The guests who check into the decrepit, ominous Grand Hotel may not enjoy their stay, but there's no chance of them ever writing a bad review on TripAdvisor, for those who enter the creepy confines rarely get to see the outside world again. From Scott Kenemore, the author of Zombie, Ohio and its two follow-ups, The Grand Hotel is now available, and we've been provided with an excerpt from the book.

"Welcome to the hotel where nobody checks out.

When a desk clerk welcomes a group of tourists into his mysterious and crumbling hotel, the last thing he expects is that a lone girl on his tour may hold the power to unravel the hidden mystery that has lain for untold centuries within the structure’s walls.

The Grand Hotel is a horror novel by esteemed bestselling author Scott Kenemore (Zombie, Ohio) that takes the reader on a thrilling ride through an interconnected series of stories narrated by the desk clerk and the residents of the hotel itself. And while it is not known whether or not the desk clerk is actually the devil incarnate, it is strange that so many visitors who come for a tour of the hotel have a way of never leaving.

As the narrator takes you deeper and deeper into the heart of the hotel, secrets that have been hiding for aeons begin to show themselves. Although he is quite prepared for this experience, there is some question as to whether or not the rest of the world shares this readiness.

Kenemore’s incredible style and originality carry The Grand Hotel to places most people only see in their nightmares. And while we don’t know all of the secrets that lie within the Grand Hotel, we know that the person who does hold that knowledge puts fear into the narrator himself—a thought that ought to terrify everyone."

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The Grand Hotel

by Scott Kenemore

The Grand Hotel lies at the end of a desolate, mist-shrouded street.

The columns that frame its entrance have old and peeling plaster. The crenulations along the walls are covered in ancient ivy, most of it dead. Filament still burns in the copper fixtures above the door, but the resulting glow casts little light. Some of the win- dows are broken. All of them are dark.

Visitors creep inside tentatively, unsure what to make of the place. They are a nervous bunch . . . intrigued, but unaccustomed to trespassing. (How long have they stood outside, daring one another to go in? I often have difficulty telling. Time has a way of passing strangely for me.) The visitors wonder aloud if the build- ing is abandoned. Some clearly fear discovering vagabonds squat- ting within its crumbling lobby. Others expect only mice and rats. But certainly—all of them feel quite sure—this place cannot be a functioning hotel.

It is my job to disabuse them of that notion.

When I look up from my desk, it often gives them a start. I keep the lights rather dim, you see, which tends to render me quite invisible. It is not uncommon for my guests to gasp or even, occasionally, scream when I finally raise my head. (Though he remained silent, I once had a grown man faint dead away.)

Yet after this initial shock, my countenance usually reassures them. I smile broadly and lift my brow. My demeanor projects propriety and taste. I have seldom been called “handsome,” but some have said my features confer feelings of trustworthiness—a notion which pleases me inordinately.

“Welcome, welcome,” I say to them. “I’m sorry for giving you a fright.”

This is not true.

“Oh, we didn’t see you there!” they will say, some still gasping in surprise. “What is this place?”

“Ahh, so you are tourists, then?” I inquire.

They nod. Of course they are. They always are.

“Are you in town for the culinary festival?” I wonder aloud.

“Or the museum opening, or—yes, of course—the equinoctial celebration?”

Oh, they wonder. Was there some sort of celebration?

I smile silently, divulging nothing.

“You have come to the Grand Hotel,” I inform them. “The building may not look like much to seasoned travelers such as yourselves, but I assure you, in its heyday this was a remarkable place to be. To see and be seen, as they say. Kings and queens have stayed here. Presidents and Prime Ministers from countries all around the world—including, I believe, some of your own—have sequestered themselves within these walls. We’ve had film stars, champion sportsmen, four-star generals, top scientific minds. . . The history of the Grand Hotel is really quite remarkable.”

At this point, braver members of the party will venture a query as to the nature of my position. Am I a security guard, keeping watch over the sleeping structure? A docent? Or even a tour-guide? (Perhaps an official one—licensed through the city tourism office—or perhaps an unofficial one . . . working for tips, thankyouverymuch.)

Here, I must disappoint and astound them in the same breath.

“No,” I say softly. “I manage the front desk.”

Manage the front desk? (I can almost hear the gears turning inside their thick skulls.) The front desk of the hotel? Then that would mean . . .

“Oh, yes,” I clarify. “The hotel is fully operational. My shift covers the evening and overnight hours. If you desire a room, I believe we just might have a vacancy.”

Here they will exchange a look.

“Let me see . . .” I say, consulting the ratty, timeworn ledger in front of me. “Here we are, then. The Honeymoon Suite is avail- able, I see . . . though that might not suit a mixed group such as your own. There are also two single rooms, but—drat—nothing with much of a view. Our western balconies get a remarkable panorama of the city at sunset. Unfortunately, all we have tonight are a pair of rooms facing east.”

Now I see them looking at me and whispering. Sizing me up. Who is this strange man? In the difficult light, his height, age, and even race are tricky to discern. (A safe guess might character- ize him as tallish, middle-aged, and healthily tanned.) Moreover, they wonder, how can he project such pride—and exude such fastidiousness—amid the ruins of a dump that must be a hundred years past its prime?

I smile back at them, allowing the inspection.

About this time, a heavy tread in the hallway above betrays the presence of others. My visitors realize that I am not kidding about the vacancies. If only three rooms in this vast hotel are empty, then the rest of them must be . . .

“How many rooms does this place have?” a member of the group ventures.

“Aha!” I answer energetically. “That’s an interesting question, with a long and equally interesting answer. But it’s more fun if we make it a game, don’t you agree? How many do you think there are?”

Oh, the answers I have heard over the years. Oh the answers. Some are risibly low. Forty. Fifty. Sixty. (I think I once got a twelve.) Others hit the opposite end of the spectrum. Thousands of rooms. Millions. (These guesses usually come from children, true, but one does well never to underestimate a child.)

I like to conceal the actual figure for as long as possible. Sometimes I do not divulge it at all. But if the group is attentive and halfway respectful, I will usually let it slip.

“The Grand Hotel has exactly three hundred thirty-three and one thirds rooms.”

They smile politely, as if I have told an unfunny joke. Sorry, I tell them. It’s no joke. 333.33.

“That’s silly,” one of them will say dismissively.

“How can you have a third of a room?” another usually asks.

“Who stays in it? A third of a person?”

Here I open my mouth to speak, but always think better of it.

“You know . . . if you don’t have any pressing engagements this evening, you could join me on a brief tour of the building,” I tell them. “I would be happy to conduct it personally. I’m not supposed to leave my post at the desk, but I’ve been here so long that management has grown rather flexible on that point.”

The adventurous members of the group are instantly interested. They cajole the more timid ones.

I simply stand and smile. And wait.

It never takes very long.

  • Derek Anderson
    About the Author - Derek Anderson

    Raised on a steady diet of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books and Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Derek has been fascinated with fear since he first saw ForeverWare being used on an episode of Eerie, Indiana.

    When he’s not writing about horror as the Senior News Reporter for Daily Dead, Derek can be found daydreaming about the Santa Carla Boardwalk from The Lost Boys or reading Stephen King and Brian Keene novels.