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Getting The Hell Out of There!

Nurses who work the “night shift” often have some really good ghost stories to tell. A lot of them speak of footsteps and whispers in parts of the building where nobody is supposed to be. Or lights and televisions being turned on in unoccupied rooms. Over this past year, as the “great resignation” has forced many healthcare facilities to shutter entire floors or wings of their buildings due to staffing shortages, a lot of paranormal behavior has become hard to dismiss as “maybe somebody else is also working the floor”. One of the best “night shift” ghost stories I’ve heard, though, happened several decades ago in a bustling nursing home full of life. The nurses working the evening shift were back at the desk getting ready to make their final rounds before lights out. It was quiet and calm. Suddenly, several of them felt a strong, icy wind rush past them. The other staff in the hall felt it, too, and between their experiences were able to discern from which direction it had come and which direction it was going. It had moved past the nurse’s desk and down the hallway toward the building’s main exit. And then it was gone. Being a logical woman, the head nurse assumed that somebody had left a window open somewhere down the hallway from which the gust had originated. The ensuing search would prove that not to be so. But something else was discovered during the course of that search that would cause this nurse to never forget that night. While some nursing homes are run by cold, money-motivated corporations, the nursing home where this happened was run by a church. Staff were encouraged to provide a Christian environment for the residents who lived there. Christian music played from the radio at the nurse’s desk. Christian paintings hung in the halls. Sunday sermons were often broadcast over the PA system, and the chaplain regularly held prayer meetings and study groups with the residents and staff. Not all people who wind up in a nursing home like that kind of environment. And one such patient was the angry old woman who lived in a room at the end of the hallway from where that gust of wind originated. The nurse who told me this story recalled that this woman was incoherent and unpleasant to work with; there was a burning hatred in her eyes that made many employees uneasy. While searching for the source of that gust of wind, one of the nurse’s aides discovered that this particular woman had, only moments before, passed away. The details of her death—whether it was attended or violent—were never shared with me. But to this day, the nurse who shares that story insists that the wind rushing past her gave the same chill up her spine that she also felt when looking into that woman’s eyes. You’re probably thinking, that’s a long story just to introduce us to the kind of ghost you want to talk about; actually, I’m going a different direction with this. You see, most people are familiar with this kind of ghost—or at least, what they think this kind of ghost is. “It was the old woman rushing out of the nursing home. Finally free,” you might say. But what if it wasn’t? What if it was something else that had been trapped inside that old woman’s body? Something that had tormented her all her life—or perhaps that had used her to torment others around her? And what if, when the time came for it to finally be free of her…it found itself in the most unpleasant environment of all: a warm, friendly religious organization staffed with people who held no love for the darker side of the supernatural? Maybe that’s why it was so fast to “get the Hell out of there.”

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