Horror Writers Association Blog

“Who Says They Can Ban Halloween? By David B. Riley


They say you never really believe in ghosts until you’ve encountered one. Two Halloweens ago I was working in Vail, Colorado at a hotel. I worked graveyard shift. October tended to be a dead month.  There was very little going on and all thoughts were on the approaching ski season. They kept the place open, but most of the daytime staff were doing cleaning and maintenance type duties to get everything ready for winter. So, I worked on night reports and posted what few special charges there were and set about generally being bored.

I was particularly in a sour mood because the company had banned the celebration of Halloween. No decorations were allowed. This, because some potentate didn’t approve of Halloween and wanted the rest of us to suffer. So, there were no jack-o-lanterns or skeletons or even orange crape paper in the lobby.  I loved that stuff.

And in came a family who were staying with us.  Their six-year-old seemed in a bad mood. His parents and older sister were walking behind him clutching take out containers from the local Chinese restaurant.  “Enjoying your stay?” I asked, mostly out of reflex.

“No,” the young lad replied.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“He’s just mad because he can’t go trick or treating,” his older sister was more than happy to explain.

“I see.” was my reply.  If I was his age I’d have been pissed, too.

The young lad pushed the elevator button. The door opened. Then he started screaming his head off.  His mother tried to settle him down and see what the problem was.  Apparently, he’d seen a black man on the elevator and it scared him.  Now, that sounds kind of weird. But, after a little more quizzing, I asked if this was a real man or kind of a dark person with no face or anything. I was starting to suspect he’d seen a black ghost.  And this wasn’t simply a black human being.  The lad decided that was what he meant. And he refused to take the elevator and they had to go up the stairs.

So, I went back to my work. Along about two o’clock stomping started moving up and down the hallway above me–ergo on my ceiling. Problem was, there wasn’t a single person staying on that floor. I raced upstairs and checked the entire floor–nothing.  “If you’re trying to get my attention, you’ve got it.!” I yelled. “Do you want something or are you just messing with me for Halloween?”

I went back to work.  I knew the maintenance guys claimed we had a ghost and that he was the spirit of a former employee who died on the job.  But I hadn’t encountered him. Yet this was not my first rodeo with haunted hotels. I’d worked in one before that would eat this entity for breakfast. I was not scared, but I was curious.

Down to the maintenance office, did I go.  I opened the door. It was ice cold inside. “Okay, you’ve had your fun. I can take a joke. I don’t care if it is Halloween, good night whatever you are.”

And the door slammed shut.  On its own. And there was no draft of any kind.

Then I got back to the front desk. The young lad from earlier and his mother were sitting by the fire in our lobby. “Ghost come back?”

“I don’t know what to do with him,” his mother said. “He thinks it was watching him.”

“Young man. I just went downstairs, The ghost lives in maintenance. I told him to leave you alone. You’ll be fine now.”

“With a little more coaxing from mom, they went back to their room–by the stairs. I kind of exaggerated my contact. But I didn’t hear from the family or the ghost again.

As I drove home that morning I got to thinking. The ghost gave me a little taste of Halloween and I rather enjoyed it. I no longer live in Colorado, but it has nothing to do with ghosts.


David’s newest book is Legends of the Dragon Cowboys. It is scheduled for release in mid November for Tuscon.    The book brings you two weird western adventures by authors David B. Riley and Laura Givens.  Their heroes ride boldly out of the Far East to find their way in a mythic land of danger, romance, and adventure.

In “The Venerable Travels of Ling Fung” by David B. Riley, a wandering businessman encounters a Mayan god, crooked enterprises and Yeti, the Abominable Snowman, when all he really wants is to open a gun store.  Ling Fung is not any ordinary Chinese entrepreneur–he’s highly skilled in Kung Fu and he can shoot good, too. While his heart is set on business, providence seems to have other plans for him.

Laura Givens brings wily acrobat Chin Song Ping to the Wild West in search of adventure and fortune. He finds little fortune, but plenty of adventure. Chin Song Ping is a scoundrel, a gambler and a trouble magnet. His heart of gold lands him in schemes to outwit would-be gods, cannibal ghosts, insane robots, Voodoo despots and the ultimate evil–bureaucrats.  But he is a romantic, and the love of his life is the true treasure he seeks. The odds are always against him but if he survives he will become the Western legend he always was in his own mind.

The Wild West just got a lot wilder!


BIO: David B. Riley lives in Tucson, Arizona.  He edits Science Fiction Trails and has edited various horror and weird western anthologies over the years.  For more information about David or his writing, visit his blog at http://sftrails.blogspot.com/


TODAY’S GIVEAWAY: David is giving away two print copies of Legends of the Dragon Cowboys. Please comment below or email membership@horror.org with “HH Contest Entry” in the subject line.

2 comments on ““Who Says They Can Ban Halloween? By David B. Riley

  1. I don’t believe in ghosts but I’ve seen plenty of screwy things over the years, so I do not doubt mr. Riley’s story and I love Halloween and enjoyed the tingles on my neck that I got from it.

  2. Having grown up watching reruns of David Carradine in Kung Fu, I love weird westerns with a Chinese touch. The book sounds great.

    The story of Colorado reminds me of what I had heard as a child: that on Halloween, we dressed up as spooks so the real spooks would leave us alone. Perhaps the uninvited guest made an appearance because Halloween was banned.

    Great post!

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