“Welcome to Riverwood.” The administrator exclaimed, shaking the hand of the new night nurse. Riverwood was the town’s only nursing home. It had been built as a hospital back in the early days of Millville. It was a grand three story building, built in an “L” shape. At the far west end of the building was a bell tower. It no longer sounded, the bell having been removed several years ago. It was on a slight hill overlooking the north end of town and was surrounded by trees so thick that it was rumored that those who tried to escape or walk away got lost and were never found. Riverwood had been the place to take the aged and weary, or the sick and hopeless for many years now. It was the place that many waited for their final breath. It was said that in the beginning of Riverwood, many bad experiments had taken place here. It was also said that many of them went wrong, very wrong. But those days had passed and after several remodels and updates to the building and systems, Riverwood had become a modern, simple living center for those who needed constant care.
“Thank you, Sir.” The young nurse said politely, pulling her hand back to herself. “I hope I can work here a long time.”
“You will be working third shift starting this Friday, on the third floor west hall, your assistant that night will be a young lady named Emily. She can give you the tour when you get here.” Said the administrator.
“Thank you again.” The nurse said, as they both rose from their seats and he walked her to the door.
Once outside she looked up at the building from the parking lot. “It’s beautiful,” she said to herself, “but it is a bit creepy.” The place did seem to carry a bit of spookiness about it but she was just relieved to have a job. These were hard times and she needed money, especially if she still planned on getting married in the spring. She had tried several nursing homes in other surrounding towns but she didn’t have any luck until she applied here. She gave one last look at the building before climbing into her station wagon and drove down the drive. She couldn’t wait to tell her fiancé.
“Hi,” a voice came from behind her as she rounded the last flight of stairs to the third floor, “You must be Nancy, the new night nurse.” It was from a young girl maybe a few years younger than herself. “My name is Emily,” The girl said, “I’m your assistant. I‘m taking classes to be a nurse, so until I pass my exams, I can only help.”
They walked the rest of the way together. Emily showed her the third floor layout. Where the restroom was and of course the staffroom, but since they worked third shift they would take their meals at their desk. They would be the only people on the entire west hall. The third floor west hall was basically the hall where the extremely “sick” went. Each room was a sick room and the smell that came down the hall was enough to make anyone gag, even if your stomach was made from granite. Emily’s job was to basically keep the rooms clean from any messes that occurred from the patient as well as attend to their basic needs, water, baths, feeding etc. Nancy’s job was to keep their medications going and deal with any major decisions that needed made.
Within her first week, two of her patients had passed away and a third had been on the verge of death but she and the third floor north hall nurse had resuscitated the lady. The lady had cried the rest of the night saying that, “It had been her time; the bell had told her so, and now they would be angry.” Nancy was baffled at the lady and had ended up giving her something to put her to sleep, just so that she would rest.
One night while taking a break at the desk, call lights, the lights outside a patients door that are used to alert the nurse when attention is needed, began going off in vacant rooms. Upon inspection by both Nancy and Emily the switches hadn’t even been flipped. It was then that Emily spoke up.
“If you think this is weird, just wait. You’re still new here. Night shift is when this place really stretches its legs.”
“What do you mean?” asked Nancy.
“Well think about it. When you work at a place like this, that has the history this one has, and the fact that most people who come in here don’t leave here alive, you’re bound to have some spooks. Well there are plenty of them here.” Emily said as they walked back to the nurse’s desk. “I’m sorry,” she said, “I don’t mean to scare you. You’ll get used to it.”
They talked away the rest of the night, neither leaving the side of the other. Emily had explained Riverwood’s history to Nancy, and though at many points it left her uneasy about her new job, she realized she needed to keep it and a few spooks wouldn’t make her quit. So, she kept at it. Night after night. And even though there were always a few strange things that happened, Nancy was getting used to the place.
But it was that winter that had created more of a problem for her. The snow was so thick in town that she couldn’t have imagined how bad it would be heading out to Riverwood. Nancy and her boyfriend lived a few miles away from Millville, in the small college community of Crestwood. She didn’t have to drive clear across the county to get to work, but the snow made her choose to take the highway.
Her car had almost slid off the road at least three times before she made it. When she had arrived that night to work, half of the normal night staff, which was minimal anyway, wasn’t there yet. The radio that was playing was talking about the weather and how it was the worst snow storm they had had in years. “Blizzard,” was what they were saying. Nancy believed it. The snow was already almost waist deep. She was surprised that she had been able to make it in her station wagon. It was almost like something wanted her to be here.
“Okay, here’s the plan,” The charge nurse had walked over to her making her rounds. “We’re all probably gonna be stuck here for a while, so you might call home if you need to inform anyone, before the phones go out. If the lights go out, the generator should stay on long enough for us to all meet in the staff room. If that happens, I’ll give further plans then. Find the flashlights for your hall.” She had started to walk away when Nancy stopped her. “What about Emily? Is she here yet?”
“No. You’ll have to go it alone for a while. I’ll try to get someone to come help you as soon as they can. If you need someone before that just page me.” With that she disappeared beyond the doors.
Nancy looked around her at the nurse’s station and tried to sum up in her head all that needed to be done since she would be doing two jobs at once. Then after finding the flashlights she placed one on her cart and headed down the dimly lit hallway. Everything had gone alright through her pill pass, except for the occasional flicker from the lights. A few times she had glanced out the windows to see how bad it was outside, but she couldn’t really see past the window panes. It was a real whiteout out there. Walking back down the hallway the lights flickered a few more times and then went out with a buzzing sound. She stopped for a minute, where she was standing, waiting for the generator to kick in. When she began to think that it wasn’t she started to walk slowly to where she thought she had put her cart. A feeling came over her that made her stop again. She felt as though someone else was there with her in that hallway.
‘Maybe it’s the patients’, she thought, ‘They’re wondering what happened.’
“Go back to your rooms,” She said, “It’s the storm; the power has gone out and the generator will be kicking in shortly.” Even though she was saying it she wasn’t sure she believed it. It should have already had the lights back on.
Whoever she had been talking to in the hallway, must’ve heard her and went back to their room because she didn’t feel their presence anymore. She did hear something though, she could barely make it out in all the noise the storm was making outside, but she was sure she could hear a bell tolling. She started walking again, a little faster this time, trying to find her cart that had the flashlight on it.
“I told them they could have you.” A voice said eerily down the corridor.
She stopped and looked around her in the darkness. She couldn’t see anyone nor feel anyone. “Go back to your room;” she said in a slightly quivering voice, “The lights will be on again in a minute.”
“You took me from them, when they came for me, so they’re coming for you now.” The voice said. Nancy listened for a minute and realized that it was the old lady they had brought back to life. “Please go lie down and go to sleep.” She pleaded. Tears were welling up in her eyes as she started to follow the wall down to the nurse’s station. Each open doorway she passed made her heart skip. Then she heard it again… the tolling of a bell… She could feel a draft sweeping across her face as if someone had opened a window somewhere. The cold against her cheeks was like icy fingers on her skin. She only wished Emily was here with her. It would have made her feel a little better. She came to another open doorway and began to slink passed when something in the darkness grabbed her and pulled her into it. They would never have heard her scream because the darkness had filled her lungs and had enveloped her. Moments later the generator kicked in and the lights finally came back on.
After the storm had ceased and plows had begun to make their way through ice and snow, a noise had alerted the other nurses that Nancy was missing. It was the ringing of the bell, the bell that no longer existed. Several of the nurses had made their way up to the bell tower to see what was going on, when they found her hanging from a rope. As the wind hit her dangling legs, her head hit the bell making it ring and reverberate across the hills. They said, they heard a high pitch laugh as the air around them became like ice cold fingers.