A sudden pounding on the door woke Sam from dreams which were unsettling, to say the least. It could easily be chalked up to the change in scenery, the unfamiliar bed and the discomfort that comes of falling asleep with one’s clothes on. Pulling aside the curtain to the left of the door, Sam saw Shooter half crouched, as though someone of his size could ever be covert. Sam opened the door.

“Sam!” Shooter whispered. Or would have whispered if he didn’t have a voice that sounded as though his vocal cords could bench 120. Sam gestured for Shooter to come in, wondering where Angelié was. As soon as the door closed, Shooter turned excitedly to Sam.

“You’re not going to believe this, but the hotel is haunted!” Sam didn’t believe it.

“What? How do you know? Did you work out which room it is on the video?”

“Well, no, that might still have happened somewhere else, but Ange went to the office to ask about ice. Apparently there is no ice machine and Ange likes her fizzy drinks cold. And she overheard that guy Jeff talking to his wife. Their apartment is behind the office I guess. Oh dang! I forgot to give them regards from the lady at the cafe!”

Sam sighed.
“A forgivable offense, surely. What did she hear, Shooter?”

“She overheard Georgie, that’s the wife, ask how long we were staying and he said he didn’t know but that we planned to do some exploring. That’s because of what you said, Sam, about exploring!” Sam nodded in agreement, hoping that keeping quiet would prompt Shooter to continue.

“Then she said well I hope they steer well clear of anything which might make them end up back here. We don’t have room for any more unpaid guests!” Shooter looked expectantly at Sam, as though it couldn’t be clearer.

“What about that makes you think the hotel is haunted?”

“Because ghosts don’t pay rent! What else could she have meant?”

Sam took a breath.
“Did Ange overhear anything else?”

“No, she said that Jeff must have been going to the kitchen for something and saw her as he passed by the doorway. She asked about ice and he brought her some, and then she had to leave because she had no real reason to stand there with ice melting while she asked questions. It would have looked suspicious.”

There was no doubt in Sam’s mind that Alex had called Jeff and Georgie as soon as they had left the cafe, letting them know that ghost hunters were coming their way.

This was, in fact, exactly what had happened.

“So where is Ange now? Having ice cold fizzy drinks?”

“Heck no, Sam. She’s checking the rooms to see if she can work out which one is haunted.”

“And how is she doing that, exactly?”

“Well she’s got one of the EMF detectors to see if there is any activity, and a temperature gauge to see if any rooms are particularly cold. We got lots of cool gadgets off of shopizon. The technology is pretty advanced. I’m still learning about it all, but there are some real experts out there who are happy to share knowledge.”

“How long have you been doing this, Shooter?”

“Oh not long, since about April?”

“Yeah, it’s May.”

“I know. I met Ange after this Mr Stroganoff contest in March. It’s kind of like a Mr Strongman competition but for beefier dudes you know? Anyway, she was just so, well, you’ve seen her. And we started talking about our dreams and hers is to be a really famous camfluencer, but most of the markliques she fits into are pretty saturated. Makeup tutorials while watching sexcams, or fashion tips for underprivileged dogs, or playing videogames while dressed as a rare bird, you know, all the real cool and important stuff that people are into. So we had to think of something not many people are doing, you know, real quiche stuff.”

“Quiche is, um…yeah actually, never mind. Go on?”

Anyhow, I guess one day she overheard these people talking about how reaction videos are really big, like videos of people reacting to videos, you know? And she thought, well I can do that. Like, she’s really good at reacting to stuff, she’d be amazing at it, a real reactionary. But then she thought, where do the original videos come from? So if we could make the original videos, it’s like cutting out the middle man. It just makes sense.”

Sam nodded along to this logic in a way that might have resembled a bobble head because honestly this was a lot to take in immediately upon waking. Shooter continued.

“So yeah, I had some cash from winning the Mr Stroganoff contest and when she told me it was pretty much exactly what we needed to start our ghost hunting business it just seemed too perfect. Though I gotta say, I hope it works out because I’m pretty locked in at this point. If we don’t bring in some cash soon, I might have to sell my van. I love my van.” For just a moment, Shooter looked so desolate, Sam could have cried.

“So, you’ve never seen a ghost?”

“Well not yet, and I know that some aren’t so friendly so it could get dangerous. That’s why Ange needed me along. For muscle.”

“You know you can’t punch ectoplasm, right? It’s more like slime. Your fist would go through it.”

“Yeah, but if the ghost tried to throw its house at us, I could at least protect her from it, maybe?”

Sam sighed.
“Shooter, you’re a really good guy.”

“Thanks Sam. You’re pretty cool too. Hey, do you hear anything? It sounds like there’s a gas leak or something.”

Angelié, as it turned out, was far better than Shooter at being discreet. The gentle pssst at the window alerted them to her presence outside and Shooter opened the door to let her slip in before too much light escaped the room.

“If it’s any consolation, I’m not sure anyone is concerned with us walking around at night. I mean, there’s not many people staying here.” Sam had observed only one other car in the lot, a tan hatchback parked in front of room 2. There were only 15 rooms in total, the far end of the motel stopping where gravel met the forest beyond.

“Sam, I know that you know stuff about making videos, but I feel like you should leave the ghost hunting to the professionals.”

Sam made no mention of the fact that Shooter had confessed they’d only been at this for a month, having the sense to recognize a hill not worth dying on. Shooter stayed tight lipped as well.

“Anywayyyyyy,” Angelié stretched out the way in a tone that suggested a fierce amount of self-satisfaction, even more so than usual, which was a lot. “After running some tests using our very high tech equipment, I have determined that the focus of the spectral activity appears to be room 13! Mostly because it’s colder than the other rooms, that’s a sure sign of a ghost! Oh shoot! We should have got that on camera! Sam! Where is the camera!”

Sam grabbed the camera from the bag on the chair beside the bed and popped the lens cover off.

“Shooter, baby, could you fix the light for me?” Shooter grabbed the bedside lamp and tilted the shade while lifting it so Angelié was lit from above. She stepped to the mirror and refreshed her lipstick, smacked her lips and pouted a bit. She swiveled to face Shooter and posed prettily.

“How do I look, baby?”

“Good enough to eat! If I was a cannibal, you’d be in trouble.”

Sam took more care with the camera than was necessary, to keep from reacting.

“Perfect! Ok Sam, ready?” Sam nodded. Angelié struck her I’m very serious pose, looking up and to the right, one hand resting under her chin and the other on her hip. It bore a striking resemblance to her I’m very sexy pose. “Tell me when I can action.” She spoke through teeth frozen into a grin young children might call menacing, determined to maintain her state of readiness.

Sam called action and Angelié held the pose before twisting her hips and folding arms across her chest in such a way that she pushed her breasts up and forward in what she considered an imitation of how someone from the FBI might survey a crime scene.

“Welcome to another episode of Ghost Getters, the show with the hosts who get the most ghosts.” She turned to Shooter. “Do you like that baby? I just made it up! I think it’s pretty good. Oh, Sam, I need you to edit this part out, okay?” Sam nodded behind the camera. Angelié folded her arms once more and looked imperiously into the camera.

“Here we are at one of the most haunted hotels in the whole country. There have been many reports of spectral activity here, stories of guests fleeing their rooms and racing off into the night, never to see their luggage again. Using the most advanced tools of technology, we have pinpointed the focus of the activity to be room 13. We’re heading there now. Hold on to your popcorn because it’s about to be buttered.” She looked at Shooter again. “How was that one, baby? I’m so good with the one liners! Don’t forget to edit out the part where I’m talking to Shooter, okay Sam?” Shooter looked uncomfortable.

“I’m not sure that buttering popcorn is ideal for a ghost show. I mean, ghosts don’t really eat, right?”

“Of course they don’t! But the people watching do. What do you think Sam?” Sam was not excited to be drawn into this but seeing the pleading look on Shooter’s face as he stood holding a lamp behind Angelié melted Sam’s heart a bit.

“It’s a great line, but maybe something that suggests being full of fear than yummy popcorn might be more appropriate?” They both waited, letting out a nearly audible breath simultaneously when Angelié nodded and said, “that’s a good point. I don’t want people suddenly thinking about snacking and turning off the video. All right, I’ll work on that one. Now let’s go!”


Tommy had grown accustomed to the quiet. She only registered time passing because once a week, Georgie would come and tidy the room while Jeff sat in the chair right outside the room. More than once Jeff offered to help, pointing out it would go faster with the two of them. But Georgie countered with the argument that if she let him help clean, he might expect that she’d help him with the furnace sometime and she was perfectly content with the division of labour as it was, thank you very much. It never took her long, less than 15 minutes, but Tommy was grateful for the company, for the change in her regular routine of absolutely nothing. Something was better than nothing, even if the something wasn’t as exciting as she might like.

She was laying on the bed (do ghosts lay?) when she heard the door handle jiggle as though someone was inserting a key, which didn’t make any sense because none of the rooms were locked except when guests stayed in them. Was she about to have a guest?

The door swung open and Tommy gasped, or whatever it was that ghosts did.

“Kirk?” And then he stepped into the room and she saw that he was far too muscular to be Kirk. This man had muscles on top of muscles to the extent that it almost went beyond definition. She could admire the effort, but her personal preference ran toward a slightly trimmer physique. She barely had time to consider who he might be when she realized someone best described as a sharp edged platinum blonde followed on his heels. What a strange duo to be found in a place like this. Something was definitely up. The third figure to enter the room was much more non-descript, wearing baggy clothes and a dark hoodie pulled over their head. This was someone who knew the art of stealth, unlike the other two. Tommy wasn’t concerned with being seen, she knew that the closest anyone ever came to seeing her was a slight case of goosebumps or the hair on the back of their necks raising, if Georgie was any indication.

Still, she climbed off the bed and stepped back so she was leaning against the far wall. The woman was obviously in charge.

“Sam, film me from over there!” she instructed, pointing toward the wall where Tommy was standing. Was it her imagination, or did Sam hesitate to do as she commanded? Could it be that some potential drama had walked into Tommy’s room just as she was hoping for some excitement? She wished she had some popcorn.

The woman was now directing the beefy one to use the bedside lamp to light her in a way that flattered, as if 60 watts could work miracles. Sam was now standing right next to Tommy. She could lean an inch to the right and their shoulders would be touching, if she was able to touch anyone. The woman was asking if everyone was ready. Once they were she folded herself into about the most awkward pose Tommy had ever seen and started talking, staring into the camera as though she was going to strangle it any moment.

“And so dear viewers, here we are, in the demonic epicenter of this most dreadful and haunted of hotels. Our sense of obligation to our viewers is so great that we gladly risk life and limb to bravely seek out these terrifying specters and perhaps lay them to rest so they can find peace at last.”

Tommy let out a ghostly snort laugh.
“Oh my fuck, are these guys for real? Unbelievable.”

“I know, right?” Sam murmured.

Tommy froze and looked at Sam.
Sam’s eyes darted her way and Tommy realized that not only had Sam heard her, Sam could see her too.

“Well, my night just got very fucking interesting.”

Photo by Carlos Nunez on Unsplash