Urban exploring has its very own appeal.
My best friend Thomas and I have been doing it for a couple of years now. We don’t do it all that often. It is a thing we do once every few weeks, to provide our mundane lives with a little bit of thrill.
There is something about old, abandoned places. It is this eerie, creepy atmosphere. The idea that what once was filled with life is now stripped bare and empty. It is unsettling and somehow you feel like you don’t belong and that you are in a wrong place.
I often can’t help to wonder about the history of the places we visit. Had people once celebrated Christmas in this old, ruined residential building? Had this rubble been witness to such happiness?
When were those empty school hallways last filled with the laughter of kids and the talk of teachers? There is always something special about those places.
And then there is what happened last night.
Thomas and I met up like we usually do. We were lucky enough to both have today off. That’s the reason why we decided to visit an old industrial site in the next town over.
It used to be one of those booming industrial towns of the Democratic German Republic. The reunion brought not only a new currency. It also brought new technologies and methods of production. It made many of the machines and production facilities in Eastern Germany obsolete. Needless to say, many companies went bankrupt during the time.
In the bigger cities, newer complexes or different buildings replaced those areas. In small towns, on the other hand, they were abandoned.
Getting rid of them would cost too much money. So they are often left to rot until someone is interested in the property. It is rarely the case.
The complex we were going to now had most likely not seen any visitors in at least two decades.
I can’t say what we were hoping to find. Guess we wanted to see how unsettling old factory halls and warehouses could be.
As we arrived, there was not even a hint of a name anymore. What once could have been a billboard was now nothing but a metal frame. We could see some Russian lettering on one of the buildings, but half of the letters were missing. What remained made no sense.
There were some streetlights at the edge of the complex. The rest was hidden in darkness.
Getting in proved easy. A high fence surrounded the entire complex but scaling it wasn’t hard. We moved away from the main street and the streetlights and made our way inside.
The complex was quite a bit larger then I’d assumed. Back in the day, this whole area must have been teeming with dozens of people if not hundreds.
It was a quiet night. The echo of our footsteps was incredibly loud as we walked over the empty concrete floor. I couldn’t help but look around if anyone or anything noticed them.
We first made our way to a group of buildings that turned out to be the old production facilities. I had expected it, yet I was still disappointed to find them stripped bare. We turned our flashlights on as we stepped inside, but there was nothing of value left. The only things we saw were endless lines of pipes on the walls and a few rusty metal contraptions.
Our footsteps seemed to be even louder in these empty, dark halls. The beam of our flashlights brought the pipes on the walls to life. It transformed them into winding shadows. The whole area, with its rust-covered floors, reminded me of the old Silent Hill games. A few times I thought I heard a metal clang behind us. Every time though, I convinced myself it was nothing but my imagination.
I was relieved as we stepped outside again.
After checking out a few of the smaller buildings, we made our way to the old office building.
It was an unimpressive, two-storied block of concrete.
As we entered the empty hall, we guessed that we weren’t the first visitors here. The door had been unhinged and the remaining furniture of the entry hall had been demolished.
Taking a closer look revealed a thick layer of dust on the rubble and proved that it must have happened a long time ago. As we made our way through the building, we found barely anything else. A few old shipping documents caught our interest, but they weren’t readable anymore.
Whoever had been here before had also broken many of the windows. As we walked through the hallways, I heard the occasional whistle of the wind behind us.
In the end, we didn’t spend a lot of time searching through the office building. The inside was as unimpressive as the exterior. Anything interesting, we decided, must have been taken already.
At last, we made our way to the old warehouse. The big steel gate at the end was closed and locked by some heavy iron chains.
It was pure dumb luck when Thomas tried one of the doors on the side and it sprang open.
The inside was like the rest of the complex, almost entirely empty.
The only sound was once again the echo of our footsteps. To our left and right, unending rows of old, rusty metal shelves lined the walls. The darkness made them look like ancient, metal skeletons.
At the end of the warehouse, we found another small office area. It was nothing but a few chairs and tables. I might have been used for packaging the goods or preparing them for shipping.
By now, my phone showed me that it was almost midnight. We’d seen pretty much every part of the complex. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed. I thought we’d at least find something exciting or morbid here.
I didn’t feel like making my way back home already. Instead, I convinced Thomas to move two of the old chairs into the center area of the warehouse and chill there for a bit.
“We might as well stay for a bit longer, man.”
“Sure, not like we get many chances like that anymore, with the baby around and all that.” Thomas agreed.
By now our eyes had adjusted to the darkness around us, so we turned the flashlights off. The moonlight came in through the giant upper story windows of the warehouse. It provided more than enough light.
As usual, I’d brought a few drinks. It was a sort of ritual for us. We had said goodbye to the partying lifestyle years ago, but whenever we get the chance to hang out, we have a few drinks.
I knew Thomas also brought some weed. Ever since his girlfriend got pregnant, she hated it. Guess it’s because of the baby. So he only smoked whenever the two of us were out.
For half an hour we sat there in the dark on old, hard chairs and exchanged urban legends. Every once in a while a sound made us look up, but we’d seen enough sings of small animals and rodents in the warehouse.
While Thomas finished the tale off a particularly deranged serial killer, I got myself another beer. I opened it, took a sip, and leaned back.
“What the fuck…?” Thomas whispered next to me.
His voice had changed. It sounded agitated, almost afraid. I was about to take a sip of my beer when he reached out for my arm. He almost spilled my beer.
“What the hell man? You tripping or something?”
Without answering, or saying anything, he pointed at one of the upper windows of the warehouse. I could see that his arm was shaking.
At first, I had no idea what he was pointing at. I wanted to make a snarky comment like ‘yes dude, it’s a window.’ Then I saw it too.
There was a figure, no just a face outside, behind the window. I hadn’t noticed it at first, because it was only its side profile. It was much too big though and filled up almost all of the enormous window. It seemed as if some sort of giant was passing by outside.
Then the face came to a halt. I saw how its pupil moved to the corner of its eye, focusing on the inside of the warehouse. Then the whole, giant face turned into our direction, staring inside.
“The fuck is this man?” I asked with a voice that I couldn’t keep from shaking.
As I looked up at the window, I felt how the eyes of this apparition focused right on me. They grew wide and the face’s expression became angry. The mouth turned from a smile to a hard line.
With an angry shriek, the face vanished. Only moments later we heard the grinding of the massive warehouse gate on the concrete. Soon the heavy iron chains that kept it closed started rattling.
For a second we looked at the gate in fear, but as it rattled again, we both jumped up and ran.
Once outside, we both saw something huge and dark move at the back of the warehouse. In an instant, we ran to the edge of the complex and climbed back over the fence.
Only once we were a bit further away from the complex, did we turn back around.
I cringed back a step as I saw the dark, empty faces staring at us from every building of the complex. I could not see their bodies, or who they were. All I could see where glowing eyes and open mouths.
And then, I saw the giant head once more. It was right above the warehouse. It stared straight at me again, with its wide eyes and its same angry expression.
When both of us saw, that there was no neck or body it belonged to, the two of us ran. We ran all the way to the local train station. The whole way I could feel the angry stare of this giant, ghastly head in my back.
I don’t know what happened last night or what I saw. I don’t try to think about it, but I can’t help it anymore.
The whole day I convinced myself it was the weed Thomas had brought. Maybe it had just caused us to hallucinate, right?
I can’t do it anymore. Whatever happened last night, can’t explain the giant, lurking shadow outside my window.