Years ago, I joined the Navy and found myself attending basic and apprenticeship training in Orlando, Florida. We were in a barracks dedicated to female recruits that stood eight stories tall and I was of course on the top “deck” (we called floors decks in the Navy). There were some quirks about being on the top deck. The bathroom only seemed to have hot water. Thus, even the toilets steamed like you were at some fancy spa resort. The showers could make your skin peal off. Therefore, we were constantly seeking other places to shower and take care of personal business.
The sixth floor was not too bad. No one was assigned to that deck and we found ourselves wandering down there to take care of laundry, showers, and just to find a quiet corner. At night, however, it was a different story. Nobody wanted to be there at night. Strange sounds could be heard in these empty spaces: the scraping of furniture, the clacking of a paddle, the clanging of something beating on a metal surface. However, as recruits, we were expected to stand watch on this floor.
To be honest, I was nervous the night I was assigned to the sixth deck watch. Of course, it was the 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. watch. I was late to watch because my bunkmate helped herself to my alarm and changed the time after I went to bed. Thus, I arrived late and disheveled. However, I did have the presence of mind to grab my bible. Taking the watch, the other person responded in an irritated voice that this was the third person who had left her standing watch too long. I tried to explain the situation but she waved me off, uninterested in my excuses. I hoped that she wouldn’t report me. Then I was alone.
Every so often, the elevator door would open and shut with nobody exiting. It was always the one on the left. I thought this was odd but not worth noting in the logs. Strange noises could be heard and I pulled out my bible and began reading through Psalms. I like 91 when I’m really scared. It’s comforting to think that a thousand can fall at my side but evil will not come near me. So I read through the Psalm and then moved onto another.
The elevator open and the roving watch stepped out as I slid the bible out of sight and stood at attention. We greeted each other and they walked through the barracks. When they returned, I asked if anyone was in the room on the left. They said no and asked why. I had heard some tapping. They laughed nervously. It wasn’t the first time they heard this report. It was recommended that I didn’t write it into the logs and then they left.
I would like to say this was my last experience with the sixth floor activities. However, one afternoon I jumped in the left elevator in a hurry from the eighth deck. The elevator began its normal descent. Then it drew level with the sixth deck. At that point, the elevator dropped. I know I screamed. We fell from the sixth deck to the second. Then the elevator settled out and finished its descent as normal. We stepped off shakily and determined not to take the left elevator again. I remember we reported the mechanical malfunction. The duty officer laughed nervously and suggested to avoid that elevator.
That’s when we heard the story. Six months earlier a particular recruit lived on the sixth deck. She struggled with her choice to join the Navy and possibly other events. We did not know for sure except that she was deeply depressed. The woman decided suicide was her only escape. She chose to slit her wrist to that end. Only, afterwards she had second thoughts. She entered the left elevator to seek help. Sadly, she bled out by the second floor. Once the elevator settled on the ground floor, it was too late.
We were nineteen and curious. Therefore, we decided to explore the barracks in which she died. Thus, we through our laundry into the washer and began to move from alcove to alcove. One of the girls with me called out to come see what she found. As she lowered the desk, she had discovered a ouija board carved into the surface. It was noted that this particular space seemed much colder than the rest. We ended up pulling our laundry and moving to another floor to finish it up. From that point forward, we only entered the sixth floor when assigned to watch. Nobody wanted this watch.
[NOTE: I hope you enjoyed this story. This is truly how I remembered the events as it occurred over twenty years ago. I hope to share other stories over the next couple of weeks. Happy October!]