Elisa unlocked the main hospital’s back door and stepped inside. Rain dripped off her umbrella and coat. Named storm Jorge was building up out there, the rain was heavy coming down on all ready flooded ground and the wind was blowing like a speeding car.
Turning on the lights, Elisa shook her umbrella out and caught her breath. She could hear the rain dripping inside somewhere close by and the wind working it’s way through the broken windows. Hoping it wasn’t too cold in her office today, Elisa walked down the quiet hospital corridors towards the basement.
She was dressed in her relaxed Friday office clothes; grey trousers, flat black shoes, lime green long sleeve blouse and a woollen black jumper. She carried her heavy backpack on one shoulder which held all she needed, plus more to get her through the working day.
Choosing the two flights of stairs inside of the elevator, Elisa watched her step and recalled how only five years, this back staircase would have been busy with office staff and hospital workers. Now, like the rest of the place, they were still. For the past year and a half, Elisa and three security guards were the only people left at the recently closed grounds.
Reaching the basement, Elisa walked to the fourth door which was labelled as The Patients’ Records Office. The other rooms down here were a mixture of supply, storage, other paperwork, a large staff break room and other offices. Sometimes, Elisa would have to go in these other rooms to find things but mostly, she stuck to her desk.
Unlocking the door with one with the keys from a massive bunch of them, Elisa went in and put her umbrella into the stand. Wiggling out of her coat, she hung that up on a peg then put her rucksack at the leg of her desk.
The office was too quiet, she could feel the pressure on her ears. Elisa turned the small TV on which was on the far wall above the handful of abandoned desks and cabinets. The news came on, the sound breaking the quietness and making her feel like she was no longer alone.
Her desk was in the middle of the room, facing the door but she had turned the angle of it so she could see the TV as well. Eliza put her rucksack down, turned on her computer and both screens. Next, she put the heaters on and the kettle too. She made a coffee and sat down on her old chair.
Of all the staff to stay employed to complete the final tasks of the hospital, she was now the last one. Perhaps, she had been chosen because she had been here for over twenty years and had been the manager of the patients’ records for six of those? Maybe, it was because she had been close to retirement and her boss had felt sorry for her?
‘I don’t mind,’ Elisa had said at the deciding meeting, ‘I can’t imagine retiring and having nothing to do. I’ve been applying for jobs and got some interviews.’
‘The board would like you to stay awhile and finish up things,’ her boss had spoken, ‘would that be okay? Your pay and hours won’t change but you may find yourself working alone for a bit. I’m not sure who else will be staying on.’
Without thinking, Elisa had replied, ‘that’s fine. I don’t mind.’
Her job was simple enough; putting paper records onto the computer system. Checking things had been filed correctly, searching for information when contacted by medical staff or the public and disposing of documents as needed.
It was eerie being here alone but Elisa had grown use to it and didn’t mind as much now. She found she could watch whatever TV or listen to whichever radio station she wanted. There was no waiting around in the break room, no one distracting her and she didn’t mind being a bit lonely.
Sometimes, the phone would ring and it would be security checking up on her or was medical person from another hospital wanting information. Elisa’s boss would call make sure anything was okay and maybe asking her to do something. Once or twice, a person had phoned who was tracing their family history and Elisa had been happy to help see if there was any records of that surname.
Occasionally, the back door bell would ring and Elisa would answer the phone to find her boss was outside having come on a visit or it would be a PA from someone from the board wanting to pick something up or a security guard come for a chat.
More often then not, the working day would pass without Elisa having contact from anyone. It didn’t worry her though because she knew there wasn’t much of a need for a closed down hospital’s paperwork.
Recently, Elisa had stated hearing and noticing odd things. She didn’t believe in ghosts, she was a religious Roman Catholic and trusted that everyone went to Heaven or Hell. However, things that didn’t have an explanation happened were happening.
The sounds of doors opening and closing, though there was no wind that day. Voices whispering when Elisa knew she was alone. The phone ringing and no one being there or another phone ringing somewhere else which shouldn’t happen because all other phones were disconnected. Equipment being moved or knocked over, footstep above her or outside the records office door and two or three times, the feeling she was being watched.
Elisa had rung the security team and the police a few times and told them, ‘I think someone is in the building, can you check?’ or ‘I’m just seeing if a security guard is close by as there was a big banging sound and a door slamming.’
It was better to be save then sorry and Elisa was just sure it was animals or the natural movement of things. She got on with her work, filling her mind with her tasks and home plans. Perhaps, soon her employment would come to the end and she would get a new job where she had to work surrounded by people again.
I think I’d like that, to have colleagues again, Elisa thought, to chat with someone and get help with tasks. To make new friends and share cooking tips.
Elisa smiled and carried on typing up records whilst above the hospital buildings lay in silence. That didn’t last long because somewhere a door creaked open and a voice called out.
Pausing, Elisa looked up and listened. Blaming the wind, she turned off the TV and put the radio on instead. A pop song filled the room. Frowning, Elisa moved the dial back to the classical station she preferred and went back to work once more.
Lunchtime arrived. Stretching, Eliza got up and went into the break room. Her back and limbs felt stiff but some light exercises whilst she waited for her ready-meal to heat up would help.
‘It’s hotpot today,’ she said to herself, putting it in the microwave.
She filled the kettle and made another coffee.
Heavy footsteps sounded in the hall and approached the door.
Thinking it was one of the security guards, Elisa called out, ‘hi, come and have some lunch with me. I could do with the company today. Fridays drag so much don’t they?’
She turned, expecting to see someone but there was no one in the room. Puzzled, Elisa stepped out into the corridor and saw she was quite alone.
To Be Continued…