The first places people seem to think of as being haunted are castles in Europe. After that, hospitals, prisons, facilities for the mentally ill, hotels, and schools seem to follow, not necessarily in that order. I have been in any number of hotels that are reputed to be haunted and never felt a thing. On the other hand, I've also been in a number of places that aren't necessarily known for being paranormally disturbed, and felt plenty. Except for one hotel, all of them were schools.
The one hotel was in Ireland. Makes sense, right? Ireland is famous for its otherworldly inhabitants, from leprechauns and other fae entities, to all sorts of ghosts and spirits. During our trip to the Emerald Isle, Jim and I had a room in a hotel in Dublin that was uneasy. The room was comfortable enough: nice beds, clean washroom, homey furniture. But it was at the end of a very long hall -and I mean long, like the length of two office buildings put together- and as far away from the stairs and exit as would be humanly possible. And that was the interesting thing about this hotel. It was a converted office building. Or maybe buildings .I know that not only was the hall a long walk from the stairwell, it had double doors closing off the part of the corridor that held our room. Hmm. I might have said it was just me, but Jim felt it, too, and his thoughts aren't constantly straying to the supernatural like mine are.
There was something weird about my high school. Any of my fellow alumnae reading this blog may or may not agree with me (and I'll be curious to know!) but I would swear there was something lurking on the second floor of the new addition. It wasn't the old building that felt disturbed, it was the new wing. I used to stay late after school was dismissed when I was working on the yearbook my junior and senior years, and although the yearbook/newspaper office was in the old building, I was forever winding up in the new wing for one thing or another, and I didn't enjoy that. There was always a feeling of something following me, and walking faster to get away from it made things worse. Then it felt like being chased. And see, even though I've ALWAYS loved a good ghost story, I certainly wasn't roving my high school looking for spirits. But there was something about that floor.
Then there was the workshop I attended at Northern Illinois University one summer. I was only there for four nights or so, but it was enough to make me feel like there was something wrong with my room. For one thing, I had a nightmare every night I was there, and that's unusual for me. I dream every night and know it, and I remember the really bad ones. But they tend to be few in number per year, and that summer I had four nights in a row of bad dreams. Also, something in the corner of the room made inexplicable clicking noises as soon as I turned out the light.
Anyone from Illinois know Dominican University? I went to a weekend writing event there and while I like the grounds of the university, and while the writing workshops themselves were great, the dormitory was old and creepy. During the day it was clean and airy and efficient: the building was designed in another time and the rooms were almost like monastic cells, each of them containing a narrow bed, a desk, and a chair. Mine also had a sink. But for the showers and the toilets, I had to walk down the hall to an intersecting corridor that overlooked a chapel, and then into another hall that led to the women's bathroom facility. Getting up to use the restroom in the middle of the night was a trip. Nothing like walking through a hall overlooking a chapel in midnight darkness -moving statues, anyone? YIKES. I had two nights there and that was plenty. It did remind me, though, of the feeling I am always trying to convey when I write a paranormal scene.
Frustrating as it may be, I never did find out backstories on any of these locations: not the hotel in Ireland, nor any of the schools that succeeded in freaking me out at the time I was there. I'd love to know more, but having neither Michael Penfield's nor Cassie Valentine's abilities, I guess I will just remember them as items on my list of weird experiences.
I don't go looking for ghosts, and I don't think they come looking for me. I guess we just run into each other from time to time.