Footfalls on Creaking Floorboards – Part 5 #Horror #Halloween

Both Angela and Luther turned toward each other and then looked back at the stone arch. There was a passageway beyond that seemed to angle downward and was obscured by inky darkness. Angela walked towards the phenomena, when Luther held her back. “Wait! You don’t know what’s down there!”

“That’s exactly what I intend to find out,” Angela broke free from his grasp.

“I’m not even going to pretend to know what is going on here, but that thing wasn’t here a second ago. What if it disappears the moment you step inside?”

“There is only one way to find out.”

Angela walked towards the archway. She touched the stones with her hands. They were cool, nothing out of the ordinary for a basement in October. Heeding some of Luther’s caution, she decided to test the portal. She tossed a stone inside and heard the clatter of it down the passage. The next test involved poking one of the metal fence posts past the threshold. Nothing happened. After they exhausted all the other options, Angela had no choice but to go inside.

Before she went, she turned to Luther, “You don’t need to follow me. If it does disappear, tell Brenda that I love her, and my parents too.”

“Um… OK.” Luther said.

Before he could devise another reason why she shouldn’t go, she crossed the threshold. She turned towards Luther who was dumbly shaking in his boots. She stepped back out again and smiled, “See. It’s not trapping me in some other world.”

Angela turned back down the passageway. After some deliberation, Luther rushed forward to follow her. The passageway was a narrow stone tunnel with an arched ceiling. It seemed to have an infinite blackness beyond the reach of light generated by Angela’s phone. Luther kept making glances back to make sure the entrance to the basement was still there.

They walked for what seemed like hours, but in reality was only about thirty minutes when they finally saw light up ahead. The basement had disappeared into the darkness, so Luther pushed them forward towards the exit. When they finally got close to the end, they could see that there was definitely a room up ahead. By the time they could make out the details of the room, they were almost upon it.

They stepped out of a stone arch similar to the one they had entered. The room looked like the basement they had just left with the exception that everything looked new. The octopus furnace had gleaming metal like it was freshly installed. All the farming equipment looked new like it had yet to collect the rust from the ages. There was even fresh soil on some of it. The basement was clean and well organized, and there were no witch marks on the beam in the ceiling.

While Angela was exploring the surroundings, awed by the change the basement had gone through, Luther tugged her sleeve. “Look,” he said. She could hear the fear in his voice.

She turned toward the wall where the archway should have been. It was no longer there. It was a wall like any other part of the basement. She turned to Luther and saw that his gaze was not fixed on the wall, but rather the top of the stairs. He didn’t seem to notice the missing archway or else that would have surely sent him into a panic. Whatever was at the top of the stairs was making her uncomfortable as she could see him begin to shake.

Angela turned her gaze to the top of the stairs, and there was a little girl of no more than nine-years-old. She had blond ringlets and was wearing an early 1900’s dress. Both Luther and the girl screamed. Angela was so startled that she began to scream too. Their voices blended into a cacophony of terror that was punctuated by Luther passing out.

Author’s Note: I thought I’d be done with this story by Halloween, but it’s taken a life of its own and went in a way unexpected to even me. Please follow for more installments.

Footfalls on Creaking Floorboards – Part 4 #SpookyStories #Halloween

“Angela?” A barely masculine voice squeaked out the “ah” sound at the end of her name.

Angela rolled her eyes and jumped up from her hiding spot. She hit her head on the octopus furnace and a loud clang echoed in the darkness of the basement. There was a commotion at the top of the stairs as the person jumped backward. Angela swore and cursed.

“Asshole, Luther, get down here!” She yelled.

Luther appeared at the top of the stairs. He was a skinny and tall kid, much taller than her, with a brown mop of hair, hipster messenger bag, and glasses. He navigated by the light of his phone. He was a late bloomer a couple of grades below her. He had the hots for her and wouldn’t let it go even when she clearly outlined that she had zero sexual attraction for boys. Even though he wanted to live in the world of unrequited love, he had a good heart, so she was never mean above and beyond brutal honesty. He was like a lost puppy, and she had a soft spot for strays.

His phone went into sleep mode halfway down the stairs, and he futzed around with the finger print identification. Angela could hear the buzz, buzz, as it rejected each swipe of his thumb. He finally got the phone on again and continued down the stairs. When the phone timed out a second time, Angela was ready with her flashlight app, “If you’re going to use the screen as a flashlight, download an app, or at the very least turn off sleep mode!”

“I wasn’t intending on going inside,” Luther said in is crackeling not-quite a man voice. “But then I saw your car and figured you may need some help.”

Angela knew she should have not parked in such a noticeable location. She was hoping the trip would be quick. She’d take a couple of pictures, maybe find some evidence that her brother had been at the Wellington House, and then leave. However, there were no tags in the house. Her brother would have left his mark somewhere, especially if the witch marks inspired his signature.

The more she thought about it, the lack of graffiti in an old abandoned house was odd. People should have left some evidence of occupation behind. While the house was old and worn, there was no indication that anyone had left their mark aside from the beam in the basement. Angela found it hard to believe because the police had problems with vagrancy in the house. Various people tried to get it torn down over the years, but they were always blocked by a historical society that seemed to like protesting more than restoring houses. Someone should have left something behind, even if it was just a harmless tagger, or a doodle. Every other abandoned building in town was covered with graffiti. Why wasn’t the Wellington house?

Angela turned her phone light towards the walls of the basement. She explored every inch, and there was no evidence of any graffiti. Luther was confused by her actions. She ignored his questions, and continued to sweep for clues. There was junk, but anything useful had been picked clean years ago. The rest was rusting farm equipment that looked as if hadn’t been used since World War II.

“At least let me help,” Luther said and pulled out his phone. After two buzzes of failed attempts, he unlocked the phone. “What are we looking for?”

“Anything drawn, written, painted, on the walls,” She said as she searched.

“Um, OK. Mind telling me why?”

“Have you noticed any graffiti since you’ve been here?”

“Um… no… I don’t see.”

“That’s exactly it. This house has been abandoned for how long now?”

“I believe it’s been…”

“I don’t need the exact number. Suffice to say that don’t you find it odd that there hasn’t been a single tagger? Not one street artist in the entire history of the house?”

“Maybe the tags have been painted over?”

“Have you seen the condition of the paint? I don’t think this place has been repainted since hipster beards were just beards.”

“Maybe taggers don’t come here. The abandoned warehouse seems to offer more space….”

“Or maybe they did… and…”

“What?”

Angela stopped in front of a grey, blank basement wall. It was craggy and old, but not so much as to prevent a young street artist from painting a mural. There wasn’t any form of human marking on the wall. Angela turned to Luther, “Do you have your sketch book?”

“Yeah, but I don’t see…”

“Do you have the charcoal? Could I get a piece?”

Luther shrugged and dug through his messenger bag. He pulled out a piece of charcoal he used for sketching. Angela took the piece and walked up to the wall. She drew a circle. Even though she was definitely rubbing charcoal on the wall, nothing seemed to leave a mark.

“Maybe it’s resistant to charcoal?” Luther suggested and handed her a marker.

She tried another circle. The marker left no indication that it had contact with the wall even though she pressed as hard as she could. She switched to the charcoal and instead of doing a circle, she drew a straight line, violently rubbing the piece as hard as she could.

“Um… Angela,” Luther said while she grunted and toiled.

“What?”

“You better come look at this.”

Angela walked over to the foot of the stairs. One of the lines that composed the witch marks on the beam was glowing. The wall directly behind the witch mark had a charcoal line that mirrored the one that was glowing. Angela ran to the wall and drew another line that mirrored another one from the witch mark. The line appear on the back wall, and the equivalent line on the beam began to glow as well.

Angela didn’t need to look at the beam. She had seen her brother draw the markings so many times. She had it memorized. Each time she drew a line, the corresponding line on the witch mark would glow. She completed the lines including the hidden, k, y, l, and e. As soon as she finished the design on the back wall, the house began to shake.

“We should get out of here!” Luther yelled and ran towards the stairs. The shaking increased and Luther tripped on the bottom step and tumbled past the stairs. The octopus furnace clanged and groaned as the tremors rippled through the pipes. A bundle of metal fence posts fell to the ground. The shutter was accompanied by a low pitch rumbling noise that seemed far away in the beginning. The noise became louder and louder until it was almost deafening.

Just as it felt as if the house would collapse around them, the rumbling stopped. The basement was in a state of disarray. The rusting equipment was scattered. A pipe from the furnace collapsed. The witch marks on the back wall had turned into a passageway with a stone arch signifying the entrance.

Footfalls on Creaking Floorboards – Part 3 #GhostStory #Halloween

The inky blackness enveloped Angela as she went down the stairs. She could hear the groan of the wood as she stepped further into the darkness of the basement. She clutched the rail as she stepped down. The creak of her footfalls seemed to echo into the nothingness around her. After she was sure that she was no longer at street level. She brought out her phone, and flipped a switch on her flashlight app.

The house on Wellington was watched by the police. If they saw flashlights coming from the house, they would burst inside and arrest the trespassers. Since the house was a hotbed for ghost hunters, thrill seekers, and the occasional drug addict or two, the sheriff decided to press charges first and ask questions later. Angela needed to take the risk of using her phone. She had to see the witch marks for herself.

When the flash on her phone lit up the basement with a bright white light, she was startled by an old octopus furnace that looked like a being with tentacles lurking outside her vision. Once she was satisfied that it was just a normal object in a forgotten basement, she turned the light up towards the ceiling. There was a beam that ran across the ceiling from the landing to the depths beyond the furnace. A crisscross pattern etched into the beam was visible near the landing.

The crisscross would look like a random pattern to most people, but Angela had seen it many times before. Hidden in the overall pattern were the letters, k, y, l, and e. It was her brother Kyle’s tag that he created to identify his work. He was a graffiti artist. The angular lines were distinctive of his style. The signature was carved into the wood like many witch marks, so Angela could understand why no one noticed the word Kyle hidden in the markings.

The weird part was that the photograph Mr. Harrison showed the class was from the late seventies. Well before either Kyle or Angela were even born. In order for Kyle’s signature to appear etched in wood to later appear in a fraudulent photograph, he would have carved it himself, which was impossible. The other more likely possibility was that Kyle saw this carving and adopted it for himself. Regardless of how the carving came about, Angela knew that the key to his disappearance was in this house.

Angela took a few photographs of the markings for herself. She was about to turn back when she heard the whine of a rusty hinge from upstairs. Then she heard footfalls on the creaking floorboards of the living room. Angela ducked down near the furnace and turned off the light on her phone.

The blackness of the basement enshrouded her. She could only hear the sound of her shallow, tight, breath. Her imagination ran wild with the lights off, and she did everything in her power to remain calm. She pulled her thoughts from what could be lurking in the darkness to thoughts of her brother.

She remembered sitting under a tree during a sunny summer day. She was in a park with a concrete storm ditch that ran the length of the green space. The tree was right up against the side of the waterway. She was eleven-years-old. Her brother, who was sixteen at the time, was in the ditch with his hoodie pulled over his head. He was spray painting a clunky drawing that he would soon perfect in subsequent years.

“Can I come down now?” Angela poked her head over the side.

“No,” Kyle said. “You’re supposed to be the lookout. Now sit against the tree.”

“But no one is coming! I want to help.”

“Fine, come on. Hurry, before someone sees you.”

Angela remembered Kyle helping her into the ditch. He taught her all about graffiti, the lines, the form, and the technique. His skill wasn’t quite there yet, but it was better than the blob she had made. It was one of the best days she could remember, just her and her brother. She tried to hold on to the memory, so she wouldn’t think about the dark basement around her.

The footfalls came closer. She could hear each step. Each thud was followed by cracks from the aging wood. They came closer and closer. Angela held her breath and sat perfectly still. The hinges squeaked as the door at the top of the steps opened.

Footfalls on Creaking Floorboards – Part 2 #Horror #Halloween

Angela stepped into the darkness of the basement. The floor creaked, and she could feel it bend under her weight as if it would snap under the pressure. The next step was equally as perilous. The darkness closed in around her as she went further and further down. She thought about her media arts instructor. He was an older man with wild Einstein-like hair. He always wore a tweed suit like he was a stuffy professor at an aging institution that was relic of the past. Instead, Mr. Harrison, was a media arts teacher at a local high school that hired him because he decided to retire from his thirty year career at the local television news station to pursue a “nobler” profession.

He would stand at the front of the class with an ancient slide projector. Her high school was probably the only one left in America that used physical slides. After the school installed a state of the art computer and projection system into every classroom, Mr. Harrison would still dust off the slide projector and use that instead. The new machine had a layer of dust on the keyboard. Her teacher would click between slides, mostly from his personal collection and explain some aging media concept. That’s when Angela realized that he probably didn’t retire from TV but was probably forced out when the television stations were required to upgrade to HD. He never adapted to the future.

Earlier that day, she was falling asleep to the cha-chink noise that emitted from the machine in between slides when an interesting image appeared on the screen. It was a picture of the stairs she was walking down this very moment. At the bottom where the concrete basement floor gave way to darkness, there was a ghostly figure staring at the photographer.  It was huddled on the floor with its neck craned to stare at the intruder at the top of the steps. It was an eerie sight.

“You’ll notice,” Mr. Harrison said in his nasal, dry tone. “The image here displays a pretty convincing picture of the supposedly haunted Wellington house down on east end. This photograph was submitted to the station as proof of the haunting.”

The students all knew the stories. Most of the class road past the house on bikes when they were kids. They would peddle faster until the house was a safe distance behind them when they got near. A few people here and there claimed to have entered the house and had all sorts of tales of bleeding walls and unearthly spirits. However, it was also well known bullshit.

Cha-chink. The next slide was a close up on the ghost itself. A decaying man appeared to be crying out in pain.

“You’ll see the ghostly image is clearly a picture of a real person, perhaps a leper, that was made ‘transparent’ by lightening the…”

And Mr. Harrison then began to describe a long, labor-intensive process that could be done in seconds with photoshop and a laptop. Two objects that Mr. Harrison probably made a point never to own. The class tuned out and fell asleep while he described dark room and film techniques that had a place in a museum more than a classroom. But there was something that interested Angela about the photo. It was something that drew her focus almost immediately. It was so interesting that she had to make up a bullshit excuse after class to see the ghost photo again.

Her eyes had not deceived her. There was a mark on the beam of the basement ceiling above the creature. It was a crisscross of scratches that the paranormal community had called “witch marks.” Those who believed in the legitimacy of the photo explained that the marks were designed to keep the evil trapped in the basement. For those who claimed the photo was a fraud, they explained carvings were designed to make the situation more spooky.

Angela knew that any theory about the origin of the marks was wrong. She knew exactly who carved them. It was her brother, and he had disappeared three years ago.