By Melanie E.
We had been so happy to purchase the house. The estate sale had gone quite smoothly, and despite the rumors we had heard of the strange ways and wicked temperament of the former owner, the location was good, and the house was large and roomy, with plenty of space for both me and my husband to grow our family as we had been hoping to do.
That was not to say that the transfer had gone smoothly. We had arranged for a local contractor to renovate the location before we were planned to move in, and although he had seemed reticent at first to so much as set foot on the property he had assured us he would follow through on his end of the deal. After weeks of delays, however, our lease on our old apartment had finally run out, and we were faced with either starting a new lease or moving into the property unrenovated. Naturally, we had opted for the latter, since neither I nor my husband were keen on the idea of spending money on two places without reason, but it meant that we would have to handle the disturbing tastes of the previous owner until we could afford to do the renovations ourselves.
It was early fall when we finally moved into our new home, and despite the difficulties with the contractor we were mostly happy with things. The prior owner had been fond of dark colors and gothic designs, something neither of us were very keen on, but it was at least live-able until we could change the decor around.
In fact, there was only one problem, and that was the doors. The house had many rooms, parlors and offices and bedrooms all scattered about, and all of them had very old iron door knobs with locks that required keys. Stranger yet than the iron knobs was the way they were oriented, since every room could only be locked or unlocked from the outside. While we had inherited the contents of the house that had not sold in the estate sale as part of our purchase, one item we had yet to find was the key to operate any of these internal locks, leaving us with a handful of rooms we could not access without breaking the locks that were there. These were merely storage spaces and closets, so rather than worry about it, we had simply made plans to replace the knobs when we could.
We had been living in the house for almost a month when a family emergency called my husband away. My own work would not allow for me to take leave on such short notice, so I was left on my own while he was gone. While I had spent time alone in the house since our relocation to the property I had never been there overnight without his presence, and for some reason the idea of being there without him set my nerves on edge. Nevertheless, I put those feelings up to simple dependency jitters and tried my best to set my soul at ease.
It was almost ten at night when the activity began. We had set up the parlor as a kind of shared office space for the two of us, since both of us had projects both shared and individual that often kept us occupied even at home. It was while I was there at my desk working that I began to hear a sound, like the shuffling of feet on a wooden floor. Hearing noises in the house was nothing new for either of us -- the place was almost a century old and often creaked and groaned, like such aged places are wont to do -- but this was a sound unlike any I had ever heard the house make before, and instantly I felt a chill down my spine. I paused in my work, and listened, but when the sound did not repeat for a few moments I told myself it was nothing more than the house settling as always and tried to turn back to my work.
Some minutes passed, and I heard the sound again, this time louder. What I had at first thought sounded like feet being dragged across the wood now came across as all together bigger and heavier.
The parlor had a large open archway that opened onto the house's main central hallway, but at the far end of the room was a smaller room we had yet to be able to access as it was one of the rooms with the locked door. I was now regretting our decision to wait to replace the knobs, as it was from behind this door that I could hear the sound coming from, now reminding me of someone dragging something heavy across the floor. I was frozen in place as the sound came closer and closer, as though from across a far larger room than should have possibly existed beyond the oak portal, then it stopped, just on the other side.
I wanted to flee, to run screaming out into the yard and beyond toward our neighbors, but I could not. I wanted to bar the door, to call my husband's name despite his absence, but again, I could not. All I could do was to sit there in silent dread, staring at the closed door.
Scratch, scratch, scratch, came the sound from the bottom of the door, like a small cat wanting into the room.
Scratch, scratch, scratch, as the sound became more insistent, seemingly rising up the door's surface, now resonating from a few inches above the floor.
Scratch, scratch, SCRATCH, as the sound climbed ever higher, the door shifting toward me slightly, with each sound, the hinges shaking. Now it was almost halfway up the surface, clawing at the middle of the door like a beast that knows a meal is nearby. Yet, still, I could not move, frozen by terror and unable to turn away from the door.
SCRATCH, SCRATCH, SCRATCH, like a knife being dragged across the wood it echoed through the room, the door jarring forward and back like it was almost ready to give, yet it continued to hold, the handle shaking violently. Then, the handle began to shudder as though someone or something were trying to open it from the other side.
Despite my terror I looked at that knob and thanked the heavens that the door was locked. Perhaps our own inability to open the doors would yet save me from the horror beyond.
Then, with a click, the knob began to turn....
Just something quick I thought up while watching Halloween vids on YouTube. Nothing super creative, but an okay-ish little mood piece, right? I might go back and improve this later to make it scarier/better, since just typing into the posting window never makes for the best content.
Anyway, lemme know what y'all thought! I'm thinking about doing a few of these over the course of the next month, leading up to Halloween, but if nobody's interested then I won't.
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