Haunting at Ocracoke by Trinity Adler
I had a ghost experience. There, I said it. It’s true. It wasn’t a nightmare, not a daydream fantasy or drug hallucination, an actual ghost visitation and not just any ghost either, a famous one. The path was set when I listened to a friend’s recommendation for an inn on the North Carolina coast. My European roommate had visited the place on her first trip to the states. The picture she drew of the inn, cheap, romantic, near the beach ticked off every box on the list for a trip with my beau so we booked rooms for a weekend over spring break and headed for the coast.
After debarking the Ocracoke ferry at Ocracoke island we made our way to the inn. At that time, the island mainly attracted local fishermen. We had no trouble finding the small two-story building that greeted us with a plain painted sign, “Ocracoke Inn Vacancy.”
The kindest description of the inn would be rustic. The old porch in front looked like an offering to the local termite gods. Its collection of tiny rooms did have private baths, although ours could open to share with the next room if needed. That room was unoccupied so the bolt locks stayed in place for our stay. The hot water was sporadic, and the place had no air conditioning to cool the sticky mid-Atlantic coast air. In summer our room would have felt like a sauna but in Spring it topped out at muggy.
All of the other guests were fishermen. A few brought their wives. We could hear every sound through the paper thin walls. One of those ladies complained with no mercy to her husband about the accommodations. In the blush of young love, we overlooked the paint worn walls, the humidity, the water issues, the creaking floors and lumpy beds. We promised each other we would never be like the older, unhappy couples around us and would remember this inn as a wonderful romantic story to share with our kids someday. We spent our first day walking over the little island visiting the wild ponies and the beach. Before returning to our room we visited the mini grocery bait and tackle store to pick up some sandwiches and a bottle of cheap, peach flavored sparkling wine. We retired early.
Romance, beaches and wine did their work polishing the locale. We were lucky to be on the second floor facing the island’s little inlet so a breeze kept our room comfortable as we slept. I guess it must have been around one, maybe two in the morning when I woke up. I could see moonlight streaming through the window. The lightweight white cotton curtains rustled a little, casting shadows in the room. For some reason that seemed odd to me. At first, I thought, “Oh yeah, window’s open, it’s just the breeze.” But there wasn’t a breeze and next to me, my partner snored on in the night.
I took a breath and, for a moment, a short moment, I thought “Go back to sleep, nothing’s wrong.” Then I saw one of the bigger shadows move and fear overtook me before I could take another breath. In the moonlight by the window, the changing shadow became a threat. I could see a large man standing between the footboard of our bed and our window staring, just staring at us while we slept. I knew to the depths of my soul this person intended harm to us.
I forced myself to pretend sleep. I didn’t dare move. I didn’t want the intruder to figure out I’d become aware of his presence. I thought he must have climbed up the old porch roof and come in through the window. Elbowing my fiancé under the coverlet for help didn’t work, he kept snoring. The man stayed still, watching us from his position at the foot of the bed.
I had to keep my breathing at a regular rate despite my pounding heart and my throat tightening enough that I had to fight the urge to choke or cough. He kept watching us. I tried pinching my lover to no avail. My efforts to avoid the notice of the burglar failed. He began to move around the end of the bed, walking closer to me.
Hot terror and panic flooded my body. I was experiencing an overwhelming feeling of malice directed towards the two of us in the bed. I knew these would be the final moments of my life. The man started to lean down over us. I couldn’t look at him now. I didn’t want to see that shadowy face up close. I couldn’t stay frozen waiting to die.
I shut my eyes and began screaming for all I was worth, at the same time I started pounding on my beau to wake him up. I lashed out towards the intruder with my other arm. I couldn’t seem to hit the man who menaced us. He must have been dodging my every blow. I kept thinking ” No, I won’t leave the world murdered. Not tonight! Not now!”. I continued doing my best to summon help loosing howls that could rival fire alarms.
My new love finally woke up. He sat up and began shaking me violently. Something made a bang like a door slammed. He kept urging me to wake up. Me? I’d been up an hour! He grabbed me and yelled “Wake up, wake up! You’re dreaming! Open your eyes and stop yelling! I’m here, I’m here”. I opened my eyes but I knew I wasn’t dreaming. I didn’t see the attacker anymore, only my lover.
“Where is he?” I asked.
“There’s no one here. It’s just us.”
“No, check the bathroom, the doors, the windows, under the bed. Someone was in here and he was going to kill us!”
“What? If someone’s here, I’ll find him!”
My partner bounced out of bed and examined the door, locked from the inside. He checked the bathroom connecting door. The bolt sat where we left it, firmly in its place. He found nothing under the bed and he noted someone had painted over the screen locking it onto the window. A book had fallen on the floor by the bed so that explained the banging sound. We both went to see if someone was in the hall.
If there was an intruder outside you wouldn’t have been able to find him. The only men in the hallway were fishermen zipping up their pants and looking for the woman who’d been begging for help a few minutes earlier. All the men on our floor were up and ready to save a damsel in distress.
They were not amused when I had to apologize. I told them I thought someone was in our room. My partner said it was a nightmare before pulling me back to the room with “C’mon, let’s go back to bed. I’ll hold you. You’re safe, it was just a dream.” He got more than a few dirty looks before we went back into the room.
Holding me wasn’t going to work after my experience. I told him “Listen, I don’t want to stay here another night. We saw a couple of signs for a newer motel on the other side of the island, I’ll overdraw my bank account if I have too, but we’ve got to change motels tomorrow. I can’t stay here. I just can’t.”
He agreed. In a few more sleepless hours we were down at the front desk asking the manager to check out.
“Good Morning Miss. How was your room? The man behind the desk knew damn well my room was a horror. The fishermen were out the door by dawn and I’m sure if they hadn’t reported my screams they left notes about it for management.
“You know good and well I had an intruder in my room last night.” I said.
The man behind the desk seemed very interested but not in a way that signaled surprise or that apologies were in the offing.
“What kind of intruder Miss?”
I described the whole event starting with the man standing at the window watching the two of us at the foot of the bed up to his approaching the bed to lean over me. By the time I finished, a little crowd of guests there for breakfast had gathered from the line at the dining room nearby. They could hear my complaints. Most of them couldn’t resist eavesdropping on my complaints after the screaming overnight.
“Someone either has a way onto your porch roof and windows or they have keys to the rooms but I want a refund. I won’t stay here even one more night.”
The manager was calm although his demeanor and smooth Southern drawl didn’t soothe my temper. If anything, it only heightened it.
“Happy to give a refund Miss. But ya’ll should know plenty of women have had the exact same experience you’ve described. This place here is known for the ghost. He’s been annoying lady guests of this inn for ’bout 200 years. You never heard of Edward Teach? Blackbeard the Pirate? Kilt’ right out in that inlet, right there.”
He pointed towards the front porch overlooking the inlet and continued his explanation.
“He ‘n his crew fought it out with the Queen’s men right in view of the inn. This place was likely one of the last buildings on land he saw from his ship when he got beheaded. He visits a few of the female guests in the inn every so often. Always was known for having an eye for the ladies. Doesn’t hurt anyone, just looking under the beds for his head.”
The manager smiled as he finished. Some of the scattering of people behind us giggled about it. For me, this was beyond creepy. He seemed delighted at my story and thrilled there was a little crowd there to overhear it. I guess nothing helps fill a dilapidated old property like a resident ghost.
All of the ghost talk made me angry again. “Blackbeard? Blackbeard’s ghost? Right. Terrifying women is how you keep this dust trap booked? You may do a good job with theater here but think about this, you could give someone a heart attack with tricks like that. Now, give me my money back!”
My boyfriend didn’t say a word, he’d dropped back a little way from the counter during my tantrum. I thought he was still numb from lack of sleep and more than a little embarrassed at my behavior but the manager opened the till.
“Yep, here you go Miss.”
The money for our prepaid two night stay was returned. After we left, my new Yankee partner became effuse.
“That was amazing! I thought they’d throw us out and we’d have to sleep in a tent after waking everyone up last night. You rocked. I can’t believe you got our money back!”
We checked out and moved across the island to the other inn, a newly built motel. We had one more day to stay at Ocracoke over spring break. We felt lucky there were rooms left at the newer place. The manager of the haunted place called ahead. The hotel owner was waiting for us at the Edward Teach Inn and we got the same room rate. Because of the ghost we were treated like celebrities at the new place. They wanted to hear every detail of the haunting. The new inn’s name was a little creepy after our experience, but this motel had solid locks, hot water and air conditioning. We left the Ghost to his preferred rooms over at the Ocracoke Inn. All I cared about was the Sunday ferry trip off the island.