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  • Writer's picturechristaleigh

The Congress

"I hear you're the man to see for good stories."

The security guard looks up from the clipboard in his hand and eyes me, a look on his face that says it's too early in his shift to be irritated by ghost-hunting guests. He leans back in his chair, sets the clipboard down and says:

"Yeah, I have some good stories. What do you want to know?"

Remembering my manners, I smile and say, "We don't want to bother you. But we're staying on the fourth floor in 447 and we've heard the stories about 441."

He reaches into the breast pocket of his uniform, takes out a small notebook and picks up a pen.

"I'll tell you about that room. Just about every single time we have someone stay there- doesn't matter the nationality, what language... people from all over. Every single account is the same."

He starts drawing the layout of the room. "There two queen beds, bathroom, closet." It appears to have the same floor plan as our room across the hall.

"Every guest," he continues, "Damned near every guest who stays there sees a woman appear in front of the door to the bathroom. She walks to the second bed and stands there, then continues around the corner into the closet. If the door is open, it'll slam shut. If it's closed, it'll open."

Just then, the phone rings. As he picks up the receiver, I take a step back, a gesture to let him know I'll leave if he's busy. He gestures for me to stay. He's listening to the person on the other end of the phone call. "Okay," he says briskly, and hangs up.

"People call us frantically after they see her. They can't get the chain off their door, whether they're too flustered, just scared, or it's really stuck, I don't know. But every time, we end up cutting the chain on the door to let them out, and they won't even go back in to get their stuff. We have to go in and pack up all their crap and bring it out."

I'm about to ask a question when the phone rings again. It's another quick exchange, and after he hangs up he picks up his radio and tells someone to open a back door for trash. When he turns his attention to me again, I say:

"How many times has that happened?"

"More'n I can count," he says. "There's another room we boarded up back in the eighties. Couldn't rent it. If you could get in that room today, it looks exactly like the whole hotel looked in the early eighties."

"Where's that room at?" I ask.

"Can't tell you," he says. I think I've walked past this room, I think it's on the 12th or 13th floor. While exploring earlier in the night, we walked past a room that had a doorway that was much different from the rest, and there was no electronic key lock on it.

"So what have you seen?" I asked, perfectly aware that most grown men in uniform probably don't like admitting to an observation of something spooky. He's telling me that he's seen the little boy twice. "It's documented," he said. "That mother threw both of her kids from the window and then jumped herself. They called the morgue, it's right down the street-" He gave us an address as if to add credibility to the tale. "-it's been there forever. Well, they packed up all three bodies, but when they got to the morgue, there were only two." The body of the little boy was never found.

I'm standing there with my daughter, and my dad has joined us. And now Juan, the other security guard- the fun one who scared us out of a ballroom on the executive level we had wandered into, and the one who told us to come look for John after ten o'clock- was standing at the desk next to him. The activity in the security office has increased; people are walking in and signing the clipboard, the radio squawked, the phone rings again.

John picks it up. He looks at the bank of monitors on the wall and says into the receiver, "We'll get up there right away."

He turns to Juan and says, "Room 664. Go check it out. Guest is complaining that someone is knocking on their door repeatedly. There's no one in the hall."

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