People Share Stories of Discovering Passageways And Rooms That They Had No Idea Were There.
14/18 I janitored at a church with really nice bathrooms. They had the trash cans that are built into the wall. Recessed, I guess, where you just push the little, swinging-from-top-hinges, stainless steel door open, and you drop your paper towel inside. The base of it was actually a large door that held the trash can, so as the janitor, you just pop open the big door, remove the can, take out and replace the bag, and then close it all back up.
Late one night, when the big door once got stuck, I had to remove the entire apparatus. You just pop out the screws around the perimeter, and the whole thing slides out of the wall in one piece, about two feet wide, four feet high, and a foot deep.
Upon pulling it out, I realize that in the space where the apparatus just was, there’s a lot of space going upward on the other side of the drywall. I peek my head inside and realize there’s a small tunnel going straight up. It was just a little wider than a person, made of sort of a silver flashing that reminds me for some reason of air ducts, though I’m fairly positive it wasn’t part of the ventilation system. Really, what it made me think of most was the laundry chute at home we played in as kids.
I figured out that it would be easy to shimmy up. It was narrow enough that by extending my arms slightly, I would stay wedged in place, but wide enough that if I pulled my arms back against my body, I’d start sliding back down, so no worries of falling out too quickly, or worse, getting stuck. I went up a few feet, then stopped because I couldn’t see. The further up, the darker it became, and my body was blocking most of the light from the entry point below. Afraid of spiders, I decided to grab a flashlight, and then I started back up again.
I inched my way upward about ten feet, at which point the chute opened on one side into a narrow walkway. It was basically the space between the wall of the sanctuary on one side and the wall of the foyer on the other. It had a simple floor made out of particle board, which I took to mean I could probably walk on it without falling through.
The pathway went about 50 feet, then turned left. I figured I must be somewhere behind the back wall of the sanctuary — that is, the back of the stage, the wall everyone can see while seated. It occurred to me that the baptism pool must be just about right underneath me, which was a little unsettling, but the floor seemed solid enough. I kept going.
The hallway ended at something really weird that I couldn’t identify. It was on the left-hand side of the wall, taller than I was, circular within a larger square frame. It had a huge, conical metal thing coming out of the back. There were some wires coming out of it, and as best I could figure, I guessed like it was a giant speaker of some sort. This made no sense to me, because the sanctuary had a cluster of smaller speakers that hung from the ceiling.
And while I stood there trying to figure it out, there came the most earth-shattering noise I have ever heard in my life. Felt, really, because the whole floor shook, and my hand that was touching the metal apparatus vibrated horribly. The sound was a massive, deep, rumbly blast that I could feel in my gut, the way you feel when someone blasts one of those huge subwoofers in the trunk of their car. I thought the world was ending, followed almost immediately by the thought that maybe I was being electrocuted. I covered my ears, but it was still deafening.
And then the sound began to change. It took a good ten seconds or so for me to realize it was music. Organ music. I had wandered my way directly behind the massive speaker connected to the church organ — which, it turns out, is how non-pipe organs work. The organist was a nice old lady who often came in the late evenings to practice, and she arrived while I was shimmying my way up the chute. Most nights, I enjoyed hearing her play while I worked, but let me tell you, having an organ go off while you’re standing directly behind the speaker is a hell of a thing.
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