I awoke, drenched in sweat, though it was cold in the room. I was on the floor of the kitchen, in the same spot where the man had approached me. Sam was standing over me, concern darkening his face. I jumped and grabbed at him, frantically questioning where he had gone. He looked at me questioningly and explained to me that as soon as we had walked into the kitchen, I had passed out. I asked him if he had seen the man who was standing in the corner, but he denied seeing anything. The room had apparently been empty. I was numb with fear, and I didn’t know whether or not what had appeared to me was even real. For a split second, I wondered if my sanity was slipping.
At that moment, a cook walked in on us. He was startled and asked us what we were doing here after hours. The kitchens closed at 9. We explained that we were merely exploring the hotel, and when we had seen how empty it was, we assumed no one would even know that we had been down here. We omitted the ghost-hunt because we didn’t want this guy thinking we were insane.
He told us his name, Manuel, and he also mentioned that he had come downstairs because someone had ordered room service. Since it was after 9 pm, there were only a handful of overnight kitchen staff, and it was his turn to fill the order. Noticing the puzzled look on our faces, he informed us that most of the overnight cooks were afraid to come down to the basement because of weird stuff that would happen when they were alone.
I mentioned that it made sense because this used to be a morgue inside of a hospital, and he gave me a look of utter shock. It seemed that he hadn’t heard about the hotel’s history; he had just assumed that it was just haunted because it was old. We decided to stay and talk with him while he prepared the order, as I didn’t want to leave him alone after my own experience. I hadn’t had a chance to relate the whole story to Sam, and I didn’t want to in front of Manuel. It didn’t seem like anything malevolent, so I didn’t see fit to worry him.
Once the meal was finished cooking, the three of us boarded the elevator together and ascended to the necessary floors. This time around, there was no halting or jolting, so we arrived back to our room without incident.
Sam decided on my behalf that we would go to bed and continue our explorations tomorrow night. As soon as the door shut, I grabbed Sam by the shoulders and looked deep into his eyes. I related to him all that I had seen in the kitchens, as well as what was said to me just before I remembered blacking out. I thought I saw a look of doubt cross his eyes, but the look was replaced with sympathy.
He hugged me and reassured me that everything would be okay. I didn’t want to believe that he doubted me, nor did I want him thinking that I was letting all this ‘ghosts and demons’ crap get to me. I chose to drop the subject for the time being, and Sam readied himself for bed.
I, however, could not sleep. Once Sam had shut his eyes, and started to gently snore, I grabbed my laptop and started doing some more research on a dim setting so as not to wake him.
It took almost an hour of searching through archives and seedy websites before I found anything substantive: an article from 1929, just two years after the hospital had opened its doors. It related a horrific accident that had occurred one night; a young doctor had been brutally attacked by a patient on the 14th floor.
The patient had been a paranoid schizophrenic, always raving about how someone was following him and wanted to harm him. Of course, this was all before modern developments in mental health care, so the most the hospital was able to do was heavily sedate him and monitor him constantly. The doctor had been part of the overnight staff, a skeleton crew of perhaps three young nurses, the doctor himself, and a security officer of sorts. It appeared that the patient had mistaken the doctor for the man he believed to be following him. In a fit of rage, he had attacked and killed the doctor, hoping to be free from his tormentor. There were few details about the actual attack; the actual cause of death had not been listed.
The article did, however, have a picture of both the doctor and the patient. The former was, of course, the man I had seen in the kitchens. I was not in the least bit surprised, considering the nature of our explorations. The patient’s countenance varied greatly from the doctor’s, however. This man was large, unshaven, unkempt, and frightening. His eyes were devoid of emotion, and his mouth was twisted and puckered from incessant tension caused by his paranoia.
My eyes were glued to this horrific image when I was again grabbed by a cold, hard hand. I stifled a scream as I turned around to look into the darkness. It took a few seconds for my eyes to adjust after looking at a screen for so long, but when they did, I of course perceived the man from the kitchens. I could no longer hear Sam’s snoring, so I knew that for the moment, it was just the doctor and me.
He had requested my help. I was almost sure that he wanted to understand why he hadn’t moved on from the hotel. I looked at him with utmost pity. I could not help him. There was no way for me to get him to understand why he was here. I could not explain why everything was different, nor why the things he saw were advanced well past his years. I was powerless.
He could see it in my face. The disappointment, if a spirit can really feel such a thing, twisted his face into a hideous, wretched mask. Then, he threw his mouth wide open and uttered a heart-stopping, choked scream. This was the first sound that had actually left his open lips. A gash had appeared on his throat; blood poured from the open wound, staining the carpet and spattering my night clothes. I watched as he grabbed at his throat, his eyes staring into mine as he fell to the ground. I ran forward to try and help him, my screams and gasps intermingling with his. However, in an instant he was gone.
Though I had just witnessed a brutal and gory scene, the doctor’s distorted face is what terrified me to my core, and I wondered if he would hurt me. He had waited 90 years for someone he could communicate with, and I had failed him. It wasn’t much of a stretch to think that he might take his anger and frustration out on me.
I took some time to ponder what had happened, as I was now even more awake than I had been before. Again, instinct was on my side, and though the article I had read did not specify how the doctor had died, I knew automatically that I had just seen it. I just wish that I knew where it had occurred. Maybe there would be some clue as to why the doctor was stuck here.
I waited up, anxiously, expecting him to return and exact his revenge on me, but for the rest of the night, all was still. At some point, I realized I could again hear Sam’s snoring, so I crawled into bed and lay beside him. I was sweating and breathing heavily, just on the edge of a full-blown panic attack. Every time I blinked, I saw shadows, dark and fluid. At one point, I thought I heard murmuring in my ears. Eventually, though I am not sure how, I drifted into a restless sleep, the doctor’s twisted face flashing repeatedly in my mind.