Maggie
Stiefvater

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A Las Vegas Bathtub Story

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This is a story about Las Vegas.

Now, I know if I tell you that, and I tell you I was there on my birthday, and I was driving a rental red convertible Camaro for the occasion and I got pulled over by the cops, you’re going to think this is a very particular sort of story.

But it is not that sort of story.

I was in Las Vegas for the NCTE conference (already this story has changed in your mind, I can tell), and it was the very last night of the very last day. At that point I had a very limited agenda: do the finest job of sleeping I could possibly imagine in order to not hate and destroy the world when I got up for my exceptionally early flight home.

I feel you can already sense this didn’t go well.

My hotel was pretty fabulous, I have to say, aside from the decor, which I’d describe as “tastefully misogynistic.”* The walls were sound-proofed within an inch of their lives, creating a pleasant, tomb-like existence which encouraged fantasies that I was the only person left on the planet.**

*much like a Cary Grant movie
**later I would regret this

And my room was massive. As I lounged against the kitchen sink and then the couch and then on the bed and then got lost in the palatial two-roomed bathroom, I realized it was larger than my first apartment by several degrees of magnitude.

The hotel room:

LAS VEGAS HOTEL

My first apartment:

OLD APARTMENT

The bathtub alone was larger than my first apartment’s bathroom. In fact, the hotel tub was one of those jetted numbers that promises luxury and indulgence and other words they often say in jewelry commercials. For my part, I don’t like sitting still and I don’t like bubbles, so all I could think was: they could have put a trampoline there instead.***

***Actually, it was Las Vegas. There probably were some rooms with a trampoline option.

But back to my tale. As I got ready for bed after a late night book event, I felt strangely creeped out. You should know that this in itself was unusual. My parents had an affection for old houses in my youth, and I have had an affection for shadows since I was germinated in one, and just, in general, I tend to be the most harmful thing in any given space. These things combine to mean that it’s hard to rattle me.

And yet, I was creeped out.

It is just the poster of the headless naked girl, I told myself. You’re just eager to be home, where her nipples will not glare so resentfully at you.

I turned off the light. I closed my eyes. I began to hear . . . sounds. Knocking. Thunking. Footsteps?

Recall how before I had been delighted by the room’s soundproofing. I had spent three nights in a tomblike hotel room and now NOW, where was my tomb? Moreover, the noise didn’t seem to be coming from the hall or the rooms adjacent. Instead, the sounds were coming from the bathroom. I’d like to refer you floor plan above. Do you see how it has an interior wall? That is where the sound was coming from — knocks on that. So my first thought was: someone is in here.

I did what any author would do if they believed someone was in their hotel room. I hit the lights, seized the telephone from beside the bed as a weapon, and leapt upright on the mattress. What a threatening and tastefully misogynistic form I must have cut as I bristled in my t-shirt and underwear, clutching a James-Bondesque retro telephone, ready to bash someone’s brains in.

But of course there was no one there.

I turned on all the lights and checked the rooms out, but they were empty. I was in fact the last person on the planet. So I climbed back into bed. I turned off the light.

Sleep, Maggie. Your flight is in six hours.

SOUNDS.

Knocking! Thumping! Footsteps! The most annoying part was that I knew, now, that they hadn’t been going on while I was investigating the room with the lights on. I began to feel as if Something was toying with me.****

****I do believe in ghosts. I believe in them the same way I believe in albino squirrels. Sometimes, when you see something white, it’s an albino squirrel. But usually it is just a cat.

So I did what any author would if they believed there was a supernatural entity in the room with them. Without turning on the light, I said to the room, “If you’re a ghost, I’m not interested! I have heard far worse and I’m not in the mood!” And I closed my eyes.

Which is when a sound like a plane landing exploded from the bathroom.

I couldn’t immediately figure out what it was. It was, in fact, a stone-cold excellent first-place horror-movie sound. It roared, louder than anything, and it didn’t stop. Its timing had been perfect. And while I still had heard worse, as I had promised the room just a moment before, it had been a very long time.

I will admit, this was when I first quailed.

But I couldn’t just lay there. I very much would have preferred to. But instead I turned on the light, swore hatefully, and made myself go into the bathroom. I expected probably it was the last time, in fact, that I would ever go into a bathroom. Whatever was making the noise was going to kill me and in fact the story of Maggie Stiefvater was going to come to an end on the tiles of a Las Vegas bathroom, as so many stories do.

Spoiler: I did not die. The noise was the bathtub — all the jets had come on. Because I never use the things and because the jets were not really meant to be able to come on without water in the tub, it took me awhile to figure out how to turn them off.

Silence, finally. The hotel room really was tomb-like. Emphasis on tomb. Double emphasis on tombs have dead people in them.

I went back to bed. It took me a bit of resolve to turn off the light this time. I told the room, “I’m sleeping now. You may take a bath by yourself.”

I closed my eyes. Really hard. Like I meant it.

Sleep, Maggie, you have a flight in—

BAM!

I wish you guys were all right here so I could demonstrate where this next sound happened. If I was telling the story in person, it would involve me slamming one fist into another. And I would do it right beside your face. So you jumped and blinked at me.

Because this sound happened right beside my head, and it came with an actual thump of the bed shaking, as something hit the headboard from my side of the wall.

I turned on the light.

I sat up.

The nipples across the room looked at me pointedly.

I just slept on the plane.*****

*****When I checked out, I told the guy what had happened.
him: oh, that happens a lot.
me: the jets coming on by themselves? So it’s a malfunction?
him: oh, no, creepy things. People ask to change rooms all the time. But it doesn’t help. *laughs*
me: *laughs* *wishes she’d slept in the convertible Camaro*

  • Lol. I love how the guy at the check out was like “But it doesn’t help.”
    It makes you think that you were right in not wasting your time finding a different room. It wouldn’t have mattered.

    • He was so not impressed.

      • Camryn Myers

        Are you going to write a fourth book for the shiver trilogy. Please do! They were the best books I have ever read in my entire life.

  • My co-workers were at NCTE and did not have the time of their lives in Vegas. It seems not the best place for sounds and viruses and so many other things. Next time it should be in someplace safe, like Rhode Island.

    Also, via this story I sense another series….

    • I am profoundly not a Vegas creature, I have discovered. It made me hate the human race in general and men in specific, and only devolved from there.

  • What was that “tastefully misogynistic” hotel with huge rooms in Las Vegas? …I ask so that I never chose to stay there!

    • The Cosmopolitan. I fear you might have this issue — well, probably not the ghost — other places in that fair town, however.

      • I think the ghost is what we’re all worried about!

  • I like to underline my favorite sentences in my books… If this was in a book, there would be a lot of underlined bits. Hehe. 🙂

    And you’d probably find a trampoline in place of the bed, before you found a trampoline in place of the bathtub.

    • So true re: trampoline. And I’m flattered by the idea of an underlined blog post.

      Were you the one who sent me the bar cookie recipe? It worked very well!

      • The Icky Yucky Cookies? Hooray! 🙂

  • Your mistake was in saying, ” “If you’re a ghost, I’m not interested! I have heard far worse and I’m not in the mood!” “

    One shouldn’t challenge ghosts like that. One usually lives to regret it.

    • I see how you went all punny with the living to regret it business. I SEE IT.

  • Oh my! Yes, please share what hotel this was! I have stayed at a few, and never had any ghosts make me stay up. I think I’d like to avoid that. O.O

    • The Cosmopolitan. Which is, against all reason, a very very new hotel.

      • Arion

        Maybe it was built over something, like burial ground , isn’t that the usual explanation for that sort of situations… 🙂

  • Nat C

    You wouldn’t have seen me for dust! What with my morbid fear of hotel bathrooms following exposure to Kubrick’s The Shining at far too impressionable an age. You’re a braver woman than me.

    • Morbid fear of hotel bathrooms . . . this is reminding me of that old Barbara Streisand movie “What’s Up Doc?” Isn’t there a line in there about snakes having a morbid fear of tile?

  • As I’ve been watching a lot of Supernatural lately, I probably would have called down to room service and asked for several containers of salt. I would have stood on the bed and made a salt circle around it. Then *maybe* I would have been able to sleep…but I doubt it.

    • I’m doubtful that would work. Las Vegas was a very sodium-rich environment already.

  • Jocelyne L

    Brave Maggie is brave o.O I think I would have fainted with fear!
    In other news, there’s a semi-famous albino squirrel in my town 🙂 he hangs around this old log cabin that sits just off of Main Street ^_^
    Question for you Maggie: I got The Raven Boys for Christmas (HAHA! AT LONG LAST!) and was wondering of there were any more bookplates?

    • Why YES, actually! I do. Feel free to chuck a letter my way.

    • I too have an local albino squirrel. He lived in a park several blocks from my house and every once in awhile he would appear on our porch. He apparently was fascinated with my all white persian cat. You know, girlfriend material.
      However, I have not met a ghost.

      • This is like a picture book waiting to happen. A terrible, terrible interspecies picture book.

  • I think this is the best hotel room story I have EVER HEARD.

  • Y C

    Hiding under the covers makes ghosts go away, right?

    • Well, until this point, I had always suspected so.

      But no. It turns out THERE ARE NO COVERS IN THE AFTERLIFE.

  • Wow…one heck of an evening there. Your great sense of humor about life in general is an asset to your writing. I enjoyed this post so much I read it to my 16 month old. Alas..he didn’t laugh with me.

    • Humor is an evolving process. Wait until, say, he’s 12, and YOU’RE the one being harassed by a Las Vegas Hotel Ghost, and he’ll find it hilarious.

      • LOL!!!! I can hardly wait…now THAT would make my pint size man laugh!!!

        Perhaps it was Noah’s way of saying “I’m here too! Let’s sleep in this camaro…this place gives me the creeps too!”

      • LOL!!!! I can hardly wait…now THAT would make my pint size man laugh!!!

        Perhaps it was Noah’s way of saying “I’m here too! Let’s sleep in the camaro…this place gives me the creeps too!”

  • Stephanie

    I find the comments nearly as entertaining as the whole sordid ghostly tale. Not that I’m laughing at your misadventures with ghosts. I’m not. More like I’m saying, thank-freaking-God-it-wasn’t-me. I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks, I do, I do, I do, I do believe in spooks. And that one would have had me for supper. GAH.

  • Sounds like quite the experience! I think this would make a great book 🙂

  • When noises started coming from the bathtub, I was quite honestly expecting a Basilisk. Needless to say, I’m glad you are not a statue.

  • Jay

    Oh, heck no. I already believe in Ghosts and that would have sent me flying to the front desk, covered in tears and sputtering gibberish. You’re one brave one! Thanks for the warning because I’m never staying there, if and when I go to las vegas.

  • OKay, seriously scary, but hysterical!

  • Okay, I would have FREAKED, as I do not generally have creepy things happen to me, and on the rare occasion when they do, I pretend they aren’t really happening, and that would not have been something I could have pretended away.

    Oh, and where I used to love in California (born and raised) I regularly saw albino squirrels. More often, I saw blonde squirrels (it being California after all), but there were albino white ones too. Here living in the UK, I no longer see albino squirrels or red squirrels or blonde squirrels or even the black squirrels I used to see. The squirrels here are just grey, as if they want to blend with the weather.

  • Rachel Marie

    Hilariously enough, when I took a quick look at Google, it appears that the Cosmopolitan in Las Vagas is, in fact, haunted. I’m torn with a desire to go see it, and the desire to sit very quietly in a room with all the lights turned on.

  • Chi

    Just this week, I came up with the idea that after I graduate high school (and hopefully know how to drive), my family and I will go on a paranormal road trip. I already have the idea to camp out at Mount. Shasta, visit Faerieworlds (the world’s largest faerie festival), haunted hotels, and UFO sighting areas (although I just recently read in a book, Fairies, by Rosemary Ellen Guiley, that aliens might actually be fairies, or vice versa). Maybe we’ll stay at that hotel. =) I’m glad you made it out alive, Maggie. Really glad.
    “Whatever was making the noise was going to kill me and in fact the story of Maggie Stiefvater was going to come to an end on the tiles of a Las Vegas bathroom, as so many stories do.
    “Spoiler: I did not die.”
    That part had me laughing. xD

  • Anabelle

    Motels and hotels have always scared me. Only at night. I start getting creepy nighttime other-people-have-slept-here-before vibes…
    So, in your situation, I believe I would have jumped out the window and hoped I was on the first floor. Not really, of course. I think I’d check first,and then realizing I’m on the 273rd floor, leave through the door. BUT then the hallway would probably creep me out because all hallways are scary. So I’d go back in the hotel room, or hang out in the washing machine room till morning, singing The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow.
    **Point is, Maggie is brave.
    I do believe that being a reader(me) or a writer(you) makes people braver, (or in other cases–such as me–stupid…er.)
    Like the time some one tried to break into my house, and we saw each other through a window. (his eyes were like saucepans…but mine were bigger)
    So, normal and smart people would call the police or something, right?
    I mean, psh, only an idiot would go outside ten minuets later with a kitchen knife in her hand. (totally was not me..hint hint)

  • Ugh I’m such a scaredy cat. D: Your story freaked me out so much I ended up closing my door so there was no darkness seeping into my room. No wonder being alone in a hotel room scares me… Great story though 🙂

  • Tim

    I got to see my ghost… wrote a story years ago about it. Still creeps me out to this day.

  • thea

    I bet it was the ghost of the headless naked woman hehe

  • Becky

    And this is why I’m not going to the CCCC conference at the Cosmopolitan next Month. Perhaps I should warn my co-workers. But I bet the stories would be better if I didn’t…

  • You should do a youtube video on this as well, it’d be funny 🙂 If I hear noises etc I talk to ‘the room’ too but I just say ‘Okay whatever, make noises but I’m sleeping, goodnight’ hahaah :L Great blog!

  • Donna Caughlin

    This was so freaking entertaining :D. Did you know, Maggie, that two people (separate incidents) fell to their deaths at The Cosmopolitan? Maybe one, or both, decided you and all your psychic talent would be a great target LOL! Here’s a link to one of the news stories http://www.lvrj.com/news/california-man-21-dies-in-fall-from-cosmo-on-new-year-s-day-136703293.html

    • I only found this out afterward! Clearly one of them was a jerk and stuck around.

  • Nago

    I’m sorry but I laughed while reading this. *giggles* Just the way you you tell it is amusing. If I had been in your shoes, I would have ducked under the covers and cried. You have more of a spine than I do. 🙂
    I don’t think the ghost believed you or he was insanely bored. Too bad he wasn’t like Noah in The Raven Boys. That would have been a fun conversation.

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  • Terri Kimball

    I loved your tale, it was amazing!!
    I laughed until I cried…
    Have you slept in Lizzie Bordens’ Bed n Breakfast in Fall River Massachusetts yet? It has reservations up to 5 to 10 years that people are waiting to sleep there!! I lived in Rehoboth Mass. at the time and her School House was turned into a museum where people could ring the bell and sit in her school chair. It was spooky!

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Maggie Stiefvater
Hi, I'm Maggie Stiefvater

Professional novelist by day and artist by night. I live an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia with my charmingly straight-laced husband, two kids, and neurotic dogs. I’m the author of the Books of Faerie (LAMENT and BALLAD); the bestselling SHIVER trilogy (SHIVER, LINGER, FOREVER), and THE SCORPIO RACES.

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