I’d been planning it for almost seven months.
March 30th marked thirteen years together for us as a couple, so naturally, I wanted to treat my wife (who is extremely superstitious and into the paranormal) to something special. In my opinion, what I had planned was perfect.
During our honeymoon, all those years ago, I had booked a bed and breakfast in Little Rock that has something of a reputation. It’s known as the Empress, and any casual google search will tell you that the old Victorian house has stood on the corner of 22nd and Louisiana for longer than a century. The owners, a lovely couple named Bob and Sharon, have cultivated a long-forgotten aura of elegance and romanticism since 1993.
Of course, being the horror fans we are, when we heard there was a chance that people could encounter spirits at the B&B we jumped at the opportunity. As an added bonus, it was also one of the top-rated bed and breakfasts in the country. How could we go wrong?
The experience was a dream come true, not only were we able to enjoy the bliss of matrimony, but the bed and breakfast had so much to offer. There was a beautiful private suite prepared with a double occupancy jacuzzi and spa, and even a book filled with guest experiences that spanned the last ten years.
“Let’s write something weird in it, then when we come back, we can see what’s been added to the book,” my wife said excitedly.
I bit the tip of a ballpoint pen and thought for a moment, getting ready to scribble something weird, but it was then that I noticed there was already a phrase written on the page.
‘Whoever reads this note will be bound to this hotel for all eternity.’
I showed my wife and we laughed, appreciating the Empress’s commitment to horror, before writing my own, less ominous note.
The rest of the weekend went fabulously, from perfect meals to excellent customer service, Bob and Sharon didn’t let us down. In fact, I would say the only real disappointment during our honeymoon was that we didn’t see any ghosts.
It sounds silly I’m sure, but my wife said maybe we could go back one day and try for a real paranormal experience; so I figured what better way could there be to spend our unlucky thirteen?
I wanted it to be a total surprise so I didn’t mention a word of my plan. I even made arrangements for her parents to come down and watch our son, so we could really enjoy the weekend together.
On the drive up to Little Rock though, it didn’t take long for her to figure out what was going on. Nothing gets by her. “How long have you been planning this?” she asked excitedly.
“Oh, probably since the first time we came,” I grinned slyly.
The Empress looked just like I remembered it. A relic of a bygone era, it was like taking a step back in time.
My wife was ecstatic. She was literally on cloud nine. We even got the exact same room that we had for our honeymoon.
Once inside, I dropped our bags and walked toward the canopy bed and kissed her deeply. I won’t get into the sordid details of the next hour, but needless to say, afterward we were quite sweaty and decided to relax into the spa bath. I ordered some wine and we reminisced over the many years we’d had together.
“Do you remember when we first came here and you wrote that silly note in the journal?” We cuddled while the spa warmed up.
“Of course! I was just thinking we needed to check that!” I said excitedly. Ten minutes later we were lounging in the bed, having found the logbook stored away in one of the bookshelves.
“2006 seems so long ago,” she said, browsing through the pages, “It’s amazing this book has stayed in such perfect condition.”
I finished up my glass of wine and leaned over her shoulder as she found the pages for March, gesturing toward the date. “There it is!” I exclaimed.
“Let’s see if anyone else wrote anything funny since then,” she said as she skimmed the journal.
I started watching tv, half-listening as she read some of the entries.
“This sounds… odd,” Her voice wavered as she paused on one of the pages.
“July 12, we’re still here. We can’t leave. Why can’t we leave? What have we done?” she read a page aloud. Thumbing back a few pages, she noticed the handwriting was all the same. “This looks like you wrote all these entries.”
“Huh?” I said, scooting up on the bed and taking a look. The similarity to my own handwriting was disturbingly similar, so I read more. As I continued, the journal entries became more and more bizarre.
“I’ve lost track of time… I have no idea why we can’t leave or why no one notices us,” A frigid chill ran down my spine as I read on.
“Is this some sort of prank?” my wife asked nervously, chuckling.
“No, I swear,” rising to my feet, I strode over to the bookshelf and checked another journal. It was more of the same, the tone of the writing became increasingly joyful with every new entry.
On a whim, I pulled out the logbook for this year. The handwriting was still just like my own, and the person writing seemed to know every minute detail of this place, like they’d spent the last thirteen years trapped in this room.
I reached the entry for the day we were staying here. There were only two words scrawled across both pages.
Suddenly the air seemed to be sucked out of the room. The candles we had lit blew out on their own, my wife clung to me fearfully. There was something else in the room with us, I could feel it.
Two figures materialized in the darkness, blank silhouettes hanging from the ceiling and waiting. They were smiling. My wife screamed. I jumped up.
We grabbed our clothes and ran down the stairs and out the front entrance. We got to the car and sped off without a glance back. We found a chain motel off the highway and fell into an uncomfortable slumber.
“They looked just like us,” my wife said, finally mustering up the courage to confront the supernatural event we had just witnessed.
“How is that possible?” I asked. Neither of us had the answer we wanted, nor our belongings, so we drove back to the Empress the following morning.
We spied the owners at the front desk and told them all about our haunting experience from the previous night. They listened intently, retorting that others in the room had never reported anything strange.
“Ghosts work differently for different people though, maybe what you saw was something you needed to see?” Bob suggested as I returned to the room to gather a few items we had left behind in our rush to flee.
My wife was standing there, looking at a journal marked for next year. “What is it?” I asked.
“Look at this,” she said, passing it over and pointing to more entries made with the same familiar handwriting. I looked toward the bookshelf and saw more journals spanning the next fifty years.
“How is that possible?” I asked as she went to the bathroom. Inside, she screamed again, and I came immediately to her side.
“Look!” backing away from the mirror, she stabbed her finger repeatedly at her reflection; an elderly couple stared back at us, hand in hand with serene looks plastered on their faces. There was no doubt who they were, the resemblance to us was impossible to argue.
Once again, we bolted out of the room, making a beeline for the car.
We’ve been on the road for over an hour now, and just recently stopped at a rest stop so we could pee. “Do you think… that it’s possible we really did see… our spirits?” My wife mused with vacant eyes.
“You mean the future?” I asked.
“I don’t know… it just seemed like when I saw that woman… I could see a different life. An endless life where it was just us together, forever,” she said distantly. I hadn’t wanted to admit it, but I had felt the same way.
“Maybe we’re connected to that room, somehow…” I suggested.
“What does that mean?” she whispered.
I didn’t have an answer for her right away. It took me a moment to find the words, they rattled around listlessly for some time. Caressing her arm, I spoke in soothing tones, “It means that no matter what, even in death, our love will endure. That, for all intents and purposes, our love is so powerful that it stretches beyond time and space.”
She smiled and we kissed each other. “I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my forever,” she realized and added, “Happy anniversary.”
“Happy anniversary,” I agreed, turning the car around.