It’s become a habit to tell the occasional spooky story on Twitter. I’ve also made a habit of copying them here to my blog as Twitter is so ephemeral. Here’s one I tweeted out last week.

You can click through and read the tweets, or here’s the whole thing all together:

 

I’ve been thinking lately about a holiday we took years ago.

I was about 12 or 13 when we stayed in this old Scottish hotel not far from Ullapool. It was a creepy place, but super cool. I loved all the old stone and weird corridors and leadlight windows.

It was also the first time I stayed anywhere and had a room of my own. This tiny single room right at the end of the hall on the top floor, with a bed, a bedside table, a wardrobe and just enough space between them to get dressed.

There was a window at the end, leadlight and narrow, with a deep stone sill. It looked out over the neat gardens four stories down.

The room was always cold. The place was really old and it was Scotland, but Scottish summers can be nice, the hotel was warm inside, but not this room.

I was equal parts enthralled and creeped out every night.

One night I was mostly asleep, when I heard a tree branch scratching at the window. Tapping and kinda scraping at the glass.

It must have been late, because it was full dark, and it didn’t get properly dark until after 11pm that far north.

Then I remembered, there was no tree outside the window.

The gardens were neat lawns and rose beds, a pond with a circular stone edge on the far side. No trees at all.

I sat up and looked over at the window. It took a while for my eyes to adjust, but I finally made out a small boy there, tapping with one index finger.

His eyes were bright in the darkness, wide and beseeching. His face a pale moon in the night. I couldn’t see much more except that one finger, tap-scraping at the glass.

His mouth moved, he was speaking, but I couldn’t hear his voice. And all I could think was, “I’m on the fourth floor.”

Above my room was a sloping slate roof with these cool as hell stone gargoyles and things, a deep, green metal gutter. And below a drop of more than thirty feet. What was he standing on?

I buried my face in the pillow and did my best to ignore it. Eventually it stopped and I finally fell asleep again.

I didn’t tell anyone. I thought I’d sound mad.

The next night it happened again. Those wide eyes, that pale face, that one finger tap-scraping away. His expression was pleading.

The next morning at breakfast in the hotel dining room, my parents asked if I was okay. “You look pale,” my mum said. “You look tired,” my dad said.

“Yeah, I didn’t sleep too well.”

“Ah, you’re in the wee room at the end of the top floor?” said the hotel manager. He would wander the dining room, asking how the guests were, stuff like that. He always wore tweed, and had this crazy shock of grey hair like an explosion all around his head.

I nodded and he smiled, kindly, but his teeth were yellow and I didn’t like them. “You saw Wee Taggart, did ye?” he said.

“Wee… Taggart?”

“Aye, the Taggart boy. Not everyone who stays in that room sees him, but some do.”

My parents were confused, frowning, but I had to know. “He’s real?”

The hotel manager smiled again. “Depends on your definition of real, wouldn’t you say? Toby was his name. He fell from the window of that room more than two hundred years ago. Didn’t survive, of course.”

“His parents were in the room next door,” the hotel manager said. “The one right opposite where your parents are staying. That nice Mrs. Armitage is in there at the moment. She’s a regular.”

“Anyway, every once in a while he shows up when someone is staying there, asking to be let back in.”

“He wants to be let in?” I asked.

“Did you open the window for him?” the hotel manager asked in return, eyes narrowing.

“No!” I said, aghast. “I didn’t realise that’s what he wanted.” Those pleading eyes… “Should I?” I asked. “Let him in?”

The hotel manager shook his head. “Oh, I wouldn’t advise it. No one ever has before. I don’t know what might happen.”

That night I complained to my parents I was scared and they cursed the hotel manager for telling stupid stories. But I knew he wasn’t lying. I asked if I could sleep on the floor in their room and they agreed. It was our last night there anyway.

But before I went to bed, I left the window open in the tiny room at the end of the hall.

We were woken in the night by screaming. Doors opened all up and down the hall as people looked out. The hotel manager and other staff came running, asking everyone to please return to bed, so sorry, nothing to see.

Gossip was alive in the dining room the next morning. Apparently Mrs. Armitage, in the room opposite my parents, had died.

I overheard one couple saying they talked to the night porter and HE said the woman had been middle-aged and healthy, but suffered a massive heart attack. They found her pale and wide-mouthed. “She looked to me like she’d been scared to death,” the porter told them.

We were moving on that day, heading out to the Skye. Before we left, I had to go and pack up my stuff in the little room. The window had been closed again, and someone had fitted a padlock to it.

I’ve always harboured guilt about poor Mrs. Armitage. I mean, did I kill her? Inadvertently, of course, but did I?

One day I’d like to go back to that hotel and see if the lock is still there on the window. I hope it is.