Michaeline: Five Warning Signs of a Haunted Hotel

Vanish ad from 1948 with a housewife staring down a ghost in a "modern" bathroom.

Haunted hotel? Stare down those ghosts and turn them into story fodder! (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

So, my travels took me to The E— Hotel, and based on some observations, you could totally bring some ghosts to your next fictional hotel stay.

5. A visit to the lap pool is . . . refreshing, but a bit creepy. It’s tucked away in the basement, and as you walk around and around, you notice there’s one spot in the pool that’s a little dark in color, and the current runs a little swifter. It gets darker and deeper the longer you walk around and around, and then you realize, you are walking widdershins. Time to get out of the pool. Let’s try the one outdoors.

4. Ah, that’s better. Starlight! Beautiful summer night, with the heat lingering in the concrete. No lifeguard on duty, of course, but it’s not too deep. You float on your back, looking at the five stories surrounding three sides of the pool. A silhouette talking on a cell phone in a golden-lit window. Two kids peeping over the windowsill before a harried mom in a 2016 haircut lowers the shades. Dark windows, unoccupied and black. And then there’s one window which is different from the others. It’s not black and dark; it’s navy. Your eyes flit back and forth between the neighboring dark windows, and yes, there’s a definite difference in the quality of darkness. You count the floors and the windows, and realize that it’s your room. Suddenly, the pool seems kind of cold. Grab a towel and get out. Time to head for the room.

3. The halls are creaky, but charming. Wall sconces light the way with cheerful electric light, and the carpet is a beautiful pattern. You get to the room, rinse out your suit and get into a comfy robe. What’s the weather going to be like tomorrow? You switch on the weather channel, and after finding out, idly surf through some other ones. An adult cartoon. A re-run of a popular comedy. Politicians making promises. Oh boy, politicians! Doesn’t this election cycle seem to make everyone upset? Suddenly, the overhead light flickers, AND THE CABLE TV SAYS “SIGNAL LOST.” Signal lost? You didn’t even know cable TV could go out like that. You switch to Disney Channel, and the overhead light behaves again, and some teen idol is being sassy to an adult figure. Life is normal again.

2. Your purse falls off the nightstand. You put it on, more securely. It falls again. You give up – there’s no fighting gravity — set it upright on the floor, and notice it’s almost midnight. Time for bed!

1. The bed, when you finally crawl into it, is soft. So very, very soft. In fact, you feel your butt sinking in, your body going into a 90 degree fold as it slowly, gently sucks you into the center of a new, white universe, and you realize this is no warning sign. It’s too late.

True story, brothers and sisters. But of course, with a little literary license. The bed burped me out the next morning, after a restful (and thankfully dreamless) night! It’s the details that make a ghost story particularly creepy, and there are plenty of ways to bring it firmly into the early 21st century.

8 thoughts on “Michaeline: Five Warning Signs of a Haunted Hotel

    • LOL, my dad’s side of the family are ALL like this, so my mother had plenty of practice. Plus, we never lived in very old houses after I was 7 (that’s when imagination starts to kick in) and for some reason, I never associated my grandmother’s house with death or dying. Well, except once. And when we travelled, we always stayed in new, cheap chain hotels. (-: We missed a lot of drama by doing that, but maybe that was the point.

    • On the plus side, the pools were great for my feet, and the beds really were quite comfy. I came out a new woman . . . no, not really. But I slept surprisingly well considering I was half-bent all night and worrying about ghosts.

  1. Nothing like being away from home and staying in a strange place to activate a writer’s mind. Sounds like your hotel provided great scope for imagination and perhaps triggered a story or two?

    • I hope the stay (both at this hotel and last week’s hotel) trigger something useful! I’m half-way through jetlag, so maybe I’ll be back to writing soon. (-: I can’t wait to hear more about your adventures!

  2. Whoo! The best spooky stories start out just like this – everything familiar and then teeny tiny details that seem slightly off and then… Hope you make it home safely, Michaeline 🙂 .

    • (-: I am home, safe and sound, and waking up at 4:30 a.m. (and passing out from exhaustion about 8 p.m.). I’m using some of the jetlag-downtime to listen to YouTube meditations of various sorts, so I hope to work through the problems I have with my WIP. I picked up a Writer’s Digest magazine while I was in the States, and they had all the standard articles about plotting, characterizations, etc. But sometimes, travel gives one a fresh mindset, and of course, the writers sharing their hard-won knowledge almost always give a fresh perspective to consider things from. There was one article about the conflict lock (although they didn’t call it that in the article) that really turned on some lightbulbs, and I may blog about that soon. I am on the edge of a breakthrough about Jack’s motivations, though. I got some good insight on Olivia’s goals and blocks, as well.

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