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Hallowed Halls

Mineral Wells, Texas. A small town in north Texas, just west of Dallas, you wouldnt even notice the town as you drove through if it werent for one building. The building is completely out of place in such a small southern town. Go along up Main Street and it grows into view, making you do a double take to make sure you really saw it. A gigantic seven story yellowed stone building. The Baker Hotel. All but abandoned now, filled only with memories and stories of its treasured and well known past. Built in 1929 it turned the sleepy town into the place to be in north Texas. The water springs were said to have healing powers. The imposing lavish hotel brought people from all over, Hollywood and even Europe. Its said even such infamous names as Bonnie and Clyde passed through on occasion. Over its lengthy life it saw many faces and many stories pass through its healing springs. Then, decades after opening its doors, the building was locked down and closed in 1973. Now four decades later it still stands. Its original grandeur replaced with stories of ghosts and shadows lost in time. Boarded up and decaying it attracts the usual people looking for a good scare or thrill. Sadly, these days overgrown grass, an empty cracked pool, broken windows and worn stone are all that left here, unless you believe the stories. This is where I leave you, at the fence around the hauntingly beautiful structure. Three young men are out to learn the secrets of this urban palace. You sure this is a good idea? asked Gabriel as he nervously scratched his goatee as the balmy summer breeze whipped his brown hair. Whats wrong Gabe, scared of a few spooks? laughed Davis, Gabriels younger cousin. Davis looked so out of place. He was the youngest of the three young men yet he towered over both of them. Whatever, there are no ghosts, it isnt logicalgive me proof and Ill be first on the band wagon said a scruffy black bearded young man as he approached the other two men. Ah, youre no fun Wayne, stop trying to make Gabriel feel better said Davis as he shook hands with the newcomer to the group. Im not scared! Lets do this! grunted Gabriel as he climbed over the fence around the old hotel, ignoring the keep out sign. Oh wonderful, weve offended him laughed Wayne as he and Davis climbed the fence and landed in the dead grass next to Gabriel. The three young men stood in the shadow cast by the building at sunset. All three young men were in awe at being this close to the famed Baker Hotel. They were truly a motley crew of characters. Davis, at the age of twenty was excited to explore the place. The whole outing was his idea. His cousin

Gabriel was the shortest of the trio and believed every ghost story he ever heard. He had to be dragged along to this old hotel. Then there was Wayne, looking like he hadnt shaved in a month he was Mr. Logic, had to have proof. If there wasnt proof he didnt believe it. Its amazing he could breathe, since he couldnt see the oxygen. This place is so epic! said Davis as he ran towards the building running his fingers through his long brown hair. We better keep up with him before he falls and kills himself Sighed Gabriel as he rolled his eyes. Fair enough, hopefully this wont take long said Wayne has he turned on a flashlight and handed Gabriel a second one. They found Davis looking down in the large swimming pool behind the hotel. It was grand and expensive in its day, now an empty and cracked blue hole. You know, you could drown like fifty people in this thing at once Said Davis with a smirk as his friends approached. Somehow Im not surprised to hear that come out of your mouth said Wayne, slapping Davis on the back. Lets go ladies Chuckled Gabriel as he walked past them and approached the building. The three men walked around the old building looking for a way in, since all the doors were padlocked closed. After what seemed like forever they found a completely broken out window. It was to the left of the pool, just over a small bridge. Davis, with being the most excited climbed through the window without a single word, Wayne and Gabriel heard the resonating thud as he landed. Soon after Davis landed, the other two men proceeded into the window with a crunch. Sitting on the floor they shined their flashlights around the room. Holy geez, if this is how it looks now, I cant imagine it in the 1920s said Gabriel in stunned admiration. To their left was what they assumed was an old check in desk. A beautiful, Ill be it dusty, chandelier hung from the ceiling in the center of the room. The floor was covered in a maroon and dark green rug with various seats and coffee tables. On the other side of check in desk was a row of about 6 doors leading to the outside. The front entrance. Then they noticed the staircase, it looked like it was taken off the Titanic. Wheres Davis? asked Gabriel as he and Wayne got to their feet. Knowing him, id say he is already on the second floor said Wayne rubbing his back. Lets go they said in unison as they looked at each other.

The two of them climbed this beautiful old staircase with its intricate wood banister. As they climbed it seemed to get darker, since the light from the street lamps was strangled as they left the first floor behind them. The second floor was in fairly good condition, a long hallways with blue moonlight streaking from the rooms with open doors. Not far from where they left the stairs they saw a pair of elaborate double doors. This clearly led to s room of some importance, so natural this is where Wayne and Gabriel headed. Davis? they called out in unison as they pushed their way into the room. AHH! yelled Davis as he grabbed Gabriel from behind. Gabriel thought that little stunt of Daviss was going to send him to an early grave. He seemed to jump about five feet in the air. Are you CRAZY!? bellowed Gabriel as he whirled around on Davis. His anger faded into laughter as he saw his two friends on the ground in tears from laughter. The three men stood and began to walk around the large, surprisingly well lit room. Far to the left is what looked like a stage and on the wall opposite of the door were about 6 arched windows, which flooded the room with moonlight. Ballroom? guessed Wayne as he walked to look out the window. Oh my dear! Might I have this dance? said Davis jokingly to his cousin Gabriel. Oh my I thought youve nevah ask! cried Gabriel in a horrible southern belle accent. The cousins spun around the room in an exaggerated dance pattern. The boys laughter and footsteps echoed across the large spacious room. There was more in the air now. What seemed like a cold fog hang heavy in the air around them. Their laughter slowly gave way to an eerie and calm silence. Then, a low melodic hum of piano key filled the room. What the said Gabriel as his voice trailed off, the look on his face finishing the sentence for him. Is thatpiano? asked Davis. Come on losers said Wayne from the doorway, youre imagining things and the night is young! Wayne disappeared out of the door, Gabriel and Davis followed in his wake wearily. The third floor was nothing special really, rows and rows of simple hotel rooms. Each room had a little bed and bathroom. The events in the ballroom had made the boys weary of the old place, but not enough to turn back. As the boys explored the rooms tension hung in the air. It was like they had entered a fun

house, they saw shadows darting from room to room followed by an eerie laughter that seemed to come from the walls. What is going on here? said Gabriel in a shaky voice. nothin just this place playing tricks on your disoriented mind said Wayne as he walked by and slapped Gabriel on the back. Who cares? This place is amazing! said Davis as he shined his flashlight up the stairs and began to climb. They proceeded to climb higher and higher up the creaky old stairs. To Daviss dismay and Gabriels barely hidden joy, they couldnt go onto the fourth floor. The whole hallway on this level was blocked because of the various forms of debris that were obstructing the hallway. So onward and upward they climbed to the next floor. This floor made their hearts feel heavy for no obvious reason. Lets make this interesting and split up boys said Wayne as he passed his friends to explore level five. Each of them wandered into different rooms to explore on their own. Gabriel stumbled across a simple room just like the ones form the third floor. Small iron framed bad silhouetted by a window and a bathroom off to the right. Finally glad to be in a quiet room Gabriel collapsed on the small bed and watched the moonlight dance along the ceiling. Its okay Gabe were almost done here, I mean only two more levels, how much more could happen? he said he himself as he covered his eyes with his left hand, letting his right arm hang off the bed. The sensation he felt next was the last thing he expected. His right hand was wrapped up in something wet. Jerking his hand away he sat up in one swift movement. There in front of him was a most out of place creature, a furry grey and white sheep dog wagging his tail happily. Hey there boy, whatre you doing up here? said Gabriel petting the dog. Did you get lost? The dog was so friendly and happy to see him, he was clearly homeless being in this dreary place but he looked healthy and well fed. You can come with me said Gabriel with a huge smile. He got to his feet and stretched and so did the dog. Rubbing his eyes Gabriel looked around the room. To his surprise the happy little dog was nowhere to be seen, and had left an unobstructed spot on the floor. It was like the animal had never been there. In another room Davis scrounged through some old debris and objects in a dilapidated, room adjacent bathroom.

Oh come on I gotta find something cool to take home, nobody will ever believe I got in here said Davis as he started to get agitated and threw a bit of crossbar into the old claw footed bathtub with a clank. Can you help me please mister? came a weak tiny voice from the doorway. Davis just about just out of his skin and fell down as he spun around to see who was talking. What he saw didnt help the feeling of panic. There in the doorway of the bathroom was a little boy. He was dressed in a small three piece suit that looked old, very old. His pale skin and greasy black hair made him look like he was from an old black and white movie. The only color his pitiful form showed was red around his eyes, he had clearly been crying. Um, sure thing kid what can I help you with? asked Davis as he whipped his eyes with shaky hands. I cant find my mommy said the boy as he wiped his sleeve across his nose. Iuh stammered Davis as he looked around. Have you seen my mommy? asked the boy with hope in his red puffy eyes. Im sorry, I havent The hope drained from the boy as he let his shoulders drop in solemn defeat. He got a distant look in his eyes as if listening for something. Mommy? the boy got as light returned to his face and he ran straight through Davis and through the wall. Davis was left numb and in a cold sweat. Wayne was off down the hall glancing in rooms as he passed. He was bored and didnt care to be in an old abandoned hotel. But who knows, maybe this little adventure would make his coworkers jealous or at least leave with a few funny stories. As he was passing was seemed like the millionth cookie cutter room something knocked him off his feet and shoved him into one of said rooms. What the crap man? said Wayne getting to his feet What are you trying to pull? Where are they?! Where are my men!? said a man in what looked like a world war two uniform as he marched toward Wayne and grabbed his collar. Answer me! he yelled as he threw Wayne up against the wall. Wayne was frozen in absolute fear. He sat crumpled in the corner with wide eyes staring at this blank faced shimmering soldier. He finally got enough courage to attempt an answer but it never left his mouth. A blood curdling scream ripped through the hotel, it sounds like it came from every plank of wood and every nail. Wayne shot to his feet and ran for it, for his like, straight through the soldier. The soldier shimmered into a vapor as Wayne hit the hallway. He forced his legs to push him faster than he thought possible until with a crash he stopped and fell end over end.

He had run square into Davis and Gabriel who were also trying to run out of there. They didnt stop until they reached the sixth floor landing. What happened? they all said in unison, panting. I saw a dog, I dunno how said Gabriel sitting on a step. Creepy, freaky little kid ran through me gasped Davis as he slid to sit against the wall. I got you both beat, freakin soldier from world war two tried to kill me! said Wayne, still visibly shaking. And that scream they all said in a chorus of breathless words. Lets get OUT of here said Gabriel getting to his feet. Im with him said Wayne starting down the stairs. Wait, guys, lets just check out the seventh floor and leave, that way we can say we saw the whole thing. called Davis from behind them. Fine, but if I die Im so gonna haunt you! growled Gabriel as he pushed past Davis and headed to the seventh floor, his friends close behind. Well cover more ground on our own said Davis as they reached the seventh floor hallway. Youre welcome to but Gabe and I are sticking together said Wayne, annoyed. Fine growled Davis as he disappeared down the corridor. You ever hear the story of the seventh floor? asked Gabriel as they walked from room to room. Hum, I dont think so said Wayne. Well apparently, the owner in I think the 50s kept his mistress here in one of the corner suites, kind of like a prisoner I guess and eventually he stopped coming back and she jumped from the window, killing herself. Wow, poor girl said Wayne. They continued down the never ending corridor glancing in rooms as they passed. This floor had much nicer rooms. They were twice the size and looked like they had cost a considerable amount more than the other floors. Oh great, whats that sound? asked Wayne coming to a slow stop.

I dont hear any Gabriel began to say as a chill ran though him as he heard what Wayne heard. Crying Wayne breathed. They rapidly followed the sound of sobs down the hallway. Finally in a corner suite they saw her. She was a blond hair woman in a flowing white dress. They only saw her for a brief moment before she vanished in a puff of smoke. Wow even I have to admit that was awesome laughed Gabriel looking back to where Wayne had been standing, but he wasnt there. Gabriel scanned the room and saw Wayne walking slowly towards where the woman had been standing. Whatre you doing? asked Gabriel Wayne continued to walk towards the window, unblinking and unfeeling. His eyes were glassy and hollow. Then it happened, Wayne opened the window. This is what threw Gabriel into action as he leaped and grabbed his friend and tried to pull him away from the window. Wayne snap out of it! yelled Gabriel as he was thrown to the ground. Davis! yelled Gabriel as he got to his feet. Before he could call out again Davis appeared in the doorway and immediately saw what he had to do. He ran forward at full speed, tackling Wayne off his feet. They smashed into the wall in a heap. Close the window Davis called to Gabriel. Gabriel ran over to the window and slammed it shut. Wayne was himself a second later as if the window closing flipped a switch in him making him himself again. In the silence that followed they stared at each other in silence. Without a word they all ran for the stairs. Down, down, down they ran until they were back outside at the swimming pool. They all lay there on the ground gasping for breath and looking up at the foreboding structure. Davis said Gabriel Yeah? Dont ever let me listen to you again It was the nice little laugh they all needed. They decided to get home. They got to their feet and one by one climbed back over the fence t safe ground. They started to walk off when they heard it. The all too familiar blood curtling scream. Looking back at the hotel they saw the blond haired woman leap from the window Wayne had been climbing out of not long before. Before their eyes the woman turned

into a foggy vapor and vanished just being she hit the ground. This sent the boys running, leaving the old hotel in their wake. The sun rose behind the old building leaving a silhouette of the beautiful building still full of life, decades after its death. Maybe there is more to this old place than the people of mineral wells know. Good or bad, this heart of history will forever pump history and stories through the hearts and minds of the townspeople. On the other hand, its secrets will stay locked away in its hallowed halls.

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