This story did not happen to me. I heard this story from a San Antonio Police Officer of over 20 years service. He swears it is true. He referred me to another officer for confirmation who was there also. He swore it was true, but asked I not use his name. “The story is too crazy,” he said. “Something like that gets out, people would think I was nuts.”
There is a hospital in downtown San Antonio, a religious hospital, that has been there for over 100 years. Their original building still stands next door to and is still connected to the newer building. The original building is still used during the day for administrative offices, training, and other purposes, but no one wants to go there at night. The building is full of noises, voices, and odd sensations. It’s traditional that when they get a call at 2am on “unusual activity” from the old building, they send a rookie cop to break him in. Sort of a hazing thing, if you know what I mean.
The officer told me he had been with the SAPD about six months and answered man calls at the old building when one night he was partnered with a rookie. As they patrolled the hospital, they got a call for “unusual activity” in the old building. The officer was on the fifth floor and sent the rookie over to the old building alone to check it out. The officer knew that whenever an investigating officer got off the elevator on the fifth floor (where the noise reports usually came from), the lights were off, there were no noises, and nothing was ever found. The rookie went to the elevator, and after waiting a few seconds for it, it occurred to him that the noise of the elevator might tip off anyone waiting on the fifth floor; so he decided to take the stairs.
He opened the door on the fifth floor and walked into a completely normal scene. Two or three nurses were working in the nursing station, their crisp starched skirts and white nursing caps gleaming under the incandescent lights. He went to the nursing station window and presented himself. “Evening, Ladies,” he said. “Any problems?”
One of the nurses looked up and smiled. She shook her head No, and returned to her paperwork. The rookie thought this was a bit rude, but said nothing. “I’ll just have a look around,” he said, and wandered down the hallway to his right. The old hallways were much narrower and curved than the newer buildings. New hospitals are required to have eight-foot wide corridors for fire safety reasons – these are barely four feet wide most places. The hallway lights, like the rooms and the nursing station, had old-fashioned incandescent bulbs; not the fluorescent long bulbs like the rest of the hospital. It gave a dim, golden glow to the hallways and rooms.
The rookie slowly walked to the end of the hallway, and saw other nurses in a few of the rooms. About half of the rooms had patients in them, although some were empty. At the end of the hall was the Nurse’s lounge, which had a few of the nurses’s coats and belongings in it. An old, short, rounded edged GE refrigerator stood in the corner. But it was the huge wooden Victrola radio in int’s four-foot wooden case that caught his eye. The rookie’s grandmother had one of these for years before she died. He hadn’t seen one since.
How Odd, he thought.
As he started to walk back his radio flared to life. It was the first officer and the supervisor, asking if he had arrived there yet. The rookie went into an empty room that faced the newer buildings and could see the officer and the supervisor on the sixth floor above him. They were shining their flashlights in the windows of the old building looking for him. The rookie radioed his position back to them, and both officer’s flashlights swung toward his window in unison. “Where are you?, called the supervisor. “We can’t see you?”
“You’re pointing your flashlights right on me,” he replied. You’re blinding me.”
The officer waved a hand over his head. “How many fingers am I holding up?”
“Four,” said the rookie.
The supervisor waved a hand over his head. “How many damned fingers am I holding up?”
“One, sarge,” replied the rookie. “And that’s not a very nice finger my grandma always said.”
The officer and the supervisor peered across the way at the old building into the room. They could still not see the rookie.
“Get back here right now,” barked the supervisor. He was clearly concerned for the rookie, although the rookie couldn’t figure out why.
The rookie didn’t know what the fifth floor ICU had been closed for five years at the time this happened. From their perch in the other building the officer and the supervisor could clearly see the same thing the rookie did; nurses, patients, and lights. Just no rookie from their vantage.
The rookie walked back to the nursing station and said goodnight to the nurses there, who smiled at him but did not reply. He walked back down the five flights and walked over to the Security station in the newer buildings. When they told him that the fifth floor had not been used in five years the rookie got annoyed at first, then angry, then went back to the fifth floor with the officer and the supervisor.
The lights were off when they arrived, and the old nurse’s station was full of boxed items. It would have been impossible to move all those boxes in the short time he’d been gone. The rooms were cluttered with old beds, furniture, and castoff equipment.
And all the lights were the newer style fluorescent – not the old incandescent.
After they told him that the fifth floor hadn’t been used the rookie got very quiet. He didn’t say a word the rest of his shift.
The next night he didn’t show up for work, and never came back. I’m not sure I would have either.