It was a dark, rainy night. Richard was driving on the highway. It was quite late, so he would only see one or two cars driving past for every hour. He had a very busy day, another one he had to work overtime. Another long surgery. He had been so busy lately he even forgot to refill the car with gas. He kept driving, the radio playing some music in a low volume to help him relax, when he saw the fuel arrow pointing to “E” and the orange warning light going on. “Oh crap,” he thought. He knew there was no gas station for miles, when he saw a turn on his right leading to a narrower road with a tall building full of lights not far from where he was. Hoping he would find some help, he turned and headed towards it. He stopped in front of it, it was a large, 10 floor building, and had a large, shiny sign above the entrance, “Dolphin Hotel”. The name sounded familiar, he must have heard it before. It was quite a fancy building, but he thought strange the fact there were no other cars parked around. People could be sleeping, sure, it would be quiet, but not a single car either. He locked the car and entered the hotel. It looked lovely. Very big and luxurious lobby, a very fancy bar, some relaxing music, and many lights. You could feel the warmth. There were no guests around but the atmosphere felt quite warm. There was, however, a small, cold current passing from his cheeks every now and then. For some reason that cold breeze would bring him shivers. He looked around, no windows open, the door behind him was closed as he had left it. He brushed it off his head and walked a few steps to the reception. There was a man, smiling and looking at Richard as he was walking towards him.
“Hello, sir, and welcome to Dolphin Hotel, the destination of your dreams. How may I help you?”
“I have run out of gas, I was wondering if there was any…”
“Unfortunately we will be receiving our weekly gas supply tomorrow, sir,” the receptionist interrupted him, “and the local tow service is not currently in operation due to the heavy rain. May I suggest a lovely room for tonight? We have a very good sale just for you!”
Richard felt hesitant, but he didn’t really have much of a choice. He didn’t want to disturb his fiance or any friend at this time. The man behind the desk didn’t wait for more than a few seconds, he took a key from the shelf right behind him and handed it to Richard.
“Room 408, sir, 4th floor. Enjoy your stay, I promise you will never forget it!”
As minutes passed Richard kept feeling stranger about this place, but took the key and walked to the elevator. He looked around, pretending to admire the hotel, and took a glimpse of the receptionist back at the desk. He was still looking at him, with that fixed smile. Rain was still pouring heavily as he reached his destination, the 4th floor. He walked the well lit hall, looking at doors till he’d find his. It was very quiet, no one getting to their room, noone making a single noise in their room. “Not really busy for a 5 star hotel near the highway,” he thought. He unlocked the door of his room and walked in. It was a large, cozy room, It had a living room with 2 very comfortable brown sofas, a large plasma TV, a small bathroom and a bedroom with a large bed in the middle. He turned on the TV to hopefully watch something and fall asleep but there was only static. Not a single channel working, only static. He turned it off and lied on the bed. He watched a few videos on the internet, hoping it would help him sleep, when he thought about searching for the hotel. His eyes were getting heavy now. He found some pictures of the hotel, so he felt better knowing it was legit. His eyes were about to close when he read the title of one of the images, “Dolphin Hotel, one of the best hotels of the country till 5 years ago…” he wanted to read the full article, but he was too tired, he put his phone aside, flipped the light switch next to the bed to turn the light off, message Molly, his fiance,that he will be staying at a hotel for the night and closed his eyes.
It was a couple of hours later when he felt thirsty. He flipped the light switch, but the lights didn’t come on. He stood up, walked to the fridge and had some water. He was curious, though, of why the lights wouldn’t come on. He opened the room’s exit and looked outside. The hallway was dark as well, not a single light on. It was still quiet, no one else outside wondering why the lights weren’t working
“Hello!” he shouted. No one around, not a single sound. He walked back in the room and closed the door behind him. He tried using the room’s phone to call reception but the line was dead. He checked his phone, but had no reception. “What the hell…” he thought. Suddenly, he heard a knock on the door. “Who is it?” He received no reply, but another couple of knocks instead. “I said who is it!” he insisted, but so did the knocks. After a few more knocks, he heard a woman’s voice behind the door. “Are you ready to check out mister Reeves?” while the door’s knob was being turned to open.
He opened his eyes. He was still lying on the bed, it was all a dream. The sun was out and he couldn’t have felt more relieved about it. He left the room and headed to the reception, the man was still there, standing still and smiling at the direction Richard came from. There was still no one around.
“Good morning, sir. Leaving already?”
“Yes, here’s my credit card.”
“Do not worry, sir, it’s on us, free of charge.”
“I have some bad news, though, we still haven’t received any gas, probably by tomorrow. Would you like to stay for another night? We would really appreciate it, really.”
Richard’s gut didn’t stop tingling for a second, from the moment he had walked in the hotel he only kept feeling more and more strange.
“No, thank you, my fiance will come pick me up.”
“We insist,” he said, holding the credit card while Richard was waiting for it with his arm extended.
“No. I am leaving,” Richard replied in a serious tone, grabbed the card and started walking away.
“Very well. Thank you for coming, we really hope to see you again!”
Richard left the hotel and quickly started his car and drove away. He hadn’t even called his fiance or anyone else, he just wanted to get out of there. He called Molly shortly after, though, to come find him on the highway with some gas. Not much later, they were home, having coffee and talking.
“Sooo you said you’ll tell me when we return home. What happened? You looked kinda worried. Where did you stay for the night?”
“Well, I stayed at this 5 star hotel, it was quite fancy to say the least and they didn’t even charge me for the night, the reception dude was very nice, but..”
“But? Is there a but? Sounds great if you ask me, I don’t even know why you were in such a hurry to leave.”
“It felt strange. I saw no one else but the receptionist, no staff at the bar, no guests around, not a single person or car anywhere near the hotel. Plus I had this dream that suddenly the hotel had no power and it was as if it was abandoned… I know it sounds crazy but it felt really strange, I swear.”
“Well it’s over baby, relax. What was the name of the hotel?”
“Uhm… I was almost sure I had heard of it before… it was… ah! Dolphin Hotel.”
“Yeah sure, good one,” said Molly with a smirk.
“What do you mean?” Richard replied, with a worried look, seeing Molly looking at him as if he was lying.
“You’re joking, Rick,” said Molly, but after seeing his face still being serious after her words, she started to look as if in shock. She opened her mouth wide and her eyes looked terrified. “Rick, the name Dolphin Hotel sounded familiar to you because you probably heard about it on the news. Some deaths occurred under unknown circumstances within a few days. The… the Dolphin Hotel was closed, 5 years ago…”
Richard’s face soon had the shock of Molly’s.
“W… what? But… I stayed there last night.”