This happened a few years ago when I was still living in South Dakota, I lived out in a small town that literally turned off their stoplights after 9PM at night. Everyone knew each other, stores and even dominos was a two-minute walking distance from my home.
Above all else, no one in the town bothered to lock their doors due to how safe the town was and how everyone knew each other. It was literally a quiet and lovely town and being one of the few Asian people out there, except for the Chinese family that ran the only Chinese food takeout place in the town.
I worked in the only hospital in town on assignment with my travel company, and I worked, the NOC shift… I know, it's cliché and I can see the eyerolls happening. However, I honestly liked working the NOC shifts, it was usually quiet except for days when there was a full moon….
Now, I usually didn't believe in the spiel about how NOC shifts with a full moon always had something crazy happening. I had been working in the medical field for seven years, and mostly working NOC shifts that I had never experienced anything more than someone having Sundowner's Syndrome. But on this summer night, it was raining, and the moon was playing peak a boo through the rolling clouds.
Lightning flashed, and the thunder roared outside, the wind practically had nails that evening, scraping across the roof with a ghostly voice as if it were trying to wake the dead, or all my residents… I was the only Charge nurse on a unit of 80 patients, while that doesn't sound like it can be possible, in certain states there are no guidelines or limitations on how many patients a nurse or even a certified nursing staff can handle.
I was grumbling at my station desk in Unit A, I had tons of paperwork to complete including an admission paper that needed to be inputted into the EMAR, medications to check in, and prep the paperwork and vials for the blood draws for the 5AM labs.
I remember just being so exhausted, because the night prior, we had someone hysterically scream bloody murder in Unit B and terrify the living daylights out of the 2nd charge nurse, we will call her Sandy, who was supposed to be on shift with me this night.
So, Sandy, had been so shaken up by the event because when she had gone to check the patient he had kept insisting that Death was in the room, and his scythe was by her throat, and that he was stating that the land the hospital was built on is cursed. It was understandable why she had called out, stating she was feeling unwell, but dammit all, I was tired myself and I hadn't gotten much sleep either.
I remember closing my eyes and then hearing someone approach the nurse's station, I had thought it was one of my CNAs doing her rounds and didn't think much of it. Until the footsteps stopped at the desk, opening my eyes I looked to see one of my regular Sundowner patient's, however, she was staring right besides me, rather than looking at me.
"Hello Mary, is it breakfast yet?" She said in a chipper tone as I frowned and got up from my seat.
"Mrs. H, no one by the name of Mary is here. Are you alright?" I asked, my eyes casting to the spot where she was looking so intently at.
"Oh Mary, I thought it was light out. I'm sorry…" Mrs. H stated aloud and then finally looked at me, "Shar, would you be a dear and help me back to my room? It seems I've gotten the time mixed up again."
Walking to the other side of the nurse's station I gently placed my hand on Mrs. H's arm and began to guide her, "Mrs. H, who is Mary?" I asked, I know that we aren't supposed to feed into any type of delusions or hallucinations that a patient has but the way that Mrs. H had been looking at that one spot next to me… It irked me.
"Oh… Mary, the charge nurse! She comes here only at night, she used to come all the time but now she can only be here on certain nights is what she told me the other day."
I tucked Mrs. H back into bed and put on her little alarm that would trigger if she tried to leave her bed unattended. Shaking my head, I saw one of my CNAs doing her rounds in Unit B. You see, there were two units, Unit A and Unit B, usually we had one nurse to each unit and two CNAs for each unit as well.
But we were a bit fucked that night due to the incident of the night before. Leaving only myself and two other CNAs on shift, making it difficult for us to get to all our work duties and do rounds at the same time. "Sheila, I'm going to still be at Unit A, if you guys need me just walkie me please."
Sheila nodded to me and continued her rounds as I walked like a zombie back to my chair and then noticed my files had been moved around on my desk. I shook my head again, I must of toppled the files over when I got up… I think?
Scooting the chair up to the desk I began to do my work again, concentrating on inputting the data and writing notes for the patient's I had given midnight medications to. Feeling my eyes beginning to droop a little I rubbed them, and I saw someone approach me from the side, her attire was of white, so I had assumed it was Sheila or Janice, because both CNAs had worn white scrubs today.
"Where… is the linens closet?" The voice was very soft, a faint whisper.
"Down the hall towards the entrance to the ER section, it should be the closet with the sliding door… Are you becoming forgetful tonight?" I joked without looking up, the figure stood there for a moment before almost gliding out of my vision. Closing my eyes again and shaking my head, I brushed it off and continued to work when Janice came up to me her face a bit pale.
"What's wrong lady Jan?" I was pretty sure my eyes were blood shot and dry, but the way Janice looked at me in unease set alarm bells off inside me. I stood up slowly, "what's wrong?"
"Shar, who were you talking to a few minutes ago?"
"One of you guys… Didn't you ask me about the linen closet?" I frowned as she shook her head no.
"I've been in the kitchen stocking for tomorrow morning's breakfast service… I just came out and noticed you talking to someone but …" She seemed afraid now
"But what Janice?" A troubled expression was forming on her pretty face, it looked like she was torn with what to say. "Janice, what is it?"
"Was it the lady in white?" Was what came forth from her lips, "did you talk to her?"
I sat back down, if this was about some crazy ghost bull shit again and some dark curse hooha I didn't want to hear it. "Janice, I don't want to hear about full moon nonsense and ghosts right now. I have a shit ton of work and I don't have time to talk about ghost stories tonight. I'm not trying to be a bitch here but—"
Janice held up her hands, fear still etched across her heart shaped face. "Shar, I just… Please be careful of who you speak to, the dead welcome any conversation as an invitation to haunt you. Especially here…"
I gave her a look and breathed a heavy sigh, "Jan, thanks for your concern but I think I probably was just hallucinating or seeing things from lack of sleep. Don't worry." I went back to my work as Janice began to wring the hem of her white scrub top.
"Please just be careful, and don't answer to any knocks…." Janice stated as she looked around one more time and left to go back into the kitchen.
What foolishness… Don't answer to knocking? I again shook my head, we could practically make this into a drinking game for how many times I shook my head, someone one should down two shots of their favorite hard liquor. Lightning danced outside as the hours crept by slowly, the storm outside went into full gear as hail began to pummel the rook at 5:00AM as I made my blood draw rounds.
After drawing my last tube, I went off the floor of Unit B and headed to the main part of the hospital to drop off the specimens. My footfalls echoed in the nearly empty hospital, as most of the ER nurses and doctors were probably doing shift change I didn't see anyone except for the janitor as I went to the lab.
I entered the lab and filed the vials under the appropriate areas for the phlebotomist I's to find when they arrive on shift. At that given moment, a knock sounded off from the back entrance that led to the corridor of Unit A, I hadn't given it much thought as I approached the door and swung it open.
I frowned as I realized that no one was there, peering out into the corridor I didn't even see the janitor. I looked around one more time before actually stepping out into the hallway and shutting the door, as the door closed behind me.
I suddenly felt a sense of unease hit the bottom of my stomach as I began to make my way back to the unit. Once again, I reasoned it had to do with the lack of sleep I had gotten and that I hadn't stomached decent food in the last 48hrs, because coffee wasn't considered a food of sustenance yet.
As I pulled my keycard out to open the door for Unit A, I heard knocking, but the knock was more like As if someone was drunk and could only raise their hand to knock every 5-10 secs, it was a strange dull knock that echoed all the way down the hall to me.
The knocks continued, and I felt the hackles on the back of my neck rise as the knocks started to speed up, my hand immediately pressing the keycard against the censor as it rejected my card.
Then the knocks began to someone start echoing closer, as if they were footsteps walking towards me. The knocking got louder as I tried again with my card and it finally allowed me entrance, swinging the door open and slamming it behind me.
I heard the knocking as it suddenly began barreling down on the door behind me. I faced the door and began to walk backwards as it kept going until it was more of a high-pitched whirring noise, and then stopped.
My heart was racing, sweat beading down my forehead… This had to be the results of working too much OT and very little sleep with caffeine being my only lifeline of energy. I rubbed my temples as I forced myself to breathe and calm down, it was all in my mind. That's what it was.
I said it aloud, "it's all in my mind."
Before I could turn, I felt the hackles rise at the back of my neck
"where… is the linen closet?"
I screamed bloody murder at that fair moment and whirled to find Mrs. H holding her hand to her chest and staring at me. I gasped, "I'm so sorry Mrs. H… You scared the panties off me."
Mrs. H seemed amused and again asked me where the linen closet was, to which I helped her get a couple of new blankets and pillow cases. The rest of the shift went smoothly, my shift ending at 8:30AM, two hours of OT clocked in for the day.
I grabbed my things to get the hell outta dodge, but was stopped by Janice, who had also stayed behind to help finish a few things. I almost let out a groan of agony when she stopped me.
I was tired. I really wanted to go home and just sleep, it was my day off for the next three days.
"Shar, you heard the knocking. Didn't you?" Her hand was gripping my wrist in a viselike hold that sent the signals of pain to my groggy brain.
"Jan… not now, please?" I pulled my arm away from her, practically having to rip it out of her grasp as I saw a look of terror in her eyes.
"Please take this," she pushed a stone and a bundle of sage into my hand, as much as I tried to push it back into her hands. Janice firmly gripped my wrist and covered her hand over my own and looked at me with dead serious eyes.
"Keep this on you at all times and by the foot of the shower stall when you bathe. Please do this Shar. For me." The fear in her voice rattled me a bit at that moment, but just for that moment.
"Okay Jan," I pocketed the items into my scrub pants pocket. Leaving the facility, with thoughts of just falling into bed, or the nearest couch for the next few hours of my day off. I had made it home without any issues and scurried up the stairs to my upstairs apartment.
The morning was quiet with only the occasional "woosh" sound coming from cars passing by from the highway behind the apartment. Peeling off my scrubs and forgetting the items that Janice had given me, I fell onto the couch and was close knocking out… Until I heard a dull knock come from the closed bedroom door in front of me.
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