Back in late November, I made the following excited post to my personal Facebook page:
I found the haunted room here at the new hotel!!!
Yes, there were three exclamation points. You’d think I would have immediately come here to the blog to share the story, but I was otherwise monopolized. At the time, I was deeply embroiled in my quest to complete 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo. When that was done, I was ensnared by my life – or rather the lives of my menfolk. I’ve been helping my husband get pysched up for starting his new job (which he begins tomorrow – praise all the saints) and helping my son get calmed down for his first *college-level finals (and his first real date – oh-my-God, how old am I?)
* Remember, he’s only just turned 17, I’ve still got some mothering to do.
For the last two days, I’ve been concentrating on preparing myself for the next phase of this new life we’re creating. I’ve organized & disciplined the HELL out of my calendar and my planner. (When I listen carefully, I can hear them still whimpering faintly.) I’ve set new goals and recommitted to old ones. I’ve tidied up some of the pages around the blog.
I’m feeling organized, confident and hopeful. I know what I need to do next, and what I need to do after that. Soon I’m going to go get cozy, on this wintry night, with a horror movie. (We’re having the first snow storm of the season here in Minnesota.) There’s a little time now, though, to tell you my mini-ghost story.
In room 566:
Deep in the night, on a mid-week shift at the new hotel, I realized a particular room - which had never before been available – was marked as rent-able. I had noted it on the list before, because it is labeled as a king suite. As far as I knew at the time, the hotel did not have any suites. When I had asked about it, I was told that I didn’t have to worry about it because a long term guest was in residence there.
Curious now that it was unoccupied, I set the back-in-five-minutes sign on the counter and went to have a look. I took the elevator to the top floor, then walked about half-way along the hall until I came to the correct door. I knocked – like I always do – waited, then let myself into the room. I located a single switch to my left, and flipped it on. A dim light from one wall-mounted lamp oozed out to fill the room, but it was weak, and it left soft shadows in the corners. Directly in front of me there was a living area furnished with a slightly shabby sofa, two matching side chairs, a scarred coffee table and a large television encased in an open armoire that stood against the right hand wall. In the middle of the big room, a writing desk pressed up to the back of the sofa. Beyond that, against the far left wall, a low king sized bed crouched between two night stands.
I stepped into the space and let the door shut behind me. To my left there was a small kitchenette, separated from the rest of the room by a wall of its own and narrow breakfast bar. I ran my fingers along the bar top as I crossed toward the desk. I was wondering where the bathroom was, and if it was any larger or grander than those in our regular rooms. I stood next to the desk’s bench for a moment, until I figured out that the bathroom was next to the kitchenette, and that it didn’t look like it could be very spacious.
It was then, when I was standing in the middle of the room, facing the bed, that the television behind me came to life.
I spun around, thinking someone had followed me into the the room and turned it on. There was no one near the television, except for the white-haired news anchor displayed on the screen. For a few seconds, I stood frozen, then I turned in a slow circle, scanning the room for any possible spot that could conceal a person. (I have a fear of letting myself into an occupied room. It’s been haunting me ever since the unexpected occupant in room 217 spooked me badly.) Finally, I thought to check the bathroom. It, too, was empty. Even though, by then, I was convinced that I was truly alone in the suite, I looked for the room’s remote control. It was resting on one of the night stands.
One part of my mind was scrambling for a rational explanation, but it was having some trouble because another part was busy screaming, “Appliances that turn themselves on and off are classic signs of a haunting!”
At last my rational brain deduced a plausible answer: the television had to be plugged into a socket that was powered by the switch I had flipped upon entering the room. Without realizing it, I’d provided power to a television that had been left on. There had been a delay simply because some TVs take a little time to warm up. (Later, of course, I realized that some TVs from the 70′s required warm-up time, but I wasn’t thinking about how old or new the set was in that moment.)
Since I had figured out the probable explanation, one thing remained to do: I went back and turned off the only switch I had touched since entering the room.
The room instantly went dark … except for the flickering, bluish light the television continued to pour out. I had to cross the suite to fetch the remote in order to kill it.
So what do you think? Faulty wiring maybe? Or some kind of reverse sleep timer?
Hi gang! I’ve had a day that came off the rails. I thought I’d be spending this Monday catching up on NaNoWriMo but, instead, I ended up helping my son register for too many credits at the community college, then going to work, even though it was supposed to be a day off. It wasn’t a bad day … just not what I expected. Consequently – and somewhat surprisingly – I’m now drinking my third beer, and I have to admit I’m feeling a little squirrely. That’s your warning that I’m feeling informal and chatty. Stay or go as you desire.
First, let me share a couple of personal pictures. (Because I just posted them on my real-life FB, and they are cute.)
This is my husband. In the last 18 months or so, he’s lost a LOT of weight (because he decided it was time to do so.) Now he looks pretty much the way he did when I married him. I sometimes wonder if he’s not secretly some kind of immortal. Otherwise, how could he still look so young? I haven’t yet decided if he’s vampire or were.
This is my son, who let me make him up as a version of my hypnotist clown for Halloween. He’s REALLY didn’t like me messing with his eyes – and he was kinda squirmy in general – so I couldn’t get the clean lines I wanted, but it didn’t turn out too bad.
There. With that out of the way, I can settle in and share the bits ‘o news I have.
WriMoProg / NaNoWriMo
A couple of nights ago, I updated my home-grown writing challenge / tracker page (WriMoProg) with this month’s goals which – for this one month only – pretty much equate to NaNoWriMo. I detailed my plans there, but the gist is that I’m joining in on the insanity for the first time. I’m behind at the moment, but I have 3000 words done. The intention is to catch up tomorrow (now that I’ve thrown my hands up for this one evening and commenced to screwing around.)
We had a pretty good holiday, though not nearly enough trick or treaters came to our elaborately decorated apartment door.
Do you see those brown paper boxes stacked up behind the treat-filled book? Those were filled with a set of construction cards that my son had outgrown. Our intention was to give this special prize to the first witch or wizard who came to the door. My boy was pretty excited about the whole handing out treats thing … he had never had the chance to do it before, because we lived so far out in the country.
We got a basketball player, a firefly, a girl in an orange shirt, a generic super-hero, an Arabian princess and a bug. Then there were no more.
Once we thought the festivities were over, my son and I decided to tour the building to see if anyone else had gone all out. (Nope.) When we were returning to the apartment, however, we were delighted to hear “I can’t believe I got the special prize!” We rounded the corner and saw a 12-13 year old girl, in full Hogwart’s regalia, showing the boxes to her mom. My beloved had awarded her the cards. She was thrilled. And so were we.
On his Facebook page, my son later posted, “Getting trick or treaters might be the best thing ever.”
By 10p, we had disassembled all of our decorations and packed them away. I carved two more Jack-o-lanterns, just because I could.
Then Halloween was over.
Except, it’s never really over, is it?
The must-see horror movie list
I’ve been making some progress on my required viewing. Thanks to a tip from Hunter, I settled in with The Cabin in the Woods a few nights ago. It will absolutely go onto a list of the best, I just haven’t yet figured out which one. I’ve also seen The Mist (which was pretty good, then pretty awful, then mind-blowingly amazing) and Repulsion (which was a challenging but rewarding slog, and destined to go onto the psychosexual horror list that I STILL don’t have enough entries for.) I’ll be puttering and updating the lists when I’m done here.
Sometimes I think I should make a whole new blog just for detailing the goings on at the hotel. Right now I’ll settle for one quick update, for those who are following along. Remember the guy that told me cleaning elevators wasn’t my strong suit? Yeah. He completely lost it. Within a couple of days of my post (on October 17th) he had alienated every resident and staff member at the hotel. He checked out. Then he came back and claimed that he’d left valuables in his room: a pair of shoes and a box full of winning scratch off tickets – hundreds of dollars worth of scratch off tickets. He was convinced the housekeeping staff had rejoiced at their good fortune and absconded with his property. Then he made some racial slurs to back up his theory. He wanted to call the police into the situation.
It came to a head on a day I didn’t work. My boss acquiesced and phoned the cops. The officer, I was told, attempted to make peace by suggesting that the guest (Joe) be given one free night’s lodging, in exchange for refraining from haranguing hotel staff while other guests waited. After that, we thought it was over.
Except, it wasn’t.
He showed up a few night’s later, while I was working. He seemed to be back to his old self. Calm. Competent. Sane. He rented a room for just one night, at full price, with no argument. I should have known that wasn’t a good sign.
Several hours later, I was approached by a set of three parents who wanted me to help find their underage children, whom them knew were in the hotel somewhere. They were sure there was drinking, and possible drug use, going on. While they were talking to me, one young boy made the mistake of visiting the snack machine. He was recognized by the parents and questioned about the room in which the party was taking place. He lied repeatedly, offering up a variety of random room numbers (which did not actually exist in the hotel.) When he’d rattle off a room number, I would subtly shake my head, and the questioning would continue. When he said they were in the room Joe had rented earlier, I shook my head again. Tired, worn down, he insisted that was really the correct room. The father in the group of parents went up with him as the boy proved his claim.
Even after the father returned, it didn’t work in my head. I had to go up there myself. Four girls – by appearance, none of them older than 15 – were still in the room. I gently questioned them about the adult that had rented the room for them. They described Joe to the smallest detail. Apparently, they had approached an “old man who was hanging out in the parking lot.” He’d agreed to rent the room for them.
Epilogue: Two days later – when I was working again – Joe strolled into the lobby, bold as brass. He came to the desk, greeted me, then asked, “Is it true that I’m no longer allowed to rent a room here?”
With some satisfaction – because I don’t like to be told I am not good at cleaning anything – I said, “Yes. That’s true. I’m not to rent to you again.”
He was outraged. He wanted to know why we had harassed his guests.
I looked at him for a few seconds, then said, ” Because they were underage maybe?”
He insisted I call the police. Which I did, happily. He sat in the lobby for about ten minutes. Eventually he stood up and exclaimed, “I don’t have time to wait around for the useless cops to show up. I’ll be back. With my lawyer.”
I haven’t seen him since.
Plans for the blog
Now that I’m dedicating most of my time to generating fiction, I expect to update here a couple of times a week. Currently, I’m drafting the telling of what I saw in room 217 of the old hotel, and its companion ghost story movie list.
And that’s it, a long, rambling post on a Monday night. Please forgive me and try to remember that this is about as close to a weekend as I get.
As I create these Courting Creepy lists, I repeatedly discover gaps in my viewed-films list. My knowledge of zombie movies, for example, was so thin that I had to ask a guest blogger to construct a 13 crucial zombie films list for me. Each time I write a supposedly definitive list, I receive suggestions from readers for additions and replacements. Though I stand by my choices, I must also admit that I haven’t seen everything and, consequently, I could be missing a great film. I’ve been trying to keep the list of must-see movies in my head, and/or on random scraps of paper. It just occurred to me, that this is a better way to keep track. Duh.
[Last updated September 4th, 2013.]
As with all the lists, feel free (even compelled) to make suggestions and recommendations!
13 creepy movies I most want to see next:
I. Twixt (2011) - writer list candidate
II. Byzantium (2012)
III. The New Daughter (2009) - recommended by Jimmy Smith
V. One Missed Call (2003 Japanese version) - recommended by Craft Fear
VI. Lake Mungo (2008) - Australian
VII. Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (1973) - recommended by Hunter Shea, PG rated zombie movie
VIII. Stoker (2013)
IX. Communion (1989) - for Aliens list
X. The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh (2012) – recommended by Angry Scholar
XI. Prince Of Darkness (1987) - recommended by Hunter Shea
XII. Case 39 (2009)
XIII. The Screaming Skull (1958) - recommended by Parlor of Horror
Films to be moved up, as needed:
Recommendations by The Online Horror follow:
Paranormal Activity (2007) with DIRECTORS COMMENTARY
The Conspiracy (2012)
Alone with Her (2006)
The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007)
Home Movie (2008)
Grave Encounters (2011)
The Last Exorcism (2010)
Troll Hunter (2010)
The Woman Who Came Back (1945)
The Witches (1990)
To The Devil A Daughter (1976)
Witchfinder General (1968)
The Witches (1966)
The Devil Rides Out (1968)
The City of the Dead (Horror Hotel) (1960)
La Maschera Del Demonio (1960)
The Echo (2008) – Scholar, netflix disc
The Bay (2012) Monster Men
Absence () Monster Men
God Told Me (1976) – recommended by Wed’s Child
Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971) – classic, recommended by Daryll in ghost thread
The Woman in Black (1989) – TV movie, also recommended by Daryll
Don’t Look Now (1973)
The Howling (1981) - classic, think I’ve seen it, don’t remember well
A Tale of Two Sisters (2003) - recommended by pilgrim52
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
The Exorcist III (1990) - Saw it at the drive-in, needs a rewatch
The Skull (1965) - recommended by Parlor of Horror
The Awakening (2011) - recommended by Tim Prasil
The Stone Tape (1972) – recommended by Mark Hill (obscure made for British TV – hard to find?)
Peeping Tom (1959) - rough going, I’ve heard
The Spiral Staircase (1946)
Final Destination (2000)
The Company of Wolves (1984)
The Desperate Hours (1955)
The Blob (1958)
They Live (1988)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Al Final del Espectro (2006)
We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) - read an intriguing review at IPC
Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965)
The ones I’ve bagged:
The Gift (2000)
Silver Bullet (1985)
The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane (1976)
Drive Angry (2011)
The Conjuring (2013)
AUGUST 2013 ^
The Devil’s Backbone (2001)
Lady in White (1988)
Trick ‘r Treat (2007)
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
The Descent (2005)
BETWEEN DEC 2012 & JULY 2013 ^
The Pact (2012)
The Sentinel (1977)
DECEMBER 2012 ^
Kill Baby, Kill [Operazione paura] (Italy, 1966)
Burnt Offerings (1986)
The Skeleton Key (2005)
Ju-on: The Grudge (2002)
NOVEMBER 2012 ^
The Mist (2007)
The Cabin in the Woods (2011)
Wake Wood (2011)
OCTOBER 2012 ^