“Manny, we shouldn’t be in here.” the girl said as the crept through the darkness and dust.
He grabbed her hand and could feel her shaking. It was chilly out, even for April, but it wasn’t the cold that set her to trembling. “Becky, calm down. We slipped right past that security guard. He doesn’t know we’re in here.”
“Well, what about when we get out?”
he paused for a moment. “I hadn’t thought about that…”
“Manny!” se groaned in the deep dark that was weakly penetrated by his flashlight.
He laughed with the bravado of youth. “We can out run the old guy anyway. What are you worried about Becky?” He shone his light in her direction. He could see the look of fear drawn on her face with pale lines.
“There’s something not right.” She said in a shaky voice.
“Well of course something’s not right. This place is falling down.” He snorted and chuckled derisively.
“No.” she said, her voice lowering to a whisper. “there’s something not right in there.” She pointed to a door. It stood slightly ajar in the hallway. Nothing stood out about the door except for the fact that it was open slightly. Manny approached it, using the beam of his flashlight, visible like a sword blade in the gloom from the falling dust, to part the darkness before them. As he got closer, Manny could see the faded and corroded brass plaque that was emblazoned with the number “53” in chipped and peeling black paint. He was vaguely aware that he was still holding Becky’s hand, dragging her towards the door against her whispered protests that he did not hear.
“Manny, let me GO!” she said and wrenched her hand free from his.
If he noticed, he made indication of it. Manny wasn’t aware of the cold that grew around him like a cloud either. His breath, thick like smoke, hung in front of his face. Gossamer stands of webbing clung to him desperately as he moved towards the door.
“Manny…..don’t….” Becky said as she started to back away. She looked into the hallway from where they had come. She didn’t take any longer to decide before she bolted into the darkness away from Manny and whatever it was that was bothering her about that room. It was there, palpable on the tip of her tongue like a sour taste from memory, yet one she could not quite identify. But whatever this terror was, nibbling at the corner of her mind rat-like, she knew that she was going to get away from it as fast as possible.
Manny took no notice as her footfalls raced away from him into the dark. His focus was on his own hand as it reached for the knob on the door. It was as if he was watching it from outside of himself. Manny even felt the urge to scream a warning to himself, but nothing came from his throat but silence.
He opened the door and went into the room.
Manny wept and hung his head as the door closed behind him.
“No officer, we haven’t found him.” The security guard said as he spoke to a Harpers Ferry Officer. “The young girl came running out of there screaming bloody murder. About scared the crap out of me.”
The policeman was taking everything down diligently nodding in silent acknowledgement as his pen scribbled furiously into his notebook. “Right, ok” he said. “So then you went in…”
“Well of course.” The guard said. “I called you guys to let you know, put the young lady in my car, she calmed down almost immediately , and then I went in to see what was going on.”
The security guard shrugged. “He wasn’t there. I found his flashlight…” he handed that to the officer “but no Manny. It is entirely possible he ran off and got out another way.”
The cop cocked an eyebrow. “How’d they get IN?”
The security guard then cocked his eyebrow to the police. “Are you kidding me? this joint’s got more holes than swiss cheese, man!”
the officer nodded. “Got me there.” he sighed and flipped his notebook closed. “Ok. well, I’ve gotten her statement, and yours. For now we have to assume that Manny ran off. Becky’s parents are on their way to pick her up, so she can wait with me.”
The Guard nodded. “Sounds good. My shift is almost over anyway.”
Becky sat in the back of her parent’s car as they drove away from the hotel. She could hear them scolding her strongly from the front seat. but it sounded distant, muffled, far away. The dawn was approaching but hadn’t yet made its appearance. The night was turning from inky black to a darker blue between the mountains. The hotel stood out in stark silhouette against the night sky. It startled her to see the hotel in this non-light. It looked malevolent and cruel. She imagined it a thing alive waiting on top of the mountain like an ogre. Her eyes flared open.
From a small corner window in a recessed alcove of the hotel she saw a light flare on for a moment. The briefest of moments. But in that moment she saw Manny standing with his head hung low. Like he was ashamed. And behind him she saw something move. It slithered and stood tall behind Manny. Before she could bear witness to what happened next; the light, mercifully, went out.
And Becky screamed….
A Note from The Author…
The tale, is obviously a work of fiction.
I would like to note however that there was (and is) something odd about room 53. When the hotel was in operation it was a strange room. Not in and of itself; the room had a double bed, small dresser, and old tube tv and radio, a radiator for heating and one window that had a spectacular view of the parking lot and street. It was small, fit for only one guest, and you had to share a bath room with several other room like this on the floor. But the room had a feel to it, an energy, an atmosphere all its own. Guests would often complain of a foul odor somewhere in the room. Some said it smelled of Sulphur or rotten eggs or even something dead. The “something dead” prompted the owner at that time, Dixie Killham, to have the walls opened up to make sure there wasn’t a dead squirrel or rat mouldering away between the studs. Nothing was found. Workmen, during this time, had trouble staying in the room. They would say, they felt uncomfortable, or like they were constantly being watched. One gentleman, working into the night to finish the job, left in a rush; pale and sweating and sending his friend to collect his tools the next day. When the room was finished and ready to be rented again, we had to move anyone with an infant staying in the room because hey wouldn’t stop crying or fussing. children had night mares when they stayed in this room. Even I had the feeling that something was standing behind me the entire time I was in the room at any given moment. There was indeed something about #53.
Now, the hotel is in decay. The hallways are dusty and falling in. Mold, mildew and cobwebs have overtaken the hallway wallpaper and a wind blows open doors that have been closed for years. I, of course have been inside the hotel recently. It looks very much like a horror movie set. While walking those halls I have walked for decades I find myself staring at the door to room 53. The entire hotel holds an air of eerie calm now, but the door to room 53 still holds back an alien atmosphere.
Even now…there is something about #53.