This June and July I have invited authors to share ghost stories on my blog. The stories could be excerpts from their novels, stories of ghosts they've encountered in real life, ghost legends from the region where they live, or whatever other paranormal activity they'd like to share. My hope is that you'll read their books while you wait and get pumped up for the release of my newest novel Lost on the Water, A Ghost Story.
Today's guest author is Leslie E. Heath. She is an author of fantasy novels. Her day job is working as a nurse in an old haunted hospital. But I'll let her share more about that. I know this post is a little longer than usual, but if you like real ghost stories and sightings and things that go bump in the night, it's worth it.
**All names have been changed to protect the privacy of the nurses involved.
I work as a night-shift ER nurse in one of the oldest hospitals in the United States. The original building was constructed in 1832 over a Revolutionary War Battleground. Unsubstantiated rumors say the old building was used to hold prisoners of war during the American Civil War, and the hospital hosts tours of the dungeon beneath it during the Halloween season. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people have reported unnerving experiences on these grounds. I’ve worked in this facility for nine years, mostly on nights. These are a few of my own personal encounters.
During hurricane season, it’s not uncommon for the staff to stay on hospital grounds when a large storm threatens the area. One such night, I stayed in the hospital, even though I wasn’t scheduled to work until the next day. The hospital at that time had three units that weren’t open due to staffing concerns and low patient census, so the staff were assigned to sleep in the rooms lining those abandoned halls.
Exhausted by the stress of preparing my family to weather the storm and packing my belongings to head to the hospital, I fell asleep quickly in my private room. At some point during the night, I got hot and kicked off the blankets, as I often do at home. I awakened again with a shock as someone pulled the covers up to my chin and tucked them around my shoulders. I hadn’t heard the door open or close.
Shaking, I pressed the light button on the bedside controls. I was alone in the room. I convinced myself it had been a dream, something my over-tired mind had made up, and I turned the light back off and tried to will myself back to sleep. The room was still uncomfortably warm, so I kicked off the blanket and rolled up in the sheet.
I lay there for what seemed like hours, though I have no idea how much time actually passed.
Before I could fall back to sleep, someone whispered in my ear, “There now. You’ll be all right. Now, get some rest,” and tucked the blanket back around my shoulders.
This time, I knew I wasn’t dreaming. I sat up in bed and pressed the light back on. The room was empty.
Goosebumps erupted over my arms and neck, and I threw my belongings back into my bag. I figured I’d sleep in one of the empty ER beds where my friends would be nearby. I pulled the door open, ready to flee down the hall, and ran straight into one of my co-workers.
“Someone’s in my room,” she said. Her face had none of it’s normal color.
Speechless, I nodded and grabbed her arm. “Mine, too.”
We proceeded down to the ER together, and neither of us slept in the abandoned wards again, even though whatever spirit was in that room clearly had no wish to do me any harm.
Though we rarely interact with the spirits within the hospital, we see them much more often. Most of the time, they’re passing through the hallways in the dead of night and I see them when I’m heading in the same direction.
One such night, the pneumatic tube system we use to send lab specimens and paperwork throughout the hospital was broken, so I had to walk my patient’s blood to the lab. This is a fairly common occurrence, because the maintenance crew likes to take systems down late at night to minimize interruptions to service during the peak business hours.
This particular night, housekeeping was also stripping and waxing the floors in the main hallway, so I had to take a series of side passages to get to the lab. I turned yet another corner in the winding maze of the old building and stopped in my tracks. There, in the middle of the hall, a semi-transparent figure in a white antique nurse’s uniform floated down the hall toward me. I could clearly make out the details of her pristine blouse, skirt, and hat, but her face was blurred and I couldn’t see anything below the skirt. No legs. No feet. She moved toward me without acknowledging my presence, so I ducked back around the corner and pressed myself against the wall.
I stood there, frozen, until I saw her pass by. I stepped out of my hall and watched until she turned another corner. When she was gone, I sprinted to the lab to deliver the blood I still held clenched in my hand, and I had a member of maintenance walk me back to the ER even though I knew he couldn’t do anything about the floating nurse.
After those experiences, you’d think I would have known that the hospital is haunted and would have stayed to the “safe” areas where I work regularly. Or not. One summer night, we had no patients in the ER. We’d been empty for hours. I finished all my annual trainings, and so did my friends and co-workers. A small group of us got bored and decided to go explore the old building, the original hospital that’s now only used as offices during the day. Even maintenance won’t go in there at night.
The old building is attached to the new one by a walkway on the second floor, so we didn’t have to go outside in the rain to get to it. Four friends and I took the elevator up one level and walked side-by-side down the empty halls to the connecting bridge, our medical clogs clacking against the linoleum floor and echoing down the corridor.
Had I been alone, I would have turned back at a dozen different points down that walk, but even the pressure of my friends couldn’t stop me from trying to back out when we reached that walkway. The lights in the bridge were dimmed for the night, and the lightning outside flashed through the floor-to-ceiling windows, casting a deathly glow on the white stone of the old building.
Two of my friends grabbed my arms. I could feel their hands shaking through the fabric of my scrub jacket.
“I changed my mind,” I said. “I don’t want to go over there. Not tonight. We can check it out in the morning.” I didn’t care anymore if they thought I was a coward.
“It’ll be boring in the morning,” Cheryl said. “We’ve all been in there a thousand times in the daylight. Let’s see what it’s like at night.”
I let them pull me forward across the bridge, though every fiber of my being wanted to flee.
The old building is a hollow square, with stone halls and offices encircling an inner, open courtyard. At some point in the building’s history, someone renovated and added elevators at the corners.
We linked arms at the end of the bridge and continued to the right, toward the elevator. We had decided to go down to the first floor to see the grand entrance hall, which I had never seen before because it was on the opposite side of the building from the nursing offices.
As soon as we passed from the bridge to the stone floor of the old building, the mood changed. The air in that space was icy cold—colder than air conditioning could explain on a stormy southern summer night.
This time Cathy decided she wanted to back out. Again, the others grabbed her arms and convinced her to go on. We continued toward the elevator that would take us down to the main entrance of the hospital, where generals and administrators had given speeches, held ceremonies, and addressed the media for nearly two hundred years.
We piled into the tiny elevator, and Elizabeth pressed the button for the first floor.
Nothing happened. The doors stayed open. The button didn’t light up.
Elizabeth pressed the button again, harder this time.
All the buttons lit up.
“Going up,” the cheerful automatic voice announced.
“No!” We all yelled.
Elizabeth pressed the first floor button again, several times in quick succession.
The doors closed, and we went up. And up. All the way to the fifth floor. The top of the hospital. The old operating suite.
During the day, the glass dome focused the light onto the center of the room, where the operating table had been in days passed. The room had been turned into a museum, or so I’d heard, though I had never seen it.
The lights in the elevator flickered. The doors opened.
Beyond the open door, a velvet blackness filled the room. A cold, rotten stench filled the elevator. It stank of blood, infection, and death.
I gagged. So did Cheryl.
“Down, dammit,” Elizabeth said through gritted teeth, pounding on the first floor button again.
In the blackness, something moved. Papers shuffled. Boots scraped across the floor.
“Down!” Elizabeth yelled.
Part of me wanted to run, out of the elevator, down the stairwell that ran beside it. The rest of me was frozen in abject terror.
“Why?” A raspy voice whispered from the darkness. “Why did you do this to me?”
I closed my eyes, sure I was about to die.
The elevator door slid closed with a creak. It dropped with alarming speed to the first floor, where it jolted to a stop so hard that it knocked us all to our knees.
As soon as the doors opened, we ran from the elevator and out the front door. I can’t say I saw anything of that grand room we had hoped to explore. We sprinted together through the pouring rain, around to the back of the new building, where the bright red sign announced the entrance to the emergency department.
I’ve never set foot in that building again. Whenever there’s some business that would normally lead me to one of those offices, I find another way to handle it. I email, call, and even snail mail.
Wasn't that the best? I love a good ghost sighting, and now I feel a trip to visit this hospital is necessary and added to my bucket list. Added to my TBR list is Leslies newest novel. If the story telling she shared here is any indication of her writing, I'm going to love her books. Also, she needs to get these ghost stories together and write a horror novel asap. Right? Here's a blurb about her latest book:
Sometimes the only way to prevent a war is to meet it head on.
Alija's village has known peace for twenty years, but only under the tyrannical rule of Tavan and his guards. Stripped of all weapons, the villagers know to keep their heads down.
But when one of Alija's group suffers merciless punishment after they are caught with weapons, he and the others decide Tavan and his men must go. It's the only way to prevent a repeat of the village's violent history.
How far will they go to gain their freedom––and are four untrained men enough to bring down an army?
Available at Amazon Kindle
Leslie E. Heath is a wife, mother, runner, animal lover, nurse and writer. She resides with her family and a number of rescued pets in a quaint North Carolina town, near the Outer Banks. When Leslie isn't cozied up at home writing, she finds inspiration for her work by spending time basking or running at the nearby beach or trails. Her love of writing began when she was ten years old, fueled by her love of reading. Her affinity with fantasy allows creativity when it comes to character development, settings, and a little magic.
*Note: She lives in North Carolina and works in Virginia, because she lives close to the state line. It’s not a terribly long commute, even though it’s a different state.
I hope you enjoyed Leslie's guest post. I have more guests with ghost stories on the way, so keep coming back. My novel Lost on the Water, A Ghost Story releases on July 17th. Only a couple more weeks! I'm also running my other ghost story, Passing Notes, for free until then. Please leave a comment for Leslie or myself. It's always great to see who's visiting the blog.
D. G. Driver
Author D. G. Driver's
Write and Rewrite Blog
“There are no bad stories, just ones that haven’t found their right words yet.”
A blog mostly about the process of revision with occasional guest posts, book reviews, and posts related to my books.