It’s Trick or Treat Day!
I promise, no tricks, but I do have a treat for you, today! I wrote a saucy little ghost story for a contest, but missed the deadline, so thought I’d share it with you all, today. The contest rules stated that stories must be between 1,200 and 1,500 words and, to make it just a bit more challenging, it had to include the following 10 words: Shadow, Children, Fog, Mirror, Revenge, Black, Hidden, Sleep, Eye, Never.
I think you’ll agree, I’ve met the challenge. 🙂
The high-pitched squeal of the food trolley’s wheels ground on Nadine’s nerves.
“Enough to wake the dead,” she thought. “Maybe it’ll wake George and he can figure out a way to make ends meet, so I don’t have to work here.”
She smirked to herself, knowing that was just wishful thinking. The dead did not rise once laid to rest.
After twenty-five years of marriage, Nadine was a widow, forced into a menial job to pay the bills. She reflected on the past year, spent rambling around an empty house in the heart of the city, alone and unhappy. Her three girls were all out on their own and her friends, in an effort to be helpful, kept dragging her out to bars and yoga class. Nadine shook her head to eliminate the depressing memories and returned her focus to her job.
The hotel hallway was shadowed and deserted at that time of night.
“Who eats ham and eggs at three in the morning?” she wondered.
With a sigh, she shrugged. It wasn’t up to her to question the appetites of their guests.
Nadine had heard stories about this place, long before she started work last week, but they didn’t scare her. In her opinion, they were just tales by people with overactive imaginations. The hotel was old, built over a hundred years ago. Of course there would have been guests who passed away in these rooms, but she did not believe their spirits still roamed the halls.
In one story, two children had drowned when their mother left them alone in the tub. In another, a man caught his wife with another man and got his revenge by stabbing the adulteress seven times. A different tale was about a burglar, who was caught, red-handed, looking for hidden treasures and was shot for his effort.
The most interesting deaths she’d heard about, though, was the report of the obese man who overindulged one night. After his fifth room service order, the server arrived at his door and found him on the bed, so round he was unable to move. He motioned her closer, clutching his chest. She hurried to the bed to call for assistance. She reached for the phone but, as the man took his last breath, he grabbed her arm. She screamed and tried to pull away but his death grip was too tight. She was so frightened by the experience that she, too, died of a heart attack.
Nadine shivered. She never wanted to come upon a situation like that! Sometimes she wished people would just keep their horrible stories to themselves.
She passed an ornate mirror with a gilded frame. Movement caught her eye – a shadow of . . . something black and shapeless. A moment later, the shadow was gone, making her wonder if she’d seen it at all. Maybe there was something to those stories, after all, she thought.
When she reached room 536, she paused and listened for signs that the room’s occupant was still awake. She heard moaning, as though the occupant was in the thralls of ecstasy, but that was soon shattered by a blood-curdling scream.
Nadine’s hand trembled as she raised a fist to knock at the door. All sounds from the room ceased.
“H-h-hello?” she began. “This is room service.”
When she received no response, she knocked louder.
“Room service!” she repeated.
She heard a deep voice grumbling from inside and caught a few expletives, as well, making her cringe. She hated the ‘F’ word. Heavy footsteps thumped their way to the door, which swung open with an audible swoosh. A man stood before her, wearing only boxers. His curly brown hair was mussed and his eyes were bleary as if he had just awakened from a deep sleep. Despite being in her mid-forties, Nadine’s heart skipped a beat as she drank in the definition on his well-muscled chest.
“I didn’t order room service,” he said, drawing her attention to his face.
The dark shadow of stubble lined his dimpled chin and upper lip. His eyes were azure, a color she’d always found very attractive. She took a deep breath, calming the heat that was rising to her cheeks. In an effort to mask her naughty thoughts, Nadine double-checked the food order receipt to make sure she had the correct room number. She glanced at the gold numbers on the door and nodded. Then, she held it up for him to see.
“The order came from this room,” she said. “Are you sure your roommate didn’t order something?”
“There’s no one else in here,” he replied, his brow furrowing.
A slow flirty smile curled her lips at the thought that he was alone. Could he ever be interested in an older woman? She’d read stories in smutty magazines when she was younger about the passion that sometimes flared between guests and hotel staff. Were any of them based on true experiences?
Suddenly she realized that an awkward pause had grown between them. He tilted his head, studying her, while her mind was running off on an adventure. Nadine cleared her throat in embarrassment.
“Uh . . . could someone be playing a joke on you, sir?”
“Highly unlikely. I don’t know anyone in the city. I’m here on vacation. Alone,” he stressed.
“It will be charged to your room anyway,” Nadine said, wondering if she should offer herself as a tour guide. “You might as well eat it.”
She made a move to push the trolley into his room, but he put his hands out to stop it from passing the threshold.
“I was fast asleep,” the man said. “I’m not hungry.”
“I-I heard noises,” Nadine said. “Coming from your room. If you were sleeping . . . what I heard, didn’t sound like you were sleeping. There . . . was a . . . scream. Was the TV on?”
“No,” the man said, looking at her as if she’d lost her mind.
Nadine felt rather foolish, standing there in the hall talking to an almost-naked man, arguing about sounds she was sure she’d heard coming from his room. She frowned, then put on a cheery face. Confident that she was still in the prime of her life and had maintained herself fairly well, Nadine opened her mouth to say something saucy, but shut it quickly.
A chill ran down her spine as a thick fog rose up behind the man.
It swirled out around them, surrounding the food cart, then coalesced into an indistinct form, bulbous at the top and rounder in the middle, like a huge translucent snowman. A slithering froth reached towards the tray, rattling the silver cover, which then jumped off the plate. Bit by bit, the food began to disappear, beginning with the bacon. They heard loud crunches as each piece was decimated, but saw no definite form of the being that was eating it. Each of the three over-easy eggs was slurped into a void in the mist – first the soft white, then the gooey yolk. Chunks disappeared from the buttered toast. The coffee carafe tilted, pouring hot java into a cup, which rose to the void and was sucked into nothingness. The process was repeated until the carafe was empty and plunked down on the trolley.
Nadine huddled closer to the man who stood, frozen in place, slack-jawed.
When every crumb and drop of coffee had been devoured, the cover slammed back onto the tray, the mist retreated back into the room and a loud sigh of contentment emanated from inside.
After several minutes of dead silence, the man said, “I think I’m going to want another room.”
Nadine was first to recover from the shock of seeing a spirit, her libido over-riding her fear. Fluttering her eyelashes and, in her most seductive voice, she said, “I have a spare room.”