I Only Startled Shadows
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.