Lang Hall doesn’t have a 5th floor.
Yet the whole evening, as my roommate and I lugged our stuff across the icy campus sidewalks, I’d been certain that Lang had five floors.
My roommate and I were moving to the 4th floor. The top floor of Lang was haunted. The “top” floor of Lang, my brain must’ve said, therefore had to be… the 5th floor.
Why were we moving in winter?
Our third year at Baldwin-Wallace College, we’d landed a room in the sexiest, newest campus building. But our neighbors—a behemoth lady-Biff and her long-armed flunkey—were 1980’s-style bullies. My roommate and I? We were non-confrontational, anime-loving bookworms. If there’d been lockers, those two would’ve shoved us into one.
So my roommate and I pulled some strings, and Residence Life gave us the only room open on campus: room 415 in Lang Hall. Thus my roommate and I moved to Lang… to the 4th floor… on a dark, snowy evening. And when I voiced relief about how we were moving to the 4th floor, not the haunted “top” floor, my roommate deftly grabbed another box and changed the subject.
I didn’t realize that the top, haunted floor of Lang was also the 4th floor, our floor, until it was too late.
We were moved in. There was no elevator, so we sure as shit weren’t moving again.
And the room was gorgeous.
Lang Hall was built in 1928 (hence the lack of an elevator). It felt like living in a preppy Hogwarts dorm. Our ceiling arched at an angle, giving our room the feel of an old mansion’s mysterious, spacious attic. My roommate (still my best friend today) promised she wouldn’t let any ghosts get me, and that was that. For a year, we lived on the haunted (4th) floor.
Among the many Baldwin-Wallace ghosts, Emma Lang is maybe the most clearly identified. She was the dorm’s first house mother and the reason for Lang Hall’s name. And she didn’t like boys on her turf after hours.
While my roommate and I lived in Lang Hall (2009/2010, I think it was), it was still a girls-only hall, as it had always been. Stories drifted to us: Some guy lingering into the evening claimed an invisible force had shoved him off the bed he was sitting on. Several boys had “felt uneasy” staying past sundown. At night, girls had heard keys jingling in the empty hallway. A few had seen Emma Lang herself sitting in the lobby, but thought little of the pale woman until they saw her portrait above the mantle.
As for me, I’ve got an ambitious imagination, and my roommate (along with most other local girls) went home on weekends. I confess that late on some Friday nights, when the dorm got quiet, I’d sometimes hear a clunk, a creak… a sort of plink, maybe like metal on metal… and I’d opt not to look over the rail of my bunkbed. It’s just the old radiator, I told myself. And if not, I don’t want to find a pale woman named Emma looking back at me.
Overall though, I did well. No sightings, no ghost-panic.
However, not long after my roommate and I graduated, Lang Hall went co-ed. And through the grapevine, I heard the tree in front of Lang Hall was struck by lightning.
The rumors said it happened within a week of the decision. The strike split the trunk down the middle.
The dead tree had to be removed.