I was in the US state of West Virginia recently with video game publisher, Bethesda, where myself, some fellow journalists, and content creators got a chance to play the company’s upcoming post-apocalyptic title, Fallout 76. But this isn’t a yarn about the game, folks, this is about the weird shit that went down in the haunted hotel we stayed at.

(By the way, did you know we also have a badass mystery podcast? You should have a listen below or on iTunes / Spotify.)


Let’s get the obvious question out of the way first; why host a demo for a game at a haunted hotel in West Virginia? Well, Fallout 76 is set in the state and actually includes an in-game recreation of where we spent two very good, but very strange nights – The Greenbrier.

Established as a resort all the way back in 1778, early visitors went to the area to “take the waters,” believing it would restore their health. It later became a popular location among prominent figures of society and has even hosted a number presidents, including Richard Nixon, who, according to one lovely staff member, stayed in the same cottage as I did. If that’s not a goddamn terrible omen, I don’t know what is.

A hallway inside the main building.

The Greenbrier was also used as a war hospital during the American Civil War and again during World War II, operating as normal before and after each event. That, combined with a well-known local ghost, makes the building ripe for all sorts of weird goings-on. In fact, the Arizona Cardinals straight-up shit their pants during a visit to the hotel in 2015, with one player claiming he heard the voice of a little girl in his room. Here’s an excerpt from an article USA Today wrote on the team’s stay.

Some of them are convinced there are ghosts about.

“You hear a lot of guys talk, ‘Ah, the hotel’s haunted,'” cornerback Patrick Peterson said Thursday, “so now guys are traveling around in groups. … I haven’t seen anything, but I do hear some weird noises at night, but I don’t pay no mind to it. I fall right to sleep.”

Not so safety Tony Jefferson.

“I’m scared,” he said.

Jefferson said he was alone in his room the first night at the Greenbrier when he heard “a little voice, it was like a little girl’s voice.”

“The lights have not been off since,” Jefferson said. “I’m not taking any chances. … I’ve got the TV on, and the lights.”

Needless to say, reading this before we arrived at the hotel convinced me to follow Jefferson‘s lead and leave my lights and TV on for the entire stay.

While the central building is where most guests stay, the property itself is enormous, boasting a golf course, outdoor pool, a literal fallout shelter, and more. Where myself and two fellow Aussie guests stayed was a short walk from the main building in a standalone house called Top Notch. There’s a number of similar buildings on the property and during a short shuttle ride to our rooms, I asked the driver if any of the buildings were less haunted than the others.

“Oh, they’re all haunted,” he replied, which was not what I wanted to hear at all. Interestingly, he told us that the golf course is, to him, the most haunted place on the property and that if you go there at night, you’ll see and hear all sorts of stuff. Yeah, nah, I’m alright thanks, champ.

A creepy-ass painting in our cottage.

Now, I’m not a firm believer in ghosts, but I wouldn’t say I’m completely sceptical, either, so I was definitely feeling uneasy at this point. My plan of attack was to get drunk enough on both nights to either easily fall asleep or just not give a shit about any paranormal activity. This mostly worked, but some of my colleagues and I definitely experienced some strange stuff. As a good ghostly fence-sitter, I’ve included a possible real-world explanation for each occurrence.

The events below happened in chronological order.

Mysterious knock – day 1, barely an hour into our stay

After checking in, we all headed to our respective rooms to drop off our bags and get settled in before hitting up one of the cafes for lunch. My pal and fellow journo, Luke, said that while in his room, someone knocked on the door, but when he went to answer, there was no one there. The hallways in this place are long as fuck, too, so pulling off a successful knock and run would be a challenge.

There were two possible alternatives to a ghost knock here. The first was that it was simply hotel staff going to azsk if Luke wanted the turndown service the next day, which they seemed to be doing at the time because we got a similar visitor at Top Notch. The second possibility was that it was one of the Aussie Bethesda team members, Noel, who was both staying close to Luke and had previously teased about messing with all of us.

VERDICT: As you’ll read later, it was probably Noel.

A creepy-ass picture in one of the hallways.

Chair slide – day 1, about 20 minutes after Luke told us about the door knock

In the very cafe we were eating at, I looked up at one point to see a tall bar chair slide about 1.5 metres to where it presumably lives. There was, from what I could see, no one in that part of the cafe when it happened, and the way it slid and stopped in place perfectly at the bar seemed extremely rigid.

A staff member could have pushed the chair and ran behind a nearby pillar which was about 2 metres from where the chair slid, but it seems weird that I would see the chair move and not the person moving in the other direction for a slightly longer distance.

VERDICT: The sceptic in me says it was just a person sliding the chair, but something about it weirded me out. I’m leaning towards the former, purely because I was still pretty jetlagged at the time.

Kate’s bag – day 1, after lunch

We had a presentation and party to go to a couple of hours after we finished eating lunch, so we decided to head back to our rooms to shower and get ready for the night ahead. A few minutes after parting ways, another Aussie Bethesda team member, Kate, sent a message to the group chat we were all in which read, “omfg my bag has moved”.

She had originally put the bag against the wall of the room, but when she got back, it had moved to the middle of the goddamn room. No one puts their bag in the middle of a room, that’s psycho shit. Refusing to go inside, she sent a picture from the front door of her cottage, which, like ours, was on the outskirts of the property, not in the main building.

Kate was staying in the cottage by herself, so the only people who could access it apart from her would be the staff, but that seems weird given we had just checked in. There was nothing to clean because the room was already clean.

VERDICT: Given staff were doing the rounds with the whole turndown service-offering caper, it could well have been one of them checking in when no one answered the door. The bag was next to a window, so they could have moved the bag to get to that, but why not return it to its place when they were done? This one left us all pretty weirded out.

Sound recording – day 1, before heading to the party

As I walked out of my room to head to meet up with the rest of the crew, Adam, a fellow journo staying in the room next to me, told me to come and have a look at something as I strolled past. He was on his laptop and told me he left Audacity on to record sound in the room while we were out at lunch. On the waveform he showed me, you can see the noise made as he left the room, followed by nothing after he closed the door, but while we were out, the microphone picked up something.

Around the 30 minute mark, you can see a spike in the waveform. When Adam played it back, it sounded like a sharp tap quite close to the computer. Listen to it below.

The simple explanation is that the building is old as shit and as the temperature changes throughout the day, things move and shift slightly, making noises, but in the context of everything else going down on the property, it could have been something… Else? Another guy later told us that he heard a continuous tapping at his window at night and when he checked, no one was there. As soon as he laid back down, it would start again.

VERDICT: Look, it could just be that the building is old, but it’s still incredibly eerie.

Kate’s doorbell – day 2, late as hell

After a bunch of us headed back to Kate’s room for a nightcap after the party, we retired to our rooms to sleep. The next morning, Kate told us her doorbell rang about 5 minutes after we had left and when she checked the door – assuming it was one of us playing a joke – there was no one there.

This spooked us out, but later, Noel admitted to going back and doing it as a joke.

VERDICT: Piss off, Noel.

Weird happenings in my room – early morning on day 2

We all retired to our respective rooms sometime around the 2am mark from memory. I fell asleep pretty easily because, well, I was fairly drunk.

My room.

After waking up to visit the bathroom, I went back to bed and while falling asleep, heard a number of tapping noises. I don’t know if it was because I was still pissed or whether I just subconsciously dismissed them as various house creeks, but they didn’t worry me enough to keep me awake, plus I had the TV going, which was comforting. Until it turned itself off.

I jolted awake, presumably because I noticed the sound had stopped suddenly and was greeted with a black screen. The TV then turned itself back on and I’m wondering whether I should just run the hell out of there now. I was absolutely shitting myself until the TV showed a message saying that it needed to restart to install an update and that I should pick a time for that to happen.

VERDICT: I’m thinking it was just part of the TV’s update process, but why would it restart itself and then give me an option to pick a time for another restart? I dunno about this one, folks. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much after that.

Something touched my ass – day 2, after breakfast

We all gathered for breakfast at around 9am in the main building. Having not slept that well, I decided to head back to my room after eating to nap, as I didn’t need to be anywhere until 2pm. At this point, I figured sleeping during daylight would be easier and to be fair, I was absolutely exhausted, so it was worth a go.

Luckily, I got a couple of hours of deep sleep, which was great, but I was woken by something touching my ass. I’m not kidding, I was sleeping half under the covers with my ass on the outside when I felt something touch it, and the impact was hard enough to wake me up. Weirdly enough, I didn’t feel threatened by this, so I wasn’t really scared. I think I was more amused by it, but that could have been the exhaustion.

VERDICT: I don’t really know how to explain this one, other than it being a horny ghost. I mean, it could have been a random muscle spasm, but I’ve never had one wake me up before, and I was in a very deep sleep.

Some creepy-ass shit hanging in one of the rooms. Reading this probably summons a demon.

Luke’s wardrobe – day 2 at some point

I can’t remember exactly when he told me, but Luke also had some weird shit go down in his room the previous night. He said he heard a strange tapping sound coming from his wardrobe which stopped when he got up and opened it. After closing it and going back to bed, the tapping started again. He left the door open after that.

VERDICT: Again, old doors can creek, but still, it just seems really eerie in context.

The walk to Top Notch – day 2, also late as hell

After another night of drinking, we walked back to our cottage from Kate’s where we were enjoying a nightcap just like the night before. It was close to 3am and a fog was settling in on the property. As I neared the front door of my building, I looked over to a noise I heard, assuming it was a squirrel or something and saw a white, ghostly figure move between two trees.

I wish it was easy to dismiss this as just a trick of the eye or something, but I can’t. It wasn’t in my peripherals, I was looking straight at it. It didn’t move like a flash, it was slow enough for me to process as it was happening. And it wasn’t part of the fog, because it was much lighter and vibrant than that.

I thought seeing something like that would scare the piss straight out of me, but I was weirdly chill about the whole thing, kinda like I instantly knew whatever it was wasn’t malevolent in any way, it just existed for a moment and I noticed it. I still slept with the TV on, though.

VERDICT: I honestly can’t think of a plausible alternative for this, it was just so vivid and clear.

I had never spent the night anywhere haunted prior to this trip and leaving filled me with a weird mix of relief and accomplishment. Knowing that I have the capacity to face ghostly eerieness like that – even if it most of it is explainable by natural occurrence – without completely freaking out is kinda nice.

I don’t know that I would call myself a full-blown believer just yet, but I think all of this has pushed me a little further from scepticism.

Image: Matt Hopkins / PEDESTRIAN.TV