My Stay At The Stanley Hotel
E. A. Black writes erotica, dark fiction, and horror. Her fiction has appeared in Stupefying Stories, Zippered Flesh 2: More Tales Of Body Enhancements Gone Bad, Midnight Movie Creature Feature 2, Teeming Terrors, Wicked Tales: The Journal for the New England Horror Writers Vol. 3, Mirages: Tales From Authors Of The Macabre (edited by Trent Zelazny) and more. Her story Invisible shall appear in Zippered Flesh 3: Yet More Tales Of Body Enhancements Gone Bad in late 2017. She lives on the Massachusetts coast in Lovecraft country with her husband, son, and three cats. The beach calls to her every day, and she takes inspiration from it. She has yet to run into Cthulhu. Visit her web site, her Facebook page, and her Amazon Author Page.
Two years ago, I had the pleasure of attending my first writers retreat. It was held at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. Yes, that Stanley Hotel – the one where Stephen King stayed that inspired him to write The Shining. He stayed in room 217, which is supposedly haunted. I noticed word of hauntings at the hotel didn’t come about until after King stayed there and later became famous. At the time he stayed, the place was very run down – perfect to scare yourself silly. Now, it’s in much better condition. Estes Park today is also All Thing Stephen King so the town makes a lot of tourist dollars from the writer. It’s like how Point Pleasant, WV relies on the Mothman stories to bring in money from tourists. Otherwise, there’s really no reason to go there. Same with Roswell, NM. Aliens pour dollars into the town’s coffers. Granted, Estes Park has the Rockies and likely some fine skiing, but the town itself is Stephen King Central. There’s even a brewery nearby that sells The Shining-themed ales. I had two of them. They were delicious.
The organiser of the retreat stayed in room 217 and he said he had some odd experiences. My husband and I stayed in room 319, which was not haunted. I had read that room 401 was also haunted but someone had beaten me to it and already booked that room. That was fine. I was very happy with the spacious room and the gorgeous view of the Rockies and snow outside our bathroom and bedroom windows. The crisp, cool mountain air was so clean. Much like the air where I live on the Massachusetts coast. You can smell the ocean from our apartment. Delicious. An added benefit was that it was unseasonably warm that October and we didn’t need to bundle up as much as expected. So the snow looked pretty but we were comfortable in coats and sweaters outside.
The Guests of Honor list was very impressive – Jack Ketchum, Josh Malerman, Trent Zelazny, and Daniel Knauf and others were in attendance. At the time I hosted a podcast called The Woman Show, and I snagged Ketchum, Zelazny and Knauf as guests by walking up to them (quaking in my boots) and asking them if they’d like to chat with me on the air. They very graciously said yes. I later snagged Malerman to be on my new show Into The Abyss With Elizabeth Black. All four were delightful and I’d love to have them on again. Here are the links to the shows if you’d like to listen in.
While I had paid to participate in a late night paranormal investigation of the hotel, I was unable to do it at the last minute. I did get a daytime tour of the place compete with information about all the hauntings. The TV show Ghost Hunters investigated the Stanley in one of the earlier seasons, and I watched the episode at home before heading west. I went to the daytime ghost and history tour with that show in mind. The creepiest part of the tour was the tunnel beneath the hotel. It was rather close and musty. The hosts of Ghost Hunters heard the voice of a little girl giggling and calling them from a space beyond the tunnel and it really freaked them out. Turned out the voice was only someone playing a prank on them. Still, that tunnel was wicked strange and downright claustrophobic with its narrow hallway and low ceiling.
The fourth floor was also purported to be haunted. I didn’t see anything nor did any spectres appear in the photos I took on my phone. Not even an orb. Still, the quiet and the solitude gave me the willies. Every time I turned the corner I expected to see two little twin girls at the opposite end of the hall and blood pouring from the elevator. I really must stop watching horror movies right before going to bed. While I had no experiences, some at the hotel did. One woman insisted she was pushed when just outside her room and fell and hurt her arm. I vaguely recall hearing she broke it. This was on the infamous fourth floor.
The hotel itself is fascinating and it was well worth the stay. I didn’t get much writing done since I was busy attending lectures by the Guests of Honor and events like a Murder Mystery Dinner, which was a blast. We even stopped in Denver before heading to the Stanley to buy some pot since it’s legal in Colorado. I discovered something new about myself – I can’t write stoned. I turn into a drooling puddle of goo. LOL I sure slept well, though. Investigating the yawning corridors at night alone while in an alternative state of mind was great fun. Sadly, the Stanley Hotel Writers Retreat is no more, but I will always have my happy memories of the place and the event.