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I was pretty tight for cash, and yeah, slightly drunk too. I entered that old hotel building on a bet with my friend Tommy, for an amount of money I’m ashamed to even say.
The story goes, that back in 1958, the hotel owner, who worked day in and day out, and even resided there too, went completely insane believing he was stuck in some sort of time loop. He apparently went missing for 13 months, then his mangled body was found in the side alley of the hotel, after presumably diving out of the 26th floor stairwell window. His face was fairly disfigured from the injuries, but the coroners pictures showing his insane grin stretched fully across his face, gave all the detectives nightmares.
Since his death, there’s been countless stories of ghost sightings, poltergeist happenings and even reports that several people went missing after staying in his executive suite on the 49th floor. It became something of an urban legend, even drawing in the customers, until it eventually closed and shut its doors in 1975 after a murder/suicide investigation plummeted sales and people just stopped going.
Now, I wasn’t one to believe in all this ghostly shit or time loop bull, and perhaps the fact I was a non believer is actually the reason why I’m stuck in this mess. Emphasis on the word was, because, I’m a believer now.
“Okay, so, pretty simple, bud: enter the hotel via the stairwell fire door…”
“Which is already broken and open,”
“…Which is already broken and open, yes, thank you, climb the stairs all the way to the top, and take a selfie of yourself stood next to the 49th floor, sign, thingy… Simple.” Tommy finished with a single clap of the hands and a closed lip grin.
“That’s it. And when you get back with the photographic proof, or even a video if ya want, I’ll pay up.” He tapped the left breast pocket of his jacket indicating his wallet and money was there.
It was the middle of the night, like 2 or 3 in the morning, I’m honestly not sure, pitch black, deathly quiet and completely lifeless streets. I wasn’t scared, but lets just say basic human instinct took over (I can’t stop smiling) and I suppose I gave the impression I was scared.
“So, where, erm… where are you gonna be? I mean, like, where are you gonna wait for me while I’m climbing these million stairs and apparently warding off evil spirits?” I thought I’d managed to hide it under the humor, but Tommy saw straight through me and a smug smile began to form in the corner of his mouth.
“Hey, man, if you don’t wanna do it, or you need me to hold your hand, or want me to wait at the bottom of the stairs and keep shouting, ‘Are you okay?’ then the deal is off and no payment.” Again, he finished with a closed lip grin.
I exhaled loudly for pissed off effect, slapped Tommy on the shoulder and proudly walked across the road towards the alleyway, alone. Before being engulfed by the shadows completely, I turned to look over my shoulder at Tommy, again, human instinct I think (I can’t stop smiling), to see him attempting to keep his balance as he drunkenly slumps to the curb.
Okay, good. He’s not going anywhere any time soon.
I continued into the shadows in search of the broken fire door that leads directly into the building. Rumor has it that some teenagers jimmied the door a couple of months ago and the police, or whoever’s job it is, have never sealed it up again.
I was just getting my phone out of my pocket for a light source, when a loud and rusty creek from the right made my heart skip a beat or two.
A beam of light escaped through the narrow opening of the door. The fact that the hotel is abandoned and has absolutely no power didn’t even enter my slightly intoxicated brain at the time, I was just glad for some light. I poked my fingers through and quickly pulled the door open. The light was pure and ultra bright, it took me a moment for my eyes to adjust and stop squinting. I walked through the threshold with a smile, after all, I was expecting complete darkness.
The building didn’t seem creepy at all. Very clean and well decorated, perhaps a bit out of date but clean and smart all the same. As I ascended each platform and took note to what floor I was on, it progressively got colder, louder and slightly windy.
Must be a window open or broken somewhere.
The 26th floor was particularly cold and windy. I didn’t like that floor. I swear someone touched me on the leg as I made my way up to 27. Just the lightest of touches, but I swear I felt it.
I’ll run down those steps on the way back.
I was getting pretty tired by this point, and apart from a potential leg touching, no other signs of ghosts or demons or anything supernatural had happened, and I was feeling pretty good with myself for making easy money out of my drunken friend.
Okay, yeah, pretty out of breathe by this point, but I’d come too far to fail now. I decided to take a quick 30 second break, lean on the window sill and peer out the window in search of Tommy.
I could very clearly make him out, but the guy sat next to him seemed kind of blurry. They were in full conversation, their arms waving and flailing in the air with drunken coordination, and continuously passing a bottle back and forth… Seemed harmless enough.
“Got a new friend there Tommy boy?” It was weird to hear my own voice echo and bounce off the walls. I sucked in some more oxygen, and continued my mission.
What the fuck?
I stopped on the platform to catch my breath once more, leaning on my knees as if it would help my lungs absorb the oxygen quicker. I kept turning around and looking down the steps I had just scaled, looking up the stairwell to the steps yet to come..
“What the fuck?”
I climbed another set…48.
I stopped and shook my head to myself. Surely I was just seeing things.
I climbed another set…48.
“Okay, that’s it. Fuck this shit.”
I swiftly whipped out my phone, took a strange looking selfie of me and the brass plaque stating I was on the 48th floor, and I began descending the fuck out of there.
At least down is so much easier.
I went down 20 or 30 flights maybe, but at each and every level, the brass plaque still stated I was on the 48th floor.
I went up and down them stairs God knows how many times. I tried every single door at each level too, just in case one was left open and I could escape a different way. Not a single door opened though. They were all solidly locked; Dead-bolted, welded, cemented, who fucking knows, but them doors were not opening for anyone.
I can honestly tell you I had absolutely no idea what floor I was on when the idea of phoning Tommy finally entered my mind. I guess I should of kept count from the moment I saw the second 48th plaque, but I was far too freaked out by then to plan that part.
“YES!” My phone had full signal. I quickly tapped and flicked through my contacts until I reached Tommy’s number. I walked to the window as the phone began to ring. I could no longer see Tommy or his new found friend. The phone was ringing in my ear over and over. My eyes widened as I scanned the dark streets back and forth, back and forth. There was no sign of Tommy. No sign of anyone. The phone continued to ring as I pulled it away from my ear. The screen lit up showing me Tommy’s name and number, and the end call button. I swiped the red icon and cut off the call. That was when I realized the time and date:
What the actual fuck?!
Okay, so, firstly, my phone is saying it’s nearly half 4 in the afternoon, yet it’s still pitch black outside, and surely I haven’t been in this building for over 12 hours? And secondly, how the hell is it 2015?
By this point, I’d sat down on one of the steps, my left hand supporting my head and my phone loosely held in my right.
I wanted to call the police but feared I’d be made a fool. I thought about it over and over, then finally concluded that I’d much rather be made a fool by officers than left stranded in an abandoned hotel and stuck on a never-ending floor.
I unlocked my phones screen to dial the three magical numbers when my heart skipped a beat again. I couldn’t believe my own eyes:
I locked and unlocked the phone once more:
“Nope, fuck off…” I dropped the phone out of my hand on purpose and let it crash to the floor. I heard the inevitable smashing sound as it hit the cement, screen down and I closed my eyes with pure regret. I stood up and paced in a circle on the tiny platform between levels.
I was pretty shocked my phone was still alive, never mind receiving messages. The moment I leaned over to retrieve my half broken phone, a loud and brain shattering crash echoed throughout the stairwell. Up and down, up and down, the sound reverberated back and forth against itself, which somehow made it louder, and I instinctively covered my ears.
The sound was harrowing, terrifying and disturbing in many ways that I just can’t quite describe. It was freezing cold and whipping around my body like some sort of sound-wind.
I had to climb 22 more flights of stairs before I could no longer hear the sound and finally feel my fingers again. It was much darker up here though but I set up camp anyway. This is now my floor.
By this point, I had already lost touch with reality and had absolutely no clue to what time it was. I sat in a slump and began to cry. Basic human instinct (I can’t stop smiling).
I’d been desperately crying for a while when the lights went out.
The sudden darkness gave way to the beginning of my madness. I screamed for a very long time. I screamed and screamed and screamed. I screamed until my voice finally gave way. I imagined the inside of my throat as a chunk of raw meat that’d been rubbed with coarse sandpaper.
After my voice collapsed, I started on the walls. I didn’t want to use my hands so I kicked them instead. Over and over and over again, eventually breaking every single toe. When the adrenaline ran out and I could no longer stand, I fell into deep and agonizing pit of despair for what seemed like years.
Oh, my God… Stuck in my own madness, I’d completely forgotten about my phone.
I unlocked the phone full of hope. The light shot through my retinas like lasers and I attempted to let out a little scream, but nothing will escape my vocal chords now, so my mouth just draped open in anguish.
This time, I just smiled.
I walked into this building on 02/01/2009.
My screen was only slightly smashed so I could still use it. First, I tried calling Tommy again, but there was no dial tone and the voice that spoke was not what I expected to hear. It was low and whispering. Raspy and fast.
“Take the leap to 49, Take the leap to 49, Take the leap to 49, Take the leap to 49…”
I hung up. Smiling.
I tried calling the police.
“Take the leap to 49, Take the leap to 49, Take the leap to 49, Take the leap to 49…” I hung up again.
My shoulders were swiftly moving up and down in accordance with my soundless laughter. It felt pretty good. Now I can’t stop silently laughing to myself.
I wanted to claw my own eyes out by this point and needed something to keep my hands occupied…so I decided to tell you all my story on here,. I thought maybe someone might get a kick out of it… Or maybe someone can even help me… I don’t know… I kind of want to take that leap if I’m honest. The thought just makes me smile. After all, it’s just basic human instinct.
* * * * * *
When my smiling face hit the floor, I thought it was finally all over.
The air felt warm as it rushed through my raw windpipe. Maybe it wasn’t warm, maybe I’d just been cold for so long. If you think you’d be able to keep your eyes open in free fall, then you’re wrong. I can tell you now it’s impossible. I can also tell you, that you will feel unbelievable agony. Is it worse than the spiral of insanity? Yes… Maybe.
Imagine the worst hangover you’ve ever had, and multiply that by a thousand. Then take a drill to your skull and repeatedly drill for 10 years. That would roughly match the immense pain of ones head smashing clean into the ground.
When the pain finally stopped and I opened my eyes, Tommy was waving the bottle of whiskey in my face.
“Hey…do you, hic, do you want any more or what?”
We were sat on the curb across the street from the hotel I’d just leapt from..
Huh?…What the fuck?
Tommy was persistently and drunkenly waving the glass bottle closer and closer to my face, until I finally grabbed it from him and pushed his drunken ass away from me.
I drank that whiskey like it was crisp and fresh water from the Swiss alps. I took in a deep breathe once I’d finished, expecting to vomit the whole thing back up again, but my stomach seemed to be handling it. Perhaps my brain told my stomach to hold it in: “Wait until the toxins at least reach me dude, then you can throw up all you want.”
My mind was running at half capacity and I could barely think. My memory was starting to become foggier by the second and I passed the bottle back to Tommy as I pretended to listen to his drunken nonsense of a story, but in reality I couldn’t hear a single word he was saying.
My eyes locked on to the person standing in the window peering out at us.
The silhouette could only just be made out. They were standing in darkness, directly in the center of the 1st floor window pane. It was unsettling feeling their eyes on us, watching us.
Tommy accidentally hits me in the face with his forever flailing arms and I bat him away once more.
“Dude! Ow! Fucking watch what you’re doing!”
“Aw, Sorry, man, but list-list-listen, I ….” I lost interest once more and returned my focus to the person in the window, that was now no longer there.
I squinted my eyes as if to zoom in on the window across the road. Nothing.
I could hear music. Tommy finally stopped talking, I guess he could hear it too. The music got louder as he pulled his phone from his jacket pocket.
“You’re, hic, you’re ringing me from, from your pocket again, dude.”
“Oh.” I patted my own jacket in search for my phone. I stood up and checked every pocket I was wearing…No phone.
Where is it?…
I pointed at the hotel building across the road and confusingly looked back at Tommy;
“Did, I…did I already go in there?”
“Huh? What?” Tommy looked more drunk than confused and I realized I wasn’t getting a competent answer from him any time soon.
“Tommy, I think you should just go home mate, you’re too drunk and in need of a bed.”
I expected him to give more a fight, he normally does when he’s this inebriated, but he instantly nodded his head in agreement and slowly began to rise to a wobbling mess of a stance, and I watched him slowly sway down the street and eventually out of sight.
As I walked into the shadows of the side alley, I fell over something metal that clanged and echoed throughout. It was a crowbar, I couldn’t see but I knew what it was. I felt around in the darkness for the door I somehow knew was there. I popped the crowbar into tiny slither between door and frame and jimmied that fire door open with one swift movement.
That was easier than I thought.
A beam of light escaped through the narrow opening of the door. I poked my fingers through and quickly pulled the door open. The light was pure and ultra bright, it took me a moment for my eyes to adjust and stop squinting…
Have I done this before?…
6…7…8… I take the steps two by two with my eyes constantly on the ground searching for my lost phone. Is it even in here?
Was I expecting to find it? No. Did I find it? Yes, in the middle of the platform of the 26th floor. The moment I leaned over to retrieve my half broken phone, a loud and brain shattering crash echoed throughout the stairwell. Up and down, up and down, the sound reverberated back and forth against itself, which somehow made it louder, and I instinctively covered my ears….Okay…that’s a really strange feeling…have I actually done this before?
I curl into a ball and sit in the corner of the platform between levels. The sound-wind whipped around my face and body as I hid from reality behind my own arms like a five year old child.
Throughout the howling, I could hear approaching footsteps increasingly getting louder; someone’s coming up the stairs.I’m still slumped in the corner but I now bravely raise my head.
My mouth fell open in disbelief as the familiar figure came into view up the stairs: It was me.
I’m surprised I moved at all, but as I/he strolled passed me completely ignoring my presence, I reached out to see if I/he was real, but I/he was moving pretty fast and I only just manged to graze my/his leg. I say graze, it felt more like I went through him…me.
Do I follow him?…Yes. No… okay, I don’t know. Wait, send him a message!
I unlocked my phone, got rid of the current Reddit page it was opened to, and typed out a message to him/myself:
GET OUT! Honestly, I didn’t know what else to put.
I heard the phones tone vibrate down through the stairs. Surely he’d message back….Will he, though? Oh, my god, I’m getting so confused.
After waiting a couple of minutes and receiving no reply, I decide to take a different approach. I had no idea what was happening, but had to do something.
I figured If I couldn’t touch him/me, then I had to at least try and get his/my attention. I still had the crow bar with me and I acted on the sudden idea before I’d fully thought it through.
I flung the crow bar over my shoulder and swung it like a baseball bat as fast and as hard as I could at the window pane of floor 26. The single pane shattered into a billion pieces, flying in all directions, including my face and open mouth.
Hundreds of tiny shards fly to the back of the throat and I began to gag and grasp for air. I swallowed hard, lining my windpipe with sparkling diamonds, and I continued to swallow over and over to take away the agonizing sting. From my shattering blow, the sound-wind returned and whisked up and down through the stairwell once more.
I could now hear crying and whimpering in the distance….upstairs? Was it him?
He’d been desperately crying for a while when the lights went out.
The sudden darkness gave way to the beginning of his screams. He screamed for a very long time. He screamed, and screamed, and screamed. I covered my ears but it helped nothing.
After he finally stopped screaming, I guess his voice gave in, I could hear him hitting the walls; Kicking or punching them over and over and over again. After what seemed like an eternity, the pounding finally stopped, and the atmosphere fell into a deep and agonizing pit of despair for what seemed like years.
I thought I’d try messaging him again. I sent the same message, and I heard the same ba-ding as before, but I still never received a reply.
As I waited, I decided to go through my phone and reopen the Reddit page I closed before.
I read the entire entry I’d apparently already written, and the insanity spiral hit me like a crumbling tower of bricks.
My phone lit up immediately, it was him…I mean me…I mean him.
My badly cut throat could only muster a low and raspy voice, and I said the only words I could think of:
“Take the leap to 49, take the leap to 49, take the leap to 49, take the leap to 49…”