The Ghost of Room 161

February 27, 2012
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The plaid suitcase pulsed like a beating heart on the springy bed in room 161 of Ivy Towers Apartment Complex for a while after it landed. Marjorie leaned on the creaky chair in the corner and looked around at the décor. Most of the wood was faded, and the shelves of the dresser were covered with a thick layer of dust. Marjorie glanced at the paint-chipped wall and noticed that the calandar was 13 years out of date.
“Swell,” she mumbled sarcastically. “Prime real estate.” Her mind tried to think positively, but it was hard in a miserable place like this. Even the yellow on the walls looked depressed.
Marjorie had just moved to San Francisco from her small Kentucky town of Belleville. Most people would have considered her lucky to have snagged an apartment of this size, but like any decent journalism student, even a room this spacious wasn’t enough.
The housekeeper sure had a lot to answer for the condition.
Marjorie stared up at the vast ceiling. Maybe 20 years prior, this room may have been grand and glamorous. But for now, Marjorie was dissatisfied with the room’s outdated Art Deco motif.
There was another reason she wanted to find a better room soon.
It was this sick feeling in Marjorie’s stomach. It was similar to the I-think-something-bad-will-happen-to-me-if-I-go-in-there feeling. Marjorie did not like it in the least. After sitting awhile in her suite, she grabbed her purse and left out the door. There were better places Marjorie could be than here. Much better places.
Nanette, the housekeeper, stood in the shadow of the statue she was dusting and watched the girl leave room 161. It wouldn’t be long until that girl demanded an explaination about the room’s condition. Feisty, that one was. But Nanette couldn’t help but feel sorry for her as she watched as Marjorie disappeared down the hall. The truth was, Nanette didn’t go into that room much and hurried her cleaning when she seldom, if ever, did clean. She didn’t want anything to do with the ghost of room 161.
Yes, Marjorie had heard stories of the ghost of room 161,but her logical brain dismissed it; merely wive’s tales. But deep inside, Marjorie’s gut told her differently, and she decided to stay on the safe side and find a better apartment. Anything less creepy.
Marjorie stretched her arms above her head. Glancing at the clock, she realized that it was 11:48 pm. Usually, Marjorie stayed up later, being a college student and all. But today she was exhausted, what with moving in. Marjorie quickly changed into her long nightgown and, after quickly brushing her hair, she turned off the Noveau lamp. As she lay in the dark, looking at the cracked and stained ceiling, she knew it was going to be a long night. Marjorie shivered.
12:00 am. Marjorie sat up in a flash, gasping for air and in a cold sweat. She thought she’d heard an inexplicably loud noise. Something like the grinding of gears, like that of a ship underwater—a creaking, squealing sound. She wondered if anyone else had woken.
It was terrifying.
A logical voice came into Marjorie’s head. “Just the radiator,” she repeated blankly. “Just the…” No. This didn’t feel at all right.
Then Marjorie realized how cold her room was. That’s strange, she thought. I could’ve sworn the heating was working this morning. “Stupid December,” she muttered under her breath.
Still breathing hard, her breath turned visible in the air. Marjorie got out of bed and walked to the window. She looked down at the radiator. A smoke like dry ice oozed out of the bottom. She grabbed one of her heels, put it on, and kicked the radiator hard.

When the chilling smoke didn’t stop, Marjorie kicked it again, harder, and again. After kicking at the radiator for about a minute, she realized that her efforts were fruitless. Plus, her feet hurt. Little by little the room temperature dropped—the opposite of what she’d intended.
Uttering a cry of frustration, Marjorie grabbed her heel and flung it at the radiator with all her might.
She gasped as she examined the dampness of her hands. What the…? Marjorie examined herself for any kind of bodily harm. No, she wasn’t hurt. But where did the blood appear from? Marjorie was truly puzzled. So she walked into the bathroom to wash whatever it was off her hands. Careful not to get anything else dirty, she turned on the creaky faucet, and the water started running. This was when, to her horror, Marjorie saw the blood multiplied from dried creases in her palm to a flooding pool, spilling like a thickly bubbling fountain. Marjorie shrieked, then looked up at the mirror.
Nanette, who slept a level lower, directly underneath Room 161, looked quizzically up at the ceiling. She had been woken by thumping and banging. Yet, she knew what it was before she was fully awake. The ghost of room 161. It would always strike the first night and the second. And any other night they stayed. That usually never happened. The visitor was never around long.
Nanette knew better than to interfere.
Marjorie shrieked and sprinted from the bathroom. That wasn’t her face—it wasn’t even a face—that horrible thing in the mirror! Empty holes where the eyes and mouth and nose should’ve been. Her nightgown was soaked with blood that continued to drip from her hands. She tried to run out of the room for help, but careened back as a figure seemed to reach through the door at her, covered by the wood as a person is under the blankets.
It was too much. Marjorie fainted into a chilly black slumber, being poked, pinched, and slapped by hands nobody could see.
Marjorie woke up to the sound of a party. She heard talking, the clinking of glasses, and the roar of Ragtime.
It couldn’t have been any of her records; Marjorie listened to Big Band, yet it sounded like a party, a full blown jamboree. Then, like a douse of cold water, Marjorie remembered the night before. She looked down, but her nightgown was clean. What the...? She glanced at the calendar. Still 13 years out of date— but with a bloody X marking November 3rd, 1928. The grandfather clock in the corner read 4:00am.
Slowly, her head throbbing, Marjorie eased herself up, still aware of the loud noises. Something definitely was up. Who in this crazy, crazy world would have a party at 4:00 am in her room?
She crept towards the door to her Art Deco living room and carefully opened it. What she saw could scarcely be described by words. People, well, not exactly people, shadows, pale shadows, wildly dancing the Charleson on the wall. A girl, or a young woman, stood out especially from these shadows. She was pretty, but frightening. Her white hair in pin curls. She had abnormally large, full lips, gray expressionless eyes, and a slim figure. Everything in the room seemed to be in black and white.
The girlish spectre was smiling, but she was gaunt and translucent. Ghoulish.
…And completely terrifying to watch. Truly, it was fascinating and supernatural.
The shadow dancers were dancing at a dizzy speed to the Maple Leaf Rag, one of the only songs Marjorie recognized. The pretty young woman was standing still, laughing as the shadows danced faster and faster. The chandelier above was rattling violently.
Strange, Marjorie hadn’t noticed it before. But looking closer, she realized that it was like all the other… things in the room- an apparation. By now it seemed like the whole apartment was rattling.
The song hit a loud chord, and the chandelier fell. Right on top of the girl.
It all seemed to happen in slow motion. Marjorie screamed , and the sharp point of the chandelier caught the specter right square inbetween her shoulders, piercing her heart. Right before they hit the ground, they vanished. Just disappeared. The dancing shadows wavered and evaporated. And the room was silent. Eerily silent.
Marjorie was frozen, trying to make sense of what had just happened. Right before the chandelier and the apparation hit the ground, the girl looked Marjorie straight in the eye.
For that one second, Marjorie had seen her emotions. Pain, confusion, and fright, yet they were masking an obvious maliciousness in the eyes, as though this…thing was trying to scare her.
And it had succeeded. There was still a presence, and Marjorie sensed danger. She had to get out of here, leave everything behind—just GET OUT of here. The thoughts were not her own, but they were right—
CRACK!
Marjorie started so hard that she tripped and almost fell into the door. She whipped around, mostly by instinct, and stared, frozen in horror, at the creature before her.
That girl, she thought, the one who was struck down by the chandelier. But she was not the same. Her eyes glowed like angry red coals, and her once pleasantly slim figure was skeletal.
It was just like a ghoul on Hallow’s Eve!
The specter rose and grew bigger until it was around 10 feet tall.Then it screamed. Long and loud. Like a banshee, her mouth was a perfect “O”.
Marjorie, who, until then had been petrified shrieked at a level nearly matching the apparation and raced out the door. She fled down the apartment hall, still in her nightgown. Everything was a blur as she stumbled blindly through the lobby, out the door, and into her car. Marjorie’s fingers were clumsy and shaking, she turned the key, and swerved onto the street.
Marjorie felt drugged, and the terrible screaming in her head never ceased as she thought it would. Why was everything fuzzy? Her vision blurred and her ears felt muffled.
All of a sudden, she regained her senses. Marjorie yanked at the wheel and lost control of the car. It swerved and fishtailed through traffic, her tires squealing loudly in protest.
Marjorie shut her eyes tight as the car ran headlong into a pole in front of St. Anne’s cemetery.
As Marjorie’s body lay crumpled in the car, the dawn broke. Once again, San Francisco was filled with light.

Epilogue
“The victim’s name?”
“Marjorie Thatcher, 20. Lived right up the street in an apartment.”
“Cause of death?”
“Severe head trauma.”
“Thank you Buenson. I’ll leave you to work. I’m going back to interview the housekeeper, ask her if she saw anything suspicious. Besides, even being a part of San Francisco’s finest for 25 years, that body just gives me the heebeejeebees.” Officer Willard tipped his hat. “See you tonight Buenson.”
“Sir.” Buenson knew what Officer Willard was talking about. He didn’t mind the dead, in fact he liked them better than the living—they talked less. But this lady was a different story. She seemed to have a dark little presence enveloping her. God, it felt evil.
The medical examiner walked unwillingly back to the corpse laid on the stretcher.
“Okay boys, I’ve seen enough. Let’s pack her up and head on back.”
And that’s when the unexpected happened.
The body of Marjorie Thatcher opened its mouth and screamed.
“My God! Has she been revived!?” yelled Buenson over her cry. “Check her pulse! Quickly Watkins! CHECK HER PULSE!” He hurried to the stretcher where the medics gathered.
“Nothing sir!” cried Watkins, “She doesn’t have any trace of a pulse!”
“She’s not breathing either!” cried another medic.
Ashudder ran through the team when Watkins pressed down hard on her chest. The body stopped screaming and said, “I died on this day 13 years ago. She dared disturb me. She paid the price. You’re next.”




Finis





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Slarge said...
May 31, 2012 at 1:36 pm

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HAPPY ITALIAN SINGING

 
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