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Halloween in a Haunted Hospital!
Member Name: Picasso
Date: 09/10/06, updated on 04/01/10 (1218 review reads)
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Halloween 2004 was somewhat different and a night that I won't forget. Myself and a five other colleagues spent the night at our office. Not very interesting, I hear you say, well let me explain! I work for the Pension Centre, which is part of the Department for Work and Pensions. In October 2000, we moved in to new premises, the building had previously been the local infirmary but had been closed for a number of years. The fašade of the building had been kept along with the lower ground floor and a few small rooms to the front of the building. The rest was completely new and of course the old stuff was completely modernised. When I tell you that the lower ground floor had previously been the hospital's morgue and the small rooms, isolation wards for dying patients, you might start to get the picture.
Imagine the building, four floors in all. Lower ground, ground which includes reception, first and second floors. This was designed to eventually house around 500 staff. In our first year our head count was around 100 and they were spread over the four floors. People arriving as early as 7am on dark mornings and those staying until 8pm on dark evenings often found themselves working alone or were they? Staff started to hear strange noises, things started to disappear and most disturbingly of all was staff experiencing the sound of someone breathing from behind and feeling that breath on their necks, only to turn and find no one there.
The ladies toilets on the lower ground floor soon became a no go area after a member of staff claimed to be washing her hands at the sink, only to look up to the mirror and see the figure of a tramp behind her. The tramp disappeared but the stench remained. (No it wasn't coming from either the loo on the drains) After that there were several more sightings and I might add, from very plausible staff. We held meeting in the small rooms, which had previously been isolation wards. Whatever the weather or with the heating on, these rooms were always icy cold. If you worked in them alone, you felt a presence.
Two years ago, the Sports and Social club came up with the idea of a sponsored "sleep over" for Halloween. Any money raised would go to our local hospice. There were around fifty volunteers. For security/insurance purposes however only six people would be allowed to stay the night. Names were put into a hat and the six names were drawn, one being mine! Four females and two males with ages ranging from 20 to 50 had been chosen. We were not to take our mobiles and for safety reasons candles were not allowed.
On the evening in question, we arrived just before 8pm to see the last of the staff leave. The security officers did their final rounds, locked the doors and left half an hour later. We had organised a timetable. First to the kitchen to prepare supper. We ate the spicy pumpkin soup that I had made followed by jacket potatoes, carved out so as to look like the image of "The Scream" We had various novelty Halloween sweets and cakes to see us through the rest of the evening. Unfortunately we were not allowed any alcohol.
Next to the TV room on the top floor to spend some time watching TV before choosing which dvd to watch. The selection included "Friday 13th, Carrie, Sixth Sense, The Exorcist" and a number of old Hammer Horrors. The plan was to tour the office at midnight armed with only torches. During our time watching TV, the image kept flickering and we even lost the picture a couple of times. By 10pm A storm was brewing, outside the howling wind grew stronger as the heavy rain lashed at the windows. A dustbin lid crashed to the ground whilst a can rattled around. Just a few of the noises that would keep us entertained. A perfect night for Halloween!
Before we settled to watch "Haunted House of Horror", one of the females decided that she needed the loo. Being a girl thing, we decided that we would all go and that we would use the infamous toilets on the lower ground. The office was only dimly lit, so we set off torches in hand - fortunately. Having done our business, I went to open the door, nothing happened, the door would not budge. The rest thought that I was joking until they in turn had tried and failed. We pushed, we pulled and nothing. Then the worse possible happened, the lights went out! You can imagine the screams and general hysteria. Someone advised to stay calm and to take deep breaths. It was pitch black, no windows, no light from outside. After what seemed like an eternity, a light, a shadow appeared from under the door. There was someone there. My initial thoughts that our male colleagues were having a laugh grew stronger. I grabbed the door handle and the door opened. I was about to curse and shout at them but the place was empty. Guided by torches and a welcome moonlight, we began our 8-flight journey back up the stairs. When we arrived at the TV room, we found the two boys deep in a game cards aided by the light of two lamps. The power was down and we had no electric at all. They said they hadn't moved and I believed them.
We decided to spend until midnight telling our favourite ghost stories. Although I went along with the enthusiasm of the younger staff, my mind kept returning to the earlier event. How I wished I were at home with my husband, after all it was my anniversary the next day. Just before midnight, we all jumped as a telephone started to ring in one of the rooms along the corridor. Now this was strange, as calls cannot get through on a landline after 8pm. Together, we wandered over, surprised at how eerie the phone looked and sounded in a room that was otherwise deathly silent. One of the guys picked it up. "Hello" he said, nothing, the line was dead. As he put the phone down another one rang and then another until there were around a dozen phones ringing. I didn't'' know whether to laugh or cry and then when a bank of computers suddenly turned themselves on, I did the latter. The whole place had gone mad.
It took an hour for the phones to stop. We turned the computers off and they stayed off. With the power down, the place was extremely cold. Fortunately there was still a supply of hot drinking water. We made hot chocolate and got into our sleeping bags to keep warm. I knew I wouldn't sleep. The boys were the first to nod off. As I lay there, I was aware that I was getting colder and colder, only one other colleague and a good friend remained awake and she was lying next to me "I'm going to get up and walk around" I whispered. I was glad when she agreed to join me. As we sat up, we both froze at the sound of footsteps in the room and then the ringing of yet another phone. I had had enough. I woke the others and told them that I was leaving, my friend decided to do the same.
We let ourselves out and made our way to our cars. As we did so, we passed the lower ground floor. The blinds here are always closed in case of intruders. Otherwise there would be so much IT stuff on show. Tonight however they were not and as we looked through the window, we could see that every computer screen was switch on and we could here the all too familiar dreadful sound of telephones ringing.
I don't remember my four-mile journey home. Was I speeding? Did I go through a red light? Did I pass another person? I don't know the answers. I pulled on to the drive and notice the kitchen light was on. Hubby had got up for his usual glass of water. "I knew you wouldn't last," he said "Want a drink?" he added. "Something stronger than water" I replied. It was now 3am, feeling safe and snug by the fire, he handed me a warming glass of red wine "Happy anniversary" I said.
In the cold light of day, things are different. Yes there had been a power cut in the area, therefore no lights.
But, how can you have no electricity and have working computers? The place was in darkness when they switched themselves on. Our telephony specialists think that the power cut could have caused the phones to go berserk, but they are not sure.
The security guards are adamant that they closed the blinds on the lower ground floor before they left.
One thing remains totally unanswered. What happened to the toilet door?
The sports and social club decided to run the sleep over again this year. We now have 500 staff. The closing date for applications was last Friday. Not one person volunteered.
This year I shall be celebrating my anniversary In Rome. I will be there for Halloween too. No sleeping bags, no pumpkin soup - just a cosy five star hotel!
Summary: A night I'll always remember - unfortunately!