It was Bridget’s idea. She’s attracted to the spooky and the occult and so any trip to Newcrest had to include a stay at St. Martin’s Hotel.
“A paranormal hotspot,” Bridget read out loud from the Newcrest guide book. We were planning our autumn vacation. “Last year there were over 100 confirmed sightings or manifestations. Look.” She held open the page. I nodded. The green smudge could have been a ghost, but I suspected it had been photoshopped.
“You don’t really believe believe in ghosts,” I asked.
“No,” she sighed and turned the page to read about the Newcrest’s burgeoning restaurant scene. “But wouldn’t it be delicious if they were real?”
And so we found ourselves two weeks later standing in front of the hotel.
Bridget was practically beside herself with excitement.
“St. Martin’s was a hospital before it was a hotel.” Bridget explained as we walked up the long hill towards the hotel. Every since we booked our train tickets, she’d been reading up on the town’s history. “This was back in the 1800s, before anesthesia was regularly used.”
“Is that why it’s so far from town?” They taxi had dropped us off at the gate, there was still a twenty minute walk to get up to the hotel’s doors. I really needed to get back to the gym.
“Yup, so townsfolk couldn’t hear the patients’ screams. St. Martin’s was known for amputations and medical experimentation.” She was enjoying this. I sighed.
In keeping with the ghost theme, the hotel had a mix of Victorian and austere medicinal decor. The reception was a cross between a hospitals waiting room and a plush hotel lobby. There was plenty of evidence of ghostly activity. Portraits of patients, doctors, and nurses – all in hospital gowns or white coats. Below each portrait was the cause of death and date. I checked us in and collected the keys. Bridget was thumbing through a photo album when I sat down next to her.
“Look at all these sightings! I’m so glad I brought my camera. I could find a ghost here for sure.” She waited a moment.
“It’s possible.” I hazarded. What did she want from me?
“No, what room are we in?” She sighed.
“Oh, room 112.”
“Really?” The excitement in her voice made my stomach drop. She grabbed the photo book again and paged through it. “Yes, that’s the old surgery room!” The book’s entry on our room spanned two full page. “It has more paranormal activity than any other room.”
To my relief the room now it looked more like a hotel room than an operating theater.
The floor was also bare stone, but a huge king sized bed dominated the room instead of the surgery table I had feared. Again, the room was filled with portraits. No wonder people saw ghosts here. Everyone was primed left and right to see faces out of corners. There was even a book on the dresser where guests were encouraged to write their own experiences in room 112.
I skimmed the page left open.
Felt a chill near the window, but curtains were closed and windows shut. A strange blue light was visible behind the curtains during the night. – Ester P. 3-2-15
Surgery items rattled at 2am. I awoke to see a blue glow behind the cabinet out the window. – Sam L. 5-2-15
I looked over at the display of old-time surgery equipment. They looked more like torture devices. Ghastly and primitive. Huge pliers for who knew what, rusted hand saws and giant syringes better for horses than sims. It was horrid. I could image the equipment preyed on people’s subconscious as they slept. As for the light…I peaked out the curtains, there was a street lamp just beyond.
“We have to eat in the Blue Room.” Bridget announced. She’d been talking to the guests while I went on an afternoon walk. “Ms. Lux says she’s had ‘experiences’ every night for the past week during dinner.”
“Ms. Lux?” I asked looking over to where some other hotel guests sat. “The old lady who looks half-blind?”
“She’s a dear, don’t be like that.” She sighed and looked at me. “Phillip, this is supposed to be fun.”
“Sorry. I know, it’ just -” I couldn’t explain the uneasiness I felt. If it wasn’t for the ghost thing, I’d like the place. The extensive grounds were filled with walking paths winding through old trees. I didn’t even mind the crazy aesthetic inside. Most of the time. But it was the way everyone was keyed up. They were all just waiting for a ghost to show. Somehow that spoiled it.
We ate dinner in the Blue Room. The food was excellent. Fresh fish, crisp vegetables. Desert was my favorite, blueberry pie. It was cooked to perfection, warm bubbling inside sweet crisp crust. We were half-way through the desert when Bridget shivered. She looked up at me, eyes wide.
“Did you feel that?”
“There was a sudden chill just now. Only for moment.”
I looked above her and pointed to the ceiling vent. “The AC probably just kicked on.”
“It was hardly long enough for that,” Bridget insisted. But it was the only logical solution and we both knew it. She sighed. We finished our dessert.
“Over a thousand people died in this hospital, you know.” Bridget rallied as we got ready for bed. “And few of them were easy deaths. Folks bled out on the operating table.” She looked over at the surgical equipment meaningfully. “Or worse. You know, one patient went crazy, they say. Killed five nurses and a doctor not to mention fellow patients in his room before he killed himself. If there aren’t ghosts here, they don’t exist.”
We went to bed. The bed was comfortable, but I was too keyed up to sleep. True, I hadn’t witnessed any paranormal activity and I didn’t believe in ghosts. But Bridget was right. St. Martin’s was the place was perfect for ghosts. I started at every sound, every creek of wood, every gust of wind. Until I finally slipped into an uneasy sleep.
Then just past midnight, I woke with a start. My heart pounded. What? Something wasn’t right. There was a soft rattling sound. I tried to still my heart. The sound persisted. I lifted my head unwillingly to the display case. An eerie red light shown through the curtains. The tools were rattling in their case as well. My throat closed in fear and my heartbeat was painful in my chest. No. No. No.
The tools were they only thing rattling either, I saw. The portraits were trembling as well. My heart was racing, my eyes glued to the case. I couldn’t turn away, just wait for whatever was coming next. Then just when I thought I couldn’t be any more scared the bed jerked forward, away from the wall. I heard Bridget gasp beside me. I was too afraid to move.
“Did you do that?”
She shook her head. “No,” she whispered.
The bed jerked back in place and we both gasped. It continued to shake back and forth. A portrait fell from the wall. Then another. It seemed that the whole room was shaking, all while it was bathed in that flickering red light. Then with a crash the window broke and a cold wind blew in from outside. I closed my eyes. This wasn’t happening. I didn’t believe in ghosts. Finally everything went still.
We waited in silence. I couldn’t hear anything over the roar of my heartbeat that still thudded painfully in my chest. Eventually, I could bear it no more and I leapt out of bed and hurried to the door. Bridget followed. I rushed down the hallway, not sure what or why. But I knew I had to get out of that room. Ghosts! That was the only explanation.
The night clerk looked up as we rushed into the lobby.
“Is everything alright?” she asked? “Did anything break in your room during the quake?”
We froze. “Earthquake?” I found my voice.
“Yes, surely you felt it? They said on the news there could be aftershocks, so you should probably stay away from windows and such. But it won’t be as bad. It did start a fire in town, though.”
“The window.” I said at last, feeling normalcy return.
“The window in our room broke.” I answered her first question. My mind was still locked on her first words. An earthquake. I felt like laughing. Of course, not a ghost at all!
“I’ll have someone up to patch it right away.”
My legs were jelly with relief. Bridget and I collapsed on the couch giggling and ignoring the stares of the night clerk.
“It was just an earthquake,” I said quietly through giggles. “Not a ghost.”
This story is based on a story told to me by Phillip (Last name unknown) during my recent trip to Spain. According to him, this happened to him and his girlfriend…or something very similar.
- Vincent Salvatore as The Day Clerk courtesy of RoryPlaystheSims
- Peggy “Granny” Doland as The Old Lady courtesy Munterbacon