Blue, Georgia Buley

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The following is a true story. It happened to me, only a few weeks ago. Even now, it feels fake, like I’m rewriting a dream someone told me years and years ago.

I work in a hotel in the CBD. Though there’s plenty of spooky stories attached to it – it used to be a children’s hospital, and the Housekeeping staff swear six ways to Sunday that the morgue we turned into a storage room is haunted by the ghosts of dead children – nothing really properly frightening has happened to me. I love scary stories. Cryptids, unsolved mysteries, all that Bermuda triangle kinda stuff. I’d have loved for some creepy ghost to come flying at me in the corridors of our back-of-house. But this is different. This is truly just… unsettling.

I work nights but my shift ends closer to dawn, so I still have the pleasure of checking out some of the early risers as they come down for breakfast, or to catch an early flight. It was a Monday morning, busy: all the corporate-types were on their way out. Down come four people who hop into line in front of me. I’m on my own, but they’re understanding, and the process is pretty streamlined so the wait’s not too bad. First a lady with peroxide blonde hair, then a businesswoman in a real snappy pantsuit. No problems. Then there’s a man with a scruffy white beard and the most piercing blue eyes I’ve ever seen. I remember those eyes the most. They felt like they cut through you, those eyes.

Our system has a timer on it, which logs out a user after a short amount of time spent inactive. I’d been distracted: his conversation was a nice change of pace. By the time he’d left, the system had logged itself out, and I lost the billing screen I’d had up to process his charges. I checked out the last person in line, and then open up the bearded man’s room number again.

Error.

The room number, the surname, all details I remember clearly are all showing up with errors. There is, nor never has been, someone staying in our hotel with those details. But I have the room number and the name – 1502, Fenris – written down on my notepad. I know I’m not misremembering, because those words are there. I wrote them.

I went through an hour’s worth of security footage, painstakingly moving the cursor through each frame, but he wasn’t there. There was the lady with the blonde hair, there was the businesswoman, and there was– the last guest I checked out. No time skip, no gap, nothing. Just my flawed memory of a man who didn’t exist.

Even now, when I think about it, he seems faint, like drawing his face back to mind is a strain. I’m sure in a few weeks I won’t even be able to remember what he looked like. But those eyes… those piercing blue eyes. I’ll remember those forever.

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