Some people inherit their parents’ money, others get their parents’ entrepreneurial spirit. Me, I got my father’s burden: the Old Gloucester Inn. A tiny island off the coast of Newfoundland isn’t the best spot for a hotel—there’s nothing for tourists here but the opportunity to have their skin blasted raw by the cold salt winds. But I changed that. I made Gloucester island a destination. A place to see.
And how do you build a reliable clientele for an unremarkable two-story inn on a forsaken spit of land that’s only reachable by a ferry on Saturdays? By copying the Stanley of course. Everyone has heard of the Stanley Hotel, it inspired a Stephen King book and has a bunch of ghost stories—people want to stay there, where it feels a little bit dangerous to stay (but really isn't dangerous, of course). So I convinced one of my few repeat customers—a mediocre horror novelist from Albuquerque who needs a little time away from his wife now and then—to set a book here, and while he wrote I faked some minor… “incidents.” I call them that, but I didn’t have the talent or imagination to simulate anything beyond light poltergeist activity.
My inn started gaining attention, but you know what the news cycle is like these days—spooky noises from the cellar won’t hold anyone’s fascination for long. I didn’t know the first thing about practical effects, and was about to give up when the goat happened along. You see, Gloucester has a small population of goats introduced by some poor sod who thought that the grass growing out of the dunes meant that this land was farmable. The wheat didn’t take, but the goats did. The local kids, being bored on an island with no internet, tie things to the goats, like balloons, party hats, bits of chalk, and the occasional kite. Normally the goats endure it, and eventually nibbled the string that holds the offending item on, but something went very wrong last May. During an unseasonably strong storm, a goat with one too many kites strung to it was blown through a window into one of the second story rooms, where it bled to death on the glass shards. The guest staying in that room had only been out of the room for five minutes to take a call, and returned to find what they thought was the results satanic ritual.
The inn was booked solid for the next two months.
Money flowed into Gloucester for the first time in decades. The ferry began to run every day, we paved the main road, and it looked like Gloucester Island might revitalize on a tourism economy, but since the Old Gloucester Inn was the driving force, I had to keep the ball rolling. Was perpetuating the lie—and sacrificing the occasional goat—really a high price to pay for saving a community? I think not.
But the ferry didn’t just bring tourists, it also brought those damn kids and their dog. They showed up in a VW microbus and began snooping around. They’re onto me I know it, two of them have a little capacity for reasoning and investigation, but the third just drops her glasses all the time. I wrote off scraggly one and the dog as cowards, but they seem to luck their way to discovering things I had hidden; I’m just lucky they found the secret passage rather than my journal, that would have ended things right then and there. I could get away from it, if it weren’t for these meddling kids.
All I can do now is try to scare them off. Chasing them around with scary mask and raised hatchet ought to do nicely. They’re stupid kids, what could possibly go wrong?