by Timothy C. Hobbs
The hotel swallowed them. All thirty five occupants and the staff.
It was a record winter that year. The guests had tightly closed the windows to their rooms. No one could have anticipated the slow gas leak that was inhaled by sleeping lungs.
The building fell into ruin after that. The place just “Went bad” most people said, those rumors started by the few who did stay there after the misfortune. They said they heard things in the night. Bad things that groped for something beyond the cold destiny given them. Hungry things that wailed to be fed. Things better separated from the living.
There were a few failed attempts to sweep the tragedy away and reopen with glamour and style. The mayor came and offered a hopeful dedication. The ballroom was resurrected and a gala ball held. But the guests soon became uncomfortable at the fleeting touch of an icy hand or the ephemeral kiss from unseen lips. So the building died, left only with its ghosts and their grumblings.
Years passed. It was never torn down, only deserted to the elements that wore and scarred its exterior. Left to its occupants of tortured souls.
But it was really just waiting all those years, patiently waiting for people like me. People who dwell in the shadows of the hotel’s empty rooms. People who occupy its grand, desolate foyers. The hotel has become quite a refuge for those of us who snort poison into our noses or inhale the smoke of it into our lungs. Those of us who night after night, day after day inject liquid death into our veins.
We are not bothered by the apparitions who live beyond the pale of the grave. We pass each other in silence. We embrace those who inhabit this ruin of brick and mortar, glass and steel. Our cries of desolation blend with theirs in a symphony for the macabre. Our graveyard gazes down through the broken panes of its windows on the empty courtyard below, waiting for others to come into its embrace of emptiness and certain death.
Living or dead. Dying or undead. It matters not. We all share the same table; eat of the same rotten fruit. Dancing with the dead is an anticipated high just as much as their ballet with our withering flesh.
We are all specters here.
We are all willingly haunted.
Timothy Hobbs is a retired medical technologist. His flash fiction piece Luna appeared in the Deep Water Literary Journal. His anthology Mothertrucker and Other Stories and novel Veils were published through Publish America. Novels The Pumpkin Seed and Music Box Sonata and a novella, The Smell of Ginger, were published by Vamplit Publishing in the United Kingdom and republished by Visionary Press Collaborative. Netherworld Books published his novel Maiden Fair. A collection of flash and short fiction, In the Blink of a Wicked Eye, was published in 2015 by Sirens Call Publications.
Twitter handle: Timothy Hobbs@TimothyHobbs8
Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/timothy.hobbs.92
Amazon author page link: http://www.amazon.com/Timothy-C.-Hobbs/e/B00A603SWG/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1450328988&sr=8-2