When I was alive my name was Robert Gillespie.
I died at the Wharton Motel just on the border of Texas and Louisiana. Suicide. Not really a down-in-the-dumps character, but I didn’t have family and I was really bored. I did it in a warm bathtub in room 406. Sliced my wrists and faded away in the lukewarm water. No one came looking for me, which was a shame, but I expected it.
Right after I died is when I figured out I couldn’t leave. That was the worst day, and what I assumed people called “hell” when they got here. I understood how it could put people in a never-ending loop, but a couple days went by and I decided to stop pouting. After all, I’d be here a while. I entertained myself with the occasional guest. I’d stand in their rooms and watch them. Most were junkies and nymphos, and some were families that usually turned around and left at the sight of the gawky aesthetic of the lobby.
I couldn’t feel anything. Not in my fingers or toes. But if I focused hard enough, I could make things move without touching them. And the rumors are true, I could walk through walls. I could float too. The only real feeling I had was a sort of gravity, but it wasn’t towards the ground. It was sideways and it was really weak, but it was always there and it always changed direction. One night as I was watching a middle-aged businessman sleep, I figured out what it was.
“Nathan,” a shrill feminine whisper from a corner. In the direction I was being tugged. Nathan groaned. “Nathan!” The voice repeated itself, this time more tense. More urgent. The sheets ruffled as Nathan sat up. Moments passed at the rhythm of his breathing.
“Nathan?” Nathan’s breathing grew heavier. I could feel his uneasiness grow as ice stretched inside his chest. Suddenly, the word dribbled from his lips, “Mom?”
“Nathan, baby, help me. I’m stuck…” He bobbled his hand over his nightstand and found the lamp’s string. He pulled it, but the bulb didn’t glow. “Please, help me!” The voice began to break in a whimpering cry. Nathan rose to his feet and crept to the corner. Closer and closer. I heard a crack, a thud, then silence. Next morning, the Sun spilled between the curtains and I saw Nathan’s limp body folded over an armchair. His skin was already blue.
I called the monster “Whisperer,” and I watched it take the lives of hundreds of people. The owner understood its presence. Her name was Beth. She was in her 70s and loved her tacky, fake jewelry and cigarette-scentedclothes. When she wasn’t spewing smoke in the lobby she was doing crosswords. I despised her and blamed her for the misery that came and went. She allowed it. I didn’t really know why, but I assumed it was just for business. One night, the Whisperer took the life of an innocent nine-year-old girl. The pain tore her parents apart. And that night, I decided to do everything in my power to never see something like that again.
Every time a visitor checked into a room, I did what I could to spook them away. Toss a glass on the ground, turn on the sink, flicker the lights; whatever I could. Sometimes it would work and sometimes it wouldn’t. The further the Sun would go down, the worse I’d get. I’d start knocking chairs over and jerking open shower curtains. It was usually when guests would pack up and get going. I did this for years and kept the Whisperer at bay. Word got around and the motel inevitably became a tourist hotspot.
Folks from all over would come and stay, making my work much harder. I couldn’t save all of them. But I was saving most of them. Eventually the Whisperer got ahold of enough victims for the city to wall the motel off to the public. However, there were occasional investigators that would talk their way into a night at the place. I gave them what they wanted. At least enough for them to leave before they stayed the night.
The Whisperer never really went away. I’d see it when it’d show itself. Like its voice could change to any voice, its form could change to any form. For children, it was usually one of their parents. But it also knew things about the visitors. For widows, it would appear as their lost loved ones. For the lustful, a beautiful man or woman. The only way the Whisperer could feast was if the victim responded to its cries. And the only way they could survive was if they ignored it. A simple thought in the sleepy mind of a guest was an invitation. Like a drop of blood in the water for a hungry shark.
One summer day, Beth brought in a newspaper. A local paper headlined “The Ghost of Wharton Motel.” For the first time, I smiled. The Ghost of Wharton Motel, huh? I liked it. It had a ring to it.