My luck had finally run out. Somehow I’ve avoided this misfortune for the two years that I have worked here. That doesn’t mean I haven’t heard the stories.
The feeling of being watched.
The ominous shadow figure.
The mysterious doctor.
And to top off working the night shift in a hospital, today just so happens to be Thursday 12th October. That means that when the clock strikes midnight it will be Friday 13th. Great.
Pulling up to Hope Gardens Hospital, the heavens opened painting everything in its path a gloomy grey. Turning the engine off, I lean my head on the steering wheel, trying with all my might to be ready for the night shift. Sighing, I shrug on my coat before running for cover inside the hospital. The rain also painted my mood in the same gloomy grey as outside. Trudging up the stairs to Ward 21, the only sound echoing around me is the squeaking of my trainers. I just have time to hang up my coat before the clock strikes 8 signaling the start of my shift.
The next three hours go smoothly. Or as smooth as they can go when you are a nurse. Sick. Check. Blood pressures. Check. Intravenous fluids and medications. Check and check. Finally, I am able to sit down at the nurses' station. My only companions are the flickering lights down the hallway, the beeping of heart monitors, and the shadow standing behind me. I whip my head around to see just the plain stone blue wall. No shadow. I shrug as I start filling out the paperwork, unable to shake the feeling that I am being watched.
The clock strikes 11.
The rain continues to lash at the windows, it too has found a companion. Lightning. It slashes across the darkened sky and the thunder rumbles in the distance. But the storm is coming closer. Soon it will be right above the hospital.
When I was a child, I was scared of thunderstorms until my Granny taught me that if I counted the time it takes to hear the thunder after the lightning, that's how far away the storm is. I know it's a trick to keep your mind focussed on a task instead of the anxiety but I couldn’t help but count the seconds between the flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder. Especially now that the flashes of lightning caused shadows to flicker in and out of view in the corner of my eye.
The flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder were now so close together that I could not count the seconds between them. A lone lightning strike hits the hospital, plunging it into darkness and turning the hospital quiet. All I could hear was my heart thumping against my chest.
Unbeknown to me, the clock strikes 12.
The hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention as a shiver runs down my spine. A singular word breathed in my ear.
I turn around expecting to see an older gentleman standing there, after all, that would explain the raspy voice. Darkness. Empty darkness. There was no one or nothing to be seen. That is until a flash of lightning illuminates the hallway. Looming over me is the ominous shadow figure. Just as quick as the room is lit, it is plunged back into darkness. I scramble out of the chair, knocking it to the floor as I scurry backward until my back hits the wall. I keep my eyes focussed in front of me until the hospital flickers back to life.
The clock strikes 1.
The next two hours sail by just as smoothly as the first hours of my shift. Checking that the machines have come back online with the ominous shadow figure lurking in every corner where the light doesn’t quite reach. I return to the nurses' desk to continue filling out the paperwork and updating patients' notes.
The clock strikes 3. The witching hour is upon us.
I look up from the computer screen to see an old male doctor impatiently tapping his foot.
“Nurse I need to see patient 1-5-D-B-7”
His gravelly, demanding voice scratched against my ears. Quickly, I begin looking through the patient's ID and ward floor plan. The ominous dark shadow figure inching its way closer to me doesn’t go unnoticed as I find the patient that the doctor is looking for.
“Ah, you mean Mrs. Deborah Jenkins in room 21B. I didn’t think a doctor needed to check her medication until 6am”
“Well what do you know, you are just a nurse”
The doctor looks behind me and I know he’s seen the shadow figure that is now looming right behind me. With meaningful steps, the doctor turns around and walks towards room 21B. I feel a wave of relief wash over me as the shadow figure follows the doctor down the hall.
The clock strikes 4.
Code blue alarms ring out from 21B alerting all nurses and doctors that there is an adult cardiac arrest. Jumping out of the chair I run down the hallway, my trainers squeaking on the newly cleaned floors. Just as I reach the door, it slams shut in my face. Colliding harshly with the door, I am knocked to the floor. Pushing on the door I find it to be locked.
“Open the door” I shout as I pound my fists on the door, continuously trying to get the door to budge.
The door swings open catching me by surprise as the floor catches me. I look up to see the shadow figure standing there. For some reason, I blurt out a thank you before scrambling once more to my feet to try and resuscitate Mrs. Jenkins. Within a matter of seconds, the room is a hive of activity of doctors and nurses trying to bring Mrs. Jenkins back to life.
But all attempts fail as a doctor declares Mrs. Jenkins dead at 4:50am. I slump to the floor defeated, my head in my hands.
The clock strikes 5.
Tears sting my eyes as Dr. Bailey crouched down in front of me, softly placing his hand over mine. I meet his sympathetic eyes.
“Where did the other doctor go?” I ask, my voice almost breaking. I assumed that he must have slipped out of the room during the commotion of trying to resuscitate Mrs. Jenkins. But Dr. Bailey raises a singular eyebrow at my question.
“The one that was in here before the code blue”
“Sophie, I'm the only doctor that is working on this ward tonight”
I stare at him like I am a fish out of water trying desperately to breathe.
“We have all had a long night go have a break Sophie” he suggests before standing up and leaving me alone with my thoughts. And the shadow figure, watching over me.
Eventually standing up, the pain of pins and needles in my legs reminded me that I was still alive. The shadow figure, no longer lurking behind me, walked next to me as I headed to the staff room. Staring into a glass of water I zone out until a singular word is breathed in my ear once more.
The clock strikes 6. The end of my shift.
Sighing, I placed the glass down before wrapping myself up in my coat. My trainers squeaked as I trudged down the stairs and out of the hospital into the cold morning rain. Just as I reach my car, the hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention as I suddenly feel like I am being watched. Turning around I see the shadow figure standing at the window.
I smile knowing that the shadow figure is not only protecting the patients in the ward but also me.