Lightning lit the night sky during the early morning hours as the rain pelted the windows at The Banff Springs Hotel. A chill filled the air which struck Joseph right to his bones. He ran his hands up and down his arms in the attempt to keep warm. He sat on his bed and realized that he was still carrying Miss Abigail’s diary in his back pocket. Holding the book in his hands, a tear slipped down his cheek and dripped onto the cover. He glared at Miss Abigail’s picture.
“Why is this happening to me? What are you doing? I am Joseph Flanster, not your Fiancé. “
Joseph was startled as someone knocked on his door. He placed the diary under a pillow and then moved to the door. Joseph was very tired and opened the door slowly. Before him stood a man that Joseph recognized immediately.
“May I come in?”
Mike Herod stood tall and imposing. Joseph became terrified and started to shut the door quickly. Mike Herod placed his hand against the door, stopping Joseph from closing him out. Joseph retreated across the room as Mike Herod entered the room. This was the first time that Joseph had seen him face to face. The first time was in a dream and the second at the saloon with Mac.
“You know who I am, don’t you?”
Joseph trembled, afraid for his very life.
“Boy…answer me. You know who I am?”
Joseph squeaked out an answer of yes.
“Do you know who you are?”
Mike Herod let out a cackle that struck Joseph as insane.
“Answer me boy.”
“I am Joseph Flanster…’
Joseph’s voice trailed off as he said his name.
“Why are you here…Joseph Flanster?”
“I…won a…radio contest.”
Mike Herod’s cackle grew louder as he moved closer to Joseph. Joseph pressed his body against the wall…trying to blend in and disappear.
“My God boy, are you stupid? You are here to…die. Later today…you are going to be killed.”
Once again his laughter became maniacal. Joseph’s face was one of terror. He slid to the floor with his face resting in his hands. Mike Herod stood above Joseph and continued to laugh. He reached down and lifted Joseph up with strong, bruising hands. He held Joseph and put his face nose to nose with Joseph.
“And Boy…I am not going to let that happen to you.”
Joseph stared in bewilderment at Herod. He let Joseph down and walked over the chair and sat down. He motioned for Joseph to sit on the bed. Joseph slowly moved over to Herod and planted himself on the bed in front of this man that terrified him.
“If you hadn’t figured out yet that I am dead…I guess you’d better understand that. I am…a…ghost. Oooooooohhhhh!”
He laughed that satanic laugh again.
“I am also…your great Grandfather.”
Joseph was shocked. His head became light and his eyes fluttered as he fell to the floor in a heap.
The taxi carrying Randy, June and John Smith pulled up to the entrance of the Hotel. The three companions were helped out by the valet who stood shivering in his kilt and a woolen jacket. As John looked up at the Hotel he remembered a time during the fifties that Sam the Bell Captain had appeared in the dining room as he ate. He had just begun to sip a taste of wine when the elderly Bell Captain approached his table. Sam was still alive during that time. To all the employees, Sam Henderson was the Lord of the Manor. He carried the respect and honor of the entire management and staff. If he spoke…you listened. John had always liked Sam and at different times Sam had helped in John’s security work. John, now, remembered one such time. But he kept it to himself.
The date was in 1971. A guest room had been burgled during the day while the guest was away. As John searched the room for clues…Sam the Bell Captain entered the room.
John had never met the Bell Captain. He stood in the door way, tall and…almost…mysterious.
“Yes…Are you Sam the Bell Captain?”
“Yes Sir, I am. I was told to see if you had found anything yet.”
John walked over to the door way and stood nose to nose with Sam.
“No…I haven’t…not yet.”
“Well Sir…I saw someone enter the room next to Miss. Abigail’s room…and I do believe that room…at the moment is empty.”
“Really? Let’s go.”
The two men went to the room that Mike Herod had died in. John had hoped it was the room on the other side of Miss Abigail’s room. He had heard many a staff member quietly discuss the two rooms. Miss. Abigail’s room had been locked…so he did not fear her room. But the stories he had heard mumbled about Herod’s room made his stomach turn and his mind to flutter. Was there really a Ghost in that room? He didn’t believe it…but he also didn’t want to find out. The two men passed Herod’s room and Miss. Abigail’s room and they ended up in front of the room past hers. As he opened the door a rush of cold air passed over his body and he was sucked into the room. The Bell Captain was left out side as the door slammed shut behind him. John stood in the room. The blinds were drawn with only a slight crack of light slipped under them. John looked around the room, searching for a light switch to turn on the lights. As he moved towards the wall he caught out of the corner of his eye…movement. He spun around to see the shadow of a man standing in front of the windows.
“Don’t turn on the light…Mr. Smith. First…let me say…you’ll find all of the stolen goods on the bed over there. And next to the bed is an attaché case…for your inspection.”
John slowly moved to the bed and could just barely see the contents spread out upon the comforter. He saw the case, but turned towards the figure.
“Who are you?
“Does it matter?”
“Yes…it does. I’m going to have to call the police.”
“No Mr. Smith…I don’t think you are going to do that at all.”
The figure moved closer to John. As John’s eye’s became accustomed to the darkness…he realized who this person was. He had seen his picture in the Hotel Library. It was Gilbert Rolantz. John slid back to the door…but the door was locked from the outside and he couldn’t leave.
“Oh my God….” John gasped.
“No…I am not your God…You know me?”
“Haven’t we already discussed that?”
“What do you want?”
“First open the case…”
John lifted up the case and flipped the clasps and then opened the top. The case had five hundred thousand dollars in it. A slight gasp slipped through his lips. He slowly lifted his eyes and looked at Gilbert.
“What do you want…Mr. Rolantz?”
“Mr. Smith…through the years I have hired men to perform a task for me. Tonight…I’d like to hire you to perform a certain task for me. And as you can surely see…you will be well taken care of.”
“It must be quite a task.”
John sat upon the bed and watched as Gilbert moved closer to him.
“Mr. Smith…next year…is the fortieth anniversary of Miss. Abigail’s death.”
John began to fidget.
“As you know Mr. Smith…in 1952 a man fell to his death…down the same stairs Miss. Abigail fell down.”
“Yes…I knew that.”
“In 1972…Mr. Smith…another man will fall to his death…down those same stairs….”
John stood and moved closer to Gilbert.
“What do you mean?”
“Mr. Smith…this money….this five hundred thousand dollars…”
“Now….wait…a minute….are you asking me what I think you’re asking me?”
“You want me to push a man down those stairs?”
John’s voice was cracking and a light sweat beaded up on his forehead.
“Mr. Smith….on the day that Miss. Abigail and I were to be wed…as she stood at the top of the stairs…Mike Herod pushed her down the stairs. In 1952…I paid a man…like you…to push Herod’s only living heir down those steps. However…he had a bastard son…like the bastard that he was and his father Mike Herod was. The last living bastard will be here next year. I want you to push him down those stairs.”
“But…why do you want to kill him? It was his grandfather that killed your fiancé.”
Gilbert moved to a chair and sat down.
“Mr. Smith…Miss. Abigail and I had the perfect love…a true love…a love that has…and…will…live forever. However…we will never be together…in life…or in death…as long as the blood line of Mike Herod flows through the veins of any man. This is the last man. I will be with my Miss. Abigail…”
“And if I choose not to help you?”
Gilbert rose…moved to the windows…and with his back to John Smith….he spoke straight to the point.
“I’ll have to kill you.”
Joseph sat in the chair in his room…holding the diary. The book….burned his hands with terror. What was he to do? He had been told there was a threat on his life. What ran through his mind was how could this be true…look who had told him. He looked at the book and slowly opened it.
October 28, 1932
Today’s the day. Just another hour and I’ll be Mrs. Gilbert Rolantz. I can’t wait to feel his hands touch me as his wife. My dress is beautiful and when he sees me walk down those stairs I know his eyes will pop open. When I see him…I know my heart will be pounding. I am worried though. Mike Herod has not been found. Oh God…I hate him with all the hate of the world. It’s only an hour away…I hope he’s caught. I don’t want anything happening to this day.
There is a knock on my door. My heart is pounding….
“Gilbert…you can’t see me before the wedding…not in my dress…”
I don’t know why he doesn’t answer…OH MY GOD…the door is swung open….OH MY GOD….it’s Mike Herod………………
Joseph slammed the diary shut and dropped it on the floor. He glanced at his watch and the time read 6:00am. She was to be wed at 4:00pm. If what Mike Herod had said…Joseph spun around…looked into Miss. Abigail’s picture and shuddered.
“Wait a minute….this can’t be true…What the hell am I doing…thinking…oh shit…”
Randy, June and John raced along the corridor towards room 386. John glanced at the room next to Miss. Abigail’s where he had spoken with Gilbert Rolantz. As they reached Joseph’s…Miss. Abigail’s room…the door opened and Joseph stepped out. The four of them were all startled by each others appearance. They stood in the hall way staring at each other. Randy was the first to speak.
“Joseph…we’ve got to get you out of here…they are trying to kill you.”
They carried Joseph into the room and they all began speaking at once…except John Smith.
A Novel of Suspense, Horror and Love