Lynnette: So, when are you gonna get here?
Kelly: I’m 20 miles out. Where are you?
Lynnette: I’m here. Don’t break any major laws, but I’ll be glad to see you!!!!!!
Kelly: I’m already breaking the law. What’s the matter?
Lynnette: Uhhh…nothing. Much. I’m a little weirded out.
Kelly: Weirded out? Why? Are you the only one in the house?
Lynnette: As a matter of fact, yes. The B&B is empty, and dark, and all the rooms are messed up, and there’s a pair of shoes by the back door, but nobody answers when I call.
Kelly: What?!?! Hang on – I’m almost there. Is it the house with the iron fence? I’m in front right now.
Lynnette: (yelps) What? I don’t see you! Tell me I’m not in the wrong house!!!
Kelly: Wait, what’s the house number? No, I’m on the wrong block. Damn it! Just a minute.
(After turning the wrong direction – I’m geographically challenged, don’t judge me – and pulling up in front of a house that looks almost identical – OK, not really – to the bed and breakfast where we are having our two-day writer’s retreat, I finally get turned in the right direction and park behind Lynnette’s car. All house lights are blazing and Lynnette meets me on the wraparound front porch.)
Lynnette: Hey, do you need any help getting your stuff in (translation: get your ass in here, you are not going to believe this…)
Kelly: Nope, I’ve got it. (Lynnette laughs nervously. I respond in kind, although I’m not sure exactly why). What’s going on?
Lynnette: Seriously, get in here. You are going to love the pictures in your room.
(I’m slightly creeped out as soon as I walk in. Sure, I knew the house was old – it was built in 1888 – but I wasn’t prepared for the whole FEEL of the place. Lynnette had already had a nerve-wracking hour and a half to cautiously peruse our surroundings. She gave me the tour.)
Lynnette: By the way, that front door swung open by itself when you drove up. (I close the doors and pull them open again to show her. She looks at me, aghast.) Now, look at these dogs (points at a painting of five dogs on the dining room wall) – doesn’t it look like this one is just about to turn and snarl at you? Think about having that looking over your shoulder for an hour and a half.
Kelly: Oh, come on, it doesn’t…huh. Well, I guess if that little one on the bottom turned his head. Did you check out our rooms already?
Lynnette: Oh yeah, checked out most of the house. It looks like somebody started cleaning after the last guests left, but it isn’t done, and there are shoes by the back door like someone is supposed to be here. I went looking around for the body.
Kelly: The body?
Lynnette: The body of the cleaning person who had a stroke, or slipped and hit her head or was eaten by a ghost.
Kelly: Really? Body-eating ghosts? I’m no paranormal physicist, but if the ghost is made up of energy and isn’t a solid entity, they probably couldn’t digest a human body anyway and…holy shit, there are pictures of dead people on the walls of my room. (I begin turning pictures over and laying down picture frames). OK, this is a little disconcerting.
Lynnette: I think you are going to have problems flipping those over, (points at the photographs attached to the walls in the dressing room.)
Kelly: Ah, crap. What does YOUR room look like?
Lynnette: Like a scene from The Shining. (Drags Kelly to the room across the hall–blood red walls, covers jumbled over the bed, used martini glasses with one tipped over, wet towels on the floor.)
Kelly: (checking the shower area) Your shower curtain is still wet. (We look at each other, then peer back at the disheveled bed). You’re not going to sleep in there NOW, are you?
Lynnette: No. No, I’m not. Down here (leads Kelly down the hall and flicks aside a floor length curtain covering a doorway) we have a storage closet. I checked that out all alone. Aren’t I brave?
Kelly: Yes, you are.
Lynnette: Thank you. There is also a bathroom and a little bedroom and a laundry room.
Kelly: (Noting that night is quickly falling, the darkened doorways around us are gaping like open mouths) You know, I’m thinking we should start closing some doors and turning some lights on, what do you think? (We start flipping light switches and pulling doors shut. I reach into the dark in the room at the end of the hallway for the door and my hand brushes…nothing).
Lynnette: Yeah, that one doesn’t HAVE a door. Neat, huh? (we both giggle nervously) Sooooo, I suppose we should check out the third floor.
Kelly: (We brush past the curtain hanging down over the stairway and head upstairs to what used to be the caretaker’s apartment but is now unoccupied). OK, so this is a bathroom and we have a bedroom, bedroom, living room, little kitchen. What’s this door go to?
Lynnette: Hell if I know.
Kelly: You wanna open it?
Lynnette: I opened enough in the ninety minutes I was here BY MYSELF. You open it.
Kelly: OK, are you ready? (I grasp the knob firmly and whip the door open to find an odd little multi-colored storage room). Oh look, it’s the closet where they kept the bad little children!
Lynnette: That’s fuckin’ great. Thank you for that.
Kelly: (snickering) Well, let’s just close that one, shall we? (I hook the little latch on the outside of the door).
(We head back down to the second floor, trying to decide what the hell is going on and what we should do about it. We knew we may be the ONLY tenants in the B&B for our two-night stay but were assured everything would be cleaned up and ready to go for our visit. Lynnette had already left two messages for the proprietor with no response and we’re debating the merits of sharing a room for safety – and sanity’s – sake when the owner calls back.)
Lynnette: She says she lost the reservation book and forgot we were coming, and apologizes for not having the house cleaned after the wedding party that left this morning. She also says not to worry, the house is “happy” so we don’t have to worry about sleeping here.
Kelly: That’s comforting. Although, if the house were “unhappy” or “pissed off” or “hungry” or something, she probably wouldn’t tell us that, now would she? So, sharing a room or do we want to try it in our own rooms with the doors open so we can hear each other scream?
Lynnette: It’ll be fine. Let’s take the two clean rooms, and leave the doors open.
Kelly: Deal. (We get ready for bed, calling to each other over the six foot distance between our open doors). Holler if you need to. See you in the morning…I hope…(thinking, and if the doors slam shut on us and the horror begins–well, I guess there’s no point in freaking her out with that.)
Lynnette: G’night. (Gets ready for bed, checks her travel alarm and sets it on the nightstand. She realizes it is sitting in a small pile of fine human hair. Taking a deep breath, she sweeps the hair into her hand and into the garbage can across the room. Thinks, there is no point in freaking her out with that–pulls the covers up to her chin, listens to the toilet breathing in the bathroom, and stares up through the darkness.)