18 Jan The Staircase
“The Staircase”Written by Christopher Gideon Edited by Craig Groshek Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek Narrated by N/A
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available
⏰ ESTIMATED READING TIME — 14 minutes
July 5, 2010
I don’t really know what to say. Last week, I was in a bad car crash. The doctors said that I suffered some brain injuries in the crash and that it’s a miracle that I’m not dead. They also said that I needed to stay on top of things, especially when it came to memory. I guess I’m supposed to be writing in a “diary” for two months. Two whole months! I’m a man! Men don’t write in diaries!
But Doctor Schneider said that this would be good for me. I guess that means I’m gonna be writing for a while. It doesn’t have to be everything that I do every day; just one or two things that happen to me each day. So I guess day 1 is going to be my personal information.
My name is James Hunter. I live in Cheboygan, Michigan. It’s not a huge house. It’s basically just the upstairs and the basement. I have an attic, but I haven’t ever been up there. I guess one of my favorite things about this house is the fact that it’s secluded. I live out in the country, so no one ever goes past here. That makes it the perfect spot for murder!
I’m not a murderer. The truth is, I got this house for a really low cost because someone was murdered in it a year before I moved in. I don’t really know much about the murder, but I know that the body was found on the old wooden staircase that leads from the basement to the garage. Anyway, a young couple moved into the house six months later and left a month later when they found the basement steps broken. They were sure it was a ghost that broke the stairs. They found out later that the steps were old and rotten, and the husband fell through while he was sleepwalking, but they refused to move back in.
That’s why I moved here. I’m a huge fan of the paranormal. I saw my grandmother’s ghost appear at the foot of my bed once when I was 11 years old. Ever since then, I’ve been trying to get another ghost to appear to me. So far, no luck. However, I’m hopeful that this house will bring me the paranormal experience I crave so badly. In fact, when I moved in here on June 12 of this year, I spent my entire first night here examining that staircase. It’s actually very interesting… There apparently used to be access to the area under the steps for storage, but that was closed off when the staircase was remodeled. Now, it’s surrounded by walls of concrete, and I can’t even see through to the area underneath. The vertical wooden planks that connect to the horizontal ones fill up all the open space.
Sorry, diary. I know you didn’t want to hear some dumb ghost enthusiast talk about a creaky old staircase. I just hope that there is some actual paranormal activity going on here. I’ve been living here for a month now, and so far, no luck. Anyway, I think that’s plenty for one day. I’m going to go to bed now. Talk to you tomorrow! Ugh… I’m talking to my diary like it’s a person. I really am going insane. NOTE TO SELF: If you name this diary, I’m calling the men in the white jackets.
July 16, 2010
After 12 boring entries in this journal, I finally have something worth writing about! Something happened to me last night…something extraordinary. I was lying in bed, trying to fall asleep when I heard something coming from the basement beneath my room. It sounded like something heavy scraping across the cement floor. Excited, I jumped out of bed, grabbed the flashlight from my kitchen table, and rushed down the stairs to the basement. Naturally, the first thing I did was stand on the wooden staircase and scan the entire room. Nothing seemed out of place.
“Hello?” I asked the dark room. “Is someone there?” I waited for a while, but received no response. “Can I talk to whoever is here? I don’t want to hurt you. Can you tell me your name?” Again, I was answered with silence.
Curious as to what I heard move, I grabbed the biggest thing in my basement, which was the dryer, and pulled it away from the wall. It made a loud scraping sound, but it wasn’t quite like what I heard. I then tried the same thing with the washing machine, workbench, and treadmill, but none of these sounded right. The workbench sounded most like what I thought I heard, but it still didn’t seem right.
I stayed up until 3:30 this morning searching for answers, but there was still no evidence that a ghost was involved.
July 17, 2010
Call me crazy, if you want. Maybe I am crazy. I still have no clue who these comments are directed at. I guess I’ll just assume that Dr. Schneider will end up reading these journal entries. Anyway, I called in a psychic today. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. “Doesn’t he know that psychics just scam your money?” Well, I’m not so sure.
The psychic’s name was Laurie Marvin. She came in early this morning to scan my house for spiritual activity. Surprise, surprise! She knew that something very dark had happened on those steps in the basement. I swear I didn’t tell her anything before she went down there! She said that she was getting a strong reading from a spirit named “Carlton” as she stood on the wooden staircase leading to the garage. That’s all that she could tell me. I asked if he meant me any harm, but she told me that she didn’t know. Still, “Carlton” is something to go on.
After Miss Marvin left, I decided that it was time for me to hit the internet and see if anyone named Carlton has died recently in Cheboygan. As it turns out, Carlton Mueller was the name of the man who was murdered by Tyler Frank, his business partner, on those wooden stairs last year. Who’s a fraud now, huh?
July 23, 2010
I know, I know… I’m sorry that I haven’t been writing in my journal recently. To tell the truth, I’ve been so busy with my new job as Cheboygan’s new newspaper editor that I haven’t had time. I figured that writing in newspapers was similar enough to writing in my journal that it would be okay. Dr. Schneider, however, told me yesterday that it was not okay, and that these journals are for my own benefit. He said that I’m supposed to be writing to help me remember my life. I guess it’s a little true… Ever since my entry on the 19th about going fishing with Jerry, my memory’s been a little foggy. I guess I’ll have to remember to write in this journal more often.
Oh well. I sincerely apologize to myself. I accept. Hooray. Cake and beer all around.
July 29, 2010
Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god! I’m so happy I could cry. Actually, I’ll be honest: I did cry. I wrote in my diary and I cried. But I don’t even care how girly that makes me sound anymore. I have seen the most amazing thing in my entire life!
I was lying in my bed last night when I realized that I had left the bathroom light on. So I rolled over and got out of bed. I opened up my bedroom door and looked down the hallway. What I saw actually almost made me wet my pants. It was a man. A grown man. He was standing on the other end of the hallway, just staring at my bedroom door. The light from the bathroom illuminated his face beautifully. He had a tall head with short, black hair. A few whiskers were scattered across his face, giving him a rugged, tired look.
“Hello?” I asked nervously. The man didn’t answer.
“Are you Carlton?” I forced the words out of my mouth.
To my delight, the figure nodded. I was talking to a ghost! I couldn’t believe it! Just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, I pinched my arm as hard as I could. The intense pain convinced me that this was real.
“How did you die?” I inquired. Of course, I already knew the answer. I just wanted the ghost to speak to me. Sadly, he did not. He simply stared at me with steady eyes.
I don’t know how long Carlton and I looked at each other. It could have only been ten minutes, but it felt more like an hour. No matter what I asked, the ghost of Carlton Mueller would not speak to me. The only response I received from Carlton all night was when he nodded his head to confirm that he was, in fact, Carlton.
I finally returned to my bed after bidding Carlton goodnight. When I woke up this morning, he was gone.
August 3, 2010
Well, I was starting to get worried that Carlton wouldn’t show up again. Every morning that I wake up since I first saw him, I find the furniture in the dining room, living room, and basement completely rearranged. I knew that this was Carlton, and I didn’t care. Really. It’s just that… well, I wished he’d show his face again. And he did.
Last night, I was sleeping soundly when I heard something move in my room. I woke up and rolled over, expecting to see a chair on its side, courtesy of my good friend Carlton Mueller. Instead, I saw Carlton himself standing over my bed, staring down directly into my eyes. I nearly screamed, but I didn’t want to scare him away. So I quietly whispered, “Hello, Carlton.”
Carlton didn’t react. I asked him if he wanted me to wake up. Once again, he stood in place, like a statue. I tried to get him to answer me, but just like on the night of July 28th, he didn’t move a muscle. Finally, I sighed and rolled over.
I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I’m glad that I saw Carlton again. On the other hand, I definitely did not like the way he stood in the middle of my bedroom, staring at me while I slept. Who knows how long he was there after I fell asleep? More importantly, what if he stands there every night, and last night was just the first time I saw him? The malicious look in his dark eyes as he stared at me was… unsettling.
August 4, 2010
I couldn’t sleep last night. Yesterday, I thought that I wasn’t scared of Carlton. I thought that after a day, I’d have had enough time to get over it. Now, however, I’m positive that I am actually intimidated. In fact, “intimidated” is an understatement. I lay awake in my bed all night long, shaking like crazy. I couldn’t stand the thought of waking up and seeing Carlton watching me with such a malevolent glare again. I don’t know how Tyler Frank killed Carlton Mueller, but it must have been horrible. That is one pissed-off spirit.
But I can’t let my emotions control me like this. Writing in my journal may very well be the only thing keeping me sane after that incident, which is ironic, since I feel like I’m talking to myself. Regardless of whether or not I’m actually insane, I will not let Carlton’s presence in my house affect me like this. This is my house, not his. I shouldn’t have to leave just because of a ghost. More importantly, if I let him scare me like this, he will feed on my fear and, very likely, he will do it again. I really don’t want him to scare me again.
However, know this, Carlton. If you try to scare me again, I will not be afraid! I will not leave my house because of you, Carlton Mueller!
August 5, 2010
Well, this is a good reason to celebrate. It’s been a month since I was assigned this project, and that means I only have a month left. I would crack open a bottle of champagne if I wasn’t scared to death of going into the basement.
Last night, I didn’t sleep again. All night, I heard noises coming from the basement. I kept my bedroom door closed and locked, as if ghosts needed to use doors. I don’t know what Carlton’s doing down there, but it’s really annoying. At least I can rely on the fact that as long as he’s moving stuff around downstairs, he can’t be watching me upstairs. And all night long, I kept hearing that scraping noise over and over. That same scraping noise…
That’s another thing: I wish I knew what that was! I’ve completely rearranged everything in my basement since that first night when I heard Carlton, but nothing makes that specific sound. I just can’t figure out what it is. I am absolutely, 100% positive that nothing in my basement makes that noise. So what is it?
August 6, 2010
So, I saw Dr. Schneider yesterday again. He said that my head injury may have affected me worse than he originally thought. He said that insomnia might be due to brain damage. I laughed and explained that I’ve been staying awake because a ghost watches me when I sleep. For some reason, that didn’t comfort him.
August 14, 2010
I went downstairs. I finally got up the courage to go down into my basement. Of course, I didn’t see Carlton. There were no signs that Carlton had ever been down there. In fact, everything in the basement was exactly the way I left it when I last came upstairs. I was kind of hoping that I would see something out of place, so that I knew what Carlton was moving around down there.
Actually, it’s kind of odd. Every morning, I still find things in different places than where I left them. However, these occurrences are confined only to my living room, kitchen, dining room, guest bedroom, and bathroom. The basement and my bedroom remain untouched. Weird, huh?
Anyway, I’m glad that I went down to the basement. It made me feel safer being in the place I knew to be the source of Carlton’s ghost and yet experiencing nothing paranormal. It was somewhat comforting. I mean, I haven’t seen Carlton since he woke me up on the night of the 2nd. Maybe he knows that he scared me, and maybe he didn’t mean to. I’m starting to think that Carlton might not be such a bad guy after all.
August 21, 2010
I can’t handle this anymore. Every day I sit down at my desk and write down whatever it was that I did that day like some lab rat. I feel like a child who’s been ordered to color a picture. I am not Schneider’s damn lab rat.
Last night I left my door unlocked. It’s been almost 20 days since I saw Carlton in my bedroom, so I thought I might be safe. God, why am I so unlucky?
I woke up at 3:00 AM this morning and I knew instantly that there was someone standing over me. I slowly rolled over and, of course, saw Carlton. But he wasn’t standing in the same place he was in the last time he was in my room. This time, he was standing right over my bed.
He looked different than he had before, too. His hair was much messier than I remembered seeing it the first night. And his eyes… they made me shudder. They were surrounded by darkness, and the first thought I had when I saw them was “evil”. I had never really considered Carlton evil before last night. Maybe a troublemaker, a creeper, and a bit mischievous, but not evil.
I gasped loudly when I saw him. His reaction didn’t change, as usual.
“Carlton!” I nearly shouted. Remembering to keep my emotional distress to a minimum, I corrected my tone and continued, “Why are you here?”
As I predicted, Carlton didn’t reply.
“Please leave,” I said quietly, not breaking my eye contact with him.
Carlton’s eyes widened to a frightening size and his head tilted a little bit.
“No, no,” I said quickly, sitting up and backing up to the other side of my bed. “I didn’t mean that you should leave the house. I meant you should leave my bedroom. Please,” I added when Carlton’s eyes narrowed and his nostrils flared angrily.
“Look, I don’t want you to leave the house,” I insisted. “I want you to stay!” Very slowly and deliberately, Carlton moved around my bed to the side that I had crawled to. “But, you know, when I’m sleeping, that’s my time, Carlton!” When the ghost didn’t stop, I scooted back over to the side of the bed I woke up on.
“Carlton, please, don’t hurt me. I’ve never done anything to hurt you. Why would you go after me?”
Carlton didn’t answer. He walked quietly to the foot of my bed and stood there with his usual overseeing attitude. He didn’t leave until I fell asleep again. I woke up this morning and found my bedroom door open. I can’t live like this for much longer. If I can’t get Carlton out of this house, I’m going to have to move out and let someone else deal with him.
August 22, 2010
I locked my bedroom door again last night, and there was no sign of Carlton. I’m never unlocking that door again. I think Carlton thinks it’s my way of welcoming him into my bedroom. I just hope I didn’t hurt his feelings.
Wait, what am I saying? I hope I didn’t hurt the ghost’s feelings? That’s ridiculous! He came into my home, moved all my stuff, scared me to death, and I’m saying that I hope I didn’t hurt his feelings?
Forget that! I hope he went home to his ghost mama, cried ghost tears, ate a whole gallon of ghost ice cream, and ended up losing his ghost leg to ghost diabetes.
I don’t care what Carlton wants anymore. I want Carlton gone. It’s really too bad that he’s a ghost, because if he wasn’t, I’d wish he was dead. Then again, I think both Carlton and I would be happier if he was still alive.
August 28, 2010
The exterminator came over today to do spray his bug-killing stuff like he has every month since I’ve moved in here. While he was here, he decided to make my life even more miserable by telling me that I have a termite problem. Why the hell not? I mean, everything else in my life has gone wrong. My house has termites, my life is being tormented by an evil poltergeist, I may or may not have permanent brain damage, and I’m probably going insane because of all of this crap put together.
I want to die. At least then I’d be able to make someone else’s life as horrifying as Carlton has made mine.
But wait… I need to get my house fumigated. No, I’m not an idiot. I know that fumigating my house won’t kill a ghost. However, it will give me a good reason to move out for a day or two. I’ll sleep better than I have in my entire life if I can be sure that I won’t wake up with the ghost of Carlton Mueller standing over me.
August 29, 2010
Ah, sweet relief! I decided to move into my hotel room a little prematurely, and I couldn’t be happier! The instant I stepped into my room, I thought “This feels more like home than home does.” How about that?
But I only have a few days of this. My house is getting fumigated tomorrow, and the bug man said that I should be able to move back in on Tuesday, August 31st. But you know what? I might decide to stay here a little longer. It’s nice being able to sleep.
September 1, 2010
Today was the most disturbing day of my life. Yes, it was even more disturbing than when Carlton tried to attack me. I moved back into my house yesterday and slept in my bed. Of course, I locked my bedroom door. I thought that would keep Carlton out.
I woke up at 3:00 again this morning. I opened my eyes slowly, afraid of what I would find. However, quite predictably, Carlton was standing next to my bed. I sat up quickly. “Carlton, please, stay away from me!” I begged, but I realized quickly that Carlton wasn’t looking at me. He had been looking down at the floor with a sad expression on his face.
“What?” I asked, completely bewildered. When I said this, his head jerked up and his eyes pointed directly into mine. They seemed different, tonight, though. They were much less… hateful. After a moment, Carlton gestured for me to stand up.
“You want me to stand?” I asked. Without answering me, Carlton turned and walked straight through my locked door. I got up quickly and rushed to the door. Unlocking it, I pulled it open hastily and found Carlton standing just on the other side, staring at me as if he could see through the door. I jumped, but prevented myself from screaming.
Carlton turned around and walked down the hallway to the staircase. It was strange to watch him walk; his feet almost didn’t touch the floor, as if he was walking through a pool of neck-high water. Picking up on his urgency, I followed him through the hallway and down the stairs.
When Carlton stepped into the basement, I grew wary about following him any further. I had heard some stories that ghosts gained power when they were in the places they were killed. What if he wanted to kill me? My curiosity outweighed my caution, and I entered my basement.
With no hesitation, Carlton walked straight through the basement to the wooden staircase on which he was killed. He stopped right next to it and gestured for me to stand at the base of the first step. I did.
Carlton pointed to the third and fourth steps, and then gestured toward the ceiling.
“Am I supposed to… what, lift them up, or something?” I asked, confused. Carlton nodded.
I felt stupid doing it, but I tried anyway. To my surprise, as I pulled up on the third and fourth steps to the wooden staircase, they shifted slightly. I looked over at Carlton, who nodded stoically. I gulped, realizing that my mouth was uncomfortably dry. I fixed my grip on the steps and pulled up again. This time, they came off of the staircase in one piece with a loud scraping sound.
I knew that sound. I knew it so well. I heard it coming from my basement every night.
I looked inside the hole made from the lack of the third and fourth steps, but I couldn’t see anything. “Hold on,” I said to Carlton. “Let me go and get my flashlight.”
I dashed up the stairs, grabbed the flashlight from the kitchen table, and ran back down. Carlton was still standing in the exact same place he had been before I left. He pointed inside the hole. I knelt down and shone my flashlight through the stairs.
Inside, I saw a body. A dead body. I gagged and dropped the flashlight. It fell to the floor where it flickered and resumed its regular glow. Forcing myself to control my reflexes, I picked up the flashlight and aimed it at the body. It was a man’s body, and I saw the face clearly. I felt like my entire body was paralyzed. I knew that face.
I called the police immediately, and they were there within fifteen minutes. They investigated my entire house from top to bottom. They even searched the attic.
The sergeant, Dale Turner, asked me to give him a statement, so I told him exactly what happened.
“I woke up at 3:00, and there was a ghost at the end of my bed,” I said. I didn’t care if I sounded crazy. “He led me down the stairs and into the basement, where he showed me how to lift up these steps. So I did, and I found his body.”
“You found whose body?” Sergeant Turner asked. “The, uh… ‘ghost’s’?”
“Yes, it was the body of Carlton Mueller,” I told him. “I think his spirit’s been trying to communicate with me for a while. I’ve been seeing his ghost around my house for the past month, now.”
“Did you say ‘month’?” the sergeant inquired.
“Yeah, I first saw him on July 29. Ever since then, he kept showing up.”
“Mr. Hunter,” Sergeant Turner said quietly, “This man that you found… we’ve been looking for him for about two months now, but… he’s only been dead for a couple of days.”
🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None AvailableChristopher Gideon Edited by Craig Groshek Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek Narrated by N/A