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July 30, 2018 | by  | in Features |
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Fever Hospital

We drive up a dark road. It is flanked by trees that whip back and forth as if possessed by some evil force. The rain belts on the windshield, but through it, we can make out the grim shape of the Fever Hospital. It hunkers down on the side of Mt. Victoria like a beast lying in wait — hungry, patient, and merciless. My friend Cam and I had arrived at the site of the Wellington SPCA, A.K.A. Fever Hospital, to participate in what the Facebook event described as a “Psychic Ghost Investigation”, hosted by Kathy McBride, psychic medium.
The Fever Hospital was built in 1918-20 as the Wellington Hospital for Infectious Disease. It was used to isolate patients suffering from scarlet fever, measles, influenza, chicken pox, and polio. Because of this, it has a long history of death and suffering attached to it. After an extended period of disuse, it was leased to the SPCA in 2012, who use the space as offices and a hospital today. Despite being occupied by the very un-spooky SPCA, the building has a history of hauntings and ghosts — of which you will hear more about, if you are brave enough to continue reading.
I enter the hospital while Cam stays in the car trying to figure out how to work the Salient camera. I am directed to a waiting area while Kathy McBride, psychic medium, irons out the details with the hospital staff.
Walking into the room, I introduce myself to my fellow investigators. There are about 12 others, mostly women on the cusp of middle age, with the notable exception of a man who is eating from a bag of McDonalds.
It turned out most of the people there are regulars to Kathy’s Psychic Investigations. They report to have made many sightings of ghosts during her excursions. Hearing this, a first-timer cracks open a can of Smirnoff, to calm nerves that all the ghost-talk had brought about.
Suddenly Kathy McBride, Psychic Medium, walks into the room with her husband Kevin in tow. Kathy starts out by apologising for a cold she is currently dealing with, showing the room a health drink she has concocted out of ginger, lemon, garlic, honey, orange, and cayenne pepper. While she tells the room about her health drink, her husband Kevin potters around behind her, unpacking a huge amount of ghost hunting technology. The first sign of how technology driven tonight’s investigation will be is seen when Kevin sets up a light display, projecting a myriad of green dots over the room. These dots apparently reveal ghosts that move through the path of the lights. It looks a lot like a low-rent lighting I saw at my primary school disco. I had no idea that as an eight-year-old I had been dancing under a key piece of ghost hunting apparatus.
After a roll call that took upwards of 15 minutes longer than necessary due to Kathy making a humorous comment before and after everybody’s name, we get onto the house rules.

After we hear the rules, Kevin sneaks off to cut the lights and lock the front doors, so that no unwanted souls can get in (or out). Kathy then runs the group through all the ways that ghosts can make contact: noise, smell, touch, or sight.
As Kathy is speaking a lady in the group shouts out, “ORBS!” Kathy says that orbs are not usually related to paranormal activity. The woman is unrelenting in her belief in floating orbs and this leads to a long argument between her and Kathy as to what classifies as a “proper investigation”. The argument ends on an awkward note, with neither side relenting their position on orbs.
Kathy moves on with her advice on how to interview ghosts; pause between questions, let your energy go out of your body to meet them, and ask the ghosts if they want to be photographed before you take any photos. Some guy in the back wants to know what ghosts like to talk about, but this is shrugged off as too obvious to warrant explanation.
Kathy ends her advice on the tip to be as specific as possible, citing a moment when she was cruelly pranked by a ghost she asked to touch her, who then gave her a hard whack on the back of the head. She says it is of the utmost importance to ask the ghosts to be “touched appropriately”.
Kevin gets back from darkening the halls and sealing the exits, and helps Kathy to run through the technological equipment we will be utilising on the investigation. The equipment is spread out on a table, and consists of a vast array of gadgets in varying colours and sizes. As Kathy runs through the function of each piece, Kevin picks it up to give us a demonstration.

In addition to these electronic gadgets, Kevin has set up, at varying points around the hospital, a number of hanging bells and tennis balls to detect ghosts in the old-fashioned way. Some people have come prepared with a phone app called Ghost Radar, which can apparently translate ghost-speak (read: silence) into English. I curse my ineptitude for not having the app, but resolve to make up for it with a combination of the three other devices and plain old human vigilance.

We call on God/Allah/Yahweh/Jehovah/Krishna to grant us a bubble of white light as protection from evil beings, and are finally off. The tour begins with Kathy showing us around the hospital as a group. Seconds into it and a ghost is already touching the back of Kathy’s neck. Whether this touching was appropriate or inappropriate is unknown to your humble correspondent.
Our first stop is the corridor, a creepy old thing lined with windows looking out onto the storm-shaken trees. Kathy says to keep an eye out in this area for such paranormal attractions as children screaming, nurses shuffling, the ghost of the creepy old caretaker who growls in your ear, and the infamous Sister Slippers (an aggressive night matron who apparently wanders the halls at night with hot water bottles attached to her feet. The people who named the ghost really missed a trick when they didn’t call her Sister Squelcher).
The next stop is the caretaker’s quarters. The story is that the caretaker was constantly tormented by the ghosts, who made him feel that the floor was rolling like the sea until he eventually hung himself. Kathy warns that this area has been known to make people feel dizzy or unsettled. As soon as she says this, several of the investigators immediately react, swaying and stumbling, holding onto the walls for balance, groaning in discomfort. Their reaction makes me check in with a strange feeling I have in my gut, but after a while I put it down to the fact that I haven’t had dinner yet.
The next stop is The Ward, a huge room where next to nothing can be seen in the pervading darkness.

We stand in the centre of the black abyss while Kathy spooks us with stories of children singing, and angry ghosts throwing towels about the room. Suddenly, the lights come on and everyone looks around at the large well painted, well-lit, and very unscary room around them. The culprit was Kevin, who gets growled at by Kathy as he hurriedly tries to turn the lights off again.
Next is what Kathy calls The Isolation Corridor. This is apparently the most haunted area of the entire building, with upwards of three ghosts at once having been sighted there at once. Kathy’s plan is for each of us at one point in the night to walk down the corridor alone, but she warns us that if she says run, “it means RUN!”
The last stop is the Sun Room, a little conservatory that is apparently very active and offers a vantage point through which several sightings of Sister Slippers have been made.
I ask Kathy if we would be going into the cordoned off Nurses Quarters, a spot that had come up many times in my research as being a very haunted location.
Kathy was very unchill when I brought this up and cited that the previous occupants of the building were satanic devil worshippers who had performed various demonic rituals as the reason why we would not be going into that building. This sounds like a much better location to look for ghosts than the offices of the SPCA at night, but I keep this to myself.
Before everyone goes their separate ways, there is a scramble at the equipment table. I had picked up an EMF reader and was about to put it in my pocket, when a lady with the facial expression of a pouty child suddenly snatches it straight from my hands and storms off. I shrug my shoulders and pick up another one, which was readily available on the table.
Cam and I move off to the break room, pool our coinage to get some snacks from the vending machine, and make use of the SPCA’s huge tin of instant coffee. While we tank up on junk food and caffeine, Kevin hangs about nearby watching us eagle-eyed, either suspicious or hungry. After a minute or so of eyeballing, Kevin explains that he is on security detail tonight, and vehemently insists that he is not scared of ghosts.
We finish our snacks and move to the Sun Room, which was completely empty due to every other amateur paranormal investigator heading straight for the Isolation Corridor. We set up the EVP, EMP, and temperature readers and begin trying to attract a ghost with our interviewing skills.
Cam speaks in a low voice, “If there is a presence here please make yourself known.”

We wait. Nothing.
I give it a try, “If there is a… uhh… like a ghost or… like a- an- anybody here- like to speak to us or-something, fuck I don’t know.” Cam shakes his head at me. My skills in interviewing living human beings are of no use here. I decide to leave all future ghostly communications to my acquaintance.

After about ten minutes we get a spook. Unfortunately the paranormal had nothing to do with it. Another pair of paranormal investigators have bumbled in and started flashing their lights in our eyes.
We decide to try another area. We go into the bathroom, which at the outset is a lot spookier because it has the original hospital tiling and grout work. This is the place that the caretaker is meant to follow you into, growling in your ear, tickling and slapping you. I walk slowly to the outer wall holding my EMF reader, while Cam holds the EVP kit. Suddenly, near the mirrors and the wash basin, both devices go off at the same time. I start to freak out, as this could be the caretaker washing his hands after taking a ghost dump. Remembering that Kathy had said that ghosts could communicate through smells I sniff all the stalls, but find that the toilet smells are unfortunately all too human. The gadgets are still beeping, and I am still freaking out. Cam, the voice of reason, figures out that there is a fuse box in the wall that could explain setting off both machines. This quells my fear and allows me to leave the bathroom at a calm pace that is definitely not a run.
Kathy brings the group back together for a meeting about what everyone has seen so far. Reading the room, the spook levels seems pretty low. A few people claim to have heard screams or seen shadows, but the only guy truly convinced he saw something is the dude who was eating from the bag of McDonalds. He finishes his claim by saying he has been seeing crazy shit since he was a kid, so who knows who to trust. The pouty faced lady who snatched my EMF reader is even more pouty than before, because the gadget she snatched from me turned out to have dead batteries. As soon as I notice this, I make a big thing of walking around the room clicking the button on the side of the EMF reader that produced a loud beep and nodding to myself, showing everyone that my device is in perfect working order.

As the second meeting adjourns, Kathy tells me that it is my turn to walk down the Isolation Corridor. Although it has an impressive name, the Isolation Corridor is just a long dark corridor. It isn’t even that dark; there’s a glow from the snoozing computers in the offices on the left of the hall, as well as light from the streetlamps at the other side.
I would be lying if I said that when I walked down it alone, I didn’t see a dark shape move out the window out of the corner of my eye. I would also be lying if I didn’t mention that it was now 1 am, I hadn’t eaten since 11am, and I was bored to a point where I wouldn’t put it past my brain to make something up for a brief moment of entertainment. I tell Kathy what I had seen. She looks thoughtful, “That would make sense, because the spot you saw the shadows move was where they took the bodies to be cremated.”

Hmm.
After several other people yielded rather questionable experiences in the Isolation Corridor, Kathy brings us back to the Sun Room to show us another way to contact the spirit world: Table Tipping. She moves a table to the centre of the room and along with three other women. They sit down séance style with her eyes closed and palms flat on the tabletop.
Kathy speaks. “I call on any spirit in this room. If you are there, show us your presence by moving this table.” There is a brief moment of silence before one of the other ladies decides that this is a good photo opportunity, her camera flash goes off right in Kathy’s face.
Kathy opens her eyes. “Could you please not shine those lights in my eyes!”

“Oops sorry,” replies the guilty woman. Kathy tries again to contact a spirit. “Please anybody, could you please help us move this table.”
Silence.
“We are only a bunch of weak old women and we can’t move this table by ourselves, could you please help us?”
The silence in the room is again disrupted by the same woman, who has stomped across creaking floorboards to try and get a better angle for her now flashless camera.
Kathy opens her eyes. “Could you please keep quiet!”
“…sorry.”
A woman at the table puts on an affected damsel in distress voice, trying to use her womanly wiles to bait a ghost into moving the table. “Oooooh spirits, it is so so hard for us poor poor ladies to move this table by ourselves. We would be ever so grateful if you helped us to move it.”
There is a longer silence before the camera lady, who has given up on getting a picture, leans against the wall, inadvertently causing a loud creak.
Kathy, who has been made sensitive by the previous two interruptions, opens her eyes and emits a loud, “SHHHH!”
It is at this point that fatigue and hunger tell me that this is a good cue to leave. I say a final goodbye and thank you to Kathy, and leave the rest of the group to their attempts of convincing a ghost to aid them in bettering the feng shui of the Fever Hospital.

Epilogue

As I am about to jump in the car I realise that I have accidentally pocketed the EMF reader. As much as I want a device whose only purpose is to beep abrasively, I thought I better return it. I go around to the front door and realise that Kevin had locked it earlier in the night. Not about to give up so easily, I start pounding on the door as loud as I can, trying to get the attention of people on the other side of the hospital. I get no response, so I bang louder and louder, shaking the heavy wooden door in its frame. After five or so minutes of banging I hear muttering on the other side of the door. To show them that there is someone outside I flash my light through the small window at the side of the door. Someone on inside shouts, “ORBS!”
“Nope it’s just me, can you open the door I’m getting wet out here.” The door swings open to reveal a crowd of paranormal investigators frozen stiff with fear.
Their eyes are wide, and their faces drained of all colour. Some have broken out in a sweat, and others are shivering. My knocking on the door had brought the possibility of a real haunting to these guys, and it scared the shit out of them.
The biggest spook of the night turned out to be me.

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