Halloween Writing Contest Winner: Guest Post # 1
As promised, here is a creepy, shiver-inducing story from the wonderful, beautiful bride of Frankenstein, Jessica. Jess was one of the winners of my Halloween writing contest, where the winner won a guest post on my blog. Here is the tale that was woven inside her twisted, wicked mind.
Take yourself back to Toronto, circa the 1950's. The post war boom is winding down, and the elite of Toronto are firmly nestled back into their luxurious lifestyle. The old money mogols of the city are attending galas, balls, dinners and parties and the event location of choice was the Crystal Ballroom of the King Edward Hotel.
On one cool, dark November evening, the cities most prestegious group of men and women got together at the Crystal Ballroom for a very special event. Penelope Gardiner's 18th birthday party. The Gardiner family had long been established as one of the leading families in southern Ontario. They owned the CN rail lines, and established one of the cities leading banks. Penelope's 18th birthday marked her official take over of the families assests. Her father had been ill and both of Penelope's older brothers had been killed in WW2. Events should have unraveled like they had with countless soirees the Ballroom had seen in the past, but on this November evening, nothing turned out as it should have.
The evening started well, dinner had been served and all 100 guests had made their way upstairs to the Ballroom to dance until midnight, when the ceremony to hand the empire over to Penelope would commence.
The scene was perfect. The room was grand, opulent in its decoration. The guests served as elaborate accoutrements to the Ballrooms decor. In the middle of the floor, the cities largest, and most expensive crystal chandelier hung, its pieces glimmering off of the windows and gilded moldings surrounding the room. Under this piece of grandour, the ceremony would take place.
As midnight approached, the guests gathered in the center of the room. Penelope stepped forward to speak on behalf of her family and its empire. This is the moment when everything went wrong, and the ballroom, and the Gardiner family, and the city of Toronto were never the same again. At precisely 11:54pm, an earthquake rocked the city of Toronto with such magnitude the city had never witnessed before. Buidlings and bridges across the city crumbled, hundreds were killed and thousands left homeless, and in the Crystal Ballroom, calamity. As the earthquake hit, the grand chandelier snapped, broke free from the ceiling, and fell atop the guests gathered below, its crystal pieces shattering and penetrating the fresh flesh of its victims below. 62 people died, including Penelope Gardiner. The blood and bodies could not be cleaned up right away, as the aftermath of the earthquake proved too much for the cities emergency crews to handle. It was over a week before the Ballroom was cleaned out. Reports cite cleanup crews running out if the Ballroom to vomit, the smell and the scene were so overwhelming.
The Ballroom was closed off, the remnants of the grand chandelier cleaned up and shipped out. The floor was so stained with blood that it could not be salvaged and was ripped up.
50 years later, this is how the once opulent Crystal Ballroom sits, empty, barren, and unused. I went up one evening, snuck up the last few vacant floors of the King Edward hotel through a service stairwell, into the door with a sign warning not to go in unless I wanted to be fined or prosecuted, and gaped at the eerie wonder of the ballroom, obviously neglected for decades. I pretendend to be someone who would have attended a gala back in the Ballrooms heyday, I danced in circles on the uneven floor, and felt the presence of what was once the Ballrooms life and energy. I made the story above up, it probably never happened, but being in that room, something happened, something beyond bankruptcy, something that warrented closing down one of the most grand venues in the entire city. On this Halloween night I dare you to sneak up yourself, if not to the Crystal Ballroom, then to another abandoned space, and imagine what happened to cause its vacancy and neglect. Happy hunting, and happy Halloween!!
Happy Halloween everyone. I hope you all eat too much candy and have....unpleasant dreams....