Between Stephen King and M. Knight Shyamalan, I can’t help but feel a bit wary each time I visit a small village. You know how it is with the townsfolk. They stare at you and you stare back at them with a smile. You’d be lucky if they greet you back.
So there was this one time I had to visit a small Australian town on a hill as part of a press familiarization trip. I didn’t go alone. There were three journalists with me: One other guy and two girls. And just like in the movies, we were invited to stay at a small manor. I know. The building was more than 150 years old and the interior was covered with large paintings, some of noblemen in century clothing with their eyes following you wherever you go.
Each one of us had a room to ourselves. The wood-paneled interior, with antique bed and cupboards and tall French windows looking out into the darkness, added to the eeriness. Imagine the castle bedroom that Professor Abronsius stayed in The Fearless Vampire Killers. But I didn’t care. I was tired so sleep was more important than whatever.
Around 2 a.m., I was startled by the shrill of the old telephone on the beside table. The panic-stricken voice at the end turned out to be the male journalist. He claimed to have seen a presence near the window. I tried to convince him otherwise. I told him he was seeing wind shadows. But he insisted it was a ghost and begged me to let him come over. After some hesitation, I allowed him to bunk in with me.
At about six in the morning I was awoken by the sound of whispering. The journalist was already awake and he was pointing to the window. I got out of bed and crept towards the window. The whispers grew louder with every step I took.
I opened the window to find two women sitting in the balcony. They were chatting to each other over coffee. Now I understand…
All rooms have a shared balcony, and when the journalist thought he saw something, he may not have been imagining things. He may have seen a guest from the next room. Possibly the person stepped out into the balcony around 2 a.m. through the connecting balcony doors. Sounds logical right? The only problem was the chambermaid said the room next to the journalist’s was unoccupied.