Your eyes grow tired trying to see through the dark, gloomy night. The fog only continues to thicken as the night drags on. But at least I’m able to admire the night during my drive, you think to yourself gazing into the cloudy trees. The Halloween spirit slowly creeps up on you, throwing you back in time.
You placed your hand on the cold glass of the front window. You used to watch the kids in costumes pass for hours. You never knew why your mother despised Halloween so much.
Spotting a sign on the side of the road, you slow your car to a crawl to examine it. After realizing you still had a few hours till your mother's house, you decide to take the next exit to find somewhere to stay for the night. You glance at a faint sign for a hotel to the right of the off-ramp. Oh thank God, you think. As you flick your blinker on, something catches your eye in the glow of the light. You can’t get a good look at it as you are turning, but you’re too tired to care much about it. It mimicked some kind of animal crouched over on the corner gnawing at something.
Pulling into the parking lot of the “Edward Swans Inn”, you made out a faint ‘castle-like’ outline of the Inn. Freezing, you quickly gather your belongings and rush up the porch steps. Even with the dim porch lighting, you could tell this hotel had some age on it. The brick and wood gloat maturity.
As you enter the hotel, you notice it is much more pleasant than you anticipated. Since it was the first place you found, you had assumed it would be just another hole-in-the-wall dump.
A fireplace! You rush over to the heat. The fireplace looks old, but it doesn’t seem like it was used much over the years. A lady called out from the counter, “Welcome, Miss. How are you tonight?”. Being too focused on the fireplace, you had completely missed her walking in. You stroll over to the counter and analyze her name tag. Edith, that's an unusual name. Without realizing it, you began to analyze her. Dark under-eye circles that contrast her bright eyes. Long and messy, as if she simply just didn’t care for it. Too young to work here, yet seemed to know what she was doing.
“I’m good, thank you... Tired though.” You say still looking around. Seeming like the rooms went on for ages, you realize this place is much bigger than it had looked outside. Dark wood curves around the door frames, hand-carved detail framed the ceilings. Maroon-tint seems to vaguely fill the rooms. There’s an old feel to this place.
Edith checks you into a room, and you couldn’t help but notice her slight eagerness to do so. She casually adds, “Happy Halloween! Have a nice stay,” before you head to your room.
You started up the staircase, admiring what history this place must hold. The detail seems to catch you off guard. Why turn such a beautiful place into a hotel in the middle of nowhere? You follow a long hall until you find a metal 18 bolted on the wall next to the door. You insert your key, and-
The door opens, revealing a fluorescent wallpapered room, a tall window, and a curtained bed. You walk in, setting your things on the floor and start getting ready for bed.
Leaving the bathroom, you catch a glimpse of black on the wall. The paper had begun to peel relieving letters. You graze your fingers across the edge of the paper. Not being able to resist the urge, you tear at it. It seems there was an entire passage. After attempting to read it, you realize it’s not English. Not understanding what you were looking at, you hurry to the front desk.
“Ma’am?” You blurt out before even reaching the desk.
“Yes?... Is there something I can help you with?” Edith asks with confusion due to your obvious shock.
“I found this odd writing behind the wallpaper an-”
“Oh! Don’t worry, hun. That’s just to make guests think we’re haunted. We need to keep our reputation somehow, right?” She chuckles.
“Wha- Oh, that makes more sense,” you mutter feeling as if you shouldn’t question her. You head back to your room, not sure what to believe, and slip into bed. Closing your eyes, you still feel unsettled.
You’ve been tossing and turning all night.
You glance at the door, just catching a shadow pass. It seems to just be continuously pacing.
“Hello?..” you gulped.
They stopped. You watch their shadow stand in front of your door. Heart pounding, Edith crosses your mind. ‘It just to scare the guests’ you tell yourself to calm down. You close your eyes and take a deep breath. Focusing your eyes back on the door, you no longer see the shadow.
The morning sun wakes you. Stretching and feeling exhausted after your long night, you get up to open the window for some fresh air, but it’s locked. It had been nailed down.
After getting ready, you go talk to Edith to find out about the windows.
“... Yeah, it’s just one of those tales for the guests,” she repeated, “there was some rumor about someone going crazy and jumping out the window. The owner decided to play along and nail the windows for “safety reasons”. Make this place more spooky, I guess.”
Later that day, something begins telling you to stay another night. This doesn’t make much sense to you, but staying somehow feels right. You head to the front desk to request another night, but there was no one there. Wandering the Inn seemed to be a good pass time. Grazing your fingers against the detail on the doorway as you enter the main living room across from the lobby. This makes you think about the people who had designed it, what their lives were like, what they went through to create it-
“Hello, Ma’am,” Edith interrupts your thoughts, “Enjoying your stay?”
“Yes, I enjoy being here, this place is beautiful” You decide not to mention last night.
“I’m glad,” she says with a light smile.
“It’s been 5 days now and I can’t figure out why I want to stay so bad. It like this urge that takes over all logic. I acknowledge that it doesn’t make sense, but this feeling just seems like fate…”
“Today marks three months. This place feels like home now…”
“...I have forgotten how long I’ve lived here now. They don’t have me pay rent anymore. We’re like a family. I really belong here... I’ve become fascinated with the writing on the wall. I uncovered it months ago and it’s starting to make sense.”