I am writing this short memoire because if I don’t, I can’t be sure the story will ever be told. At least, not told accurately. I am not sure where or what will become of me in the immediate future, and I want to give any explanation for my disappearance, should it arise.
Growing up, my sister Penny started to be afraid of the upstairs at our house. I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but I remember distinctly that, at one point, she never went upstairs alone after dark.
When we’d stay up late watching old reruns or whatever late-night show was on at the time, she’d always make strange requests from me. She’d say something like, “Katie, go upstairs and grab me a blanket, would you? I’m getting cold.” I just thought she was being lazy but I started to notice that if I refused, she would rather sit there, shivering with goosebumps, than go up and grab the blanket herself.
To be fair, I found our house creepy as well. But even at 14 years old, I remember thinking it was just because I still had some instincts left over from childhood. “When I grow up,” I thought, “I’ll stop being scared of this stuff.” It was an old, creaking house and, for some reason, there was a door at the top of the stairs which made the whole second floor feel isolated from the rest of the house. Like when you went up there, you were miles away from anyone else.
There were two rooms upstairs, mine and Penny’s, and each room had access to a separate attic. We’d been told as kids that the house had served as a brothel in the late 1800’s which is why the upstairs was closed off. The attic had been split into two in order to make space for the...business...that went on. There had been an “incident” (according to my grandmother) that closed the brothel and the place had been renovated into a house. Our house.
Penny slept in the room across from mine and at some point—again, I can’t remember exactly when—I started to hear her sneak downstairs at night. In the morning, my mother and I would find her sleeping on the couch. My mom assumed she had fallen asleep watching TV, but I thought it had to be something else. Afterall, why would she have gone to bed, then snuck down for TV every night? My mom was working 2 jobs and had just started dating someone she’d met at work, so her mind was elsewhere.
But I was curious.
At first, Penny just kept saying she’d come down for some water, couldn’t sleep, and turned on the TV (like my had suggested), but when I didn’t stop pushing why she always looked so tired and had bruises on her arm, she opened up.
“Something’s up there, Katie. And it wants me.”
I’ll always feel so bad for my response: laughter. I laughed right in her face. I couldn’t help it. But as my eyes were watering from joy, hers started watering from fear. Her lips trembled and she grasped my hand.
“It starts with a small light, shining through the door to the attic. Then I hear the footsteps. They walk slowly toward the attic door and get heavier as they get closer. It whispers my name, quietly. ‘Penny… Penny? Do you hear me, sweetheart?’ At first, I thought I was going crazy. I hid under my sheets and was too afraid to answer. But lately, it’s been getting angry. When I don’t answer, it’s like it’s stomping on the attic door with it’s boot heel, trying to get out. It just starts screaming, “Penny! Penny! You let me out of here right now! Penny! You can’t lock me in here forever and when I get out…!”
I could see my sister was visibly trembling. She started to cry and explained that, for the last few weeks, she’s been sleeping on the couch where she felt safer.
And then, it happened.
One night, we heard a loud scream from Penny’s room. My mom must have heard it from downstairs because her and her new boyfriend rushed in. Penny was lying on the floor, bleeding from a wound to the head and was in complete hysterics. She was just on the ground, shaking, bleeding, crying, screaming—we just couldn’t calm her down.
My mom had her committed to a psychiatric ward in town. The doctors were dismissive. They said she’d had a stress-induced mental breakdown and assumed it was from school, boy troubles, or problems in the family. As for the head wound, she must have bumped it falling out of bed.
But I knew the truth. She’d been tormented out of her mind.
And now it was my turn.
I remember it all started just like my sister said. One night, it must have been around 2 am, I saw a small light seeping out of the attic door. It wasn’t bright; the opposite, actually. It was as if someone were burning a candle. That first night, that’s all it was—the light.
Over the next week, I began to hear the footsteps. Those steps would just pace around above my bed for hours at a time. It would always start at around 2 am, and move along until dawn. It was impossible to sleep with that pacing.
Then the voice came.
It was a raspy voice; like someone who had smoked too long and drank too much. And it was a deep, hollow voice; like it was rising out of a place in its soul where its sins had been buried. It started as a whisper:
“Hello? What’s your name, dear?”
I was terrified, completely paralyzed with fear. I sat, trembling in my sheets. It scratched at the attic door:
“Hello? I know you’re there, darling. Open the door for me, won’t you. I’ve been in here so long. I promise I’ll be good. I won’t hurt anyone else. I swear… just let me out, dear. Won’t you?”
I ran out of the room, petrified. It was now my turn to sleep on the couch.
This continued over the next few weeks and, like my sister had warned me, it was getting angrier. It started screaming, scratching, and kicking at the attic door. I tried to tell me mom, but she thought I had just been watching too many scary movies, “like your sister.” Her boyfriend got tired of my running footsteps waking him up in the middle of the night, so he took matters into his own hands. He began locking the door to the second story of our house.
From the outside.
So there I was. Just stuck with this… whatever it was. I would hide under my covers, only to have small objects in the room strike me. A book would fall—or “fly,” I suppose would be the better word—off the shelf, hitting me under the thin sheets; notebooks would come off my little desk in the corner; sometimes, the bed would quake, violently.
That’s when I had an idea. My sister never spoke back, and it drove her insane. Maybe, if I spoke back, it would calm down. So that’s what I did.
One night, when I saw the light appear through the cracks, I spoke to him. “Hello?’
There was silence for a few moments. Then, hurried footsteps toward the attic door, followed by what sounded like a single finger-nail scratching at the other side.
“Hello, dear,” the deep voice said. “Won’t you let me out?”
“I can’t,” I told him. “The attic door is locked, and I don’t have the key.” I was lying, of course, but I just wanted to keep this spirit from being angry. It worked.
“Oh... that’s ok, dear. You can just keep me company, won’t you? I’ve been here for so long.”
I agreed and, over the next few nights, began to speak with him. He told me how he became locked up there, hiding from the law. They found him, boarded him up there, “like an animal,” surrounded the house, and just waited for either thirst or starvation to kill him off. It was finally the summer heat that did him in. And since then, for the last 150 years, he’s been in there. All alone. Waiting for someone, anyone to let him out.
Or just speak to him.
Those few nights turned into weeks, which turned into years. I spoke to him nearly every night, but the fear never went away. He loved telling me the stories of the things he’d done, his victims, their families…whoever this man had been, he was pure evil. I still get goosebumps thinking about those late night talks.
I was able to, eventually, move away from that house and move on with my life. I got married, though we never had any children, and I made sure we lived far away from that place. My (now late-) husband was gracious enough to listen to my stories and fein interest, but I don’t think he ever truly believed me. No one did. I didn’t care. I had thought it was a chapter that was out of my life forever.
Until last night.
I had still been grieving from the loss of my husband, who passed away last month from causes unknown. I’ve never experienced grief like that in my life, especially without having any answers as to why it happened. But last night, I was having a hard time sleeping, so I began to read. That’s when I looked up and saw it. A small, low burning light coming from inside our attic. The faint footsteps approaching, slowly toward the attic door. And that familiar, deep, raspy voice:
“Hello, dear I’ve missed you, so. I’m sorry about your husband, but he shouldn’t have been here. You know that now, don’t you darling? You’re mine. You’ll always be mine.”
And that, reader, is why I am writing this little memoire. I’ve spoken to the church, I’ve spoken to the police, and I’ve spoken to friends. Either no one believes my story, or no one cares—it doesn’t matter. The point is that no one will help. So I will be taking matters into my own hands.
Tonight, I’m opening the attic, letting him out, and settling this once and for all. If it costs me my life, I’m ready for that. This life isn’t worth living in fear. And as I’m finishing these words, I can already see that low light seeping through the cracks, and I can already hear his finger slowly scratching at the door.
If I live through this night, I will write again and let you all know I’m ok. If no subsequent writing appears with an update, just know that I am resting at peace with my husband. Who knows, maybe we will come visit you some lonely, rainy night, to tell you what came to pass ourselves…
***Editor’s note: This story has been (quite heavily) adapted from a story provided by Buffy1973 on a free horror story subreddit.***