I was alone in the house when I heard a door close upstairs. It was a firm, deliberate sound…quiet yet intentional. Certainly not a haphazard draft gently causing mischief.

In the main hall, a winding staircase led to floors above. I ascended the steps, pausing to listen on each gloomy landing. The airless atmosphere was weighted with the muted closeness of an ancient home.

The creaky corridors were lined with doors, all open, showcasing faded Victorian decor across their thresholds. Aunt Edith had claimed these walls were haunted, but she was gone and I wasn’t prone to anxious fancies. The house belonged to me, not to the illusions of a frail old woman.

When I gained the top floor, moonlight lit the long passageway from a window high above the landing. I could see quite clearly. The second door on the right was shut. My hand paused before twisting the glass knob. A soft scraping sound came from inside!

Quickly, I flung open the door to catch the culprit…but I only startled shadows, which were frightened away by my flickering candle. Nothing was here.

Weary of chasing phantoms, I made my way back down the spiral of steps and went to the kitchen to brew some tea. The kettle heated on the large black stove as I warmed my hands above the burner.

Somewhere on the first floor, a door closed.

I snatched up my candle and ran into the hall. The parlor door was firmly shut and the same scraping sound emerged from within! Again, I burst into the room…catching nobody.

I searched the parlor high and low but nothing seemed amiss except for some markings on the floor by the molding. Here, there was a little draft and when I pushed against the wood the wall swung open.

A secret passage! Someone or something had haunted Aunt Edith. I stepped into the gaping dark and peered ahead. Before I could stop it, the panel swung closed behind me.

I heard the inhale of a vigorous breath…and then a puff of air blew out my candle.

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    Margarida Brei
    Margarida Brei(@margarida-brei)
    10 months ago

    A truly chilling read. Call me a coward, but I could never understand why protagonists in movies and fiction found an urge to explore spooky old mansions. Well done, Heather; I liked your descriptive writing in personifications of the wind!

    Lotchie Carmelo
    Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
    10 months ago

    Very spooky, Heather.
    I think if I were your protagonist I would rush out. I admire the courage of your protagonist. If I were him, no matter how curious I am, I will never attempt to enter a haunted house. Well done.

    Lotchie Carmelo
    Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
    Reply to  Heather Chrzanowski
    10 months ago

    You’re welcome, Heather.

    10 months ago

    Huge old Victorian mansion, secret passageways, hidden panels … what could be more Halloweenish? I might be wrong, but I think I’d also want to explore. I mean, really, what an opportunity for a writer! Good writing, Heather.

    Greene M Wills
    Greene M Wills(@greene-m-wills)
    10 months ago

    Your story is the epitome of what scary should be, so I love it! The typical haunted mansion and the sceptical protagonist chasing ghosts… brilliant! Now I’m just wondering if your protagonist will be able to open the panel again!

    Christer Norrlof
    Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
    10 months ago

    This is a great ghost story, Heather! It has all the classical ingredients and leads up to a perfectly scary ending. While reading it, I was afraid that’s it might end up with a cat or a bird making the noise. The reason is that half an hour ago, I heard some noise in the kitchen. I called my wife’s name, and when she didn’t respond, I went downstairs. On the kitchen… Read more »

    Susan Giles
    Susan Giles(@susan-giles)
    10 months ago

    Excellent descriptions. I especially liked “The airless atmosphere was weighted with the muted closeness of an ancient house.” Very good buildup to an abrupt but very effective closing line. Well done.

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