A young mans dream vacation turns into a nightmare that will stay with him longer than he anticipated.
Dawson and Lynn Sweeney were on their last leg of a week long road trip. One more night in a strange hotel and they would be home to the comfort of their own beds.
It was a hot day in late July. A trip to the grand canyon had been on their bucket list for a few years. It was an exciting week. They had seen some great sights and Dawson had gotten some great shots for his portfolio. They were traveling through the desert country of Eastern Oregon taking back roads whenever possible and stopping to explore whatever caught their eye.
They had slipped off the main highway for a mile or two when they came upon a small town. Main street was only a block long. It looked interesting and Dawson thought he might be able to get a couple of nice shots of some of the older buildings.
Before Lynn had a chance to park the car they spotted it. The Hotel Grand. An older two story colonial style brick building. They pulled up to the front of the building and Dawson grabbed his camera.
“I have to get a few shots of this!” He exclaimed.
The building had indeed been grand in its day but had become worn over the years. It was showing some good signs of what Dawson called character, which was exactly what he was looking for. He was excited about some of the shots he was getting when Lynn made a suggestion.
“What do you say we stay here for the night? I know it’s a little early but that will give you time to set up for some good shots with the evening light.”
Dawson was all for it. “I’d love to see the inside of this building. Let’s do it.”
They walked up a small flight of stairs onto a beautifully wide front porch and entered the lobby through a set of solid oak doors adorned with large oval beveled glass windows. The front counter was a heavy oak affair adorned with lots of ornate woodcarving. It all showed its age.
Off to the left was another room with an old tube style television playing a civil war movie. Three geriatric men sat in old overstuffed chairs. Their tired eyes were glued to the screen. The hotel seemed to be well kept but a little run down. Dawson figured they didn’t see enough business to make the necessary cosmetic repairs.
There was no trouble getting a room.
The room was on the second floor. It was old and it showed, but it was clean and so were the sheets.
“This room needs new curtains and paint,” commented Lynn.
Dawson agreed. “Ya, definitely not a high class affair, is it. I’m not so sure about this place. Something about it doesn’t feel right. Did you see those old guys downstairs? They looked dead to the world.”
“Dawson, don’t be letting your imagination run away with you. It’ll be fine. Let’s walk the town and find something to eat.”
The two went downstairs and were met by the clerk. She was an older woman who introduced herself as Clare. “How did you find your room?” She asked.
“Everything is just fine,” replied Lynn.
“Good,” the clerk replied. “I have a brochure here that tells the history of this building. This building was built just after the civil war. It was originally an orphanage, then later a retirement center and then a nursing home.”
“That explains the old guys in the next room,” thought Dawson. “They must not have gotten the message. They must still think it’s a retirement home.”
“The nursing home was shut down in the mid twenties due to the mistreatment of some of its patients in which several of them died. It sat empty for several years until it was sold and turned into the Hotel Grand in 1929. I’m the third owner.
Although I’ve never seen one, I should tell you, several of the guests over the years have reported a ghostly figure roaming the hallways late at night. I hope you’re not afraid of ghosts?”
“I’ve never seen one,” replied Dawson. “Not sure how I would react. We’re heading out for awhile. Can you recommend a good place to eat?”
“Well, there are no restaurants in town. The last one closed a couple of years ago. I can recommend the only place to eat,” replied the clerk. “That would be the bar down on the corner. This was a growing town until the new highway was built just west of here. It bypassed our town. Not many people stop now. Most just zoom on by. They don’t even know we exist. ” She handed a thin brochure to Dawson.
Dawson thanked her and he and Lynn headed outside. Dawson took a quick look at the brochure, then folded it and stuck it into his pocket. “I don’t know why she bothered to give this to me. She just told us everything that’s on it.”
“She probably doesn’t get many customers and wanted someone to talk to. Doesn’t look like the men in the other room are much for conversation,” replied Lynn.
The town didn’t amount to much. With no restaurants to choose from, bar food was their only option for dinner. After they ate, Dawson got the pictures he wanted and the two went back to the hotel. It had been a long day so they retired to bed early. It would be another long day tomorrow. They wouldn’t get home until after dark.
There was a light shining in through the window and the curtains weren’t thick enough to fully darken the room. “Well, so much for a good nights sleep,” Lynn commented as they closed their eyes and made the best of it.
That night Dawson was awakened by a very odd feeling. It felt like someone was tugging at him. When he opened his eyes he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. There was a shadow standing over him on the bed down toward the foot. It seemed solid and was totally black. The shadow had him by the arm and was pulling on it. It had lifted Dawson to a sitting position. Dawson was startled and tried to pull away with no success. He started to yell. “Let go of me. Lynn, help!” Lynn was sound asleep and wasn’t waking up. Dawson continued to struggle but the shadow figure was stronger than he was.
In the middle of his panic, Dawson noticed something else. He was still laying flat on the bed. This thing didn’t have a hold on his body. It was trying to rip his spirit from out of it. He continued to yell but it wasn’t doing any good as Lynn continued to sleep soundly. The shadow was getting the upper hand and Dawson, as hard as he tried couldn’t pull away. He was beginning to panic.
In the midst of his panic, something came to his mind he hadn’t thought about since he was a kid in Catholic school. He thought it was rather silly but he didn’t know what else to do. So in desperation he yelled out. “In the name of Jesus Christ be gone!
It seemed to have worked. The shadow figure stopped pulling, let go and disappeared into the corner of the room where a stuffed chair sat. Dawson dropped back down into his body and “woke up”.
Lynn was still sound asleep.
“Was I dreaming?” He thought as he lay there wiping the sweat from his face. He woke Lynn up and told her what had just happened.
“Are you sure you weren’t having a nightmare? Maybe it was the bar food you ate?”
“It sure seemed real,” replied Dawson. “Maybe it was just a lucid dream.”
“You have had those before, but never like this,” remarked Lynn. “Let’s try to get a couple more hours of sleep and get an early start in the morning.”
Lynn fell back to sleep but Dawson barely closed his eyes. The morning couldn’t come soon enough as far as he was concerned.
That morning Dawson was up early. He showered and dressed before Lynn was even out of bed. He got her up and rushed her through her morning routine. As they were getting ready to go out the door, Dawson sat in the stuffed chair in the corner of the room to put his shoes on. As he was lacing them up the thought of the shadow man suddenly came to mind. The thought made him physically shutter. He realized he was sitting in the chair where he saw the figure disappear. He quickly got up and sat on the bed to finish lacing up his boots. He sure as hell wasn’t going to give the entity a chance to attach itself to him.
The drive home was uneventful and they arrived just after dark. The neighbor who had been taking care of the animals for them had already come and gone for the evening.
When they walked into the house Dawson expected his dog to enthusiastically greet him. Instead, it growled at him and began to bark.
“What’s wrong with you boy? Aren’t you glad to see me?” he asked. “What the hell, why are you acting like this? You act like I’m a stranger?”
“He’s barking at something, but I don’t see what it could be,” commented Lynn.
Lynn and Dawson stowed their luggage and had a late bite to eat. They were both exhausted and decided to head for bed early. The dog refused to come into the bedroom with them.
“I don’t get it. What is his issue?” Dawson complained.
“I don’t know either,” replied Lynn. “Maybe he’ll be better in the morning. No nightmares tonight, ok?”
“That’s my plan,” Dawson replied as he climbed under the covers. “It feels good to finally be in my own bed again. I should sleep like a baby tonight.”
Unfortunately for Dawson, the shadow man had indeed hitched a ride. The dog knew it.
As for sleeping like a baby. That was not what the shadow man had in mind for Dawson. He was all about nightmares. And the nightmares of his newest victim had only just begun.
© Copyright 2023 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.
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