Hospitals are, by their very nature, creepy places. Doesn't matter if you're there for a checkup, or a long term stay, or just there visiting a relative, something about a hospital at night…well it'll send a chill up the most hardened person's spine. It's worse in the basements, well, when they have basements. Most do, though a few newer hospitals have done away with the "basement" in favor of mechanical rooms; usually located some distance from the main hospital itself. Whatever the case, there's almost always something off about those areas. Maybe it's something to do with the morgues always being there, or maybe just some old fears we as children one had. Fears of the unknown, or the dark.
The Waterfalls was no exception to the creepy hospitals. Though its creepy factor was doubled due to the place having been abandoned since the mid 1970's. As if being a hospital isn't bad enough, an abandoned building? Well that made things MUCH worse. I first stumbled across the building my second year of college…which is to say, I passed the building every day on my way to class, I just had never really paid it much attention before that. The college I attended was actually located on the grounds of the old hospital, with several of the outlying wings turned into dorms, and classes in newer buildings further out. The main building, a castle like structure of hand formed brick and mortar, rising three stories to its old slate roof, sat boarded up and abandoned on the northern end of the property. The college had attempted to renovate it a number of times, only to have various problems arise. I think the last attempt had been the year before I started there, where asbestos was supposedly found. Least, that was the story we were told. There were rumors about the real reason, though as with all rumors they were far fetched and hard to believe.
The Waterfalls hospital, named for two waterfalls located on the grounds, had been founded in 1885. It was built as a medical college and treatment area for the mentally insane, and turberculosis. Compared to other TB wards in the nation, such as the better known Waverly in Kentucky, The Waterfalls was seen as good as, if not better. Though by the mid fifties, it had largely fallen by the wayside. The sick out numbered the insane by a figure of three to one, and conditions within the wards quickly deteriorated to the point that the hospital picked up a number of…let's just say less than complimentary nicknames. I think perhaps the most telling of those was "The bone yard." Locals believed that any person who was sent to The Waterfalls, was not sent there to get well…but instead sent there to die. Given the treatments for TB and insanity being archaic at best then, it's no real shock that a person admitted there, would expect to never leave.
The college itself trained doctors and nursing staff to assist those who were sick, serving as a teaching hospital until the hospital closed in the 70's. Even after that, the medical program there continued until the mid 90's, when I enrolled there to study nursing.
Though the reputation of patients never leaving was an accurate, if poorly deserved one, there were darker rumors that were never substantiated. Probably the worst of those centered around an incident which happened in 1952.
I stumbled across the incident myself, while doing a report for one of my professors on the treatment of various diseases in the mid twentieth century. It was in an old archived news paper where I read the headline "Doctor at Waterfalls Hospital Sought for Questioning!" Quickly skimming the story, I read that one of the head doctors of the college, a doctor, was sought for questioning as a result of an apparent murder which happened on the college grounds several weeks prior. Moving further back through issues of the paper, I came across the report of the murder itself. According to the article, a young nurse had been discovered murdered on the upper floor of the old main building; her body tucked into a small broom closet. The doctor, her direct supervisor, was a prime suspect; due in no small part to her having accused him of being responsible for the disappearance of four young people two years prior in 1950. It was theorized in the papers, that the nurse had been murdered by the doctor, to prevent her from testifying to his crimes. I scanned through several more papers, but far as I could tell, the Doctor had seemingly vanished, and the case had gone cold.
I've always been the curious sort, so when I turned up this odd story, I decided to do some more digging in on it. Like I said, I was just curious. Truth be known, between my hours on duty for my internship, and classes, I still had a lot of free time, and not much to do in the area. So, I poked around. My first stop was to ask one of the older professors there who, far as I knew, had been with the school for some forty years (This was in the 90's, so he would have likely been there around the time of the murder) and see if he could remember anything about it. I actually planned on writing up a long article for the school's paper, something for our pending halloween issue, which would detail this dark unsolved murder and the darker history of the College and Hospital. I…well I honestly wish I'd just left well enough alone.
Speaking with the professor, I got the impression he wasn't exactly comfortable telling me the story, but eventually agreed as long as I kept his name out of it as my source. According to him, while he was serving his internship, there was a rumor among the students and some of the doctors, that the head doctor had been involved in some very questionable medical practices. Emphasis on questionable. I won't go into details, but suffice it to say that horror movies have nothing on what this guy was suspected of doing. In any case, after the disappearance of a number of patients, with the last one being the daughter of a prominent doctor at the hospital itself, the head doctor's practices had started to come to light. His own vanishing seemed to prove his guilt, though the bodies of those missing were never found. It had been suspected, by the hospital staff involved, that the doctor had hidden the bodies somewhere on the property of the hospital itself, either somewhere in the building; or on the grounds. Over the years, the police would be given a tip, or a lead, or something and come searching once more. In fact, the year before, the whole asbestos thing was more a cover up than anything. While tearing down a wall in the basement, one of the crew had stumbled across a hidden room. This prompted the police to investigate, and in doing so they turned up some very horrific things, including what they believed was a room of human remains in the form of ashes, as well as a stack of suitcases and possessions. The remains had been removed from the building quietly and buried somewhere on the property, while the various possessions and et-cetera had been left behind.
Leaving him, I decided that it might be best to explore the hospital myself. My curiosity had gone and was replaced by my journalistic side. At least, that's what I told myself.
Getting into the old building actually proved easier than I expected. Though the windows on the ground floor were all boarded up, I found that one of the old side entrances was unlocked and slightly ajar. Slipping inside, I was met with the sickly sad face of a old faded poster which touted the benefits of yearly checkups. Beyond that, the room was pretty much empty, well other than a few upturned waiting chairs and papers scattered about the floor. Broken glass from the window behind me littered the floor, and I could make out a few footprints. Likely from the workmen from the year before. Waiting for my eyes to adjust to the darkness, not willing to give away my presence by lighting my torch, I stood there a good ten minutes before moving out into the main hallway.
Turning to the left, I walked halfway down the hall before I found a heavy door marked "stairs." This would lead to the bowels of the building, and take me to the place I sought. The door opened silently, a testament to its builders, and revealed beyond itself a simple iron and concrete staircase. Testing to make sure it held my weight, I paused and finally turned on my torch. The light shone through the gloom and while it did little to push back the darkness, it made me feel better. I have never been one to believe in superstition, such as spirits, but even I admit that hospitals are creepy.
Moving down the stairs, I came to another door. This one opened with a screech of metal and rust, causing me to freeze in place. I expected the security to have heard that, so I didn't move for a time. No one came calling, so I assumed that I was far enough down that the sound had gone unnoticed. That or the guards were used to hearing strange sounds from the building. Chuckling to myself at their ignorance, I exited the stairs, and like the floor above, found myself in a long hallway. As before, this one was dotted with doors down its length, though a quick examination by me provd that these were padded cells for the mentally insane. I shuddered to think the horror those imprisoned here must have gone through, even up to the hospital's final closing. Moving down this hall, I came to an intersection which mirrored the main atrium above. Here though, two short halls branched off. One leading to the right, to a pair of double doors marked "morgue" and the other to the left to a large steel door marked "Machinery." It was through this machinery door that the hidden room lay, and ultimately would be my goal.
As I panned my light around, for an instant I believed I saw a figure standing in the morgue. Moving close to the doors, I peered in through the glass port hole and shined my light around. I saw no person, though I had the distinct feeling I was being watched. Pushing through, I found something that struck me quite odd. The morgue was actually rather small. A cooler for bodies stood at the end of the room, having only four drawers. Directly in front of it, a small trolley sat, resting on tracks embedded in the floor. These tracks, I noticed, went under the door and out into the hall. On one side, tucked back into a wall was an old service elevator. That of everything made sense to me. TB was, more often than not, a deadly illness. It wouldn't do to have patients seeing the dead being removed through the building, so the elevator would have made moving a body down to the morgue much easier. Though I had not explored any further than this, I guessed that another elevator must stand somewhere in the building. That one for moving the living around. Shaking off the feeling of being watched, I cast my torch around again, and realized that what I was looking for, was the one thing missing from the typical tools found in such a place. There was no autopsy table. I reasoned that it must have been removed shortly after abandonment, though I couldn't figure why they wouldn't have removed the coolers or the odd trolley itself.
As I pondered this, I once again felt as though I was being watched. Turning quickly, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye through the doors. Stepping quickly out, I shone my light down the two halls, expecting to find one of my mates playing a trick on me; or possibly one of the city's homeless squatting in the building. Nothing stood out, so I decided that it must just be my mind playing tricks on me.
Turning once more to my task, I crossed the wide hall and pressed my hand against the old metal door to the machinery room. It actually felt warm to the touch, though I quickly dismissed this. It was a warm august night, and there was no air moving down here. So it only made sense that the metal might seem warm. Pushing on the door, I found it would not budge more than a few inches. As I pressed, I found that it felt like something was pushing from the other side. As if a person was standing with all their weight against the door, in an effort to stop me from going further. Leaning hard on the door, I gave it a mighty shove, and was rewarded with it opening about a foot. Squeezing through that opening, I turned the torch around to discover that a chair had been wedged under the door in an effort to prevent it from being opened. At the time this really didn't stand out in my mind, but looking back I know it should have. Far as I could tell, there was no other way into that machinery room than by the door I had just came. Yet here someone had wedged a chair against this door to keep it from opening. Curious to say the least.
Turning the torch to my surroundings, I found myself in a relatively large room, old ductwork hanging from the ceiling, and more steam pipes than I want to count. I had reached the boiler room, best I could tell, and no spirit had stood in my way. Yet, the more I looked around, the more I came to the conclusion that I hadn't reached what I thought. The pipes turned and passed through a wall to my left, and while what I thought was a boiler sat on the far end of the room, closer inspection revealed it to be nothing more than a large water heater. On the opposite wall, a large chunk of the masonary had been removed to reveal an older door heading through to a room beyond. Leaning through I cast my light around, and found that this was a small ante-chamber to something else, with a pair of double doors (old wooden ones no less) on one end, and a smaller (also wooden) door with transom on the right. This room curiously had a number of shelves around it, each with a small alcove set aside. I reasoned that this was where the remains had been discovered, though as to how they got there wasn't known. In my research, I did find that at one time the hospital had its own crematorium, but that had been removed in the thirties after…well let's just say a dark time had overtaken the world and leave it at that. Suffice it to say, people weren't too keen on hospitals having their own crematoriums.
Moving to the right side, I found the door slightly ajar, and peering through it I found stacks upon stacks of pictures, records dating back to the thirties and forties, and suitcases stacked almost as high as the ceiling. I was pawing through one of these suitcases when I heard something. "Get out." A voice said over my shoulder. I quickly turned, shining my light around, but found no person standing there. I kept searching, moving into the other room, only to hear a voice whisper in my ear "Get out" again. This time more forceful, though not angry. Almost desperate. "I'm not leaving!" I called back, turning my light around and seeking the source of the voice. "Get out. Now." The voice said again, this time taking on a planitive tone. "Please." it whispered.
"Doctor, is that you? Afraid I'll find your dirty little secret?!" I never believed in ghosts, and while I didn't believe then, this was the only response that really made sense to me. For all I knew, one of my friends was having a real go with me, and would laugh it up when I got back in the morning. No doubt word would be all over campus about how he made me think the ghost was real. "Not my doing." The voice replied. "Not my fault. "Her…" the voice said, trailing off. "It wasn't my fault…"
Okay… this was starting to get creepy. Creepy to the nth degree. A wise man would have noped right out of there. I am not a wise man. I'm not even a smart one. The hairs stood on the back of my neck, and for a moment it seemed that the room had gotten colder. I could see my breath before me, and then quick as it had started, the feeling passed. I shook my head to clear it, muttering something about hearing voices, and turned once more to the door. Pulling on it again, I found that it came open easily, and silently. As though rolling on well greased wheels. Looming up to nearly the height of the ceiling, a large brick furnace sat with a heavy iron door ajar. I didn't need a second glance to tell me that this was the old crematorium that had once sat in the basement. Though why it was still present boggled my mind. The only answer I could find then, lay in the fact that there was a second old door off one side of the room. I figured that when the ideas of the world had changed, rather than just removing it, the hospital had bricked over the old entrance, and locked a door that led off a service hallway or stairs. The door itself wouldn't budge, so I couldn't really confirm my theory, but I suspect I was correct just the same.
Coming back around to the front, I raised my camera to take photos, only to stop in my tracks. There just in front of the brickwork, at a point where the tracks in the floor came to a stop, was a small girl. She was maybe twelve years old, if that, and had thin blonde hair. She sat, hunched over, weeping into her hands. Instinctively I reached out for her and found my arm went numb as it passed through her. The world around me seemed to change, and it was as if I was watching an old movie. I felt as though I'd been yanked back to the past, and could watch this girl's final moments.
I saw the girl being admitted into the hospital by her parents to be treated for the early stages of TB. She was a sickly little child, and the parents had been promised by the doctor that they would do their best to save her. She suffered in the hospital for two years, and was starting to get better, when late one night a nurse came to give her some medications. Watching this, almost as though it were a movie, I could tell that the nurse was drunk. I watched in horror as the nurse gave the girl the wrong medications, sending her into a deep coma. When the girl did not awake the next morning, it was reported that the girl had died in the night. The doctor was visibly saddened by this, but signed the order, trusting the nurse's assesment. The girl was then taken down into the basement by the nurse, and rather than let her 'accident' be brought to light, the nurse brought the girl in through a second hallway to the old furnace. I watched in frozen horror as she was placed in the furnace, and the door slammed shut behind her. The ghost showed me that she did not go peacefully, but that she awoke to find herself in that brick furnace, and she screamed for help, banging on the metal of the door, only to have the roar of the flames rising around her drown out those screams for help.
Releasing me, the spirit stood before the oven, the place of her demise, the spirit turned away from me and looked into the gaping maw of the oven. "I was not the first." She said, her voice hollow and echoing through the inside of the oven. "There were others she killed. Others like me." Then darkness enveloped me and I remembered nothing. Eventually I found myself in one of the wards, with the nurses tending me noting that I seemed to have suffered some kind of attack. There were first and second degree burns on my face and arms, as though I'd stood too close to a great heat for too long. I had been found sitting in the first floor of the old hospital, staring off into space. Naturally the police were contacted, and I had to give them my statement. The detective seemed more interested in the burns on my body than why I was in the hospital, prompting me to reluctantly tell him that he'd not believe me if I told him what I saw. He however gave me a funny look and said "try me." So I told the tale. At first, he seemed shocked, but the more I spoke, the more he seemed to believe it. At the end of it, he simply nodded and said he'd be in touch.
I left the college shortly after that, graduating and moving onto a bigger college for further education. The old hospital always hung in the back of my head, though I never could explain what happened there. About six years later, when visiting the college's hospital as part of a traveling nurse job (basically I go where I'm needed), I decided to give the detective a call. We met after my shift ended, and he effectively closed the door on what I'd always wondered.
According to the detective, the hospital had suffered many strange incidents around the time the Nurse had been murdered. People who were in the best of health suddenly dying, or bodies simply going missing. While the doctor was using some very unorthodox, and questionable methods for treatment, some of those treatments were actually working. That's why he was able to continue on for so long. Yes, people were suffering under his treatment, but at the time, the idea was that the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few. The detective theorized that the doctor had figured out that the nurse was drinking on duty, and in doing so causing people to die; and what's more had taken to burning the bodies in the forgotten crematorium to hide her mistakes. He believed that the Doctor confronted the nurse about this, and either suffered some kind of mental break, or just simply lost it in his anger, and murdered her. The doctor had likely killed himself after this, being unable to live with what he had been blindly signing off on, or knowing he was at the very least party to multiple murders. As to my events that night some six years prior, the Detective believed that one of the spirits had shown me what was going on in an effort to bring justice to their story.
The one thing that stood out though, according to the detective, was my description of the girl. Apparently, the girl who had reached out to me, was none other than the last victim, and the Head Doctor's own young sister.