Part 3

Time had suddenly stood still. As if it had paused to contemplate what Derek, Lan, and Jason were doing at that moment, time had stood still. None of them dared let out a breath as Derek opened that door. Lan thought she was going to explode if she didn't start breathing again. Jason just tried to make sure that he had the camera ready. And Derek, well Derek was just himself, making his way through his mental checklist, making sure that he had everything he needed. Including the first aid kit.

It was like a moment of bizarreness. Like one of those dreamlike science fiction sequences, where everything is either silver or a primary color, and the men and women all have odd haircuts in all sorts of colors. It was almost fluid. Really wavy and it just seemed to flow. Everything was truly silent and Jason could feel his head pounding to the beat of his own heart.

And when Derek opened the door, it was like the gates of hell opening, flooding the room with evils and demons of unimaginable origin.

Or it could've been a rat.

Either way, Lan still had the same reaction.

"Not again!" She shrieked as the brownish gray creature raced past them at breakneck speed and hid under the couch.

Derek's heart was pounding. It kept a steady rhythm as he and Jason looked for the rat.

"Oh gross." Lan said, finally breathing again. "I thought I'd never see one again. Guess I was wrong."

"Here Ben." Derek muttered.

"Ben?" Jason said, glancing at him.

"Yeah, wasn't that a Michael Jackson song or something about rats?" Derek looked at them, perplexed.

Jason shrugged. Sometimes he had no idea what went on in his friend's head. But it didn't matter. He helped Derek pull the couch out a bit and saw the rat sitting patiently behind it munching on a small crumb.

"There it is." Jason muttered and looked at Derek. "Now what?"

"Now you step back and let us catch it." A voice called from the door.

The three of them jumped in shock.

A guard with a net stepped into the room. He wore the standard navy guard's uniform.

"Didn't mean to scare you there." He said. He smiled. "I'm Jim."

"Derek Barnes." Derek said, regaining mental thought. "This is Jason and Lan."

"We get these all the time. They run through the halls and they don't make a lot of noise, but the echo makes it deafening." Jim said, inching slowly toward the rat.

"I won't be opening the door again, that's for sure." Lan said, stepping back.

"It's all right." Jim said. His net dived toward the rodent. It squeaked in protest as Jim scooped it up with the net. He nonchalantly went to the door, the rodent still struggling for freedom. Lan didn't want to know what they did with it.

"If you hear anything, it's best to open the door a small crack before you open it fully. The hall lights are on so you can see." Jim said, and left them.

After the couch was moved back into place, the three sat down, exhausted.

"Well." Derek looked at his watch. "It's 11:39 pm. shall we go hunting?"

"What do we have so far?" Lan asked.

"Okay, well we know that Toperson was executed and there was a fire a year later. The prison closed sometime after that and was declared historical about ten years ago. And we just got that video footage. Is it loaded into the site?"

Lan nodded. "And I did a bit of looking around." She tapped on the laptop for a few seconds. "Julian Toperson is survived only by his daughter, an Ana Lagers, born in 1920."

"So she was only two years old when her father was executed." Derek said, his eyes wide. "Talk about childhood trauma."

"Really. Where does she live?" Jason asked.

Lan squinted. "According to this, she lives right in Orlando, at the Juniper Center for Assisted Living."

"So she should be about 80 years old." Derek said. "Was she ever married?"

Lan shook her head. "Why?"

"I just wanted to know if there were any other relatives." Derek shook his head. He took the flashlights and placed them in his backpack. Jason took the folded blueprints gave one to Derek and another one to Lan, who was storing the laptop. She gave the tape recorder to Jason and looked at the door.

For a minute, none of them said anything. Their thoughts lingered in the air.

Derek finally laughed a little and the others joined him.

"Let's do the opening crawl." Derek said to Jason. "Get a shot of the room."

"Aye, sir." Jason saluted and started filming. The camera settled back to Derek after a turn around the room.

"Hey Freaks. Derek Barnes here with Jason and Lan. We're at the Eastpoint Penitentiary, where we have dared to spend the night. It has been suggested that this top-security prison that was once home to some of Florida's most malicious criminals is haunted, and the Freaky Links team has recorded footage with an undeniable happening way up there on the freakiness scale. What it really is, we don't know, but we're hoping to find out tonight."

Derek stopped in front of the door. He nodded to the others.

"Okay let's go."

They walked through the halls; their footsteps echoing like the mice that had done so before. Despite the light that emitted from the bulbs of electricity, it was still a bit dark. Let's just say flashlights are a Freaker's best friends when you're walking down the hall of a haunted prison.

"It's so cold." Lan commented. She pulled her jacket closer.

"Yeah. The concrete doesn't make it any better." Derek said, casting a circle of light on the wall.

"What are we looking for exactly?" Jason asked.

"If I have any idea, I'll make note to tell you." Derek said. He sighed.

For a few moments, they all stopped in the middle of the long hallway and stared at each other. Each of them wondered what direction they were really going.

"I suggest we get something to eat." Derek said.

"I second that." Jason said, snapping the camera's screen shut.

"Hey, did you hear that?" Lan said.

Derek frowned. "What?"

"That tapping noise." Lan said. She motioned for them all to be quiet. "There."

"That's probably another rat." Jason said.

"Probably." Lan said, nodding. "Lets get something to eat."

They started their retreat down the hall.

But alas, it was destined among man that all members of the human persuasion have immense trouble finding their path during their stays in empty historical prisons in the middle of the night…

"I'm telling you. We have to take a turn at Compton Hall, that way." Derek said, pointing behind him.

"And the map says that Compton Hall links to Schuster Hall, which is the opposite direction of where we are." Lan said.

"But you can loop through Schuster to get to Langly Hall, and that will bring us back to the main stairwell." Derek said.

"Okay, let's just all calm down. Where are we right now?" Jason said.

Derek shined a flashlight around him. "I think we're in Martens Hall."

"I didn't see a stairwell back there, did you?" Lan said. "it says Martens Hall has a stairwell back there."

"Well, we might not even be in the same section so if we're right, there shouldn't be a door there." Jason said.

"Isn't there a number we can call?" Derek asked.

"What, you think Dominos delivers to a location specifically known as 'the middle of a hallway'?" Lan asked.

Derek threw his hands up. "No, I meant a number to call the guards."

"I don't know. It was probably in that set of papers that Odell left." Jason said.

"And I think we left that in the lounge." Lan said. She groaned.

They continued walking onward, not really knowing where to go. They passed by cell after cell, hollow and lonely, no longer inhabited.

"This is way too creepy." Lan muttered. She tried to focus her eyes away from the darkness that lingered in the barred cubes.

"It is. Even for me." Derek said, trying not to glance sideways.

"It's freezing here." Jason said, zipping up his jacket.

"Yeah, it was freezing back there too." Derek said.

"But it's especially cold here." Jason said.

"Yeah, now that I think of it. It's colder around here."

"Really?" Derek said, looking at Lan. His eyes grew wide as her hair gently twisted.

"Did you just see that?" Derek said.

His pulse quickened.

"See what?" Jason asked, puzzled.

"Lan, your hair. It just-it just moved. Like there was a wind." Derek said.

"So? It could've been air from the vents." Jason said.

"What was that?" Derek asked.

"What?" Lan asked.

"That rumble."

There was indeed a rumbling. It was silent and low, but audible. It vibrated through the entire hallway, bouncing off the concrete walls, using it as a giant subwoofer.

"What's going on?" Lan said.

All of a sudden, the cell gates rapidly receded, sliding open with such a force. And they all did it in unison. Cell after cell, on both sides, they slid open as if someone had pushed the button to open them all.

The sound was deafening. Derek thought his eardrums would burst. But he couldn't think much. And for some odd human reaction, they all desired to throw their arms up in front of them, as if the cell gates would fly off and hit them.

It went on for a seemingly endless amount of time. In a matter of seconds, the cells were all open, and each done by a phantom hand.

"I don't think that was air from the vents." Derek said, gasping for breath.

Part 4

"What the hell was that?!?" Jason shouted.

They were running through the halls, though still cautious as to where they were running specifically. Even chaos and loss of direction needs order sometime. After all, would you want to get even more lost after seeing what you just saw?

"I don't know." Derek said. "This way." He shoved his way through a door and raced up the stairs. "Whatever it was, I'm glad I had the camera." He chuckled a bit at the thought.

He finally got to a door and pushed it open. He breathed a sigh of relief as the hall became familiar to him.

"How we found our way back, I don't know." Jason said, catching up. "But good job." He laughed a little and remembered the camera. Still running, he stopped the dizzy filming and righted it.

"Hey!" A voice shouted. The three looked to the left to see a guard rushing down. "What are you kids doing here?"

The camera swung to show an older man in the same blue uniform the other guard had.

"We're staying the night here." Derek said. "We're making a documentary." It was his standard excuse. What would he say? Hi, my name is Derek Barnes, and I run a website where I post things about the paranormal…would you like to be apart of our official investigation? It wasn't that he wasn't proud of what he did; he just found it easier to get access to places when he sounded more professional…

"We got a look at the Marten Hall cameras." He shouted, even though he was standing directly in front of them.

"You saw it too?" Derek asked, his eyes widening.

"What's going on here?" Jim came behind them.

"We saw the cell doors open. All of them." Lan said.

"Something's going on." Jason said, shaking his head. "Something is definitely going on."

"You mean you didn't open the doors?" Lan asked.

"No. We can't do that anymore. We disabled the automatic controls a few years ago." Jim said. "And there aren't any manual controls."

"If you kids didn't do it….its against prison regulation, but you should look at the security tapes. My name is John by the way."

Derek nodded a hello. "Derek Barnes." He looked at the other two. "Jason Tatum and Lan Williams."

"Let's go take a look at those tapes." Jim said. "I doubt that you want to stand in the middle of the hallway."

"It's okay. Not everything has to be about the paranormal." Lan said, as Jim and John led the way to the main level security room.

"Hey you think Dominos delivers here?" Derek muttered as they rounded the corner.

"Okay. You three are right there." Jim said. "It happens almost instantly."

Jason frowned. He shook his head. "No, not it didn't."

"What do you mean?" John asked.

"I remember, before it happened, we heard this rumbling." Jason said. "It was really low."

"Yeah, I remember it too. It sounded like a drum." Lan looked at the camera. "That's when we were talking about it. And then it happened."

Sure enough, the video played out and the cells opened. Derek stifled a laugh. It was almost sheer horror that had propelled them away from that section of the prison. But on camera, they just looked like scared puppies. Which he didn't gather they were very far from.

"That's it. Then we just ran." Derek said, shrugging. Something caught his eye.

"Hey, look." He said. "Is that the Marten Hall cameras?"

Jim shook his head. "No, they aren't. Those are the Compton Hall cameras. What the hell is that?"

Derek didn't say anything. He turned the volume up.

"What? I don't hear-"

"Shh!" Derek silenced Lan. "Hear that?"

Whatever super hearing capability Derek possessed, Lan wondered if it had to do with the anchovies he ate.

Do you ever get the feeling that there's something there? That after a long day of looking at the same stuff, researching the same topics, or watching the same videos, that something is there, watching with you?

Derek turned the volume up louder.

"What is that?" Jason asked, finally hearing what Derek had been hearing.

"Listen." Derek said as he put his tape recorder to the monitor speakers.

Then the lights went out.

"Must be the storm." Jim said, handing John a flashlight. Derek, Lan, and Jason provided their own.

"It's raining pretty heavy outside." Jason said, tapping on the glass.

"The cameras are running on a separate power grid. That way no one can disconnect them from the main electrical box." Jim said, picking up the phones. "They did, however, fail to move the phones to another grid also."

The volume was still up. A loud assortment of banging filled the air and everyone grimaced. Jason quickly turned the knob down and his breath caught in his throat.

"Hey."

The cells were opening again. Down in Compton Hall, in a pair, two by two, they were receding once more.

Just opposite of it, on the Marten Hall cameras, the cells started to close. Silent bombs went off in their heads as they imagined the noise that vibrated through the metal bars.

None of them spoke.

Derek shined his flashlight on his watch. 1:08 am.

"Okay." Derek knew he had to move on. He looked to the guards. "Do you know anything about the former inmates here?"

Jim nodded. "It was standard training for the job." He said slowly and chuckled. "I guess they were planning for a future visit from you."

Derek laughed nervously. "Guess so."

Minutes later, they had all their flashlights focused on a table where every bit of information they had was spread out on it.

"Julian Toperson was executed in 1922 for mass murder. Now, during his execution, after he was killed, the entire staff, including the warden, heard one phrase said. It was a talking head too, no one knew who said it. And it was in Julian Toperson's voice. "

"I read on that a bit." John said, rubbing his eyes. "His partner was-I can't remember his name."

"Aaron Parkinson." Lan supplied. John nodded.

"Everyone thought he was the one who did it. Commit all those murders, I mean. But Toperson ended up with the jail sentence."

"So he might have been accused wrongly." Jason said. "Parkinson really did it but blamed it on Toperson so he could get off the hook."

"But it's Toperson that haunts the prison." Derek said.

"But we saw Parkinson on the video tape." Lan said.

"What video tape?" Jim asked, a bit confused.

Derek looked at Lan and nodded. He turned to the two guards. "You should see this."

"Amazing." Jim said as he watched. His brown orbs glowed in contrast to the laptop screen.

"I don't believe in ghosts and ghouls." John said. He shook his head. "But there's something strange, that's for sure."

"And now this, the sound we got off the video monitor." Derek placed his tape recorder on the table and turned it on.

Amid the static and the hushed bits of dialogue that had been exchanged during the taping, one set of words came through.

"To those who stand silent, purgatory will not rest." Lan said. "There it is again."

"Do you think you can comprehend it, boy?"

Derek spun around.

"What is it?"

"They can't hear anything." The voice said again.

"You guys didn't hear that?" Derek said.

The others shook their heads.

"What did you hear?" Jason asked.

"Before, in cellblock E." He looked at Jason. "The same voice."

"This is getting too confusing." Jason said.

"We should split up." John said. "Some of us go down to Martens Hall and the others go to Compton."

Derek was still trying to piece things together. It was all incredibly confusing. And nothing seemed to correlate to anything else. But they needed to do something instead of sitting in a dark room.

John took out two lanterns. He turned one on and the entire room glowed as if it was filled with candles. "These should be okay to get around with. The power won't be coming back on until I get to the auxiliary generator that's in Marten's Hall."

Soon Jason, Lan, and Derek were retracing their steps again, heading towards Compton Hall. Jason was holding the camera while Derek held his, ready to switch it on.

"Where's cellblock E?" Derek asked Lan.

"I think it's in Schuster Hall." She said, looking at the blueprints.

"Okay. Remember that." Derek said.

They stopped. Ahead of them, the hall seemed like an endless pit. Even though the lantern was on, the fluorescent light casting odd shadows through the cell bars, it was still dark.

"Hey Toperson." Jason muttered. "Where are you?"

"You think he'd answer?" Derek said.

"Don't know." Jason said, watching the camera he was holding. It followed them through the depths of the hall. "Don't know if I wanna know."

Derek smiled and laughed. "Same here."

"Hey you guys." Lan said, looking at the blueprint. A small pen light illuminated her search.

"I wouldn't want to be him." Derek muttered.

"From the looks of this place, I don't think anyone did." Jason said, his dark eyes surveying the cells.

"Guys." Lan said again.

"I wonder how Jim and John are doing." Derek said.

"Probably already there. They know this place better than us."

"Guys!" Lan said, her voice raised.

Derek and Jason turned finally. Lan looked up at them and her expression was one of worry. Her eyes were bright.

"What's that?" She pointed.

"Holy-" Derek stepped back.

Have you ever seen the cliché splatter of blood red on dark walls? This transcended any other cliché. This blood red cascaded down the bars and formed puddles on the floors, staining the concrete. Its horrifying letters signaled the return of something unusual and horrific. This splatter covered the entire wall above the cells, and stretched too far for anyone to have done themselves. This splatter said:

To those who stand silent, purgatory will not rest