Hello readers, welcome back to my Chinese Urban Legends column. Let’s continue exploring the ghost stories and urban legends circulating on the Chinese Internet.

On October 2, 2013, a university student in Qinhuangdao took to Weibo to share a chilling encounter she and her best friend experienced during a trip over the May Day holiday earlier that year. They had inadvertently checked into a mysterious hotel in a city in the Northeast that, as they later discovered, didn’t exist at all. The poster, affectionately referred to as “Miss Sister” by her online followers, recounted staying for three nights before fleeing in terror. The eerie occurrences escalated with each passing night, leading her to fear what might have happened had they stayed any longer. Let’s dive into this peculiar tale without further ado.

The adventure began during their junior year at university, over the May Day holiday, which was their last extended break before summer internships commenced. Eager to make the most of this final long vacation, Miss Sister and her closest dormitory friend, both budget-conscious students, decided on a road trip to the Northeast. After careful planning, given their limited funds and the desire not to venture too far from home, they set off, filled with the spontaneity and enthusiasm characteristic of youth.

On the first day of their holiday, they packed their essentials and hit the road. By the time they reached their destination, it was nearly 11 p.m. Considering it was already late and they planned to explore the area the next day, finding accommodation for the night became their top priority. However, to their surprise, all the hotels and guesthouses near the tourist spots were fully booked. This was unexpected; despite it being the busy May Day holiday, the sheer number of accommodations in the vicinity made it seem improbable that they would all be at capacity, especially on the very first day of the holiday.

After a lengthy search and visiting more than a dozen hotels without success, it was nearing 1 a.m., and the duo began considering the prospect of spending the night in their car. At this moment, Miss Sister remembered a classmate whose family hailed from the area. Reaching out to this classmate for help seemed like a long shot, especially since he was also away, but he kindly sent them the location of a small inn nearby his home, suggesting it might have vacancies due to its usual low traffic of tourists. Following the coordinates, they found the place along a secluded road, about a 40-minute drive from the tourist site. The road, devoid of streetlights and bordered by vast empty fields, led them to the inn after a long drive in the dark.

The inn was notably modest, with dated facilities, and surprisingly, it seemed quite populated despite the late hour. The soundproofing was so poor that conversations from nearby rooms were audible from the lobby. Considering their options, and noticing another hotel a few hundred meters ahead, they decided to check it out, hoping for a more comfortable stay.

Upon entering the second hotel, they were struck by its unexpected tranquility and sparse occupancy, a stark contrast to the first inn. The reception area was deserted except for a single clerk who seemed unapproachable and hardly spoke while checking them in, appearing to be the sole staff member on duty. Despite the late hour and the clerk’s reticence, the duo was pleasantly surprised by the hotel’s superior amenities compared to the first inn and its remarkably low rates. They decided then and there to spend the remainder of their trip at this hotel, attributing the clerk’s lack of hospitality to the late-night shift fatigue.

Upon receiving their keys, the pair quickly moved their luggage to their room on the third floor. The corridor was eerily quiet, as if they were the only guests on the entire floor. Their room, though clean and well-equipped, had a peculiar musty smell, reminiscent of a place long devoid of human presence. Miss Sister speculated that the hotel’s remote location and infrequent patronage might have contributed to this stale atmosphere. To freshen the air, they opened the windows, hoping to dispel the musty odor. Exhausted from a day of driving and the hotel search, they washed up and promptly went to bed.

Sometime later, they were rudely awakened by the sound of noisy footsteps in the corridor, resembling the pitter-patter of children playing chase. Annoyed and groggy, Miss Sister got up to reprimand the disturbers, only to find the hallway deserted. Puzzled by the absence of anyone, she wondered if the noise-makers had moved to a different floor and decided to address it with the front desk in the morning.

The next day, with the events of the night still lingering in their minds, they pondered over the irresponsibility of allowing children to romp around so late. After getting ready, they headed downstairs to report the disturbance to the front desk, only to find it unattended. Guessing the staff might be on a break, they chose not to wait and went out for the day, planning to bring up the issue upon their return. Stepping outside, they noticed their car was the only one parked at the hotel, suggesting sparse business despite its appealing ambiance and affordable rates. This observation further highlighted the hotel’s quiet, somewhat forlorn atmosphere, contrasting sharply with their expectations based on its commendable facilities and pricing.

The stark contrast between the deserted hotel and the nearby, bustling, but dilapidated inn was striking. After spending the entire day exploring the sights, the friends returned to the hotel around 11 p.m., only to find the front desk unmanned and the building even quieter than before. The absence of any sign of life as they made their way back to their third-floor room prompted a discussion. “Why do you think hardly anyone stays here?” the friend inquired. Miss Sister, pondering briefly, suggested, “Maybe it’s just too late, and everyone’s already asleep.” Not dwelling on it further, they retired to their room for the night after freshening up.

Their sleep was abruptly interrupted again, this time by a knocking at their door, which left them both puzzled and frightened. “Who could it be at this hour, and what if it’s someone with bad intentions?” they wondered, considering their vulnerability. Miss Sister, gathering her courage, asked who it was, but received no response; the knocking persisted. Her friend, terrified, began to shake. Memories of past incidents involving harm to female travelers flashed through Miss Sister’s mind, heightening their fear. They dared not open the door; instead, Miss Sister reached for the hotel phone to call the front desk, hoping for assistance. Frustratingly, the line was constantly busy, and the ominous knocking continued unabated.

With no other option, Miss Sister bravely got up to peek through the peephole, ready to call the police if she spotted an unfamiliar man outside. Perhaps the person had grown impatient from waiting and left, as there was no one in sight when she looked. Relieved it was a false alarm, she went back to bed, hoping for undisturbed rest. However, the knocking soon resumed, terrifying them even further. Miss Sister rushed to the peephole again, while her friend attempted to call the front desk, but to no avail; the line was still busy, and no one was outside. It was baffling how the hotel, seemingly vacant, could have a perpetually busy phone line. Miss Sister shouted through the door, threatening to call the police if the knocking didn’t stop. After her warning, the corridor fell silent, as if no one had been there at all. With no further disturbances, they decided to confront the front desk in the morning, hoping to review surveillance footage to identify the mysterious knocker.

The next day, they found the front desk unmanned again. Refusing to leave without answers, they waited nearly an hour, but still, no one appeared. They speculated about the hotel’s operation, pondering if the lack of staff was a sign of poor business. It was no wonder the hotel seemed deserted. Deciding not to waste more time, they planned to return later, noticing again that theirs was the only car parked outside. However, the passersby on the street gave them peculiar looks, as if there was something odd about them emerging from the hotel. Miss Sister wondered if the hotel was associated with any paranormal rumors and decided to call her local classmate to inquire about any haunted legends surrounding the hotels in the area. The classmate, having lived nearby for over two decades, denied any such tales, reassuring them. Comforted, they set off to explore the local attractions, momentarily setting aside the eerie experiences at the hotel.

Determined to speak with the hotel staff, Miss Sister and her friend decided not to stay out late. They returned to the hotel around 8 or 9 p.m., only to find the lobby deserted once again. Wondering if something had happened to the hotel to explain the absence of any staff, they noticed a mobile number posted at the entrance, presumably belonging to the hotel owner. After attempting to call the number without success, they reluctantly headed back to their room. Since they had only paid for one night’s stay plus a deposit, effectively covering two nights, they reasoned that they could simply find another place to stay the following day if the situation remained unchanged. Hoping for an undisturbed night, they went to bed.

However, the night did not proceed as they had hoped. Miss Sister was awakened by noises, but this time, they seemed to originate from within the room itself. Following the sound, she was startled to see a silhouette near the room’s door, which appeared to be a child. Startled, she yelled, causing the shadow to flee into the bathroom. She attempted to wake her friend, only to find her already awake, trembling under the covers.

Before she could react further, her friend urgently grasped her, directing her gaze toward the foot of the bed. There, motionless, stood a child enveloped in a dark haze, rendering their features indiscernible. Yet, through the clothing, Miss Sister recognized it as the same figure she had seen moments before.

Confusion and fear gripped Miss Sister as she realized the impossibility of the situation. The child she had seen by the door was simultaneously peering out from the bathroom, a chilling sight that nearly sent her into shock. Despite the blurred features, she was certain it was the same individual. Clinging to her friend, paralyzed by terror, they remained huddled together until the break of dawn. As the first light of morning filled the room, emboldening them, they quickly packed their belongings, eager to escape the eerie confines of their room.

The horror escalated as they opened the door to leave. The once orderly hallway lay in ruin, with peeling wallpaper, a thick layer of dust, and their own footprints marking their recent passage. The decay spoke of long abandonment, a stark contrast to their previous days’ experiences. Shaken, they made their way downstairs, hand in hand, each step heavy with dread.

The lobby presented an even more shocking sight: overgrown with weeds, dust-covered furniture, and decayed fixtures, it looked as though it had been forsaken for years. Recalling the peculiar glances from passersby the previous day, Miss Sister realized the true state of the hotel. The phone number posted at the entrance, intended for leasing inquiries, and the absence of any hotel branding, clarified the grim reality they had overlooked. Without daring to linger or explore further, they rushed to their car and fled towards the safety of the familiar, only finding solace upon reaching the highway.

This harrowing experience, blending the boundaries between the real and the supernatural, left them with more questions than answers, a chilling reminder of the unknown that lies just beyond the edge of understanding.

Following the ordeal, Miss Sister reached out to her local friend for insight, only to learn a chilling truth. There was indeed only one inn on that road, the one with less desirable conditions they had initially passed by. The hotel where they had stayed, and which had seemed operational, had actually closed down years earlier. The mere recollection of those three nights sent shivers down Miss Sister’s spine, the thought of where they might have actually stayed haunting her.

This story, a blend of the mysterious and the macabre, serves as a reminder of the thin veil between reality and the unknown. For those who have followed this tale, thank you for your support. Stay tuned for more stories in our next installment.