The closer it gets to Halloween, the more people ask if the hotel I work in is haunted. I tell them some stories that I've heard throughout the years, and the guests enjoy the notion of staying in a haunted hotel in the middle of nowhere while I have fun telling people a bunch of ghost stories. It's been years since anything spooky has happened to me at work, but I saw something earlier tonight that I'm not entirely sure how to explain.
I think something was in the basement.
There is a door beneath the stairs on the north wing of the hotel that leads into the basement. It's used mostly for storage nowadays, like any other basement, but has a purportedly illicit past; When the hotel was built in the 1920s, prohibition was in full swing, and big name actors from the day often stayed in our little desert oasis. As the story goes, folks like John Wayne and the like would smoke cigars and play poker in a makeshift lounge in the hotel basement where, in a hideaway wall, liquor was stored and served to big name actors.
I can't say how accurate any of that is, but it makes for a story that guests think is neat, and it explains the hideaway wall down there. Nowadays it's simply a windowless room with faded green paint on wooden panels and word maroon-colored tile floors. Green carpet lines the stairs, and a bare light bulb hangs from the ceiling at the base of them. It may have been dressed up for the public eye before, but not so much anymore.
Earlier this evening I was walking down the north hall when I noticed light coming from underneath the basement door. We've been decorating for the upcoming film festival, so I figured someone must have forgotten to shut the light off so I didn't think much of it. Later on I was back in the north hallway, running an extra sheet to a guest, when I thought I saw something move behind the basement door. I figured I was just imagining things and that it was looking at the light while walking that made it just seem like something was moving around, but when I walked by after that I only saw light without any movement, and later still I found no light coming from underneath the door at all.
I rationalized that it was probably just a dead light bulb instead of a dead person. The basement gives me the creeps, sure, but I figure that's just because it's the nature of a creepy old basement to give people the creeps. Curiosity eventually got the better of me so I grabbed the master keys and walked to the basement door. A rush of musty air hit me when I opened it up, and nothing seemed out of place... except the light at the bottom of the stairs was still on.
The door had been locked, and staff are the only ones with a key. Either there was someone that had locked themselves in that creepy basement and turned the lights out, or something inexplicable was creeping around down there, but regardless I didn't stick around to find out which one it was. I gently closed the door, made sure it was locked, and headed to the front desk because it was too spooky for me and I still needed to do stuff before the end of my shift.
It's not the most interesting ghost story, as far as ghost stories at this hotel go; it's no phantom waking up guests in the dead of night, or forces turning on lights, or a ghost taking a piss, but it sufficiently spooked me a piqued my curiosity; what's in the basement? A gambler's ghost? An evil spirit? Or just an electrical box, some Christmas decorations, and my runaway imagination?
Whatever it is, it fits well with the autumnal chill.