together, intertwined into an everyday regular rural neighbourhood. The events that I will be describing are entirely true, with multiple witnesses and multiple happenings. This writing will show you about a possible curse, which may or may not be transferable by the simple telling of the story.

As most juvenile delinquents do, my friends and I liked to explore the neighbourhood on occasion, and loiter at the local park. Our neighbourhood was in an average rural setting in Virginia, with the occasional section of wooded areas in between houses. On my 15th birthday, I had a party and invited my four best friends as usual, Seth, Isaiah, Matt, and Anthony. However this time, we decided to go explore the Mission Township park during the night for a while.

We readied our backpacks with our snacks, soda, and other supplies that all teenage boys thought were necessary. We left my house at 12:34 A.M and started heading toward the park, which is a mile and a half away. As we got out of my backyard toward the road, all of my neighbor’s yard lights turned on. This didn’t surprise us at first. Seth suggested that there must have been some kind of sensor to detect movements. I lead the way toward the park, walking slow and quiet, so we wouldn’t wake any neighborhood creatures. We came around the first corner that had a street light, which was on the side of the road that was closer to my house. We checked the time on our watches underneath the light. Right then, the unexplainable began happening. It was 1:11 A.M. The light above us burnt out and shot sparks across the road in the direction of the park. While Anthony only laughed, the rest of us jumped back from the loud noise. After pondering the freaky light post for a while, we decided we were going to continue walking and just ignore what had happened, although the strange occurrence still lurked in the back of our heads.

As my friends and I drew closer to the house opposite of the corner, I noticed something through the rows of trees that made up the tree farm to our right. There was a bright yellow light at the end of the horizon. I looked across the road to my left, through the woods and across a lake, and the same bright yellow light was there, but on the opposite horizon. A bolt of fear shot through my spine. I checked my phone to distract myself from looking scared to my friends. It was 1:23 A.M. I began to see that there was something going on that was very unusual, but I continued to keep it to myself. I looked toward the next house in curiosity of more strange things happening, but all I saw was a dim LED yard light, and a large lakefront house behind it. We rounded the corner and got close to the house, and the light shut off. We all stood there in silence, listening for anybody who might come out of the house to tell us to go home. There was nothing; absolute silence.

The silence I heard struck myself more than it did my friends, because in my neighbourhood, there always seemed to be some type of background noise. Whether it be the wind, the lake, generators, or nocturnal creatures of the woods, the noise was always there. At that point of hush, I began to hurry towards the park, as if it was going to be some kind of shelter from the newly discovered eeriness of my neighbourhood.

My friends followed closely, as they began to see more and more spooky things happening to themselves. We approached the next house on our right which had a light on inside it. We looked at each other as if we know what was going to happen. We slowed down when we drew close to the house, and watched very carefully to see what would happen next as we continued down the road.

When the light inside the house turned off just like the previous lights, my friends and I began to jog. The next house had an outdoor light also. When we passed that house, we began sprinting as that light also shut off. With about half of a mile left to go, and none of us being conditioned for a run while carrying backpacks, there was no way we could continue at our speed. Before too long, Isaiah tripped and fell. Seth went back to help him, as Matt, Anthony and I looked back to see the lights behind us turning back on. One at a time, in our direction, the lights came back on. Our bodies froze with fear instantaneously. I am positive that this was the most terrorized that I had ever seen my friends, or been myself.

Luckily, the lights stopped turning back on before they got to us. Seth, being the Vulcan of the group, tried to use logic and reasoning to come up with why the lights seemed to be avoiding us. Matt and I just wanted to go back home, but the other three insisted to get to the park. Majority rules. We agreed to finish our journey to the park, staying as calm as possible on our way. We also decided to stay there until daylight.

Tentatively, we made our way toward the park again. The walk felt as if we were walking for miles. Just as I suspected, every light that we passed had turned off as we walked by. I checked the time. It was 2:22 A.M. The hair on my neck refused to recline. As we came close, I saw six sets of lamp posts that illuminated the park. Would they also burn out? Although we did not know why the light was avoiding us, we were horrified of what would happen if we were to tarry around the lights for too long. This was when I realized that every time we would check the time, it would either show repeating numbers, consecutive numbers, or reversible numbers.

We walked into the park worried about what might happen to us. We sat down at a picnic table under the roof of the large gathering area in the center of the park. I took out snacks from my backpack and started nibbling, I wanted to eat, but i couldn’t out of nervousness. My watch read 2:34, which would excited me, but my adrenaline had already run out. The lights around us slowly began to die out. I just simply closed my eyes to avoid what was going to happen, but it turned out, everyone closed their eyes. We woke up a little bit before dawn, at precisely 4:56. We walked home talking about the crazy night, constantly checking the time, but whenever we would do so purposely, the time was not lined up like it had been before.

Later, at Matt’s birthday party, we had a serious meeting and discussed if it was going to keep happening to us if we went out at night again. We tried to go out that night, but was discouraged after his own yard light shut off as soon as we opened the door and saw that the time was 11:11. Since then, anytime my friends and I are together, we stay inside and watch the time closely to see if anything happens at the correlating times. We still don’t know why these things happened, or what they meant.


NOTE: Actual location of incident kept hidden per author’s request.

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