By Devin Meireles
It was the summer of 2009 that I worked as a patient transporter for a teaching hospital in downtown Toronto, one of the most historic and haunted sites in the neighborhood. While a public labor strike backlogged garbage collection across the city and caused community centers by my parents’ place to collect black bags for nearly a month, there were plenty of stories happening within the walls of the institution that weren’t making headline news, at least from my vantage point.
There are countless traumatic events that happen on a daily basis at a hospital. Many of which are dramatized on Grey’s Anatomy but, in real life, can have a devastating impact on those who pass through while some never leave and others return sooner than later. As a walking taxi service for those admitted, my work life constantly saw many different patients and I met a lot of interesting staff members.
Day shifts were fast-paced, but being a rookie in a unionized environment, I was scheduled for the overnights on many occasions, the least sought-out bookings. Deep into the late hours of the night, I saw many compelling incidents before my eyes. I frequented the emergency room and all areas of the building wherever requests came from, moving everything, from bodies to blood to equipment.
I recall one shift when the order came in to move a newly deceased to the morgue. It was routine for some areas to wait until after visiting hours before transporting the gurney down public hallways. I typically had no issues with these tasks so long as I had a buddy to work with, who, on this night, had called in sick, so I was on my own.
Without the comfort of a colleague, these would sometimes weigh heavy on my mind. Especially when walking alone in the creepy basement to the morgue with just a dead body lying on their back ahead of your footsteps. On this night it was a little harder for me, but I did it as expected. What followed me was the unsettling part of this story.
The morgue hadn’t been cleaned in months, and I couldn’t get rid of the smell under my nose. Thoughts of fresh death consumed my thoughts since I had recently taken an interest in ghost sightings, which surely didn’t help either. I was psyching myself out and desperately needed a break.
Taking a time-out, I closed the door behind me to be the sole user of a visitor waiting room. One of my favorite spots had a couch, pantry, and cable television to distract me. I lay there as reruns of Seinfeld would surely take me away, but what happened next was daunting to say the least.
As I slouched on a sofa, I was alarmed to hear the faucet suddenly spewing water. I looked around the room to make sure I was the only person in there—it checked out. Something was weird. I knew that tap was not a motion sensor and the nozzle had to be turned on for the sink to run. When I realized that was not possible without somebody in there with me, my heart sank. A feeling of heat absorbed my body while I sat paralyzed like that scene in Get Out.
My thoughts spun out of control as the water ran continuously. The room sat still as a piece of me hoped that it would turn itself off, but it didn’t. Whatever was in the room with me let me know that they were there. The message was received, but I wished that it would go away. My mind raced with stories of the afterlife. As much as I tried to think happy thoughts, it wasn’t working, I needed to leave.
I waited another five or so minutes before I mustered up the courage to face my deepest inner thoughts and get up to shut it off. When I got to the sink, that handle was tilted full blast with no explanation of how that happened. Needless to say, I was on edge for the rest of my shift and took solace with any company I could get, mostly at the dispatch office.
My interest in ghost stories didn’t phase out, and I went further down the rabbit hole thereafter. My girlfriend was concerned for me as I began to think everything was a message from the beyond. Those overnights continued, which didn’t help either. Paranoia took hold of me that summer.
It took some time, but I got out of my head eventually. A balanced diet, good sleep, and quitting ghost stories got me there. Now in retrospect, I still think something was trying to reach me that night. There have been other strange instances that happened since then. Perhaps it’s the same messenger, maybe not, but I don’t obsess over it anymore. I just observe and listen, as I think they are just guiding me throughout life. Every once in a while, they just want to remind me that they’re there, at least that’s what I’ve told myself.
Now I have my own ghost story to share. I guess that’s how these things happen. Something weird and unexplained takes place, and the observer takes what they will from that. It could have been anything, but how I narrate the story is what dictates how that took place. I wonder if it was just myself looking for it to happen, but I know what I saw. Maybe something was giving me what I asked for that summer.
Devin Meireles is a healthcare coordinator that moonlights as a short story and article writer. He is currently working on a nonfiction novel about his grandfather’s life as an immigrant from Portugal. His biggest motivation is to preserve the history of his ancestors and real life to encapsulate true emotions and lived experiences. As a Portuguese-Canadian living in South Etobicoke (Toronto), his view of Lake Ontario is an inspiration to scribble his pen to a virtual notepad.