Monday, 20 June 2016

Exploring dark places...

It was dusk as our car inconspicuously made it’s way down the long winding road that leads to what was once a workplace for thousands of people, an important part of a local community that now lies in ruin, vulnerable to youths with a penchant for lighting fires and a brick walled haven for artists with cans upon cans of spray paint.

Despite tall perimeter fences and countless warnings of security, there was a lone fire exit that been left un-secured: an open invitation for us to explore.

Inside we were greeted by endless winding corridors with melancholy Christmas decorations still hanging on the walls and desks showcasing personal belongings and photos that had long been forgotten by their owners. The staff restaurant’s once welcoming aroma of food had been replaced with damp and the only sounds to be heard were those of the wind howling and the trees outside blowing agressively against the windows.

The building has an apocalyptic feel that sends shivers down your spine as you step over documents that were once filed neatly but now lay water damaged on the ground, and walk past board rooms with paperwork, coffee cups and crockery still set on the table perpetually waiting for the attendees to return and continue their meeting.

With a clock ticking for it’s impending demolition, the days are numbered before fifty years of history is reduced to a pile of crumbled bricks and dust.

As the beam of our flashlight leads the way with only the sound of broken glass crunching beneath our feet to break the silence I had a feeling that we weren't alone. In one damp corner lay a pillow, blanket and a small pile of litter consisting of Nutri Grain bars and empty juice bottles. Had someone been sleeping here? Were they still here? I couldn't help but wonder what their story was.

Manoeuvring our way through corridors that would be in complete darkness if it wasn’t for our sole flashlight made our senses susceptible to even the quietest of noises. As the wind blew wildly through metal vents our minds raced and our heartbeats quickened, converting shadows into haunting figures and raindrops into footsteps that did not belong to us.

Our senses heightened as we got deeper into the building and each turn of a corner was met with a sigh of relief that we were still alone, our only encounter being with a bird frantically flapping it's wings in an attempt to clumsily find it's way back out through a collapsed roof.

Soon the maze of corridors and crooked stairwells brought us back to familiar surroundings, a beam of light from one of the few remaining street lamps spilled through the fire exit and our car - still un-noticed - sat outside waiting. As we drove home, covered in dust and cobwebs, I tried to imagine the building full of workers instead of the solitude in which we found it.

Soon this building will be replaced with something else, but the memories of those who worked here will live on.


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