Luther Wooten's headlamp died. He was in the basement of the Union Mission building in total darkness. The occasional blip of his Handheld Paranormal Activity Sensor (H.P.A.S.) became a solid, uninterrupted beep. It became so hot that it melted like a marshmallow. The hallway seemed to expand and tilt as he searched for a way out. Door knobs dissolved to his touch. Claws grabbed at his ankles. He began to suffocate. Someone whispered in his ear to run, but he couldn't. It was like he was underwater. Then, suddenly, he was on the roof - surrounded by a crowd of screaming, faceless figures. The entire city of Norfolk was in flames below. A winged demon whisked him away as the roof disintgrated and - "that's when I blacked out. The next thing I remember is being in my bed - in my home."
In 2004, Luther disguised himself as a homeless person to gain entry into the shelter and conduct a Paranormal Activities Investigation (P.A.I.). "Before it became a shelter in 1972 it was the Naval YMCA. I wanted to spend a week there, but after the first night, I couldn't go back. I could feel the lingering presence of thousands of demented, battle-scarred souls once I set foot inside. It was, by far, the most frightening experience... and experiment of my life."
He expected to detect a few magnetic disturbances in the 100-year-old building after a former volunteer informed him about some strange occurrences. "She described doors slamming, lights turning on and off, and a file cabinet hovering upside down - pretty normal supernatural stuff for me. The afternoon I arrived, I interviewed some residents. Real nice folks, just down on their luck. They all said it was definitely haunted, but they had nowhere else to go. As everyone prepared for bed, I snuck off to begin the investigation."
Since 1979, Wooten has explored all of Hampton Roads' rumoured haunty holes including the ruins of Grace Sherwood's house in Pungo, the Peyton Randolph house in Williamsburg, the Bayne Theater in Virginia Beach (currently Captain Cline's Pirate Adventure Ride), Janaf Shopping Center, and the Fuddruckers on Virginia Beach Boulevard. None of them matched the Union Mission's spookiness. "It makes the hotel from 'The Shining' look like the inn on 'Newhart' - and I sure as hell wouldn't want to live there."
Last week, Mayor Fraim announced that US Development Co., from Columbia, S.C., has bought the building and plans to turn it into apartments. City leaders hope it will lure hip, young iPod owners to downtown Norfolk. Gentrification opponents fear it will lure rich, boring iPod owners to downtown Norfolk. "Ipod or not - whoever moves in there better be ready for some downright terrifying supernatural occurrences," states Wooten.
Union Mission administrators, US Development Co., and the City of Norfolk declined to comment on this story because they think the Tidewater Log is fake. Yep. Fake. Tell me, how can it be fake if you're reading it on your computer monitor at this very moment? It's right in front of you right now and it's still here when you're not online for everyone in the entire world to read. That, my friends, makes Tidewater Log as real as ravioli.