What could happen when you inherit a haunted hotel?
Allie pulled up in front of the old hotel my grandfather left me in his will. Friends since kindergarten, she volunteered to drive me over the bumpy, rutted, dead-end road from town. Her facial expression showed a trace of doubt that she had done the right thing by pushing me to come here.
I sighed, feeling uneasy. People said the house was haunted. Superstition, silly superstition, I chased away the thought, opened the door, and got out of the car.
We stood in the yard staring up at the hotel. I looked at Allie. “I can not believe you talked me into driving all the way out here to look at this... this place.”
“Oh, come on, Cassandra, It's not that bad.”
“Not that bad? Look at it.”
Three stories high, the hotel seemed to look back at us as though sizing us up. The 1st floor was reserved for family, the 2nd for guests, and the 3rd had a spacious penthouse apartment.
Most of the paint had peeled off the building, thick vines grew up one side, reaching to the roof, and the shutters hung crookedly from the attic window.
I looked down at the overgrown yard, long grass and weeds fought to choke each other out and roof shingles were scattered everywhere. It looked like the hotel had hurled them to the ground in a fit of rage.
“Cass, your grandfather left you this hotel free and clear. Don't you think you owe it to him to at least go inside and look around?” She gave me a serious look. “ You're not in a position to be too picky, think of the money you would save living here rent free.”
“It will take forever just to clean up this yard, Allie, can you imagine what the inside must be like?”
Allie was right. I had to live somewhere and since losing my job I couldn't afford to keep the apartment in the city. The anxiety returned and I wondered how I would handle the isolation of living here. Hopefully, internet and cable reached this far from town. Well, if Grandfather had managed to live here and manage the hotel alone, so could I.
The temperature had dropped considerably since leaving town. Grateful for my hoodie, I tucked my short auburn hair under the hood and tightened the drawstrings. I glanced at Allie and saw she was shivering and had tucked her hands under her arms in an attempt to keep them warm.
I couldn't put it off any longer. “I guess we should go inside before we freeze solid out here. At least we'll be out of the wind.” I said.
Five wooden steps, worn in the centre, led to the front door, evidence that many generations had climbed these stairs. I dug the old key from my pocket, unlocked the door, and grabbed the doorknob. “It's cold as ice.” I shrieked and quickly snatched my hand back. Goosebumps stood up on my arms, a chill ran down my backbone, and I swear my hair stood up on the back of my neck. Then the heavy door swung open.
A current of even colder air greeted us as we crossed the threshold and the door slammed shut behind us. Allie stifled a nervous giggle. “It's an old building and it's been shut up, of course, it's cold inside and the door probably needs it hinges tightened. That doesn't mean it's haunted.”
“Did I say it was haunted? Come on, let's look around.”
The inside of the hotel was in better shape than the outside, the dust had settled on the antique furniture, but all that was needed to make the place livable was a good cleaning and a coat of fresh paint.
Allie noticed a thermostat on the wall near the kitchen door and pushed the up button until we heard a click and the oil heat kicked in. “Thank God the electricity is on,” she said.
We explored the kitchen, a bright sunny room and modern enough for my taste. I was starting to feel better about the hotel and the possibility of living here. Just then, we heard a scratching noise above our heads. “Mice? I'll have to get some traps.”
Returning to the hall we decided to check out the rest of the downstairs. A creaking sound came from the stairway, we looked up almost expecting to see someone coming slowly down the stairs but there was no one there. As the last stair creaked a pleasant scent filled the air.
“Do you smell that?” Allie asked. “It's...” Her voice trailed off.
“Old Spice,” I said. "My grandfather always wore Old Spice.”
“Don't be ridiculous Cass your grandfather passed six months ago. I doubt his cologne would still be lingering here.”
“Unless he's lingering here,” I replied.
For a moment we paused at the bottom of the stairs. Although the building was still a bit cold and unwelcoming, this one spot felt warm and comforting. It felt like something or someone was pausing there with us. Something non-threatening observing us, assessing us. Then it moved on. Footsteps shuffled toward the parlour.
Allie looked at me, her blue eyes wide with shock. “This is getting creepy,” she whispered. “Should we follow?”
I shrugged and we moved forward. We entered the parlour. It was warmer in this room and it smelled of pipe tobacco. A comfortable looking grey rocker recliner chair with a fleece throw draped over one arm sat near a window. Beside it was an end table holding a small reading lamp, an ashtray, and a remote control for the large screen TV on the opposite wall. Grandfather had certainly made himself a cozy little retreat here.
Allie gasped as a hollow spot appeared in the centre of the seat and the footrest slowly rose.
“Not haunted, huh?” I muttered in her direction.
As we watched, spellbound, a mist swirled around the chair and a human form slowly materialized. An elderly man was sitting there smoking his pipe. He looked up at me and said “Welcome Home, Casandra.”
My breath caught in my throat. Allie grabbed at my arm, then sank to the floor.