Room 33 at 3am

At first, the room seemed normal.  I’ve stayed in many hotels over the years, this was just like any other business trip.  Nothing out of the ordinary. This room seemed just like the rest. That was until nightfall came, 3am to be exact.  I started to hear piano keys being pressed, not a song or tune, just random keys like a child trying to play and just hitting all the keys. for some reason at 3am, this sound is unsettling.

As far as I can remember there is no piano room in this hotel,  I didn’t see one anyway. The noise is so loud, I get out of bed, put my coat on and go looking for the piano, the further away I move from my room the fainter the sound gets.

I find myself at the reception desk. I ask the night clerk:  “Hey, Do you have a piano in the hotel?”
She has this knowing look on her face, as she curiously says: “No, why do you ask?”
I shake my head: “I must be hearing things, Lack of sleep can mess with your mind.”
She looks at the clock on the far wall behind her, I follow her gaze. The clock reads 3:15am.  She looks back to me: “what room are you staying in?”
I wonder why that matters as I answer her: “Room 33”
Her eyes widen: “Oh” she types on the keyboard in front of her: “We must be fully booked up.”

I frown: “Why?”
She glances up at me: “We don’t normally book out that room.”
My frown deepens: “Why?”
At this point I am wide awake, I look to her name badge, it reads Niamh, assistant manager. She looks to her hands and back to me: “30 years ago, there was a member of staff that used to book out that room when she had her sons over. She only got to see them twice a month.” She fidgets with her hands: “She wanted to make them feel spoiled when she had them.”
Intrigued I ask: “Why could she only see them twice a month.”
She looks to me with a steel cold look in her eyes: “Her mother in law took them from her, said that she was sick and could not be around them on her own.”

I nod almost afraid to ask why, she continues: “One day her mother in law told her that this would be her last visit with them, that she was moving away and taking them with her.”
She looks around the front desk as she says: “The older son took his piano, the younger one liked to think he could play, but instead he just hit the keys and was happy that noise was coming out.”
She smiles sweetly, almost as if remembering it. She wipes a tear from the corner of her eye: “She came up with a plan that would keep them together forever.”

She looks me in the eyes: “When it was bedtime she put the boys in separate beds. She made sure that they were both sound asleep before she smothered them to death. Then she took her own life.”
“How?” I have so many questions, yet I am compelled to ask this one.
“She hung herself in the bathroom, of room 33.” She smiles: “They have been together ever since.”
Not knowing what to say I am left speechless. I was going to ask to be moved out of that room when I remembered that she said they were fully booked up.

She looks at the clock on the wall, again I follow her gaze it reads 3.55am.  “Enjoy your time here, I really must be going.”
“Oh, ok then.”
I make my way back to room 33, It takes me longer than it should. It is well past 4am by now. I enter room 33 trying not to think about what Niamh just told me about this room.
When I enter the room I hear nothing, there is total silence. I leave the light on and try to sleep, the bathroom door is slightly open, I try to ignore it and close my eyes.

I wake up around 9am, I make my way to the reception desk. “Excuse me?”  I ask the lady.  “Yes, How may I help?” she says with a smile. Her name badge reads Jenny.
“Is Niamh still working?  I want to talk to her again, about my room and what she told me.”
She looks to her co-work and back to me: “When did you speak with Niamh?”
“Last night, or rather this morning, between 3.15 and 4am.”
She frowns: “No one covers the front desk between 3 and 5am.”
I frown in return: “But, I spoke to her for nearly an hour about what happened in my room.”

Jenny makes her way over to the bookshelf behind her and pulls a book out,  she brings it over to me and starts to flick through it.  It’s a picture book.  She stops flicking and points to a picture, “Is that Niamh?” I look at the picture of the lady with two young boys, both under the age of ten. “Yes, that’s her. Is she still here?”
Jenny shakes her head: “No, no she died over 30 years ago.”

I blink at her: “Did she hang herself in the bathroom of room 33 after she killed her two sons?”
She stares at me wide-eyed: “Yes, how did you know.”
“She told me the story last night.” I shake my head: “I would like a room transfer please?”
She nods: “Yes, of course, we are quiet this week. What room are you currently in?”
I grimace: “Room 33.”

She looks to me with a surprised expression: “I am sorry, there must have been a mix up with the booking.  I will arrange the transfer and move everything for you.” She touches my hand which is leaning on the countertop: “You will never have to go back into that room. “Thank you, Jenny.”

-Room 33 at 3am, a short story by Emma M. Carolan – 30/07/2018