A little introduction to this one is probably necessary. I decided to try my hand at writing a little ghost story for you folks.
Let me know what you think of it in the comments, and if you’d like to see more.
The story begins after the break.
* * *
My first impression is that I like it.
It may be a run-down old hotel, but I like it. It sits near the edge of a massive ocean cliff, with so many of the bedroom windows looking out at the sea. You can hear the waves crashing on the rocks below at all times of the day. The breeze rustles through your hair when you stand outside. It’s peaceful really.
They called it “The Cliffside Inn”.
This is the fourth place I’ve visited, and I’ve gotta say, it’s the most picturesque of the places I’ve been to so far. Even if my quest to visit the most haunted places in Europe ends up being a bit of a bust, at least I got to see some cool locations.
I’ve set up in one of the rooms on the third floor of the four floor hotel. This one still has some wallpaper in it, left over from when the hotel was still operating. The wallpaper is a light, faded floral pattern with roses and violets. Yeah it’s kind of a girly room but screw it. This is where I’m making my bed. I’m secure in my masculinity damn it!
I’ll write a day entry and a night entry for this journal, recording all that I see and hear. I plan to camp out here for a week. So hopefully, something interesting will happen.
It’s about two in the morning right now, and so far nothing. I don’t even get a vibe from this place. I spent most of the night looking into the different rooms around the place. Most of them have nothing in them, but some still have dressers and drawers left over, and some even have bed frames. People really did a number on the place. I had heard that looters had basically cleaned the place, taking everything of value. But I didn’t realize just how much they did.
When I explored the main lobby and reception area, I found some pamphlets about the hotel. “Come visit The Cliffside Inn, with exquisite vistas and unforgettable service. You’ll never want to leave!” Man, advertisers in the early 1900s were just as out of touch as they are today huh? Despite their cheesiness, it did give me some good background information on the place. Apparently the owner, Joshua E. Whitcomb, bought this place back in 1901. It started as a brothel when it was built in the late 1800s, but didn’t last long that way. It was abandoned for a couple of decades before Whitcomb bought it and renovated it into a hotel. I’m actually surprised no one thought of that before.
But now the place is abandoned again. I’ve heard the stories. Strange inexplicable events, rumors that Whitcomb may have been a wee bit too interested in the occult, ghostly sightings and noises, the works.
The root of it all seems to be this one June night way back in 1938. The Great Depression was still hitting people hard, and a lot of them came here to forget their worries. On June 18th, there was this gigantic party. All of the regulars and some new people showed up and they were all having a great time. Well, that is until they all disappeared without a trace. No one even realized something had happened until a family member of one of the guests went looking for them, and found the hotel completely empty.
The detail that always sends a shiver down my spine was the half-eaten dinners and full glasses of beer left behind, like everyone just got up and left suddenly.
No one was ever found, and the police suspected Mr. Whitcomb once they discovered his interest in the occult. I’ve always wondered if Whitcomb actually had anything to do with it, or if there was something else going on. I doubt I’ll ever truly know. The place was picked clean long ago, so anything of note is probably long gone.
Strange…I thought I heard a voice just now. I’m gonna check the hallways real quick.
Nope nothing. Just empty hallways. It was probably the wind. It’s always the wind.
Well I guess that’s it for tonight then.
Something I forgot to mention yesterday. There’s a lighthouse off in the distance. It sits at the edge of another cliff, looking out over the ocean. It’s really tall. I guess that it must be at least three stories in height. I’ll have to go check it out sometime this week. Maybe tomorrow.
Anyway I did some more exploring today. I didn’t find any more useful information about the place, but I did find something weird.
So the reception area is this big room right? It has a large, faded wood desk in the middle, with an office directly behind it that I assume was for the owner. There’s also a restaurant and bar at the other end of the room, separated by a set of double doors and stained glass windows. Well anyways, near the front entrance to the hotel I found a door I hadn’t seen before. It was this heavy, shiny oak door with a gleaming brass handle. When I tried the handle, it was locked. I briefly considered breaking the door down, but that just seemed stupid. I’ll look around for a key.
The weird thing about it? I could swear this door wasn’t there before. I thought I remembered looking there yesterday and seeing nothing. Who knows, maybe I just missed it or something. But I got this strange feeling in my stomach when I was close to it. I felt uneasy, and a little dizzy. The hair on my arms stood up. It sounds silly I know, but there’s something about that door that doesn’t sit right with me. I can’t explain it. It all felt so much clearer to me in the moment, but now it feels far away, like a distant sound or memory.
In any case, something better happen tonight, or I’m going to be really angry!
Um, you know how I said something better happen? I regret that. I really, REALLY regret that.
So I was just about to fall asleep tonight (it must have been like eleven) when I suddenly heard music off in the distance. It sounded like an old piano. Jesus. I nearly crapped my pants right there. Look, I’m not a guy who gets scared easy, but when ghost pianos start playing in the middle of the night I tend to freak out a little bit.
Anyway, I sat still listening to it for a couple of minutes. It was playing some old classical tune of some kind. It might have been one of those really early Frank Sinatra tunes, I couldn’t really tell. After listening for a little bit, I grabbed a flashlight from my pack and decided to investigate.
When I entered the hallway, the piano was considerably louder than it was in my room. I could tell it was coming from somewhere below me.
I raced down the stairs, the sound growing louder and louder as I went. Once I hit the ground floor and entered the reception area, I could tell it was coming from the bar area. As I swept my flashlight across the stained glass, I could swear I saw a woman’s shadow. She was sitting down, hammering her fingers across shadowy keys. I only caught a glimpse of it, but I think her mouth was moving. She was silently singing along to the song. Call it wishful thinking, but she seemed happy.
I walked up to the door and placed my hand on it. It was then that the piano just stopped abruptly. It just cut, like someone paused a recording. When I entered the bar I found nothing. There was no piano. There was no music. Nothing.
I brushed some of the dust off the pictures hanging on the wall, and sure enough, there was a piano in some of them. At times, there was a young woman with bright red hair sitting at it. She looked the same size and shape of the shadow, but I couldn’t tell for sure. She had lovely eyes. An older woman stood behind her in one of the pictures, smiling. She looked to be the girl’s mother, or at least a relative of some sort.
The piano was one of those really old, classy grand pianos. My guess is that one of the looters took it, although I can’t imagine why. Seems like a lot of work and effort for a freaking piano. Who knows, maybe they were a budding musician and just didn’t have the money to buy one.
The pictures are eerie. They’re like snapshots in time, echoes of the past. The people in them are smiling and happy, blissfully unaware that anything bad will happen to them. As I ran my eyes across them I couldn’t help but ask where? Where did these people go? How did they just disappear with no trace?
I have a theory. If Whitcomb really did murder these people, he probably tossed the bodies over the cliff. The rocks at the bottom surely tore the bodies apart, and the ocean current carried what was left out to sea. But I have my doubts about the Whitcomb murder theory. I see a man in these pictures that looks like he could be Whitcomb. He has bright blue eyes and slick brown hair. He’s wearing an old fashioned tweed suit and smiling, standing next to the piano as the young redheaded lady. He seems happy. Call it a gut feeling, but I don’t fully believe that he just up and killed everyone. But who knows, maybe I’m wrong.
In any case, I’m sitting on one of the bar stools right now, wondering what to do next. I admit, the experience rattled me. But secretly, I’m all pumped up inside.
Finally, some excitement!
I found a safe! But I don’t know how to open it yet.
It was behind a painting in one of the old rooms. From what I could tell, this was Whitcomb’s room at some point. I found some books on the desk that talked about the occult, so that’s the assumption I’m making. It’s odd, certain parts of this hotel are incredibly well-preserved.
Anyway, the safe has a strange mechanism. It has a little ball that you move along a track. It can go up, down, left and right, and I’m guessing that when you move it in a certain pattern, it’ll unlock the safe. The track looks a lot like a cross, which would seem to imply some religious symbolism to the safe. I have a hint on how to solve it. When I opened one of the occult books on the desk, a slip of paper fell out.
It read “if I ever forget the combination to the safe, I can remember one word: Trinity. – J.W.”
I thought about what it could mean for several minutes, but decided to return to it later.
I passed by that door again in the reception area, the one that I assume leads into the cellar. I don’t know why it bothers me so. It just looks like an ordinary door but something deep inside tells me that it’s not at all what it seems. I feel almost nauseous whenever I see it.
So I’m sitting at the bar again (hit me barkeep), looking at all the old pictures. It seems that at some point this place was always lively and fun. They may be grainy old photos, but they’re still in color. Everyone seems to be having a good time. I wonder if they were having a good time on that summer night all those years ago. I wonder if they even saw it coming.
So first it was the ghostly piano, now the ghostly foghorn. As I went upstairs to write this entry, an ear-splitting horn sounded from far off. When I looked out of the window, I saw the lighthouse’s beam swinging through the night. The glaring beam blinded me as it swung past.
Here’s the thing. That lighthouse hasn’t been operational since around the 1960s, and I’m pretty sure no one has been in the thing for some years. I remember hearing that there were plans to turn the lighthouses around here into historical landmarks and museums, but it never happened.
Wait. Now I’m hearing knocking. It’s really far off, but I can definitely tell it’s knocking. Is someone else here? I have to go check this out.
Well that was a bust. I followed the sound as best as I could, but it kept changing locations. At first it sounded like it was just down the hall, but when I thought I got close to where it was coming from, it changed. It was now below me, so I went downstairs. But it went further below me again. So I made my way to the reception lobby. And again, it was below me.
It was coming from whatever lies below the hotel. I swept my flashlight over in that corner, and there it was, that damn door. It seemed to sneer at me, tempting me to open it. I almost walked toward it, but I fought the urge. I walked slowly back upstairs like a total badass. I didn’t care. I wasn’t scared at all.
Okay, I lightly jogged up the stairs.
Fine, I ran up the stairs like a little girl. What do you want from me?
Things are starting to get really weird around here. Well I’m signing off for the night. Hopefully tomorrow brings some clarity.
The darkness is alive
The darkness is alive
The darkness is alive
The darkness is alive
The darkness is alive.
Okay, what the hell is going on? I woke up this morning to find my journal spread open on a nearby desk. Below my journal entry from the night before, someone had scribbled “the darkness is alive” in some kind of scrawling handwriting with big letters.
The strange thing is that it isn’t my handwriting. I can tell as much. It has some similarities to mine, but there’s a distinctive curve to it, especially around the letter “i”. So is someone else here, messing with me? Or is it something else? I have no idea.
In any case, I’m headed out this morning to check out that lighthouse. The light and the foghorn last night have me all curious about it.
The damn thing is padlocked shut. I’m standing on the cliff near the lighthouse right now writing this. There’s no way I’m getting in there, and there’s nothing in there that would make me try. Here’s the curious thing. I knew the hotel was supposedly haunted, but I heard nothing about the lighthouse. Could it be possible that they’re symptoms of the same phenomenon? I’ve never heard of such a thing, but then again, I’ve never actually SEEN a real haunting. This place, this entire area is getting under my skin. I’m gonna start heading back to the hotel. It took me about an hour’s walk or so to get here, so it’ll be a fair trek back.
Eureka! I did it! I opened the safe!
On my walk back, I had a moment of inspiration. The word “trinity” could be referring to the holy trinity. You know, father, son, holy ghost and all that. And when do religious people usually invoke the holy trinity? When they cross themselves right? So I replicated the motion (up to down, and then left to right in one smooth motion), and POP went the safe. Let’s check out what’s inside.
This is weird. The only thing that’s in here is an old diary. It looks like it belonged to Whitcomb.
Weirder still, most of the pages seem to be blank. All except one.
I’m feeling some serious chills right now. It’s the entry from the night everyone disappeared. I’ll transcribe it in my journal.
June 18th, 1938
It’s all set. I’m going to try to open that door tonight, the door that shouldn’t be there. It’s been an oddity since it first appeared some months back. I know we’ve never built a cellar, nor do the plans for the building ever reference such an addition. I talked to Betty about it, and she’s never seen it before either. We’ve lied to our guests about it, telling them that we made the addition during the winter when we closed for renovations. Thank god for that.
The door is a strange thing, immaculate and shiny. No matter how much time passes, it never loses its luster. The brass handle shines just as spectacularly as it did when I first noticed the door. I put my ears up to it some time back. I could hear and feel something coming up from below, some kind of thumping. Like a heartbeat. I could feel something else in it, something evil.
I plan on getting to the bottom of this tonight. I procured a crowbar, and hopefully while everyone is still partying in the bar I’ll be able to pry open the door without interruption. If someone asks, I’ll just say I lost the keys.
Eight o’clock tonight. That’s when I will attempt to open it.
Oh god help me…what have I done. What did I unleash? When I emerged from that endless dark abyss, I found no one in the bar. It was all so deathly quiet. I ran through the hotel screaming for anyone. But no one else was here. Except…that thing. I can still feel it now, leering at me from the darkness. I don’t know what it is. But it wants to claim me, just like I assume it did everyone else.
The front door is gone. It disappeared. I’m trapped here now.
I made my way back to my room. I’m sitting here now trying to figure out what to do. The bottom floor is totally encased in darkness now, darkness so thick I can’t even see the bottom steps. I know that if I go down there I’m gone, sent wherever it sent all the others. What do I do? I can’t escape. Everything outside the windows is black. There are no stars, no light, nothing. There’s only one thing I can try. I’m going to see if I can find another way back into that door. Maybe I can seal it from the other side, and end this. I wish I could see my wife and child one last time. By the time they return, I’ll be long gone.
The devil sleeps in the rocks
The devil sleeps in the rocks
I’m so sorry I’m so sorry I’m so sorry I’m so sorry I’m so sorry
This journal, no one fakes something like this. Those last few lines, they were written by a man in the throes of true terror. Either what he said actually happened, or he went crazy enough to believe it. Either way, I’m done with this. I’m not spending another damn night here. The sun is setting, but I’m gone. I’m packing my stuff and getting out. I’ll be damned if I’m gonna die here.
Well I’m damned. The front door is gone.
I packed up my supplies and headed toward the front door, only to find that the front door didn’t exist anymore. I ran around the entire hotel, looking for another exit, but there is none. I tried the windows, but all is blackness outside. Oh god why didn’t I leave earlier? Why didn’t I leave after the second night with that damn piano? I’m such an idiot.
I’m sitting in the reception area right now, trying to figure out what to do. In a last ditch effort I brought Whitcomb’s occult books down with me, trying to find something, anything to help me out here. But it’s all useless. There’s nothing in here that’s remotely similar to what I’m experiencing. I’m trapped here, just like they were. Am I going to be consumed next?
Wait a second…this book is signed to Joshua Edmond Whitcomb. Edmond? Could it be?
Was Joshua Whitcomb my grandfather?
My parents never really spoke about my grandfather, and I never met him as a child. I didn’t even really know anything about him, and whenever I asked, they dodged the question. Was this why? Because they believed the stories about him? That he murdered all those people and then just vanished?
The only thing my mother ever said about him was that “hopefully he’s dead now.”
Was this fate? Was I meant to come here? I mean, what are the odds that I would show up at this place, looking for a thrill, and find traces of my long lost grandfather?
Oh no, The door is open. I heard a creak just a second ago, and when I looked up, the damn door was OPEN. I can hear something coming from below, a pulse, a thumping. Is that…a heartbeat? Is this what Whitcomb described when he put his ears to the door all those years ago?
It beckons. It calls. It wants me to go down there. I don’t think I can resist.
I’m going. I don’t care what happens to me. I have to know. If I’m going to die here, I might as well know why.
The cellar, the cellar is NOT a cellar. I don’t know what it is. Something far more ancient. The darkness down there is impenetrable. The light from the stairwell won’t reach beyond the stairs. It just stops, like there’s a barrier there. I reached out, and I could feel cold stone walls. I heard a distant wailing noise, the shrieks of the suffering. The heartbeat, or whatever it is, was much stronger down there. It thumped in my ears, causing my head to pound. It felt like my head kept pulsing, getting bigger and smaller with each passing thump. I felt dizzy, like I was going to faint. I still couldn’t see anything.
I kept hearing different voices, crying out for release. They weren’t aware of me I think. They just kept crying and crying and crying. It was about to drive me insane.
And then, I heard it. A deep, gravely voice from right next to me.
It said my name. IT KNEW MY NAME.
And the laughter, oh god the laughter.
I ran. I ran as fast as I could to escape. I bounded up the stairs and slammed the door shut behind me. It won’t help. I know it won’t help.
“The devil sleeps in the rocks”. My grandfather was right. Something is down there, something evil. And it wants me.
I can see it now, the darkness, it spreads out from behind the door. The door itself is gone, swallowed by the blackness. The heartbeat is getting louder now. I can feel it looking at me, grinning wide, ready to devour my soul. I’m heading for the attic, maybe I can hold out there until this passes. It’s my only chance.
I’ve been in the attic for about half an hour now, and there’s no sign of the thing. But I can’t be sure that it’s gone. I’ll stay here for a while longer before I venture out.
It’s getting darker now, so dark. I can barely see the far wall anymore.
I HEAR IT. It’s right below me now, the pounding heartbeat. The pulse of pure evil.
It’s coming up through the trapdoor.
It’s saying my name. It knows me. It wants me.
If anyone is reading this, RUN. Just get out of here before it knows you’re here. Run as fast as you can, and don’t look back.
It’s here, IT’S HERE. I can see it seeping through the trapdoor.
There’s something there, in the darkness. I can almost see it…
Oh god they’re faces. I see FACES. They’re begging me, pleading with me. They want help. But there’s nothing I can do.
Someone is screaming at me from the darkness. Someone strangely familiar.
The devil sleeps in the rocks
The devil sleeps in the rocks
The devil sleeps in the rocks
The devil sleeps in the rocks
The devil sleeps…no more…
* * *
I hope you enjoyed the story. I know I enjoyed writing it. Being a long time horror fan, I found it odd that I hadn’t ever really written anything like this before. The stuff I tend to write is mainly science fiction with maybe a little tinge of horror in it.
Well let me know what you think about it in the comments below. Let me know if you want to see more. I have some ideas on how to expand of the tale of The Cliffside Inn, or I could do something else altogether. Share your thoughts in the comments.
In any case, that’s all I have for this week. Tune in next Wednesday for another post. Until then, have a great week everyone!