Nocturnal Journal Special #1
Halloween Issue: A Ghost Story
The Room of the Pasha’s Daughter
To celebrate our first wedding anniversary, my husband and I decided to stay at the seafront mansion where we had our wedding. The mansion had a beautiful view of the Bosphorus of Istanbul, and it once belonged to an Ottoman Pasha, who lived there with his family for years. Now, having been renovated and turned into a highly luxurious hotel, it was seen as one of the most romantic wedding venues of the city, as well as a nice spot to get away from Istanbul's bustle.
Formerly serving as the Pasha's own bedroom, the main room in which we stayed on our wedding night was unavailable on the day of our anniversary. Therefore, we had to check in to the room next door. Seeing the disappointed looks on our faces, the hotel manager, whom we came to know well during our wedding preparations, apologized for the inconvenience and said, though it only had a partial view of the sea, the room he gave us was as nice and comfortable as the main room, and it used to belong to the Pasha's daughter. Knowing the manager had always been eager to share the mansion's long history with the guests, we politely interrupted him by saying our thanks and went up to our room.
That evening, we had a romantic candlelit dinner at the hotel's restaurant, which was converted from the former boathouse that belonged to the mansion. The floor was made of glass, making it possible to see beneath the sea under our feet. Though it was dark, the silver of the small fish swimming close to the glass floor caught our eyes from time to time, and we had fun showing them to each other before they disappeared with a few swift moves. Jazz music oozed through the speakers sotto voce as we ate our desserts and reminisced about our wedding night between some laughs.
“I'm glad we came back here,” I said to my husband. I was feeling happy and at peace. “This has been a beautiful night.”
As he reached to hold my hand with a smile, “I agree,” he said. “It’s perfect.”
It was a perfect moment. A perfect anniversary.
We just had no idea of the nightmare that was going to come down on me in the early hours of the following morning.
Something woke me up in the middle of the night.
There was a presence in the room. I could feel it clearly as I could hear my husband breathing next to me, fast asleep. Dread filled me slowly as I attempted to sit up and look around. I found that I couldn't move. In vain, I tried to move again, a bit more frantically than before, but I was still unable to lift my head or even make a sound. As fear wrapped itself around my rib cage and my will worked hard to break the spell my body was under, I lied, paralyzed.
We had left the curtains open before we went to bed, so the room wasn't very dark. In the dim light breaking in through the windows, I could make out most of the furniture and the layout of the room within my limited vision. However, I somehow knew the source of my dread was present in some corner where I couldn't see without turning my head.
A woman walked into my vision, then. I thought she just decided to allow me to see her when she noticed I was awake. She stood at the edge of the bed where I can see her and stared at me with her wild eyes and a wicked grin. As my heart drummed in my ears, I struggled to move and scream. Her grin twisted into a laugh, as diabolic as her smirk. She was amused to see me desperately helpless.
As my eyes properly adjusted to the dark and what little light the room had, I saw that she was young, maybe at the age of eighteen or nineteen. She wore what seemed to be a vintage, light pink nightdress. Nobody wore nightdresses like hers anymore. Her hair appeared to be a light color, and the right half of it was dutifully curled and bound with ribbons. The left half was dark, and a mess, ripped ribbon pieces stuck out from the unequally short, charred hair. Under that messy part of her hair, the left half of her face was also horribly distorted, resembling the make-up of the horror movie character, Freddy Krueger. A moment later, reason intervened, and I realized those scars on her face were severe burn marks.
Still chuckling, she took another step toward me. My blood froze in my veins. I knew I had to do something soon to prevent her from getting closer since there was no telling what she would do. As she drew closer, she mocked me, challenged me to act while I was under her spell. My weakness, my desperation gave birth to anger. I got mad at her, at a night terror, a ghost, an evil thing, or whatever the devil she was.
By repressing my fear, the anger helped me to calm down. I remembered another time I had a night terror when I was seven. When my mother ran to my side after hearing my screams, I told her about the monster that was in my room: a dark, ambiguous shape, running toward me and climbing on my bed. You saw a night terror, she said then, it wasn't real. It was just a bad dream. But if you see it again, pray as I taught you. Praying will calm you.
Will it also help to chase the monsters? I asked. Of course, honey, said my mother. God will protect you against the monsters.
The woman with the burn marks on her face stepped closer again. I took a deep breath. I focused all my remaining power to relay her this one thought, which was also an attempt of yelling at her telepathically: To hell with you! If you paralyze me, I pray your ass off!
Maybe it was only me, but I detected hesitation on her face for a second. I started to pray. All the prayers the religion classes taught me in my school years were now surfacing, resonating in my mind, word by word. Words from another language, words whose meaning I didn't know. Yet, I kept focusing on the words, repeating them, screaming them in my mind again and again. The more I prayed, the scarier she looked, but it worked in the end. My words, my prayers erased her frustrated being away slowly while lifting the curse she bound me with.
The moment I realized I could move my limbs again was when her existence faded altogether. I jumped out of the bed to turn on the light to see if she really left. It took me a minute or two to find the switch in the unfamiliar room with trembling hands. When I finally turned the light on, my eyes scanned each antique furnishing and ornament, but the room looked as ordinary as it could be.
I went to the bathroom to wash my face, came back, picked up a bottle of water from the minibar and drank half in one gulp.
“What's going on?” asked my husband sleepily, rousing from his sleep because of the lights and the noise I made. “Are you okay?”
“No, I'm not. I think I saw a ghost.”
As I sat on the windowsill of the open window, which was wide enough for me to sit on comfortably, I told him what happened. Being the rational thinker, he didn't believe me.
“You had a nightmare, that's all. Come on, get down there and come to bed.”
I looked at him, too tired to argue otherwise.
“Just do something for me,” I said.
“Tomorrow, ask the manager if this mansion had any fire incidents in its history.”
“Okay, I will,” he replied, trying to calm me down. "Now, can we sleep?"
“You can,” I said. "I don't think I'll be able to sleep again tonight."
Feeling the cool summer breeze on my face, and inhaling the scent of the sea, I watched the Bosphorus until dawn and kept guard. I didn't know what happened, or if praying like my mother taught me really helped in banishing her somehow, but she didn't show herself again.
As we were checking out the next morning, reminded by the nudge of my elbow, my husband inquired the manager about any possible fire incidents.
“Fire incidents?” He looked surprised at my husband's question. “Not since the mansion was turned into a hotel.”
“What about before?” I asked. “When this was still a house to a family?”
“Well,” the manager said, poking around his memory. “I did read in some old records of the mansion about a fire in the Pasha's day.”
“Do you know if anyone was injured in that fire?” I asked before I could restrain myself.
“If my memory serves me correctly, the Pasha's daughter was locked into her room the night the fire started. A record says that the Pasha locked her there as a punishment for disobedience. She was the last one to be saved from the mansion. Many Turkish and foreign doctors were called to look after her. They all were specialists on burn victims, but they couldn't save her. She is said to have died from severe burns.” The manager paused for a moment to examine our paled faces. “Why are you asking again?”
My husband and I exchanged a glance. While he grabbed our bag a bit too fast, I put on my poker face and replied:
Thanks for reading! If you liked this issue, a share, like, and a comment goes a long way. :)
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