I walked the long halls, bone straight, a hundred doors down either side. Those doors had been bars that sealed tiny rooms. Two metal bunk beds jutted from one wall of each room, with a small basin, and toilet in each tiny room. There was no room for anything else.
I studied several rooms. Each had the same layout. In many, the bunks had fallen through, their springs rusted to dust. In some, there was nothing left, just filthy walls, covered in dust, and God only knew what else. No one had been in the building for years, and it showed.
Down the center of the hallway, the sun shined through arched windows. I wondered why they’d let the sunlight into such a place, given who had once been kept there. Some of the worst of the worst. Right up there with that movie character, what was his name? Hannibal?
But, the building was in the right place. The perfect place. Two blocks from where the university was building an engineering center. They needed space for students to live, to study, to work. And they needed it cheap. And quickly.
The old jail was perfect. Tear down the remaining parts of the barred door system, put in real doors, fix all the bunks and put privacy walls around the tiny toilets. Presto. Dorm rooms for cheap.
It would take a bit of paint. And a bit of drywall. A bunch of cheap tiles for the floors, and a bunch of new glass and frames for the windows in the hallway. But it was easily doable.
The best part was I could pitch the entire thing as a historical experience. Put up a small display in the entrance about the history of the place. The list of the worst crooks who’d stayed there, and died there.
I wondered if there were ghost stories tied to the place. That would make it better. The kids would fight to get into the place. The school would be happy to get a cheap dorm. The state would finally have a use for a long abandoned building. And I’d make a small fortune.
“Maybe we could have one of those ghost TV shows visit the place.” That would only drive the value of the idea up.
I took a few pictures, so I could edit them, show what the place would look like cleaned up, and ready for college students to fill it. How just enough privacy could be added to the place to make it work.
It was going to be a hell of a sales pitch. If I did it right, how could anyone say no?
Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s 11th week. You can read about the challenge here. I continue to enjoy writing for it every week so far. And every week I wonder where the words came from. Seems I just have to get out of my way, and let each story happen. Please, go read her short tale this week, and any others that show up.