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Hotel Morte – Checking Out

Hotel Morte checking out


Estimated reading time — 21 minutes

I found myself standing in the middle of a wind-swept, abandoned street at night, facing the building that had dominated my life so completely, even though I’d come to loathe it so intensely. The sign above the front entrance was faded and almost falling off its hinges, the paint on the walls was peeling away, the brickwork was cracked, and most of the windows were boarded up.

An uninformed observer would have assumed the building was a derelict – an empty structure slowly crumbling due to years of neglect. Well, they’d be part right. The Hotel Morte has certainly seen better days (and isn’t that an understatement!), but it is far from empty. In fact, it’s home to a diverse community of residents and staff – some alive, others not so much.

I stared at the glass rotating doors for what seemed like an eternity, focussing on the dim light on the inside. My instincts told me to flee, to run away and never look back…but I couldn’t do that. Something was pulling me towards the ominous doorway, forcing me to enter in spite of the pain and fear I carried in my heart.

I pushed against the stained glass with a shaking hand, exerting physical effort as the old door creaked and slowly spun around, allowing me entry to the hell within. I walked across the worn red carpet and past the unmanned reception desk, casting my eye upon the hard wood chair in which I’d spent so many miserable hours sitting and regretting the life decisions I’d made to bring me to this place.

I sighed deeply as I walked on, exiting the lobby and summoning the elevator with a push of a button. The lift slowly and noisily descended down to the ground floor, hitting the bottom with a thud as the door creaked open in an awkward mechanical motion. Reluctantly, I stepped inside, my shaking finger hovering over the button for floor 6 before I finally pushed it.

The elevator ascended noisily as the ancient mechanisms came to life. I almost panicked when the lift became stuck between the third and fourth floors, grinding to an abrupt halt as the lights went off, leaving me standing in the pitch dark.

Sweat ran down my brow as I stood helpless in the steel coffin, fearing I would remain trapped inside here indefinitely. My heart almost jumped out of my chest when I heard the foul, disembodied cackling from directly behind me. The terror almost overwhelmed me, but I knew from previous experience to control my reaction. Entities such as this one thrived on fear, and I had no intention of giving it that satisfaction.

And so I stood tall and waited for the spirit to lose interest. Sure enough, after a few minutes, the power came back on and the elevator continued upwards to my destination. I felt the dark energy as soon as I stepped out onto the sixth floor. It’s as if the old walls with their flaking wallpaper had somehow absorbed all of the violence, suffering and death which had occurred here over the past century.

I tried not to think about this tragic history and also ignored the dried blood stains on the carpet as I made my way along the dreaded corridor. My heart sank as I passed the door of Room 66 and remembered its vile former residents – the serial killer Mr Hillman and the twisted cult leader Kane. Both were gone now thankfully, but they’d left an evil legacy behind them that could never be fully erased.

I wanted to reach my bedroom and lock myself inside, as this was the closest thing I had to a sanctuary in this hellish place – but alas, my path was blocked. To my horror I saw my two enemies marching down the corridor towards me, both armed and ready to inflict pain and injury. Hillman walked on the left – the gaping wound still visible on his chest from when he’d been impaled by his own knife. And on the right was Kane – his body a bloody mess, as his bones had been crushed by the hideous demon he’d unwittingly summoned.

Both should be dead and buried, their souls burning for all eternity, but yet here they were – their bodies broken but somehow still moving, and their dead eyes filled with a murderous rage. They both opened their mouths simultaneously to reveal a pair of dark gaping holes, and when they spoke, their voices were detached and almost inhuman.

“Payback time, you bastard!” spat Hillman, as he drew his butcher’s knife from his jacket pocket.

“Revenge will be sweet!” added Kane, armed with his ceremonial dagger.

I gasped in shock, pausing for just a moment before I turned on my feet and ran, frantically racing down the corridor in the opposite direction. I opened my mouth in an attempt to scream but found I could not emit a sound. I doubted it would do me much good anyway.

My friends were nowhere to be seen and I feared I was all on my own.

I ran for what seemed to be an eternity, dashing down seemingly endless, twisted corridors with my ghoulish assailants in close pursuit, as I heard the awful noise of their blades scraping against the walls.

Before long I was exhausted and disorientated, and a part of me felt like giving up and accepting my fate, but then I saw the girl – her back turned to me as she stood under a flickering light. My heart beat fast in my chest and suddenly I was filled with a renewed purpose, knowing I must protect her against these monsters.

“Isabella?” I whimpered, calling the name I hadn’t spoken for so long. The girl turned around slowly, her long dark hair almost covering her thin face, but when I looked into her once sweet and innocent eyes, I saw nothing but a black void, her pure soul now stolen away and replaced by something evil…

I cried out in dismay as I backed off, horrified by what I saw. For a moment I forgot about the murderous spirits pursuing me, but when I turned around I no longer saw Hillman and Kane, but instead something far more dangerous.

The shadow creature emerged from the darkness and swept across the carpet, seeking to swallow me up in its dark form. And as it did so, I was suddenly filled with a terrible despair as a lifetime of regret and shame came flooding back into my memory. In that moment I wanted it all to end and felt myself falling into the void…

Suddenly there was an almighty scream, a banshee-like wail which brought me back to reality. I shot up from my bed, drenched in sweat and realising what I’d just gone through was only a nightmare, but the scream that had awoken me was all too real.

I glanced across at my alarm clock and noted the time = 3:33am, no surprises there. The photograph album was on the floor beside my bed, with pictures of Isabella – the real Isabella – prominently displayed. In these old photos she was a carefree and beautiful young girl enjoying her life…back in better times. I must have fallen asleep whilst flicking through the album, reminiscing of the good old days before all of this misery.

The nightmare had been bad, but the harsh realities of the Hotel Morte were far worse. The screaming ended as suddenly as it began, replaced by an ominous and eerie silence. But in my heart, I knew that the Morte had claimed another victim, and I would have yet another body to deal with come daybreak.

Well good readers, I must apologise for my rather unconventional introduction to this latest tale, but I believe my chilling nightmare best illustrates the stress I was under when these events occurred.

The Morte can be an odd place. I’ve lived (or perhaps survived) here for a decade, and still this old hotel surprises me. The stories I’ve told you to date haven’t made for pleasant reading, but both incidents resulted in a degree of poetic justice. Few would argue that Hillman and Kane’s death cult didn’t deserve their fates. But alas, the account I will tell you today is one of tragedy, pain and loss…but also of hope and redemption. And at last, I am ready to reveal the hidden secrets of the Morte and the true relationship between our staff and long-term residents. But I digress…

My story begins the morning after my vivid nightmare, as I found myself facing a sadly familiar scene of death and devastation. The deceased was hanging from the back of the clothes hook in the bathroom, a belt wrapped tightly around his neck, his face purple and his eyes bulging. The life had been choked out of the middle-aged man and I guessed he’d been dead for about five hours, perishing at some point during the infamous witching hour.

I looked on at the corpse with a terrible sadness in my heart, as tragic memories came flooding back. My staff members – chef Owen and maid Mary – both stood behind me, silently holding vigil over the awful scene from a respectable distance.

“Who was he?” asked Mary, breaking the tense silence in the room.

“I don’t know.” I replied without turning around, “He came in yesterday afternoon and booked a room for one night. Paid in cash and gave what I assume was a fake name. There’s nothing amongst his possessions to identify him, no way to contact his family…”

“I guess he decided to check out early.” said Owen.

I shot around angrily, ready to rebuke our chef for his poor taste joke, but I saw his head lowered in shame and so said nothing.

“A suicide then?” Mary asked nervously.

I sighed deeply before responding. “I think we all know this wasn’t an ordinary suicide…”
“It was in my dreams last night.” Mary interjected, her eyes filled with fear.

“Mine too.” Owen confirmed.

“Yes.” I muttered, breaking eye contact with the pair as I once again looked upon the corpse. “We need to deal with the body. Owen, please bury this man in the forest. He must not go through your kitchen. Understood?”

“Of course, boss.” our chef solemnly replied.

I glanced across to see the room number upon the open door – No. 66. Enough was enough.
“Mary, we’re going to close up this bedroom like the others. Board up the windows and weld the door shut.”

“Are you sure sir?” she asked.

“Yes.” I confirmed sternly, “I should have done this after the Hillman murder. Definitely after the Kane fiasco. Room 66 is now off limits for the living.”

“As you wish sir.” Mary replied.

I took one last look at the poor man’s dead eyes before Owen cut him down, and a cold chill ran through me as I realised this was only the beginning.

Despite my distress from the morning’s events, I reported to the front desk for my shift as usual. Room 66 was now sealed off and so this was one less thing to worry about, but it would make little practical difference to the shadow creature, which was more than capable of moving freely throughout the hotel, striking at the place and time of its choosing.

I felt an almost overwhelming guilt as I sat there in my lonely post, racking my brains as I tried to figure out what to do. Normally in a difficult situation such as this I would phone Mr Black, the Morte’s enigmatic but all-knowing owner. However, my last conversation with my employer still played on my mind. Mr Black was getting on in years and he’d made it clear that the running of the hotel would fall to me when he eventually passed on. Therefore, I couldn’t keep going to my elderly boss every time I faced a challenge. I would need to resolve this issue myself.

I was still pondering this deadly dilemma that afternoon when an unexpected guest arrived at my front reception. The young man who came through our doors was probably in his late teens or early twenties – just a kid really. He looked worse for wear – his clothes soiled and ripped, his hair and beard matted and greasy. He smelt bad and I guessed it had been some time since he’d last bathed or showered. In all likelihood he’d been living on the streets for some time.

I noted how his eyes were sullen and unfocussed and so guessed he’d been drinking or had taken something. I was rather taken aback by the young man’s dishevelled appearance and concerned by his arrival here of all places, but I composed myself and remained professional.

“Good afternoon sir,” I said, “How may I help you?”

“I need a room,” he slurred, “One night…please.”

I gulped, my brain racing as I considered my response. I’ve seen plenty of folk come and go over the years and like to think I’ve become a fairly decent judge of character. I didn’t believe this kid was a danger to anyone, except maybe himself. My instincts told me he wasn’t a killer like Hillman or Kane, but this boy was certainly vulnerable, and so I feared he would be in mortal danger if he stayed even one night.

I briefly considered lying, telling him there were no rooms available – but Mr Black had taught me to never turn away paying guests. Besides, if I refused him, he’d likely be back on the streets, and the outside world could be just as dangerous as our hotel. At least in here we could keep an eye on him.

“Certainly sir,” I answered, “we have a room on the first floor…”

“No.” he suddenly interrupted, “I want to stay on the top floor.”

I looked up in shock, meeting his gaze. Alarm bells were now ringing in my head as I stuttered my reply.

“As you wish sir…” I said, whilst pretending to look through our bookings journal. “We can put you in Room 92. On the ninth floor.”

“Fine.” he replied.

“Your name sir?” I enquired.

“Dave Smith.” he answered.

Another alias, I thought. But I wrote down his given name anyway. He paid up front in cash, setting down crumpled and dirty notes on my desk. I didn’t ask where he’d got the money or why he wanted to stay on the top floor, but I’d already guessed his intent.

With considerable reluctance, I pushed the room key across the desk and into his waiting hand.

“Enjoy your stay sir.” I muttered in a sombre tone.

Mr ‘Smith’ nodded his head curtly. I noted a terrible sadness in his tired eyes, and for a brief moment I hoped he’d changed his mind, but then he took a deep breath and marched towards the waiting elevator, summoning the lift as he ascended to the ninth floor. My heart sank as I watched him go. My anxiety levels had increased as I realised there was now an added urgency to stopping the shadow creature. The beast had a fresh target for tonight, and I doubted Mr Smith would survive until daybreak unless we intervened. The trouble was, I still had no idea what to do, no plan in my head to stop the coming tragedy. And then I saw her out of the corner of my eye, a sudden appearance which made me jump.

I quickly turned my head and saw her standing there in the dark corner of the lobby, staring at me across the void. Her green eyes were not filled with their usual reproach but instead with pity and (perhaps) regret. Those eyes, once so full of youthful hope and wonder…but they’d seen so many horrors over the years, taking away her innocence. But still her spirit had not been broken – not entirely anyway. Despite everything, the young lady was compassionate and prepared to fight back against the evil which stalked our halls.

“It’s back. You know that right?” she asked.

“Yes.” I replied solemnly.

“We need to stop it…to save that kid.” she stated firmly.

I shook my head, breaking eye contact in shame. “I don’t know how…” I muttered.

“You do.” she shot back, “You’re stronger than you think. All you need is some help.”

I looked up in surprise, meeting her gaze. For the first time in years my heart was not filled with regret and fear but rather love and hope. The senorita hadn’t said a kind word to me in a decade…until now.

“We need to meet.” the senorita added, “All of us. Your people and mine. We can only defeat this evil if we work together.”

I nodded my head in agreement. “The lounge? In one hour?”

The senorita didn’t reply, instead simply melting away into the darkness. I called out after her, somehow knowing she could still hear me.

“Thank you, Isabella.” I said.

Well readers, the time has come for me to reveal the truth – the secret I’ve carried with me for so long. The senorita’s real name is Isabella, and she is my daughter. I stay here because she’s here, her spirit forever trapped inside the walls of this damn hotel, the place where her life ended so suddenly all those years ago.

The whole group met up right on time, once again frequenting the tired old bar-slash-lounge with its cracked tiles, worn-out chairs, and smell of stale alcohol. The patrons sat in their usual positions – the black-clad widow in the corner booth, the major and senorita at the bar…well, I guess I should call her by her real name now, Isabella…my girl, forever 21 – the age she was when she died.

Owen was behind the bar while Mary – who rarely frequented the lounge except to clean it – stood awkwardly by the door, refusing to take a seat.

The mood inside the barroom was sombre, as all present recognised the seriousness of our situation. No drink was had but the major puffed on his pipe and the widow smoked her cigarettes. It was a little too late for either of them to worry about the impact smoking would have on their health.

All were silent, looking to me to start the meeting. I felt a sharp pang of anxiety as I came to the realisation that I was now their leader…no more Mr Black to fall back on, it was all me. I cleared my throat before I began to speak.

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“Thank you for coming everyone. Let’s not beat about the bush. We all know why we’re here…”

“That monster is back!” interjected the widow, her voice filled with anger and dread.

“Yes.” I replied, watching as the faces dropped, their worst fears confirmed.

“Why now?” the widow asked, “Why has it come back after all these years?”

“I don’t know for sure.” I answered truthfully, “I saw Kane speaking with it the night before he died. Perhaps he summoned it.”

“Maybe.” the major added thoughtfully, “although perhaps there’s a simpler explanation. This spirit or demon…I believe it is a hunter at its core. Pickings were slim for a number of years and so it moved on to new territories. But now it smells new prey, fresh meat to feed its ravenous appetite. It lures in its targets, preying on their vulnerabilities, sucking them into its kill zone so it can strike them down at will. Sadly, we all know the story…”

The major’s normally steely front dropped for a moment before he continued. “A bullet in the head did it for me. Years of untreated PTSD and the trauma of conflict. The monster struck when I was at my weakest, unable to fight back.”

“The same for me,” the widow added, “A bottle of pills downed in the bathtub, not long after my husband died.”

“And it made me hang myself.” said Isabella, making eye contact with me as she did so. “But you already knew that.”

Suddenly, the terrible images flooded back – the sight of my daughter’s lifeless body in the hospital morgue, her skin pale and ice cold, the red rope mark still visible around her neck.
My old life ended that day, and her death almost broke me. I came to the Morte to find answers but instead discovered my daughter’s spirit trapped here, unable to pass over to the next world. And so I stayed, trying in vain to re-establish some kind of connection with my deceased daughter and hoping to absolve my guilt for losing her in the first place.

“We all know how this monster operates.” Isabella continued, “It’s a liar, invading your psyche and discovering your worst fears and anxieties. Telling you that there’s no way out, no other choice but to end it all…” she paused, sighing deeply before finding the inner strength to carry on. “It’s too late for us, but we can still save that young man upstairs, and the countless others who will surely follow him.”

“But what can we do?” Owen exclaimed from behind the bar. “It’s a damn shadow with no physical body! It’s not like I can chop it to pieces with my meat cleaver!”

I almost laughed at the absurdity of it all but knew our chef was right.

“Different enemies call for different tactics.” the major offered.

“Like what?” exclaimed Mary, “This isn’t a bloody war you know!”

And with that, the barroom descended into anarchy, with everyone shouting over each other with their own opinions. I knew this was my moment to assert my authority, such as it was.
I surprised them all by whistling as loudly as I could, the high-pitched sound filling the small barroom and instantly halting all other conversations. They all looked at me with a measure of respect as I made my speech.

“Listen people. We know the Morte can be hell on earth, but it’s also our home! This vile creature has invaded our hotel and turned it into its hunting ground. I don’t know about you folk, but I’m not okay with that! We’re a community, a family…living and dead, it makes no difference. We must work together to stop this monster. We have no choice.”

“But how?” Mary exclaimed, “It’s too powerful!”

“It’s not as strong as you think.” Isabella proclaimed, taking my side for the first time in years. “You only believe it’s powerful because it preys on your weaknesses and insecurities. The truth is – the only strength it gains is from our pain and fear. Take that away, and it can’t survive.”

Isabella met my eye, nodding and smiling as she passed the baton back to me. I can’t describe how good it felt to have won back my daughter’s trust.

“Isabella’s right.” I confirmed, “But we need a plan. And it needs to happen tonight. We must act now to save that young man’s life.”

And so all were in agreement, but the hardest part was still to come. Over the coming hours we made our plans and waited for nightfall.

In order to battle the shadow creature, I needed to do something I swore I would never do again – leave my bedroom during the dreaded witching hour, between 3 and 4am. This was the most dangerous time for the living to walk the haunted corridors of the Morte, but it was also when the creature did its hunting, and so we had no option but to act.

The ‘bravery’ I’d shown earlier in the safety of daylight seemed like so much folly now, as my whole body shook when I slowly unlocked my bedroom door and stepped out into the hallway. I sheepishly crept along the sixth-floor corridor, experiencing a chilling cold that had little to do with the low temperature.

I didn’t believe the shadow creature would be present on my floor, it having already fed on the soul of the poor wretch in Room 66 the previous night. However, it was by no means the only dangerous paranormal entity to stalk our corridors during this deadly hour. But, to my relief, I found the hallway ominously quiet.

Perhaps this wasn’t just good luck however. It struck me that the shadow was an apex predator and so the others surely feared its presence, electing to remain hidden in the dark corners, waiting for the creature to finish its hunt in the hope they could pick up the scraps.
Even the trapped spirits were largely – but not entirely – silent. They weren’t banging and scratching at the doors of their rooms, nor did they scream or wail. However, when I listened carefully, I could hear a soft crying from inside each of the sealed off rooms – sorrowful sobbing from spirits in emotional pain.

The shadow creature’s activities were impacting on all of our unconventional community, slowly but surely draining the energy from our walls, replacing it with nothing but a black void.

I paused momentarily outside of Room 66, painfully recalling the previous victims who died in there, in part due to my negligence. The guilt and anger I felt helped spur me on. I wouldn’t risk taking the elevator at this time of night, as I feared a devious ghoul may trap me inside. Therefore, I braved the stairs, watching my step under the dim light as I made my way up to the ninth floor.

I knew this was where I’d find the beast. I just hoped it wasn’t already too late. I was panting and perspiring by the time I made it up the three flights of stairs, my heart beating fast in my chest as I darted out into the ninth-floor hallway.

I glared for a moment at the sealed door to our former suite, sparing a thought for the hotel’s first owner who allegedly set off all this horror one hundred years ago. If this was true, I hoped he was burning in hell right now.

When I reached Room 92 I saw the door was already ajar and instantly feared the worst. With a shaking hand I pushed it open to reveal a horrifying scene within. Inside the room, at the far end of the bed, I saw Mr Smith. His face was full of terror and he was standing with his back to the open window, only inches away from a fatal fall.

But this wasn’t what had scared him. That was the shadow creature, the darkness in the shape of a man which had cornered him, using its black magic to drive him to madness.
I stood in the doorway, paralysed in terror for a moment before I caught Dave Smith’s eye, and then I opened my mouth and screamed.

“Don’t do it kid!” I cried, “Step away from the window! You can’t let it beat you!”

Dave – or whatever his real name was – looked astonished by my intervention, but the demonic entity was furious that I’d come between it and its prey. I believe it turned to face me, but I couldn’t tell for sure, because the being had no face. It was the strangest thing, but I could feel its glare burning through me, even though it had no eyes…and I could hear it, even though it had no mouth.

And the sound was awful, an ear-splitting scream, high-pitched and so loud I was nearly deafened. Suddenly the shape shot forwards, seeking to devour me within its dark form…And I ran, fleeing for my life as the wailing demon pursued me, intent on ending my mortal existence.

I sprinted down the corridor before suddenly tripping on the ripped carpet, falling heavily to the floor with a crash. I frantically looked up, seeing the shadow approach. Its wail was now one of glee, as it prepared to suck out my very soul. But thankfully the next part of the plan came into effect.

“Hey you bastard, over here!”

It was Owen, standing at the far end of the corridor and purposefully drawing the creature’s attention. The shadow screeched, gliding away along the hallway in pursuit of its new target.
I pulled myself up, watching as Owen darted into the staircase and headed up to the roof. I followed, pausing only briefly to see our maid Mary evacuating Dave Smith from Room 92 and leading him to safety. I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that the young man would at least be safe no matter what happened to us.

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I raced after them and up onto the roof of the building, feeling the chill from the cold air but somehow being comforted by the sight of the moon and stars in the night sky above.
The shadow had Owen cornered, his back facing the edge as he stared at the demon with terror in his eyes. I had never seen our chef so frightened and for a moment believed he was in real danger. But the creature seemed less certain now it was out in the open and no longer in its usual hunting grounds.

It moved slowly and without its former purpose, giving Owen the chance to escape its deadly grasp. And that’s when the final part of our plan was put into action.

I can’t tell you the range of emotions I felt when I saw the trio – our three righteous spirits suddenly emerging upon the hotel’s flat roof, moving towards the shadow beast with steadfast purpose. Isabella, the major and the widow linked hands, seeming to draw off each other’s supernatural energy.

What happened next was truly breath-taking, as the triumvirate of spirits suddenly illuminated their souls, emitting a blinding white light which lit up the night. The shadow creature faced its enemy but was overwhelmed by the intensity of the light, emitting a scream which wasn’t of anger and sadism, but rather pain and fear.

Next, the three spoke as one, their voices filling the night air – “Begone foul spirit! Your time in our realm is over!”

The shadow had no answer. It screeched in agony as the white light surrounded it, crushing its form…and then it was gone, cast back to whatever hellish realm it had come from and leaving us standing under the stars.

Their task done, the spirits unlocked their hands and the bright light faded. All seemed exhausted by the effort and I wondered what it had taken out of the trio to summon such immense power. Concerned, I looked to Isabella but saw her shooting me a wink and a smile as she mouthed – “See! I told you we could do it!”

Still in a state of shock, I couldn’t find the words to respond. But as always it was Owen who brought us back to reality as he quipped – “Well, that was quite the light show! Who’s for a drink?”

In spite of myself I burst out laughing, realising that some things would never change. Fifteen minutes later we were all sitting in the lounge, either calming our nerves or celebrating as we came to terms with all that had happened that night.

Owen, Isabella and the major sat at the far end of the bar, toasting our victory against the shadow creature. Meanwhile, Mary and the widow were seeing to the young man ‘Dave Smith’, who sat in the corner booth wrapped in a blanket and still in a state of shock.

The older women’s maternal instincts kicked in as they talked him down with soothing words, offering him a medicinal drink to calm his nerves. We aren’t doctors or psychiatrists but would do what we could for the boy before sending him back into the world.

As for me – I sat alone, nursing a whiskey and feeling drained by the whole experience. I wasn’t a natural leader and – despite the solidarity of my friends – I still felt isolated and lonely at the top. We’d beaten this monster or had at least banished it from our realm, but more would surely come, and I wondered how long I would have the strength to continue this fight.

I vowed to quickly finish my drink and retreat back to my bedroom, but there was one last twist in the tale to come. As I made my way to the door, I found my path blocked by Isabella. She stood in my way, her dark green eyes filled with sympathy, although the expression on her beautiful face was deadly serious.

“I think we need to talk.” she stated in a matter-of-fact tone.

I nodded meekly, letting her guide me over to a side booth hidden away from the rest of the bar. I felt nervous as I had no idea what my daughter would say to me. We sat facing each other and Isabella maintained eye contact as she spoke.

“You did well tonight.” she proclaimed.

I shook my head in modesty. “I hardly did anything. You’re the one who came up with the plan and carried it through.”

“We worked together,” she stated, “and I think we make a pretty good team!”

I experienced a flood of emotions in that moment – some good, others bad. There’d been this awful, forced silence between us for that many years, and I had so much I wanted to say to my daughter. But now I had my opportunity, I couldn’t find the words.

After a lengthy and awkward pause I spluttered out what I wanted to say the most – “I’m so sorry Isabella, I’m sorry I let you down.”

Her response surprised me greatly as she said – “You didn’t let me down, not really. We drifted apart…I was a girl who lost her way and got drawn in by the darkness…It wasn’t your fault daddy.”

I saw the emotion in her eyes and realised this was just as tough for her as it was for me. But she wasn’t finished yet.

“The reason I’ve been cold to you all these years is because I didn’t want you trapped here with me. I wanted you to leave this place and live your life.”

I responded without thinking, stating – “This is where I belong.”

My daughter smiled before replying in a soft tone. “Yes dad, I understand that now. The Morte is a crazy place, but it’s also our home. And we can still do some good here, don’t you think?”

I broke eye contact with my daughter momentarily, glancing across at young Dave Smith, who was beginning to regain his composure under the care of Mary and the widow.

“Yes.” I replied, after turning back to look into my daughter’s deep eyes. “We can still save lives and protect the innocent and vulnerable from this evil.”

My emotions got the better of me as tears rolled down my cheeks and my voice cracked.
“I love you baby.” I spluttered.

“I love you too daddy.” my daughter replied.

My heart was restored in that moment. I knew I could never hold my daughter again, but I’d re-established our loving relationship, and this was all that mattered to me.

And so, there you have it good readers. After three instalments we have finally reached the truth of the Morte and its permanent residents, and the reason why I’ve stayed here for all these years. I will never leave the Morte, not only because I can’t abandon Isabella’s spirit, but also due to my renewed sense of purpose.

I run this hotel now and it’s my responsibility to keep our permanent guests content, whilst also catering to the needs of our short-term visitors, who come in all shapes and sizes.
This is the end of my accounts, for now at least. But there are many more tales to be told from the twisted annals of Hotel Morte’s long and torturous history. Every trapped spirit and every living guest who’s stepped into the darkness – they all have their stories to tell, and perhaps one day they will make it onto this forum.

In the meantime, you must excuse me good readers, as I hear the banging on doors and the disembodied wailing from the corridors, meaning our guests need my attention.

But, if by chance you do find your way to the Morte’s doors and feel brave enough to enter, come see me at our front reception and I’ll find you a safe (or at least, relatively safe!) room for the night. And feel free to join us for a night cap in our bar, where you’ll find both types of spirits in abundance!

Those with a good heart will always be welcome at the Morte, no matter what you’ve done to get here. But, if you come here with malicious intent, not even God will be able to help you. You have been warned!

Credit: Hell Tourist

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