The hotel sits just off Main Street,
between the hospital and the strip club.
It’s walls covered in ivy and the front gates
held together by rust and century-old bolts.
The wind whistles through the broken windows
when it travels north from the cemetery.
The old folks in the town tell tales
of curses, witchcraft, devil-worship and murder.
The young folks don’t believe in any of that any more,
old gods forgotten in time, but none venture inside,
the building giving off a sickening feeling.

The grand foyer is overgrown with nature,
the slick walls nurturing the flora.
Rain drips in from the holes in the ceiling,
neglect and time exposing the beams and rafters,
a man-made cave unexplored for decades,
wiped off the map and replaced with a blank space.
It’s dark in here despite the valiant attempt
of an early afternoon sun bursting with light.
A grand staircase rises into darkness
and seems to split in two directions,
to the east wing and the west.
Most stories told about this place were set in room 77,
follow the hallway into the east wing,
at the end take another staircase on your right,
into another hallway, sixteenth door on the left.

The second number seven on the door has fallen off,
leaving behind it the memory of the gold,
that missing number not on the floor, long gone,
taken by a brave soul on a dare.
The door is warm to the touch,
the door to room 76 is cold,
as is 75, 74, 73, 72.
The hallway smells of abandonment, that sickly wet smell
that a gravestone gives off after a thunderstorm.
Maybe it’s the lichen and moss growing on the walls
that gives off this horrible smell of not-quite-dead
but it does not drown out the quiet laughter
coming from behind the warm door of room 77.

The door creaks open, silencing the giggling;
it sounded like children, perhaps, or bats disturbed.
The curtains are drawn so everything within
is hidden from the view of the living.
It smells different in here, like a forest
that hasn’t seen rain for weeks.
It is stifling in the room but the radiators are hoar-cold.
Water starts running in the bathroom en suite,
the giggling starting up again, definitely children.
Floorboards damp with the moisture in the air
crack underfoot and cause the laughter to stop again.
In the en suite, the hot water tap is running,
water splashing out of the basin and onto the floor.
The water in the toilet bowl is green with algae
and the smell of ozone is burning hot.

Back in the room, an old photograph of a crossroads
hangs above the bed and it feels uneasy,
as if the photo is telling a story of this room,
that deals were done here as they were there,
selling souls for a gift, cheated out of a raw deal.
Dust swirls and spirals in a vortex in the air.
The door to the room slams shut.
There is a dressing gown hanging on to a hook
that barely has any strength left in it,
and just then, the hook falls out of the door,
sending both it and the dressing gown to the floor.
The mood in that room swiftly changes.

Drawn on the door in chalk is a pentagram,
a crude representation of the Sigil of Baphomet.
Beneath that, an inverted cross with Yeshua written beneath it.
From near the window on the other side of the room,
a hot breath materialises and the curtains close.
In that darkness, footsteps heavy and slow approach
as the laughter rises and fills the room with raw terror.
A deep, gravelly voice grinds its way through the air
and speaks in a tongue not heard in millennia.
יֵצֶר לֵב הָאָדָם רַע
The floor opens up into an abyss and the world falls away.

The old folks in the town tell tales
of curses, witchcraft, devil-worship and murder.
The young folks don’t believe in any of that any more.
Accomplished. This obsession with detail works far better than your piece about the house with stairs that only lead upward, though that did have some promising moments. Here, you set the scene far better. I especially enjoyed the odd location of the hotel, the feel of the doorknobs, and the ominous laughter of children flitting in and out. There's a lot of lead-up to the ending, and while I wouldn't say it's expertly handled at the start of the penultimate stanza, it's a satisfying close to the piece. My main concern would be that there's perhaps a little too much lead-in to the big reveal, and that necessitates excellence. While the ending satisfies, it would be more potent if you were to cut a little bit of that opening paragraph's stereotypical spookiness as well as some of the lesser details, particularly the overgrown flora. Kudos and proper respect for this one in any case.
I am a fake mountain.
Last edited by DanTheHobbit at Jun 20, 2017,
I'm just happy I managed to write it so it was obviously in first person but not using the personal pronouns. I still haven't figured out why that made me so happy when I finished. I'll have a slight rewrite of the beginning and see if I can transfer some things that happen near the end into the beginning just to amp up the dread earlier on.
Ah, I wouldn't worry about the perspective. I didn't give it a first thought, let alone a second one. I'm glad you got a sense of accomplishment out of it in any case. Aye, strengthen and possibly cut some of the beginning to the most pertinent details.
I am a fake mountain.
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