An excerpt from Spooky Montana
retold by S.E. Schlosser
I found it extremely annoying that one of the bathrooms on my dorm was permanently closed. Especially since the cause was an urban legend. An urban legend, I tell you! According to the story, years and years ago some bloke got himself massively drunk at a bar in downtown Helena and had passed out in the bathroom on the fourth floor. Apparently, he hit his head on the sink as he fell, and his blood had spattered the sink as he slid senseless to the floor and silently hemorrhaged to death. His death was considered a “sad accident” by faculty, staff and townspeople. But that was no reason to shut up the bathroom for decades! I completely discounted the story of the bleeding sink. That was just an urban legend the students circulated to explain the locked door.
“I’m sick of sharing a bathroom with you disgusting lot,” I grumbled to my roommate. “I’m going to break into the fourth-floor bathroom.”
My roommate’s eyes widened. “Don’t you know that bathroom is haunted?” he exclaimed. “The bloodstains on the sink are as fresh today as they were when the accident happened back in the 1960s, and sometimes you can hear the boy moaning as his life ebbs away on the bathroom floor!”
“Romantic twaddle,” I snapped. “My granny lives in a haunted castle in Scotland with ghost stories that would make your hair stand on end. She’d laugh at me if she found out I ignored a perfectly good bathroom because of a few bloodstains. Besides, the maintenance staff told me the bathroom was shut up pending renovations. No big deal!”
“You’ll be sorry,” my roommate said darkly. I ignored him. He was just sore because I’d lumped him in with the disgusting lot of fellows who mucked up the bathroom on my floor. You’d think someone would teach them to pick up their dirty clothes and clean the sink once in awhile.
When the dorm quieted down for the night – which wasn’t until late – I hurried up to the fourth floor with a bit of wire I’d purchased at a local hardware store. My little brother and I had become expert lock-pickers over the years, since our mother had a bad habit of locking her keys into the house or the car at least once a week. With all that experience, the lock on the bathroom door gave me no problems.
The bathroom was rather old-fashioned in appearance and had a disused air. There was dust in the corners, and a spider web drooped from the ceiling. But I heard no unearthly groaning, no mysterious footsteps. I carefully inspected the sink, the walls and the floor. Other than a smallish orange discoloration on the sink, there was no blood anywhere. Ha! So much for urban legends. There was probably something in the water that caused discoloration over time. I turned a tap experimentally, sure that the maintenance staff had shut off the water long ago. To my surprise, water gushed forth instantly. I smiled. Well, well. It looked like I had a bathroom to myself after all! I carefully locked the door behind me when I left.
I got up late the next morning, and had the downstairs bathroom all to myself. So it wasn’t until evening, when everyone was back in the dorm, crowding in and out of the bathrooms, that I slipped away to use the locked up facilities. It was still early in the evening, and I made sure no one was around before I headed to the abandoned bathroom. With a few twists of the wire, I opened the lock. As I stepped inside, the air temperature plummeted twenty degrees or more and my nose was hit by the pungent, strong smell of fresh blood.
A second later, I saw the blood-spattered sink. Bright-red gore was everywhere – on the porcelain, on the walls, oozing down the sides of the sink. And hovering before it, his feet a good six-inches off the ground, was the luminous form of a college-aged boy wearing old-fashioned clothes in the style of the 1960s. His forehead had a disfiguring dent smashed into it, and blood was dripping down his face. As I gaped at him, horrified and frozen in terror, he turned and looked at me. Then he held out a blood-stained hand.
His eyes were desperate, pleading for help, and I heard a low moaning sound coming from between his blood-stained lips. The sound raised every hair on my body and made the skin prickle in sheer, cold horror. I backpedaled fiercely, my legs scrambling to get away while my eyes and head remained fixed on the ghost, on the bloody sink. A drop of red blood fell from his outstretched hand as I stared at him. Then the momentum of my legs carried me through the door, which slammed shut behind me, and the hot, pungent smell of fresh blood followed me through the halls and down the staircases until I was outside into the chilly air of autumn, breathing deeply. My knees shook so bad that I fell onto the nearest patch of grass, stomach heaving. Oh lord! The ghost was real! No wonder they kept the place locked up.
I lay on the grass for a long time, ignoring the chill in the air. This was a natural chill which comforted, not that unnatural chill that had frightened me upstairs. I breathed in and out, in and out, watching the stars above me, bright even through the campus lights. I took comfort from the huge, clear expanse of sky. But I still felt reluctant to go back inside that haunted building.
I shuddered once, from head to toe. Oh how my granny would laugh if she knew her big brave grandson was too scared to go back inside a haunted dormitory. It was the thought of granny that got me back onto my feet and upstairs to my room. But I didn’t care what granny or anyone else thought of me. I was never going back to the fourth floor bathroom. Once was enough.