Mystery of the Strange Ticking Sound

In June I went to Laughlin, Nevada with my mom on the senior citizen bus. The stingy slots forced us back to Room 1632 by 8:30 p.m., where a series of strange events played out.

We settled in for a night of TV and some mother-daughter quality time. Soon a ticking sound distracted us. “What in the world are those people doing?” I asked, pointing at the common wall to the room next to us.

“Sounds like an alarm clock,” Mom said.
“Sounds like a ticking bomb to me,” I said.

Most of the seniors from the bus were on our floor. Was the sound coming from some kind of health gadget? Perhaps a life-saving machine? We turned up the TV and waited for the noise to stop. It didn’t.

Never mind that our bathroom sprung a leak. Actually, it was more like a waterfall pouring from the seam of a rectangular panel in the ceiling.

Never mind that the engineer the hotel sent up to investigate the leak couldn’t hear the ticking sound. As soon as he knocked on the door, it stopped. “It’s probably the wind,” he said.

“No, it’s not the wind,” I told him. “It’s ticking and sounds mechanical.”

Never mind that the leak was fixed (broken overflow valve in the tub of the room above us) and that the second engineer who cleaned up the leak blamed the ticking on the wind, too. “Although sometimes in the summer we get complaints of ticking sounds when it’s raining. But it’s not raining now.”

No duh.

Never mind that when I asked the engineer what that rectangular-shaped panel in the ceiling was, he informed me it was just the AC unit.

Just the AC unit?

Never mind that I worried about water getting into the electrical AC unit and that a fire might break out or that a bomb might explode and blow us to smithereens.

Never mind that we tried our best to ignore the ticking, even though it got louder and louder and I wanted to scream.

Never mind that Mom called Room 1634 and asked the nice lady to please turn off whatever was ticking in her room.

Never mind that the nice lady said she had nothing ticking and the only sound she heard was from the elevators, which were next to her room.

We wondered how the lady’s room could be next to the elevators when our room was next to them, and when it dawned on us that the elevators were in between the lady’s room and ours, Mom ran into the hallway to check the number on the next room. It was #1630 and she had called #1634.

Never mind that the nice man who answered in Room 1630 said he had no machines running in his room, but he couldn’t sleep either because of the constant tapping on his window.

Never mind that we checked the windows and there was nothing out there. No trees (we were up too high). No birds (no ledge to perch on). No wind. No rain.

Never mind that once we decided there was no way we’d ever get any sleep with that noise, we called for another engineer to come up and put an end to the incessant ticking. Again, the noise stopped as soon as he knocked, and we worried that no one would believe us. Boy, were we relieved when he said it was no problem to move us to another room.

“Can you be ready in, say, 15 minutes?”

Mom and I looked at each other. “Um, no, I don’t think we can be ready that soon,” I said.
“How about 20 minutes?” he asked.
Mom looked hesitant.
“I don’t think so,” I said.
“How about 30?”
We smiled. “Sure. We can be ready in 30 minutes.”

As soon as he was out the door, we scrambled to throw our clothes and toiletries into our suitcases and were ready in five minutes. We sat on our beds listening to the ticking until the bell boy arrived to show us to our new room.

The bell boy wasn’t able to hear the ticking sound either. He told us that there were rumors of hauntings in the hotel.

Hmm, that would certainly explain why the ticking stopped every time someone knocked, plus the hotel was old enough to have a history of ghosts.

Never mind that we pulled our suitcases down the hall at 1:30 a.m. in our pajamas. Mom wanted to change out of her nightgown, but I assured her that it looked like a summer dress, so she put a sweater on to hide the spaghetti straps. I threw a sweatshirt on and figured my capri PJ pants looked like a summer outfit, too.

To make up for all our troubles, they gave us a room with a view of the river.

No more ticking! Peace and quiet. Sleep at last. Zzzz . . .

I can’t say we woke up refreshed. The ticking sound was now a nagging mystery. How could it ever be solved?

I believe I finally found the answer. Tune in to my next post and I’ll share my thoughts.

All in all, it was quite a strange experience, and I felt like Mom and I were players in a sitcom or stooges in a hidden camera show.
Do you ever find yourself in real life situations that feel like a scene in a movie, a book, or a play? What was it, and did it spark ideas for your writing?


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27 Responses to Mystery of the Strange Ticking Sound

  1. rilla jaggia says:

    You had quite a time there with your Mom! Does she attract the disasters or do you 😛 Can't wait to hear what the ticking sound really was.

  2. It sounds like an old clock, but it stops at intervals. I have no idea. You have to tell me.

  3. genelempp says:

    I agree with Stephanie that it sounds like one of the old wind up clocks but it could also be the tapping of wood on a pipe. Given that you were next to the elevator it is possible this vibrated something in the wall. Except that it stopped whenever someone else was there.Can't wait to see what your assessment is Lynn. Creepy and intriguing.

  4. LynNerd says:

    Rilla – Yes, it was quite a time, one thing after another. Quite surreal!Stephanie – Yes, it did kind of sound like an old clock – with a mind of its own!Gene – Good logic about wood hitting a pipe from the vibrating elevators. But there's no explanation as to why it would stop whenever someone knocked on the door. Definitely puzzling.

  5. what a thrilling post. I can't wait to see what your theory is. The video is a great idea too.

  6. Maybe it stopped when people knocked on the door because it was linked to the elevator, and since whoever was at the door got out and the elevator was stopped, the sound stopped. Maybe. Although, I prefer ghosts. 🙂

  7. Misha says:

    It actually sounds like someone hand whisking, although the heavens only know why they'd do that in the dead of night. 🙂 Fun to think that it's a ghost, though.

  8. Goodness me! Well, at least they gave you a new room. Was food included, too? :o)

  9. Creepy! I would have been freaking out too! Can't wait to see your thoughts! And I tend to over think things. Being a writer and all. Great adventure to put in a book! 😉

  10. LynNerd says:

    Thea – Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I'm glad you found the post thrilling. It was a crazy night.Heather – Yes, we wondered about the elevators, except that the noise came from the wall farthest from the elevators, but who knows? I thought the ghost idea was more fun, too!Misha – That's so interesting about it sounding like hand whisking. People do weird things when gambling to bring them luck, so anything is possible! Haha!DUO – Yes, thank goodness we got another room, but no food was included!

  11. SO glad it was not a ticking time bomb. Can't wait for your next post. =)-EllieAnn

  12. Toyin O. says:

    Sounds like a crazy time with your mum, but thank God they gave you another room. I would have been freaked out too.

  13. Holy Smokes, that would've driven me crazy! I'm glad they got you outta there. I'm sure the hotel frowns on any "Shining" type incidents…

  14. LynNerd says:

    Chantele – Yep, I over think things, too, and my imagination really got carried away that night! Definitely good stuff for a story.Hi Ellie! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Yep, I was quite relieved it wasn't a bomb! Hello Toyin – Nice to meet you. Thanks for visiting and commenting. We were so glad they believed us about the noise and put us in another room. Paige, so nice to see you here. Love your comment about the Shining type incidents! Haha! Good one.

  15. Talei says:

    Glad they gave you a new room but still by then, the ticking has embedded itself… 😉 Oh dear.

  16. Gracie says:

    Wow, I am now very curious to know what the ticking was! I hate unsolved mysteries.

  17. hahaha that sounds like an epic night. I once had a cricket with a death wish in my room. Only problem was, I couldn't find the wretched thing. lol.

  18. LynNerd says:

    Talei – Yes, you're right, the ticking had "embedded" itself by the time we escaped it!Gracie – Unsolved mysteries drive me crazy, too, so I'm glad I pretty much figured it out and will post it tomorrow.Lynda – Yes, quite an epic night. Crickets can be loud and maddening. What's weird is that my mom has a condition in her left ear where she's always hearing cricket sounds, so combine that with the ticking and she had a double whammy!

  19. cleemckenzie says:

    Yes. Yes. I know exactly that kind of weirdness and I spent several nights stalking a sound that came from my bedroom ceiling.I'd get up. Grab the flashlight. Go outside on the deck. Look up on the roof. All was quiet. Back to bed. Scritch. Scritch. Scritch.Awk! Up. Repeat above. Three nights. No sleep. Now I'm Ms. Grumpy and thinking of ripping out the ceiling. That's when the noise stopped. Never solved the mystery. Gotta use that in a book.

  20. Being unable to identify the sound would drive me nuts and I'd wonder about it for days afterward. Good material for a horror story.

  21. Hmmm. I would have said it was the elevators, but if it stopped when the doors were opened, that doesn't make sense . . . argh. :PI can't wait to read your next post.

  22. LynNerd says:

    Lee – That scenario taking place in your home is such a nightmare. Three nights of that would drive me insane! I mention in the next post how glad I am that the noise was in a hotel and not in my house! I'm glad it went away, and it would be great material for one of your stories.J.L. Yes, never finding out what caused the noise would really bug me. I'm so glad I think I figured it out! I'm posting it tomorrow!Golden Eagle – Yes, it could have had something to do with the elevators, but the timing of the ticking and the elevators running (which were actually very quiet) just didn't match up. Tomorrow I crack the case!

  23. Sure. Some places I'm convinced were occupied by poltergeists. Its kinda freaky to be sure.

  24. Did you happen to be in room 1408 ( reference to the movie, great toe rent if you haven't seen it.)

  25. Wub2Write says:

    Sounds like a case for Scooby and the gang! G-g-ghooooost!!!!

  26. Pingback: Mystery of the Strange Ticking – A True Story in Honor of My Mother | Lynn Kelley, Author

  27. Yvette Carol says:

    I do love a good mystery! What a terrific story. I hope Maria’s heard it, Lynnie! 🙂 xx

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