Scholastic Scare in Superior, AZ
“Scholastic Scare in Superior, AZ” was co-written by: Terri Campbell
The day began as an innocent photographic adventure to the old mining town of Superior, Arizona, where hauntingly decrepit buildings sporadically litter the landscape. This sleepy community 90 minutes southeast of Phoenix offers photographers an array of creative compositions to capture.
As we drove past the nearly abandoned and boarded buildings of Main Street, we ventured up a hill where at the final destination stood an old school house, which appeared more like an institution for the mentally disturbed.
Noticing an open gate, we cautiously approached the foreboding structure, eventually exiting the vehicle to stroll the eerie grounds. Being so close to Halloween, we looked at each other and remarked how this setting would make the perfect haunted house venue. We peered through some windows to look for any sign of inhabitants, not expecting any. On our fourth try we looked in a window and saw what appeared to be a bedroom for the elderly. There were clothes strewn across a bed, an abandoned walker with a lone light illuminating an afghan-covered rocking chair…an unsettling sight. Obviously, this place was not uninhabited…yet there was no sign of life. We further explored the grounds in a quest to find an opening into the building. While signs of life continued with the observation of a few vehicles, still, no one appeared; therefore we entered the bowels of the building.
Terri attempted to take a picture of an ominous hallway with stairs that seemed to lead nowhere through the dirt-smeared window of a door. I jostled the door handle, uncovering an unlocked entrance to the building. The sound of the unlatching started her and I snickered as she jumped…this, from a woman who revels in the fright of the Halloween season. We guardedly entered, and ascended the staircase, which led us to a series of old schoolrooms. We continued our ascent and discovered a row of old lockers with an ominous cast of light shining in. This was the photo op we had both been looking for. As we changed lenses and began to adjust our camera settings, we heard some rustling down below. A moment later a voice called out and said, “helloooo…” We turned and looked at each other in fright! Another voice chimed in and said, “Do you hear something up there?” Feeling the hair on the back of our neck stand up, we sprinted down the hall, in the opposite direction of the voices…or so we thought. We quickly realized that we chose the wrong direction, turning to run the other way, and like a couple of Keystone cops, we nearly ran into each other. We bolted once again down the hallway in hopes of eluding the owners of the imminent voices, but they seemed to follow us regardless of the direction. We heard one say, “I hear them running.”
Resigned to our encountered fate, we both stopped, right in the line of sight of one of the inquisitive voices we’d heard from the lower floor. We stood still for what seemed like an eternity, as the tall, lanky, suited, mortician-like figure ascended from the darkness of the lower floor. Hearts racing, we actually contemplated, in the seconds that passed, an escape option, but soon learned we were lost…trapped actually.
As he slowly shuffled up the stairs like a zombie, his head lifted and eyes locked upon us. He asked who we were…we fumbled for an answer. After a semi-coherent stuttered response, we settled into an awkward conversation. In an attempt to diminish the discomfort we asked what the old building was being converted into. His response sent chills down our spine as he muttered, “You are in my home.” This response did not register given that the scary school was far from being a “home.” We explained we were travel bloggers in from the valley taking pictures of the sites and structures of Superior, he iterated in a creepy tone, “Well… let me show you around.” We hesitantly followed like lambs being led to the slaughter as he pulled out his ring of keys and walked down the hall. Unlatching the first door, it creaked as it opened and he motioned for us to enter. Having seen a multitude of horror movies, our first inclination of this invitation was to think… “Does this guy plan on locking us in the room, allowing him time to formulate a plan for wearing our skins as a suit?” Taking a deep breath, we entered…he followed. He explained that this room was the gathering area for his “family,” where they all congregate. We began having a flashback of the show, “The Following….,” thinking, “Is his family a cult devoted to a serial killer, or perhaps a religious zealot?” Lucky to escape, he led us to yet another room on this freakish tour. Always walking behind us, we felt as though any attempt to escape would be futile. As he led us into the kitchen area and introduced us to a woman who we thought to be his wife, he referred to her as “mother.” We both looked at each other as if we had just heard Norman Bates make reference to his beloved. He made a point to ask us if we had even seen a kitchen with “5 sinks” before? We both thought, “Yeah, in a slaughterhouse.”
Our anxiety level hit full tilt, so we quickly thanked him for the tour and his hospitality and apologized for trespassing. We proceeded to the exit gingerly and in the back of our minds we were praying he would actually let us leave on our own accord. We briskly walked down the dark corridor toward the sanctuary that we knew of as our vehicle! Not speaking a word to each other, our sole focus was making our getaway. As we drove away and left this house of horrors we said in unison and laughed… “Well, it’s Halloween time, everyone deserves a good scare!”
Note: We may have slightly embellished this story for the sake of Halloween. The truth is, the owner of the old school in Superior, AZ was very kind, understanding of our trespass, and, very gracious in showing us around.
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