Estimated reading time — 9 minutes
This story is based off of real events that happened to me and my family while on our second vacation to Scotland. Names might be changed to keep our privacy and some details might be wrong, but for the rest, everything is what happened. Oh, and we all survived ;)
My parents dragged me towards the pillar where the tour guide would meet us. It was the second day of our two-week vacation to Scotland and right now we were in the capital city of Edinburgh. Our hotel had given us a few tips and things to visit over night and eventually, the three of us decided that we would go to the ‘Mercat Ghost Tour’ in the Edinburgh Dungeons. “Exciting for the entire family!” was what the hotel owner had said. In all honesty, I wasn’t such a fan of ghost stories. I didn’t like horror at all, actually. It was definitely not my favorite, nor could I take jumpscares. So I wasn’t that happy. My heart was pounding quite fast and if I were to see even the slightest scary thing, like a spider, I’d probably jump in my fathers’ arms to hide. No shame, I’m a scaredy-cat.
It had gotten pretty late, and we were waiting at a small café with a nice view on the Mercat pillar. Eventually, the tour guide arrived together with a German family of four. The tour guide introduced himself and we started walking through the city. Edinburgh was beautiful. It was a pretty old city with a big history. The guide stopped every now and then at a building and taught / told us an interesting story, before continuing on walking. The German family took pictures of everything while me and mom listened carefully. Dad was taking pictures as well. We walked around the plaza, called “the Edinburgh Mile” and after walking for a while we reached a small street, nearly hidden from the public. It was barely visible and we stopped to look around a bit. We were surrounded by houses and flats, three-high each. The tour guide opened his bag and searched for the key to the building he’d take us in. After a while he found it. He opened the door and gestured us to enter.
The guide grabbed a lantern and started walking down some stairs. We followed him down the cellar-like stairs and the door closed shut behind us. Shivers ran down my spine as it was getting colder as the night grew older. Also because we went lower and lower underground. I looked over my shoulder at the door and nearly bumped in my father because we came to a sudden stop. The guide turned around and creepily looked at us. The dungeons appeared to be discovered quite recently. They had been closed off and forgotten due to the criminal world seeking refuge and dealing in the underground. The government wanted none of it and thus they closed it. Years passed and the dungeons got forgotten. At least, until recently, when someone found them by accident at the construction site of some building. Mercat took the opportunity to make it into the ghost tour it was now. There were prop bodies and lights hidden throughout the dungeon and if you listened carefully you could hear scary music playing in the distance. The guide focused his attention on us and started telling stories. I wasn’t completely there though, I was distracted. I felt cold and somehow… unsafe. I wanted to get out, even though there was nothing to worry about. I sought comfort in my mothers’ arms and tried to listen to the guide. But there was something… or someone… ominous around. I didn’t feel secure, it was as if we were being watched from behind. We continued and got even deeper inside the dungeons as the guide took us to a closed off section of the dungeons. It had been found by the workers of Mercat while cleaning out and preparing the dungeons for their tours. Apparently it was the safe-route from the Edinburgh Castle to the outside world. The route had been forgotten and hidden for ages until they found it. Story goes that two of the castle’s guards accidently blew up the tunnel by firing the cannon which indicated one o’clock at one A.M. instead of P.M. after having one or two beers too much. it fell of the wall and boom! Anyway, the tunnel was now closed off for visitors.
“Have I told you the story of Room 17?” Asked the tour guide. We all shook our heads, indicating he indeed hadn’t.
“Very well.” The guard put down the lantern on a rock and started his story. Again shivers ran down my spine, followed by a feeling of dread. I felt scared, anxious. But not unsafe. Not anymore.
“A long time ago, there was this hotel. Everybody forgot it’s name, location and city. But it’s around the city of Saint Andrews. The story goes the hotel had a haunted room, number 17. Of course, the room hadn’t always been haunted. It started in the 16th century. On a late autumn night, a young lady appeared at the hotel. She seemed cold and looked for a room to stay the night. The hotel owner had one free room, number 17. The girl thanked him and immediately went upstairs to sleep for the night. The next morning, the girl wasn’t awake for breakfast. She hadn’t come down for lunch either. Even though every guest needs their privacy, the hotel owner was getting worried that something had happened to the girl. The man walked up the stairs and knocked on the room door. He waited for an answer, but it stayed awfully quiet. He knocked on the door again, this time a bit louder. Still no answer. The man was getting very worried about the mysterious female now, so he decided to grab the spare room key and unlock the door. He walked down the stairs again, but as he went down to grab the key, he heard eerie whispers in his ear. He couldn’t understand what they were saying, something about a man clothed in all black. This scared the old man. He grabbed the key to room no. 17 and held it tight in his sweaty hands. He ran back up the stairs and knocked on the door one more time. No answer. He unlocked the door and turned the doorknob to the right. He carefully pushed open the door and called ‘miss? Excuse me, are you there?’ He took a quick peek around the half opened door but couldn’t see the bed yet. He now opened the door fully and walked in. On the bed, covered in a red pool of blood, the corpse of the mysterious female had been left for dead, murdered in cold blood. On the ceiling of the room was written “HELP” in the women’s blood. The old man gasped in fear and called for the town guards. To this day nobody knows who murdered the girl. The hotel owner couldn’t handle the feeling of guilt and closed the hotel for good. It wasn’t until 50 years later when a young family bought the empty house. There were way too many rooms for them, so they decided it would be a good idea to make it into a hotel. So they did. But as the husband of the family inspected every single room, he found one room with a strange, scary atmosphere. He didn’t feel safe at all in the room. He could swear he heard whispers in the room, telling him about a man clothed in black and murder. He shivered and shut the door. He numbered it room 17 and decided to never rent the room. The family earned good money off of the room, but never ever let anyone rent room 17.
The family got rich off of their hotel and the fantastic service. But never ever did they rent room 17. It turned spring, to summer, autumn, and winter again. But the winter was harsh and cold. Chances of surviving without food or a roof above your head were near to null. Every room in the hotel was full, except for room number 17.
The weather outside was harsh, it was snowing and the wind was sharp. It was close to midnight and the family’s husband was sitting in the bar drinking his final beer before closing the hotel door. Suddenly he could hear a weak knocking on the door. He grabbed a torch and opened the door. He looked straight into the eyes of a young woman and her child. They seemed very tired and cold. They were soaking wet of the snow and freezing. If he didn’t let them in, they would surely freeze to death. The husband had pledged to never let anyone stay in room 17, but decided it was better to let them stay than letting them freeze to death.
He let the woman in who thanked him dearly. He handed her the key to room 17 and shut the door. The woman and daughter went up the stairs and stayed the night in room 17. The husband went to his room and tried to sleep, but he couldn’t. His heart was pounding in fear, yet he didn’t know why. An hour passed and the man still couldn’t fall asleep when suddenly he heard a loud screech. It sounded like it was from a woman. He lit a candle and ran up the stairs. Every hotel guest had awoken from their slumber by the loud scream and everyone was looking out of their room doors to see what had happened. Everyone, but room 17. The hotel owner was shaking from head to toe as he opened the door to room 17. He walked inside and saw the woman sitting on a chair in the middle of the room, her eyes fixed on the ceiling in fear. She was completely terrified and paralyzed in fear. The daughter was lying dead on the floor. The husband knew that he had made a mistake. Rumor spread across the country like wildfire and soon, the entire nation knew about the hotel and the haunted room. The husband was never renting the room, ever again. Not even when it was freezing outside. He pledged it against his wife, his son, his grandmother and everybody else. Never.
Anyway, years passed and the hotel grew famous worldwide for its haunted room. Word reached the Vatican and a monk wanted to hear nothing of it. He thought it was all the biggest humbug and he was going to prove it with his own life. The monk travelled all the way to Scotland, to the hotel, just to prove it was all a hoax. The monk sought contact with the hotel owner and after discussing for a long while, the hotel owner decided to let the monk stay for one night, and one night only.
The monk took his belongings inside the room and the owner gave him two bells. One huge bell, which he could ring if he was in trouble. ‘DONNGGG’ It would sound. And a small bell, for if he needed something to eat or drink. ‘ding!’ it would sound.
Night fell over the city and the family’s husband stayed awake for the night, scared of what might happen to the monk. For hours he waited, but nothing happened. The hotel owner’s eyes grew heavy and he nearly fell asleep. Maybe he even did, until he got awoken by the sound of a bell.
‘ding!’ ‘ding!’ ‘ding!’ It was the small bell, being ringed over and over again. it got quicker and quicker, so the husband slowly made his way up the stairs. suddenly, the big bell rang. ‘DONGGGG!’ it sounded through the entire hotel. The husband now ran up the stairs and opened the room as quickly as he could. In the middle of the room, the monk was sitting in a chair, his eyes fixated on the ceiling in fear. In his hands, the small bell. In the corner of the room, the big bell. Way too far for him to have been able to ring it.
The hotel owners were now certain of the room being haunted, by the mysterious woman who had been murdered there ages ago. The hotel closed, the room numbers disappeared. Nobody knows what and where it is nowadays. have a good night.”
The tour guide let us out of the dungeon and we walked to the hotel together, still in shock of the finishing story as told by the guide. It was quite an amazing experience, yet we wouldn’t want to do it again. Way to scary, especially so late at night. We arrived at our hotel and stayed the night. The day after, we drove from Edinburgh to Crail.
Crail was a small fishing village located near Isle of May, famous for its huge population of puffins. We arrived at the hotel where we would stay the night. After walking around for the entire day, we made our way to the hotel and met up with the hotel owner. The year before, we’d been there as well and the man still remembered us. He was very nice and kind, and loved whiskey. Just like every real scot. He told us stories about when he was younger. The owner took us to our room, which he had reserved especially for us. It was a big room with a nice view on the sea. Strangely enough, it had no number on the door. I suddenly got a flashback of the year before, when we stayed here as well. We were having breakfast and got in a conversation with a man and women who had stayed the night in a room with ‘no number’. They’d had some weird experiences in the room. The woman woke up in the middle of the night because she felt something next to her, but her husband was gone. The bed was empty. Somehow, the husband had gone walking in his sleep and found his way to the stairs next to the bathroom. That’s at least what they told.
Anyway, the owner gave us the key and walked back downstairs with us. After more stories and folklore, he went to bed and we were left alone. It was getting midnight and the three of us decided to play a card game, called “last card plus”
My father had always been the more skeptical of us three when it came to ghosts. He didn’t really believe in them. As we played the game, he started telling jokes about the tour yesterday. Neither mom nor I liked it, since we did believe in ghosts. But whatever. We finished the first of seven rounds. Mom won, dad and I had to count the score of our leftover cards. I had 6 points and mom wrote it down. I looked at dad who had a weird grin on his face. He showed me his cards and I looked at the score of the cards together. Seventeen.
Mom and I glanced at eachother and laughed nervously. But the second round ended with dad having seventeen points. Again. His smile disappeared. At the third round, his smile was completely gone and at the end we counted our leftover points again. Dad’s face had turned white now. Seventeen points, three times in a row. And at that moment the lights went out.