When I was in high school there was a class you could take that was connected to local history. I’m Canadian, but because I’m from the smallest province in Canada, we don’t get mentioned a lot in regular Canadian history courses, so I thought it would be a cool class to take. Our teacher was alright, a bit of a new-age nut, but she gave good grades and it was a pretty good blow off class. You took it to get your marks up.
Anyway, as part of the class, you had to do these little projects related to local history throughout the year. One of which was to tell ghost stories and legends we had picked up to the class at Halloween. I’m a writer, and really into all that horror stuff, so everyone expected me to do this assignment really well which kinda put some pressure on me. I gathered a bunch of different ghost stories, not knowing which would be better, and hoped for the best.
Come Halloween, we left our regular class and went to the auditorium across the hall. Our teacher, really selling the Halloween thing, turned off all the lights except for a flashlight she’d brought and handed it to me to get the ball rolling. I told a common one to start things off, about a local pirate myth, and then handed it over to the girl sitting next to me.
The period went by rather quickly. A group of girls talked about how a friend’s house was definitely haunted, our school president did the myth of the infamous Dead Man’s Pond, and someone brought up the ghost ship, and then the flashlight came to me again. Since everyone else had talked about what I had planned to speak about, I was at a loss. Until I remembered a story my mother told me when I was little.
Downtown, across from our most popular venue where our hockey team plays and we have the local carnival every year, is this old brick building. Huge, majestic, like something out of a movie. When I was little I loved how it looked, and told my mother one day, as we drove by, I was going to live there when I older. She went pale, pulled over into a side street, stopped the car, and told me that I didn’t want to do that. She was quite visibly shaken, something that was rare for me to see, so I asked why not. I wasn’t expecting the answer I got.
I knew my mother had a poor upbringing. After her parents divorced, she moved around a lot. Her dad had money, and a nice house, but since he and her mother were still friends and wanted equal time with the children, she couldn’t live with him permanently. Her mother, my grandmother, was a nurse but didn’t make much money at the time. It was the late 70s, early 80s, you know? So she moved around a lot. Around the time of the story, they had just moved into an apartment building next door to the building I mentioned. It wasn’t anything new, my mom stated, a normal apartment. Until she went to bed.
That night she shared a room with a couple of her siblings. Her bed was near the window, and she could see out into the courtyard in front of the building. One of her brothers, of whom she had a difficult relationship with, told her stories about the building next door. That it had been a hospital, then an old folks’ home, and now apartments, so a lot of people had died there and it was crawling with ghosts. My mother, being a rational person even in youth, didn’t believe him. They went to bed.
A couple hours later my mother told me she was awoken by light blue light shining into her room from the window outside. Since they were high up, and not on the ground floor, she didn’t know what it could be. She rolled over, looked out the window, and saw a couple of people standing around in the courtyard below. She told me that they were all light blue, and glowing, and almost translucent. She sat there in her bed, looking at them, and then one, a woman, turned her head and looked up at her. My mother recalls yelping, and diving under her covers, only to look up a minute or so later. The strange people weren’t outside anymore. Her relief died mere seconds later when she noticed a light blue glow coming from behind her and illuminating her shadow. She spun around, and there was the woman who she had locked eyes with, floating an inch above the ground in her room.
According to my mother, she couldn’t speak. Any chance at getting words out died in her throat, and she didn’t know what to do as the woman slowly moved closer to her bed. Had her brother, the very one who had teased her about the haunted apartments next door, not woken from the strange new lights in the middle of their room, and screamed upon seeing the ghostly figure, she, to this day, does not know what would have happened next. Her brother rushed to turn on the lights, the woman vanished, and their mother, my grandmother, ran in a couple seconds later.
They moved a couple days later, but my mother and her siblings, my aunts and uncles, stayed with their dad until then.
After I told this story to the class, the room went dead quiet. No one had, apparently, heard this story before. Slowly, a girl I had known briefly from my job at the time, let’s call her Tara, reached across the make-shift circle we were sitting in to take the flashlight from me.
“I didn’t know this at the time…” Tara started to say, “That the building was once a hospital…but something strange happened to me a few months ago when I was staying with my sister. She and her boyfriend live in an apartment in that building.”
Tara explained that one night she had come in late to her sister’s apartment. The door to the bedroom was closed, but the door was locked, so Tara assumed that her sister and her boyfriend were still out. Tara went and sprawled out face down on the couch, and started to doze off.
The front door creaked open sometime later, waking her up, but assuming it was her sister or her boyfriend, Tara didn’t look up. The door creaked back shut, passed her on the couch, and went into the kitchen area. She recalled the cupboard doors being opened and closed, along with the fridge, and then silence. The door to the apartment opened again, just as Tara doze off again.
The next morning, Tara was woken up by her sister, angrily shaking her shoulder. She asked why she had thought it would be a good idea to leave the front door wide open, and what she had been doing in the kitchen. Tara, still sleepy and adjusting, sat up and looked around the apartment. Sure enough, the front door was wide open, along with the all the cupboards and the fridge. Tara exclaimed she hadn’t done this, and thought that it had been her sister and her boyfriend. They explained that they had been in the bedroom since dinnertime, working on some projects for university, and thought it had been her.
Tara finished up her story by explaining that it couldn’t have been some burglar, because nothing had been taken, and she had locked the door behind her. She locked eyes with me and explained that she had no idea what could have happened that night until I finished punching in the holes.
I wish the story ends here, but there is one more disturbing twist. I was scheduled to work that night after school, and came into the restaurant still thinking about all Tara had said. One of my managers, let’s call her Anne, asked why I looked so out of it. I told her what Tara had said, and watched as the color drained from her face. She explained that a couple nights ago her sister and her daughter had moved into one of the apartments in the old brick building. She helped them move in but found something off about the place. Her fears were proven correct when she got a call late that night from her sister, hysterical and screaming and claiming that something wasn’t right. Anne drove to the apartment, found her sister and niece sitting outside in their pajamas, and took them back to her house for the night. Her sister never fully explained what had happened that first night, but she didn’t go back until the next morning and that was just to gather their things and tell their landlord that they were leaving.
I wish I could say I was brave enough to go and explore the building for myself. That I gathered a group of friends, headed in with cameras, and experienced the encounters first hand. I didn’t. As much as I love the supernatural, I am a coward and prefer hearing about it than experiencing it.
I’m not sure in depth everything that has gone on in that building, and it’s difficult to do research on. All I can say is that three people I know have had experiences there, three people who are known to be incredibly trustworthy and rational, so I believe them when they say that something isn’t right in that old building.
I will never live there.