Nopeming Sanatorium

Barely able to keep my eyes open, I barreled down the freeway toward Duluth.

“You all good, Austin? Do you need someone else to drive?” my girlfriend said.

“I’m good. Didn’t get much sleep last night. This place is going to be freaky as hell. Don’t even know why I’m here.” I said half asleep.

“Don’t worry Austin. Ghosts aren’t real.” She said.

For those who don’t know me well, I watch a lot of horror movies and the fact that I was about to go to one of the most notoriously haunted buildings in Duluth to help make a movie for her brother, freaked me the fuck out. Finally, we arrived at our last turn; a dirt road that seemed to lead to nowhere. Reality seemed to melt away and the setting of a horror movie began to play itself out. Demonic looking trees hung across the path in an attempt to warn us to turn back. I looked to my right and saw a dreary building with a smoke stack crowning its peak. “What is that?” I asked with fear in my heart.

“Okay don’t freak out. That’s where they burned their dead bodies.”

Trying to act like a tough guy, I held back my intuition to say, “AH HELL NAW,” and turn the truck around; I just nodded and kept driving. Minutes later, we arrived at the large brick building. As the car came to a halt, we got out and began to walk toward the building. Before we got to the door, a mass of black material fell to the ground from the roof five stories up. I cranked my head back to see where it came from. Startled, I saw an older man staring back at me. His body was skeletal, his jaw line was defined, and his eyes seemed to sink back into his eye sockets. “Who’s that?” I asked pointing up at the figure.

“Oh that’s the caretaker. He lives here.” She said. I thought to myself, “Who in their right mind would live in a haunted asylum?” We took a collective breath and entered the building. Callahan and Sam led us as we climbed up the staircase and went straight to the fourth floor. The condition of the building was worse than I expected. Paint was peeling off of the walls. Ceilings had fallen. Rainwater from the roof trickled down into the building. The floorboards squished under my feet and seemed as if they would collapse beneath me with every step. Light fixtures clung to the ceiling, only held up by their wires. The only thing left intact were the eerie remnants of bathtubs, bathrooms, and cabinets that were once used by its mentally insane inhabitants.

A few of us decided to take a look around the other floors of the building. We walked down a dark stairwell until we got to the third floor. Shivers ran down my spine and into my toes. The temperature had dropped considerably. Because of all the ghost hunter shows I watch, I instantly felt as if there was an unwanted presence in our midst. Now I know that might seem like a stretch, but there were no windows open and it was 75 degrees outside to begin with. We kept walking further down the dismal halls of floor three. Suddenly I heard something bone chilling. I heard three distinct knocks at the door hanging open next to me. I stared toward the direction of which the knocks came from. I thought to myself, “That couldn’t have been what I thought it was. Maybe the building is just settling. Or maybe it was a rat. This place is nasty as hell. I’ll ask everyone else if they heard it.” Suddenly, the door slammed shut. The slam echoed down the dark hall, sounding as if every door within the building slammed. “Alright. We gotta get out of here.” I said with fearfully. Tripping on our own feet and pushing each other, we sprinted back up the steps and told the rest of the group of what had occurred. One of my friends looked at me in disbelief, “You’re crazy. Ghosts aren’t real. It was probably just the wind pulling the door shut.” I tried to tell him that all of the windows were locked, but he still laughed in my face.

Later on in the day, the whole group decided to go into the basement. Rumor had it that the morgue was hidden deep within its bowels. At this point, my fear turned into intrigue and I agreed to go down with the group (not that I had much of a choice). We walked around the building until we fell upon the stairwell leading to the basement. I looked down the stairwell and saw nothing but a dark abyss. Hesitantly, we took our flashlights and pushed forward. Suddenly, I got the same feeling as I had on the third floor. It was freezing and I felt as if eyes were watching me from all angles. A shiver ran down my spine as I thought about what may be lurking near.

After walking further and further into the pitch black, we came upon a large steel door. One of the members of my group slowly opened the door. The door creaked and cracked. It obviously had not been opened in years. We leaned on the door until it fully opened, pointed our flashlights, and stepped into the room. “This must be the morgue.” Someone said in an excited voice. Luckily, it was completely empty. We took some videos and left as quick as we came. From the morgue, I heard Callahan call me. “Austin, look at this.” He pointed his flashlight down toward his feet. Startled, I looked down at a dried up red substance that resembled blood. I didn’t stay long enough to find out. I ran back to catch up with the rest of the group.

Finally, we were back upstairs. I was relieved to be out of that basement. I was warm again. “Wait. Who are we missing?” Someone asked. Two members of our group had been left downstairs. My friend and I agreed to go get them. Screaming, “Black guys to the rescue,” Josh and I ran down the steps with our fingers shaped like guns. Through the silence, we ran through the dark. For several minutes we ran, peeking around corners, rolling across the ground, and quoting lines from action movies. Josh checked the morgue, no sign of the missing duo. A familiar sound suddenly broke the silence. Knock. Knock. Knock. “Did you hear that?” I asked. To my relief, he heard it too. The sound came from the dark tunnel to our right. Despite how badly I wanted to go back upstairs, I reluctantly tiptoed down the tunnel. Then I heard the sound again. This time it was right next to us. “Callahan? Sam?” I asked in a concerned tone. I turned toward the source of the sound and pointed my flashlight. The light revealed a human-like silhouette that ran toward us screaming in a demonic tone. “N-Nigga, we out!” I stuttered. We jumped back and sprinted back through the darkness and up the steps. “What happened??” Questioned the rest of the group. I tried to tell them what happened, but my heart rate got the best of me. Then I realized what the specter was. Callahan and Sam came up the steps laughing. “You guys suck.” I reprimanded.

After my heart attack caused by Callahan and Sam in the basement, the sky shifted to a dark hue. The group decided to go outside and explore. Grabbing our flashlights, we walked down the steps to the front door. We wandered down the gravel driveway of the building and onto a dirt path leading through the trees. If I had known where we were going, I would have turned back to the ghost inhabited building. After a couple more minutes of walking, we reached our destination: The crematorium. The tempo of my heart matched that of a jackhammer and I couldn’t seem to get enough air. My heart dropped in my chest and my lungs began to quiver. The doors to the crematorium were all boarded shut and padlocked. Signs posted all around the building read, “No trespassing.” Luckily, the group heeded the warning and turned back to the building. Except Callahan and Sam, that is. I decided to follow the rest of the group. In the distance, I heard Callahan yell for me. “Austin, don’t be a pussy. Come with us.” I stopped in my footsteps. “Keep walking, Austin. This is a terrible idea.” I tried to convince myself. But my curiosity got the best of me. I turned around and followed the two around the building.

We tried to climb through windows and even tried to remove the boards and padlocks from the doors. Finally, we found a door that had not been nailed shut. “Think it’s unlocked?” Sam asked. He reached for the handle, shook the handle vigorously, and with a shove popped the door open. Rust from the hinges floated to the ground and crunched under our feet as we stepped into the moist, musty building. Suddenly, I felt it. The air was even colder than that of the basement or third floor. Despite my best intuition, we pushed further into the crematorium. Our flashlights revealed another door across the room. Callahan ran over and reached for the handle.

He wiggled the handle and pushed open the door. The door creaked as it swung open and clanked as it hit the railing behind it. Without regrets, he ran down the steps into the dark underbelly of the crematorium. Sam and I followed him down the steps. We shined our flashlights all around the room. The air was moist and warm. After my foot hit the last step, I felt a mushy substance squish underneath my foot. I looked down and realized that the ground completely consisted of mud and God knows what else. “Hey guys. Come over here and look at this!” Callahan said from somewhere in the darkness. We ran over to him. When we found him, he was pointing his flashlight at a series of large oven-like structures with his mouth agape. Then it hit me. It’s the body ovens. I quickly whipped out my phone and began to record the eerie scene. Sam stuck his head into one of the ovens saying, “Look in here guys.” We looked and realized that there were still remnants of what seemed to be ashes. “Okay we need to get the fuck out of here.” Said Callahan. I saved the videos on my phone and we sprinted back up the steps and out of the forbidden place.

After driving back home from Duluth, I pulled my phone out to show my parents the video from the asylum. I showed them video of how destroyed the 4th floor was, video of Ben recording, and video of us pulling up to the building. To my utter surprise, all of the video from the 3rd floor and the crematorium were nowhere to be found. I will never return to this place. The ghosts have secrets there and they obviously want to keep it that way.