Ritual Lake Inn

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
A stranger tells his experience about mysterious circumstances surrounding a place known as the Ritual Lake Inn.

Submitted: October 08, 2016

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Submitted: October 08, 2016

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I heard once that the dead sleep in willow trees. I thought it foolish at the time, especially since I found myself trapped in a morbid plane of existence. My mind sat shattered at the Ritual Lake Inn along with a few bottles of cheap liquor I left untouched. Oddly enough, the housemaid came in every morning to put another bottle inside. I was there for three days already, and now four bottles of liquor accompanied my life. Disturbed by them, I kept throwing them out my door, hoping the housemaid would get the message. Evidently, she remained quite ratified and proceeded to keep placing them in my room. What disturbed me most was with the fourth bottle. She left a little note attached to it that read, “You’re going to need it.” It was easy to laugh at first. I thought it was some crude joke meant to justify the means in to picking up the bottle and chugging it down my throat. That’s when I realized my throat began to itch. Terribly. It was as if I wanted to tear it out. I knew why too.

You see at the Ritual Lake Inn, there is one person I’ve never met. Yet his name always manages to come up. Opal A. Baker. You would hear it every now and then, mostly in rumors or see uncomfortable pictures of a man no older than myself. Most were practically misleading, claiming that Mr. Baker was nothing more than a riddle to a combination lock on the 13th floor. The funny thing was that there was no 13th floor. So immediately I dismissed it, like any sane moderately intelligent person would. It all changed when I heard a rumor from the housemaid. Dead of night with winter shivers came a knock on my door. I shivered myself as I checked through the peephole. It was the housemaid. Young. Quaint. And quite illiterate. I could tell that much just by the way she wrote her notes on our doors. 

That being said, I didn’t want to be rude. Nor did I want to be polite. My intention was simply to send her on her way. And like my life, my hopes were diminished. Right beneath her feet was a newspaper. Immediately she told me not to read it. I almost wanted to laugh.

“Why?” I said dismally.

She feverishly scattered her head left and right, as if expecting a lurking shadow behind her. I wouldn't have been surprised if she was scared of her own. Then she proceeded to rush herself in.

“I would rather you not-”

“Listen! Please just listen! You cannot, and I mean you cannot read this newspaper!”

I glanced over at the paper beyond my door hinges. And then I quizzically intrigued my suspicion.

“Why?”

“Because of Opal! He’s in it!”

Keep in mind she had such a harsh whisper. One that if you stood too close, spit would decorate your face. Wiping mine, I sighed.

“And? So what? Don’t tell me he’s a ghost or something. I’ve heard enough of it already.”

“No!” she whispered quickly. Again. More spit. “You can’t read it! That’s exactly what he wants!”

I was already pissed. I took her by the shoulder and reassured her that her troubles were  merely superstition. I also assured her that I would not be perceptible to this silliness. I proceeded to shift her out the door, in which she radically complied. It’s just she kept whispering this stupidity.

“He’s real! He stays here! He’s real!”

I closed the door and waited until I saw her shadow fade away behind the lights of the balcony. I pondered my stay at the Ritual Inn because the more I thought about it, the more I realized the oddity of this place’s existence.

For starters, it’s not an inn you drive to. You walk. No bicycles. No cars. No buses. Not even skateboards. You have to walk. It’s mandatory. There is a sign a mile away that reads, “No vehicles or other methods of transportation allowed for entry.” Even if you wanted to be a rebel and do so, it was next to impossible. The hill is so steep, muddy and unstable, that the ground often collapses on the soles of your feet. Of course, it then stands to reason why you would be at the Ritual Lake Inn in the first place. Who in their right mind would decide to trek a mile on an unstable slope just to rest at a very large bland inn? You can’t even see it past the trees until you walk through the woods’ clearing. It occurred to me that the locals here described it as “the only place for tourists.” 

Prior to even having heard of the wretched place, I stayed at a diner a few miles away. My car sat mildly outside the window seat in which I sat at. I kept an eye on it only because the headlight was starting to dim and I really didn’t want a ticket. Especially from a state cop. However, I soon lost track of time and realized by the time I finished my meal, everyone else had left the diner. My waitress had soon come back to the table after I realized this with a smile on her face.

“Enjoyed the meal hon’?” she said cheerfully enough. 

I nodded and continued to eye my car outside.

“You ain’t from around here huh?”

I shook my head.

“No place to stay?”

I shook my head.

“Quite the silent type, aren’t ya?”

I chuckled. “I talk when I want to.”

She smiled and wrote down an address on a nearby napkin.

“Here. If you don’t have a place to stay, this is the only one for tourists.”

I read the writing on the napkin. It was funny. I laughed too.

“The Ritual Inn? Is this another one of your jokes?”

She smiled softly and gave me a little speech.

“No, no. It’s the real deal. The Ritual Inn. It was first made in 1902 by a man name Opal A. Baker. It was supposedly the greatest inn in the world. People from countless countries came from across the world just to spend a night. And boy did Opal sure make money. He was the richest man in this here state. Until that is the night he died. Some say it was a suicide. Others say murder. You know all that jazz. Afterwards, the place shut down. A few years ago though was when things got…weird.”

“Weird how?”

She gulped. I actually heard the gulp. I could tell then that even she was troubled by what she was about to say.

“As the story goes, the place was ready to be demolished and when the construction crew came, they had been served a notice by the district attorney that the place was actually already reinstated. The thing was that when they asked who reinstated the opening of the Ritual Inn…”

I laughed.

“You don’t mean to say…?”

I laughed harder.

“That’s hogwash! The man died didn’t he? Not to mention he would had to have had succumbed to old age at some point. It’s preposterous.”

She laughed too actually.

“Oh believe me hon’, I don’t believe it either. It had to be some crude joke or something. But what’s weird is that it isn’t a rumor or anything. It really does have the signature of Opal. A Baker.”

I scratched my chin with suspicion.

“So…a forgery then perhaps?”

She shrugged her shoulders.

“I wouldn’t know. But what I do know is that something fishy has been going on with that place. See, you’re not the first tourist since it’s reopening to have stumbled here in this little place of mine. And I tell ya, when they come out of that place, they stumble back here.”

I eyed her.

“What do you mean?”

She gulped again.

“They’re not the same. They come back here. Not remembering this place. Or anything relevant to their life for that matter. One man, and his wife and two darling kids came here a week ago. Nice people. They only stayed for a night. Claimed they were going to visit their relatives two towns over. The next morning they come back and I ask how was the night and everything you know? And then the man asks me what this place is. And so I tell him the town thinking that maybe he just was one of those clueless tourists. And then he asks what state. And then I’m standing there confused. I ask him about his relatives you know and he looks at me and says what relatives. That was just last week. This kind of thing has happened to me three times this past week.”

I scratched my chin again and brushed the story aside.

“I’m sure it was some misunderstanding. Nothing to be worried about.”

She sighed and nodded.

“Yea maybe. You know, I even called the cops about it and they told me they would have a look. A few days go by and I call again and ask if they concluded anything and you know what they tell me?”

I giggled.

“Let me guess: the operator forgot too?”

She giggled a bit but shook her head.

“Not even. The lady told me that the cops hadn’t reported back yet and they dispatched another two. I made that last call two days ago. So I only recommend the place since it’s the only one for tourists. There’s no other hotel or inn anywhere within hours of driving. All I mean to say is…be careful. And keep an eye out.”

She left me be and wished me safe travels. I thanked her as well and left in my car. Since then I had been at the inn for three nights. And I dismissed the story because by the waitress’s account, the incidents of those people had occurred within a night. I had been here for three and the only suspicion I had since was why there were so many liquor bottles offered. Now I was merely curious of this Opal A. Baker character.

So against the housemaid’s wishes I went for that newspaper out my door and read it. I laughed to myself again, thinking that my housemaid really was a bird from the cuckoo’s nest. All the paper mentioned on the cover was about the president’s inaugural ball. A few pages in was when I realized why the lady was so terrified. I’ll even be the first to admit that I was pretty startled myself.

The newspaper claimed that Opal A. Baker was having a grand celebration for the 100th anniversary of the opening of Ritual Lake Inn in five days from now. Keep in mind, the man is supposed to be dead. I did a little research and discovered the man was born in 1888. There’s no way he would live long enough to see the year 2002. So that man has to be dead. What’s more troublesome is that he is in the picture. Smiling. Waving. He looks like he did on plaques on the walls within the inn. Those pictures in the inn were taken in 1902. In the newspaper, he looked exactly like he did then in 1902. 

I was so troubled that I chased after the housemaid and called out to her. She turned to me in horror and suddenly vanished in the shadows. It was like blinking as a light turns off. She was suddenly gone. I ran to where she was and found nothing but her headband. Instead of chasing around blindly, I ran back to my room and proceeded to call 911. No answer. So I ran to my neighbors door and knocked. No answer. I began screaming help. No answer. It was then I knew I had to leave. So that winter night I trekked as fast and as far out in the cold woods and made it back to my car. I kept driving as far away as I could, never coming back to the state of Maine. 

 


© Copyright 2017 LeoHarp. All rights reserved.

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