Horror Story Ideas: The Haunted House
I am a big fan of the show Ghost Hunters which is usually shown in the United States on the Sci-Fi channel. A team called TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) is a group of professional ghost hunters/busters, who are led by two plumbers, Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson. Yes, you read that right, plumbers. Their interest in the paranormal stemmed from having clients complain of strange activities in their home while they went about their plumbing work. Usually these were noises from either broken pipes or weak foundations, but eventually their curiosities were piqued and they became more interested in the paranormal and all things related to it. Over the years, extensive studies on ghosts, hauntings and sightings have made them the leading paranormal team in the country and indeed the world. They are usually called on by home or businesses owners, to investigate and to help solve whatever mysteries they might harbor.
One of my very favorite episodes would have to be where they paid a visit to the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. For those of you who are Stephen King fans, you’ll realize that this is the same hotel where he penned his famous book (and later to become a cult classic movie) – The Shining – although the hotel was renamed to ‘The Overlook’. On a visit to the Stanley with his wife, Tabitha, he stayed in Room 217, where he swore that after their arrival and a quick dinner, they returned to the same room to find that their clothes and boxes had been arranged neatly in the closet. None of the hotel staff had stepped into their room that evening.
TAPS on assignment for a special Halloween episode, decided to document this to see if the rumors of hauntings and paranormal activities were really true. The hotel was emptied for the night, leaving only the TAPS team to do as they pleased. The investigation began sometime around midnight and Jason Hawes chose to stay in Room 217, but not before setting up night vision cameras that recorded everything while he dozed off. There was a deathly silence in the room as he fell into light sleep. Nothing happened for a while, but suddenly the closet door (which had been left open) began to close by itself. There was a click as if latched from the inside and then silence again. As a viewer, I can safely say I was spooked at the sight of that, and I’m one of the most skeptic people you’d ever meet. There was no wind, and no other indication that anyone walked into the room. How does one explain that rationally?
A second test that stood out to me happened when both Jason and Grant walked into the basement of the hotel with equipments called EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena). These are often unexplained voices that are captured on audio tape or digital recorders that were not heard by human ears at the time it was recorded. While in the basement, they began to ask routine questions – ‘Are you here with us? Show yourself? Give us a sign?’ and things like that. Normally, they do not expect anything in return, but it doesn’t hurt to ask all the same. However, everyone (and this includes you the viewer) was able to distinctly hear the sound of a giggle from a young girl and then a voice saying ‘Hello?’ as well. Of course that stumped the men, who wondered if they were actually hearing things, so they asked again, and this time, the voice was much louder. ‘Hello?’ this unseen voice called out and then giggled as if finding so much fun in toying with the mortals in her presence. I don’t think I’ve ever seen their features take on such an ashen look, and these are men who are skeptics in their own right. They do more to disprove ghost activities than to actually prove they do exist – if they can help it.
After all the tests were concluded, (there were also reports of faint 20s music being heard from the ballroom and in the elevators), there was no doubt in the TAPS members mind that the hotel was indeed haunted in every way shape or form. Not to give him all the credit, but Stephen King‘s little story has indeed turned this hotel, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, into one of the busiest especially during Halloween.
The history of the Stanley itself is quite interesting, and I always find myself trying to read up on stories of old hotels and the people who frequented them. I believe that each room has a story to tell, that beneath the scent of fresh pine and polish, clean sheets and sunshine, is the faint but murky smell of mysteries unsolved. Was that room once occupied by a troubled couple who tried to make amends and things don’t quite go right? Was there a big fight, blood stains on the bed and floor? Were items smashed leaving a faint but barely noticeable dent on the wall? Look at that closet carefully, can you see faint scratch marks on it? Was someone locked in there and left to starve for days? When you look out that window, do you imagine someone leaping to their death either from committing suicide or a crime of passion? Sure, these might sound far-fetched, but you can never erase any and all possibilities from the mind.
In the short story, 1408 written by Stephen King (and soon to be a feature film staring John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson), King takes the reader into the Hotel Dolphin in New York City. Micheal Enslin is an author who writes about haunted buildings and usually spends a night in each one to get a feel of what the place is like. He hears the story of room 1408 from Mr. Olin, who lets him know of the room’s past history of suicides, accidental deaths and strange perceptions. However, Enslin is convinced that Olin is trying to scare him off and decides to stay in the room for the night. Unfortunately, he doesn’t even last an hour for although no ghosts appear, the room does play with his perceptions of reality, causing him to have strange and gruesome visions and thoughts.
Hotels, inns and even simple bed and breakfast places are great fodder for kicking up the horror muse in all of us. So try to have fun with it. Go to Google, research on (local) hotels that have haunted pasts and try to book yourself and a friend or two for at least a weekend stay. Take your notebook and pencil or pen, and if you’re daring enough, a tape recorder, and do a little ghost hunting of your own. I’d recommend a camera, but I don’t think most ghosts like their pictures taken. Document any and all ‘odd’ things that you notice, and maybe if you sit still long enough and listen hard, you just might get that little shiver of awareness down your spine, feel the tiny hairs at the back of your neck rising, and eventually the soft, feather-like touch and presence of a new companion dropping in to say hello.
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