What Do I Do When I’m Not Exploring?

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Well to be honest, although the opportunity to explore only presents itself every few months, my mind spends most of its time inside an abandonment somewhere. It’s a darkened wasteland of deserted corridors, twisting and turning in a confusing maze with slithering shadows and eerie sounds which resonate through the walls. It’s a cold and frightening place and the setting for the novel which I am currently working on. Writing within the Horror Genre suits me well and I have to admit, my never-ending supply of visual prompts have caused more than one or two sleepless nights as I work my way through. I just wanted to take the time to say hello to you all and thank you for supporting the blog. I’m happy to know that you love my stories, and I’m excited at the thought that one day I will have something more to offer you.

Thank you once again for all your support,

~ Olivia

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Beyond The Corridors

This article appeared in Issue 1 of UEmagazine
© ~ Olivia Wolfe 2012

The Long Walk

Beyond the intrigue of the corridors and empty rooms lie another aspect to your explore. The very buildings and ground you sneak around in hold a story filled with history from an era long since passed and most are accompanied by a darker, more sinister side to the tale with mysterious urban legands which have formed throughout time. Both lie in eternal wait for those inclined to listen.

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Built in 1934, this collective group of 23 buildings were constructed in the Colonial Revival Style, offering beautiful woodwork detailing both the columned porches with their elaborate doors and the sunrooms extending the length of the buildings for a relaxed experience reminiscent of the period during the Revolutionary War. Resting on 216 acres, the now crumbling bricks and dilapidated buildings were introduced as a Tuberculosis Sanatorium and although nearly all remnants of furnishings and equipment have been stricken from the premises, one can easily slip back in time imagining the halls alive with the daily hustle and bustle of the nurses in their starch white uniforms as they made their way through the patients and orderlies who occupied these once active vestibules and work stations.

Nuses' Station

With Tuberculosis being a highly contagious disease which few were fortunate enough to recover from, the men and women who cared for the infected were kept away from society as well, residing in Nurses and Doctors cottages which are scattered throughout the grounds, returning to work every day in one of two monstrous hospitals seperating the children from the adults. Although these buildings sit almost 100 yards apart, they all remained accessible through a spiderweb of underground tunnels invisible to those topside. These tunnels were used for many things including maintanance, storage, fallout shelters and the transfer of patients. It is this last use that has stirred one of many urban legands surrounding this location.

Home Sweet Home

It’s said that the dead were transferred underground so as not to upset the residents with the sight of death passing them in the halls and with this knowledge a trip through the pitch black tunnel system warrants an occassional look back over your shoulder as you try to cast off the chill brought on by a cool breeze and dismissing the echoes from behind becomes impossible as you move just a little quicker to get to the other end where it feels safe to enter the light once again. But if you’ve done your research, your brightly lit safe haven of medical stations and isolation rooms dissolves into another feeling of tension as more to the legand surfaces in your mind. The clouded history on the care of the residents has allowed suspicion to form in just what went on behind closed doors. Rumors can be heard pertaining to the mistreatment of the facility’s patients and even go as far to speculate on the validity of the claims at medical staff performing human experiments on those vulnerable to their hidden agendas.

Echoes

Years later when it sought to make renovations on the aging buildings, the hospital was sited for countless fire hazards and the presence of asbestos which forced the doors closed in 1981. The legand goes on to state that near the end of its days of operation, the hospital was used to house the criminally insane. With no family and nowhere else to go, it is said that the patients were simply released from the grounds when the hospital locked its doors, and that the insane made their way back inside the eerie walls to live out their days in abandoned solitude, hiding in the shadows and wandering the decay. Are these stories true accounts, or are they just…stories? That’s for you to decide. So the next time you’re feeling adventurous and find yourself on the outskirts of any abandonment, remember that there’s more to a place than just its sweeping views and deteriorating passageways. These places are saturted with history, both real and conjured up and the other side to the physical explore is when one takes the time to explore its past.

Behind The Lens

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Just who are the people behind the photographs you see of Beautiful Decay? Shrouded in mystery, many think we must have extraordinary attributes to be doing what we do but when we remove our masks, set aside our backpacks and put down our cameras, we are just everyday people brought together by the common bond of curiosity and the drive to explore the unseen places around us. A lot of people tend to get the wrong idea of who we are, thinking that because we find ourselves in the very places society tells us we shouldn’t be, that we are problematic and reckless in our adventures. Instantly, we are put in the catagory of delinquents and are often looked down upon. But this is not so and if you were to spend just a few moments’ time with us you would see we are just like you.

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Photo credit ~ Rodney Desolatestates Fotography

Coming from all walks of life, we are Office Managers, Nurses and Fulltime Moms. We are both young and seasoned in our years, working among you as bartenders, receptionists and railway operators. The only difference is that we choose to spend our down time a bit differently than most. Instead of camping, hiking, gardening or fishing, we choose to lose ourselves in the abandoned side of life. Rather than a day on the hot sandy beaches, we prefer to crawl through dirt and grime and will forgo the time spent in a dark crowded movie theater for the chance to scale fences and precarious staircases. But why do we do this? There are many different reasons.

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Photo Credit ~ Peter Arnemann

For some, it’s about the photographic oppotunities which lie behind locked doors and capturing them before the location is reduced to a pile of rubble. For others it’s the fascination for what used to be and the history which draws us in. But what all of us carry is a deep rooted stint of curiosity and the insatiable need to explore uncharted territory. Whether we were introduced to exploring through the coaxing of a friend or had a fascination with the sight of crumbling buildings since we were children, we do what we do out of the need to discover, bringing us to the disremembered resorts, dissolving factories and disregarded chapels which dot our skylines.

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Photo Credit ~ Cecily McGuckin

A day spent Climbing the machinery of industrial sites, walking among the medical equipment of asylums or in the midst of faded chalk boards and forgotten books of deserted schools is where we are content. Are we wrong for what we do? Does our chosen past time make us peculiar? No, it just makes us who we are. Through my travels I have had the pleasure of meeting so many amazing people and I look forward to meeting many more as I continue on my ventures, for never will you meet a better band of people than you will find among the explorers of the world. Carry on, my friends, and stay safe as we gear up and head into the realm of the unknown. Never stop exploring.

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Photo Credit ~ Joe Cozzi

Only The Darkness Remains

A single light bulb flickered dismally as it swung slowly above Mary’s head, causing the shadows to slither across the walls of the cold, windowless room. She stared silently behind paralyzed eyes, her hospital gown crumpled after her first night’s stay in her cell and her matted hair clinging to the dirty skin of her face. But she made no move to wipe it from her view. There was no point in moving, in struggling. She had been restrained since she arrived, first to her bed throughout the night and now here, to the hard wooden arms of the chair as she sat forcibly facing the frigid doctor across from her. Sitting straight in his crisp white medical jacket, he said nothing as he wrote intently in his notes. Mary watched the pen fly furiously across the paper until, finally, he set it down and pushed the thin wire glasses up on his face and raised his eyes to hers.

The session had begun an hour ago and he cast an irritated look across the table. The only sound between them was that of the recorder as the ribbon twisted through its gears in an attempt to capture the accounts of the night before. As it reached the end of the reel, he snapped the Stop button and hit Rewind. The ribbon squeeled in protest as it was forced back to its starting point before he pushed Record again. “I need you to tell me what happened in that basement.” But his intimidating glare did nothing to move Mary. What had taken place in the darkness was far worse than anything he could unleash. She said nothing. They wouldn’t believe her anyway. No one did. That’s why she had been brought to this miserable place, because she was crazy. But she wasn’t. She hadn’t made anything up. She had not self mutiliated herself as they were all claiming.

They never should have moved into that house. Something had been waiting for them. It began with the voice, coming in the middle of the night, waking her with its soft calming whisper. Alone in the darkness she was first afraid at what was with her in her room but the soothing tone enticed her out from under the warmth of her blankets to “Come and see.” Stopping at the threshold of her room, she peered toward the dimly lit staircase at the end of the hall. Using her hand along the wall to guide her, she followed the whisper as it led her down the stairs, through the living room and into the kitchen. It was here that she had stopped, her bare feet tingling as she stood on the cold linoleum in front of the basement door. The sweet voice beckoned from the other side, “Come and see.” But when she couldn’t move,  her resistance provoked the presence and the door resounded against an ear shattering blow as it shook within its frame. She staggered back in horror as the voice now hissed. Stumbling in the dark, she backed out of the kitchen and ran for her room.

Each night the whispers came, and each night she hid under her covers in hopes that they would go away. She had gone to her parents but was scolded for making up such horrible stories. She had pleaded for them to listen, but they refused, telling her she was never to talk about such nonsense again. She did as she was told, and to her surprise, the whispers stopped. Weeks passed without incident when her parents chose to let her stay home while they went out. Standing in the front hall, her father gave a last look back over his shoulder, reminding her with a stern look. There was to be no problems. She locked the door and watched them pull from the drive. In the sudden realization that she was alone, her eyes couldn’t help but wander to the kitchen and the basement door which stood just inside.

Wanting a distraction, she settled in on the couch to watch TV. Then within the background noise she heard it. That soft familiar whisper. Barely audible, she lowered the volume for a better listen. But there was nothing. Convinced she was just scaring herself, she turned it up just a bit louder than before and pushed the thought from her mind. Again, more whispering. Soft at first, but as she ignored it, it grew in competion with the chatter on TV until, finally, she clicked the console off in frustration. As the characters disappeared, so did the whispers and she sat in silence, afraid to move. Her eyes wandered back to the kitchen and within the shadows, she heard the lock on the basement door disengage and the slow creaking sound of the hinges filled the kitchen. She couldn’t take her eyes off the darkness. Surely she had to be hearing things. The basement door was closed. Wasn’t it?

Forcing herself up from the couch she took slow and steady steps to the doorway of the kitchen. Standing still for just a moment, she brought up a shaky hand and eased it into the blackened room, feeling frantically along the wall for the light. Relieved to find it, she flipped the switch and trepidation consumed her as the kitchen exploded with light. The basement door stood open. She held her breath in anticipation of what would be coming up the stairs, but nothing happened. The whispering had stopped. She waited endlessly for another sign but she did not get one. She knew what she had to do. She had to close it. Inching across the kitchen, her muscles tightened in resistance to the task. Each step closer made it harder to breathe. Now standing within reach of the doorknob, her hand trembled as she reached out to grab it, quickly slamming the door back into its frame.

She only felt slightly better with it closed, but she couldn’t walk away. As she stood frozen, the door exploded with the sound of splintering wood and, though she tried to turn and run, she could not escape. She was thrown to the ground and immediately began crawling away, but it was too late. In one swift movement, the entity had her hair entangled in its invisible grip and she could feel herself being dragged backwards. Toward the voice. Toward the darkenss. She tried desperately to grab on to anything, digging her nails frantically in to the floor until they fractured under the pressure of her grasp. As she reached the stairs, in the split second before darkness took over, she fought for a glimpse at what she was about to face. But she saw nothing. Screaming vehemently, she was wrenched into the abyss and the door swung fiercly closed behind her. She was gone.

“Mary.” The doctor’s voice jarred her back to the present. To the restraints. Still, she said nothing. Instead, a formidable smile slowly crossed her face and an unsettling laugh escaped her lips as she peered at him through cold spiritless eyes. Why must he insist on calling her that? The darkness had come up from the depths of the basement. It had conquered. It was in control. Mary wasn’t here anymore.

© Olivia Wolfe ~ 2012

The Honeymoon’s Over~

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAI watched as the early morning sun made its way through the thick trees of the mountainside surrounding the resort. The vibrant colors of fall did their best to bring some essense of life back to the faded landscape as I took in the sights before me. Nestled at the base of this beautiful mountain sat the remnants of a lovers’ paradise, its brilliant buildings now fallen into disrepair, the windows standing solemnly as they waited for the next round of guests that would never come. Bordering a busy road made for extremely easy access so I waited for a break in the cars and fell into a light jog across the street and hid within the shadows of the front building. Once I was certain I could not been seen from the road I settled into my surroundings. To my left stood a row of tri-level condos and some bungalos following a winding path to the base of the resort’s waterfall. To my right stood two hotel style buildings and what looked like a few houses in the woods beyond. Curiousity got the best of me and I went right, staying out of sight as I made my way toward the woods. I stopped under the safety of the metal staircase connecting the hotel buildings and looked around. I knew their rooms would be one in the same so I continued on toward the little houses. Stepping into the woods with its thinning foilage, the mountainside came into view and what I saw caught my breath. They weren’t houses at all, but rather inividual chalets offering guests a more private retreat in this majestic spot on the mountain. I was looking at not one or two of these dwellings but a small village of almost thirty of them scattered throughout the woods before me.

Light the WayI glimpsed a portion of paved road hidden beneath the fallen pine needles, raised and broken as if crying out for one last show of patronage so I followed its path until I decided which chalet I would visit first. A faded sidewalk veered off from the road, winding up to a small set of tattered stairs and the saddened doorway just beyond. A wooden heart, faded and warped with time, hung lopsided under an aged Welcome sign. Stepping lightly on the fractured wood I slowly twisted the door handle and pushed the door inward, watching in awe as the sreeching hinges brought it to the wall, offering me an inculpable view of the room within. With the exception of a few years of dust and the dirt that made its way in, it stood in perfect order with the living room offering a wrap around sofa and two end tables which held untouched lamps and even a phone resting on top of a phone book. A slight push of the phone revealed the year on the cover below and the discovery that the resort had closed its doors only a few short years before. Even the TV remained and I walked over to it to marvel at its aged appearance. Not in the way of being abandoned, but how it seemed out of date for the time that the resort closed. In fact, all the decor seemed to belong to a time long since passed. Being within these walls the decades slipped away and I found myself in the era marking shag carpets and psychedelic wall paper.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAI was beginning to understand why the resort had shut down. In today’s world of flat screens and cell phones, the dated decor with its console TVs and rotary phones was lost on the newlyweds and seasoned lovers seeking a quiet reprieve away from the world. Even the beautiful view framed within the windows before me was no longer enough to draw them in. As I stood paused behind the unwashed glass something caught my eye as I looked down on the center of the resort from my elevated spot on the mountainside. I could see enough of the outdoor pool to realize it carried a unique shape, but being far enough away my full view was obstructed by the buildings below. Curiosity claimed my next destination for exploration and I quickly made my way back to the entrance of the chalet. I scanned the untouched quarters one more time and closed the door on this facsinating time capsule before starting back down the mountain. I kept my attention on the pool as I descended, but reaching ground level brought disappointment as I took the path back through the hotel-style buildings and stood at the pool’s edge. Losing my bird’s-eye view made it difficult to make out what the unusual shape was and I stood pondering for a moment as a crisp breeze swept through the grounds. It brought movement behind me and I turned to follow the source of noise it created with my eyes as it brought me to the top floor balconies.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAThe sliding glass door on one of the rooms stood open and the blinds were rippling wildly in the wind. A smile crossed my face as my dilemma disolved and I headed back to path between buildings, taking the staircase to the top floor. I set to work looking for the room which held access to my view, Opening the doors to find each room in a suspended state of emaculate decor as if the next round of occupants would be arriving with their suitcases at any moment. Finally I was rewarded for my efforts and I closed the door behind me and stepped out onto the balcony, instantly looking down. I watched as the pool took the shape of a wedding bell and I pictured happy couples relaxing poolside in the sun as their lives together begun and all was right with the world. Young love, new and fresh. But it had left this place, taking with it its breath of life as the  clear water turned dark, weeds overtook the grounds and buildings lost their luster.  Another breeze made its way in, this time kicking up into a reasonable gust as it brought with it a thick blanket of intimidating clouds and I watched as the trees began to dance in reaction to the approaching storm. As much as I was not ready to end this explore, I knew it was time to go before the rain arrived so I secured my camera in my bag, pulled my hat down over my ears and worked my way back to the road. Standing at the threshold between ordinary life and that of the abandoned I looked back one final time at the remarkable gem I had found, knowing it wouldn’t be long before I ventured back into its tarnished but beautiful setting.

© Olivia Wolfe~2012

School’s Out

The buses have stopped running, chalkboards have been wiped clean, books and supplies rest silently in the darkened closets. The lights have been turned out in our schools as they have unleashed our children on the world for summer break. Late nights and early mornings lead to lazy days filled with hours of play, the job of entertaining and the need to referee as siblings get bored and take up their favorite past time of aggravating and instigating.

The invading army of my sweet babies take over every aspect of my days as they descend on my once quiet space and Mommy Duty kicks in to full swing. I may be an explorer, content to crawl around in forgotten places and walk the abandoned halls of long lost locations as my creative mind works together with what I am seeing to form the stories I love to share, but Mommy pulls rank and the Summer months prove to be a difficult time to continue what I love.  My camera is forgotten in trade of the fort building expedition I’ve been called to, my boots are only brought out when someone’s frisbee has gotten caught in a mud pit and the use of my pens are used for making Tic Tac To boards and keeping score on the moment’s favorite board game.

I welcome any rare chance spent exploring or in front of my keyboard writing, but until the School Bell rings on the first day of school, until bed times return to normal and alarms bring early mornings and the squealing of the bus brakes, any glimpses into the world of exploring will be sparse as I fully enjoy my ride through Parenthood. Though they may be able to slow me down I will never stop writing, so whether I’m wiping up ice cream faces, making Play-Do animals or cleaning the marker off the window no one wants to confess to, I’ll be happy to write at a slower pace than none at all. Happy Summer 🙂

© Olivia Wolfe~2012