Sampler – The Starlight Hotel

Sampler – The Starlight Hotel

This is an unedited text, please bear with any typos, etc:

There was an audible click as the key turned in the huge wooden double doors. As they were pushed open, a yellow light flooded a few feet into the dusty dining hall of the Starlight Hotel, leaving a visible clue of the neglect this once-proud premiere New York hotel had seen over the past decade or two. Half-inch thick dust decorated the intricately laid wooden floor tiles, the big round tables, the tall-back chairs, yes, everything in the room seemed to have been covered by this delicate grey snow of time. It was without any doubt, that this room had been left unattended for a very, very long time.

“This is the magnificent dining hall”. The voice announcing the location, was that of the former caretakers wife, Ms Müller. The old woman, probably close to 90 but still very able in caring for herself, with her white hair tied in a bun and round glasses aptly balanced on the tip of her crooked nose, dropped the bunch of keys into the deep pockets of her knitted lightblue cardigan, just a size or two too big for her. It probably fit back in the 70’s, but now it just seemed to almost devour her tiny body. Ms Müller took a step inside into the darkness, and flipped a switch on the wall.

Terry, the tall blonde girl given the tour of the old hotel, not older than 35, followed close after Ms Müller into the dark dining hall. Just as the lights along the walls of the huge room started to slowly light up, she was absolutely sure, that she caught a glimpse of the filled dining hall, from some long time ago. Like a reversed deja vu or a photo caught and stored in time. All the tables were set and occupied by people dressed up to the nines, eating from full plates, talking, listening to the band playing on the small stage in the back of the room. In a blink of the eye, it was all gone.

Terry was not startled by this. She had had these visions ever since she was a young teenage girl, and she had always written them off as some quirky trick of the mind, and never thought anything of it. Just as she did not think of it now.

The now lit room, revealed a truly breathtaking dining hall. Terry guessed, there had to be at least 20 feet to the ceiling, accented by the contour of a gigantic crystaline chandelier overhanging the center of the room. The tables, all covered in white linen cloth, were positioned so they made room for a dance floor, right under the chandelier. The room boar evidence to a huge party being held on the final night of the hotels active service. For a second, the derelict dining hall reminded Terry of an elephants graveyard. “This is where the hotel went to die”, she thought humorously. Again, a brief flash of the times past passed before her eyes. Had she been more attentive of this, she would have noticed that some of the partygoers now actually looked at her. But she did not notice this. Instead, she followed Ms Müller through the dining hall, up the wide stairs and through a set of glass doors, leading out onto a sunlit balcony.

The breeze was cold against Terrys moist skin, having walked around the old locked up hotel for more than an hour, with no chance of fresh air or water. She closed her eyes for a second, drew in a two lungs full of the fresh afternoon summer air, felt the dust from the inside of the hotel settle in her lungs, and threw a coughing fit to clear out her airways. Ms Müller paid no attention to the young lady, but scurried across the balcony to the very edge of the railing. It was only here, by the edge, you could hear the traffic in the streets 10 floors below. “The hotel does this”, Ms Müller said. “The hotel has always taken special care of the customers”. Terry eyed the old lady, not really knowing what to say. Instead, she stepped over to the corner of the balcony, and leaned out a bit to get a glimpse of the rise of the hotel building, going another 47 floors in the air.

For the first time, Terry found herself a bit startled. In the bright daylight, the eastern block of the hotel seemed unusually dark. As if only little light was reflected off the buildings surface – which was kind of odd, given the hotels white-colored outside panels. Terry walked back across the balcony, took a look on the western side. She had to squint her eyes because of the reflection.

Ms Müller noticed Terrys odd behavior. “Are you allright, dear?” she asked Terry, in a tone that was hard to distinguish as either caring or uninterestingly polite. Terry did not answer, but hurried back to the eastern side of the balcony. Still, no real reflection. “Ms Müller, would you kindly come and see this?” Ms Müller came over to Terry, looking puzzled at the young lady. Terry pointed at the eastern block. “See? No reflection. On the western side, you can hardly look at it, so bright is it. How can that be?” Ms Müller did not answer straight away. Terry, hiding her growing annoyance with the old lady, turned her back to Ms Müller, and took another look. This time, she was absolutely sure that a silhouette was visible in a window, 5 floors above them! “Look!” she yelled, pointing at the window. And yet, there was nothing here to look at. Ms Müller padded Terry on the shoulder, smiling at her. “It’s allright, darling, I know how these large, empty buildings can play tricks on your mind. Come, let’s go inside and look at the kitchen.”

They walked inside once more, stepping down the few steps to the dining hall floor. On the last step, Terry slipped, landing facedown on the hardwood floor. Cursing silently, she got back on her feet, only to discover that the heel on her shoe had broken off. “Damn this place! Why did I have to inherit this piece of crap? I have no use of on an old hotel! Why would grandpa want ME to have this? This old ruin! I hope someone will buy the lot and tear it down!”

As she humped through the dining hall in the heels of Ms Müller, she finally noticed. Around her, the dining people from ages ago, now stood up, closing in on her, arms stretched out, white slightly-too-large-eyes almost bulging out in their ash white faces, their mouths twisted open in too-widely-open gasps like gaping black holes in pure white winter snow. She shivered at the touch of one of the diners, letting out a small shriek. Ms Müller did not react, but hurried to turn off the lights in the dining hall.

As Terry took the final three steps out of the huge double doors, she suddenly felt someone take her hand. She looked down and saw a young girl, maybe 8 years old, in an old dress and pretty shoes, and red curly hair with bows in it. The girl looked up at Terry, squeezed her hand and mouthed: HELP ME! Just as Terry put the words together in her mind, the girl caught fire and burned away in an instance, right before the huge double doors were closed behind her.

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