Since this is the month for spooking and I am working on my ghost story book, I thought I would share a few rough drafts with you dear readers! Here is one that is more truth than fiction. (P.S. The bulk of the story takes place in the 1980s and 1990s, but I had all these cool Victorian school photos I wanted to share- I thought they were kind of spooky. 😉
Wake up Little Susie, wake up…
Honey slowly dripped from the ceiling in that big dark classroom. I was five years old and my Mom was packing up her Home Economics classroom to move into another building. As my mother turned on the lights I could see it drizzling into the buckets around the room. The ceiling bulged as I looked up, stuck out my tongue, and let the tiny stream fall into my mouth. It was so good. Above me was a huge nest of bees, but the danger did not seem real. As my mother packed up the last of her things I went to the side of the room stacked with furniture for the move and found her old Singer sewing machine base. It had had the machine taken off and a desk top replaced it. I still have it in my laundry room. I sat on the big treadle and rocked back and forth, watching the parts move up and down. Later the Ag boys would weld it still, but for now it brought me a sense of peace with its gentle rocking motion.
My Momma’s room, that was an add-on to the old gym at our school, was going to be gutted and re-done for the elementary library. The bees (kicked out) and their huge nest thrown out and burned.
Fast forward about 6 years. During the summer, when our teacher moms were working in their rooms that gym was the only place the other teacher’s kids and I could play inside and not get into trouble. The summer heat was murderous on the tree-less playground. The metal slides burning our legs and backsides had lost their magic as we got older. When we went into the school buildings we inevitable got too noisy or too rowdy and were kicked out.
The only problem with the old gym was the lights. The gym was built around WWII and it literally looked like a small airplane hanger with its barrel-like ceiling and its impenetrable concreteness. There were no windows and the fans were shut during the summer so the bees wouldn’t come back. No sunlight came in unless you opened one of the big steel doors.
If you got there first, and were the first to turn on the lights in their aluminum cages way up high in the curved ceiling they would come on in about a minute. The light was very dim at first, then brighter and brighter until the gym was lit up like the daytime. But that wasn’t the problem. You see, the bulbs were metal halide back in the day. I’m sure now they are LED or something, but then they were just part and parcel of life. And while they came on dimly at first, you could sort of see. But, if someone were to turn them off after they reached full power, well, they didn’t come back on.
I should say they did come back on eventually, of course, but if you were in the middle of the gym, with the light panel seemingly forever away in total darkness, and your friends were wizzing by you one minute and stock-still the next in darkness, it felt like forever. When you finally made it to the panel with only the fire EXIT lights to guide you, you stood there for an eternity waiting for the arc tubes of the light bulbs to cool off enough to restart. This restrike time was a minimum of 15 minutes. In the dark, dank, spooky gym it was hours. (Well, it seemed like it anyway.) And woe to anyone who tried to flip the switches off and on the get the lights to come on. You were pretty much screwed then. Better flip them off and come back tomorrow because there was no way they were coming on now.
Now, as we were mostly girls and there were only 1-2 boys there at a time and they were much older than us and they suffered from the snootiness of that you can imagine that they came in and turned the lights off on us quite a lot. And if we left the basketballs out we would get into trouble. They had to be put back even it if was as dark as a well in there. One of us would usually hold open the door so the others had light enough to gather up the basketballs.
The very worst thing was if the doors closest to the light panel were locked and the doors farthest were open. Then, my friends, you had to walk all by your little creepy-skinned self across the entire gym to the switches on the other side. Ugh.
One summer, one of the older boys kept telling us there was a ghost of a girl in the gym. He said her name was Suzie and that she would come out of the girl’s locker room under the bleachers if you sang her song. Her song? “Wake Up Little Suzie” of course!
Then the teasing really began! If you had to walk to the light panel in the dark someone would start to sing it! It got so bad I remember being dared to go into the girl’s locker room and sing it! I couldn’t do it. Just going by there in the dark terrified me!
Soon, that summer was over and Suzie was all but forgotten about as my junior high years changed to my high school years. I had been dumped by a terrible boyfriend and found myself hanging out with the nerdy kids and my best guy friend named Mark.
I don’t know how it came up, but Suzie came into the conversation. Mark said he knew all about her story that his mother had actually gone to school with her and had a yearbook with her picture in it! He even took us to the cafeteria to show us the panel from the year she had died, 1965. Only the oval, with her name hand-lettered underneath, Susan Bryant, was empty. her picture gone. Mark told us that was because they didn’t have a senior picture of her before she died. His mom’s yearbook was for her Susie’s Junior year and showed her, a lovely brunette, a cheerleader, fresh and so young.
In seems that Susie had stayed late after a basketball game and was changing out of her cheer uniform in the girls’ locker room when someone came in, raped her on the bench in the middle of the room and then slit her throat. Her blood was all over the floor when she was found the next day. The girl’s gym teacher had gone in to turn on the locker room lights (I’m sure they were the same annoying ones as in the ceiling and took forever to warm up.) and she had slipped in the blood in the darkness. She screamed so loud everyone came running and soon the news had spread like wildfire. Parents came to school and took their children home. Mark’s mother was taken home by her own mother. Her killer was never caught and no one was even brought in for questioning as the meager police had no leads at all. That day was so horrible in the memory of that little town that Suzie seemed to live forever in their re-telling of the tale and in the legend of her ghostly appearance when you sang her song.
Did it really work? Did she come out? In a way yes, in a way no. Mark and I decided to investigate. We would actually go into the girl’s locker room and sing her song and see what would happen. I think Mark’s excuse was he was going to write it up for the school paper. I didn’t have an excuse for being dumb. We were both just 17.
We picked a day after school when our friends could stay and my mom would be working so we could get the keys if the doors were locked (they hardly ever were). As Mark and I walked into the gym it felt darker than it had ever been when I was younger. We held our breaths as we walked under the bleachers to the tunnel-like entrance of the locker room. Shaking and almost crying we bravely started to sing her song. Mark had a louder voice thankfully, but I sang as best I could. We both did, until we couldn’t remember anymore words.
Then, something happened. The sound first, as if a thousand bees were right beside me, then I felt dizzy and violently sick. I must have fainted because I remember seeing stars and a girl’s figure coming in like a station on an old TV with rabbit ears, fuzzy at first, flecked with spots. I screamed silently as my eyes closed themselves.
In the daylight I awoke. Mark was next to me, he was out and there was a deep scratch all the way across his neck, like someone had tried to cut his throat. Our friends had drug us out of the gym terrified after hearing the actual song of “Wake Up Little Susie” playing on the old loudspeakers.
Mark finally came to. He had lost his voice completely. The doctor said it was just laryngitis, but when his mother saw his neck she knew what he had tried to do.
Mark got his voice back about a week later and we only talked of what happened once. he said he saw the same thing I did, but she came for him after I passed out. He never wrote about it for the paper, and if anyone asked him about it he would just tell them it was a silly old urban legend.
But, if we were ever talking privately after that we would often check on each other to make sure Suzie hadn’t come out of the locker room with us. And so far she hasn’t.
Well friends, I hope you enjoyed that one from my teenage years. I’ll be posting some more creepy stories soon. When my book is done most of these will be in it!