This is a continuation of my previous story about a home in which I rented a room for 3 years. The first year, I was on the first floor. The second year I was on the second floor, the one where I had previously been hearing footsteps up and down the stairs. The second floor of the house and the attic had a total of 6 rooms to be rented, so there were 6 of us living there together.
To recap, the home was an old Victorian built in 1890, originally a one-family home that had been separated into two units, one consisting of the downstairs and the other of the upstairs and the attic. There were two doors in the front of the house from the porch, one of which led into the downstairs closet and the other opened onto the stairs to the second floor, with a partition wall between them.
I had been upstairs once before during the previous year but it was not until I began moving my belongings upstairs that I noticed the upstairs had a completely different vibe. The front stairwell, which went up about 10 stairs, stopped at a small landing, and then veered left with another four stairs, was dark and creepy, and even though the walls were white and there was a window at the landing, the paint was chipping and the whole area felt very dark and ominous. The stairwell was narrow and due to the partition wall constructed to the left, the whole area felt claustrophobic. Much of the activity I had heard the previous year, while living downstairs, seemed to center on this stairwell, which was loud and creaky. Standing at the bottom of the stairs looking up filled me with dread and sent chills up my spine, but I developed a weird fascination with this area in the house. I often took photographs of myself on the stairs, playing with the lighting to give myself a ghostly vibe.
At the top of the stairs was a small hallway with four doors. The one immediately to the right led to a bedroom, also accessed from the upstairs living room, and corresponded with the "closet" door directly downstairs that I had kept closed the entire year due to feeling watched from behind it. The door immediately in front led to the living room. The next door, moving left, had no doorknob and was sealed shut, and led to another bedroom which could also be accessed from the living room. The door at the end of the hallway led to a small bedroom in the front, and immediately to its left was a continuation of the stairway which led up to the attic. There was no door, and the stairway was open. It was incredibly narrow with the steps' paint chipping, and walking up it, one had to duck downward to not hit their head on the wall. The living room was painted in a dark crimson color with black wooden floors, and there was a kitchen toward the back of the house that had a door in it leading to the back stairwell which lead directly outside and, also to the basement. The light in the upstairs hallway was not turned on with a switch, but by a motion censor.
Over the course of the year, I would often think about, dream about, and even draw pictures of the staircase. It was always on my mind, and I do not know why. I had no interest in architecture nor in interior design, but this staircase would often find its way back into my mind.
The room I lived in upstairs was directly above the one I had lived in the previous year. The very first night I stayed in the house, I stayed up late watching movies in bed, and I noticed light shining underneath the door that connected to the hallway at the top of the stairs. When it turned on, it caught my eye. I did not hear any movement in the hallway nor any footsteps. I was the first person to move in, and everyone else would be arriving over the next 3 days. I quietly got out of bed, locked both of the doors to my room, and sat back down. Within a few minutes, the hall light went out. Over the next year, I would experience this very same thing when I know for a fact I was either the only one home, or no one was in that hallway. I would often be sitting in the living room talking to my roommates, and suddenly the hall light would turn on, activated by the motion detector. It would always puzzle and startle all of us, but everyone else turned a blind eye to it, convinced it was an issue with the wiring or with the motion detector itself. The door would be open to the hallway and we would not see, nor hear, anyone there. This continued periodically for the whole year.
I worked a late night shift in the game room on the college campus I attended and coming home at midnight, opening the front door, I would often feel dread climbing the stairs at night. I felt as if something I could not see was standing at the top of the stairs ready to stick its head around the corner and jump out at me, or was glaring at me. I never could physically see anything there. When I reached the landing, I often felt the energy move toward the portion of the stairs leading to the attic, and felt the temperature drop. My roommates attributed it to there being a window right there, but I know it was not that. Other nights, just as I heard from downstairs, I would hear footsteps pacing up and down the stairs, followed by a sound that resembled a ball being dropped from the top stair, bouncing to the bottom, hitting the front door, and trailing off as it came to the end of its bouncing.
My other roommates heard these noises and assumed they were me going outside for a cigarette every half hour. I would not have dared get out of bed with these noises occurring!
Between the kitchen and the living room was a small hallway that had two doors, one was a bathroom and the other opened to another small staircase also leading to the attic. Late at night I would go to the bathroom and distinctly remember this door to the attic being shut, but upon exiting the bathroom, it would be slightly cracked. I would never open or look behind it, I would simply shut the door and run back to my room. Despite heat rising, I often felt chills when the door was cracked. A few instances while in the bathroom, I would hear this doorknob turning followed by the creaky sound of the door opening, but no footsteps from any direction.
The whole upstairs had a very distinct smell that I cannot describe and have never smelled anything similar. If you can imagine a weird mixture of cedar, expired milk, and mildew, that is the best I can describe it. This smell was strongest in the kitchen and on the back stairwell. That back stairwell scared me even more than the front one. Due to my work schedule, I would often come home from work late and eat a small snack in the kitchen before heading for bed, and I would hear the loud "click" of the light switch for that staircase, followed by a heavy THUD, THUD, THUD up the stairs. I never heard the door open from outside, so I knew it was not my roommate coming home. The footsteps radiated across the kitchen and I could feel their vibration on the floor. When this happened, I would turn off the kitchen light, hide in the hallway, and watch. The door would slowly creak open, but nothing entered the kitchen and the footsteps did not continue forward. I snuck back to my room and locked the door, and would not get up again for any reason.
To make matters worse, the washing machine was at the top of the back stairs on a landing, so I absolutely dreaded doing laundry. I refused to go on that staircase at night. The walls and floors in that area were a sickly dark green color, and the light was very dim, so every time I would be doing laundry with my back to the stairs, I felt as if something was going to jump out and grab me. I never felt alone when I was there. About halfway through my lease, the light in that stairwell simply stopped working. At first we tried replacing the bulbs, but it was not this. It turned out that for 5 of us living there, the lightswitch simply would not work. It only worked for one roommate, and only that one person, and not when anyone else was watching them use it. After that roommate moved out halfway through the lease and sublet his room to someone else, that lightswitch never worked for anyone else. We called an electrician and they could not determine, from looking at the wiring, that there should have been any issue with the switch. There was nothing more dreadful to me than doing my laundry in the dark.
While all of my roommates heard these same noises, they sought alternative explanations. My feeling of being watched, they attributed it to paranoia. The noises on the staircases they believed were one of the other roommates coming or going to either retrieve items from their car or to smoke cigarettes, even though everyone insisted that they did not make the noises and were not going outside. No one, at least yet, admitted to having any experiences.
One roommate, though, would be the first and only one to actually admit to *seeing* an entity in the house. One day I was sitting in my room reading and I heard pounding on a door. It sounded as if it was coming from the back door at the bottom of the back staircase, but I looked out my window and saw no one there. It was coming from the basement. I mustered up my courage and ran down the back staircase to hear my roommate's voice from behind yelling "LET ME OUT! LET ME OUT!" I would then find out that this roommate tripped the circuit breaker with his space heater, and went down the back staircase to the basement to turn the breaker back on. I had never been in the basement but this roommate said that the door would not open for a good several minutes and the knob was jammed. After much struggle, the basement door opened and the light was already on. While downstairs, he said he, too, felt as if there was something watching him, but he could not see anything at first. He said he felt as if in each corner of the basement was someone standing there glaring, with eyes in all different directions centered right on him. Eventually he found the breaker and flipped it back on, but the basement light itself went out. The only light was from the top of the stairs where there was a small amount of light being let in from the window on the top of the door. All of a sudden, something dark and black flashed past the top of the stairs and the basement door slammed shut, trapping him inside. That is when I heard him shouting and banging on the door.
That day he, too, admitted to hearing strange noises in the house, including ones I did not hear. He said that while he was sleeping, he would often be woken up at 3 AM by footsteps coming down from the attic, followed by the light turning on in the front hallway. The footsteps would stop outside the boarded up door, which would crack open, followed by a blinding flash of white light in the room that would still be felt for the next several minutes after he closed his eyes. He compared the sensation to how it feels to be punched in the face, only without the physical pain of being hit. When he was finally able to regain composure, the door would be sealed shut again, and could not be opened, and it would be as if nothing had happened. I insisted this was not possible because the door was actually sealed shut and there was no doorknob, but he insisted that this happened on odd-numbered days (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) except for Sunday.
Later that week, he asked me a question which freaked me out, "Why do you go out for cigarettes at night only on the even-numbered days of the week -- Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday? And why always at 3 AM?" I insisted that I absolutely did not get out of bed unless I needed to use the bathroom and that I did not even work on all of those days, so he definitely did not hear me coming home. He insists that he would hear the door open that connected my room to the front hallway (which I insisted I had always kept locked), followed by slow footsteps down the stairs, out the front door, and then back up about ten minutes later and back into my room. I insisted this could not be, because I would have heard my door opening, it creaked very loudly. On days I stayed up or was awake at 3, I did not hear this. We discussed it often and whichever time I was awake in the early AM, he would insist he heard it at a different time, when I know I was sleeping. I began to notice that the chair blocking that door would shift in position each morning, as if it had been moved. In response, I ended up blocking off the door with one of my dressers, which would have prevented it from being opened. As a response, my roommate claims the footsteps would now stop at the living room door, and enter the living room and head off toward the kitchen and dissipate.
In the last few months of living upstairs, the activity intensified. Items would turn up in places that made no sense for them to be found. I would often be the last person to go into the kitchen at night, but the next morning, the refrigerator would be open and perishable items such as fruit, ice cream, or dairy would be left on the kitchen counter and would be either melted or no longer able to be eaten. The laundry machine would stop halfway through its cycles and would be unplugged. There were yellow streaks in the bathtub that would be there no matter how many times we washed them off. There was constant bickering between roommates about who was causing these things, and no one took responsibility. The worst occurrence of this type was when I woke up in the morning, the only person who stayed in the house that night, and walked past the stove and felt heat. The stove was left on, with an open flame! It is truly a miracle that the house did not catch fire.
The final occurrence happened on my last day of the lease. The landlord expected us to remove all furniture we had personally brought into the house, and bring whatever remained that we were unable to take into the basement. I had never been in the basement and truly did not want to go. I refused to go alone. I went into the basement with two roommates. It was truly a creepy place. There were old doors piled up against a wall, which had obviously been in the house before but had been removed, explaining why there were a number of doorways that did not have a door. There was dust everywhere and old newspapers thrown about on the ground. All of a sudden, my car keys, which were deep in my pocket, fell onto the ground. I could feel them falling out and heard them hit the ground. I did not know how they had fallen from so deep inside my pocket, but when I bent over to pick them up, they were nowhere to be found. I heard where they had fallen and logic would dictate they should have been right there, but they were not. I retraced my steps and could not find them. Panicking, I called my mother, who was driving up to help me move my furniture out, and asked her to bring the spare set of keys from home.
I made it to the top of the stairs and my roommate stopped me. She says, "I found these keys on the attic stairs, I almost tripped on them and fell down the stairs. Do you know who these belong to?" Sure enough, there were my keys. To this day I still do not know how they got there. She reprimanded me for leaving them there, demanded to know why I was even trying to go upstairs to her room, and stormed off in a huff.
As the last of my furniture was moved out, I stood at the bottom of the stairs and looked up, almost getting one last look at the area of the house which had caused me both fascination and grief. The door to my bedroom, which I had left shut all year and blocked off, was slightly cracked open and I could see a sliver of my room from downstairs. Despite all of the energy I was going to miss the upstairs of the house. I even came to believe all of the spirits living there were benign and simply going about their old lives as if they did not even realize they had passed. My mother was looking up the stairs and suddenly said "There must be a draft. That door upstairs blew shut on its own."
I had turned away just before, and did not see it, but I believe her. And I know it was not a draft.