The Evil in the Room
Marsha Bennett told me this story herself. She had been north to visit friends in the state of Washington. Now she was driving back to her home in California. The last lap of the day's journey was over the Cascade range that stretches from Washington to California. It was late in the evening and snow had started to fall before she finally reached the little Oregon town where she planned to spend the night.
Tired and ready for a hot meal and a good night's sleep, she stopped at the first place she came upon. It was an old hotel on the main street. The lobby had a musty odor. The seedy clerk behind the desk signed her in . Her room was on the 3rd floor - Room 310. She helped an elderly bellhop with her luggage.
As soon as the door to the room was opened, a blast of hot air struck Marsha full in the face. Along with the hot air came something else, something she could not define but that filled her with dread. It was heavy and depressing, she explained, "with the strong scent of evil". She felt as if she were about to faint.
All she said was, "It's awfully hot."
The bellhop tinkered with the radiator knobs. Then he opened the window and left. The room began to cool off, but the feeling of despair and dread grew even stronger. It centered on the open square of black window space. The terror seemed to speak in her mind.
"Go to the window", it said. "Throw yourself out, out, out!"
Terrified, Marsha flung herself on the bed farthest from the window.
"I kept saying no, no, no to that voice," she told me, "but the voice kept insisting."
"You can't fight me, you puny thing," it said. "Sooner or later you'll jump. I'll make you jump, jump, jump!"
At last Marsha could stand it no longer. She jumped up, calling herself a coward.
"Coward or not," she explained, "I was sure that if I stayed the night, I'd be dead by morning."
Marsha was prepared to sacrifice the money she'd already paid just to leave, but when she went downstairs with her baggage to check out, the clerk never asked what was wrong or if she wanted to try another room. He returned the full cash amount to her.
Marsha drove down the street to a modern motel. As she entered the lobby, she felt the dark depression slip from her shoulders. She became almost giddy with relief. She had planned to be on her way early next morning. Instead she decided to stay over a day and look into the history of the old hotel to see if she could discover the reason for her terrifying experience there.
She visited the local library to make a few inquiries. An elderly librarian sat behind the desk.
"I'm just wondering," Marsha said tentatively, "Did anything shocking ever happen in the old hotel?"
The librarian looked at her strangely. "How did you come upon that bit of history?" she asked. "It took the hotel a long time to squash the story."
The librarian went on to tell what happened. One evening, back in 1948, a couple checked into the hotel as Mr. & Mrs. Oscar Smith. The next morning, hotel employees found the young woman's body lying on the sidewalk outside the hotel beneath room 310. The man who had registered as her husband had disappeared.
"At first they assumed suicide," the librarian concluded. "But then they pried open her fist and found she was clutching a handful of dark curly hair, not her own. So they made a search for the murderer. But he was never found..."
"By the way," the librarian suddenly added, "isn't that a coincidence! It all happened on November 5th, 40 years ago yesterday."
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