Saturday, 31 October 2015

The Haunted Hotel Room

A friend of mine told me this story of something that happened to
My friend, who wishes to remain anonymous

him, and I've been saving it up for today.
          We were chatting, and he said, "I never used to believe in ghosts, but..." He wasn't going to get away without giving up the story after that.

          He used to 'travel in computers and accessories' - that is, he used to travel round a circuit, trying to convince various shops and stories to buy and stock all sorts of things, from laptops and tablets to novelty USB sticks.
          "You get to know various other salesmen in the same line," he said, "because you're always staying in the same cheap chain hotels and B&Bs. So, this trip, I was in ---- and staying at a ----- "

          He told me the exact name and location of the hotel. But I'm not going to write it down here. I'm not looking to be sued.

          "Anyway," he said, "when I looked into the restaurant that evening, I met up with a couple of other reps. I knew them slightly. One was in electronics, like me - the other was in sports gear. So we ate together and had a pint or two - but the thing was, when they saw my room number, they gave each other funny looks.
          "'You're not in room 265?' says the one.
         "I said, 'Why? What's wrong with it? Gets a lot of noise, does it?'
          "They went through the funny looks routine again. Shock, horror, he's in room 265. Are you going to tell him, or shall I? That sort of business. 'Come on,' I said. 'Out with it.'
          "'That room's haunted,' the computer bloke said. 'Ask if you can change it.'
          "'I wouldn't sleep in that room for a year's pay,' says the bloke in sports.
          "'What?' I says. 'Have you slept in it?' No, 'course he hadn't - but he'd heard about people who had, and -
          "'Oh, FOAF,'" I said. They didn't get it. 'Friend of a friend,' y'know. These things always happen to a friend of a friend, don't they? Never to the person telling you about it. I told 'em only kids believe in ghosts.
          "In fact, I scoffed so much, they never got around to telling me what was supposed to happen in room 265 - we got off onto some other stupid subject. Aliens or Area 51 or something.
'Aliens or Area 51 or something...'
        "Anyway, I went up to my room about eleven, and turned in soon after. It was a completely standard hotel room - y'know, little bathroom, a bed, a desk, a tv. I've lost count of the number of nights I've spent in hotel-rooms exactly like it. I had a quick shower, watched a bit of tv, switched off the light and settled down. I'd forgotten everything they'd said about ghosts.
          I was just starting to drift off, when the bed moved - and I was sleeping alone! There was a jolt, like someone had sat on the edge of the bed.
          I sat up like a jack-in-the-box. It was so real. I had no doubt at all that somebody was in my room and had sat on the edge of the bed. I snapped on the light. Nothing, of course. Just the hotel room, and my things on the desk and chair, where I'd left 'em.
          I got up and looked around. I had some idea that one of the others had got into my room and was playing tricks - but unless some member of the hotel staff had let them in, they couldn't have done. I hadn't heard the door open - and like most of these doors, they're heavy and fire-proof. Hard to open quietly.
          In the end, I decided that my imagination was playing me up. I'd been drifting off - it could have been a sort of half-dream. And even though I'd forgotten the talk about the room being haunted, it could have planted the idea in my head.
          "So I got back into bed and settled down again.I was asleep, or near as damn it, when there was a cold draught at my back - and then a puff of cold air on my ear, and a voice, a woman's voice, said, 'I'm glad the door's locked.'
          "I was standing by the room's door, with the light on and my heart pounding like Desert Orchid's on the winning stretch. I don't remember getting there.
          "I was looking at the blandest of bland hotel rooms. Y'know: dark blue carpet, beige walls, white covers on the bed. Apart from my few things, it was neat and boring and clean - and like ten thousand other hotel rooms all over the world.
          "My heart rate started slowing down, and I felt a bit of a fool. Fancy letting those two idiots get to me. And that place was so blah that the ghost of a vanilla yoghurt would have turned it down as not sinister enough to haunt.
          "I had a drink from the fridge and watched a bit of late night telly. Listened to people tramping past in the corridor outside and slamming firedoors. After an hour, I went to bed again, feeling really shattered. This time, nothing was keeping me awake.
          "Now imagine this. Imagine you're all warm and toasty - and an ice-cube touches you. I want you to really imagine that freezing touch. The way the shock jolts you. The way the ice clings to your skin. The way the shudder goes right through you to the other side.
          "That's what woke me. Only it wasn't an ice-cube. It was a hand, a cold hand. On my chest. And an arm, reaching over me from behind. A woman was in bed with me, pressing against my back and reaching around to hug me - and she was icy, freezing. Like a randy snowman had climbed into bed with me.
          "An icy kiss pressed against my neck - and that was when I raced into reception, at three in the morning, in my underpants.
          "Don't remember anything else - except suddenly realising I was in reception, looking at the night-clerk, in nothing but my socks and Y-fronts. (Yes, I wear Y-fronts. Shut up.)
          "I wouldn't go back upstairs either. The night-staff had to let me hide behind their desk and find me a coat to wear, while they went up and moved my luggage from room 265 to another room on
another floor.
          "I didn't get any sleep that night. I kept thinking she might find out what room I'd moved to.
'There's nothing I want to know...'

          "The next morning, at breakfast, when my friends asked me how I'd slept - well, I opened my shirt and showed them the red-blue mark of a woman's hand on my chest. And the bruise on my neck.'"

          "Did you ever find out anything about the ghost?" I asked. "I mean, was someone murdered in that room, or what?"
          "The only thing I know about that ghost," he said, "is that she has great taste in men. Apart from that, there's nothing I want to know. And she won't be getting a second date."

And if you believe this is a true story, told to me by a friend, then I am your Granny's great-uncle Jim.
Copyright Susan Price.

This is an excellent collection - varied, emotive and well-judged. Highly recommended. - Amazon review.


'Every tale shows the quality of the imagination, and the accuracy of the telling. What most impresses is the authority of Susan Price's voice: exact, rich or spare when necessary, able to evoke the Past without falsity, and the present without effort.'
(The Guardian.)


'This collection… has a depth of emotion that is at times disturbing.' Magpie,


Sue Bursztynski said...

FOAF, eh? :-) thanks for the Halloween post, Susan! Is it from one of your books?

Susan Price said...

Thanks Sue. I wrote it last night, when I realised it was Hallowe'en today! - It's bassed on an old folk-tale which is in one of my books, but I can't remember which...

Joan Lennon said...


Anonymous said...


"And if you believe this is a true story, told to me by a friend, then I am your Granny's great-uncle Jim."

Don't poo poo it so fast. There is a controversial theory in Quantum Physics which proposes that objects such as buildings can absorb emotional energy in the manner of a sort of recording. The same controversial theories suggest that our 'consciousness' is related to quantum physics effects and that we may thus be able to percieve and 'play back' such recordings. If true, it would not realy be ghosts but the emotional traces the original beings left.

Worth considering. Computers may get smarter and smarter but they will never be conscious in my opinion. So where does our consciousness come from?


madwippitt said...

Hallo Uncle Jim, Of COURSE I believe you! I had a ghostly dog spend the night on my bed once. But not with icy paws. Anyway, I enjoyed reading your post Uncle Jim, and will Susan Price be back next week?

Susan Price said...

Well Manxli and Madwippit, whether you believe in ghosts or not, this is still not a 'true story told to me by a friend' because I made it up last night.

I based it on the old folk-story of the unbeliever who accepts a bet to sleep in a haunted room. He has himslf locked in - both to make sure that he fulfills the bet by remaining in the room all night, and to make sure that the people who took his bet can't get in and play tricks on him. After he's locked the door, undressed, put his wig on the bedside table, he turns out the light and lies down to sleep. Whereupon a voice says in his ear, 'Now we're locked in for the night.' Or, if you prefer, 'Isn't it fun in the dark?' - The next morning, when the room is unlocked, the man is found to be quite mad, and his wig has turned white overnight.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sue

Quantum Physics also gives us the concept of multiple universes! Thus every decision and outcome generates a new unique universe and so on.

On that principle, you're story MUST take place SOMEWHERE. There is statistically thus also a planet somewhere where little green men talk with a black country accent too.

Going to pour a glass now before the metaphysical consequences of my mootings overwhelm me!

Sue Bursztynski said...

There's a vaguely similar Rudyard Kipling story, wish I could remember the details- he wrote some very good ghost stories, though that one was humorous.

Susan Price said...

Mr Kipling did write some exceedingly good ghost stories. Don't know that one, though. Perhaps he heard the same bit of folklore?

Nick Green said...

Ha ha! You had me. I was all ready to offer rational explanations... It was so convincing as a 'real' anecdote. Don't believe in the undead. But I do believe in stories.

Susan Price said...

So do I, Nick! - And thank you for your comment.

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