Spending a lot of time underground is a strange experience. Whether they’re urban explorers, subway workers, or just kids wandering the sewers, these people experience things that others who spend little or no time beneath the earth’s surface may never get to see for themselves. They may also have to deal with other people who spend a lot of time underground: People who work in the tunnels, other subway workers, homeless people who’ve made portions of the tunnels into shelters…
This combination of humanity with a place not made for human beings to stay in for long periods of time means that subway workers tend to have a lot of odd, often frightening experiences over the course of their careers. Some of those subway workers came above ground and shared their strange stories online with the rest of us. Here are a few of them.
54. Drowning In The Dark
53. A Hole In The Ground
52. Stuck Between The Cracks
51. The Way Is Shut
I grew up down in the desert where there were a lot of old abandoned mine shafts. We would go explore the mine shafts for fun. There would always be some level of danger. It was common to see old abandoned boxes of dynamite and leftover mining equipment.
One time we went and explored this vertical mine shaft which had a ladder that worked its way down. The ladder had a platform about every 20 feet and a hatch that would continue to the next level. I was with about 6 people I believe. We had gone down to the bottom of the mineshaft I would guess it was about 700 feet down at this point and we got to the point where the shaft was full of water.
We all decided to go swimming in the water which was creepy in its own right. But as we were climbing up I was looking up and I could see a light moving around. I began realizing that someone else was in the mineshaft. I came to one of the hatches and had just poked my head out when I looked to my right and I see a flashlight moving very rapidly towards me and then the hatch was slammed shut on me.
Someone was standing on the hatch and I could not open it. I was able to open to hatch after about 5 minutes and it turned out to be someone that recognized our cars and was a friend of ours that was just messing with us… but it was very terrifying at the moment.
50. Positively Batty
For ‘creepiness’: in the Borneo jungle where our local guide wanted to show us an ancient limestone network. More bats than I’ve ever come across in several cave experiences (I’m not a ‘caver’ – just an avid adventurer with cave experience), probably 5 million bats or more. But that wasn’t the creepy bit. Stumbling on semi-mummified skeletons was! My guide failed to tell me the caves were ancient burial sites. Turning to see a skull a few inches from my face was physiologically and psychologically inconvenient.
Scariest would probably be caving in the UK. I was crawling and squeezing the whole time. It wasn’t pleasant — at the time I thought we were gonna die. Got trapped in a small ‘room’ flooded to our ankles where the tunnels in and out were fully submerged (you kinda ascended into this pocket/room/chamber). Assuming we’d either suffocate or drown wasn’t great. Fortunately, the water level dropped just enough after a couple of hours to crawl out, breathing with our heads sideways and mouths pressed practically against the ceiling, like in movies where ships are sinking.
What is always slightly eerie in British caves is knowledge of some of the deaths/disasters that happened right where you’re standing. Like one in Yorkshire where several school kids died. Being in that same place and knowing that the claustrophobic cavity you’re stood in was someone’s final view.
49. Not For The Faint Of Heart
48. The Cave Of The Dolls
47. Row, Row, Row Your Boat
My first cave trip ever, I was somewhere around 10 years old. My dad decided it was a good time to take the boys caving and so off we went with our army flashlights in tow. At the time, we didn’t have a map of the cave we went to visit, and we ended up getting stuck in a circular room with a small, easily missed exit. After about 4 hours all of our lights had run out, and we were left huddled together in the pitch black while my dad led “Row, row, row, your boat” in an effort to keep us calmed down.
After about 3 hours of singing in the cave, my mother decided it was time to call out for help, and eventually (I’m unsure of the time frame) someone came to find us, and lead us out of the cave.
I’ve since become an experienced caver, and have been in that exact cave many, many times. It’s interesting to go through that little room now and remember how dangerous the relatively innocuous room once was. It never fails to amaze me how quickly innocent mistakes can turn into deadly errors in caves. That particular cave has been the most frequently called out rescue site in our immediate area for years, and I think I could guess where most people are found.
46. Rain Water Always Flows Down
Here’s mine …a lesson in double-checking the radar before going below.
My roommate and I were doing a cave that we have been in and out of many times. We had been in about 5 hours when we decided it was time to head topside and make dinner. Where we were was an underground stream maybe ankle-deep. Three levels down around 200′ + underground.
We were working our way back through the stream when we passed a small waterfall about 3′ high. Nothing spectacular just didn’t see that coming through…
About ten minutes later there was a sound like an airplane taking off on a runway. It was loud enough we were yelling at one another. Then we round a bend and see it! This chamber is about 30′ high and 20’x20′ across, and has now become one gigantic flowing waterfall! Panic set in quick.
We had to move it; by the time we made it to where our ropes were set for the climb up the water that was ankle-deep was now nearing chest height. Upon arriving at our rope, we discovered it too was just a mass of flowing water that we had to climb. Being an experienced climber and someone who has caved for a while that 40′ climb was one of the most difficult I have ever done.
After that, still being pretty deep underground, we were able to relax because that was the end of the water flow. I admit something bad could have happened that day. Now I chalk it up as a lesson learned. Even if you aren’t going to be out in it check the weather because rainwater always flows down…
45. Magical Deer
Sometimes we get animals on the tracks, usually raccoons and peoples’ pet dogs. I have seen a deer on one occasion and a few coyotes. Mind you, all the tracks are fenced off by barbed wire and only easily accessible through the subway stations. So I have no clue how a deer gets on the tracks without ripping its stomach open on the barbed wire. The fences are eight to nine feet tall.
44. A Scarring Sight
I work for the MTA in NYC. The underground train system is the perfect place for homeless people to escape the elements. I walked into a fully naked man bathing under a leaking hot water pipe. That was pretty terrifying.
43. Let Me Tell You A Secret
Many years ago, I worked as a technical assistant at a coal mining company. This was basically doing the grunt work for those with degrees, taking samples of things, doing data entry, driving the surveyors around, etc.
One of my duties was to go into underground mines and take coal, dirt, and air samples on a regular basis. Often this would be a little away from other workers.
One place I hated going because every time I went, it would feel and sound like there was someone standing just behind me to my left and whispering in my ear, even when the nearest other person was 30 yards away.
42. Crawling Over It
My buddy and I spent many years crawling through sewer pipes. One day, we were out in the woods, me, him, and another friend. We were deep in the woods. We found some pipe sticking out of a hillside and agreed to explore it.
We went down about 300 feet and he shouted back that there was something in the way. He thought it was a dead animal, but since we were using weak headlamps, he couldn’t tell. We coerced him to climb over it. Then he came to me. He was freaking out saying something was all over his clothes and he didn’t know what it was. I climbed over this dark lump of refuse. It felt like a body, but not human. Not even animal. Just alien. Smelled bad. Smelled horrible. I slid over this nasty thing almost puking. My buddy behind me came next. Same story.
We crawled another few hundred feet. One friend started complaining about a horrible awful stench ahead. We couldn’t for the life of him get him to continue. He ended up throwing up. We started throwing the idea around of gas of some sort. He said he was seeing something big up ahead. Looked like a body. Human maybe. We slid backward quickly until we got to the manhole room. We crawled out quickly.
We got into the daylight and investigated the stuff stuck to our clothes from the thing we slid over. It was dark. Bloody dark. Refuse dark. Looked like fur. We agree that it was probably a trapped animal.
26. Elevator Guru
Opened up an elevator from the bottom floor to go to the platform, and there was a guy sitting cross-legged, facing the wall, waving a stick up and down while humming, with loads of clothes and multiple wallets sitting around him. We took the stairs, finished clearing the platform, and I wanted to see if he was still in there, after about an hour and a half (this was at one a.m.). Opened the elevator, he’s still there, but now he’s stood up facing me, waving his stick. His face was right up against the doors. They opened, he was staring at me dead in the eyes, humming, waving his stick, but now all the wallets and clothes were gone. So I said, “Oh, you’re still busy in here,” and we left.
40. Television Underground
A few friends and I explored this abandoned quarry once. There was one main tunnel going back into a mountain with tons of straight offshoot tunnels and clearings intersecting it. We came to one of the cleared out areas far back into the mine (the entrance to the tunnel was out of sight with no light other than our spotlights).
Laying on some rocks at the bottom of the flooded, partially-caved-in clearing was one of those old TVs that sit like a cabinet on the floor. At first, we thought it was some kind of chest or crate but when we put a spotlight on it and realized it was an old TV, it was definitely unsettling. The whole quarry had a creepy vibe to it but the TV was just really out of place. I guess some of the miners had it running off a generator or something back in the day. Creepy nonetheless.
39. Swept Away
Houston is crisscrossed with bayous because it has a swamp that needs to be drained a lot. There are these gigantic tunnels that lead to the bayous and collect water from the storm drains. When we were kids, these were great to explore. We’d make maps about how to get from one area to another using these tunnels.
Well, we set aside one Saturday to try to make it all the way to a mall a couple of miles away from the starting point. Our hand-drawn map was about halfway done. We got lost. And then, as it is want to do in Houston in the Summer, it started pouring down rain. This happened before but we were usually close to an exit. Not this time. It kept raining. The water got high enough that the current knocked us over. Eventually, we got spit out into a bayou from a tunnel we had never even explored.
After finally getting out of the bayou and getting back to safety, we realized we were almost a mile from where we started.
38. Sign To Go
One story that springs to mind was being in a storm drain in London. The storm drains are generally dry but there might be water elsewhere. The tunnels can stretch for miles at a time. We would always listen out for moving water and any changes in air pressure or temperature, just to know whether there was going to be any change in water level or something dumped into the tunnel further up the line. I was in this sewer and there was a massive gust of wind. No idea what caused it but the chap I was with looked at me and we both just said, “We’re leaving right now.” We stomped up the tunnel and made our way out into a dry night. Something in that change of air pressure and temperature told us something and I’m not sure what it was, but we both knew that leaving there and then was the right thing to do.
37. Warning Wake
A friend and I used to work at a university in a building that was large and located in a city. The street-level floor was actually labeled as the fourth floor. The floors below that had light from interior courtyards.
The elevators and stairs all stopped at 1, but there was clearly a level below that could be seen from one of the interior courtyards. One day, we slipped through the window into the basement. As we suspected, none of the equipment seemed to be in use anymore, but it was cool old stuff.
As we’re looking around, we find a stairway down. So, down we go to another floor that seems to hold supports for the giant machines above, plus some large storage areas for coal. As we’re looking around, we find what looks like a large toolshed standing in the middle of the floor. We don’t want to damage anything, but we’re intensely curious. So, we manage to very carefully pry away a nailed down board to see the top of a spiral staircase going down.
At this point, we’re five stories underground, and by design, nobody else knows that we’re here. So, we carry on. We slip through the hole in the wall and start to climb down a rickety, old, metal stairway. I’m in the back, but my friend in the lead immediately and calmly says, “Back up. Now.”
In the shed, he explains that the bottom of the stairs seems to be completely rusted away. There’s a hallway filled with water, and it’s not clear how deep the water in the hallway is—it could be a few inches or a few feet.
I wanted to take a look, so I went down the stairs. Sure enough, it’s as he describes, with two additional details:
An old “Bell System” hardhat floating upside down in the water below the staircase.
After a few seconds, a wake in the water was heading toward me.
At that point, it was “Up! Now!” The wake could have been a wave caused by us moving around, or something swimming in the water, but it wasn’t exactly a time when we wanted to discover the local wildlife.
16. Buried With The Dead
I crawled several storm drain pipes in Arlington national cemetery for my job.
I cannot disclose what pipe at what manhole so I will be vague.
Upon entry into the pipe, I saw an inlet at 12:00, long in the distance downstream that wasn’t on any of the maps I was provided.
I was lowered 25 feet deep and crawled 40 feet upstream until I found the vertical connection.
It was a standard 24″ service connection and terminated straight into a vault with no features at least 8′ in size on all walls. It was massive considering the native earth around it.
It was a big room of nothing underneath the resting places of many people.
So far as I know the pipe was lined and completed. That means that strange concrete box in the storm drain underneath the dead will have been sealed off for the future.
35. Marking The Tracks
The amount of shoes and pants you see on the tracks is astounding to me. Who is losing these articles of clothing on the train? There are enough shoes and pieces of clothing that I use them as personal survey markers to determine locations of flagging lamps—it’s by the single moccasin or leather boot, the pair of jeans or sparkly wallet on the ground or bench wall.
34. Students In The Dark
I used to hang out in the old service tunnels underneath my school. The creepiest thing was when I would run into other people in there. Only one other kid ever wanted to be there, and we had very different schedules. We were never expecting to see each other so if we heard someone else it would be a near heart attack inducing experience.
33. Nine Lives Weren’t Enough
There’s a hotel in my hometown that everyone breaks into. (It’s the most famous building in our town and our downtown is super run down.) Anyway, my two friends and I crawl through the basement from a side entrance and initially, all we see is spray paint graffiti, but as we make our way up some really steep steps, we see a bunch of dead animals that have been dragged around and left blood stains on the ground. We pretty much booked it out of there after that.
32. Going Down?
The underground experience happened one night as three or four of us were walking up the staircase out of the basement, which had solid walls on both sides. As we did, each person in turn, from the top down, got their shoulder bumped, as though a person were going down past us as we were going up.
31. Never On Time When You Need Them
We were putting new equipment trackside and on a Saturday morning, we were walking along the track measuring distances, etc. ready to do the install of equipment on Sunday and Monday.
As we were walking, we noticed a woman laid across the tracks with her head on one rail and her feet on the other. Of note is that the DLR has a 500v DC third rail, which, of course, was off due to the shutdown. Also, the trains are automatic and have no driver (most of the time)
We walked toward the woman, who had seen us but didn’t do anything. When we were close, we asked her what she was doing and told her she couldn’t be here (it’s illegal to trespass on the railway in the UK).
The turned her head and said, “I’ve had enough. The next train coming is going to end it for me.” I said, “Well, you’re going to have to wait until Tuesday, love. There are no trains this weekend.”
She got up and stormed off complaining about the bloody trains.
30. For The Smell?
I once saw a guy on my subway “clean” his shoes with a dead fish. He just rubbed a dead fish all over his shoes making them shine with goo. I don’t know what he was going for but he looked quite satisfied when he put them back on his feet.
29. Bad Place To Rest
One of my favorite passengers was the guy who fell asleep standing up, leaning forward against the doors. The train stopped, doors opened, and he just slowly feel forward like a tree falling in the woods. Never put his hands down… slap, right onto the platform. Turned over with a, “Hey, who woke me up and how did I get down here?” expression on his face.
28. Bearing The Cross
I was on the London underground—the Tube, if you will—and saw a guy in full Jesus robes, bare feet, a crown of thorns and a large wooden cross that he was balancing on his shoulder and dragging behind him. I’m guessing he was a pilgrim?
27. Cold Corner
I used to work on the LRT lines as night shift snow removal. Sometimes this would involve clearing some of the underground tunnels. We were always surrounded by homeless and addicts during our shift, so its completely normal to see some messed up stuff.
We were entering the tunnel with our backpack snow blowers, and as we approached, a guy with no shirt came running from around the corner. He made it out the tunnel before we got there, but we saw him run out. Must have heard our equipment. Likely using some illegal substances from the looks of him.
26. Failed Shelter
I’m playing in the woods and trip over something solid. It’s a cement circle, and I realize it is an underground door. The next day I come back with a crowbar (to open it). I pull it up, and it’s a Cold War-era personal bomb shelter… that failed? There is a giant crack in the roof; the floor is covered in slime. But what is worse is the walls are covered in writings: “This is the end.” “We must die.” “Everyone is gone.” On the back wall, there is a giant red scrawl: “GET OUT OF MY HOME.” That’s it, screw this. I’m out. I sprint up the door and close it. I don’t want to know what the heck that was. But I go back the next day… it’s burned out. I didn’t set a fire intentionally, and I didn’t smell smoke when leaving.
25. Coming Clean
There was a bathtub. An old-fashioned bathtub with feet on the bottom, with these three homeless-looking guys sitting in it. It looked like they were washing each other’s backs, and as we drove past, I could faintly hear, “Scrub a dub dub, three men in a tub.”
24. Subway And A Show
SO MANY TALENTED DANCERS/MUSICIANS that just casually hop on, do a show, and hop back off after collecting donations. I had three violinists and an opera singer a couple weeks ago, it was stunning.
23. Bottle Of Sprite… Or Spirit?
I once saw an old woman with a bottle of Sprite. The woman gives the bottle its own seat and then laughs maniacally for the next five stops. Then she gets up and screams at the Sprite bottle, telling it to “Stay here, don’t move.” Then turns around and stares back at the Sprite bottle until she gets off.
22. Saved For A Moment
A coworker told me after someone jumped in front of his train, he had to go out and inspect the accident. He went to the back of the train and saw the guy had been chopped in half at the waist. He was pale white and was staring straight at him with his eyes wide open. He was still breathing, but my friend told me he felt terrible because he would die as soon as they moved the train, as it was pinching all of his bits together. It was obviously an injury incompatible with human life.
21. I Was First…
There’s an abandoned and boarded up WWII fort in the southern part of Belgium, that we often sneak into with the scouts. Getting in there requires scaling a sheer wall (where we’ve placed anchoring points for ropes and climbing gear) next to a relatively busy road. So you’re being super quiet, making no light and cowering every time a car passes by so he doesn’t spot you in his lights.
So I’m in there, posted at a side passage to ensure everyone takes the same path and doesn’t get lost. I go in first, before any of the climbers arrive, so they don’t know there are friendly faces in there to help them. I’m in there for a while, just waiting for the first to come by when I see a dancing little light coming down the long hallway. I quietly settle back in my nook and wait for whoever was smart enough to hide some matches and take them away.
The light quietly bobs closer when I realize there aren’t any footsteps accompanying it. I poke my head around the corner just in time to see it disappear. I hear no footsteps still.
I settle back and wait some more when I realize I do hear some scuffling. Very faint. Breathing noises, but still very faint. I become aware of a wet heat coming from right in front of me, with a faint smell of… person, sweat, dirt? Suddenly I realize, there’s someone there. Right in front of me. Inches from my face.
The breathing stops suddenly, whatever it is, it’s aware of me as well. Whatever or whoever it is, we’re both holding our breath, both acutely aware of each other. It takes ages. I’m sitting there, unable to move, speak or breathe properly.
The wet heat passes and some minutes later I become aware of very faint light coming from my right side, which soon dissipates and leaves.
Sometime later still, I hear the familiar stomping of combat boots coming down the hallway from my left. I stop the person, tell them to keep following the passageway and take the first right they come to. Out of curiosity, I ask who went in first. No one, he went in first…
20. Strange Accessories
I was once on a Central Line train somewhere around Debden, and these two teenagers got on. One was wearing a tire around their neck, the other a decapitated babies doll head on the end of a necklace. They then just started talking like nothing was up. What’s weirder: I’m SURE I went to school with the one with the tire!
19. Sinister School Tunnels
Freshman year of high school, I noticed this large panel under an old staircase in the basement of a school building. For years, my buddies and I talked about opening it, but it was across the hall from the office of the lady in charge of misdemeanors and suspensions.
There was a system of tunnels down there but our exploration was limited since we were in good clothes and there was standing water down some of the tunnels. The unexplained part is that, while there were pipes where we went, there were tunnels without pipes that went out from the building’s footprint and not toward any other building. These tunnels had inches deep standing, nasty water so we couldn’t go in them in rented dress shoes. But we could make out that they connected to other tunnels which seemed to serve no purpose. I doubt there was anything sinister going on, but we thought it was pretty creepy at the time.
18. We Survived That, We Can Survive This
My grandpa got lost in Mammoth Cave after he got back from WWII. Apparently, before he was drafted, it was not a National Park and the rules around exploring it were very loose. The property it was on was privately-owned and locals were known to trespass to explore the cave. (Or that’s what my grandpa used to tell me; he and his friends very well may have been the only people trespassing…) While my Grandpa was serving in the Pacific Theater, the cave became a National Park. After arriving home, my grandpa and his friends that survived the war went back to explore for old time sakes. They were wandering around with flashlights when they heard a tour group, considering they weren’t in there “legally” and had bypassed many Federal trespassing signs, they cut the lights and slowly but surely tried to walk unnoticed back to the entrance. Unfortunately, they went deeper and ended up spending 17 hours in there before getting out. But he said one of his friends kept saying, “We didn’t survive war just to die in here.”
17. Unhealthy Curiosity
I currently attend a state university full time. I’m a senior living in private housing downtown, but sophomore year I lived in the university’s only downtown quad. It was built in the early 1920s and definitely looked like it compared to the uptown campus and housing quads. I was in the basement lounge area grabbing my mail when I noticed a nearby door that wasn’t usually open and a nearby maintenance worker. I casually asked the guy what was down there. He said, “Dunno, we just store our materials on the stairs.” My curiosity got the better of me and I asked him if I could take a look to see what was all the way at the bottom of the flight of stairs. He said, “I don’t see why not, just don’t get hurt on anything down there, and try to be back before my supervisor gets back in 15.”
This guy definitely should not have let me down there because he clearly hadn’t seen it. There was friable asbestos literally everywhere, particularly the decomposing ceiling tiles. I turned on my phone flashlight to find that it was some kind of sealed off research area. The stairs led to a hallway which looks like it may have been hospital-like at one time, but it had since experienced some heavy water damage. There were probably seven rooms on either side with one-way glass pane in each, with some kind of 90s intercom panel to the right. Inside each room were heavily rusted bed frames, a sink, and a toilet. All the way at the end of the hall were a series of file cabinets. I would have looked to see what they contained but figured it would only be a cloud of black mold spores, so I decided against it.
16. Hound On My Trail
A few months ago, I was working on a building on East Redwood Street putting lights in the tunnels. Well, one day on my lunch break, I decided to walk around them. So I’m walking for about 20 minutes when I thought I heard my Forman call me down one of the halls. I assume he went to look around as well, so I start to walk down the hall and it started to get deeper and colder.
I think about turning around because I don’t want to get lost when I hear it again, so I go a little deeper. Eventually, I hit a room about the size of a baseball court with probably 20′ high ceilings. The ground is all sticky and every step I take sounds like I’m undoing a heavy velcro strap, there are skulls from small animals laid out in a big triangle that points to a very large dog-like skeleton. At this point, I’m freezing and really scared. I start to smell a harsh burning smell and hear what sounded like a big dog running on concrete. I can hear it get louder and closer, louder and closer. I start running like I have never run in my life. Finally, after what felt like an hour of running at full sprint, I run into a staircase with a big heavy metal door at the end of it. I hear the noises now like they are right around the corner. So with all my might and adrenaline-fueled energy, I rip the door open and slam it behind me and then hear and feel a hard “thud” against the door.
15. The White Room
Recently, I was visiting New York City. I stayed in a fairly nice hotel, but it was also a pretty old building that was not built with the intention of it getting so much use. For example, there were only two tiny elevators available for guests (and the hotel was at least 15-20 floors). For some reason, there were 4-5 stairwells in the building, accessible from each floor and most wound up in different parts of the lobby. I remembered using one of them the day before, and I thought it was stairwell D, so I took it. After descending for a while, I passed level two. The next exit wasn’t marked, but I thought it had to be level one. I went through the exit door and found myself in an unfamiliar hallway with a very low ceiling (it could only have been about seven feet) and sparse lighting. It wasn’t eerie, but it definitely didn’t look like it was intended for guests. Still, a little curious, I decided to check it out and see if I could find the lobby.
I walked for a minute down a long hallway with a kind of dirty stone floor and some industrial double doors. There didn’t seem to be anyone around and it was pretty quiet. I rounded a corner and to my immediate right was this big window set into the wall. Through it was a clean white room that reminded me a little of my high school’s cafeteria (I remember thinking that, but I’m not sure exactly why). There was also a man, sitting and looking at his phone. He must have been about five feet away from me and only the window separated us. He saw me and looked a little startled. I waved and was about to ask where the lobby was but he quickly pointed for me to turn back. Neither of us ever said a word. It was just the weirdest experience being in such a silent, dirty place and then seeing a modern room with a person. I speed walked out and took the elevator.
14. Rat Playing Possum
I was walking along the track one evening doing an inspection. It was in a station, kinda crowded with lots of people watching me work because people are naturally nosey especially when someone is walking on the track that their train is coming on. So I’m walking along and I see a rat run across the track about 10 feet in front of me. I now know the rat is there, so I know to not be startled when I see it again in a minute. I keep walking and go to step over a pile of garbage, see the first rat out the corner of my eye plus a bonus dead rat in the garbage pile. As I’m stepping over the garbage, what I thought was the dead rat ran in between my feet and scared the poop out of me.
13. Listened To My Gut
I discovered a tunnel during an inspection at my old public school (one of the oldest in Canada) in the basement. The tunnel went on for at least 100 meters, and it very well may have gone on longer but I had this horrible vibe about being where I was, I couldn’t bring myself to walk further.
Finally turned back to where I came from and it was at least 75 meters away. I immediately booked it back. Never to return again.
12. Tapes In The Basement
I was walking around this abandoned factory at about eight p.m., just after dark. I look around for an hour or so, and aside from some old stuff, there’s really nothing out of the ordinary. Then I hear music start playing, something sort of blues-ey somewhere in the factory. I’m not easily scared, and I kind of wanted to figure out what sort of freak was listening to old records in an abandoned factory because that’s something I would do.
I track down the noise after about five to ten minutes and it’s in this room in the basement that has the doorway covered with a tarp. I go inside and the room is a huge contrast from the rest of the dingy, dull old factory. The walls are bright purple, and the room is warm like there was a space heater in it whereas the rest of the factory is freezing. There’s a cassette player on the floor playing a song and a bunch of papers taped to the walls that all say “She gotta run. She gotta run. She gotta run.” If I were to guess, there are at least 100 sheets that said the exact same phrase just plastered on the walls and lying on the floor. There is a chair that looks like it had been detached from a school desk in the corner and a statue of an animal that is really badly chipped and burned like someone was trying to destroy it. There is also a stack of VHS tapes that had the names of women on the sides (I only remember seeing “Jessica” on multiple but there were a few other names).
11. Inescapable Mariachi
In London, a full-sized Mariachi band on the Tube. Inescapable—on some Tube trains, you can’t walk to the next car.
10. From Creepy To Clean
We used to frequent old train tunnels in Sydney; it was quite startling to be walking through a pitch black tunnel, come around a bend, and see the light from the other side… with the figure of a person walking toward you. This used to happen pretty often as the homeless and substance users would take refuge in the tunnels to either get out of the elements or to take illegal substances. Funnily enough, some of the best tunnels were put back in to use for the 2000 Sydney Olympic tram services. Now they are all cleaned up and well lit.
9. Hello, We’re Your Underground Neighbors!
One type of place we used to explore a lot were underground canals and drainage tunnels. We got so good at mapping them out that we knew which tunnels to take to get us as close as possible to fast food outlets for lunch.
We found one weird tunnel one day—we were walking along and noticed an offshoot which made us drop to our knees and crawl, at the end of this tunnel there was what I could best describe as a small water reservoir. The water in it was only about an inch lower than the pipe we are in and had a newish looking ladder about five feet away on the left side of the pipe we were crouched in and a metal grate above it. We had to maneuver ourselves on an angle right on the lip of the pipe and jump and grab the ladder and climb out of the grate… we found out pretty quickly that the whole thing looked so new because we were now standing in someone’s backyard!
8. Warning Light
I went with my family to a used book store in Utah, like a real legit used bookstore with a vault for priceless manuscripts. Anyway, there were stairs down to a basement floor with more of the old nonfiction stuff and recordbooks and stuff like that. The creepy part was that half of the basement floor was unlit.
So my brother and I are snooping around the bottom floor, and we find an open door over on the unlit half of the floor. It’s just bright enough to see some empty shelves on the opposite wall through the door. We poke our heads in, and it is so dark we can’t see either end of the room; it looks like an endless hallway. Some distance away, we see a blinking red light, and we nope the heck out of there and dash back upstairs.
It was probably a security camera or fire alarm or something, but it was still scary because I get the feeling it only started blinking once we poked our heads in…
7. Childish And Dangerous
When I was 11, I moved from a small town (app. 15K) to a largish city (metro area 3+ million). We lived in an apartment complex near a major highway, and next to the highway was a large drainage area, like a small shallow concrete lake, and there were storm sewer tunnels all over the area. My friends and I explored them and to this day I could probably draw you a partially accurate map of those tunnels 33 years ago.
The scary part: My best friend and I had slowly dared each other to go farther down the tunnels without flashlights until we were comfortable traversing the entire system in near total darkness. One of our other friends wanted to go in the tunnels. We didn’t like him very much so we took him with us, and about halfway through one of the longest tunnels we turned off the flashlights and ran (or rather, scurried) away, leaving him crying in the dark for us to come help him. We didn’t, but eventually, he found his way out and I got in some trouble over that.
6. Hole In The Wall
The 7 train has a hidden stop between Manhattan and Queens that’s really just a hole in the wall. The train operator in front will make a full stop, open the front passenger door with a key, and construction workers with orange vests and hardhats will say thanks and board the train. They’re coming off the night shift.
5. Wearing Down
I find that the most surprising thing would be the dirtiness of the tunnels. No, not in the way you’re thinking, but a different type of dirty. In the middle of the long tunnels, especially going under rivers to different boroughs, there is a shocking lack of garbage around. It makes sense when you think about it, because there aren’t any people to litter that deep. As a result, we have close to no rats that far in. People assume the tunnels would be filled with them, but that’s not the case.
The real dirtiness comes as contractor debris, from their work sites, but largely in the form of steel dust. Running these huge multi-ton steel trains over the same rails day in and day out, tends to shave the tracks down and throws that dust everywhere. So when you see brownish residue covering anything near the tracks, it’s most likely this steel dust.
4. Sad, Unrecognizable Ending
A driver reported a sack of rubbish on the track. Like a black, plastic sack of rubbish. During engineering hours, they discharged the traction current and sent the cleaners down.
They started scraping it off the track, and noticed pretty quickly the rubbish bag had teeth, and hair… it was a body. It had been run over so, so many times that it had become unrecognizable. It was near a platform, so the driver hadn’t even noticed they had hit them and had just kept going. As had the next driver, and the next, and the next… for weeks.
When they finally got hold of the archives of the platform, they found an older gentleman had slipped down there late at night on a deserted platform, and had been lying on the track struggling to get up and had been hit. The body had been thrown a little way down the tunnel (just out of the sightline of passengers) and had lain there for weeks undiscovered.
3. Chambers Of Secrets
There are doors that lead to secret, forgotten tunnels that were used in wartime and just left. Some of the drivers say they run in between the war rooms and provided a getaway route for the most important people, some of them say they’re connected to the palace too, some of them even say that the secret service use them. I don’t know about that, but they are spooky looking.
2. Possession On The PATH?
In the financial district in Toronto, many of the buildings are connected by an underground system of tunnels called the PATH that have businesses that cater to professionals (nice clothing stores, food courts, barbers and salons, dry cleaners, etc.). One morning I saw a woman walking around in business attire (button-up blouse, dress pants and heels) that had a huge cross either tattooed or branded into her forehead. It sort of looked like this except it was only on her forehead, and didn’t extend onto her nose.
She just… stuck out a lot in a place that’s usually full of bankers and lawyers.
1. Like Small Ships In The Dark
I work for the company who fits and sells the advertising on the London Underground; you would be surprised at what I see on a nightly basis. Homeless sleeping on tracks, hiding in toilets, rats the size of small ships, but most of all is the noises. I’m not sure if it’s the shape of the tunnels which make noises sound different but sometimes we hear screaming, like high pitch screaming echo down through! Sends chills down my spine every time.