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The Masquerade of Time

A Love Undying

By Sai Marie JohnsonPublished 7 months ago Updated 7 months ago 7 min read
The Bourbon Hotel, French Quarter, New Orleans, LA

Chapter One:

The Bourbon Hotel

Chill bumps rose up on my flesh. I couldn't shake it either - there was some kind of strange cool sensation washing over my tawny skin and I felt instantly cold. Odd - because it was hardly the time of year that one expects sudden rushes of cold. It was still early for an Autumn breeze to be hitting but somehow my body was feeling frigid, and it made me up my pace a bit. I enjoyed my evening walks through the Quarter.

Sometimes I'd find myself wandering along the water's edge in Jackson Square and with the St. Louis Cathedral as a backdrop, you can bet it had moments of sudden spookiness, but I was a Nawlins resident for a long time now. I hadn't intended on moving to the Big Easy, but what brought me there had settled me into a comfortable life. I was the owner of a bed and breakfast, and we had a regular influx of paranormal enthusiasts, so business was steady. I couldn't complain about the locale, but I was somewhat isolated and lonely despite regularly scheduling events and even having a paranormal convention coming up that they were allowing me to set up a pop-up table to discuss Chateau du Bonheur at the Bourbon Hotel.

I was, of course, beside myself with this invitation. And yet, the sound of my feet echoing off the sidewalk beneath me suddenly drew me to an instant stop. I perked a brow, feeling as if eyes were steadily burning into my back, and somehow upon turning to look - there was absolutely nothing behind me. Unnerved, and suddenly eager to get to my destination, I quickened my pace and rounded the corner. The looming edifice of the Bourbon Hotel immediately came to face me, and I pursed my lips with curious intention as I suddenly slowed down. There were a few people passing by as I approached the door, but none of them seemed at all interested in me as I pushed through the entrance.

"Good evening, welcome to the Crescent City’s infamous Bourbon Orleans Hotel. My name is Evan, how can I help you?" the front desk clerk announced, as I leaned against the counter.

"Hello, Evan - my name is Antoine Dumont, I'm the owner of Chateau du Bonheur - I believe they are expecting me for the Tour de Orleans Hoteliers Convention," I remarked, finally feeling a bit of the unease of my earlier walk melting from my exterior. I wanted to appear relaxed and knowledgeable - it had been my goal objective ever since agreeing to attend.

"Oh, Chateau du Bonheur! How extravagant. Imagine that you are in just the right place. We have representatives for some of the oldest and most historically rich hotels and lodging in the area!" Evan exclaimed, a bit of overexuberance causing his voice to lift just an octave higher than before.

"Yes, I think it will be a wonderful networking opportunity, and my can I say this place is astounding," I murmured, glancing around at the interior decor, and imagining the famous names that had passed through the Bourbon since the 1800s. There were a number of beautiful hotels I knew of in the French Quarter, and while I had visited both the Prince Conti and Dauphine Orleans, I had never once stepped foot into the Bourbon Hotel. Likely one of the most infamous for lavish balls and get-togethers and rumored to have once hosted some not-so-reputable events, as well.

"I think you are going to truly enjoy yourself, and I have your passes right here. I just need to see your driver's license to confirm identity, please, Mr. Dumont?" Evan smiled as he tilted his head with a perk of the eyebrow.

“Oh, yes – of course, I guess I’m used to being the one to ask for that. Ha.” I remarked, “You know, I had high hopes when they mentioned this place was hosting the Hotelier convention, but when I saw they were considering here or the Hotel Royal I wasn’t sure which way to lean. Both are so riddled with rich history.” I reached into my pocket and pulled out my ID quickly. Evan tilted his head and adjusted his glasses as he leaned in with intense speculation. I could tell he took his job as a front deskman quite seriously.

“Well, if I hadn’t become employed here, I would never have thought it mattered. All these hotels have one thing in common. Do you know what that is?” Evan remarked, handing my license back to me without further ado.

“Uh, I could answer that, but I think I’d like to hear your assessment.”

“They’re all inhabited by guests who refuse to leave. I took a gander over the itinerary for speakers, and they have you headed as the paranormal events spokesperson. Is there something you’re not telling us about Chateau du Bonheur?”

I was a bit put back by this and scoffed – lifting my hand to reach back behind my neck where I scratched my nape momentarily. It was a quirk I had since childhood – one that was a tell-tale sign of my nervousness. What was it about this guy that was a little off-kilter? I couldn’t put my finger on it, but there was definitely something weird – a word that was on par with New Orleans as a staple – as odd as that was. I pursed my lips, allowing my hand to drift back to my side, “Well, it’s about like you just said. All these places have guests that never seem to want to go and have for centuries. What makes you think my old chateau is any different?” I asked, deflecting the light from myself, and hoping that Evan would finally allow my passage into the convention room so I could set up. I only had about ten minutes to do so.

“Ah, touché. I imagine that is true. Well, then – thank you for visiting the Bourbon Hotel, Mr. Dumont. Please take this pass and head on into the convention room.” With the one thing I needed, I nodded to Evan and quickly turned around with a wave. The man had taken up enough of my time for the day and it seemed to me getting my ass in gear was priority numero uno. As I walked back toward the convention room, I found myself in awe of the interior décor and how well taken care of it was. This place had been host to events that were both salacious and elegant but having never been inside before – I was overwhelmed by how spectacular the design actually was. I stepped into the convention room to find it mostly empty, a curious situation but not one I took very seriously. I had no need to, really – my tasks were to set up my table and prepare for my moment to shine. I already had a good idea of what I would talk about, and I knew representatives for each of the large hotels in the French Quarter would be there. It was the perfect scenario for my pitch, and I intended to make the most of it. My events management at Chateau du Bonheur had helped me formulate the idea but I knew if I could get more of the haunted locations in town on board that the first New Orleans ParanormalCon could come together. Not that we didn’t already have some great attractions to the city. The Vampire Ball had become notorious due to Anne Rice and Father Sabastiaan. This was knowledge I had used to make my smaller events at the Chateau a success, but I wanted to do something bigger. Something that would fully unite the biggest attractions for lovers of Supernatural things. The fact that nobody else had yet conceived this had blown my mind, but that made me all the more eager to get my shit together and hit this ball outta the park. Like my life depended on it.

“But first – a man needs to take a piss.” I dropped my bag near an empty table and rubbed my hands together. I didn’t know what it was about walking around the Quarter but every single time I did – wherever I wound up I immediately needed to pee the moment I got there. Like clockwork – weird as hell. I slid back out of the convention room and sauntered back to the bathroom darting inside to relieve myself. The trip to the stall was as expected and I found it was also empty. Unzipping myself, I began to urinate and let out a loud, slightly obnoxious sigh,

“So, will you talk about the history of this place being where they held Quadroons…”

An eerie voice echoed just behind me, though slightly to the left and strangely disembodied. I continued to pee, quickly shaking myself to dry off before I spun back around,

“Hello? Is someone there?”

The lights suddenly flickered above me, and a dark shadow fell upon the tiled floor but as I looked around – there was still no one in sight.

“Talk about the plaçage – they talk about the famous stories too much. The privileged ones.”

The voice echoed again, and with it the lights flickered back on – illuminating the bathroom with a strange orange glow.

“Wha-?” My words cut off as my voice caught in my throat and a sudden whirling black mist emitted from the wall – jutting forth to engulf me instantly. Inky tendrils with a vine-like animation began to entwine, pulling me into the spinning abyss. My words, however, remained unuttered as a strange sense of paralysis enveloped me with a freezing lack of speech – my eyes widening in sheer horror as the pitch proceeded to consume me like a pit of tar – unrelenting and eager to swallow me up.


About the Creator

Sai Marie Johnson

A multi-genre author, poet, creative&creator. Resident of Oregon; where the flora, fauna, action & adventure that bred the Pioneer Spirit inspire, "Tantalizing, titillating and temptingly twisted" tales.

Pronouns: she/her

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