Room 17B

Room 17B holds a dark secret. As dark as the corridors of that old hospital.

by Lynn WL

Hospitals are some of the places that give me the heebie jeebies. I associate them with suffering and death. There's also the possibility of them being haunted as so many people die there. I partly grew up in an Asian country where many of the hospitals are old, and I used to be creeped out going into a hospital.

spooky hospital corridorFirst, you would be greeted by this typical smell of disinfectant as you walked in. Then you would see patients on wheelchairs and gurneys, some of them whimpering in pain. I remember one time I saw a woman on a gurney with blood stains on the sheet which really freaked me out. Above all, I imagined the ghosts of patients as well as doctors and nurses roam those dark and old buildings.

This past summer after completing my freshman year in college I had the chance to visit my country of birth. My grandparents from my mother's side and a few other relatives still live there. I traveled just with my mom and little brother as dad was busy managing his business and my other siblings had other plans.

Grandpa picked us up at the airport, and he was so happy to see us, especially me. He gave me a huge hug and said, "Oh my goodness, is this really you Lynn? I can't believe my little angel has grown up, and is prettier than ever. How many hearts did you break in your first year of college?!"

I was a little embarrassed, and all I could say was, "Aww, grandpa!" But I was glad to see him too after so many years. The last time I saw him was when I was twelve.

We were going to be there for a month. The first week was uneventful. I spent a lot of my time hanging out with my cousins who are my age. They took me to different places and let me eat all the delicious food that I had missed all these years.

The second week I got sick. I was throwing up a lot, completely lost my appetite, and was really weak. Everyone was worried, and they believed I should go to the hospital.

"Hospital? Oh fuck, no!" I thought. Especially not over there. But I had no choice as my condition was worsening. So they took me to the emergency room at the closest hospital to my grandparents' house where we were staying. The hospital had been renovated. New buildings had been added, but the old ones were left intact and still fully functioning.

The ER was in a new building, and was quite modern, but I still smelled the same disinfectant I used to many years ago, which brought back old creepy memories. The doctors, nurses, and staff all wore white uniforms which kind of added to the eeriness.

The ER doc said I most likely had food poisoning which is mostly self-limiting, but I was severely dehydrated, so he decided to admit me just as a precaution. He said it would probably be only overnight, and if everything went well, I would be discharged the following morning.

As you might guess, I wasn't too happy about that, but again, I had no choice. I was really hoping they would at least put me in one of the new buildings. But as luck would have it, they said all the new units were fully occupied, and I would have to stay in one of the old buildings.

"Oh, I'm really fucked now!" I thought. So they rolled me on a gurney heading to the ward through open-air corridors. The hospital was pretty crowded, and there were a number of kids who stared at me as I passed them by. They were probably a little freaked out like I used to be when I was their age, wondering what was wrong with this poor soul.

old hospitalI finally got to my room. There were 2 beds, but so far I was the only patient. Everything in the old hospital was open-air. The disinfectant smell was even stronger there which I hated as it added to the creepy atmosphere. There was a large courtyard in the middle with rooms on each side, and a nurse station at each end. The rooms had glass windows with curtains. The courtyard was well kept, and there were big trees in the middle.

I was quite nervous, and mom and grandpa tried to calm me. But they eventually had to leave. "See you in the morning!" they said. Yeah, they left me in this scary place by myself. During the day it wasn't all that spooky, to be honest. But at night it would be quite different, I imagined.

It finally got dark, and I was still the only patient in the room. In a way it was good because I had privacy, but on the other hand, I probably would have been more at ease if someone else had been there. I wished mom could have stayed there with me.

There was no AC, just a ceiling fan, and I had my windows open. I could hear crickets chirping in the courtyard. After visiting hours were over, most of the lights outside were turned off. Only a few remained on, making the hallways eerily dim. I wished they hadn't done that. I remained wide awake.

At around 11 PM I heard footsteps in the hallway. They weren't regular footsteps. They were like shuffles alternating with knocks - like a piece of wood hitting the hard floor. Like someone walking on crutches. Who could it be? One of the patients, perhaps? Then they stopped right in front of my door. My heart beat faster.

There was a gentle knock on the door, and it opened before I could say anything. It was a nurse, and sure enough, she was wearing crutches because... she only had one leg! She was maybe in her 40's, and was rather short and thin. She was wearing a white uniform with a white cap, and her face was cold and expressionless.

"Good evening," she muttered. "I'm here to take your vital signs."

"Okay, Mam," I replied.

As she approached I looked at her name tag which said "Rita." She was amazingly agile. But her hands were cold as they touched my arm to take my blood pressure, and I shivered.

Then I asked her a question which I later regretted, "Mam, why are the hallway lights turned off?"

"We have to conserve electricity," she replied coldly. The next thing she said caught me off guard. "Why? Are you afraid of the dark?"

"Oh uh... well, kinda..." I replied.

"Are you afraid of ghosts?" she asked again.

What the fuck kind of question is that?! "Um... maybe," I said hesitantly.

Then she smiled. For the first time since she came in. It wasn't a reassuring kind of smile, though. It was cold, and in fact, a little sinister.

"Sleep well, Miss," she said as she walked out of my room.

Sleep well? Are you fucking kidding me? After you asked me those crazy questions? I was totally creeped out now. But I was really tired, so I finally dozed off.

I was awakened by another knock on the door around midnight. This time a different nurse came in. She was younger, maybe around 30.

"Sorry to disturb you, Miss Lynn, but I need to take your vital signs," she said which kind of puzzled me. How often did these people take vitals? I wasn't in intensive care.

So I said, "But, somebody just did an hour ago."

Now it was her turn to be perplexed. "Who?" she asked.

"Nurse Rita," I replied.

"Rita?"

"Yeah, you know, the nurse with the crutches."

For a second I saw horror in her face which she immediately tried to hide.

"There's no such nurse here, Miss!" she said.

"But she was here!" I replied. "She took my vitals. She couldn't be from another ward, right?"

She sighed and said, "Look, Miss Lynn, you're still recovering, so you're probably tired, and sometimes when we're sick and weak we tend to perceive things differently, you know, like being in a dream."

"But I wasn't dreaming! I wasn't even asleep!" I protested. I looked at her name tag, and it said "Gina."

"I'm sorry, Miss. I don't know what else to tell you. There is no nurse named Rita on our staff, and no one wears crutches here."

I relented and let her take my vitals. "Sleep well, Miss Lynn!" she said as she walked out.

I was like, hah, yeah, whatever! I don't know whether I was more frustrated or scared. A million things went through my mind. I knew I wasn't dreaming, and for sure I wasn't hallucinating. So who the fuck was it that came into my room earlier? And Gina was definitely trying to hide something. Why was she so horrified when I told her about Rita? What the hell was going on?

"Well, I'm out of here first thing in the morning!" I tried to comfort myself with the thought. So why should I give a fuck? I finally fell back to sleep. I woke up around 3 AM because I had to pee. So I got out of bed and went to the bathroom.

While walking back to bed I heard someone sobbing. It was quite faint, so it was probably from one of the other rooms. It made me uneasy. It was rather depressing to say the least. Who could it be? Did someone just die? I sat on the edge of my bed listening to the sobbing which became progressively louder. After waiting for a few minutes and it didn't stop, finally, my curiosity got the better of me. I decided to find out where it was coming from, and maybe get a nurse to do something. They could at least close their windows.

So I walked out of my room into the dim hallway. I didn't bother putting on my flip flops. Outside I was able to hear the sobbing more clearly. It was coming from a room on the other side of the courtyard. So I slowly walked across the courtyard towards it. The door of the room was ajar. As I stood in front of it, I looked at the number: 17B.

I pushed the door wide open. The room was very dim. It was only lit by a small lamp on the night stand. I shivered as my bare soles touched the cold floor in the room. I thought it was strange how the floor was so cold as there was no AC.

There was a woman sitting on the bed facing the wall. She was the one crying. She appeared young from behind, she had long black hair, and was wearing a white hospital gown. Suddenly I had goosebumps and wished I hadn't gone in there. But it was too late now!

I approached the bed and asked her, "Mam, are you okay?" She didn't answer and continued crying. "Excuse me, Mam..." I said again while walking even closer to her. I was about to tap her arm when the corner of my eye caught something else in the room. Something hanging from the ceiling. So I turned my head and looked up. What I saw was the most horrifying thing I had ever seen in my life.

It was the body of a nurse (she was wearing a white uniform). It was hung by the neck from the ceiling fan with a white bed sheet. I then recognized the body because it had only one leg! I panicked. I screamed and ran out of the room towards the nurse's station.

Nurse Gina happened to be sitting there, and she was startled to see me. "Miss Lynn, what happened?!"

I stuttered, "I... I... uh... there's a... body hanging in the room... it's nurse Rita! Come quickly!"

"What are you talking about Miss Lynn? Please calm down. Which room is it?"

"Room 17B!"

There was the same horrified expression in her face I saw earlier. This time it was more intense, and she couldn't hide it. "But... but that room is vacant. There's not supposed to be anyone in there!" she exclaimed.

"But I was just in there! There was a woman sitting on the bed crying, and then when I looked up I saw nurse Rita hanging from the ceiling fan!" I replied.

"That's impossible! You're talking nonsense!"

"Well, come with me then, and I'll prove it to you!" Gina stood still. "Hurry!" I said.

Finally, she followed me hesitantly. When we got there the door of room 17B was closed. I didn't remember closing it when I ran out of there. The room looked completely dark through the windows, and I didn't hear the sobbing anymore. I tried to open the door but it was locked!

"How is this possible? I was just here like a minute ago!" I said.

"Okay, let me open it..." said nurse Gina reaching for the master key in her pocket. So she opened the door and flipped the light switch. Now the room was totally bright. But there was no one there! The bed was neatly made and nobody was on it, and of course, there was nothing hanging from the ceiling fan.

"See, I told you this room was vacant!" said Gina. I saw relief in her face.

"But... they were here a minute ago..."

"Well, where are they now? This is the room, right? Look, Miss Lynn, you have no business going into other patients' rooms. Now please go back to your room and have some rest! And you shouldn't be walking barefoot on hospital grounds as you never know what diseases you might catch!" she proceeded to scold me.

At that point I realized whatever I would say to defend myself would be futile as I had no proof. Not a fucking thing! So I remain silent, and despondently walked back to my room escorted by Gina.

"Okay, Miss Lynn, go to sleep now, and whatever happens please stay in here and don't go out and walk around again!" she said as she closed the door. I felt like sticking my tongue out at her.

My feet were very dirty but I didn't bother washing them. Of course, I wasn't able to sleep. What the fuck did I see in that room? Who was the other woman? I couldn't have imagined it all. I was terrified. What if nurse Rita would suddenly appear in my room? But I was so exhausted physically and emotionally that I finally fell asleep with all the lights on.

I was awakened by the sun shining through the windows and birds singing in the trees in the courtyard. Even though I was relieved that it was finally daylight, I was still deeply disturbed. However, I had decided not to bring it up with anyone, even my family, because they would just dismiss it. Like nurse Gina, they would all tell me I was really tired, and it was all in my head.

At about 9 AM mom and grandpa showed up. I couldn't be happier to see them. The doctor had confirmed that I had food poisoning, but everything looked fine, and I was stable enough to be discharged. I was glad to leave that goddamn hospital, but I was a little subdued and remained quiet during the ride home.

Grandpa sensed something wasn't quite right with me. As soon as we got home he asked me, "Are you okay sweetheart?"

"Yeah, I'm fine grandpa, just a little weak, that's all."

"Oh, I'm not worried about your body. You'll be as good as new in no time. But I sense that something is bothering you. Wanna tell me about it?"

I hesitated and said, "Oh, it's nothing."

But he persisted. "Come on Lynn, you can tell me anything. I've experienced quite a bit in my life, and I'm sure I can help ease your worries one way or another. Besides, it's not good to keep it all to yourself."

"Well, something happened in the hospital last night, but you probably won't believe me if I tell you."

"Try me!" he replied, and we both sat in the living room, and I began to tell him everything that happened the night before, starting with nurse Rita coming into my room to take my vitals.

Just when I was mentioning the fact that she was on crutches, I saw astonishment in grandpa's face. Then he muttered, "Oh my god, you saw her!"

I paused and was like, "Who, grandpa? Who was this nurse?"

"Huh? Oh... I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt you. Please continue, sweetheart!" he replied.

"But grandpa, this is the crux of the whole thing. I wanna know who this nurse was!"

"Oh, I understand, sweetheart. I shouldn't have said anything. Please finish your story, because I can explain it better after I hear everything, and it will also make more sense to you then!"

I was like, "Ookaaay..." and continued my story. Again, I saw horror in his face when I was telling him what I saw in room 17B. But he kept quiet this time. After I finished, this is what he told me.

"You see, Lynn, many years ago there was this nurse at that old hospital who had only one leg, and was wearing crutches. We don't know how she got to be that way, but despite that, she was a very good nurse. She was skillful and agile. She never let her infirmity get in the way of doing her job. Until one day...

She gave the wrong medication to a patient, a young woman in her 20's, resulting in her death. Overridden by guilt, the nurse committed suicide right in this patient's room by hanging herself from the ceiling fan with a bed sheet. Since then, many patients in that room experienced strange things like hearing someone weeping, and one of them, like you, saw the nurse hanging from the ceiling fan. The hospital finally decided it would be best to keep the room unused and locked forever."

Chills ran down my spine as I was listening to grandpa, and my mouth was wide open. I was glad I didn't have to go back to that haunted hospital again.

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