The Red Room
In true Halloween spirit, we decided to write a spooky story to tell at campfires, bedtime, or before summoning a demon.
The Red Room
It was a brisk October night. A young man found himself driving home on coarse gravel roads that never seemed to end. His eyelids grew heavy as the rhythmic sway of the car rocked him back and forth. A sharp crack of thunder quickly brought him back to the present. It illuminated the immense pine trees that stood on both sides of his car. As the rain began to fall heavily, he decided it would be best to turn in for the night. He drove another few miles before happening upon a quaint bed and breakfast that he deemed suitable for his needs.
He stepped into the lobby, duffle bag in hand. He headed to the front desk to check-in. The woman at the desk had gray hair that was turning white. While the color of her hair indicated she was older, she still had a youthful vibrancy that filled the young man with curiosity. Her face was pale but healthy. However, as he looked at the rest of her body he realized that her neck, arms, and legs were weathered and looked incompatible with her face. Puzzled but exhausted, the young man put this thought into the back of his mind and approached the woman.
The woman gave him an odd smile as she listened to his request for a room.
“We only have one room available tonight. It was formerly used by one of our maintenance staff. It’s a little run-down, but it is all we have at the moment,” the woman said.
“I will take anything I can get.” the young man replied.
She began to escort the young man to his room. They walked up the stairs and down the hallway. As they walked, they passed an unmarked door
“That room is used for storage. It is not to be entered by anyone without permission”, the woman emphasized. The young man noted a hint of playfulness in the woman’s tone.
The young man patiently listened to the woman. When she finished speaking she gave him his key and began to walk back down the hallway towards the staircase. Before he was able to unlock the door to his room, the woman exclaimed, “Thank you again for choosing to stay with us. We always enjoy visitors from out of state”.
As he turned his head back in the direction of her voice, he saw that she had a wolfish grin. Her teeth were a splendid white, so white that they mesmerized him for a fraction of a second. He turned his head back and gave a cordial reply. This exchange confused him, but chalked this up to his sleep-deprived status and fumbled with his key until he unlocked the door. He stepped into the room.
As the young man entered the room, he felt a cold draft of air ruffle his hair and go through his fingertips. He flipped on the lightswitch to his right. The dull yellow light from the bulb revealed a worn but sufficient room. He saw that pieces of the red paint on the walls were chipping off. The bed, a twin mattress, was covered with a maroon comforter that appeared to be at least a few decades old. The young man took no more time to investigate the room and he collapsed onto the mattress and closed his eyes. The bed smelled of mildew.
As he laid with his head on his pillow, he could not seem to sleep. He thought back to his interaction with the woman at the front desk. The youthful complexion of her face and her radiantly white teeth sharply contrasted with the rest of her frail and aged body. It truly puzzled him. Suddenly, a most curious realization entered his mind:
I never told her I was from out of state…
The realization made him shutter. He tried to rationalize it. Maybe she simply guessed. Maybe she saw my license plate while I was pulling up. While his brain tried to calm his body, he felt in his bones that these rationalizations were incorrect. He tried to distract himself by thinking about the door. His mind began to run with ideas of what might be behind that door.
Acting on impulse, he got out of the musty bed, crept out of his room carefully so as to not make a sound, and headed for the unmarked door. He tried to turn the knob. Sure enough, it was locked. He kneeled down and put his eye to the keyhole. A sharp breeze passed through, causing his eye to water.
What he saw was a dimly illuminated room, just like his, but in the corner was a woman who looked not unlike the lady at the front desk. She faced away from the door, leaning her head against the chipped red wall. She was in what appeared to be an old satin nightgown. He looked at her arms and legs and saw that they were cut and bruised. A slow stream of red liquid seemed to be coming from her nightgown and flowed down her legs. Ever so slightly, as if to acknowledge the young man, the lady turned her head exposing just a sliver of her face. It was a luminous white and the perfect skin glistened in the pale light. The young man let out a note of exasperation and fell back onto his bottom. In a moment of sheer panic, he ran down the hallway back to his room, shut the door, and fell back into his bed. A sudden wave of relief beset him and he fell immediately to sleep.
The next morning, he grabbed his duffle bag and headed down the hall to check out. As he walked down the hallway, the same intense curiosity that had initially compelled him to the unmarked room once again returned. He put his bag down, looked to both sides to make sure that no one was looking, and bent down to look through the keyhole once more.
As he looked through the keyhole, he became more and more confused. This time there was no cold breeze nor did he see the lady. Instead, all he could see as he peered through the small whole was a bright red tone. It was as if someone had covered the other side of the hole. The young man immediately felt embarrassed and confused. When did this occur? He sheepishly walked down the stairs towards the front desk.
Driven once again by curiosity, the young man inquired about the unmarked room. The woman at the front desk sighed, her lips turning to a slight wolfish grin once more and asked, “Did you look through the keyhole?”
The young man was shocked by this question, and without hesitation admitted to his actions. Still grinning, the woman said, “I might as well tell you the story of what happened in that room. Many years ago on a night similar to last, a custodian murdered one of the women who worked as a receptionist here. The police found that she had been cut, spanning all down her arms and legs. We find that to this day, whoever stays in there gets rather uncomfortable.”
The young man stood dumbfounded. He stammered out that he best be getting on, put the key to the room on the front desk along with all of the cash he found in his wallet, grabbed his duffle bag, and briskly walked to the door.
Back in his car, he took one final look at the bed and breakfast. Through the door he could see the woman at the front desk once more. The young man let out an audible gasp. He saw that she was wearing the same satin gown he saw the lady in the room wear. A single stream of blood ran down her right arm and dripped onto her leg and finally onto the floor. But most horrifying of all, as he looked back to her face, he saw two blood red eyes staring back at him.
The young man let out a scream, shifted to drive, and accelerated out of the parking lot and onto the road ahead.