This story is real.
This story is true.
This story was told to me by a young man, who got it from his Dad.
And his Dad knew the story, because it actually happened to him.
The boy’s father was on a business trip to Wales. Wales is very beautiful; wild and rocky and rural. Like a lot of wild, rocky and rural places, it’s full of little hotels and bed & breakfasts. The father stopped at one of these little hotels. It wasn't anything fancy. Just quiet and clean. There didn't seem to be many customers and, as he'd arrived late at night, he went straight to his room, locked the door and went to sleep.
Quiet bedroom. Quiet hotel. Quiet night.
Suddenly, the man awoke, certain there was something on the bed. The mattress moved, as if a solid weight had pressed on it. Alarmed, he flicked on the bedside light to find there was indeed someone in his room.
Sitting on the end of the bed was a middle-aged woman. She was rather dumpy, wearing a unremarkable nightdress, quilted dressing gown and slippers. She seemed desperately sad and bewildered. When he sat up, she gave him a hopeful look.
“What,” the man began, angrily, “the hell are you doing in my room?“ He glanced at the door, which was shut with the key still in place. “How did you get in?”
The woman was flustered, looking even more unhappy. “I'm really sorry to come in and disturb you,” she said, miserably, “but I need some help. Something awful has happened and you're the only person I could find to help me.”
“Why? What’s happened?”
“I'm dead.” she said.
“I'm dead. I just died. In the next room. I'm just lying on the floor in there. Alone.” The woman pointed at the wall. “I've been dead for half an hour.“ She was close to tears. “I don't know what I'm meant to do. No one has come to get me. No one’s told me where I'm supposed to go. I'm scared! Help me, please?”
She didn't look dead. She looked fairly substantial, sat there in her dowdy nightclothes. But her distress and confusion were real and she clearly thought he could do something to help.
“Ok.’ he said. ‘Maybe you just had a bad dream because you’re sleeping in a strange place. Did you have a couple of drinks before bedtime?”
“No! I know I died. I've just been sat there, looking at me on the ground, and waiting for whatever happens next. I thought there was supposed to be lights. Or angels. I thought someone was meant to come for me, you know? Take me somewhere, tell me what to do? There’s been no one.” She wiped her tears on her sleeve, like an abandoned child. “I don't want to stay here if I'm dead. I want to go home!”
The man was rather worried for her. The strange woman was either drunk, or crazy, but her fear was so genuine it seemed callous just to call the manager and have her thrown out.
“I really think you've just had a bad dream. You don't look dead. I think you should go back to bed, lie down, and try to get some sleep. You'll feel better in the morning.”
“You really think so?” She gave him a watery smile of hope and gratitude.
“Yes. Just go back to your room, go to bed. It'll be all right. You'll see. Goodnight.” He pulled up the bedclothes around his neck, peered over them to say something else.
But she was gone.
No noise, no movement, no click of the latch or turn of the key. Gone.
He jolted out of bed, checked the door, rattled the knob. It was still locked tight. Was she hiding in the room? He turned on all the lights. He searched the bathroom He even checked the wardrobe and looked behind the curtains. No sign of her.
Bewildered, the man went back to bed. But it took him a while to get back to sleep and he had to leave a light on.
In the morning, there was a lot of bustle as he came down to breakfast. Outside the hotel, he saw blue lights, a police car and an ambulance. The staff were all talking at once and everyone was very excited while trying to appear solemn. Apparently, a guest had died in the night, unexpectedly.
“It was awful, really,” the girl at the desk told him. “Poor thing! She'd been lying there alone on the floor, all night. Room right next to yours, sir. Will that be cheque or credit card?”