Creative Corner

Wishes

Kim knew it wasn’t wise to hike up the old trail after dark, but her curiosity won out over her wisdom. The hill was steep and most of the rocks on the trail were pebbles causing her tennis shoes to lose their grip as she hiked. Her breathing labored as the incline grew steeper and she fought to make it to the top.
Cresting the hill, she saw the remains of the old hotel and her heart raced. Skeptics believed the old building to be an eye sore. A place that time forgot, with a horrid history and should really be demolished before some kid got hurt.
Kim hadn’t listened to the skeptics, she had gone to the believers. The believers said there was magic in the hotel. That the wealthy folks of the 20’s had flocked to the “wellness” resort for a reason and it wasn’t to rub elbows with the other wealthy people of the world. The believers told stories of a natural spring that ran through the basemen. The spring would heal every wound and ailment and if the moon was full on the summer solstice drinking from the spring would grant you one wish.
Kim looked around the grounds. She expected to see other people searching for the springs, since it was the summer solstice. She looked up to double check that it was indeed a full moon and then checked her cell phone to confirm what her eyes had already told her.
She couldn’t believe she was the only one who believed it could be true, but felt relieved that she was alone. As much as she wanted to believe in the magic, a part of her was feeling very silly as well. Her wish was a simple one and not overly selfish in her opinion. She just wanted to write her novels faster, to rid herself of the stress of meeting deadlines.
She had thousands of stories running through her mind, but it took a lot of time for her to translate the stories into her computer and then months of editing. She was a lot slower than her publisher liked and they were threatening to take back part of her advance if she couldn’t meet their deadlines.
If she could write faster than it would be worth trekking through an abandoned hotel and drinking water from a questionable water source, she told herself.
Walking across the expansive neglected lawn, Kim wondered if she was thinking too small. If she should wish for more book sales as well as writing faster. As she walked up the crumbled steps leading to the front door, she mulled over how to phrase her wish to where it would encompass both success and being more prolific, without sounding like two wishes.
She pulled on the large wood door and found it locked. Kim shrugged, she hadn’t expected it to be open and ready for visitors. There had to be at least a half dozen signs along the grounds and building that read, “No Trespassing!”
She walked around the building looking for a place to crawl in and finally spotted a loose board covering one of the lower broken windows. The way the board flapped in the wind, she wondered if someone else had pried it loose and already gone inside. Maybe she wasn’t alone after all.
Her mind started to go into overtime as she climbed through the broken window. Someone else could be in the hotel. Someone else might not want to share the spring. Someone else might be up to no good. As her mind raced to the horrible tragedy that had happened in the hotel and how some people believed it not to carry the magic of wishes, but the remnants of evil.
The ghosts of the fourteen people were said to haunt the place and they were a varying degrees of poltergeists. They all died when the dance floor in the main ballroom collapsed into the basement. Apparently, some of the spirits were bitterer about their end than others and made it a point to scare the willies out of any brave soul that entered the hotel.
Kim pushed the thought of ghosts out of her mind as she took out her small flashlight from her back pocket and scanned the room she was in. It appeared to be some kind of dining room. Seeing the tables, still lined with their dinner settings made Kim shiver. Surely, someone would have come in and pillaged the old hotel by now, unless they were too scared to. A board creaked behind her and she swung around, flashing her light in the direction of the noise. Her heart raced as she searched for the culprit, but found nothing.
“Kim, get yourself together,” she whispered. “Old buildings creak.”
She turned and headed to what she figured was the kitchen area. She had been in a lot of old houses and almost every kitchen had access to the basement, since it was often used as food storage. As she entered the kitchen the sound of something frying caught her attention. She looked around the room, but again saw nothing.
The hair on the back of her neck stood, but she reminded herself there were no such things as ghosts. Magic she could believe in, but it was just sad to her to think that some souls didn’t move on to a better afterlife. She walked over to a door and opened it, hoping to find the basement stairs.
A squeak then flapping wings in her face caused her to scream, drop her flashlight, and fall to the floor. Kim cussed as a small sparrow landed on a hanging light fixture.
“How long were you trapped in there?” she asked the sparrow.
The bird didn’t answer, instead flew towards the dining room.
“You’re welcome,” Kim called to the bird.
She crawled to her flashlight and realized it was shining on an open door. Kim couldn’t remember if the door had been open when she came into the kitchen, but it definitely opened to stairs that could only be leading only one place, the basement.
Kim scurried to her feet and started down the steep rickety stairs. She placed each foot on each step carefully, reminding herself they were almost one-hundred years old.
The door slammed behind her and Kim screamed as her flashlight went out. The basement was pitch black and Kim knew she still had at least a half dozen stairs before reaching the bottom. She pulled her cell phone out of her back pocket to use the flashlight app, but the cell seemed to have a mind of its own as it juggled between her hands. Her attempts to catch it failed as she saw it fall into the dark abyss and hear it land with an ear splitting crack on the basement floor.
Fear ripped through Kim’s body as she stood in the dark. She hurried back up the stairs and flung herself against the door. It wouldn’t budge, not matter how hard she slammed herself against it. She had only one option. She had to go down the rest of the stairs and find her cell phone so she could call for help.
Grabbing the railing she started down. She tried to count the steps, but vertigo threatened to take over as her mind tried to judge distance and her eyes adjust to the dark.
She stepped down and the stairs broke. Kim found herself falling forward and threw her hands out to catch her. Her palms hit hard and she felt pain race through her left wrist, arm and right knee, just before her nose and lip slammed into the wet cement floor.
Kim laid face down on the floor, not daring to move. Everything hurt, she figured her left wrist and arm were broken and she had possibly cracked a kneecap. She just needed to stay still and think for a minute. The ground was wet and she felt something wet trickle into her mouth, she wasn’t sure if it was the water already on the floor or blood from her nose.
Kim closed her eyes, fighting the urge to sob. “I wish I had never come here.”
The room spun and Kim felt as if she were drowning in a whirlpool. She pushed herself up, gasping for air and expecting more pain, but then realized she was at home, pushing herself off of her own bed. She moved her left wrist and arm, but felt no pain. She stood and waited for the ache in her right knee, but it was fine. She rushed to her mirror looking for signs of a broken nose and busted lip. Her face was just as it had been before her hike up the hill.

Kim’s cell phone buzzed, it too having been returned to its original state. Kim looked into the mirror, her eyes wide. “I guess some wishes do come true.”

Do you want to read more stories based on this prompt? Go to the Clever Fiction Writing Challenge page to see how other authors have been inspired by the three words.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, tree, sky and outdoorAuthors note: This is a rough draft, there are bound to be mistakes. It was written for the sheer enjoyment of writing a story.
Today's story was inspired by the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa in Eureka Springs. It is not a ruin, as you can plainly see, and they happily accept visitors from both the here and the hereafter.