First chapters of Seer of the St. James Hotel

First chapters of Seer of the St. James Hotel

A Chapter by Mitchell Goth
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Mike Terry, a successful but pessimistic businessman never believed in ghosts, and scoffed at the idea. But when a friend books him in a reportedly haunted hotel room as a joke during a Chicago business trip, thing immediately go awry. As the paranormal

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Mike’s taxi approached a tall, industrial looking building. At first he stared up the dark brick building before bringing his gaze down to the main entrance, which consisted of a long stretch of glass door split in three places by larger revolving doors.

Mike continued staring at the structure until the slight jolt of the taxi rolling to a halt broke his concentration. As he paid the cabby and grabbed his luggage from the trunk he began to scope out the exterior of the St. James yet again. The exterior was nothing to marvel at, it fits in perfectly with all the buildings around it, no one would ever know this place was a hotel except for the large sign about the center situated revolving door that read I big gold letters St. James Hotel. But despite the mediocrity of the exterior Mike felt an odd comfort being in this structures shadow.

He entered the hotel through the center revolving door and was taken off guard by the beauty of the lobby compared to the outside. The floor was a crème colored marble; the walls were a beautiful and eye catching shade of gold, as were the tall, Romanesque pillars that adorned the large open foyer. To either side were groupings of dark brown colored couches and chairs that surrounded gold and glass coffee tables. Further off to one side there was a thin and dark doorway, Mike could hear voices coming from it from where he was walking, he presumed it was a bar or restaurant of some sort. Further off to the other side was a modern looking coffee shop. When Mike saw this he had to laugh, it definitely killed the feeling of walking into the past pretty quick. Straight ahead of him was the main desk. He could tell that this thing wasn’t anything new; it was solid wood, decorated with a deep mahogany color and intricate carving patterns. To either side of the desk were large stairs leading up to the rooms, and right next to those were lines of elevators, the doors were colored, you guessed it, as gold as the walls. Each elevator had an old needle floor counter above it, most likely left over from the first elevators installed in the building.

Mike walked up to the main desk and was greeted by the smiling face of the teller, she was a young looking thing, couldn’t have been more than twenty-five.

“Can I help you?” She asked with her big smile.

“Yeah,” Mike replied, “I have a reservation under Terry.”

The receptionist nodded and began typing on her computer.

“Okay, Michael Terry, we have your room waiting for you.” She said after a few moments, and passed him a key ring from across the counter. As she did she paused for a moment and looked at the number on the ring, puzzled.

“What?” Mike wondered, taking the key from the woman.

“You’re in room three-ten.” She exclaimed.

“So?” Mike wondered.

“They say that room is haunted.” She replied.

“Well they must not be in their right minds.” Mike scoffed.

“A lot of people have had experiences here actually.” She explained. “A group of ghost hunters actually hold a tri-annual seminar on the paranormal here. As a matter of fact they’re having one this weekend, so they’ll probably be here later today to start setting stuff up.”

“Well when they do show up, tell them I said their crazy.” Mike laughed as he waltzed away, key in hand.

As Mike hit the button for the elevator and watched the needle descend, he thought about what the receptionist had said, Kent had told him the same thing on the plane. As the elevator let out its little ding and opened, Mike scoffed again, either everyone was trying to scare him, or everyone was going crazy.

The trip to the third floor was a short one, when the doors opened he found himself staring down a long, empty and eerily quiet hallway. He stepped out into the vacant passage, all he could hear was the faint hum of what sounded like an air conditioner in the distance. He looked to his left, nothing, to his right, the same. It was as if the entire floor was abandoned. He slowly began making his way down the hall in front of him. He looked at the number on the first door he came to, three twenty-nine. As he made his way further down the corridor the sound of the distant air conditioner faded, he was now accompanied only by the low sound of his suitcase wheels rolling on the floral patterned carpet. He took a look at another room number, three-sixteen. He looked up and further down he could see the door of room three-ten, it was identical to all the other doors, as he neared it he saw the only thing that made it different from the others, the small metal oval in the center of the tall wooden door that read the room number.

Mike stopped in front of it and looked at it, almost glaring.

“So you’re the haunted room, huh?” He chuckled. “You don’t look like much.” He sat his suitcase up and lifted the key. He continued staring down the door as he slid the key into the door handle. He turned the key, it moved with ease, but to his surprise the knob did not. He looked down at it with a look of puzzlement and sight frustration. He turned the key again, but once more the knob didn’t budge. His puzzlement quick dissipated into a feeling of full agitation. He tried it again, and again. He hit the door right above the knob and tried again, still no luck.

Just then he heard a sound, more wheels rolling across the rug, he looked up and saw a maid pushing her cleaning cart down the hall.

Excuse me.” He called to her.

“Yes?” She looked up at him; she pushed her long red hair out of her face to reveal a flawless but almost soulless looking face. She was beautiful, but her eyes looked oddly glazed over, and that bothered Mike.

“I can’t get my room door open.” He explained to her.

“Well does the key turn?” She asked, approaching him.

“Yeah, it turns just fine, but the handle won’t budge for anything.” Mike replied.

“Here, let me try.” She reached for the key and he backed away to let her take a turn at it. “Sometimes these old doors need a little special help to get them open.” She turned the key and attempted to turn the handle, only to face the same problem as Mike had. “That is odd.” She said, trying it again, with the same results.

“What’s going on here?” A deep voice called from behind them. Mike turned quickly and was met by a tall man in a tattered suit that looked like a janitor uniform. But Mike was more taken by the large mustache the man had growing from under his nose, it looked like something straight out of a silent film.

“Uhh, yeah, my door won’t open.” Mike said after a few seconds. Mike pointed to the door with his thumb and turned towards it, to see that the maid was no longer there. He turned further and saw her almost jogging away, pushing her cart with her.

By the time Mike began to turn back the tall, mustached man was working his way around him to get to the door. The man pulled out a large ring of keys and immediately snatched one from the jumbled mess and pushed it into the knob, he turned it and the door fell open.

“There you go.” The man said and began to walk away.

Mike pushed the door open and took a step in. He was ready to unpack when a thought hit him, he quick felt his pockets, and looked around frantically, he then rushed back into the hall. He looked around; the janitor was nowhere to be found. He propped his bag in the way of the door and rushed down the hallway after the janitor, but then another thought hit him, and he began rushing the other way. He ran to the small rest area where the hall split into a T, he looked all around, there was no one; there wasn’t even a sound of anyone. He kept looking around for a few more seconds, down every hallway.

“S**t.” He whispered to himself, and began jogging back towards the elevators.

He arrived back in the lobby and rushed up to the girl behind the desk.

“Hello again, Mr. Terry.” She said, still wearing her smile.

“Yeah, hello.” He replied, panting now. “One of your maids took my key.”

“Where were you?” She asked, puzzled.

“Well why does that matter?” Mike was getting aggravated.

“Well none of our maids are working the third floor right now.” She replied.

“How do you know?” Mike asked.

“Because they start with the first floor in the morning and work their way up, by now they should be on floor six or seven.” She explained.

“Well the one with the long red hair was on my floor, and she ran off with my key.” Mike said.

“I don’t know of any maid on our staff with long red hair.” She said.

“So what, did some random person dress up in a hotel maid’s uniform and steal my key?” Mike’s anger was showing.

“I don’t know, but what I do know is that there is no maid with long red hair here.” She repeated.

“Well can you give me a spare key?” Mike asked.

“There is no spare key for room three-ten.” She exclaimed.

“Well why not!” Mike was on the verge of yelling.

“Room three-ten is not the most wanted room from our selection.” She explained calmly.

“I get it, the whole haunted rumor thing, but shouldn’t you still have a replacement key?” Mike seemed calmer.

“We did, but it kept getting misplaced, then it just disappeared one day. Even the one we have now gets lost from time to time. But that doesn’t matter since nobody ever gets that room.” She said.

“If nobody gets that room how did I end up with it?” Mike’s voice was rising again.

“You reserved it.” She said.

“I didn’t reserve anything, my friend put me in this hotel.” Mike replied.

“Well then maybe you’ll have to talk to him.” She replied.

“Yeah, I guess I will.” Mike agreed. “I want that key found.”

“Trust me, we’ll find it.” She assured.

“Damn right you will.” Mike said and walked back to the elevators.

Mike couldn’t stand still the entire elevator ride, and he rushed out before the doors were fully opened. He rushed back to his room and b-lined straight for the phone next to the bed. He picked it up and dialed six numbers before he realized there was no dial tone. He sat there for a second before hanging it up and lifting it back up to his ear. Still no sound. He tried it again. Dead silence.

He tossed the phone on the bed and grabbed the receiver. He looked it over angrily, then he snatched the cord, only to find a jumble of frayed out wires at the end.

“What the hell!” He tossed the receiver back on the end table in frustration. He sat there with his foot tapping for a moment, stewing in the anger that his short stay in the hotel built in him. All of this was definitely going on the hotel review sheet. This though made Mike laugh a little. And Kent was definitely getting an ear full about it as well. That’s when Mike remembered; there was a payphone in the rest area at the end of the hall. He fidgeted through his pocket, pulled out a quarter, and rushed out of the room as fast as he’d come in.


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As Mike reached the small rest area with the pay phone he took another quick look around. Still the floor was vacant, the absence of life on the floor hadn’t bothered him much before, but now it was beginning to make him feel uneasy. He plunked his quarter into the phone and punched in the numbers, still looking around for any sign of people.

After a few long rings a man picked up the phone.

“Carlson Suites Hotel, how may I help you?” He asked.

“Yes I’m looking for the room of Kent Thatcher.” Mike replied.

“Aright, one moment, sir.” The man on the other line said.

After almost a minute the man returned to the phone.

“Alright, would you like me to direct your call to Mr. Thatcher’s room, sir?” The ma asked.

“Yes.” Mike said impatiently.

“One moment.” The man said again and there was another long pause.

The silence soon gave way to the monotone hum of ringing. As it rang a second time Mike’s foot began tapping. The third ring came after what seemed like forever. As the fourth ring began it was cut off by the sound of someone answering.

“Hello?” A weary voice called from the other end.

“Kent.” Mike replied.

“Yeah, who’s this?” Kent responded slowly.

“It’s Mike, Kent.” Mike said.

“Oh, hey, Mike. How’s the hotel over there?”

“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. What’s the deal with booking me the haunted room?”

“Oh, come on Mike, you don’t believe any of that crap, do you?” Kent laughed.

“Kent, I don’t know what the hell you’re pulling here, but it isn’t funny.”

“Whoa, whoa, calm down. Is it really that bad over there?”

“It hasn’t been what I call great.” Mike sighed.

“I’d get you a room over here but it’s all full up, this place ain’t very big.”

“Well haunted or not, this place still gives me the creeps.” Mike took another nervous look around him.

“Well look, if the ghostly w***e is giving you too much trouble, I’ll see if I can find you another place.”

“Ghostly w***e?” Mike was surprised at Kent’s explanation of the odd happenings.

“Yeah. The ghost story that some dead hooker haunts the room she died in.” Kent explained.

“Room three-ten?” Mike wondered.

“That’s the one. The one I stuck you in. What, is she too rough for you?” Kent chuckled again.

“Relax, I don’t want another hotel.”

“Then what did you call me for?”

“Just because I don’t want a new hotel, doesn’t mean I don’t want to b***h at you for how bad this one is. Now I can handle a bad room, and a bad staff, and I can definitely handle the staffs delusions of some civil war era cheap f**k they say is still wandering around.” Mike laughed a little himself.

Mike’s laugh was cut short by an unforeseen shower. He looked up to find that a fire sprinkler situated right above him just happened to be the weakest one in the bunch. To him it seemed like just his luck.

“What was that?”  Kent wondered.

“It was what I’ve come to love about this place.” Mike said sarcastically. “Now I’d love to stay and chat but I’m afraid I’ll get electrocuted.” Mike let out another laugh but just as before this small fit of happiness was cut short as Mike’s glee turned into a feeling of puzzlement.

He was looking at the receiver kiosk not a few feet in front of him, but as more of the sprinklers spray passed in front of his eyes it began to disappear. At first he thought the whole damn room was falling away, but then he noticed that it wasn’t the area around him, but the water than had gotten darker.

Mike reached out his hand to catch some of the dark water, and as he did an odd smell came from his surroundings. At first he couldn’t pin point what it was, but after a few moments it came to him, it reeked of rotting meat. He winced at the smell that had engulfed him, but only after he peered down at his hand did he fully realize what had happened to the water from the sprinkler.

As he looked into the palm of his hand he saw only his reflection, written in a background of pure, dark crimson. He immediately recognized this foul smelling liquid as blood. His face turned from disgust to pure fear. He dropped the phone and ran. As he sprinted towards his room he could feel the warm blood droplets sink down his forehead.

He burst into his room and went straight through the bathroom door, almost knocking it right off its hinges, he had the shower in sight, but stopped for a moment to turn to the mirror. What was staring back at him struck terror into his very soul. He was drenched; head to toe, in blood. His white shirt was now a dark, reflective, pink; His hair was flat wet, and dripping the thick, red, fluid all down his face.

Mike stood and glared in horror at his bloody reflection until he began to feel some of the blood that was drenched over him start to dry. It was then that he finally made a leap for the shower, tossing the curtain as far away from him as he could, he collapsed into the tub and kicked at the nozzle until the shower rained down on him. At this point he was half expecting to have more blood squirt out at him, which made him all the more relieved when clear water began to pour out.

He let out a long sigh once he felt the thin layer of semi-dried blood wash from his face.

“That didn’t just happen.” He whispered to himself. He opened his eyes to see his shirt was still pink with blood; he quickly slammed them shut again. “That didn’t just happen.” He said louder this time. “That water,” he fumbled with his explanation for a moment, “that water was that color because of rust. Yeah…rust.” Even he couldn’t pretend to believe that story. That water was blood, pure and red, plain and simple.

“I’m crazy.” He told himself.

“But what if I’m not?” His mind bugged at him.

“I’m crazy.” He repeated. “That absolutely didn’t happen.” He asserted to himself.

“I’m not fooling anyone, that happened and I know it.” His mind argued.

 “This ghost stuff is bullshit.” He began to feel almost dizzy as everything that just occurred rushed through his head.

“When the ceiling rains blood, it’s time to let those beliefs go.” His mind almost snickered at him.

“This is all a dream.” He sighed anxiously, his breath stuttering with nervousness.

“Stop pretending.” His mind called out to him.

 “This isn’t real.” He began shaking his head in disbelief.

“Face the facts!”

 “I’m going to come around soon, in a warm bed, with none of this ever happening.” He still had his eyes clasped shut, fearing the blood-drenched area around him.

“Look in the mirror and say the same thing!” His mind was yelling sense into his brain. “You’re covered in blood. Blood that came from a goddamn sprinkler!”

“Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” He yelled to himself.

Just as he became almost unable to argue with himself any longer, something took him away from his internal battle. The shower all of a sudden ceased its gush of water. Even when the water stopped flowing, Mike stayed still, eyes wired shut. He took this time to take a good, hard listen to his surroundings. His ears first came across the dripping of the shower nozzle. Then there was the sound of his air conditioner outside the bathroom. The light above the sink buzzed slightly as well. Listening to this symphony of back ground noise, and hearing nothing suspicious over it, Mike finally decided to open his eyes.

The very moment that his eyelids released, he regretted the decision. He was greeted to the sight of the once bright white bathtub, now stained as pink as his shirt. The curtain had splotched bloodstains as well. It looked as if someone had committed a bloody murder in the bathtub. He peered around the bloody scene before pulling his head up gazing at the rest of the bathroom. There were bloody footprints, drops spattered throughout, and a small puddle where he stood and looked at himself in the mirror earlier.

After seeing that he transformed the rest of the bathroom into the same horror show he’d done to the tub, he pulled himself out and stood in the middle of the bathroom. He looked up at the mirror again; the water had fogged it up. He went to wipe his hand across it but stopped a few inches short. He remembered the old scary movie classic where the person clears away the fog from the mirror and the killer or monster, or in Mike’s case, ghost, would be standing right behind them, thus ending there part in whatever b-movie they were unlucky enough to be a part of. So now here stood Mike Terry, covered in blood still, mind racing, and debating whether or not to wipe away the fog from a mirror. He stood still and pondered for a second, before finally reaching over and running his hand down the mirror. He looked in the clear streak in the mirror, no monsters, ghouls, ghosts; just him, and at this point that was scary enough.

He breathed a short sigh of relief and walked out into the hotel room. The bed remained untouched, the door was wide open, his suitcase was lying a few feet away, still unopened, and the introductory chocolates and brochure was still on the end table opposite the phone.

At this sight, Mike had to laugh. After all this he’d forgotten to un pack, as well as do all the regular hotel stuff: eat the chocolates, ring up a lot of room service, and otherwise make a huge mess of a accommodating inn’s lovely room. Mike laughed again, because he’d already succeeded on the latter, the bathroom looked like a slasher film set, and he couldn’t imagine the mess the blood fountain made at the rest area, or what Kent thought when Mike ran away from the phone screaming.

Looking out at this nearly untouched accommodation made Mike almost forget about everything that had just happened, the idea that the room was haunted, the fact that he lost his key, the blood shower, and that he now reeked of rotting meat because of it.

Despite all that, Mike got to work trying to be normal again. He shut his door, grabbed every towel as well as the curtains off the windows, and got right to cleaning the butcher shop horror show he’d turned the bathroom into. And after vigorous cleaning, nothing looked like blood, but everything was still a very peculiar shade of light pink, almost a salmon color.

Once the bathroom looked semi-acceptable, he took a real shower, turned the bathroom back into a murder scene, and found clothes that weren’t caked in someone or something else’s blood. After he felt as clean as he could get he came back out and ate the chocolates, not bothering with the brochure though. He sat down on the bed and took another look around, and as he did he noticed something rather disturbing. Even though he washed away all the blood, the stench of rotting meat still clung to him, he used the entire bottle of their complementary cologne, but still he carried the odor of a slaughterhouse.

He winced at the smell, he sniffed his shirt to see if it was that, but alas, it was still him. Mike sat and wondered how it could be, not even pepper spray would stick through all that, but this stench managed to work its way through it all, and come out swinging it fists of sickening smell.

Just then, a sound broke his train of thought. He got up and made his way towards the bathroom. As soon as he walked in he saw it, the little empty bottle of complementary cologne, lying on the floor. He picked it up and looked through the transparent plastic, there was still some left. He unscrewed the cap and just as he was about to dab some on his hands, he slowly lifted it to his nose. He took a big breath in and swung his head back. It smelled like rotting meat. He immediately dropped the bottle, his feeling of horror returned to him. He took a step back and turned to run out of the bathroom only to be met by a crazily tall, dark, hulking shadow man blocking his way.

“Jesus Christ!” He screamed as he stumbled backwards. He took a step and a half before falling and coming inches from cracking his head on the side of the tub. Mike flailed on the floor for a few seconds before recuperating himself. He looked back up only to find that the giant shadow was no longer in the doorway. He got up and ran out into the room. He swung his head in every direction, looking in every corner, searching for the intruder. As he stood for longer he got more and more frantic, his entire body was now swinging around looking for any sign of the shadow man.

“Where the hell are you!” He yelled into the air. Mike stood still for a moment, listening for a reply. His attention turned as he heard a few small creaks from behind him. Mike to a deep breath, readied himself, and he spun around, planning to see the hulking shadow. But as soon as he made his turn around, the creaks turned into a quick sound and a huge crash, which sent Mike hurling himself over the bed. Before he had time to think he snatched the phone and punched zero.

He tossed himself into the farthest corner of the room, phone to his ear, still frantically searching the room. As the phone began its slow rings Mike noticed what had made the noise, the bathroom door was fully shut, something it had never been. He kept his eyes on the door as someone answered the phone.

“Hello, front desk.” The voice said.

“Yes, I need security up to my room.” Mike stuttered. “Someone is in my room, and they’ve locked themselves in the bathroom.”

“Okay, sir, what is your room number?” The voice asked, their tone unchanged, as if this were a regular sounding thing.

“Room three-ten.” Mike replied.

“Security will be there in a moment sir.” The voice said quickly.

            “You hear that!” Mike called to the bathroom. “Security’s going to be hear in a minute, then you’ll be sorry!”

There was no response.

Just then, Mike heard shuffling down the hall, it was footsteps approaching, and quickly after that there was the sound of the doorknob being fidgeted with the key, then it swung open to reveal two rent-a-cops. That was good enough for Mike.

Without saying a word to him the burst through the bathroom door. But after a few moments the came back out quietly.

“Is this some kind of joke?” One of them asked.

“Does it look like a joke?” Mike replied.

“Yes it does, there’s nobody here.” The cop explained.

“What?” Mike almost had the breath knocked out of him with the rent-a-cops words.

“Haven’t you ever heard about the boy who cried wolf?” The cop asked slyly. “It doesn’t end too well for the kid.” Then they both made their way out the door.

“Wait.” Mike stopped them. “One more thing.”
            “What?” The cop asked impatiently.

“Have you found my key yet?” Mike wondered.

“No.” The cop snapped.

“Then how’d you get in?” Mike began to get up.

“Security guards carry a master key.” The cop said, then they both walked off before Mike could ask them any more questions.

After they left, Mike didn’t hesitate to start his way towards the bathroom, but halfway there he stopped dead in his tracks. He looked in his hands; he was holding the phone and the receiver, severed cord and all. The cord had been cut the whole time he was talking with the front desk. In a fit of fright he threw the phone at the wall, it broke into pieces, and he ran into the bathroom, but was once more stopped dead. He had wondered why they hadn’t said anything about the bloody condition of the bathroom, but now he knew. Not only was the bathroom empty, it was spotless. No more pink hue on everything, the curtain was even put into a decorative fold.

“Oh my God.” Mike stared in disbelief. That’s when he knew, key or not, he had to get out of that room. He rushed out, leaving everything there, and shutting the door behind him.


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Carson Klemond was watching nonchalantly as his crew members moved about the hotel lobby carrying large cases down towards the main ballroom, the place they always held their paranormal conferences.

“Don’t help or anything, Carson.” One of them called out sarcastically.

“Oh, hush Jerry, you lost the coin toss, quit your complaining.” Carson said smugly.

Jerry just huffed and wandered away, one of the large crates in tow. As Jerry slowly made his way toward the ballroom, Carson took a look at his whole crew. They were fairly small in number, but they got a lot of things done very quickly. Like this day, they’re just a handful of people, and they’ll probably have the entire equipment unpacked and partially set up by the end of the day. At that optimistic prediction Carson let out a happy sigh. But before that sigh could even be completed, someone came around and ruined the whole mood.

“I don’t know why you show up here every year.” A woman’s voice called from behind him. It was the unfortunately familiar voice of the hotel manager, Beth Tanger. She was a tall, almost butch woman, with a tone of voice that showed it. Her demeanor intimidated Carson, but he hid it well.

“Beth?” He looked at her with a face full of obvious pseudo-surprise. “I didn’t think you stopped eating babies until seven.” He snickered a little at himself.

“You think you’re funny?” She sneered at him.

“I know I’m funny.” He went on laughing.

“You have a very high opinion of yourself don’t you?” She wondered snobbishly.

“You can go ahead and assume whatever you want, but chances are you’ll be wrong.” He replied, not giving her insulting tone the time of day.

“What the hell kind of answer is that?” She asked.

“A good one.” Carson replied slyly.

“Well what if I assume that you don’t have a high opinion of yourself, huh? Then what?” She demanded.

“Well then you wouldn’t be wrong.” He sighed; the smug feeling was back again.

“You just said I couldn’t be.” She pointed out.

“I said chances are you’d be wrong, that doesn’t mean you can’t be.” He corrected her.

“You think you’re pretty smart, huh.” She replied.

“You can assume anything-” Carson began repeating.

“Stop it.” Beth commanded, not wanting to repeat the last part of the conversation. He just turned to her and chuckled again. “Well if you do think you’re smart, answer my original question. Why do you always come back here?”

“Why not?” Carson shrugged.

“Because you’ve never caught anything paranormal here.” She replied, pointing out their absence of evidence from the hotel.

“The constant eyewitness accounts keep us interested. And one of these times we’ll catch something, and all hell’s gonna break loose.” He exclaimed.

“Trust me, hell will freeze over before it breaks loose.” She replied. “No eyewitness accounts have ever been proven.”

“But there’s so many.” Carson said.

“That doesn’t mean they’re truthful.” She began to sound legitimately aggravated. 

“What reason would all those people have to make stuff up?” Carson asked.

“There’s always a reason, even if we don’t know what it is, there’s always a reason.” She denounced his thoughts.

“Could you leave the area now, we’re very busy.” Carson changed the subject.

“You don’t look busy.” She said.

“Go away.” He shooed her.

“Give me a reason.” She demanded.

“There’s always a reason, even if we don’t know what it is, there’s always a reason.” He mimicked her words with a smile.

At that, she turned and stormed away with an angry grumble.

“What’s wrong with her?” Jerry had returned just in time to see Beth walk away.

“She really hates me.” Carson laughed.

“Do you blame her?” Jerry replied.

“That’s hurtful Jerry.” Carson said.

“Yeah well-” Jerry began, but Carson’s attention was taken away from the conversation.

 He turned to the stairwell just in time to see a disheveled looking man come wandering down them, looking down, but still in almost every direction. As soon as the man hit the lobby floor he made a b-line for the dark corridor at the one end of the lobby. Carson watched him go all the way. The man was looking straight down, but still managed to miss every obstacle in his way. As soon as he disappeared into the corridor of the dark bar, Carson turned back to Jerry, who had just finished talking.

“I’m going into the bar for a bit, keep unpacking.” He said and started off towards the darkened doorway.

“Oh that’s fine, that’s fine.” Jerry called out sarcastically. “At least think about what I said.”

“Sure will.” Carson replied, having no idea what it was Jerry had told him.

-

Mike walked into the dim lit bar and quickly fell down into the nearest bar stool, plopped his elbows on the bar, and dropped his forehead into his palms. His mind was racing, everything he’d seen in the past hour couldn’t have been possible, and everything in his mind was telling him that it wasn’t, except for his memory. He knew what he saw, but he didn’t want to imagine what it could be outside the safe realms of logic and certainty. If that thing was a ghost, it wasn’t real, because ghosts are not real. If it wasn’t a ghost, who cares, it still was not real. No explanation. His hands began to tremble as he ran the whole sequence back in his head. The maid and janitor, the missing key, the sprinkler, the tall shadow and the telephone; none of it could have possibly happened. But it did, and if he like it or not he had to believe it, because there are no other explanations. And this made his hands tremble more.

“What can I get you?” A voiced asked.

Mike looked up to see a bartender standing before him, leaning over at him.

“You got Coors?” Mike asked weakly?

“Yeah we got Coors.” The bartender replied.

“Alright, get me straight whiskey.” Mike contradicted himself just for the sake of it.

“I thought you wanted Coors?” The bartender looked confused.

“I didn’t say I wanted Coors, I asked if you have Coors.” Mike retorted.

“Okay,” the bartender conceded, “you’re the boss.” He poured Mike a shot glass of Jack Daniels and walked away.

Mike picked up the small glass but didn’t drink, just stared at it for a while. The rust colored liquid delivered a thick sepia toned reflection of all that was around him. He shifted the glass, the reflection rippled, and all the whiskey background was lost to the unbalance, but it cleared up again, and the whiskey toned room returned to greet his eyes with a dark and single colored version of the world.

“Howdy.” A voice called from behind him.

“Who are you?” Mike asked without turning.

“Just someone who seems to think you have a problem.” Carson sat down at the empty barstool next to him.

“What makes you say that?” Mike set down his glass and turned to Carson, but still didn’t look up.

“Well, frankly, you look like s**t. And anyone who looks like s**t and hasn’t drank their share of whiskey, obviously has something going on.” Carson replied.

“What are you, a psychiatrist?” Mike asked, turning back to his whiskey, but just leaving it on the bar, and gently flicking it, causing the little ripples to return.

“It’s strange,” Carson, observed the glass, “how something clear, can become so blurred so quickly, and before you know it, its right back the way it was. That’s part of the circle I guess.”

Mike finally looked up at him.

“Yeah.” He said, with a look of puzzlement.

“I’m sorry,” Carson changed the subject, “I don’t think I’ve properly introduced myself. The name’s Carson Klemond.” He extended his hand.

After a few seconds, Mike reached out and shook it almost reluctantly.

“Mike Terry.” He replied.

“Well Mike,” Carson got right back into the conversation, “Suppose that when the ripples in that shot of whiskey stop, its not the same picture you saw before.”

“How do you figure?” Mike wondered.

“Well on the outside things may seem the same, but nobody can say for sure what happened in between before and after the blur of the ripple, and we’ll never know. It looks the same, but can still be a very different thing.” Carson explained.

“What exactly are you trying to say?” Mike seemed slightly agitated.

“Well, to me, it looks like you’ve seen a ghost my friend.” Carson said. Mike turned to him with a feeling of bewilderment and disbelief. “Oh yes,” Carson went on, “I’ve seen many people like you wandering around with that look, you’re not sure what to believe anymore.”

“I know what to believe.” Mike responded harshly. “Ghosts ain’t real.”

“In your mind they aren’t.” Carson said. “So if a skeptic such as yourself were to encounter such a thing,” Carson leaned over, “that might put a ripple in your whole reality.” He flicked the glass himself and the whiskey rippled.

“And what do you know about ghosts?” Mike replied.

“Well, I should think a lot, I am a ghost hunter after all.” Carson replied.

“Oh, so you’re one of them.” Mike groaned.

“Yep, I guess I am.” Carson said happily.

“Well then, do me a favor and take your bullshit some other place, Carson.” Mike shooed the ghost hunter away.

“Mike, come on.” Carson stood his ground. “Even if you don’t believe in what you saw, I can help you add logic to it, that’s part of what I do. I’ve gotta debunk as much as I investigate.”

“I really don’t think you can help me at all.” Mike sighed.

“You won’t know if you don’t try.” Carson said. “Besides, who else is gonna help you around here?”

“I don’t need help.” Mike said simply.

“You look like you do.” Carson quickly replied.

“Look’s can be deceiving.” Mike’s agitation was rising in his voice again.

“Look at yourself in the mirror, and say the same thing.” Carson was getting a little angry as well.

“I’ve got a better idea.” Mike looked back up at him. “Why don’t you look in a mirror and ask why you spend time and money chasing still air.”

“Why don’t you?” Carson asked.

“Because I’ve got better things to do with my time.” Mike replied.

“Like what?” Carson wondered.

“Drink.” Mike held up the shot glass.

“Alright then,” Carson said, “drink.”

Mike shot him a dark glare.

“Look, you’d better tell me a simple reason why you’re here, or I’m gonna bust this glass over your head.” He said.

“This place has never dealt any evidence of ghosts to anyone except sole eye witnesses. Never any ghost hunters, so when I see somebody exhibiting any signs of seeing evidence, I’ve gotta go for it.” Carson explained.

“Well I didn’t see anything, so you might as well move along.” Mike said.

“Fine then, be difficult.” Carson admitted defeat, got up from the stool, and walked off.

Alone again, Mike went back to staring down into the whiskey. It looked like a much simpler world, in the eye of the shot glass; not much detail, straight forward, and simple. As Mike looked down into the liquid, he thought of everything else that was happening around him, all that he’d seen, how confusing it all was. And he longed to live in the eye of the glass, where everything was dark, but understandable.

Not finding himself able to connect with his booze any further, he too got up from his stool and walked away, leaving the shot sitting on the bar in the crowded space.

When he got back out into the lobby he squinted slightly to avoid the bright light in the foyer. He turned immediately to stay as far away from when Carson and his group of ghost hunters were. He strolled past a large wall of old black and white photographs from the hotel when it opened. He didn’t pay much attention to any of them until he neared the far corner of the large room, where the picture wall stopped. There was a face in a photo, seeming brighter than all the others. The face popped out, almost calling to his eyes from behind the frame.

Mike walked past the photo at first, but after a few steps along, he found himself to curious to move on, and turned around. His eyes quickly fixed on the bright photo. It was of a woman, simple looking, but with a face he immediately recognized.

Mike was horrified, it couldn’t be, but somehow was. In this old photo, with the date eighteen-eighty two scrawled in the corner, was a clear portrait of the maid; that mysterious, red-haired maid who ran off with his room key.


?

 

Mike immediately turned away from the photos and made a straight shot right for Carson’s position at the front doors.

“Michael, what’s happening?” Carson said with a smile as he turned and saw Mike walking his way. As he got closer Carson noticed a large amount of fear and restlessness about his new acquaintance. “Wow, you look more disheveled than before.” Carson joked.

“Shut up.” Mike commanded. “Now I’m done bullshitting with you Carson. I’m done denying that something is happening. Is it ghosts? No, that’s still a dumbass idea in my book. But it is something, and you’re gonna help me find out what it is.”

“Is there an option “B”?” Carson wondered playfully.

“No!” Mike sneered.

“Alright then,” Carson sighed, “lets talk about it.” He gestured for Mike to follow him. Mike, with semi-reluctance, did so.

“Oh, great,” Jerry called out again as the two walked off, “walk away again, great leadership skills.”

Mike turned to Jerry. “Shut the hell up.” He almost yelled. Jerry looked at him defensively, but did as Mike told.

Carson and Mike walked past the lobby and through the twists and turns of the first floor until they reached a large open room, with a ceiling made of windows. It was humid, the floors were wet, and the acoustics were too echo-y for anyone’s possible liking. To Mike it was like walking into hell, but to everyone else it was just the hotel pool.

Mike sat down at a small, white table with an equally small and white chair. Carson quickly made his way up to the tiny, tiki-style bar, and left Mike to fester with his thoughts.

There were only a few children in the pool, the splashed around playfully while their parents slept on the poolside lounge chairs. Mike envied their playfulness. He looked around and saw a dingy, smelly, hell of a place. But to the children it was the greatest thing ever. Then he turned to look at Carson, who was leaning heavily over the bar, making what Mike assumed to be some stupid conversation with the bartender while she was making his drink. Mike saw Carson was still that playful person inside, he’d found that equilibrium between responsibilities and fun. And he could still find fun in places like an indoor pool, where Mike just couldn’t. Mike didn’t like Carson very much at all, but he was jealous of him just as he was of the kids. They all seemed to enjoy their world, as well as their current place in it. While, for Mike, life has just sucked the life right out of him, now all that’s left is a lonely cynic of a man.

Carson returned, red drink in hand, giggling to himself.

“I know I probably shouldn’t be drinking with a job to do, but God do I love a good Bloody Mary.” He laughed.

“I’ve never had one.” Mike replied, uninterested.

“What?” Carson sounded surprised. “Here, try this.” He offered Mike the glass.

“No, I’d rather not.” Mike refused the offer.

“Come on.” Carson pushed.

“Fine.” Mike sighed. He took the glass of red slush from Carson, looked at it for a moment, and then took a quick sip. His face quickly grimaced and he handed the glass back off to Carson.

  “Well?” Carson wondered hopefully.

“Oh, God, it tastes awful.” Mike was still grimacing.

“You just haven’t had one before, they grow on you.” Carson laughed.

“What the hell is in there?” Mike asked, almost afraid of the answer.

“Just your usual Bloody Mary mix, a pickle, and my special ingredient.” Carson explained. “A dash of the finest Chicago style steak sauce.”

“Are you kidding me?” Mike looked repulsed. “Steak sauce?”

“Like I said, it grows on you.” Carson replied, taking a big swig of it. “Now then, what makes you think you got ghosts?”

“I don’t have ghosts, there’s just some weird stuff happening in my room.” Mike replied.

“Ghosts.” Carson repeated.

“Not ghosts.” Mike said, annoyed.

“Well there’s weird stuff happening in your room.” Carson said.

“That’s what I just told you.” Mike snipped at him.

“And your room is the reportedly haunted room.” Carson went on.

“Yes.” Mike answered.

“Ghosts.” Carson said again.

“You haven’t even heard what’s happening.” Mike said.

“Well what’s happening?” Carson asked.

“Well…” Mike paused, “I saw…a man…standing in my bathroom doorway, and all the blood disappeared, and the phone worked when it was unplugged, and that maid took my key, and that sprinkler shot blood everywhere.” Mike listed quickly.

“Okay.” Carson said after a moment. “Why don’t you just tell me what happened in order, you know, organized. Start with when you got here”

“Alright,” Mike sighed, “I got here around three o’clock, and right away bad things just kinda started.”

“Like what?” Carson wondered.

“My room key wouldn’t work, it was like the damn lock itself was broken. So I asked a maid down the hall for help, and she couldn’t get it, then out of nowhere comes this tall guy, he looked like he worked for the place, so I didn’t care. And he immediately got it open with his master key. But then I turn to get my key back, and the maid is running off with it, like she was scared of something.” Mike let out another long sigh, finding it hard to come to correct terms with what was happening, much less explaining it. “So I went down stairs to the desk to try and find the maid, but they didn’t have anyone on staff like that. So now I’m out a room key. And that damn maid, she’s in the photo.”

“What photo?” Carson asked.

“The photo. The old photo, hanging on the lobby wall, with the rest of them, she’s in one.” Mike explained.

“The one’s from the eighteen hundreds?” Carson inquired.

“Yeah.” Mike said, still frightened from the experience.

“Impeccable.” Carson marveled.

“So anyway,” Mike got back on the story, “I go upstairs to call my friend, the one who booked me here, to tell him what an a*****e he was, and how this whole thing sucks. And while I’m on the pay phone, cause the one in my room doesn’t work, the sprinkler system above comes on, and it shoots out blood.”

“Are you sure it wasn’t rusty water?” Carson asked.

“No, it was blood, it looked like it, and it smelled like a damn butcher shop.” Mike was almost trembling at the recollection. “So I go back to my room, cause the door was still open, and wash off, by then there’s blood everywhere in the bathroom. And when I turn to leave, there’s that guy standing in the bathroom doorway, and then he’s gone, so I use the room phone to call the security, they come up and don’t find anyone, even though nobody left since I saw him.”

“Wait, I thought you said the phone didn’t work.” Carson pointed out.

“I doesn’t, the wires are cut, but it still managed to make a good phone call to the front desk, even without service or power.” Mike exclaimed.

“Freaky.” Carson replied with a smile.

“It was a little more than that.” Mike looked at him resentfully.

“Anyway, go on.” Carson gestured for Mike to continue.

“So the looked in the bathroom,” Mike did as he was asked, “which I was sure they’d say something about. Cause, you know, the blood, but they didn’t say a damn thing. So when they left I got up, went over to see. Not a drop of blood to be found, it was all squeaky clean, like nobody had ever even been in there. That’s when I left, shut the door behind me, rushed down here and got a drink that I never actually drank, and when you showed up.”

“Sounds like I missed a lot of the good stuff.” Carson said.

“It wasn’t good from my perspective.” Mike scoffed.

“I’m most surprised by how all this happened, and you still don’t believe in ghosts.” Carson laughed. “You think there’s a reasonable explanation for disappearing fire sprinkler blood, and a mysterious maid straight out of a eighteen hundreds photograph.”

“I kinda hope so, then I can stop all this nonsense.” Mike said.

“My friend,” Carson leaned forward, “you’ve gotta lighten up. All this negativity is a beacon for negative spirits and energy, all your anger is only making this little situation a whole lot worse.”

“How the hell am I supposed to be positive at a time like this?” Mike wondered. “Even if this is all in my head, I’m still locked out of my room.”

“True.” Carson agreed. “But look,” he pointed up at the sky, which was red with the sunset, “isn’t that a beautiful sight?”

“It doesn’t take much away from this situation.” Mike shook his head.

“You need to take goodness from the little things in life, like the fact that, despite not having your room key, you’re still in a nice hotel. Or the sunset.” Carson said optimistically.

“What good is a hotel if you don’t have a room?” Mike asked.

“It’s better than being outside in Chicago at night.” Carson pointed out.

“This city sucks.” Mike sighed.

“I’m hating your negativity.” Carson said.

“I’m hating you.” Mike replied.

“That’s hurtful.” Carson responded with an obviously false look of sadness.

“Well we’ve been sitting here for what feels like ever, and all I’ve succeeded in doing is taking a sip of your awful drink.” Mike said angrily.

“It grows on you.” Carson said again.

“Stop saying that.” Mike commanded.

“Why, it’s true.” Carson replied.

“Look, are you gonna help me or not?” Mike snapped at him.

“Alright,” Carson said, setting his drink aside, “you want help, okay. Let’s go up to the room, see what we can see.”

“It’s locked.” Mike pointed out.

Carson leaned in closer. “Then we’ll break the door down.”


?

 

As the doors of  elevator slowly opened on the third floor, Carson was taken by surprise due to the emptiness of the halls. He poked his head out the open doors and looked around.

“Damn, this place is dead.” He laughed.

“Let’s just get out before the doors close on your head.” Mike said, stepping fully out of the elevator.

“Yes, we wouldn’t want that.” Carson agreed as he stepped out as well, just as the doors began to close.

“I wouldn’t say that I don’t want that.” Mike replied.

“Once again, hurtful.” Carson said with the false sadness tone on his voice again.

“Come on,” Mike began walking down the still empty hall, “the room is this way. I still don’t get the point of this, the room is locked, and nobody has the key.”

“It doesn’t matter, I want to see this thing.” Carson replied.

 “You come here every year looking for ghosts and you’ve never seen the haunted room?” Mike wondered.

“I’ve seen it, I just haven’t seen it with you.” Carson responded with a smile.

“I don’t really see how it’s going to be any different.” Mike said quietly.

As the two walked further down the seemingly narrow, silent hallway. Mike spotted something on his door in the distance.

“What is that thing?” Carson noticed it to.

‘Oh, you’ve gotta be kidding me.” Mike shook his head, and ran toward the door.

“Wait, what is it?” Carson asked, quickly catching up to Mike.

Mike didn’t answer, because they were soon there, and Carson’s eyes answered for him. Dangling from the doorknob, was a key. Attached to the key was the large key-chain number, stamped with the number three-ten. The key-chain still floated back and forth listlessly, like it had just been placed there.

Mike reached over slowly and pulled the key out of the door, lifted it up just a few inches from his face, and stared at it blankly.

“How in the hell?” He whispered to himself.

“Now that’s something you ought to take up with the front desk.” Carson said, also staring at the key.

“Later.” Mike said, shoving the key back into the lock. He twisted it quickly and, to his surprise, it actually worked. He turned the handle and pushed open the door. It slid smoothly open with a low moan all the way to the back wall.

“Well, let’s go in.” Carson led the way, stepping into the room and taking a long look around. Mike stood for a moment before slowly taking one step onto the room’s carpeted, yet creaky floor. After another long moment, he took another step, and another, and soon enough he was standing shoulder to shoulder with Carson, in the center of the room.

“It’s cold in here.” Mike observed, peering slowly around.

“Yes it is, yes it is.” Carson agreed.

For a while they just stood together, each looking around the room. Mike was looking for any subtle changes that may have happened since he left. Carson was just looking for anything. He found what he was looking for in one of the corners of the room.

“Trouble dialing out I take it?” Carson asked sarcastically, pointing at the shattered remains of the phone.

“It freaked me out, okay.” Mike explained.

“I ain’t arguing, phone services can be tricky sometimes.” Carson laughed. “Well let’s take a look at the bathroom.” He made his way to the shut door of the bathroom, still looking every which way.

Carson swung the door open quickly and flipped on the light. He stood for a moment and then waltzed casually in. Mike followed. Carson began looking at himself in the mirror, but something took Mike by surprise.

“The curtain’s closed.” He pointed to the tub curtain, which was pulled out almost all the way, concealing the bathtub.

“Was it open before?” Carson wondered, not taking his eyes off the mirror.

“Yeah, I remember. All the blood went away, and the curtain was folded all nicely.” Mike recalled.

“Well open it.” Carson suggested.

“No.” Mike refused.

“Why not?” Carson asked.

“Haven’t you ever seen horror movies? The person who opens the curtain, is the one who gets killed by whatever’s behind it.” Mike exclaimed.

“Okay, don’t open it, then it’ll just jump out and kill us both, instead of just you.” Carson replied.

“That’s very helpful Carson, really.” Mike scoffed.

“Alright you baby, let’s both open it together.” Carson suggested.

“Fine.” Mike said.

They both moved toward the curtain, each grabbed a handful of cloth.

“Okay,” Carson began, “one, two, three.”

They both pulled the curtain swiftly away, to reveal the bright porcelain of the bathtub and tiles, and nothing more.

Carson outstretched his arms in a pseudo sense of surprise.

“Look, there’s nothing!” He called out. “Who would have th-” He spun around, as he did, one of his hands quickly struck the open door of the medicine cabinet. “Ouch!” He yelped as the cabinet door swung back into its place.

“Was that always open?” Carson asked.

“No.” Carson said, clenching his hand. “But that was a personal experience, something that I’ve never had here before, I think I’m the first ghost hunter to have one here. So that’s good.” He looked over at Mike. “You must be my lucky charm.”

“Well if you’re satisfied, maybe we can leave now. I don’t like this place very much.” Mike said, visible uneasy.

“Sure, let me just take a few pictures.” Carson said, whipping a camera out from his pocket.

The two wandered back out into the main room, as they did Carson snapped a photo of the bathroom. The picture appeared on the small screen in back of the camera, but Carson paid no mind to it. He turned to the beds, and snapped another; once again he paid no mind to the screen.

As Carson went on snapping photos, Mike strode slowly into the middle of the room and went on looking around. He looked at the plug in by the end table where the phone used to sit, the severed cord still hung from the outlet. As Mike stared blankly at the cord, Carson snapped a photo of him, and another, and another.

“What’s the problem?” Mike wondered.

“I’m just, takin’ pictures.” Carson shrugged.

“Why so many of me? Is there something on there?” Mike asked.

“Just, stay where you are, okay.” Carson instructed.

“What is it?” Mike looked uneasy.

“I’m not sure yet, but stay there please.” Carson replied, and snapped another photo.

“I think I deserve to know why you’re taking pictures.” Mike said.

“Later, just stay.” Carson instructed.

“Okay, I’ll stand here for a minute, then we’re getting the hell out of here.” Mike responded.

“Fine with me.” Carson snapped three photos in quick succession. “Is it still cold around you?”

“Kinda, why?” Mike replied, puzzled by the question.

“Just wondering.” Carson shrugged with his answer again, and snapped another photo.

“Alright I don’t like this, let’s go.” Mike said, taking a step toward Carson.

“Not yet, just a few more.” Carson replied.

“No!” Mike was getting frustrated.

“Hold on.” Carson took another photo, the flash caused Mike to step away, and then he took another, and slowly brought the camera away from his face and shut it off. “Alright, lets go.” He said simply, and then he turned and walked towards the door.


?

 

As the two stepped out of the elevator in the lobby, they began walking different directions.

“Where are you going?” Carson asked.

“I was thinking we could sit down here and look at those pictures.” Mike pointed to a set of couches near them.

“Well why don’t you show me that picture with the maid you saw first.” Carson pointed to the wall covered in old photographs.

“Fine.” Mike conceded and began to follow Carson towards the wall.

“So which one is it?” Carson scanned the wall with his finger.

“It’s this one over here.” Mike said, walking a few feet down the way to where the picture hung.

“Alright.” Carson walked over and took the photo from the wall. “They always put the names and dates on the backs of pictures.” He began to open up the back of the frame.

“Will they let you do that?” Mike asked, watching cautiously.

“No, so keep watch.” Carson replied, quickly looking around.

Mike nodded, but turned his gaze back towards the photos. There were many group pictures, what looked like big galas held there. All the pictures were taken either in the lobby, the oddly named Silver Ballroom (the walls and décor were all gold), or even some taken in the then elegant pool area. As Mike looked through all these pictures he thought about what they represented, he thought of all the people that could have been standing where he was over a hundred years ago. This brought a slight smile to his face.

“Got it.” Carson called.

Mike turned to see him holding the bare photograph, searching the back.

“What’s it say?” Mike was intrigued.

“Marie Marksworth.” Carson replied. “Dated eighteen eighty two.”

“When was this place built?” Mike wondered, looking back at all the other pictures.

“Eighteen eighty, the murder in the room happened eighty-three I think.” Carson said, slowly sliding the photo back into the frame. Just then something startled him. “I told you to keep watch.” He was quickly shutting the frame.

“What the hell are you doing?” A shrill voice talked at him.

“I was just enjoying the hotel’s wonderful history.” He put the frame back up on the wall.

 “Yeah, I believe that.” The piercing voice was that of Beth Tanger.

“You should, cause it’s true.” Carson said.

“I ought to kick you outta here right now.” She threatened.

“But you won’t. Cause out little presentation we have every year, brings in the crowds that you never see any other time of the year.” Carson replied slyly.

“You could’ve soiled a piece of this hotel’s history.” She snapped.

“But I didn’t.” He pointed out.

“Get away from these photos.” She commanded. She then turned her attention to Mike. “Who the hell is he?”

Mike didn’t even look; he was enthralled with one particular photo.

“He’s a friend of mine.” Carson replied. “He’s assisting in an investigation, right Mike?”

“Come look at this.” Mike said, waving Carson over.

Carson went over and stared into the photo.

“What is it?” He looked confused.

“That’s the guy, the one that let me in my room.” Mikes finger landed near one of the corners of the photo. The picture was of one of the big parties in the ballroom, and just barely in the picture, pouring champagne with a big smile, was the janitor who got Mike into his room. Only now that janitor was dressed to the nines, looking like a big shot.

“That guy?” Carson looked closer.

“Yeah, he was a janitor, but he was the guy.” Mike said anxiously.

“What the hell are you talking about?” Beth interjected.

“And look, she’s in there too, look.” Mike pointed to the other end of the photo, and there was Marie Marksworth, she looked as if she was the life of the party.

“We need to see the date on this one.” Carson pulled it off the wall.

“No!” Beth objected, grabbing at the picture.

“It will assist in our investigation.” Carson was holding it up and away from her.

“Your investigation of bullshit, now hand it over before you break it!” She commanded.

“You grabbing at it is only making things worse. Now do you honestly believe me, the guy who helped to state historical society dig up half these photos for this place ten years ago, would let them break?” Carson questioned.

“You liar.” Beth continued.

“Call the historical society, they’ll tell you the same thing.” Carson suggested.

“Fine.” She said. “You stay right here.” She stormed off towards the front desk.

“You really did that?” Mike asked.

“No.” Carson laughed. “I honestly can’t believe she expected me to just stand here.” He began opening the frame.

“What’s it say?” Mike peered over as Carson pulled the picture out.

“Valentines Day Gala, eighteen eighty three.” Carson read off before sliding the picture back.

“Maybe if we look for her or the other guy in more photos, we can figure out the date that the murder happened, or at least narrow it down a little.” Mike suggested.

“Normally, I’d say yes, but we’ve got about a minute before she realizes I’m bluffing, so lets get the hell outta dodge.” Carson chuckled like a child.

They both ran down the closest hall they could find.

“Where are we going?” Mike asked.

“Well, she’ll be searching for us, so we need to go someplace where she won’t find us.” Carson panted as they ran.

“Where’s that?” Mike wondered.

“The roof.” Carson laughed.

They stopped at an elevator.

“How do we get to the roof?” Mike asked, out of breath.

“I know a little shortcut.” Carson said.

The elevator dinged open and the both walked in. Carson punched the top floor button, and soon they were ascending.

“What shortcut?” Mike inquired.

“The roof entry stairs.” Carson explained.

“How’s that a shortcut?” Mike looked at him, puzzled.

“It’s better than climbing the walls.” Carson chuckled.

On the roof, the air was cool with the advancing night, and the wind was strong, it could practically knock a man off his feet if he wasn’t expecting it.

Carson stood near the edge, looking out across the city, which was disappearing quickly. The sun was no longer visible, only a slight redness gripped the horizon now. He took his eyes from the sky and turned to Mike, who was standing in the center of the roof.

“What’s the matter, afraid of heights?” Carson laughed loudly, so Mike could hear it through the wind.

“A little, yeah.” Mike’s legs wobbled from the wind, and the idea of being on the roof.

“Well let’s get down to business then, we don’t want you too scared. So what’s the game plan?” Carson walked over to Mike.

“You tell me.” Mike replied.

“Well I figure you ought to see those photo’s before anything. We’ll take a look at them when we get back downstairs. Then we might want to consider revisiting the room, and doing some actual investigation, you know?” Carson explained.

“Sounds like a good enough plan for me.” Mike agreed. “Then what?”

“Well if we get anymore evidence, then we’ll need to celebrate a little, cause that’s a huge deal, that’s never actually happened until now.” Carson said.

“What do you mean ‘until now’?” Mike asked.

“Those photos, they had some weird stuff on them, evidence I’m sure.” Carson smiled.

“Let me see them, now.” Mike instructed.

“Okay, here.” Carson pulled out his camera and turned it on. He fidgeted with it for a moment, and then handed it off to Mike.

Mike looked at the photo on the screen, it was just a picture of the bathroom, he scrolled to the next, just another photo, and the other showed nothing strange. But then he reached the first photo of him. He was standing and looking around the room, and right next to him, hung still in the air, was a thick white smoke.

“What the hell is that?” Mike looked in confusion and horror.

“Keep looking through.” Carson said.

Mike obeyed and went to the next photo; the smoke had almost engulfed him. He went on to the next, now the smoke was beginning to turn a dark gray. Onto the next, it was partially black; the white smoke had nearly disappeared. Mike paused for a moment and observed the picture.

“Keep looking.” Carson repeated.

Mike went to the next, and the next, through out the rest the black smoke grew. On the last, the black the smoke engulfed his entire body, and there was a strange redness to it.

“What the hell is all this?” Mike asked, fear staining his voice.

“I don’t know for sure.” Carson said. “All I know is that white is good, black is fairly bad, and red is even worse.”

“This is just…” Mike’s voice trailed off.

“Extraordinary.” Carson sighed happily.

“I wouldn’t say that.” Mike replied. “Can we go in, I’m freezing out here.”

“Sure.” Carson said. “Can I have my camera.”

“Yeah.” Mike handed Carson the camera.

Carson quickly snapped another photo of Mike.

“Outstanding.” He whispered, looking at the screen.

“What?” Mike took a step forward.

Carson turned the camera to Mike; the background was nothing but a thick gray smoke, centered on Mike.

“It likes you.” Carson said with a grin.


© 2011 Mitchell Goth


Author's Note

Mitchell Goth
excuse the grammar problems and the possible lack of tabs before paragraphs, for some reason those did not transmit very well from the actual writing and this page. I'm looking for feedback on imagery, dialogue, characters, and flow.

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I like the dialogue...
But you should make your chapters be much shorter.

However, when you write dialogue, you should insert commas, not periods, at many specific places like this one.
(ie, “I don’t know for sure,” Carson said.)

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on October 23, 2011
Last Updated on October 23, 2011


Author

Mitchell Goth
Mitchell Goth

Janesville, WI



About
I'm a newer writer. I've been writing as a hobby for years, but more recently I've been looking to publish my novels. I am currently working on a paranormal fiction project as my top priority, with se.. more..

Writing
The Testers The Testers

A Chapter by Mitchell Goth