Upstairs - A Short Story

Updated: Nov 9, 2019


By Jeff Mahoney 2018

Chapter One – The Arrival

Sara was so excited that she was finally able to move out of the city and back out into the country, where she could focus on her artwork. The city had long since grown old and had become over-crowded and the cost of living was far too much for an artist such as she. Over the recent months, she had sold a few paintings and now had established herself in the arts community as a respected and talented painter. All she needed now was some peace and quiet and some inspiring landscapes to increase this momentum and to continue her growth as an artist.

The home that she rented was on the outskirts of town and was surrounded by flowing fields, ordained with trees in the distance. The home was an old stately manor, with a large porch where she could paint in the warmer seasons. This was a far cry from the apartment that she was living in and she looked forward to the peace of mind that the solitude would provide. Sara finally arrived at her new home and pulling into the driveway, she was filled with a new sense of life and inspiration. This was a large home and the landlord had stated that it was a heritage home, that needed some “care and attention.” Sara climbed out of the car, feeling a bit stiff from the long drive. The town was a fair distance away, but the local grocery store offered delivery services to the residents in this region of the municipality.

Sara dropped her bags on the living room floor and the sound echoed through the large stately home. The home was a bit musty and Sara began to open all of the windows and the doors, to allow some of the fresh summer air flow through the halls. Sara walked casually through the home, admiring the old-world architecture that inspired her at every turn. The movers arrived and Sara instructed them to place the majority of her things in the large living room. Sara stood at the bottom of the large wooden staircase, that ascended up into the second floor above her. The banister and the steps were made of oak and the steps had been worn in some places, telling the story of an age gone by. As she climbed the stairs, she thought about all of the space that was now available to her. She would be able offer some rooms for rent and even operate a part time bead and breakfast when she was working on a commission.

The three rooms upstairs were spacious and well lit. Sara wandered through the rooms, taking in the beauty of each of them and it was certainly nice to have all of this extra space. Sara decided upon her room and instructed the movers to carry her bedroom items up the stairs. This would be her first night in the new house and she wanted everything to be perfect. It did not take long for the movers to empty the truck and Sara paid them, sending them on their way. It was early evening and taking a brief moment for herself, she stood out onto the porch and took in the sunset. Looking off into the distance, the sky exploded into a myriad of colors, as the sun set in the horizon. She smiled, as this would be a truly inspiring new life and she finally felt that she was living her dream.

The breeze was cool as the veil of darkness stretched across the plains. Sara shivered and entered the house, turning on the living room light that offered a soft orange glow. Opening a bottle of wine, Sara began to rummage through her things, sitting on the floor of the living room. She had started a fire and the warmth of the flames, together with the wine, warmed her heart. As she leafed through some old photos, she laughed to herself, reminiscing and thinking back on her times in the city. Finally, she had achieved a level of success, where she would not need to hustle to stay alive and would definitely not miss waiting on those tables at the Italian joint on the corner. Those days were behind her and she raised her glass to congratulate herself. Throwing another log on the fire, she climbed up onto the sofa and pulled a thin blanket over her legs, relaxing in the cushions.

Sara woke with a start and for a brief moment, forgetting where she was at the moment. The fire was reduced to a soft amber glow and there was a slight chill in the air. Groggy and slightly confused, she looked over at the empty bottle of wine on the floor and shook her head. It had a been a long day and she was exhausted. Pulling herself up, she sat on the edge of the sofa, with the blanket around her shoulders. As her eyes adjusted, she struggled to understand what she saw. Her box that she had been leafing through was turned on its side and the contents were scattered all over the living room floor. The photos from her past and various personal documents, covered the entire floor. Sara stood and walked towards the over-turned box and looked around the room. “What the hell?” She said, as she tiptoed around the photos cast about. Sara looked at the bottle of wine and determined that she got carried away. Slightly amused at herself, she began to pick up the photos and stack them neatly back into the box.

Looking at her watch, it was a little past two in the morning. Sara stretched and then began to climb the stairs, up to her bedroom, where her soft bed and warm comforter was waiting.

Walking through the dark hallway, Sara looked up to the final staircase that led up to the attic. It was a narrow hallway, with steep steps that led up to a small door that was padlocked. The landlord had told her that the owner of the home had some things stored away in this space and that it was off limits. Sara was intrigued by all of this, but now was not the time. Sleep was the only thing that Sara wanted to think about at the moment, as she climbed into her bed.

The morning light washed her face and she woke after a long and pleasant sleep. Feeling rested, she was excited to get the day started and organize her new living environment. Dressed and with the bed made, she entered the hallway and once again passed the narrow hallway that led up to the attic. As she passed, she glanced up towards the small door and she stopped where she stood. The door was open, just slightly, and the morning light could be seen through the opening. Sara wondered if the landlord had entered the home unannounced and was annoyed that this was how the relationship was to begin. “Hello? Miss Cardley? Are you up there?” Sara waited patiently for a response, yet none came. Sara sighed and shook her head. She began her ascent to the attic and was wondering why the landlord would let herself in, unannounced. “It must be the old town ways of doing things,” she whispered to herself, as she looked up towards the small door. Sara froze, as she saw a shadow pass the through the light that was evident through the crack in the door.

“He…hello? Is anyone up there? I have called the police, so you better get out of here!” Sara waited for a response, yet no response came. Listening closely, it sounded if as though something was being dragged across the floor, like a chair or a small piece of furniture. “Ok, I am coming in, so don’t get alarmed.” Sara looked down at the lock and the padlock was lying on the floor, in an open position. Reaching down to pick it up, Sara kept her eye on the door. With her heart beating in her chest, she pushed the door open slowly and scanned the room. “Hello? Who is in here? I know that you are in here. I am going back downstairs and the police are on there way. I have a gun down there and I know what I am doing with it. You had better go back out the way you came and never come back. I live here now.” Sara quickly shut the door and locked it with the padlock. Sara could feel that someone was there, but whoever it was hiding out of sight.

Chapter 2 – You Have Been Warned

Sara paced the living room floor, trying to decide what she should do. She did not want to be known as “that crazy lady” that just moved into town. Putting down the phone, she decided to sit on her sofa with a cup of tea and just listen. Growing up in a small town, she knew how fast news could travel and she did not want to get started off on the wrong foot. Sitting on the sofa, she sipped her tea and calmed herself. There must be an explanation for all of this and Sara decided to get on with her day and not dwell on the recent events.

Unpacking her life, she realized that she had been alone for many years and the after the divorce, she never really pursued anyone. The men in the city were selfish and lacked any spine or character. The ones that she had met anyway. Sara stepped out onto the porch and looked over at the barbeque that she had bought. It was a fair size grill and feeling hungry and a little shaken from what had occurred, she decided to take a trip to town to buy some meats and vegetables. A nice a barbeque and a few glasses of wine would be the perfect way to break in her new home. Driving into town, Sara admired the open fields and the beauty that this community had to offer. The town was about a forty-minute drive and with the radio playing some of her favourite tunes and the windows rolled down, she felt free and exhilarated.

The town was very small and still held an old-world charm that Sara fell in love with the first time she visited. The part of the world was filled with hard-working people that shared a love for life and land. Many of the folks shared a friendly smile as she passed them on the sidewalks, recognizing the fact that she was a newcomer to their daily lives. At the end of the street sat the grocery store that carried everything that she would need for the night she had planned for herself. Opening the door, the woman at the counter greeted her with a friendly smile. “Good morning. You are the new lady that took the house at the edge of town, right? We have all heard so much about you. You are an artist from the city, right?” Sara smiled, as it had been a long time since someone had spoken to her like this. “Yes, I moved here to get some paintings done and now that I am sponsored by a gallery, I could finally do it. I have always wanted to move to the country and when I saw your town, I could not resist.”

Sara nodded at the woman and began to search the aisles for some things that she needed to stock her cupboards and her fridge. With all of the supplies in her basket, she walked to the back of the store where the meat counter and the butchers could be found. Sitting behind the glass was a beautiful assortment of meats, freshly grown from the local farmers. The prices were reasonable and she thought about how she could never afford to eat like this in the city, even with the sponsorship. “Hello there. Welcome to Willow-creek. Can I help you find anything here?” The man across the counter was looking at her, with a big radiating smile that made her slightly embarrassed.

Sara focused on the task at hand. “I am planning a barbeque tonight and I was looking for a really nice lean piece of beef, to go with my vegetables. What would you recommend?” The man searched through the piles of meats, stacked neatly in the glass ice counter. “This just came in this morning, from a farmer that is not to far from where you are living. You took that house out on the edge of town, right? Sorry to be nosey, but everyone in town has heard about you and are excited that you are here. That house has sat empty for a long time and it probably is very happy to have someone living in it for a change. It really is a nice place.” Sara agreed to the piece of meat that the man had suggested and then thanked him. As she walked to the front of the store, she found herself thinking about him and she shook her head, releasing a slight chuckle.

Placing all of the items, one at a time upon the counter, the woman engaged her in a conversation. “Looks like you are really stocking up. You know, most of the vegetables and the meats are all local and we pride ourselves on really good foods in these parts. If you make pies and can fruit, the spring and the summer months really offer some great options.” Sara remained silent, as she was not used to sharing her life with total strangers. This is not the way it was in the city and this would take some getting used to. “Well, I don’t really bake all that much, but perhaps I can learn sometime. Thank you for your time and you deliver right? There may be times that I cannot make it out here and would need to have things sent out to me.” The woman smiled and presented a card. “Oh yes, as long as you call before ten in the morning, we can arrange to have whatever you need sent out to you. We deliver to the people out on the edge of town almost everyday, so it will be no problem at all.” Sara thanked the woman and it was nice to know that she was connected to the town in some small way. Aside from her artwork, living in such a large house alone could get quite lonely at the best of times.

Sara strolled back to her car casually, taking in the sights and the feel of the town. As she placed her groceries into the trunk of the car, a foul odour overwhelmed Sara. Turning around with her hand over her mouth, she was confronted by a man that looked to be homeless. His body odour consumed the air around Sara and as she tried to move away from the rear of her car, he blocked her passage. “You must not anger him! He knows that you are there and he will not stop until you are dead. Get out while you can! Get out while you can! He will not rest until you are dead, get out…GET OUT!” Sara screamed for help, as the man had now grabbed her and was shaking her violently. “Let go of me! Someone, please help me!” Sara was desperate, as the man had her pinned against the car, bearing his blackened teeth at her, hissing like a deranged cat.

Sara fought hard to keep this man from biting her. “Somebody help me!!” she screamed until finally the man was thrown to the ground by someone from behind him. Sara ran to the side of the car to gain some distance from this lunatic and between her and her attacker, stood the butcher that helped her earlier in the day. “You psycho! Get the hell away from me!” The man scrambled to pick himself up and ran off down the street and into an alley. “Are you ok? I heard the screams and ran out to help as quickly as I could. I see that you have met Reynold. He is the local homeless drunk. Many people have tried to help him over the years but he is too far gone. I am sorry that happened to you. Are you alright?” Sara brushed herself off and was shaking in fright. “Yes, I am alright. He came out of nowhere and next thing I knew, he had me. Thank you for helping me. I don’t know what I would have done without you. He was trying to bite me in the face.” The butcher took a quick look at Sara, to make sure that she was not injured.

“Come on, we should go and report this to the police. They probably should lock him up before he acts out again. You might want to consider pressing charges against him as well.” Sara smiled nervously and then opened the door to her vehicle. “It’s ok, I am kind of used to that. I was mugged a few times in the city. I know he probably has a pretty rough life and I don’t really feel like making him an enemy or anything. It’s ok, I will just go home and try to forget about it.” The man helped with the door and then spoke. “My name is Jim. Here is my card. If you ever need help with anything or just need to talk to someone, give me a ring. I don’t want you to get the wrong impression here. I just hope that this has not left a foul taste in your mouth about our town here. Have a great night and forget about crazy Reynold. He won’t bother you again. I will make sure of that.” Sara pulled the door closed and waived at the man. Pulling out of the parking space, she straightened out the car and began her short journey back to her new home. Looking in the rear-view mirror, she gasped, as Reynold was standing in the middle of the road, peering at her as she sped away from town.

Arriving home, Sara quickly entered the home and stocked here cupboards and her fridge. With the meat out on the cutting board, she prepared it for the grill, along with her vegetables. As she continued to work on her preparations, Sara heard a distinct thump coming from above her head. “Oh, for God sakes, what now!!” Slamming the knife down on the cutting board, she washed her hands and picked up the phone. Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out the card that was presented to her earlier in the day. Looking down at the card, she dialed the number that read “mobile.” “Hello Rick? This is Sara from earlier today. I am calling just to thank you for helping me again. I was wondering if you would be interested in coming over to the house tonight for a barbeque?” Sara listened impatiently, as she tapped her fingers on the counter. She just needed to have someone around after all of these strange events recently.

“Oh, hello Sara! I would be happy to come over. I just finished work and I will bring over a couple more pieces of meat and some beer. I have to make a delivery to your neighbour, so this is perfect. I am starving!” Sara ended the conversation and gently hung up the phone, smiling that she would not be alone for the next little while. Moving to the sink, a loud “thump” resonated through the house once again, but this time was much louder and seemed to carry intention. Sara picked up the knife and made her way slowly towards the staircase. Moving quietly, she decided to see if she could sneak up on whatever was making the noise and get a good look at what was causing it. Tiptoeing as she walked, she climbed the stairs slowly and the thumping noise persisted. With her heart beating within her chest, she gripped the knife and continued upwards. With every step, she felt as if she was moving towards an impending tragedy, that may end being her own. Sara reached the foot of the narrow hallway that led up to the attic. The door to the small room above her head was wide open and suddenly, she felt fear grip her. Frozen where she stood, she hid around the corner and peeked up at the open doorway, waiting for anything or anyone to come into view.

Sweat poured from her forehead and she continued to survey the entrance. The thumping noise had subsided, but a new sound had emerged. It sounded as if someone with a respiratory problem was taking breaths. It reminded of the wheezing sound that her Grandfather made as a kid, as he lay dying in his bed. Sara cleared her thoughts and focused on what she needed to do. Calling out did not work before and whatever was up there, was not aware of her presence. Minutes passed, until she saw it. A black shadow moved across the opening, only revealing itself to her for a brief moment. This action was followed by a series of loud thumps and then followed by a hair-raising scream. Sara dropped the knife and ran as fast as her legs could take her, back downstairs and to the front door. Throwing the door open, she ran right into her dinner guest, sending them both crashing to the floor.

“Whoa, what’s going on Sara? Are you ok?” Sara scrambled and kicked, putting her back against the wall of the house. “There….there is something in that house! Upstairs! Upstairs!! I must be losing my mind! What is going on here?” Sara broke into tears and was shaking. Rick helped her up and embraced her. “It’s ok, it is probably nothing at all. You stay down here and I will go up and check it out ok? I am sure it is just a raccoon or something like that. Sometime possums get into the attics and they can make a lot of noise when they are building a nest. Stay here and I will check it out ok? Here, has a seat right here and I will be right back.” Sara sat on the steps, trembling and sobbing. Reaching into the bag that sat on the steps, she pulled out a bottle of beer, opened it and took a long drink. Whatever was in this house, she knew that it was not an animal.

Sitting there, her thoughts were clear. She would move from this house and start looking immediately. Something was up in that attic and from the moment that she moved into the home, she could feel it. After some beer and a few deep breaths, she began to relax, as she waited for Rick. After sometime, worry began to set in, as she should have heard something by now. Sara knew that it would be I her best interest to stay out of the house until he came down, but as she invited him to come, she felt the responsibility weighing on her. Picking herself up, walked back into the house, cautious and fearful. The house was silent and she began to call out his name. “Rick, is everything alright? Are you up there? Rick! Answer me!” The house remained silent. Sara could feel that something was wrong, as this was taking far too long.

Walking to the telephone on the wall, Sara picked up the receiver and dialed 9-11. Placing the receiver to her ear, all she could hear was a strange static and a ticking sound. “Hello? Is this the police? Hello? Hell..” Sara dropped the phone, as the sounded had transformed into a loud screeching sound that pierced her ear. Backing away from the phone, a loud scream echoed from the floors above and grabbing another long kitchen knife, Sara ran up the stairs in a state of panic. “Rick!! Are you alright? I am coming!” The screaming continued and as she approached the small hallway that led up to the attic, the temperature in the house dropped. Sara was looking at her breath, as if it was winter and frost began to form on the walls. Gripped by fear, Sara shook off the cold and ran straight up the stairs to the small door at the end of the hallway. The door was once again open and with a strong kick, the door flew open.

Chapter 4 – He Comes for You

Sara stood in horror, as Rick’s body was suspended against the wall, mutilated. His blood covered the walls and his eyes remained wide open and appeared to be lidless. Sara screamed and turned to run. The ice had now formed over the steps and slipping, she tumbled down the long staircase, cracking ribs and breaking a wrist as she fell. Pain rushed through her body, accentuated by the adrenaline. Sara crashed to the floor of the main hallway and lay winded for just a brief moment. “Get up and move,” she whispered as the pain rushed trough her body. Pulling herself up, she looked back up towards the small door she gasped, as standing at the top of the stairs was a dark figure that was moving towards her.

The creature moved in such a way that put his victim into a momentary trance. The pain in her body began to subside, as she moved towards the dark figure that summoned her. Sara took a step and then a hand fell upon her shoulder, dragging her away from the apparition. “Come with me! Now!” Sara snapped out of the trance and turned. Reynold, the man that had accosted her in town was pulling her away from the creature that approached diligently. “Come with me, now! Run!!” Sara and the estranged man ran down the hallway to the main stairs, that were also covered in ice. Grabbing the rails, they ran towards the door that remained wide open, presenting their escape. Taking their final step, the door slammed shut and the dark figure that was behind them, appeared in front of the door. “My master, you must not take this one! I told you, that this one was not for you.” Reynold approached the figure and in a wave of it’s long hand, Reynold was cut in half, with his blood spraying across the living room floor.

Sara screamed once more and, in a moment, the creature enveloped her, both vanishing from sight. . . .

The Forgotten

Days had passed before the police and the people of the town arrived at the home, searching for the missing. The house remained empty and was clean and clear of any furniture. The landlord of the estate appeared on the steps and the local police presented her with a list of questions. ” I don’t know what happened to her. It seems that she may have not liked the town or this house and just decided to leave. Her car and all of her belongings are gone as well. I don’t know what to make of this. I have never had a tenant just vanish on me like this before.” As the police took their report, the landlord and the police observed a man standing across the street, watching them. He was wearing tattered clothing and they all knew him to be the town drunk, Reynold. “Hey Reynold, stop where you are, we need to speak with you.” Reynold turned his back on the police and disappeared into the grove of trees across the street. “I said stop,” the younger officer shouted out towards the road. “Let him go Jim, that guy is not worth the time.”

The End.

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