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It happened each day, the day after the grand opening that no one had attended.
We'd spent untallied hours acquainting ourselves with the original construction, the deteriorations; summarily, renovating the estate with utmost care, making the grounds and rooms ready. I myself had researched the history of the place and as lead architect had set about the most attentive historical restoration. I knew who had visited with whom, and which room they had stayed; for how long, and whether any particular event of importance had been tied to the duration (*vacation, business, or pleasure, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera).
When I say "making the grounds and rooms ready" it is to be understood that they were precisely appointed as in the circa 1802, when the hotel had been at its pinnacle of excellency and all the VIP of the region had sought the shelter of its walls, for whispers, secure dealings, and silent escapism. I even had the most illustrious fountain pen, The Original, refurbished to perfection, for sign in... though it had been encrusted by char from the fire, the pen itself was unaffected. The inferno itself had been estimated to have raged an astonishing 1060 degrees Celsius. The precious pen having been made of Gold not Silver, escaped affliction by narrowest margin, having a melting point of 1064° C. Had it been Silver, a puddle is all that would have been recovered, though I would still have taken pains to have it melded back into its likeness. Such was my conviction of its signature significance since the authentic sign-in album of leather and vellum had miraculously survived the blaze unscathed.
As proprietor, as well as supervisor of the project, I uncontestedly assumed the rôle of maître d' and stationed myself in the foyer. Fortunately, I brought a book to read... the grand opening seemed a complete and utter failure.
The hinges of the double French doors never swung open.
The morale of the modest staff plummeted understandably, as they said, " Sir...?" and I sent them about their business to "Carry on," hoping that the esteemed visitors we desired were simply waiting out the initial tide of nouveau riche curiosity seekers. Like a fortress, we had every provision, and no need to leave the premises. The hired live-music played for no one, the cooks cooked for staff, the maids made up the anterior and posterior chambers... though we ourselves were the only guests. Or so I thought.
The second night, I seated my aching feet in a lounge chair to the left of the main entrance by the gigantic palm. I was less engrossed in my novel and shifted my eyes about to see "What had I done wrong?" ...that was when I noticed it for the first time.
The fountain pen was hovering above the record album and registering something. I put down my Count de Monte Cristo and took off my Pince Nez. The pen had laid itself back down on the counter, and I shuffled towards, polishing my lenses on the tailcoat of my evening jacket. Replacing my glasses I peered down at the page, half full of signatures!! but how?!
Naturally, I did not wish to alarm the staff. I curtly informed the Valet that I was going to inspect the rooms (as I do as matter of routine since commencement of the project) and he yawned in response, reassuring me God Bless that he knew nothing. I moved stealthily from wing to wing, suite to suite, surveying the quarters. The hotel was such that it had somewhat pompatically been arranged to represent various parts of the world, and different epochs. There was the Tomb of the Pharoah (a poetic conglomerate), the Louis's from XIV to XVI Chambrés (very romantic), the Swiss Alps Chalet (very rustic like in various nonfictional stories), the Jungle Room (yes just like fantasy in Graceland), the Piazza di Campo section (on the balcony side, very Tuscan, almost Philosophical), and too many others to list or describe, the hotel having exactly 400 rooms. All empty tonight.
When I returned, the Valet was at the window outside facing the drive, and the pen was once again scribbling a sign in! I looked to the key rack. Nothing had been taken. As an interesting side note, the keys were new, we had chosen not to stick to this much accuracy of maintaining the authentic skeleton type. Perhaps this was my mistake; or my salvation! In the course of the next few days, sign in continued. I took care to prevent others from seeing. I had become a bit paranoid that I was channeling something evil or esoteric or otherwise erratic. The staff as it was, was growing weary and received the news with relief that we were obviously not ready, and a hols was needed to reassess our prospectus. I suggested arbitrarily that we would reconvene at the beginning of the next month.
And so finally, I had the place to myself. I mopped my brows, and poured a tall glass of tonic; what was to be done?! I thought about calling in assistance, but who... who would understand... then I mused that the former maître d' who had given input concerning the structure of the hotel, might also understand something of the residents. Determined, I dialed the operator, and asking for the exchange, I was connected to a nurse of Old Irish accent who told me the missus had finally succumb to dementia and pnuecoccal pnuemonia on the very day of our Grand Opening, may the poor soul rest in peace and she promptly began to wail laments into the phone...
I was on my own. Lucky or unlucky. I noticed the pen was missing. The album was now blank. I looked on the floor. I scanned the counter. I looked behind the counter. Absurdly, I patted my pockets. I pulled out my pipe, lit it, pulled in a slow drag, and proceeded with new determination down the corridor, taking the album with me as a precaution. The lights flickered with apprehension, or was it anticipation? I began to hear a giggle and whispering from the Russian Embassy Suite, where the door was now ajar... the dull thud post silencer made my blood run cold as I swung it fully open on its hinges and saw... The Pen writing on the wall... I read hurriedly:
Having betrayed the Agency of Requisitions, in the matter of ... in a conspiracy to confuse and distract... the machinations of... in the subversion of public interest... manipulation of opinion... and doctoring of numbers and figures... Guest No. 901 killed by Agent X, this day...
Suddenly the album was thrust from under my arm and opened itself before me. The pen dropped as if exhausted between the pages. The room was no longer vacant but showed all the signs of occupancy, and struggle. The rifled drawers, the blood stains upon the carpeting, scattered documents... there was no body, just the attributes of life taken. And I wrote it down. Everything. The notes upon the wall. The articles I saw. Once written, I quickly noticed each symbol disappearing... or perhaps it was disappearing even before writing, I cannot sure, I was now in a complete frenzy. Like automaton I moved from room to room. Writing. Days passed. Like I said the hotel was huge. The album was soon almost full. The cramps in my arm almost unbearable and my eyes propped open by unknown forces.
Thus exhausted, I smelled it. The unmistakable scent of something unwarranted burning. I was on the upper most floor and getting out was no small matter. I tucked the album into my cummerbund and plunged my portly self into the laundry chute. Like a child at an amusement park, I felt the thrill and the fear, with that sink in the pit of the stomach which results from rapid change of movement. I covered my face with my pocket handkerchief and was relieved that the fire was most obviously on the main floor or above, because the basement was not flooded with smoke. I could make my way to the Bilco doors by the dim light of the security cameras and industrial Exit sign. I fumbled with the latch and threw open the dual metal flaps.
Gulping in fresh night air I stumbled up the stairs and out into the rear of the hotel, now running as best I could, panting out of breath and sweating something awful. I checked that I still had the album. I did. Having made it a reasonable distance away, I slowed and turned around. The hotel was up in flames, just like it had been prior to my attempted renovation. I clutched my chest. This time it was going down for good.
I had the book.
Paranormal pen challenge @Mamba