Sam didn’t have to be psychic to tell by the wrinkle in Angelié’s nose that this would not do.

“Oh baby, this will not do.”

Shooter looked over at her and smiled encouragingly.
“But hun, we’re ghost hunters. Do you really think ghosts are going to only haunt 5 star hotels?”

“If they had any sense they would.” She huffed a bit and then nodded. “You’re right. We have to be brave on behalf of our loyal paymetrons.” She turned toward the back of the van. “Remember Sam, play it cool. If they think we’re ghost hunters, they’ll probably clam up, not tell us anything about which room is haunted. Don’t go blabbing all over the place.”

With a curt nod, Sam reassured Angelié that no, there would be no blabbing all over the place. They exited the van and Shooter immediately pulled out his camera.

“Okay hun, we need a good shot of you walking to the office to set the scene. Maybe say something about the events which brought us here.”

Sam spoke up.
“I feel that might draw unnecessary attention before we’ve even checked in. Also, there is no guarantee the video was filmed at this hotel. The template is pretty common.”

Angelié huffed, louder this time.
“Exactly Sam, which means that people watching won’t know or care if it was ACTUALLY this motel or not. They all look the same, it’s called stock footage.”

“Except it’s not stock footage if you’re using it as a backdrop for exposition. Then it’s just footage. And we should probably ask permission before we do any filming, lest we get sued.”

Angelié’s face rivaled her nail colour. Sensing an explosion was imminent, Shooter interjected.
“Sam has a point, baby. We don’t want to kill any leads before we’ve begun. Besides, we did advertise for a videographer so it stands to reason that Sam would know about this stuff. It’s cool, let’s go check in. I promise I’ll take some shots of you later for the promos that will make you look so good.” She glared at Sam half a beat longer, then Angelié’s ire visibly ratcheted down, the smallest of smiles curling the corner of her frosty pink lips. She turned to Shooter, her manner instantly pliant and simpering.

“Ok baby. I’ll be good. Why don’t you go get us some rooms while I make myself pretty for you. And the promos.”

Shooter gave her a kiss and gestured to Sam to come along.

Just as they turned the corner to the office, Shooter pulled Sam aside.

“Don’t worry about Angelié. She doesn’t mean to be difficult, she’s just got an artist’s temper. You know, how artists have this way of being which might make it seem like she’s being a bitch to someone who isn’t an artist and doesn’t understand how hard it is? I don’t really know but she explained it to me when we first met. It’s hard sometimes but I really think she means well.”

Sam knew that what Shooter meant was temperament, and that the word bitch was easily as apt a descriptor as anything else for how Angelié presented herself. But looking at Shooter’s earnest expression, Sam chose to say nothing, merely nodding and quietly acknowledging that though words and insight into character might not have been Shooter’s strong suits, ultimately he meant well. Shooter returned the nod, pleased with the outcome.

“Good talk, uh, bro.” He clapped Sam on the shoulder, causing Sam to work at not wincing. Shooter really had no idea how strong he was. They entered the office and stepped up to the small counter.

It was exactly as one might expect, a small room with tall windows on two sides which allowed anyone behind the counter to see cars pulling up from either direction. A small rack of pamphlets documenting all the sites of the area, of which there only seemed to be two. One was a glossy paged mine tour more than an hour’s drive away, and the second was a paper flyer documenting the local museum. Sam perused it while Shooter rang the bell.

A tall, lean figure stepped from the back room. Sam thought he wouldn’t be out of place in a Western novel, as a sort of cool character one might write as having a slow smile, a steady hand, and eyes that didn’t miss much. Even his greeting was understated, having no reaction to seeing a overtly muscular man singlehandedly taking up most of the space in his foyer.

“Hey there strangers, I’m Jeff. Welcome to you. Been travelling long?” Shooter must have recognized some of the same qualities as Sam had because he instantly went into something Sam secretly referred to as dude mode. It wasn’t a good look.

“Hey there yourself, we’re from out of town, just passing through. Thought we’d stop and see some sights along the way. Maybe scare..” Shooter paused and Sam struggled not to visibly cringe. Jeff had no reaction. “..up some footage of the sightings, I mean sights.” Sam moved onto the mine tour pamphlet, wondering if a hole in the ground existed which might be deep enough to climb inside to escape how completely awkward this was.

“I’m guessing you must be tired after your drive and needing a room? Maybe two?” Sam had to give Jeff credit, he was completely unphased.

“Yeah, that would be great!” Shooter latched onto the sensible thread of conversation as the lifeline it was. “We’ll need two, one for my friend Sam here, and another for myself and my lady. Do you get much traffic here?”

“Now and then. We see a fair share of travellers in the summertime, it’s still a bit early in the year yet. In another month or so, there’ll be more activity. Do you need the rooms to connect?”

“No, no that’s okay. I’m sure Sam would like some privacy and I know that Ang definitely will. So not many visitors in wintertime? Say around February?”

Jeff gave Shooter a look.

“Same as usual that time of year.”

Sam could see Shooter’s hand twitching on the pocket which held his phone and knew that he was eager to show Jeff the internet video of the women in the motel. Knowing this was a terrible idea, Sam quickly intervened.

“What hours is the museum open? I’m a big fan of local history. There’s so much we can learn about our present by engaging with the past, in my opinion.” Jeff looked thoughtfully at Sam, then nodded slowly.

“It’s good to heed the lessons of the past. Keeps one from making the same mistakes.” He turned to the wall behind him which held a row of cubbies. Each one had a hook at the top of it, from which hung a key attached to a red plastic oval. A shiny gold number five was on the first key, and eight on the second.

I would have put you side by each but six and seven have a connecting door so we usually save that one for families. If it makes a difference, I think the bathroom in number five is a little bit larger than in eight.” Shooter smiled gratefully.

“It does, thanks.” He signed the register and placed a credit card atop it. Jeff took it and punched some numbers into a handheld device.

“It’s 45 dollars a night for each room, with a deposit of 100 dollars for any damages. You’ll get that back when you leave.” He turned to Sam. “The museum is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 9 and 3, and Fridays from 10 until 2. Lydia runs it, she’s real friendly. And you might have seen it on your way into town, but there’s a great little cafe which serves the best pulled pork in town, maybe even the state. I used to find it a bit too tangy but they changed the recipe recently and I think it’s an improvement. But to each their own.”

“Yeah, we stopped there. You’re right about the pulled pork, it’s real tasty and not too tangy at all. We’ll be doing some exploring tomorrow afternoon so that’s great the museum is open in the morning. I can get some advice on where we should go. Do you have any issue with us taking some photos, maybe doing some filming around your place?” Sam held aloft a small camera, hoping that Jeff wouldn’t ask what sort of filming they wanted to do.

“As long as you respect the privacy of the residents and guests, I can’t say I have much issue with it. All I ask is that you have some sense and don’t do anything you’d need to apologize for. Sorry is too late.”

Sam met the Jeff’s eyes and nodded in agreement.


“Well I don’t know what to tell you baby, but this doesn’t look anything like the motel in the video. It must be someplace else. This place seems about as haunted as a sock drawer.”

Angelié wasn’t having it.

“Well obviously they didn’t put us in the haunted room. You should have bribed him or something. Same with that woman at that restaurant. She knew more than she let on. I bet that other guy did too. We’ll just have to wait until it’s dark and do some checking of our own. It has to be this place.”

“Shooter, where did you find the video?”

“A guy emailed it to me, along with news stories about the place in the mountains near here where all those people died. He got in touch after I posted on a message board that I was investigating paranatural phenomenon.”

“Supernatural baby, and paranormal. You gotta stop mixing that up if you want anyone to take you serious.” Shooter ducked his head.

“You’re right hun. I’ll keep at it.”

Angelié beamed at him and turned back to her open suitcase, tossing unidentifiable bright and sparkly pieces of fabric across the bed in search for something.

“What message board was this?” Sam brought Shooter’s attention back to the conversation at hand.

“Oh, it was, um, I can’t totally remember. Ang told me about it, said it was a good place to connect with other ghost hunters. Anyhow, not long after I joined, I started getting messages from this guy who had all sorts of information about really spooky places. We decided to come here because it seemed to be the most recent sighting. Now I’m not sure we’re on the right track.”

Angelié huffed.
“Well I’m sure we are. Didn’t you say he didn’t want us to be in room six or seven? I bet that’s where it is. Worst case scenario, we can always go out to that resort place, I bet there are so many ghosts out there.”

“Yeah I’m not sure about that place. There hasn’t been anyone out there in so long, it might be dangerous. I’d hate to go the way of the twins. And he didn’t want to put us in six and seven because they connect. Do you want Sam to be right on the other side of a door while we’re..” Shooter left off as he reached for Angelié and Sam suddenly felt the urge to get some air. Angelié’s giggles turned to cooing noises as Sam quickly shut the door, which turned out to be thinner than expected as the sound easily carried into the parking lot.

Sam sighed and turned toward room eight, hopeful for at least a few hours of peace.

Photo by Sam Operchuck on Unsplash