The long lonely road from Reno to Vegas seemed to stretch on forever. Nine hours with two rowdy teens arguing over the imaginary line, that divided the back seat. This road is so desolate that the kids could not even play the alphabet game. There were no signs. The only game they found was to count the dead rabbits. The kids had done well the first 6 hours, but now were starting to chew through their straps in the back seat. I was having daydreams of ripping their limbs from their body and feeding them to the coyotes when my daughter saw the first road sign in over an hour.
“Gold Hill. I want to stop in Gold hill!”
“No way. That’s were that haunted hotel is.” Was my only reply?
“I’m not getting out of the car.” My son yelled.
“I am, I am going to catch a ghost.”
“You can’t catch ghosts, you idiot.”
“Enough you two.”
The town of gold hill loomed before us and the kids argued about capturing ghosts and whose side of the car they would sit. I needed a diet coke and a mental health break. I usually avoided this stop, because the Gold Hill Hotel scared me. I had visited when a child and the things that I remember felt more like a dream than reality. This fear I had of the hotel seemed so real. I had only driven past it on many occasions, never even slowing down, because it scared me to death. I couldn’t discern the fear, but the hair stood up on the back of my neck when I saw the sign Gold Hill, Nevada, population 86. We pulled into town and got on the main strip. As we pulled in front of the hotel, the dust settled on our car like a blanket of snow. The sun had set and the advancing twilight made the shadows play tricks on my eyes.
There was nothing in this town except a gas station, a bar and the Gold hill hotel. The town had once had the biggest population in Nevada, when gold was found in the hills (thus the name Gold hill). 1000’s of gold miners came to seek their fortunate in the middle of the Nevada desert. The hotel was the only standing structure after a fire burnt the town to the ground in 1920. The hotel was an eight story beautiful structure that had been the centerpiece for this bustling metropolis. After the town burned down, the hotel had gone through many owners, but all had left under mysterious conditions. It was documented to be haunted. Books had been written, TV shows produced and many a ghost busters had spent the night here only to leave with their tail between their legs.
“Mommy, tell us about your time at the hotel when you were a little girl,” my daughter begged.
“I hate that story”, my son retorted
“Okay enough, I’ll tell it”. I yelled and jumped out of the car.
A chain link fence surrounded the hotel. Broken windows and shutters hanging made it look dead and cold. I was scared, but wanted to behave bravely in front of my kids. Fear this raw was hard to conceal.
My daughter jumped out of the car with her flashlight and headed around the back of the building, I called her back, but she was gone. My less than brave son, stayed close to me. I yelled and yelled for my daughter and was ready to panic when I heard her voice come from up above.
“Mom I got in. look at me mom, I am in the hotel.”
I was terrified seeing here hang out a third story window. “Get down here right now. It is dangerous in there.”
“No mom its fine. Come around the back and follow the steps up its cool.”
She disappeared into the hotel darkness.
My son clutched my sweater. “Mom we are not going in there are we?”
“We have to go get Chere.”
“Let here die up there, I am not going in.” I saw he wasn’t going to help so I started to crawl through the fence. “Than stay here.”
“By myself? No way.” He scrambled after me.
“I am going to get her, stay close.”
He followed close behind me, hanging on too my shirt, big brave man.
In the back of the hotel, a hole had been cut in the door. We went inside and had to boast each other up into the kitchen area of the hotel because the steps had rotted away.
I yelled for Chere, no answer. I was beginning to get scared.
We entered the main dining room. Dust consumed everything and ancient spider webs filled the corners. All the original furniture was still in the hotel, it surprised me that no one had pilfered the place. The upholstered chair cushions had become nests for mice. The bar stools had were turned upside down. In the main lobby, the grand piano stood inviting us to play it. The tattered curtains hung on all the windows and I could see my car headlights beaming in through the front windows.
Again I called for Chere, nothing.
Then a moaning came from the second floor. Up the grand staircase, we walked slowly, setting each foot down to test the sturdiness of the floor. My son was shivering and calling for his sister.
“You idiot, you had better not jump out at us, I am going kill you for making us come in here. Chere, where are you?”
The moaning was louder as we arrived on the second floor landing.
The doors to the rooms were all closed, just a long dark hallway stretch out before us.
I opened the first door and the scattering of bats made my son jump with surprise. But Chere was not in the room.
I could hear the moaning getting louder and couldn’t tell if it was her, or the wind through the broken windows.
After checking five rooms with nothing but the refuge from bums homesteading there, I began to get worried and mad. Where was she? Was she just trying to scare us, because if she was, she was doing a good job.
The last door was 812. The numbers swung sideways as I opened the door. It creaked and groaned as if it hadn’t been open in 50 years. Once the door was open, I took my flashlight to look inside. The minute we stepped in the room, my flashlight went out, the door slammed shut. I screamed and ran for the door. It was locked. It was happening again. My son started to scream. I hit the flashlight on my leg to try to jar it into working. Nothing. Pitch darkness and the sound of my son screaming. I remember the book of matches that were in my pocket and took them out. Desperately I tried to light one after another, but I was shaking so bad, the flames never materialized. Finally, with only one match left, a fire ignited. In a brief second of light, I saw my daughter mangled, dead and rotten hanging from a rope in the middle of the room. Her eyes wide open in terror and maggots crawling from her mouth.
I screamed, grabbed my son and ran for the door. It fell open with a powerful kick. I raced down the front stairs, through the lobby and slipped on the dusty floor of the kitchen. Out the back door, we jumped to the ground and ran. While passing thru the fence, my son got snagged on the chain link fence. All the while he was sobbing, “Did you see Chere, mom she was dead and old, what happened.”
I tore him free and sprinted for the car.
My mind worked on one thought; get to the safety of the car.
Once we were inside and I locked the doors, I grabbed my phone to call the police. When I swung my arm to the back seat to get the phone out of my suitcase. I saw my daughter, peacefully sleeping under her favorite blanket.
Was it a dream?
No, it was the hotel. It had done it again. But this time I had my sons torn shirt as proof. I grabbed his sister and she protested as to why I had woken her up.
She was fine. My son sat wide-eyed in the front seat.
“Mom can we get out of here?”
“Sure thing honey.”
I popped the car into reverse and laid a shower of gravel on the front of the hotel.
“Mom,” Chere said, “hey you were going to tell me about what happened to you at this hotel when you were young”.
“You do not want to know”, my son answered.
The hotel seemed to leer at us as we drove away.