The Resident of Pleasant Crescent

Reads: 74  | Likes: 1  | Shelves: 1  | Comments: 1

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
When Stephen and Carol moved in to Pleasant Crescent they hoped it would be the perfect family home. Then the strange things started to happen.
Author's note: I could not decide which ending the story should have. I have included both endings here, the original and alternative ending.

Submitted: May 09, 2019

A A A | A A A

Submitted: May 09, 2019

A A A

A A A


Seven year old Laura smiled in the narrow hallway. She beamed as she looked around. Stephen and Carol grinned at her excitement. Moving house was more exhausting than exciting for parents than children, they thought. Stephen looked to the endless amount of boxes that would need unpacking. It would take weeks and weeks for them to settle in. Still, he told himself, it would be worth it. They hoped that the house on Pleasant Crescent would be the family home they dreamed of.

‘It’s a mansion, mum.’ Laura declared.

‘It’s home.’ said Carol.

They heard a noise from upstairs. It sounded like footsteps. Was there someone up there? Her mother, Carol, shot her husband a puzzled glance. He nodded and headed for the stairs. Laura went to follow.

‘Just wait here with me, love. Your dad’s just got to check something.’

Stephen marched up the stairs. He stomped as loudly as he could. He whistled as he went. He always did this when he was checking on a suspicious noise. He made a lot of noise in the hope of scaring any intruder into rushing back out the other way to avoid detection. You wouldn’t want to walk in and disturb a burglar. So far every noise he’d investigated had turned out to be nothing, just what he called house noises.

As he reached the first floor landing Stephen heard the noise again. A shiver went through him. It really did sound like someone was up there on the floor above.

‘Hello?’ he called. ‘Anyone there?’

He listened.  The creaking of footsteps went on for a second and then stopped. Stephen took a deep breath. He hoped there was a logical explanation than didn’t include intruders. Maybe a removal guy had been left behind. Maybe a neighbour was checking on the place. He marched up the flight of stairs with mock confidence and a bravado he didn’t feel. In a situation like this appearance was everything. He stomped onto the next landing and looked around in confusion. There was nobody there. He poked his head into each room. They were all empty. He shrugged. House noises, he said aloud.

Back downstairs he shrugged again and told his wife it was nothing. He turned to Laura.

‘You like the new place, love?’

‘I love it. I’ve got a feeling about this place.’

Stephen noticed that she didn’t say whether the feeling was good or bad.

 

The rest of the day was spent unpacking. The three humped boxes to the right rooms before working on emptying the boxes. Stephen wondered if they would ever get sorted. Laura got stuck in to sorting her room out. When her father popped into her room he found her staring at the walls. He knew she was planning and plotting.

‘Go on.’

‘Posters.’ She pointed a finger. ‘I’m going to need lots of posters.’

‘Carry on with those boxes and sorting your stuff out, and then we’ll see about your posters.’

‘Promise?’

‘Promise.’

He went to close the door when he caught a strange smell in the small room.

‘Do you smell-’

‘Cigarettes.’ Laura agreed.

‘The previous resident must have been a smoker.’

‘Yes, he was.’

‘How do you know?’

‘I’ve got a feeling.’

Laura reached into the nearest box and continued to unpack.

 

‘Laura.’ her mother called up the stairs. ‘Tea’s up.’

Laura took the stairs two at a time, holding on to the bannister for support. She bounded into the kitchen. Amid the chaos and the boxes, her parents had managed to clear a space at the table. It was like an island of calm in a stormy sea. Stephen tossed her a bundle of chips. Grinning, she took a seat and unwrapped the sausage and chips. The smell made her mouth water. While they ate with blue plastic forks, Laura used her fingers. She stuffed the salty chips into her mouth with both hands.

She was about to say how much she loved the house when she realised they were not alone. There was someone standing in the dark corner of the kitchen. In the gloomy afternoon shadows stood a tall thin figure. She pointed a greasy finger.

‘Who’s that?’

Carol and Stephen turned to look. There was nobody there. Laura was sure there had been somebody standing there watching them. And now there was nothing in the corner from the stacks of boxes marked kitchen.

‘There’s nobody there, love. Sometimes your mind plays tricks on you. It’s like those mirages in the desert I was telling you about. In a house full of shadows your eyes can make out all kinds of things that aren’t there.’ Carol explained.

‘Yes,’ added Stephen. ‘That’s what it will be. Unless it’s a ghost.’

The three of them erupted into laughter. They carried on with their chippy tea and talked away and laughed, but Laura had an uneasy feeling in her stomach.

 

A while later it was time for Laura to go to bed. She kissed her father goodnight. He gave her a wink and told her to sleep well.

Laura headed upstairs with Carol following. They chatted about how exciting the first night in a new house was. They reached the landing. Laura was about to go into her bedroom when she paused. She glanced back over her shoulder.

‘Goodnight.’ she called.

‘Who are you talking to?’ asked Carol.

‘Someone just said goodnight, so I said it back.’

She smiled and gently pushed Laura into her room. Laura always did have these odd notions. Stephen often told her she had a headful of magic.

 

In the weeks that followed the family settled well into the house. The boxes were finally empty and disposed of, and they were slowly getting to grips with where everything could be found. But there was something that they noticed. Sometimes they would look for something, only to find it in a completely different place. Stephen and Carol could go to a drawer for something and be sure that they were in the right place but were unable to find what they were looking for. On one occasion Stephen couldn’t find the tin opener. It wasn’t in the cutlery drawer where it should have been. He was sure it had been there this morning. He rummaged and delves through the drawer. He eventually found it in the salad drawer of the fridge. He complained to Carol.

‘I just don’t understand how it could have got there. It was in the drawer earlier and ended up in the fridge.’

‘One of us must have put it there by mistake.’

‘I didn’t. Did you?’

‘Well, no.’

‘Let it go, love. It’s just new house syndrome.’

 

In the weeks that followed they really settled in. The three of them were happy but each had unspoken niggles. Stephen and Carol tired to ignore the strange habits that Laura had picked up. Her behaviour seemed to encapsulate what was wrong. Things here generally quite nice and pleasant but things kept on happening to unsettle the tranquillity.

 

One sunny Sunday afternoon they were in the living room. Laura was at the coffee table scribbling away on sheets of paper. Her parents were flaked out on the sofa, each engrossed in paperback books. Laura was about to explain about the Western story she was writing when she was distracted. She stared at the wall in confusion.

‘What’s up, love?’

‘Look at the shadow. It’s like there’s someone there.’

Stephen and Carol looked over. They were both surprised to find that Laura was right. There was a looming shadow on the wall. The long shadow being cast suggested there was a tall figure standing across the room. Carol frowned at her husband. Stephen shrugged. Something else was odd but he did not say anything. There was no mistaking that smell. It was as though someone was smoking.

After that incident Laura was convinced that they were not alone in the house. Stephen continued to play things down. He would tell Carol not to worry. He used to have all kinds of strange imaginings when he was a boy. He did not let on how stressed he was by it all. He rubbed the back of his neck. It had to be paranoia and over-active imaginings, didn’t it? Moving into a new house was stressful and perhaps Laura’s speculations were getting in all their heads.

Some mornings while he was shaving he could have sworn there was someone standing beside him. Once, his hand slipped as he was dragging the razor up his neck. He swore as he felt the sharp sting. As the white foam turned blood red an unsettling thought occurred to him. His hand had not slipped. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d cut himself shaving. Someone had nudged him as the razor was at his throat.

That afternoon Laura was playing in the garden. Stephen always enjoyed listening to her play. She just became so lost in a world of her own creation. Sometimes he wished he could lose himself and escape reality like that.

Laura came in to the kitchen, red-cheeked and out of breath.

‘You enjoying yourself?’

‘Yes, I’m famished now though. What were you doing in my room?’

‘I’ve not been in your room, love. I’ve not moved from this spot.’

‘There was someone in my room. I saw them at the window. I waved and they waved back. It must have been mum.’

‘She’s at your aunt’s house. It was probably the light playing tricks.’

Her face changed, all colour and humour draining from her features.

‘There is someone else living here.’ she whispered. ‘I’ve seen and heard him.’

Him?’

‘An man, old like grandad. He still lives here.’

‘Laura, this isn’t one of your stories.’

‘It’s true. He says the cigarettes killed him but he still smokes.’

Stephen felt cold at the mention of the cigarettes. It seemed to tie in with the aroma of cigarette smoke that seemed to linger.

 

One evening a few weeks later, the lights flickered casting bursts of shadows dancing all over the room. Stephen chunnered about this flipping house. He closed his paperback book. He would have to check the fuse-box. But where was it? In the last house, the fuse-box had been in the kitchen. It must be a thing, he decided and went to look.

He was on his hands and knees looking in a cupboard when Laura entered the room.

‘What are you doing, dad?’

Stephen plucked his head from the cupboard.

‘The lights are flickering. I need to find the fuse-box.’

Laura paused for a moment. She then pointed decisively to the cupboard under the stairs.

‘There’s a little grey box in there.

‘Really? Nice one.’

He yanked open the creaking door and went in to the large cupboard. He found the fuse-box exactly as Laura had described. Having sorted the fuses he joined Laura at the kitchen table. The lights had stopped flickering.

‘How did you know about the fuse-box?’

‘Mr Thomas told me.’

‘Who’s he?’

‘He is the smoking man. He used to live here until he died.’

‘What do you mean he told you?’

‘He did. He is here now.’

She pointed a finger towards the cupboard under the stairs. Stephen stared in shock. There was something, a dark, brooding presence. It seemed to be there and not there at the same time. He could not take his eyes from the figure. It was like a shadow, except it seemed to be caused by a rejection of light, rather than some obstacle. Despite the room being perfectly lit, the light did not reach that part, yet on the other side of the shadow the light was there as normal. Stephen watched transfixed as the shadow figure moved across the room. When the shadow reached the door it vanished. Stephen shivered. He rubbed the goose-bumps on his arm.

‘Did you see that?’ he whispered.

Laura did not reply.

 

That evening he told Carol about the incident. He explained as best, and as calmly, as he could. Carol breathed in sharply. She glanced around the living room as though she expected to see this Mr Thomas figure suddenly appear.

‘It’s all so weird.’ She agreed.

‘I know. I have been sceptical and playing it down, but there is something happening.’

‘You think the house is haunted? Do you believe Laura about this Mr Thomas?’

‘I don’t know.’ He sighed. ‘I know something is going on. I don’t know if it’s a ghost or if we are all hallucinating. I don’t know what it is or what we’re going to do about it.’

Carol placed a hand on his. She smiled reassuringly.

‘We’ll just have to see what happens. We’ll sort it out, one way or another.’

‘It is just so odd. I really don’t like it.’ he said.

She kissed him on the cheek.

Over the next few days Carol and Stephen tried to keep calm and get on with their lives. The strange things continued. Things would go missing, only to turn up in the first place they’d checked. It was as though someone, something unseen, was playing with them.

They would hear Laura talking to herself in her bedroom. When it first happened Stephen felt sick. He told himself that she could be playing a game or maybe reading aloud. Maybe she had drifted off and was talking in her sleep. It happened more and more. It really sounded as though Laura was talking to someone who was not there. Stephen and Carol did not ask Laura about it. They were afraid of what the answer would be.

And often, despite no smokers in the house, they would often get the strong smell of cigarette smoke.

 

One afternoon, Laura was on her bed scribbling away in her notepad, on another short story. Carol stuck her head around the door. Laura described the science fiction story she was working on. Carol asked if it was homework. Laura told her, no, I enjoy it.

‘You’ll be the next big thing.’

‘I want to be the next Agatha Christie.’

Carol wondered how she’d heard of the author but said nothing. Maybe she’d been reading Miss Marple in school. It was at that moment that Carol noticed the blackboard in the corner of the room. The blackboard was like that in any child’s bedroom. Laura would colour on it or practise her handwriting. She used it for all kinds of things from drawing to working out maths puzzles. Today the blackboard was full of writing. Line after line of sprawling, elegant, fine handwriting filled the board.

‘Who wrote all that?’

‘Mr Thomas.’

‘Laura, we’re getting sick of this Mr Thomas nonsense.’

‘He says he’s getting sick of us too. He says we should leave.’

‘Stop it.’ snapped Carol.

She angrily grabbed the duster and wiped the chalk writing from the board.

 

A few days later while Laura was playing downstairs, Carol went to tidy Laura’s room. She spotted the blackboard. Once again it was full of fine handwriting. Carol approached the blackboard slowly as though it was a growling wild dog. The text seemed to be quotes from classic literature. She recognised a quote from Oscar Wilde about being yourself as everyone else was taken. She shook her head. Laura couldn’t have done this, surely. This had to stop.

She wiped the board clean, sweeping the duster across the board in long furious swipes. Once it was clean and blank, she tossed the duster down and went to leave. As she reached the door she glanced back over her shoulder. She yelped out in shock. The blackboard was once more filled with writing. Tears in her eyes, she left the room, slamming the door shut behind her. She rushed downstairs breathing hard, upset and confused. Not for the first time, she wondered what was happening in this house and where it would all end.

When she told Stephen about it he just nodded sadly. Carol sensed her husband had his own strange experiences that he was keeping to himself. She got the impression he was giving her edited highlights, partly to protect her and partly because he did not even want to think about it, never mind, talk about it.

 

Laura woke with a start. She was on the floor, her knees hurt. It had been the fall that had woken her. She grumbled and rubbed her left knee in the darkness. She would have a cracking bruise by the morning. Carol opened the door and clicked on the lamp. In the soft lamp-glow she looked tired and worried.

‘You okay, love?’

‘Yes, I’m fine.’

‘Did you fall out of bed?’

She nodded and climbed back into bed.

‘Night, love.’

She turned out the light. As Laura pulled the covers up tight it dawned on her what had happened. She had not fallen out of bed. She had been pushed.

 

Carol, Stephen and Laura were seated at the dining table. Carol was telling them about a funny incident at work while they ate. As Carol explained that her colleague had wanted to see the King and I at the theatre but had inadvertently booked tickets for the Lion King instead. Carol noticed Laura was simply picking at her food.

‘What’s wrong?’

‘It’s Mr Thomas. He says we should leave.’

Stephen dropped his fork. It clattered to the table top.

‘This has to stop.’ he snapped. ‘I am sick of this rubbish.’

Laura folded her arms in protest, tears in her eyes. At that moment Laura’s glass flew across the room and smashed against the wall. The three of them sat there, stunned. There was no doubt about it, there was some strange presence with them in this house.

‘Mr Thomas?’ Stephen whispered.

The radio started playing; the glow of the display seemed sinister somehow. The cheery tune rang out. A high-pitched voice sang Tonight You Belong to Me. Stephen darted over to the radio. He jabbed the off switch. He turned to Carol.

The radio cracked to line again. I know, with the dawn, that you, will be gone, but tonight, you belong, to me. He reached and yanked the plug from the socket. Despite having no power source, the song continued. In utter bewilderment he tossed the transistor radio to the floor. The radio smashed into pieces, the wiring spilling across the tiles like intestines. The awful song stopped.

‘I can’t do this any more.’ he sighed. ‘We need to leave. Get what you need. We’ll stay at a hotel tonight.’

The three of them marched purposefully upstairs, ignoring the fourth shadow beside them, and the distinct smell of cigarette smoke.

As Carol and Stephen were filling suitcases, Laura came to the doorway.

‘Mr Thomas says he’s sorry. He says he has changed his mind.’

They did not reply, they continued their packing at a faster pace.

‘He does not want us to go.’

Stephen shook his head.

‘Get what you want to take with you, Laura.’

‘We’re not coming back?’

‘No, I will send a removal firm for the rest. We’re packing for the three of us for tonight.’

A dark shadow loomed beside her.

‘He says we can’t leave.’

‘Laura, love. Please.’ Stephen insisted.

The door slammed shut, closed by an invisible hand. Laura screamed from the other side of the door. She pounded on the door with urgent fists.

Stephen yanked on the door handle. It would not open. He pulled hard. It still would not budge.

‘Open it.’ Carol yelled.

‘I can’t. It’s locked.’

‘The door doesn’t have a lock.’

Carol tugged on the door handle. It would not open.

‘It’s okay, love.’ Stephen called through the door. ‘These doors stick sometimes, that’s all.’

Then the door opened. They rushed out onto the landing. Laura was gone. In desperation they ran through the house, calling her name over and over. Carol’s fingernails dug into her palms as she dashed from room to room.

They found Laura standing at the bottom of the stairs. She had her back to them and was talking in a low mumble. They couldn’t understand what she was saying.

‘We have to go.’ said Stephen. ‘Wait here with Laura and I’ll go grab the bags.’

As he came back down with the cases Laura’s eyes were closed and she was repeating what sounded like an old nursery rhyme over and over.

‘She wont stop.’ said Carol.

‘Perhaps it’s her way of coping. She’ll be okay once we’re away from this house. They bundled the bags into the car. Stephen started the engine and they sped away from the house on Pleasant Crescent.

 

ORIGINAL ENDING.

They checked into a hotel, still trembling. The three of them flopped on the bed in front of the TV set and ate sweets and chocolate. They tried to forget about everything. Laura laughed at the antics of the comedians on screen. Carol and Stephen were reassured. Laura seemed to have the way that children have, of being able to put things behind them and bounce back. They could do with mastering that art themselves.

A week later they moved into a small rented house on the other side of the city. This place would do them for now. It was a small, boxish house, but had a really cosy feel about it. Laura seemed happy enough too. That, they agreed, was the main thing.

That evening they heard screaming from Laura’s room. Carol and Stephen rushed in. Laura was on the floor, clutching her face, as though she had just been struck.

‘What happened?’

‘It’s Mr Thomas. He says he doesn’t like it here.’

 

 

 

ALTERNATIVE ENDING

Stephen and Carol rushed to the car. They tossed the cases in the boot. They sped down the road, leaving Pleasant Crescent behind them. They sighed and stared at the road stretching out ahead. The world seemed to be an easier, lighter place now they’d left the house. The rolling of the streetlamps became hypnotic. A while later Carol glanced around to Laura in the back seat. The back seat was empty.

‘Where’s Laura?’

Stephen looked in the mirror. He swore.

‘Did we leave her behind?’

‘Pull over. I’ll call my mum. She lives nearby. She can help us look for her. She can meet us there.’

Stephen eased the car over to the kerb as she pulled out her mobile phone and dialled. She clicked on to speaker-phone.

‘Mum, it’s me. We’ve left the house. There’s been lots of weird things going on. But the thing is, we can’t find Laura. We think she’s back there.’

‘Who is there?’

‘Laura, our daughter.’

‘You do not have a daughter. You don’t have any kids.’

Stephen and Carol started at each other in confusion. Then it occurred to them. It was as though they were waking from a dream. For the first time in a long while they saw things as they really were. In the dark interior of the car, the indicator light blinking away, they realised the truth.

They did not have a daughter. They had only seen Laura inside the house. Laura had been the only one speaking to Mr Thomas. She had been an apparition, as much a part of the haunting as Mr Thomas.

 


© Copyright 2019 CTPlatt. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

Comments

avatar

Author
Reply