The Longest Stair and The Night Light

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic


Memory is something that fascinates me, why is it that the bad memories, like sharp edges, always protrude the farthest. A look back on a terrifying memory of a child.

Submitted: September 14, 2018

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Submitted: September 14, 2018

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The Longest Stair and The Night Light

by Harrison Wild

 

 

Waking life was something that always gripped me. It held me tightly by the wrist and yanked me from my nested bed of pillows and toys. I was young then, eight at the most. I can say for certain that the memory of that evening is something that will never leave me, it rides the back of my brain like a contorted jockey who, at moments I do not expect, cracks his whip with all of his mite into my consciousness and leaves me in a cold sweat.

 

A few nights previous is when I first started noticing something. Late at night there was a strange sound coming from the hallway outside my room. It was nothing outright frightening, just strange. It was somewhere between the hiss of a snake and the slight creak of a wooden floor. And now that I think back that should've been something I took note of, considering that we didn't have wooden floors, not upstairs anyway. I remember staring from my bed, I was so swathed in quilt and comfort that I did not rise to see what was going on. Or maybe it was that childhood fear of the dark that we all share that kept me there, not wanting to cast that bare foot out down onto the floor lest we be dragged helplessly under the bed by whatever bogeyman lay underneath us. The sound continued for a few minutes, I strained to hear if I could tell if it was getting louder but I couldn't. Is it coming closer? Alas, nothing. And then all of a sudden the sound stopped. The silence seemed to scream even louder, and I was almost scared to make a sound. I found myself lying there for an eternity and before I realised I'd even fallen asleep it was morning. Suddenly there was light in my room and I was shocked that I'd not even noticed myself falling to sleep.

 

Memories are a strange phenomenon that has always fascinated me, and more often than not in a morbid way. Why can I not remember sitting with my puzzle piece family for breakfast? Why can I not remember my Mum, getting me ready for school and hugging me before I left? But what I do remember are the things I wish I couldn't. The time I was smashed in the face with a ragged and rusted bike-wheel lacking its tyre, leaving my face bloodied and split in two. The time I jumped outstretched for the fourth rung on the “monkey bars”, only to swing too far and lose my grip. I landed on my back from six feet up and couldn't find my breath for what felt like hours. I lay there on my back choking on nothing, gasping on the slightly scented wood chipped air and I thought I was going to die. Isn't it strange how the worst times seem to lie embossed on our minds, sticking out in what feels like glorified three dimensions. I still remember the entire process of my face being stitched back together, the way the hospital room lay arranged and the look of the children's faces bursting into tears in the waiting room because of the blood. That was the second time I had my face stitched back together, and I doubt it will be the last, every bad was made. And, this time, the needles lay in their thousands.

 

So I sat in my room and played junior forlorn. My transforming toys always knew what to say to help me pass the time towards waking dissolution. My memory is fuzzy then, and when I think back the only thing I remember is being in bed in a darkened room. I didn't have a night light however much I'd asked, but on this night I hadn't needed one. I could make out the shape of the door in the corner of my room, my bed lay against the left wall and the door lay nestled firmly in the wall at the foot of my bed, but over by the wall on the right. The darkness that lay between the door and I felt like a chasm. A chasm of only ten foot. The reason the door stood out so much this evening is because it was now open, only ever so slightly, but it was definitely open. I was sure of it. Just a crack. The black void around the edge of the door was blacker than the rest of the room so it must have been. Then came the sound. That same hissing creak, like a soft but choked breath. Like the sound I'd made from the fall from that fourth rung. It had seemed so quiet the last time I'd heard it, like it was downstairs, but this time it seemed to be edging slowly closer. I was sure this time it was getting louder. I'd hit that level of fear that we've all tried to climb over before, like a wall that seems to stand on it's tiptoes every time you try to jump and grasp the top, to climb over and call out “Mum!” or “Dad!” into the darkness. The fear that always told you that whatever was out there waiting inside the chasm of black would get to you before you parents ever could. I lay frozen staring at the door. In my head hours seemed to have passed, but I'm unsure if it actually was that long or if my memory is playing a cruel and fearful trick. I still stared, and the noise still droned. Then all of a sudden the drone stopped. In what felt like a sudden gust the sound creaked from outside the door, like whatever it was had it's face pressed against the white painted wood. I'd pulled my quilt up over my mouth and nose, leaving my eyes showing too scared to take my gaze from it. The door began to move, not open, but rock slightly. Like a cat batting at a dead mouse, whatever was out there was trying to muster up the strength to greet me with open arms.

 

But it hadn't. And once again, morning was upon me. I struggled in school that day and I'd fallen asleep at my desk and dreamt of being back in my room, this time however the sound I was hearing was my teacher shouting into my subconscious and hitting my head with a dictionary to bring me back to reality.

 

I'm unsure if it was the next day, a few days later or the next week but my mum had taken me out to get a night light, something I must've said had finally convinced her that I did indeed need one. The tiles in that long aisle of the store were stark white, at least looking back at the image in my head they were. The night light I'd settled on was a little star “like Mario's”, I guess I thought it'd make me invincible too. I rushed upstairs once we were home raring to get the little plastic star plugged into the wall and see it's grand illumination, if you've ever seen a night light you obviously know how slight their actual illumination is. I remember staring at it's little face in the night, the room a gradient fade of darkness to where I lay, it's eyes were black but it's body was a lovely pastel sunset orange that cast it's light gently into the chasm of my room. I was very tired that night, I remember firmly trying to stay awake to keep watch on my door. How can I protect myself if I'm asleep. I'd started to roll over and drift away when a sound woke me fully. My door had slammed... how I'm not sure because I was positive it was already closed. I lay facing the wall for a moment, my heart was racing in my chest, trying to escape. I mustered the courage to roll over and look and as I locked eyes with my little star night light it left me in darkness. I could see the life and light drain from the star and I was plunged into a darkness that felt heavy and smothering. I couldn't breath and I froze still. I could hear the noise again but this time it was so much closer. My eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness filling my room, and there by the door I could see it. There was someone stood in the corner of my room on the far side of the door. I knew that I could not make it if I ran, no matter how hard my little legs would've tried. I could do nothing and I knew it. I rolled over slowly, trying to be as quiet as I could, crying in silence. I faced the wall and pulled the quilt up over my head hoping whatever it was would not hear me. I remember now how hot my breath had become under that quilt, I could barely take it. I held on for as long as I could but I had to move the quilt off my face to try and breath some cold air. I could hear it there, stood facing the wall, still. I screwed my eyes shut. The sound became so loud that I felt like it was looking down over me and then it was morning.

 

The next morning I remember sitting alone for breakfast, I know not why, all I do know is that I didn't go to school that day. Mum had told me only recently that when she'd returned she had heard me talking to someone, I don't remember any of that conversation. When she was telling me though what I did remember was a voice, a harsh choked voice. Even just the rasp in my head had sent goosebumps down my body and I can guess who's voice it probably was. She'd said I wouldn't reply for a while and when I had I'd dropped my glass of milk sending it bouncing off the table, the glass bounced off the table and landed on the wooden floor with a thud. It didn't roll or tip, it landed on it's side and stayed exactly where it was, magnetised to its resting place. My mum stared with a furrowed brow at the glass for a moment and then had reached down to pick it up. And, as she wrapped her hand around the body of the glass it burst. It shattered so suddenly and violently it sent shards of glass into her palm and wrist. She had rushed away again after that. I sat on the floor and watched the pool of blood and milk combine and contemplated why the hand prints had begun to spread from it. They moved slowly at first across the floor towards me. But they did not stop where I sat, they circled around me and headed up the wall by the stairs. I stood and followed and I shouldn't have. I saw them move around the corner of the stairway and scale the wall around the stairs towards my room, they trailed across the carpet and up onto my bed. They came to a halt by my pillow and so did my head. I do not know why I lay there but I had. Night fell and the hand prints remained and my little white jumper was stained terribly. My door on this night lay wide open, my little star tried his hardest to cast light as far as he could but the doorway, at it's core, was like a vicious rectangular singularity and no light could reveal what lay ahead over it's horizon. But I could guess. The silence was not so much as broken as it was slowly muted, and the noise that had become so familiar began to swell. It began in my room this time, and I although I could not see the dark shape I could tell it was there. The stairs began to moan as the sound trailed down them, and with more courage than I thought I'd ever had something compelled me to stand. I walked to my little star light and placed him in my pyjamas pocket and turned towards the dark rectangle in the corner and reached out for the door frame. I climbed through into the dark corridor and traced the dried dark handprints to the stairs. I slowly began to climb down one foot at a time and reached up to grip firmly on bannister to bolster myself. The sound was so loud now that I reached halfway and stopped. I could see the shape now. A dark silhouette of my mother lay in front of the window. How could a black shape stand out in sheer darkness? That is something I still do not know. From behind me upstairs I heard a noise. A faint breath. I was too scared to take my eyes of her to check what was making the sound because I was sure I already knew... But the soft voice caught me off guard.

 

“Go back to bed, Sweetheart” I heard my mother's voice call from her room.

My mind settled when I realised it was just my mother. But at once I was plunged like the fall from the fourth rung into horror as I turned back to look at the silhouette. She was now stood at the bottom of the stairs. I could not see her face because of the darkness, but I could see the dark liquid still dripping from her hands. I could not move. I felt like I was choking on nothing. I sat curled on the stairs between the two mothers I now had. I could not shout for either as who was to say which was the one I should've been afraid of. I placed my hand into my pocket and I gripped my little star night light as hard as I could. So hard that the plug had dug its way into my small hand leaving scars that remain until today. I did not move and I did not blink.

Morning slowly faded in and my mother remained.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


© Copyright 2018 Harrison Wild. All rights reserved.

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