Tales From The Park-Side is a series of horrific short stories inspired by places and artifacts that can be found inside a certain little theme park in central Florida. These stories are written by members of the Orlando area entertainment and theme park industry and were curated by Audrey Brown-Willaims.
by Jake Williams
Drip. The incessant sound coming from Room 306 would drive anyone crazy, let alone the man charged with fixing it. Night after night, Chester did everything he could to fix the drain and every night the problem went unresolved.
Because of this, the room was never booked. It was 1949 and attendance at the Hollywood Tower Hotel was in decline, so management wasn’t overly concerned with the dripping drain in 306.
However, to Chester it meant everything. It just kept going, night after night. Why wouldn’t it stop? Why? Chester’s head hurt most evenings with the revolving question.
At 55 years old with a balding head and grayed temples, the greatest worry for him was that his own talents were slipping. He’d been hired to do a job. For years he couldn’t resolve this issue. Sure, other calls were fixed in a matter of minutes. Light bulbs replaced, showers caulked, door hinges greased. But for some reason the drain continued to drip.
Chester’s obsession was well known by other staff at the hotel. He often brought it up to anyone who would listen, though that list was dwindling. However, Elena would always lend an ear to Chester’s rantings.
“Drain’s still dripping,” Chester said, on one particularly rainy evening.
“Have you tried fixing it?” She asked, with a wry smile.
“I’ve wondered if I’m just doing something wrong, breaking it more than fixing it.”
“Have you ever fixed a drain?”
Chester had to think about it. He couldn’t quite remember when. Then it dawned on him.
“March 4th, 1935,” he said, with a sigh of relief. “Room 718 had a drip and I took care of that no problem.”
“You could just give up,” she said. “The drip is so minimal. It can’t be costing them any real expense.”
“It’s just that, Elena,” he said. “I’ve got to keep trying. What kind of maintenance man would I be if I didn’t? This place needs me.”
“Your funeral I guess,” Elena said. “I’ve got to get back to work.”
Room 306 had a smell. Perpetual bleach is what Chester called it. A room never occupied, but always supplied with fresh linens. The odor was equal parts delightful and repulsive. Delightful because it meant he wasn’t the only one forever working on 306. Repulsive, because the smell of bleach was still the smell of ineffectiveness. Every time, Chester entered the room he caught a whiff of his own failure.
Outside, the rain had picked up and was pounding against the roof many floors above. He didn’t mind storms, because it reminded him of being inside as a kid without any cares. Back then, he could just focus on whatever he wanted. Now he had one focus. To fix the drain.
He opened his toolbox, grabbed his wrench, and went into the bathroom. He opened the cabinet under the sink and got to work. Crank. Crank. He turned the wrench. Drip. Drip. He winced and turned it harder. Drip. He squeezed the wrench as hard as he could and turned with all of his strength.
Chester wiped his brow, expecting to hear the sound of his nightmares, but there was nothing. Chester sat up, more relieved than he’d ever been. He laughed. He almost missed the drip.
Suddenly, there was the great booming sound of thunder. All the lights in 306 phased out. A blue hue filled the room. Chester stood up, mesmerized by a strange glowing, electrified mass hovering over the bed. He stepped toward it and was blasted backward by the light. Chester fell to the ground.
His eyes opened not a moment later. Instead of bleach, he smelled burning. Looking down, he found a charred hole in his chest.
“What,” he asked.
He sat up patting the sizzling wound. And that’s when he heard it. The sound that meant he’d have work to do. The sound he would always hear. The sound that joined him in the afterlife.
Jake Williams is a writer and producer with over 10,000 hours of experience writing, directing, and producing, Jake tells stories and develops assets from concept to completion for brands around the world. Find him at linkedin.com/in/jake-aaron-williams
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