I got the kids to bed and went down to the health office. I had a couple of campers who came for their scheduled medications. Ron, a first year counselor, had accompanied them. He was sitting draped on the chair in the hallway just chillin’. I opened up the health office and pulled their meds out of the cupboard.
“That was an awesome ghost story!” Lawrence told me as he sniffed his DDAVP to help prevent him from wetting his bed.
“Thanks buddy!” I looked up as I was checking my medication administration record.
“Did that really happen?” Allan asked as he took a puff of his asthma medicine.
“No silly! It’s just a ghost story. I read it in a book.” I was a little taken aback. Did kids really believe in ghosts I thought? Although, to be fair, I used to take a run at my bed to avoid having my feet grabbed by the monster under my bed….until about the age of twelve…or maybe eighteen…I dunno….whatever.
“Oh so you don’t believe in ghosts, Nurse Anne?” Lawrence asked me matter of factly.
“Uh, nah, dude. I do not believe in ghosts. Why? Do you?”
“I have never seen one but I think that ghosts might be real. I’m not sure. Some of the campers talk about the ghost of Camp Acorn.”
“Huh? Ghost of Camp Acorn? Are you for real?” I popped my head out into the hallway where Ron was still chillin’ patiently. “Ron? What do you know of a Camp Acorn ghost?”
“There are no such thing as ghosts!” Ron said adamantly. Smart counselor!
“See! There you go…” I smiled as I looked back at the two campers.
“…but supposedly there is a ghost here at camp.” Ron finished. My shoulders drooped.
“Whaaaaat?!” I stepped out of the office and the two boys followed me. Ron sat upright, placed his elbows on his knees and put his hands together with a clap. He lifted his head to look at me.
“OK, so back in the day in, like, the 1920’s, this building was actually a fancy hotel, right? Rich families would book rooms here and enjoy a week paddling around the lake in canoes, swimming, sailing and even learning to paint watercolors. One family, a dad, a mum and an eight year old boy were staying on the second floor. One evening the parents were enjoying a night cap by the fire in the dining hall and the son was safely asleep in his bed. A quarrel broke out between the parents, apparently there was a history of, shall we say ‘unfaithfulness’ on the part of the wife. A scuffle broke out. Some of the gentlemen guests tried to break up the fight and during this one of them bumped into the fireplace and dislodged one of the embers. So, as you can imagine, it didn’t take very long for a raging fire to ignite the place. Surprisingly there was only one fatality from the fire, but, unfortunately it was the son of the unhappy couple. True story.” Ron paused. I felt a chill go down my spine.
“So….some of the older kids like to scare some of the younger ones with the story that the boy haunts the camp. Supposedly he knocks things off the fireplace mantel, leaves a fishing rod with the line dangling in the water in the boathouse or slams doors and the like. I’ve been coming to camp since I was eight and I have never seen any evidence of any haunting.” Ron said as he intensely held the gaze of the three of us. “OK? It’s total crap guys. Now are you ready for bed?”
“Ya.” Allan said with a shrug.
“Yes.” Lawrence nodded.
“Let’s go then.” Ron said as placed his hands on his knees and he stood up. The boys fell in behind him (very closely behind him actually) and the three of them trumped down the stairwell.
I closed up shop with the story of the hotel fire heavy in my thoughts. That was a terrible true story. I went up the stairwell and walked down the dark hallway. I peeked into the girls’ room and heard their soft snores. I quietly opened the door to my room. My son was sound asleep, arms and legs splayed out. He looked serenely peaceful. I quickly got ready for bed and noticed the soreness from my run in my feet and legs as I climbed up the ladder to the upper bunk.
My head hit the pillow and almost immediately I was dragged down into a deep sleep. And that’s when the nightmare started.
I was running down the halls of the main building in an ugly green hospital nightgown. I was soaking wet with my hair dripping and plastered to my head. I was so cold with the gown open at the back and flapping in the breeze, I struggled to pull it closed around me as I continued to run. I was covered in goosebumps. The hall was so long and no matter how much I ran I didn’t seem to be making any progress! But I had to hurry! There had been a car accident. A car had plummeted into the waters of the lake and they needed me. I had to get to the health office and get my supplies.
After a long struggle I finally arrived at the office but try as might I could
not get the door handle to turn! It kept slipping in my wet hands. I tried with my two hands but still was not successful. I kicked at the door with my foot and finally it slammed open and knocked all the crutches onto the floor in front of me in an enormous pile. I began to climb over the huge pile of shifting crutches. I feared I would be swallowed up in the pile and fought to clamber my way over the crest of the hill, finally pitching myself over the top and rolling down the other side.
I frantically began ripping open the drawers in the office as I gathered supplies. I would need tourniquets and bandages and steri strips and gauze. I grabbed these items as I quickly filled my arms with the supplies. I pulled open the cupboard under the sink to get a jug of sterile water but I opened the door and discovered a mewling and crying newborn baby girl! I shifted the items into my left arm and reached in to grab the baby with my right arm. I turned to leave the office and as I stepped out if the office I came to an abrupt stop when I looked up in horror at a huge ball of fire. In the center of the fire was a boy in pajamas, holding out his arms to me and screaming, “Muuuummmy!”
I woke with a start! UGH! Another nightmare. I took a moment to gather my senses. My sleeping bag was twisted around me, I was clutching my pillow tightly to my chest and I shivered in a cold sweat. Our little room was quite chilly.
I humped my way down the ladder to close our window. It had gotten very cold through the night. I covered my son up under his sleeping bag and then started back up the ladder.
Maybe Ron and I were both wrong. Maybe there are ghosts. They live in our imagination and feed on our insecurities to become monstrously large and plague you in your sleep…
“Well done Anne”, I thought. You manged to spook yourself! Loser.