The Green Room
He wasn’t scared of nothing, not The Exorcist, not any of these trendy quiet, quiet BANG! Films, Para-snore-mal Activity and the like. When the girlfriend suggested a night in the MOST HAUNTED castle in Britain he told her he could use a peaceful night away.
The place looked the part right enough, soaring stone towers topped with conical turrets of zinc, all backed by the craggy majesty of the Brecon Beacons picture postcard under a heavy blanket of snow. All it needed was a cloud of bats or an ominous welcome of organ music.
They relaxed in the bar next to the open fire, slowly sinking deeper into the bulging sofas wrapped in tight navy leather. The girlfriend was trying her best, telling him stories of the jilted diva opera singer who sank slowly into madness, crooning to herself for hours in her lonely green room next to her private opera stage with its audience of memories.
He didn’t need her to tell him where he’d be staying.
The floor to ceiling painting of the late lamented Madame Pucci overlooking the bed was somewhat disturbing. The bed was now placed where they’d found most of her torso, and if you propped yourself up with a couple of pillows your raised head would be roughly in line with where her feet had dangled.
The girlfriend offered to stay, but he ushered her to her own room. This was his challenge, and no worries - load of old tosh. He tucked himself cosily inside the tartan blanket topping the bed, had another beer and watched Match of the Day. It was bloody lovely.
He had to have another beer from the mini-bar after that. Of course he wasn’t scared, stories the hotel put around to scare up guests. He didn’t switch the light off though, which was handy for getting the whisky miniatures out of the mini-bar.
And then, as the night closed its bony fingers around his lonely room, as the owls in the night screeched their mournful cries, and as the spirits of times past rose from their gloomy dens, he fell gently to sleep.
Best bloody sleep he’d had in ages. The bed was perfect, the room toasty warm and that morning shower! The water beautiful and hot and stinging.
He sauntered down to breakfast, ready to bask in the adulation of all the guests who had cowered in their priest exorcised rooms through a sleepless night.
He entered the breakfast room and his blood chilled, his limbs grew cold and heavy and a great trembling began in his breast.
All the chairs were done up in silk, the tables set with flowers and favours, tiny boxes of Turkish delight adorning each place setting.
The girlfriend caught his arm and stopped him stumbling to the carpet. She couldn’t say sorry enough, but it was the only way. How else was she going to get him to check out a wedding venue?