Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Fire Watch at Lake Hotel-A Night of Reckoning
is available at Amazon.com for kindle or computer download.
I arrived at 7 p.m while the hotel was still occupied by construction workers, painters, tilers and sheet rockers. They smiled, listened as I walked past, clip board in hand, listening to the Boss detailing everything I had to look for. He told me to check all the cords, probably a million or more, seemed like it anyways, for frays, loose plugs or anything of concern. Then I was to tag them, unplug them and roll them up. The least spark could send this place to its firey glory where all historic monuments go to rest. He showed me the basement, and the yellow pipes that had to be monitored. One was frozen, one of the reasons our fire supression system was not up to par. If the gages changed, or the compresser thing quit, I had to call them.
We located pull stations. Then he said good luck.
Eventually all the guys left and I began my rounds, starting at the attic, descending stairs, walking long halls, shinning my head lamp into dark vacant rooms. I swept up dry wall and nails. Suddenly something would fall and I'd jumped, and reason it out. Musta been that broom I left against the second floor window. Thats just what Madison Shelby, notorious cook in my thriller would have done. Reason it away.
Eventually I found some cordage in a back corner and started braiding it as I walked along, Keep the hands busy, think good thoughts. I walked to the end where the whicker furniture went, facing the off limits Stage Two. A dark shadow moved away from the light, hid agaisnt the wall by the silent elevator. I shuddered, turned around, quickly heading back, glancing twice over my shoulder. Had to just be the way I used that lamp, nothing more. I couldn't get the darkness out of my mind, way darker than any shadow I had seen all night.
I found three cords of question, and then radioed our driver from the office. He was making his way back to West Yellowstone. His rig was creeping along a 6 mph. I would walk between hotel and the office three more times, alone, griz roaming near the lake, to radio Rory, asking his location. Telling him, copy that. At 1:30 a.m, all I got was static and was pretty sure he'd made it past Madison Juntion. Nearly home.
Two thirty, three, I logged my rounds, checked the basement whistling. I made sure I told the guys I carried mace. They said it didn't work against ghosts. I told them it worked against Guys pretending to be ghosts.
The dining room got colder, way colder. I remembered the Sixth Sence, the movie where a deep coldness preceeded a ghostly arrival. I glanced around nervously, said, "John, I'm helping to keep the place clean," and picked up a scrap of lumber, placing it in the dark wheel barrow.
Finally 4 a.m arrived. I was heading down the second flight of stairs. I heard foot steps. whistling. The boss had said I'd be on duty til 7 a.m when they would arrive to work.
A broad shouldered man appeared. "Randy!" I said, happily, taking a deep breath of relief.
"How'd it go?" he asked.
"Great, pretty tired though."
"Well, I'm on duty now, so you can get some sleep."
Turns out, 4 a.m is the normal shift change. Thank god, I was ready to head back to the man camp.
Man camp refers and dorms, about a tenth of a mile from Hotel.