Welcome to the first of five spooky haint tales–that’s “ghost stories” to the rest of y’all–I’ll relate every Wednesday throughout the month of October.
This story takes place in the Battery Park Hotel in downtown Asheville. One night in 1936, it became the site of a horrific murder.
W.L. Clevenger arose on the morning of July 17 and walked down the hall to room 224, where his 19-year-old niece Helen Clevenger had slept. When she didn’t respond to his knock, he assumed she was still asleep, and went inside to wake her.
The sight which awaited him would haunt him for the rest of his life. Helen had been brutally murdered during the night: her face horrifically slashed and beaten, before a gunshot ended her suffering.
The tragedy rocked the sleepy mountain town and shocked the nation with its viciousness. But Helen’s terrible death brought her no peace.
One July night many years later, a woman checked into the hotel and went up to room 224. After nightfall, a storm began to batter the old building–just as it had the night of Helen’s murder. Rain hit the window like something clawing to get inside, and the wind around the high cornices sounded like a far-off scream.
Worn out from her travels, the woman laid down in the bed and drifted off to sleep despite the storm raging outside. But somewhere around one in the morning, she woke abruptly.
Was there someone in the room with her?
“Hello?” she called. No answer came, but as she sat up in bed, she was certain she felt a presence in the room. “Who’s there? Answer me!”
At that moment, a huge flash of lightning illuminated the window. Someone stood between the bed and the window. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say something stood there, because as the flash faded, the traveler realized that the indistinct human shape seemed to be made of nothing but a red mist, like blood.
Panicked, she turned on the light by her bed. It flickered with the storm, then strengthened, revealing nothing but an empty room.
If you liked this story, you can read about another Helen who haunts downtown Asheville (take-away lesson: stay away from Asheville if your name is Helen). I’ll be back next week with another scary tale of NC ghosts.