Things That SHRIEK In The Night
Story by Garry Goertzen and Lancelot Burton
Making the trip from Vancouver Island to the Northernmost tip of Yukon, Emily expected nothing more than a mundane, one-woman road trip. She was travelling to the far edge of the snowy Canadian province for a job offer and the prospects were good.
After traveling for what seemed like months but was probably only a few days (she had lost track of time kilometres ago), fatigue was beginning to weigh her down. Her eyelids were drooping and the scarce streetlights she passed as she drew closer to the town of Carcross were starting to blur. She decided that good night’s sleep was due. Driving around town for only a few minutes, she came across the Caribou Hotel. The historic establishment was located just off a main street and appeared to have been set down in the middle of the little town straight out of a movie set. A three-story building, the hotel was painted a cold grey- blue, featuring the traditional rectangular shape that so many old buildings possessed.
Emily shivered, idling her car out front. She was unsure about the hotel that was known for it haunting past owners. It gave her an uneasy feeling. However, her eyelids, she feared, would not make it to the next town without rest. So, she parked her car in the parking lot, heaved her duffle bag from her trunk, and made her way inside.
Signing in, she carefully traipsed up the old staircase. Her room was on the second floor and as she unlocked the heavy wooden door and entered, she was hit with a sudden sense of dread. It coiled In her stomach, filling her body with lead.
This was a terrible idea she thought.
No. She was being dramatic...silly her.
She locked the door behind her and set her duffle on the bed, avidly trying to ignore the heavy feeling in her stomach. She noted several coloured feathers scattered in the vicinity of her bed but paid no mind. A few hours later, after finally falling into a restless slumber underneath the threadbare hotel provided sheets, she was awoken by a slight brushing on her cheek and someone speaking to her.
It was a man’s voice, deep and threatening, with a slight southern twang. She sat upright quickly, her eyes darting towards the door. She expected to see a bellhop, maid, or other hotel employee except…there was no one. She was alone, the coat hook the only other being in the room to make a shadow.
Who had she heard then?
She could have sworn the voice had been right there…
In a sudden impact, silence snapped when the room echoed a shriek from an inhuman harsh and rustic toned voice of curses and profanity. The threatening words persisted like a broken record. She cried out in shock, her hands reflectively flying to cover her ears, which were now ringing from the assault. Her heart was hammering so fast she thought it might gallop from her chest and she had a sudden headache forming behind her eyes. The last memory was a loud flutter of feathers that brushed her face, the room was growing darker, time was standing still as her field of vision narrowing…
She woke the next morning on the floor, watery footprints beside her fading from evaporation, her arm bent at an awkward angle beneath her body. Rolling to her back and sitting up, she was struck with the strange events from the previous night. She had never been one to believe in ghost stories and the supernatural, but she was unable to logically explain away the shrieking noise, cursing voice, and overall bad feelings. And why was she on the floor? She shook her head, deciding then and there that she needed to do some research. Realistically, she knew that she should be continuing with her journey, but she had to know. Was there a reason for all this? Or had she simply lost her mind?
After a quick bite to eat she found herself at a large wooden table in the library. The librarian had provided her with a book on the local history of Carcross, warning her not to damage it. Carefully flipping through the slightly brown pages, she scanned each paragraph for any mentions of the hotel.
She found nothing of interest regarding the official name of the Caribou Hotel. She did note, however, that decades prior to her visit, in 1918, Polly the Parrot moved in. Captain James Alexander, owner of a mining company, had asked the hotel owners to take care of his Parrot while he went travelling to the deep south. During this tragic depart from Alaska, Alexander drowned when the Princess Sophia sank in 1918. Polly stayed with the Hotel owners who continued to operate the hotel until the birds death in 1972.
According to newspaper clippings tucked into the binding of the book, Polly, was fit to sit on a Pirate’s shoulder, the whiskey drinking, mean, cursing parrot is now believed to be amongst those who continue to haunt visitors who have the opportunity to stay in the hotel.