The Forbidden Room

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
A young couple, Susan and James, rent an old house for the summer. When they move in (with their two-year-old daughter Claire) the real estate agent tells them not to use one of the upstairs rooms, except for storage. She says the couple who last rented the house experienced strange events in that room. Will Susan and James take her advice, or will they discover the secret of the "forbidden room"?

Submitted: June 23, 2017

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Submitted: June 23, 2017

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Susan Wolfe taught middle school French classes in a highly-rated, well-funded public school. Her husband James was an account manager at a local C.P.A. firm. They had one child, Claire, a bright little two and a half-year-old who was already learning to count and had amassed quite a vocabulary of words.

Summer had rolled around, so Susan wasn't working. The family's small apartment was getting very crowded. Claire didn't even have her own room. Her toddler bed was just shoved in the corner of the living room. Susan decided to look for a house they could rent so they could have more space.

Susan found a real estate agent easily: her friend Jennifer Sodhoff's Aunt Betsy.

Betsy Sodhoff took all Susan's information over the phone.
"How many bedrooms?" Betsy asked. "Uh-huh, and how many bathrooms? Uh-huh, and how much square footage? Okay, what part of town are you looking in?"

After giving Betsy all the pertinent information, Susan could hear Betsy writing everything down with an old, scratchy pencil. When she hung up the phone, Susan wondered whether Betsy could really help at all.

James arived home later than usual, exhausted and irritated with his boss. Fortunately, when Susan told him about the house hunt, he brightened up. 

"That's a great idea! You think she'll find us any listings that match all those criteria, though? You were being pretty specific," James commented.

"I don't know, but maybe she'll come close," Susan said.

The very next day, Betsy called with a new listing that sounded just perfect. Arrangements were made for Betsy to pick the family up at 7:00 p.m. to go look at the house.

James got home at 6:45; just in time. Even Claire was excited to look at the house because she could have her own room now.

Betsy drove them to a very neat suburban neighborhood about 15 minutes south of their apartment. The house was a two story, with brand new white siding, dark blue shutters, and a natural finish wood door. Susan and James liked it right away.

"This would be much closer to work for me," James said. "I could get right on the highway."

The house had a spacious open concept living room and kitchen set up, which James and Susan really liked. 

"I could watch Claire playing in the living room while I'm cooking dinner," Susan pointed out.

There was also a full bathroom on the first floor, which James liked because he could take a late night shower without waking Claire.

They started up the stairs to the second floor, but Betsy stopped them abruptly about halfway up. She had a very serious expression on her face.

"The room upstairs on the right has an issue," she said, waving her hand toward the room. "Since there are two other bedrooms, I would advise not using it, except for storage."

"What''s wrong with it?" James asked. "Does it smell bad or something?"

Betsy chuckled. 
"No," she said. "The last couple that rented the house experienced strange occurrences in that room."

"Oh, nonsense!" James exclaimed. "Some people are so superstitious!"

Upstairs, the master bedroom was on the left. It was roomy, and there was a full bath attached.

Claire liked the bedroom next to the master, so that was settled. Susan decided they would use the spare bedroom to store their extra stuff, since they didn't need it at the moment.

The next week, the Wolfe family moved in to the new rental house. After all the furniture was in place, Susan took extra boxes of photo albums, winter clothes and decorative items to the spare room. She closed the door gently, noticing that was the only door that didn't lock.

Susan's started a summer routine: while James was at work, she'd take Claire for a walk, sometimes go shopping or to the park, and then return home for lunch. After lunch Claire always needed a nap.

Early one afternoon, Susan put Claire down for her nap and started doing the dishes. But after a moment, she heard Claire talking to someone upstairs. She ran up the stairs to see what was going on.

Susan found Claire in the spare room, pretending to play with another child. She had her tea set in there, and she was setting up tea for herself and an invisible playmate. 

"Here's a cup for you," Claire said, pushing a tea cup across the floor. "And here's one for me." There was a pause and then Claire continued talking. "Yes, please sing that for me again."

This was all adorable, but Susan was wondering how the heck Claire got the door to the spare room open. Even though it wasn't locked, Claire wasn't tall enough to reach the doorknob. She'd never opened a door by herself before.

"Come on, sweetie, you need to take your nap," Susan said, taking Claire's hand and leading her back to bed.

Susan kept Claire by her side a lot more over the next couple of days. She even asked James to put a lock on the door of the spare room. He installed a padlock, figuring that would surely do the trick.

On Saturday the whole family went to an outdoor festival. They didn't return until after Claire's bed time. Claire had fallen asleep in the car, so James carefully carried her up to bed. He removed her shoes, but left her in her clothes so as not to wake her.

James descended the stairs and headed off to take his regular night time shower. Susan was reading in the living room when she heard Claire's voice upstairs. Susan dropped her book and went quickly up the stairs.

Susan once again found Claire in the spare room, pretending to play with another child. Looking at the door, Susan saw that the pad lock was hanging loose, unlocked.

"Claire, how on earth...?" Susan asked, looking at her daughter as if she had alien powers.

"Mommy, this is Jin Woo," Claire said, gesturing toward the empty space in front of her. "He lives here too. He wants me to play."

Susan got goose bumps on her arms, but she remained calm for Claire's sake.

"Honey, it's not time to play right now," Susan said to Claire matter of factly. "It's time for bed."

Susan took Claire back to bed, but she left the lock open to show James.

James was completely puzzled, too.

"I thought I had that locked tight," he said, playing with the lock in his hand. "And the key is in our room." James went to get the key, closed the door to the spare room, and locked it, pulling it to make sure it was secure.

An uneventful week went by after that incident. Susan had almost forgotten about the creepy experience. 

But one day Susan was talking to her sister on the phone and Claire disappeared. Susan got off the phone and searched.

"Claire!" she called. "Claire! Don't run off like that!"

Suddenly Claire called back.

"Mommy, we're up here!" she said. "I'm playing dolls with Jin Woo."

Susan swiftly climbed the stairs. The padlock had swung open again somehow. Claire was sitting on the floor of the spare room with a variety of her dolls spread out in front of her.

"Jin Woo says he'd like to play with this doll because it looks like one he used to have," Claire said calmly. She moved a rag doll across the floor to her imaginary playmate.

"He taught me a song, Mommy," Claire continued. "Would you like to hear it?"

"Sure," Susan said. She was frightened and worried all at the same time, but she didn't want Claire to see her trepidation.

"Okay, here goes....Eom ma ga seom geu neul e, Gul tta reo ga myeon...." Claire sang in a soft, clear voice. "It means 'Island baby go to sleep," she said.

"Honey, where did you hear that?" Susan asked. 

"I told you, Jin Woo taught it to me!" Claire insisted. 

"Come on, let's go back downstairs," Susan urged. Claire walked out of the spare room, turned around, and said something to her invisible friend. Something Susan didn't understand.

Susan wondered if Claire had made that language up. Claire was very smart and creative, but even so, it seemed unlikely that she could make up a language. Besides, knowing the nature of foreign languages, Susan thought it sounded Asian. 

That night Susan explained the whole thing to James.

"Did you google any of the words? Or the name Jin Woo?" James asked.

"No, that's a great idea!" Susan said, getting on her laptop right away.

"Jin Woo is the most common boy's name in Korean," Susan read. "I wonder where Claire would have heard that name? Maybe at preschool...."

Susan then tried to find the song, but she couldn't remember the foreign words Claire had been singing. Then she remembered Claire told her it meant 'Island baby, go to sleep,' so she googled that.

"A popular Korean lullaby that mothers sing to their children," Susan read.

Susan and James looked at each other. They didn't remember any Korean kids at Claire's day care or preschool.

The next day, while James was at work, Susan decided to call Betsy Sodhoff, hoping for more information on the incidents experienced in the spare room.

Betsy listened carefully as Susan related the recent events regarding the spare room.

"Oh, dear," Betsy said. "I know you're happy with the house, but I think you need to get out of there."

"Why?" Susan said, alarmed.

"In 2012, when I first found a renter for your house, a Korean couple was moving out. They couldn't bear to look at the place any more, especially that upstairs room on the right. That had been their son Jin Woo's room. He died of leukemia just after he turned three."

Chills ran up and down Susan's spine.

Susan, James and Claire moved out of that house and into another rental house. They never speak of Jin Woo or Claire's experience. Claire still remembers the song 'Island baby, go to sleep' in Korean.

 

 

 


© Copyright 2017 Jane Atkinson. All rights reserved.

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