Wednesday, December 18, 2019

"Is This Place Haunted?" pt. 4

It's easier to notice things going bump during a silent night. 

December is typically a quiet time of year for the hotel. Hiking tourism is next to nonexistent when the Sierras are subfreezing with subzero windchill so, aside from the occasional holiday traveler and retiree passing through from Tahoe to Palm Springs, traffic is pretty dead when winter creeps around. It's the time of year for maintenance projects, cleanup around the front desk, holiday parties, and busy work to pass the time.

I was in the back office earlier this week when I noticed a flashing light from the security camera feed. A bulb in a hanging fixture was flickering at the end of the south ground floor hallway. Thinking I would need to change out an old CFL bulb or something, I got up, rounded the corner from the front desk, and started down the hallway, only to find the light on and steady as usual. I shrugged it off and went back to the office, mostly forgetting about it until it happened again the next night at the same time it had the night before. I posted a Snapchat about it, hamming it up and talking about it being #2spooky, and went back to my usual duties.

The night after that was the office holiday party, so I wasn't in the back to notice if the light was flickering in the security feed again. Because it was the holiday party, however, I was tasked as usual with cleaning up afterward. Once the furniture was back where it was supposed to be and the extra tables were put away, I went to take the trash out. There's a bin outside the door at the end of the south ground floor hallway, so I carried the big black bag of Christmas wrapping and paper plates to it, not thinking about the light. I tossed the garbage in the can, and made my way back to the front desk. 

A few paces away from the door, it felt like a hand grabbed my thigh. 

The hair on my neck stood on end, a chill ran down my spine, and I picked up the pace to the front desk, mumbling, "Okay, nope, alright, no, no thank you."

There might be a reason why that particular wing would be the place for all the "shadow people" sightings and the most common place for stories to stem from. During the early half of the last century there was a Catholic church next door on the south end of the property. According to the stories I've heard it was originally built 20 miles away and then moved shortly thereafter to be in a more populous area, then moved again in the mid-1950s to the north end of town. Between the energies that could attach themselves to a hotel and the spirits that might wander restlessly from a former churchyard, the south part of this place would have its fair share of ghosts should they exist. 

A couple hours ago I was walking down the south ground floor hallway on my way back to the desk when I felt something graze the back of my calf. I looked behind me even though I wasn't expecting to see anyone or anything. The light at the end of the hall was dimmer, though; not flickering, but dimmer. Maybe my leg twitched. Maybe the light bulb or fixture is wonky. It could have been my mind playing tricks on me while walking down the narrow, windowless, fluorescent-lit walkway, like something out of The Shining.

It could be the spirit of a long-dead parishioner reaching out from beyond the veil, seeking refuge in a church that no longer stands where it had, grasping for help in their afterlife.

Whatever it may be, it does serve as a contribution to revive the Victorian Christmas ghost story tradition.

(There are some more stories about spooky goings-on in the hotel aside from this one too if you're looking for further holiday reading. Happy holidays and a happy new year!)