Thursday, April 17, 2014

When It’s Dark

This story was first shared with a Galveston journalist in 1889.

A businessman who lived in a small town north of Houston decided to buy an old abandoned hotel near a busy railroad line.

He bought several antiques in New Orleans to furnish his new hotel.

One item that caught his eye was an old walnut wood bedframe with elaborate carvings. He was surprised how cheap it was so he immediately bought it. Pleased with his purchase he decided it was the right piece to highlight the hotel’s best suite.

When the frame arrived he spotted a stain on the headboard so he had a worker scrub it but the stain remained. He then had the wood varnished. The stain was no longer noticeable.

When the hotel opened the first guest to stay in the suite was a no-nonsense cowboy from El Paso.

Shortly after this man retired for the evening the night clerk heard a door upstairs bang open violently. He then saw the cattleman racing down the stairs.

The man’s face was bright red and perspiration dripped off his nose. The clerk sent for the owner as he tried to understand what the cowboy was saying.

“Look at the bed, look at the bed. Good lord. I am afraid he is dead.”

The owner arrived and was able to calm the man down. The cowboy told the two that just as he had lain down for the night and turned the lamp off he had felt someone next to him in the bed.

“His throat was cut from ear to ear.”

The owner and clerk rushed upstairs as the cattleman collapsed upon a nearby sofa. The two men found nothing out of the ordinary in the suite. The owner felt the man must have had a nightmare.

The cattleman would not enter the room again so the clerk was forced to give him another room.

The next guest to stay in the suite was an elderly lady who had arrived in town to attend a funeral. She returned to the hotel late and retired to her room.

As the clerk and owner stood in the lobby they heard a piercing scream from upstairs. The owner quickly went up the stairs just in time to see the lady, now pale, exit the suite. He managed to catch her as she fainted.

He carried her back in the room and laid her on the bed. He arranged for a chambermaid to administer smelling salts. Coming to her senses the lady started when she noticed her surrounding.

She insisted they leave the room, once downstairs she told the owner a similar story to the cowboys. When she had gotten into the bed it was empty, as she put the light out she had seen the outline of a man lying in the bed beside her.

His throat was slit and blood was all over his shirt.

The owner once more inspected the room and found nothing. The hotel being full he convinced the lady to return to the room. She agreed when he told her the chambermaid would stay with her.

The owner retired to his room for the night, feeling the woman’s imagination was heightened because of her friend’s funeral.

Within minutes he heard two screams. He entered the hall and saw both women downstairs in the lobby talking to the clerk at the same time.

As he approached the chambermaid turned to him.

“ I have seen it sir. It was a ghost. I swear it wasn’t there before I put the lamp out.”

The elderly guest stated that there was a bloody specter in the room and she was not going back. The clerk arranged a room for her at a rival hotel.

The owner now concerned for his hotel’s reputation became determined to find out what was happening.

He went to the room and laid down on the bed fully clothed. He turned the lamp down slowly so his eyes could adjust to the dark.

He looked toward where the stain had been on the headboard and noticed it looked wet. He scraped his finger across it and felt a warm liquid on his hand. Curious he turned the lamp back up and crossed the room to the water pitcher.

He poured water into the bowl and plunged his hand in. The water turned pink. Unnerved he splashed his face with water from the jug and then he returned to the bed.

He again slowly turned the lamp down. A second later he saw a male form on the bed with him. This man wore a white shirt soaked in blood. His head was almost severed from his body. The owner now horrified saw this specter was glaring at him.

Gathering what was left of his courage he reached out to touch the form--to verify in his mind it was there--but he drew back as an icy chill ran up his arm.

He turned the lamp back up and watched as the form disappeared. Baffled he then turned the lamp down low and saw the man reappear. He leapt from the bed and ran out into the hall. His knees buckled and he fell to the floor.

The next day the owner arranged for the bed to be chopped into kindling wood.

Later, he wrote the seller of the bed in New Orleans. He requested its’ history. The merchant replied that all he knew was the bed had changed hands frequently without explanation.

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