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"Memories of the past are usually quite pleasant but one bit of memory that was and still is constantly retained in my mind sent a cold finger of terror down my spine and left me in a cold sweat. About a year ago I was staying overnight at the old Bristol Hotel, an aged rather obsolete lodging centered in a large city along the Atlantic coast. There a strange incident occurred that was beyond my expectations. A ghostly figure was my companion that night through a frightening nightmare, but was it only a terrible dream or an actual happening.

"A business engagement called and I was obliged to make a stopover in that city. The choice of hotels was limited as the city played host to athletic games and hotel rooms were filled to capacity with the participants and fans to the games. Thus I was obliged to register for a room at that hostel, an ancient edifice of four stories, weather-darkened and solitary of brick and stone squeezed in every side by the overgrowing of the great city.

"But the mysteries that happened that night still haunt me. Listen to my story and you will understand.

"When I registered at reception desk I was given the key to a room on the second floor, which seemed to be the only vacant one in the entire hotel. Yet, when I walked to the dimly lit corridor to the creaky elevator I saw no one about, not a soul greeted me. When I alighted from the lift on the second floor and made my way to my room through the dimly lit corridor I heard no sounds to suggest occupancy of the rooms. It was strange as it was early in the evening when people usually prepared for their nightly entertainment or whatever engagement awaited their interests.

"The room that I entered for my evening's lodging was as ancient in furnishing as the hotel itself. When I switched on dimly lit overhead light I noticed a bed of solid oak, a heavy armchair for another era, night table with a lamp, and the wardrobe heavy and cumbersome. One thing that was disturbing was a large painting facing the bed that was of rather strange dimensions, it picture a scene with a flowery garden with nymphs dancing to the pan pipes of the satyrs; other strange mythical creatures were all around in the canvas. The disturbing part of the painting was a black attired figure centered in that garden, grim in facial features and his black hair long and stringy like strands of willow sprigs; he looked like a haunted man that endured ridicule and chafing during his life. He seemed to be the devil incarnate that orchestrated all that occurred in the garden.

"I dismissed all that I have seen and imagined, as I was quite tired from my journey and a bit bilious from a frugal supper at a non-descript restaurant. The weather was rather blustery with the wind blowing shrill and shrewd and the night air damp with expected rain with the going down of the blurred sun. The only thought in mind was an early night's rest. Preparations were in order; a warm shower was welcomed even though the water sluggishly gurgled through the pipes; then into my clean pajamas and the warm embrace of the bed.

"The bed fortunately was quite comfortable with a firm mattress, clean sheets and warm blankets. I had taken a book to read, but the comfort and warmth of the bed soon lulled me into a sound sleep. Yet through the dark of night at the toll of midnight I was be rudely awakened by the loud sound of footsteps with clear tap of high-heeled shoes walking slowly passing my door, then after walking to the end of the corridor, they began to return and repeat the route twice over.

"I commented to myself that it was a damn nuisance and quite rude of that impolite person who had no regard for the other guests. Yet firm action on my part should be attended. I switched on the table lamp, cursed when I noted the late hour on my watch, and lifting myself from the bed I made for the door to the room. A touch of anger was on my lips when I opened the door, but to my surprise the sound of the footsteps had faded away, and when I looked about the dim corridor I was greeted with emptiness.

"After a moment or two of searching with my eyes I pulled back to my room and relocked the door. But, when I was returning to the comfort of my bed and by chance, I had a look at the painting I saw the grim faced figured had disappeared from the center. I was quite puzzled and I looked deeper into the painting but the figure was nowhere to be seen on the canvas. I contemplated the strangeness of the disappearance of the figure, but I shrugged it off to be a figment of my imagination.

"I returned to my bed and the continuance of my sleep but upon the close of my eyes a nightmare enveloped me into a disturbing scene. It pictured my body with satyr cloven hooves and a horned head playing the pan and dancing with lovely nymphs. Yet the features on my face were not of joy but of dismal countenance.

'"Suddenly, within my horrible nightmare, I was aware of loud footsteps coming again along the corridor outside; this time it was followed by a sound of a chain being dragged along. I was depicted as being very frightened as I was seemingly alone on the second floor. The terrifying dream pictured me lying in dread, hoping the footsteps would go away, but to my horror I saw the door slowly pushed open, and whatever it was, entered dragging a chain. Slowly it walked into the room and I noticed it was that grim faced figure that disappeared from the painting. It was that same black attired figure, an indefinably grim person in the likeness of faces from the past and from the grave.

"How long this spirit remained in my room was hardly counted, but when he moved about the room he was searching for something unknown. The he turned and looked at me with a haunted gaze; his voice, low speaking, deep and grave seemed to set it questioning me. It was voice of a haunted man in search in the dark deep gulf of the past slowly receding in the dark of the nightly hour. Relief was etched on my face when I heard the movement of the sound of ghostly footsteps, followed by the clinking of the dragging chain, retracing its passage to the door of the room. Then it slowly it simply walked through the wood to the corridor and the sounds slowly fading away.

"I awoke with a start in a cold sweat from the nightmare when daylight streamed into the room through the slight opening of the heavy curtains. I didn't know if that nightmare could have any meaning or whether it was real or not, but I knew that the figure was not a ghost of any description, but the footsteps were human so I thought, and the chinking of the chain was still audible.

"Yet when I allowed more daylight to enter the room I chance to look at the painting. Too my surprise the black attired figure was there in the center of the canvas grim as ever. Then as I shook my head in a note of questioning I saw to my horror faint footprints on the on the floor leading from the door and returning; It etched a note of fear as they were of cloven hooves.

"However, I was not quite sure of what occurred during the night, frightening in all proportions, so it did not prolong my stay at the Bristol Hotel. There was no banter of enquiry at the reception desk when I returned the key to the room. But when I was handed the receipt for payment I was quite shocked when I noticed the receptionist to be a black attired figure with features indefinably grim...

Norman A. Rubin

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The following comments are for "Ghostly Footsteps "
by Norman A. Rubin

Ghostly Footsteps
Hi Norman
Thanks for posting story. I found it chilling and at the same time interesting to read.I had an unusual experience in France when I camped on a battlefield. But back to your story.
I think ou might make this even better if you plunged the reader right in there from the first word.Don't waste time with the build up: aim to catch the reader right away.
Also consider how to bring everything mentioned in your story to link up why things happened. You sought an easy solution at the end with the receptionist.I think many readers might like the ending to have been different.
I suggest first asking at the start the receptionist for an early morning call.
Then go through our story.When the chains are introduced the 'hero' finds himself chained up in bed forced to stare at the painting.Time passes and there is a pounding on he door. The staff break down the door and release the hero.It's then the hero sees the dark dress cast over the back of a chair and a set of high-heels cast off on the bedroom carpet. You might end with the staff asking if he slept on his own. They smile and point at the shoes and he dress.
The next step is up to you.
Best wishes
Keep writing.

( Posted by: Cleveland W. Gibson [Member] On: May 10, 2009 )

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