Another story from the hotel now. We’ve already heard about the real hauntings that I
experienced in the flat and the kitchen, now the final part. Reception...
The reception at the hotel was home to a mischievous spirit, with multiple reports of both auditory and poltergeist activity.
The front door of the hotel opened into the reception area. Turn left, and you’ll find a passageway leading to the public bar. Head right, and you’ll end up the restaurant (and those swinging double doors leading to the kitchen) and go past the office you’ll find toilets just before you hit the beer garden.
The ladies toilets were constantly cold even at the hight of summer, and many customers told stories of strange feelings, and sometimes even sightings in there. Just before the right turn to the restaurant were the stairs that led to the flat. I did not like the stairs. Not one bit. In fact, I hated them. Whenever I was going up the stairs, it felt like there was someone behind me. Every. Single. Time. Whoever this someone was, I got the same feeling of malevolence from them as I did the presence in the flat. Maybe it was them.
The main focus of reception was the office. There were two kinds of phenomena around the office. The first kind was nasty. At the entrance to the office, both of my parents experienced the same thing on two separate occasions, something I’m overjoyed to say never happened to me. They were standing just outside the door when a disembodied voice screamed in their ears. A vicious barked AH! up close and personal, targeting them when they were alone.
The other kind was mischievous. One afternoon, I had to count the takings from the restaurant till. My maths is pretty good, but I usually used a calculator, just because it was quicker than recounting if I did make a mistake. I departed the office, collected the money, and carried the tray from the till back into the office and placed it on the desk. No calculator.
Just as with the auditory phenomena experienced by my parents, I was alone and there was no-one around to play a trick. After a quick search, I decided it would just be faster to count using pen and paper. Not the most exciting job, scraping the coins from their compartments and out onto the desk, left to right, starting with pound coins, and working through to the pennies. Count them, mark the amount and move on to the next section.
On this day it was a quick job. All present and correct, I took the tray back to the till. When I returned to the office, I froze.
Sitting smack in the middle of the desk, where the tray had been, was the calculator.
My first conclusion was that I’d made a mistake, done something stupid, put the tray on the calculator and not noticed. But something about that didn’t feel right.
Neither the calculator nor tray from the till were flat. The calculator had a raised section for the display; its profile looked like an ice-hockey stick. The bottom of the tray was the opposite of the top. Plastic where there were gaps and vice versa.
I went back to the till and collected the tray and tried to fit it over the top of calculator so that it wouldn’t wobble. I tried every possible position and there was no way that thing would fit. Whenever I got something close to the tray being flat, I scraped the coins out from the tray, it noticeably wobbled. I hadn’t made a mistake.
Putting those events aside, the strangest thing to happen in reception was connected with the lock on the office door. It was a Yale lock. For those not in the know, a Yale lock is an auto locking system. Nothing fancy. The key needed from the outside, and on the inside, two buttons – one that twisted to open the lock, and a smaller switch that fixed the lock in place: either stopping the lock from closing if the door was being used a lot, or fixing the lock closed for extra security (so much so that when it is locked like this, it won’t be opened even with a key).
One night I had to go to the bar, so I left the office, making sure I had my keys (because locking yourself out of somewhere with these locks is far too easy) before dropping the switch to lock the door. After about an hour, I went back to the office, stuck my key in the lock and twisted. You guessed it. Nothing.
I jumped to the obvious conclusion: the lock was broken, thinking the switch must have fallen from the up position to the down and fixed the lock shut. The hatch where guests would sign in and receive their keys was closed and locked with a bolt. After a few minutes of rattling I managed to get the lock open (yay, security!), and I climbed through into the office. To fix the lock in place, either locked or unlocked, the switch had to be put up. It couldn’t have dropped and locked me out. And when I checked the switch… Up. I didn’t move easily and even if it had happened on its own, it was defying gravity.
Again, after a few minutes of fiddling I came to the conclusion that there was no way it could have happened accidentally. If we were dealing with a defective lock, I would expect this to happen often, with increasing regularity. In ten years, this happened twice.
Have you ever had an experience you can't explain? Let me know in the comments! As before, I’d like this to be a serious discussion, so no jokes, memes, etc. And (I really shouldn’t have to tell you this) please be respectful of others!
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Parts one and two of the Royal Oak series gave a little background into the kinds of activity at the Royal Oak: Residual Haunting and Poltergeist. Two for the price of one this week! Two short, but intriguing tales for you. Tales of poltergeists...
As mentioned in The Highwayman, the Royal Oak was a huge place and at weekends was a busy nightclub (yes, I grew up experiencing this. Yes, my childhood was that awesome). The bar itself was brass-topped (just like The Highwayman’s table) and wide, to stop drunken patrons trying to reach over and help themselves to beer(!), and the area behind the bar was equally wide. The extra room was invaluable during those packed out weekends so the bar staff could easily pass one another. All in all, the distance from the back of the bar, to the front of the bar was easily somewhere around 5 feet (approx. 1.5m). Behind the bar were shelves full of glasses for easy access.
Late one afternoon David and Mandy were working at the Royal Oak and a couple of customers who were impressed with the age of the old place asked about hauntings.
So the question came about hauntings, and David mentioned the odd sightings, and poltergeist activity. The moment the words were out of his mouth, a glass flew from the shelf behind the bar. It flew through the air completely clearing the bar, before smashing on the customer side. A huge distance.
Such a journey defied the laws of physics and cannot simply be attributed to gravity alone. Again, this is another story which asks for some serious logic bending when trying to come up with an explanation.
The second story happened one night after the pub had closed. David had stayed up for one of those late night afterhours sessions and had fallen asleep afterwards. He awoke alone, disturbed by a distinctive hollow metallic sound. The sound of barrels being moved around in the cellar.
He opened his blurry eyes and the noise stopped, but he saw somebody helping themselves to a shot from the optics mounted behind the bar. His eyes came into focus but when they did, there was nobody there. Thinking he’d imagined the whole thing, he went upstairs to bed.
The next morning he went downstairs and spoke to the landlady.
“What were you doing last night?” she asked.
David explained that he wasn’t doing anything, he’d just fallen asleep. “Why?” he asked.
“It took me ages to fall asleep because of the racket coming from downstairs.”
David was confused. “What racket?”
“Somebody messing around in the cellar, moving empty barrels around.”
The word ‘Poltergeist’ comes from the German meaning ‘noisy ghost’. Poltergeist activity includes objects being moved (or in some cases thrown), loud noises, e.g. knocking, banging, etc. This kind of spirit is also purportedly capable of biting and scratching those unfortunates unlucky enough to experience it. Poltergeist activity often occurs in the presence of an adolescent: in a home where there is at least one teenager; one theory being that poltergeists feed off their energy, though this gives rise to claims of bored kids with nothing better to do playing pranks on adults.
Other theories claim poltergeists can be written off simply as the result of a vivid imagination or memory lapses.
In the case of the glass above, it would be an elaborate prank indeed, to get a glass to perform the kind of gymnastics mentioned. Not only that, but the prank would have to be set up during a shift, and not triggered beforehand. Who would do this? David and Mandy were as much victims of the ’prank’ as anyone. So could this just be a case of imagination? Well, if there is a broken glass as a result, seen by multiple witnesses then I should say not. Which leaves us with a question: are poltergeists real?
Have you experienced poltergeist activity yourself? Let us know in the comments! As always, I’d like this to be a serious discussion, so no jokes, memes, etc. And please be respectful of others!
And a quick word about a new short story series Infinity. Part one 'Last Party' saw our hero wake up chained in a warehouse, surrounded by 3 strangers bearing strange marks on their wrists, but what do they want? Part two drops this Friday (17th Feb) at 8am (GMT)
So, I asked the beautiful people on my Facebook page to select a writing prompt for me to write a short story from. They duly replied (you can find the prompts on the above link, and I should say this one's for Karolina, Sally, and David. If you don't like it, gee, I'm sorry, I guess), and so, I present you...
I’d known this day was coming for a long time. God knows I’d prepared for it, and now it had finally arrived. Prepared for it emotionally, I mean. Before I even opened my eyes I knew what was going on. And I knew why it was going on. The last thing I could remember was the party.
It had been a good one, for the most part. Sad, poignant (like all Last Parties were), but the music was pumping, the drinks were in rich supply, and even though it was his party, Remy was in great form. Only 26 years old, turning 27, but drinking like a Viking and joking around like he always did. His wife, Chrissy, sure she was emotional. I mean, she’s the guy’s wife, and his Last Party. The reasons for her sadness were pretty much the same for everyone.
Firstly, and this one I shouldn’t really have to explain, it’s his Last Party. Emphasis on the word Last. They’re always emotionally charged. Come on, it’s the final meeting with everyone you know and love. If somebody invites you to an LP, you go. You go, and you take as much food and drink as you can carry, and if there’s any left over (and this is a fucking huge if), the guest of honour gets to keep that shit for however long he’s got. The Second Reason Chrissy was upset about her husband’s LP is why everyone gets upset at their significant other’s LP. It’s selfish, but my inkling is it’s the main reason; it’s a glimpse into your own future. Your own very near future.
Chrissy’s birthmark was the same as Remy’s. In the same place as everyone else’s (obviously). On both of their wrists was the number 27. That was the thing with the birthmarks. Everybody could pick someone with a number close to their own. Unless you’re too high or too low. That’s one of the reasons I’d always been single, but that’s another story. Chrissy was a few months younger than Remy, and by the time her LP came around, it was anybody’s guess if he’d still be around, at least the kid would be born, and who knew, maybe he’d be luckier. Just because his folks were both 27s, didn’t mean he’d be a 27. If he was lower they’d be too dead to reap any benefit from it.
If you’re like a 40 or a 50 or even an 80, basically a number high enough to benefit from it, you have a kid and that poor little scrap of life comes out in single figures, you get to retire, well, for five years. Four before, one after. (Or one before and four after, if that’s all the maths allows.) All on the government’s bill. Your old job waiting for your return.
And the birthmarks were the reason I always wore long sleeves. The birthmarks didn’t develop until you were two years old (unless you were a 1), so there was no official record of anyone’s number. It was illegal to request the information too, like at a job interview. It could be used to discriminate. Unless you were a cop or a soldier or something like that, the government never knew. So yeah, my folks always told me to cover up, and they were serious as shit when they did. So I covered up. And stayed single. Girls always wanted to know your number. Christ it was worse than the discussion of how many women you’d slept with. No, I’m not a virgin, before you ask. Yes, prostitutes. No, I don’t feel bad.
So when the day finally arrived, I had been expecting it. I peeled my eyes open, the strange taste of my last drink at Remy’s Last Party still in my mouth, and saw the birthmark. But it wasn’t the unusual thing. An infinity sign birthmark is an unusual thing, don’t get me wrong, but I couldn’t see all of it. Because of the shackles. Cold, heavy iron shackles. I mean, seriously? I’m going to live for ever but I’m not the Hulk.
“And which assface spiked my fucking tequila sunrise?”
Yes, I drink tequila sunrise as my beverage of choice. Little judgemental, aren’t we?
I could see one of them. He looked about Remy’s age, but skinny, and white, dressed like Iggy Pop if you ever saw him wearing clothes. I addressed the room, though, because I heard another voice, deep lots of bass. Probably a black dude. Oh, I’m racist now? Do you think it belongs to a little old Chinese lady? No, so let’s move the fuck along. When the third voice answers, I get a surprise.
It’s just when I’m dealing with this minor surprise (yes, I’m aware that women can do nefarious shit, I just wasn’t sure it included drugging people and shackling them to old wooden doors) that I see it. On Iggy Pop’s wrist. His birthmark is like my birthmark. Now it’s not too much of a stretch for even my groggy mind to imagine what the others birthmarks look like.
“You got it,” Iggy says, presenting his wrist, “we’re like you.”
“I have never drugged anyone and shackled them to a shitty old splintering door in a cold and frankly unwelcoming warehouse.” I answer, because even though I’m groggy still, and my head feels like it’s got three potatoes rattling around where my brain used to be, being next to impossible to kill brings out the cocky in most people.
The black guy appears from around the back of me at the head end, “Sorry bout that, we’re kinda new at this.”
He talks like Samuel L. Jackson, but he looks like somebody stuck Scottie Pippen’s head on Usain Bolt’s body, oh and I fucking told you he was black. Then the girl appears and she looks so much like that speedster chick off that TV show Heroes that I swear to God, it might be her.
“Can you take these off? They’re pretty uncomfortable.” My head’s clearing now and I manage to raise one of the shackles.
“Answer this question first, then we’ll talk,” she says.
And I know what’s coming before Iggy Pop opens his skinny mouth and I know, I know I’m supposed to be all Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and refuse the fucking call, but I’m tired of fucking prostitutes and I can already imagine watching society making the same fucking mistakes over and over and me not forming any real relationships and any I do stumble into end with me having to watch people I actually give a fuck about die so when he says, “We’re getting a group together. It’s serious shit. Serious enough to get you killed,” I look him square in the eyes and smile.
Iggy stares back at me expressionless, “You look like you’re gonna say yes, and you don’t know what it is yet.”
That’s true. “Well, I trust you guys know who I am. So I don’t think you’re gonna ask me to kill somebody.”
They just look at each other.
“Are you going to ask me to kill somebody?”
The Chick answers, “No, we’re not. But when you find out about them, you might want to.”
Another story from the hotel now. And another ghost sighting! The other ghost sightings I’ve told you about I can smell you sceptics having some kind of fit. “But you could have been asleep!” or “How drunk were you?” in suitably whiny fucking voices.
So just for you, here’s one experience I shared. During the day. At work...
It was a regular day at the hotel, back in the time I was working in the kitchen. The kitchen at the hotel was up a short flight of stairs separated from the restaurant by a pair of large swinging doors, and a particularly active (paranormally speaking) part of the hotel.
There were sightings of shadowy figures (not by me, a cleaner was talking to mum and stepped aside to let ‘somebody’ past her) and one occasion I recall, I went up there to collect a CD a friend wanted to borrow. It was a short distance to the CD player and the ultraviolet light of the insect zappers meant I didn’t need the lights on. As I walked to pick up the CD I heard a pair of hard soled shoes following behind me. I was wearing trainers and the footsteps were at a different pace to mine. That took me a minute to build up the courage to turn around, I can tell you. After a minute or so trying to recreate the noise I gave up.
Back to the story…
I’m in the kitchen working with a colleague (Lynne) and on this particular day, I was washing the dishes and Lynne was preparing main courses. She had just served up a meal and to let the waitress know the food was ready she shouted the standard “Meals away!” The food was set onto the pass through that divided the kitchen into the large cooking area and smaller waitress area and she went about her business of preparing the next meals.
After a minute or so, the meal was still sitting there, going cold. It wasn’t a particularly busy day, so I gave a slightly lounder shout, hoping my voice would carry further, before getting stuck back into the dishes. Another minute passed and the food was still sitting there. I turned to Lynne, and we shook our heads in disbelief that nobody has come to collect the food, when we hear the distinctive sound from the bottom of the stairs of swinging double doors opening.
“Finally!” Lynne says.
The scrape of traipsing footsteps echoes upstairs and we both go back to whatever we’re doing, Lynne the next meal, and me, more dishes. I glanced around just in time to see a stockinged leg in a plain flat black shoe disappear around the corner as I picked up the next plate out of the sink. After washing it the waitress still hasn’t reappeared carrying the meals (which by now have been sitting for a good few minutes).
I turned round to see Lynne give an exasperated shrug, so I walked around the corner to “politely request that the waitperson exercise a little haste”. I poked my head back around the corner, mouth agape.
Lynne mirrored my gormless expression.
“Is there nobody there?” she asked.
“Did you hear somebody come upstairs?” I replied.
After a minute of asking each other questions back and forth like an Abbot and Costello routine, we both confirmed that: yes, we heard the doors open; yes, we heard footsteps; no, there’s nobody there.
Eventually the double doors swung open and the waitress finally appeared and rather than wanting to know what had taken her so long, we were both desperate to find out if she’d opened the doors come, upstairs, then gone back down for something.
She said that she hadn’t been upstairs, and she hadn’t heard us shouting. She had to check a guest in at reception. The reception where she had been for the past few minutes.
Wide awake, corroborated by another witness. There. Told you.
That’s All, Folks! Next week, it’s back to the Royal Oak, for POLTERGEISTS!! Have you liked/shared/retweeted? You have? Thank you! You may now go. But come back next week!!
Have you ever had an experience you can't explain? Let me know in the comments! As before, I’d like this to be a serious discussion, so no jokes, memes, etc. And (I really shouldn’t have to tell you this) please be respectful of others!
Last time I told you about the first time I ever saw a ghost. As I said at the time, I wasn’t that scared. It’s strange because there have been other occasions I’ve experienced different things that have scared me…
THE FLAT: PART TWO
One night sitting watching television in the living room and I got the feeling that I wasn’t alone (sound familiar?!). Worse than that, the feeling was that whoever I was sharing the room with left me in no doubt that my presence was not welcome. The feeling grew stronger and stronger by the minute and I could think of no trigger. I’d been watching comedy on the television and hadn’t been thinking about anything strange before it happened. After about twenty or so minutes of hoping the feeling would go away, it got progressively worse. I eventually left. Not an experience I’d gladly repeat.
This happened a few feet from the room I’d witnessed my first ever ghost, and as I said, that wasn’t the last time I saw something.
This all happened a few months after the first experience. I can’t remember exactly how long, but it was long enough for me to have the other incident far from the front of my thoughts. I was lying in bed one afternoon (I was a chef working split shifts at the time and after years of practice, I am now the World Champion of Afternoon Snoozes). Just as I was thinking about going to sleep, I saw something between my bed and the closed door of my room. The area between my bed and the door is only about a square yard (just under a metre, for our European readers).
A black cat’s tail swished up, hung in the air for a moment, and then disappeared back down alongside my bed. It was odd, because, well, we didn’t have a cat. Nonplussed as to how a cat made it all the way upstairs and into my room, I propped myself up, and waited for a second, thinking (hoping) the cat would appear at the door and try to escape. It didn’t.
It must be cowering by the edge of the bed. It was the kind of bed with drawers built into the base, so there was no way it could have made its way under. Now I had to peer over the edge of my bed to see what it was doing, risking having my eyes scratched out in the process. I just wanted to sleep.
I peered over the edge of the bed to find absolutely nothing. Just so we’re clear, this was a solid black tail. Not a white ghostly tail. Not transparent. Solid black. And let’s be clear, I hadn’t even fallen asleep yet, so there was no way I was dreaming. Again, at the time I wasn’t scared. It was just… odd. As before, the scary part was still to come.
I did manage to fall asleep (see ‘World Champion of Snoozes’), but when I woke up, it wasn’t because of my alarm, and there was nothing natural about it.
I was awoken by pressure on my back. More precisely, four small points of pressure. More precisely still, two points on my upper back, two on my lower back. Spaced apart almost like feet. If pressed, I’d say exactly like feet. And if I had to guess the weight of the object that had just landed on me? I’d say it was about the weight of a cat. I leapt out of bed and carried out a thorough search of the room. There was no cat.
My room at the hotel always was a bit strange. There was a time I was awoken by a terrifying dog’s bark. That was on the cusp of being awake/asleep so I can’t say for certain that it wasn’t a dream, but that wasn’t all that happened. There were invasions of wasps, HUGE spiders (including one so big it barely fit into a pint glass(?!)), and Red Admiral butterflies. The thing about the butterflies was they used to appear in my room and fly right into the corner before settling on the ceiling. There they stayed until they died. The exact same spot. Never anywhere else. At one point, there were three lined in a row.
I remember chatting with my mum after I’d left the hotel, and just as a jokey remark, I asked how everything was in my old room. She told me that she didn’t know because my dad insisted on keeping the door closed. “He never liked that room.”
He only let me sleep there for ten years… Thanks, Dad!
Next time... One for the sceptics to mull over!
Have you ever had an experience you can't explain? Let me know in the comments! As before, I’d like this to be a serious discussion, so no jokes, memes, etc. And please be respectful of others!
In this blog I'll be bringing to you short tales of things that go bump in the night, true stories of weird and unexplained events, and the real-life news of all things odd and macabre, and entertain you along the way.