'T Zand was a home for the mentally and physically challenged. The people of 'T Zand, its staff and residents, moved to a larger building and 'T Zand itself became vacant. It was to be demolished in a year and until then, students could use to building to live in for very cheap after applying for it with the city board.
My friend Amber (not her real name, I will be using nicknames for everyone) was the first to get a room there. She picked the office located next to the lobby. 'T Zand had a kitchen, two sets of community bathrooms (men and women), a gym plus dressing room, a boiler room, a large open room with a stage, a dozen or so rooms that used to house the residents... About 4 per room I think and some other misc. Rooms I can't really remember. They weren't important.
Important to note is that people have died in 'T Zand - not any of my friends but the residents who used to live there. Another important thing to note is that the entire building gave off this uneasy feel, except for the kitchen. The kitchen was warm and felt safe, so we figured that 'things' could enter the kitchen.
Amber was the only one living there for a week or so, after that a German guy named Manfred took up one of the other rooms. Other people visiting were me, Fire (Amber's brother), Amber's dad, and a woman of 'T Zand who came to pick up the mail once a week (I'll call her mail woman), Tapion and Kasumi (friends of us at the time). Amber also had a cat named Sasha.
A short list of things that we witnessed there (details on them will follow): footsteps in unreachable places; unlocked doors that for some reason refused to budge while they were easy to open before; doors that are suddenly wide open while they were locked before, items moving to other places or disappearing all together; moving figures in the shadows; odd noises and voices; panting and breathing sounds; cold chills; touches; things moving from your peripheral vision.
Amber's cat Sasha. Very cuddly animal, young and friendly and always following you because she didn't dare to go out alone. She always slept on Amber's bed at night. Amber told me that on her third night there, she heard footsteps, as if someone was walking upstairs (her ceiling). The thing is there was no upper floor, just a small space between her ceiling and the roof. It didn't resemble the fast tripling of rats; they were steady, heavy footsteps. Sasha could hear them too, and she would follow the sound with her eyes, from one corner of the room to the other and back, again and again and again every night the same. I spent a few nights with Amber to keep her company, and I heard it too.
There was an empty room, completely empty safe for this old white phone sitting on a table. It didn't work anymore. It just stood there. One day Amber came home from work and saw that the phone was gone. She checked all the windows for signs of burglary but didn't find any (why would anyone steal a non-functional phone and nothing else anyway?). Only she, Manfred and the mail woman had the key of the front doors. When Manfred came home later that evening she asked him about the phone but he didn't know where it was. She called the mail woman, asking if she had taken the phone, but she hadn't. She hadn't even been at 'T Zand that day and the phone had still been there that morning. The phone was gone; they searched for it but couldn't find it anywhere. Like it had gone up in smoke.
Growling Gerard. That's the name I gave 'him' the first time I visited. Me, Amber and Fire were baking cookies in the kitchen when she told me about him. Actually Amber was the one who started calling him Gerard. I added the growling part because he was always so angry. I even made him a cookie in the shape of a knife. Who was Gerard you ask? Gerard wasn't human. Why did I make him a knife-shaped cookie? Because he attacked you. By now I know that Gerard probably wasn't your average ghost but something more dangerous. I think we got very lucky because we did provoke him a lot.
Gerard housed in one of the community bathrooms. He was the reason why Amber and the others could only use the other one because Gerard's bathroom hasn't been used in 20 years at that time. Curious, we asked the mail woman about it, but she refused to answer why they hadn't been used in so long. An internet search didn't provide any answers either (curiously enough we couldn't find ANY information about 'T Zand anywhere).
On her first day Amber was exploring and checked the bathroom: it was dark because the lights didn't work, and very very cold. What we believed at the time was that Gerard had killed himself there and haunted it. Curious me though wanted to check the bathroom for myself!
The door leading to his bathroom was at the end of a short hallway and halfway down that hall was the door leading to the kitchen. Amber told me that the door leading into the bathroom opens quite easily, but when I tried it that day, it would barely move. It opened to the outside, into the bathroom and when I pushed against it, it only opened a little before stopping, as if someone was pushing against it from the other side trying to keep us out. We took a step back, waited a few seconds and tried again: this time the door opened without a fuss. I stepped inside and looked around: the first thing I noticed was that Amber hadn't been kidding when she told me it was cold. There was dust everywhere and because there were no windows and the lights were out, it was very dark. And I quickly began feeling uneasy and scared. Have you ever had a panic attack? It was like that, sudden and without warning, weighing down on you as if something very bad was going to happen soon. I don't think I lasted even 20 seconds in there before he bolted and closed the door again.
The problem with Gerard was that he didn't like to be disturbed. If you did he would begin stalking the hallway leading from his bathroom, passing the kitchen to the end of the hall, and back again. If you were unfortunate enough to cross his path there you would feel a cold chill down your spine followed by a sharp stabbing pain in your stomach, as if you were just stabbed with a knife (hence the knife cookie joke).
I found this VERY hard to believe, because ghosts can't inflict physical pain, right? So we were sitting in the kitchen enjoying our cookies about half an hour later, and I saw Sasha running through the hall towards the bathroom. I stood up and stepped into the hall, looking at Sasha cowering in a corner near the bathroom door, her fur standing up, and ears flat and staring in my direction with huge scared eyes. I turned my head to look behind me and... I remember seeing a flash of white followed by a sharp pain in my abdomen. It hurt really badly and I actually staggered back into the kitchen in shock. And Amber was all "Do you believe me now?". I did.
It had only happened to me that one time, but it had happened to Amber much more often. She was forced to use the other bathroom which was further away from her room. Gerard didn't always stalk the hallway, only when you opened his bathroom door or made a loud noise near it... Or at night. Amber told me of this one time she had gone to the other bathroom at night, and when she came out again she felt that same stabbing pain. This was a good deal away from the kitchen and the abandoned bathroom, so Gerard had actually followed her. Fire and Tapion were 'stabbed' a few times as well.
Later that day I was exploring the building with Fire. Amber was cooking in the kitchen and Sasha followed us. This was about an hour after my little run-in with Gerard. I wanted to check the room that had held the missing phone. It was completely empty. Fire went back to the kitchen and Sasha was darting around my legs. At some point Sasha suddenly ran away from me towards a corner of the room and stared at the wall there. I turned to watch her, and felt a tug on my hair. Not the kind of tug of your hair getting stuck to your necklace, but a real tug. It didn't hurt though, but it still scared me and I turned again, feeling a cold wind pass me. I figure it was one of the deceased residents and that this had been his/her room. It didn't feel... Evil though. The room wasn't as cold as Gerard's bathroom was and I didn't feel the panic. Still, me and Sasha left quickly after that.
Around Halloween I went back to 'T Zand to celebrate it with her, Fire, Tapion and Kasumi. At this point nearly every room in the building was occupied by students. Amber could no longer hear footsteps on her ceiling, but Gerard had become more active (stalked the hall pretty much every day) and the other students began complaining about hearing strange sounds. I had taken my photo camera with me and the plan was to walk through the entire building at night, in the dark and make photos. We first went to the kitchen which was still the only safe place. I stood in the hallway with my back to the bathroom, facing the large room with the stage. The lights there were off but the street lanterns provided enough light through the windows we could make out shadows. And just on the edge of the light and shadows I thought I could see a figure. I wasn't sure so I called Tapion and asked if he could see it. He did. We decided to move in closer, camera in hand but the moment we actually stepped into the room the figure disappeared. It could still have been my imagination though, but I had made a photo prior before stepping into the room anyway.
Next stop for photos: Gerard's bathroom. The door opened without a problem. I REFUSED to go in there myself so someone came with me; I quickly snapped some photos and got the hell out of there.
Next stop: the gym. Now the gym was another place you don't go into at night, hardly anyone came there anyway. It gave the same uneasy vibe as Gerard's bathroom, not as severe but it was still enough to scare you. We entered through the other bathroom. It was cold inside. There were windows but they were all closed. So we stood still and just listened for a while: I don't know what to call them in English, Wikipedia says 'monkey bars' and 'climbing frame', either way there were two on each side, held in place by ropes. The ropes were swaying (again the windows were closed so no wind). We could also hear a strange clanking sound, as if someone was pulling on the frames causing them to hit the walls. We didn't dare to go near them and from where we stood we couldn't see if they were actually moving. Sasha who had followed us refused to enter the gym and whenever you turned you could see flashes of white shooting out of your peripheral vision: everyone saw that. After a minute or so we all started feeling very uneasy so I quickly made photos of every corner.
The next stop was the boiler room, which could only be accessed through the gym. The room was very small, no window, no light. It was pitch black in there. We opened the door and pretty much slammed it shut again immediately after, because we all felt a very very cold wind flow out, hitting us in the face and we all became very scared. I didn't even get to make photos. We ran back to the safety of the kitchen.
We couldn't check the other rooms because they were occupied by the students. Nothing else happened after that and the photos, unfortunately, all failed. They were all pitch black because I was stupid and didn't use the flash. Feel free to face palm. I think I wasted a huge opportunity with my stupidity. We could have gotten Gerard on camera and who knows what else, ugh!
Okay, so I mentioned that the kitchen was safe, yes? After a year or so, not even the kitchen was safe anymore. There were so many people - you know, students, partying, being loud... I think that there was just too much disturbance, and one 'entity' did begin to roam around the kitchen after a while - Amber dubbed him Panting Harry. Fortunately he wasn't like Gerard, all he did was breath and pant in your neck while you were cooking and move from person to person.
Near the end though everyone, even the students who didn't believe in ghosts, were convinced that there was something wrong with this building.
Though not everyone experienced Gerard's stabbing tendencies, everyone did get to experience Harry and they all felt it. I never experienced Harry myself though.
The last time I visited 'T Zand was a few weeks before Amber received the keys of her new apartment. I was at Fire's house and he and his dad drove me home, and on the way he had to drop something off at Amber's place. I was very amused to see that she had painted Gerard's bathroom door with flowers and a sun with a smiley face in bright happy colours!
I suspect that the building has been demolished by now, but I honestly don't know for sure. I don't have the address. I still have contact with Amber so I could ask her for it, but I have no desire to go back and check. I just hope that all the spirits of the deceased have found their peace now. I'd like to know what you guys think of Gerard. I think he was a demon, or a very powerful angry ghost.
Feedback is much appreciated.