Off the Top of My Head #10: A Walk with the Shadow People

Off The Top of My Head

“I’ll do it.”  There was no hesitation or doubt.  Even the small apprehension caused by timidity of the unknown wasn’t severe enough to stop the response.  The fear for missing the chance was more severe…  Standing on the lightless 4th floor of Waverly Hill Sanatorium, having gone through the better part of a two hour tour, heard stories of the innumerable ghosts that legend says still haunt its halls and seen photographic and physical evidence to corroborate several of these stories, when the tour guide asked “I need a volunteer to walk to the end of the hall alone, who will do it?”  “I’ll do it” was my response almost before he could finish the statement.

Waverly Hills Sanatorium was once the gold standard in tuberculosis treatment and research in the world.  I won’t provide the history of it, numerous sites are available for that, but over the years since the closure in 1981 of the home for the elderly which inherited the building Waverly Hills has been the subject of ghost stories and legends and now has a reputation of being one of the most haunted places in America.

The only camera I had was, unfortunately, my phone.  When I go back I'll bring my real camera.
The only camera I had was, unfortunately, my phone. When I go back I’ll bring my real camera.

I’ve had an interest in Waverly Hills since I first saw a documentary about it in 2006.  The documentary itself was full of some horror movie cheesiness (and was produced by the makers of a B-rated horror movie Death Tunnel) but it also contained footage of the old hospital, a good deal of history, and interviews with former staff and patients.  It was also intriguing.  There is something inherently frightening about hospital settings, massive structures, you know people have met unfortunate ends there, and dark corridors with numerous rooms.

A friend organized an opportunity to go and my RevPub co-author and fellow ghost enthusiast and her son joined the group and we all ventured to just south west of Louisville, Kentucky to go on the paranormal tour.

We started the tour at dusk so the sun was still out.  As the tour progressed it got darker and darker outside...
We started the tour at dusk so the sun was still out. As the tour progressed it got darker and darker outside…

The tour itself was excellent.  We had a great tour guide who provided levity when needed and gave actual history of the grounds and facilities along with the tales of the supernatural.  But it was the 4th Floor “Shadow People” that made the tour for me.

You stand at the end of the dark corridor, first as a group (there were about 20 of us) and watch the floors, light coming in from the glass-less windows shines through the doors of the vacant patient rooms.  By paying attention you can see shadows moving…almost like patients pacing in their rooms.  When the guide asked if someone would walk the corridor, past the numerous rooms, and stop in the dark shadows I couldn’t pass it up.

I won’t lie, it was unnerving.  The entire time in Waverly Hills I was freezing.  I never once felt threatened or afraid, but there was always an awkward feeling like something…off.  Almost like a painting slightly out of proportion…you realize something isn’t normal but you can’t quite place what it is.  Walking the hallway was a mixture of adrenaline and what I can only describe as “pressure.”  Not a heavy weight on you…just an environmental pressure like the space itself is closing in around you.  I’m not easily scared, but the whole experience was so unnerving that if the tour guide had asked me to walk to the wing of the hallway, by dozens more empty rooms and out of sight of the rest of the group, I would’ve hesitated to do it…

This is how that dark hallway looked from my view...only darker...
This is how that dark hallway looked from my view…only darker…

I couldn’t see what was happening behind me, but I was told the shadows in the doors definitely peaked when someone passed (there’s nothing quite as heart-stopping as having your back to several supposedly haunted rooms and hearing the tour group softly gasp…) and that during my walk back I seemed like I was swallowed in the blackness.

It was an incredible experience that will take some time to fully digest.  I’m definitely glad I did it and plan to go back for the full-on paranormal investigation.

Waverly Hills Stairs

To schedule your own tour or investigation visit their site here!

Ghost Story #5: Grocery Stores

Anyone who has worked at a grocery store knows the back room is a little creepy. It’s dark, loud, and packed full of product. It’s only a step up from a cellar or basement, and there are lots of blind spots. I spent hundreds of hours alone in the back room, whether it was loading carts for a truck or prepping produce.

Over 10 years, I worked at five stores, although I spent most of my time at one on Nolensville Rd. The building was complete and the store opened in 1982, and although it wasn’t very old, there was something odd in there.

Here are a few things that happened:

  • The radio in the produce cooler would turn off. We kept a radio on when we did prep work, and it would often turn off with us in the cooler or when we were outside the door. There was no pattern, it would just happen. We tried different plugs and radios, and we always had the same result.
  • I would hear my name. I know it sounds crazy, but I would hear my name whispered in my ear – in the aisles and back room – and it never happened at another store. I was once told it was bad luck to answer to your name being whispered, so I started waiting for the second call. I still don’t respond if I’m not sure.
  • At night, the store made me uneasy. It was well lit, almost always had music playing, and there were only a couple of entrances and exits, but I never felt like I was alone. It always felt like something was lurking and watching.
  • I walked in the back room one night to turn off all lights, and saw a black figure. Not a shadow on the wall, a figure walked and disappeared three feet from me right in the middle of the back room. This was before I turned the lights off (thank goodness), and I only saw it out of my peripheral, but I know I was the only person back there. The only other person in the store was up front.

I’m not sure if the building was haunted, but it shows that no matter where you are, there may be something watching…

Have you ever worked in a creepy building? Tell us about it in the comments section!

And for another spooky work tale, read Sounds in the Dark.