Did You Check the Box?

📅 Published on February 5, 2024

“Did You Check the Box?”

Written by N.M Brown
Edited by Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by Otis Jiry

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 13 minutes

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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In a dilapidated house at the edge of a small, quiet town, where the shadows danced and the wind whispered secrets, was what was supposed to be my wife and I’s paradise. Our once-grand home now stood as a decrepit monument to the relentless march of time, haunted by the echoes of a life long-forgotten. But the true horror in my heart lay not in the crumbling walls but in the shattered fragments of memories that tormented my every waking moment.

My wife, Maddy, was a prisoner of her own mind, ensnared by the cruel tendrils of Alzheimer’s disease. Each day was a descent into madness for me as I watched helplessly while the woman I loved slipped further and further away. The walls of our home bore witness to the horrors that unfolded within, the air thick with the scent of decay and despair.

As night fell, I would often find myself wandering the darkened halls, my footsteps echoing like the tolling of a funeral bell. In the shadows, I would catch glimpses of my wife, her eyes vacant and hollow, a mere shell of the vibrant woman she once was. But it was not the sight of her vacant stare that chilled me to the bone, nor the sound of her whispered gibberish that sent shivers down my spine. No, it was the sense of dread that hung heavy in the air, the feeling that something sinister lurked just beyond the edge of her perception.

So, in case you couldn’t tell, nights were the worst. That’s when the darkness seemed to seep into our very souls, twisting our thoughts and filling me with an irrational fear. I’d find myself lying awake for hours on end, listening to the creaking of the floorboards and the howling of the wind, my mind awash with images of horrors, both real and imagined. In those moments, I could almost feel the weight of Maddy’s presence beside me, her frail form a constant reminder of the nightmare we were trapped in.

But it was not only the physical manifestations of Maddy’s illness that tormented me. It was the memories of their life together, now tarnished by the cruel hand of fate. I would find myself lost in reverie, reliving moments of joy and tenderness, only to have them ripped away by the harsh reality of the present. The photographs that adorned the walls served as cruel reminders of what once was, our once smiling faces a mockery of the tragedy that had befallen them.

And so, at least on my end, I lived in a perpetual state of terror. My mind was a battleground where the forces of light and darkness waged an eternal war. I selfishly longed for release from the nightmare that had become our lives, yet feared what lay beyond the confines of our crumbling sanctuary. For in the darkness, lurked horrors far worse than any imaginable. And so we remained, trapped in a prison of her own making, haunted by the echoes of not only the forgotten but the remembered- which can prove to be far worse.

***

Just eleven short days until our anniversary, dearheart.”

I glanced at the calendar to my left, not even close. We got married in the spring and are currently approaching the middle of fall. Still, it doesn’t do much good to correct her. She only gets upset when I do that. I mean, we’re all getting older. You never wake up younger than you were the day before, that’s for sure. Memories become harder to hold onto. Your brain becomes a colander for memories, and the holes get larger every year or hell, even every month sometimes, the older you get. So I nodded and smiled without a word said. What else was there to do?

Maddy had been by my side through everything: the loss of a child, car accidents, surgeries, and the death of our own parents. We’d been together for over forty years – soon to be fifty, god willing. I’ve been on this earth long enough to know what you get robbed of with age. At least she recognizes who I am today. If I keep calm and patient, this could very well turn into one of her good days.

It had started with small things, and she wasn’t exactly organized to begin with. It wasn’t uncommon at all for her to misplace her keys or search for her glasses for ages before realizing they were on top of her head. The kids caught it long before I did. Then again, you never want to believe the worst about the person who holds your heart, now do you?

Besides, lord knows I had my own health issues to deal with. I’d been sicker than a dog left out in the rain for the past few months. Doctors couldn’t figure out what the hell was wrong with me. My two largest fears constantly waged battle in my brain. If she went first, I’d be beyond devastated. The only thing I could think of that would be worse is if I died first. Of course, there was an absolute certainty that one of those things would happen. There was no lesser of the two evils. Both outcomes left us dealing with a labyrinth of pain and suffering too large for us to deal with. I looked at my wife sitting at the kitchen table and found myself painfully wondering if she would even realize I was gone.

The Keurig machine our daughter Alma bought us finally gurgled to a stop, breaking me from my inner diatribe long enough to prepare two cups. The creamer bubbled lightly at the top of the cup before diving to the bottom, begging for a good stir. I filled a spoon up with sugar before dropping it into her cup. Yeah, I imagine the sugar isn’t great for her, but at this age, who fucking cares? She’s always been my sweetheart, and I aim to help keep her that way.

I carried the cups to our kitchen table, wincing as some of the morning’s liquid sloshed over my cup onto my hand. As long as it wasn’t hers, it’s okay, I thought to myself gently. People often ask what the secret to a long, healthy marriage is, and I give the same answer every time – always think of them first and with love. Of course, it helped that we didn’t have social media, where sex is available at the click of a button sometimes.

Maddy gratefully accepted her cup, smiling at me. I’ve always adored her smile; it melts my heart even after all these decades. She cleared her throat lightly before attempting to speak. “This is delicious, just what I needed. Thank you so much, Daniel.”

My heart froze for more than a few seconds before plummeting to the pit of my stomach. I hadn’t heard that name in years, and I was hoping never to hear it uttered in our home again. Daniel Williamson had proven to be the largest challenge of our marriage. Daniel Williamson was the man who almost broke my family apart twenty years ago, almost made it to where I’d be sitting here alone today. Daniel was the man whose affections were too strong for my wife to resist.

It began innocently, a fleeting glance exchanged between them here and there, like a spark igniting a wildfire. Soon, clandestine meetings in dimly lit cafes became the norm, whispers of forbidden desires echoing around the hollow chambers of our dark bedroom.

As hard as it was to admit, I felt a creeping sense of unease, like a cold hand trailing down my spine in the dead of night. Shadows danced in the orbs of her once warm and inviting eyes, casting doubts upon the love we once held so dear.

As the affair spiraled out of control along with my paranoia, I found my soul ensnared in a web of lies and deceit, each thread pulling us deeper into the abyss of despair. My once vibrant spirit withered like a flower deprived of sunlight, replaced by a hollow emptiness that echoed through the halls of our strained, distrusting home.

One fateful night, when my suspicions reached a boiling point, I confronted my wife in a whirlwind of confusion and anguish. At first, she tried to deny it. But in the dim glow of the moonlight, her confession ultimately hung heavy in the air like a noose around her neck, tightening with each word of utter betrayal. She began to walk toward me, her footsteps echoing in the silence of the night like a mournful dirge. Shadows danced around her, whispering secrets of old infidelity and deceit, their icy fingers tracing the contours of her broken heart.

We’d decided to work it out and make it through this, not for our kids but for us. It was one of the hardest periods of my life. And up until recently, I had thought it was long behind us.

She interrupted my thought process. “Danny, promise me the box is okay. When’s the last time you checked it?”

I truly didn’t know what to say.

You know if Brody finds it, we’re dead, right?”

This is the point where I’d shamefully had enough.

Maddy, it’s me. I’M Brody, and I certainly don’t wish you any harm, dear.”

A startled look assaulted her eyes just long enough for me to notice before she shook it away.

You’re not Brody. You’re proving it now by actually listening to me. He never did. Feelings, thoughts, opinions, he didn’t wanna hear any of it. Told me I’d make a terrible midwife.”

Here we go, an argument settled decades ago, rearing its ugly head for a new round. Maddy was young and bored, and like many other women presented with an empty nest during the hours her children were in school, she started binge-watching TV shows. Netflix featured a show called “Call the Midwife” – maybe some of you have even seen it yourselves. Well, six seasons in, and all of a sudden, Maddy was convinced she’d found her calling. Just like she did with cooking and jewelry making and crocheting and all of the other phases of life she clung to. Well, I wasn’t exactly the most supportive, and apparently, she never forgave me for it.

After ensuring she had what she needed for the moment, I went upstairs to gather laundry so she wouldn’t have to worry about it. There was a good chance she wouldn’t notice anyway, but why fix what’s not broken? Laundry still needs to be done after all. I checked the kitchen camera and found her still sitting peacefully staring off into space. So, I used that opportunity to fix up the bathroom and clean up in the event of any accidents that Maddy had.

The sound I heard after closing the door to the upstairs bathroom wasn’t one I’d ever heard before, and hope to never hear again.

When Maddy and I were younger, and the kids were well… kids, we could always tell who was coming up or down the stairs by the sound their steps made. Tauren was a clomper. That girl couldn’t sneak up on anyone to save her soul. Mason took each one a foot at a time, so it was two clunks for each step. Whereas Christopher ran, taking two or three steps at a time.

This was none of the above. A frenzy of stomping footsteps ran up the stairs faster than anything I’d ever heard before. But that wasn’t the only sound. A second set of footsteps audibly accompanied the first, only these made a dragging and pulling sound.

I barely had time to open the door before Maddy planted herself before me. The look on her face betrayed her small frame, making her seem ten feet tall and bulletproof. My mind struggled with how she found the strength to get up here so fast. It seemed lately she could hardly walk a straight line without my assistance. My eyes searched behind her, looking for the second set of footsteps, but I found nothing.

Danny baby, I can’t take this anymore. We have to act NOW.” Maddy pleaded. How could she look into my very own eyes and see someone else?

My hand flew to my forehead in frustration. When I decided to stay and work things out when we were younger, I never imagined this would come back like it has now. It was supposed to be over. She had many phases throughout her long life; why did she have to get stuck in the days she was with Daniel? How was that fair to me? Why did I have to suffer through this again? It didn’t seem to bother her in the least, but I guess that’s why some refer to Alzheimer’s as the ‘ignorance in bliss’ disease. It’s supposedly harder on us than it is on them.

Yet, she continued.

If he finds out, he will kill me, Danny. You have to believe me! He’d rather me be dead than be with you.”

Maddy, honey. Please stop it.” I pleaded gently. “Daniel is dead.”

Tears sparkled in the corners of her dull grey eyes before traveling the roadmap of wrinkles on her cheeks.

Why would you say that, Danny? You know I can’t live without you. Not a happy life anyway.”

That was it for me. Without the patience for one more audible word, I left her there, determined to give her the space I knew she wasn’t even capable of adequately using.

Hours later, as the weather slept outside and the silence of the absence of rain lashed against the windows like icy fingers, my torment reached its zenith. Sitting in our kitchen alone in the darkness, I could feel the tendrils of insane helplessness creeping ever closer, threatening to haunt my soul forever. Desperate for relief, I ventured into the heart of the house to the person who once brought me peace but now brought me sadness: to Maddy.

She looked so innocent and frail, tossing and turning in our bed. As I approached her bedside, an unexpected sense of dread washed over me, chilling me to the bones. The room seemed to pulse with a malevolent energy, the air heavy with the weight of unspoken horrors that had become our day-to-day life. And there, amidst the darkness, I finally saw the source of it. A figure loomed over Maddy’s side of the bed, its features twistedly grotesque but recognizable all the same: Daniel.

Heart pounding, I found myself stumbling backward, my mind reeling with confusion and anguish. I tried to scream, but no sound escaped my lips. The figure drew nearer to Maddy, his shadowy form engulfing the entire room in darkness. In that moment, I understood what it felt like to be on the precipice of madness, teetering on the edge of oblivion.

But then, a voice pierced the darkness, cutting through the cacophony of fear and despair. It was Maddy, her voice soft and gentle, calling out from the depths of her confusion. And in that moment, I had found my anchor, a lifeline amidst the chaos- at least for a little while.

With Maddy’s voice as my guide, I gathered the courage to face the darkness head-on. I reached out to my wife, taking her trembling hand in my own, and with the presence of her spirit, I confronted the horrors that lurked within the shadows.

Demon, be gone!” I commanded. And all at once, Daniel’s visage began to change. He roared at me hatefully as the ethereal atmosphere around him began to falter and fade. It seemed like it was causing him pain, but that didn’t make sense to me. After all, his lifeless nervous system had either been burned or rotted away ages ago. Then again, that exact line of reasoning tells me what I see before me is just as outlandish.

It took me longer than necessary to make out what she was trying to tell me. “The basement…”

I settled her down, brought her some water and got her all tucked back into bed. My heart told me I should let it go, that whatever I’d find in the basement had nothing helpful to offer me. Meanwhile, my brain screamed at me to investigate. I told myself that whatever had been put in that basement was placed there long ago and no longer had the power to hurt me. Oh, how wrong I was.

The basement stairs were always so steep that even when I had the surest footing, I tried to avoid them. My mind split between taking one step at a time and not slipping the entire flight down. However, I made it. The room reeked of dust and mildew- the smell of utter abandonment. Cobwebs hung from just about every corner, the spiders that inhabited them having left long ago. I scanned the room for anything out of place and found nothing.

What I did find, however, was an area of the basement that wasn’t as dusty as the rest. Though how she managed to get up and down the stairs was a mystery to me, it was apparent that someone had been in this area more often than the others. My hands fumbled around, searching for any kind of clue at all. Papers flew, and forgotten stored items were tossed aside. The last sheet of paper, one of Tauren’s old school papers, revealed Maddy’s old family bible, which seemed oddly used for how long it had sat down here.

I opened the book with trembling hands, and my entire world changed. The few mysteries over the decades of our lives instantly clicked into place the moment the cover was opened, especially my alarming health problems of late.

The pages of the book had been cut, revealing a hollow space inside. Only it wasn’t empty. There, safely nestled in its hiding spot, was a half-empty bottle of arsenic.

I got out my phone and googled the effects of arsenicosis as I tried to mentally absorb the situation. Unfortunately, I was shaking so badly that it took me more tries than I’d like to admit.

Skin Lesions: One of the most visible signs of chronic arsenic poisoning is the development of skin lesions. These may appear as discolored patches, rough, thickened, or wart-like growths, and can progress to more severe conditions like hyperkeratosis (thickening of the skin) and eventually skin cancer. I stared down at my arms, wincing at the eggplant-shaded bruises and calloused-edged sores that appeared every now and then.

Cancer: Chronic exposure to arsenic has been strongly linked to an increased risk of several types of cancer, including skin, lung, bladder, liver, and kidney cancer. Cancer – that was the last thing on the list I hadn’t been tested for. I’d refused any scans or x-rays the entire year before, thinking if they didn’t find anything, it meant I wouldn’t have anything.

Cardiovascular Effects: Arsenic exposure has been associated with cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, and ischemic heart disease. My blood pressure had always been high, so that couldn’t really be used as a confirmed symptom.

Reproductive and Developmental Effects: Fortunately for me, it was a tad too late for any of that to be a concern. I’d already had my kids, and I was about as developed as I was ever gonna get.

Gastrointestinal Effects: Chronic ingestion of arsenic-contaminated food or water can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and gastritis. Long-term exposure may increase the risk of gastrointestinal cancers, particularly of the liver, colon, and stomach. Again, hadn’t been tested. And I’ve always had a somewhat sensitive stomach.

Immune System Dysfunction: Arsenic exposure can suppress immune function, making individuals more susceptible to infections and impairing the body’s ability to mount an effective immune response against pathogens. Well, see, this one was hard to tell. When you got to be our age, your immune system was pretty much shit anyway. I put away my phone, resigned to the fact that it hadn’t proved helpful.

Still, although every symptom hadn’t been confirmed, here it was in my very own hands.

Sure, I could have thrown it away, and I damn near did. But she got strong on the days that the devil had her mind, and there wasn’t any reasoning with her either. If she came down here and found this gone, only God and Lucifer know what havoc she would wreak. In her mind, I wouldn’t be someone she loved. I’d be reduced back to what I was during her affair: an obstacle in her way. Something she needed to be rid of.

As far as punishment goes, it seemed to have taken care of itself in a twisted way. What was I supposed to do? Call the police on my seventy-eight-year-old wife? With how the healthcare system is, there was just as much a chance of me being carted off as her.

I figured emptying the bottle down the sink drain, washing it vigorously and replacing it with water was just about the best option I had.

So here I’m left, sitting alone in my basement with a bottle of arsenic water in one hand and nothing but heaps of regret in the other. I’d always been thankful for her good days, when she had her memory back when I had my wife back. However, this was something else entirely. Now, it seemed like my life counted on those good days – the ones that seemed fewer and farther between as of late.

Some days, I wish I could join her in her make-believe world, win her back like I did back then. I’m older now, Daniel is long dead, and I’m tired… so damn tired.

Maddy’s bad days were getting more consistent by the week. It seemed the light of her spirit that shined through the cracks of dementia had all but been sealed over, shut out from me forever. Her bad days were the ones where her mind took her back to the time when she was unfaithful. She wasn’t mine during these times; she was his. It hurt and terrified me all at once. My sense of shame, betrayal, and heartache fought with my sense of self-preservation to live. I told myself I wanted to live, but struggled to figure out what for.

But unfortunately for me, those were also the days she remembered to poison me.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by N.M Brown
Edited by Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by Otis Jiry

🔔 More stories from author: N.M Brown


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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