I was staying at a hotel in Chicago Illinois during a business trip and I was going to stay for the whole weekend. It was an older hotel, one that still used small keys rather than keycards to enter the rooms. I didn’t mind, it seemed nice to get away from the onslaught of technology.
When I checked into the hotel it was packed full. A nasty storm had struck, standing many tourists and cancelling flights. No more rooms were available and many people were being turned away because of the lack of vacancy. When I approached the front desk to check in I noticed that all the keys for the rooms on the eighth floor were still on the wall. Not a single key was missing. It seemed odd that an entire floor would be vacant when so many people were all clambering to check in and get to their rooms.
I could see the clerk was stressed out and he was ready to to just give up and go home, so I tried to lighten the mood. “Kind of weird, isn’t it?”
“What is?” The clerk asked.
“How everyone on the eighth floor is missing.”
The clerk gave me an odd look and his face paled. “What do you know about the eighth floor?” He replied in a serious tone.
“What? Nothing!” I answered honestly, a little embarrassed that my attempt to lighten the mood backfired. “I just noticed that all the keys for the eighth floor are still behind the desk.”
The clerk blushed a little and tried to laugh it off. “Oh, yes, I see now…” He went back to checking me in and handed me the key to my room on the ninth floor. “Enjoy your stay.”
“I will… thanks.” I awkwardly accepted the key and grabbed my beg, heading for the elevator.
Just like the lobby the elevator was also packed, it was difficult to stand next to so many strangers so close by, let alone enter and exit the small car. I struggled to reach and press the button for the ninth floor, but I managed to see over the crowd of people and reach the button panel. It was then I noticed that the buttons seemed to be missing a floor number: 8.
“That’s funny.” I thought out loud. “I wonder why there’s no button for the eighth floor.”
But no one in the elevator reacted. They either didn’t care or they were too preoccupied and didn’t hear me.
Once I finally got to my floor and checked into my room, I took a moment to relax and unwind on the bed. I had to give a presentation tomorrow and I needed to be alert. I decided to go to bed early that night and to practice my speech a few times to make sure I sounded confident.
I took a shower, brushed me teeth and stood in front of the bathroom mirror as I practiced my sales pitch a few times.
A strange groaning sound from the room beneath me got my attention. It sounded like there was a man in pain or upset. I ignored it and continued to practice my speech. The groaning from the lower floor continued on, getting louder and louder by the minute.
Angrily I stomped on the floor as hard as I could and shouted out: “Hey buddy! Are you okay?”
There was no response, the groaning stopped.
Satisfied that the man realized he was making too much noise, I continued to practice my speech. Just as I finished the first half of my speech the groaning began again. But this time it was much louder and angry.
If this was going to go on all night there was no way I’d be prepared for my presentation tomorrow. I knocked on my neighbors door and was greeted with a grumpy response from a young woman and her new husband.
“Excuse me,” I politely tried to engage in conversation. “do you hear that noise in the room below us?”
“Noooo…” The woman sounded more confused than grouchy now. “We haven’t heard anything until you pounded on our door.”
“Oh, sorry.” I apologized, once again feeling embarrassed. “Must be the pipes of something then.” I tried to think of a possible alternate explanation so I didn’t seem like I was a crazy person. “Well, I’ll call management then. Good night.”
The couple shut the door and locked it. I returned to my room where the groaning noise continued. I picked up the phone on the small table next to the bed and called the front desk to complain about the noise. When I mentioned that it seemed to be coming from the room beneath me, a room on the eighth floor, the woman who answered the phone suddenly got quiet.
“Sir, there is no one checked in that room. It must be someone on the ninth floor.”
“No,” I tried to sound confident. “it’s not coming from the walls, it’s coming from the floor.”
“Well…” The woman sounded rattled and I could sense that she was trying to think of an explanation just to get me to hang up. “I’ll call in the maintenance crew. It’s probably a leaky pipe or a problem with the heating ducts.”
“Yeah, thanks.” I hung up the phone, not believing her for an instant.
The groaning was growing louder and angrier by the minute. I put my hands to my ears to try and block the sound but it wasn’t enough. I walked back into the bathroom and turned on the shower and the sink full blast, hoping the running water would drown the noise and it helped only a little bit.
I sat on the bathroom floor, trying to think of a way to get some sleep but I didn’t have any other options. All the rooms were full, I couldn’t request a new room and there was no way another hotel would have vacancy during this storm.
Suddenly the pipes on the shower began rattling violently. The shaking was so strong that it caused the shower to sputter as it continued to run. The sound was like thunder inside the walls and the thunder outside the hotel, as well as the pounding rain, sounded like there was a freight train barreling down the tracks right at me.
I left my room, grabbing my key and my phone, I made my way to the elevator so I could lodge a complain in the lobby. As soon as I stepped inside the elevator I remembered that the eighth floor couldn’t be accessed, the number was not an option. And I remembered that all the keys for the eighth floor were still behind the desk at the lobby. How could anyone check into a room on the eighth floor?
Curious I exited the elevator and made my way for the stairs. I walked down the stairwell from the ninth floor and directly onto the seventh! That’s impossible, I told myself. I walked back up the stairs and double checked the floor numbers, sure enough, just like the elevator, there was no number 8.
I walked up and down the staircase a few times, trying to figure out what was going on, when I noticed a small imperfection in the wall next to the doorway that led onto the seventh floor. I checked and realized that it was a gap. The gap was between a hidden door and its door frame.
Using my fingertips I pried the door open and found a small staircase leading back up one flight. Up to the otherwise non existent eighth floor. It was dark and dusty, like no one had used this passageway in years.
I used the screen on my phone to light my way as I made way through up the secret stairs. There was another door at the top of the stairs, it wasn’t sealed away or hidden, it was easily accessible. The door was numbered 8.
Opening the door I found myself on the eighth floor and alone. I could just feel it, there was no one else on the floor with me. It was dark in the long hallway, not even the exit signs were lit up. I continued to use my phone as I walked down the hallway, checking each door as I passed. They were all locked, that is, except for one door. The unlocked door was for the room directly beneath mine.
I knocked once, just to make sure no one was secretly checked into the room, but no one replied. I opened the door, still trying to figure out why this door was unlocked, and found myself standing in a room that mirrored my own perfectly.
The lights didn’t work, I tried the switch a few times but there was no power on this floor. “Hello?” I called out into the room. “Is… is anyone in here?”
Still no response. I went over to the phone and picked it up, but the line was dead. The amount of dust and cobwebs told me that no one was in this room and no one had been for quite some time, but I still felt compelled to look around.
I opened the door to the bathroom and was taken aback by what I saw in the room. There was bath tub in the room, unlike mine which had a shower, and the tub was full of water. The water was at the top of the tub, threatening to spill over at any moment. I stepped closer, still using my phone to light my way, when I noticed a dark figure in the tub.
It looked like a man. A dead man.
Shining my phone over the tub and I stared down into the still water, as if in a trance, trying to look at the man’s dead face. As my senses slowly came back to me the man’s eyes opened and he looked directly at me.
I fell back on the floor, dropping my phone and losing my light.
A splashing sound came from the tub and I could feel cold water spilling onto the floor, soaking into my clothes. The sound of a heavy, wet footstep exited the tub. The second footstep was all the motivation I needed to get up and run!
I bolted from the room, not caring about my phone or who the man was, and ran down the hall back to the door from whence I entered. I ran down the stairs, all the way down into the lobby and didn’t stop until I collided with the desk.
Breathlessly I tried to tell the clerk what I had seen and that we needed to call the police.
The clerk, who looked scared, not so much because there was a dead body in the hotel but more like he was afraid of getting fired, escorted me to the managers office behind the desk.
“Sir,” the clerk tried to sound calm and reassuring. “what did you see exactly?”
I told him what I had seen and what I had heard. I showed him the wet spots on my clothes where the tub’s water splashed on me. I didn’t care if I got arrested for trespassing or for causing a disturbance, I had to tell someone what happened.
The clerk listened intently to my story, not blinking, not looking away. When I finished he got up and walked over to a large file cabinet. He opened an unmarked drawer and began thumbing through an extensive collection of files. Pulling a file from the drawer he opened it up and pulled out a very old newspaper article.
“Is this the man you saw?” He asked as he handed me the article.
I looked at the clipping and felt my stomach drop. It was him. That was the man.
The clerk sat down across from me and smiled a little. “You’re not the first to see him.”
That was not the reaction I was expecting.
“Read the article, it should help clear things up.”
The article told the story of a man who had gone away on business and returned home to discover that his pregnant wife had been cheating on him and that the baby wasn’t his. Heartbroken and betrayed the man checked him into the hotel and never left his room. He was heard crying and wailing in heartbreak for three days before he finally stopped. When the maid entered his room to clean she found his body in the bathtub. He had taken his own life, drowning himself after ingesting many sleeping pills.
“Is this… Is this why you don’t let anyone check in on the eighth floor? Because of him?” I asked feeling more at ease knowing that I wasn’t crazy.
“No.” The clerk admitted. “He’s only one of the reasons we don’t let anyone check in on the eighth floor.”
“What… What do you mean?”
The clerk just smiled again. “You see that file cabinet?”
“And that unmarked drawer on the bottom?”
“Yeah,” I answered again. “what of it?”
“That drawer contains every reason don’t let anyone check in on the eighth floor. Ever since this hotel opened in 1873, we’ve had people die in very unusual ways. Always on the eighth floor.”
“That’s strange.” I commented, feeling a little queasy.
“What’s stranger is the fact that no two deaths were the same AND no two deaths ever took place in the same room. Each room on the eighth floor has housed a tragic death, and each room has been reportedly haunted by the dead.”
That sent a shiver up my spine. “What… How… Are you telling me the eighth floor is cursed? Anyone who checks into a room is going to die or be haunted?”
The clerk bowed his head. “It’s not just the rooms that have seen death. Maintenance workers have died attempting simple repairs. One man was electrocuted trying to fix the lights. Another fell down the elevator shaft to his death. A maid was found dead, hanging by her neck at the end of the hallway.”
I sat in transfixed fear at the story the clerk had just told me and I didn’t want to believe it. “But… shouldn’t we call the police? I SAW a body!”
“Everyone does.” The clerk explained. “Even the police have seen the bodies, but have never been able to explain the situations.”
I didn’t know what to do. It was late, I was exhausted and I didn’t want to cause any more disturbances. Reluctantly I returned to my room. I took the elevator and held my breath as the car passed by the sealed off eighth floor. As I approached my room I saw something on the wet floor outside my door.
It was my phone.