“I remember the house I grew up in. It was old. I remember even more vividly the attic. It’s entrance wasn’t in the ceiling or up a set of stairs located on the opposite side of a door in at the end of the upstairs hallway. It was in a closet. My closet, to be exact. The door knob was rusted shut. How or why it was like that, I never could figure out, and I never bothered. After all, at night I would hear such strange noises. Sometimes there would be screaming. Other times, there would be this thudding that wouldn’t go away. Every now and then, I swore I could hear someone knocking on the door in my closet. Yet whenever I asked, my parents would simply blow it off. They would tell me it was a figment of my imagination.
“Once, I sneaked into their room. They had a little door in their closet too. Of course, they never admitted to hearing the things I did. I knew they heard it though. How did I know? Because once, I heard my father screaming for the noise to go away. Well, he actually didn’t put it that way. It was more of a “shut the fuck up!” It was like he knew exactly where the noise was coming from, as if it were a person. It wasn’t though.
“There’s no way a person could survive in that attic. In the winter, the attic would get so cold. I didn’t know this for a fact, though. It was more of an assumption. My room was barely tolerable, and I had heat. The attic had nothing. I imagine something up there would have frozen. In the summer, it had to be absolutely sweltering. How could it not be? With the sun beating down on the roof of the house. I imagine it was stuffy, too. The attic didn’t have windows. That meant it was dark, and no one could live in complete darkness.”
“Did you ever go inside the attic?”
“Yes, I did. A few times actually. Not through my door, and not willingly. My parents wanted to prove to me that it was all in my head so, whenever the noises would get to me, my father would grab me by the scruff of my neck. He’d drag me into their closet, open the door, and shove me inside. Then he’d lock it for a few hours. Of course, he was always nice. He would leave the light on for me. Like I said, the attic had no windows. But it did have two small lights that hung from the ceiling. Kind’ve like those ones in those really old photos of restaurants? The cheap tin ones?
“I usually spent my time trying to find where the noise was coming from, only to discover every time that the attic was, in fact, truly empty. My father would always tell me that he knew I had been proved wrong when the scuffling noises stopped. I believe him too, because usually when I’d give up, I would sit beside the door and, within minutes, it would usually open and there he’d be standing, telling me how much he and my mother loved me.”
“Did you ever notice anything odd about the attic? Anything that made you wonder?”
“There were a few strange things in the attic. I remember some rusted old chains, and.. manacles? I think that’s what they were called. There were two of them. They were attached to the walls – well, I guess they were really the sides of the roof, but you know what I mean. There were some attached to the floor, too. Sometimes, when I was shut up in there, I would look at them. The color was strange – some of them looked like they had blood on them. I mentioned that to my parents before, too. They had an explanation for it, though.”
“And what was that?”
“They reminded me that it was an old house and that people used to lock their crazy relatives in their attics, so they wouldn’t be seen. I believed them. At that point, I convinced myself it could be ghosts.”
“You said earlier your father would put you in the attic when the noises got to you. Is that the only reason he ever used it? Or did he sometimes use it as other means of punishment?”
“Only if I was terribly bad. He sometimes threatened to lock me up with the manacles, but he was never serious about it. My mother would remind him that we didn’t have keys to them and that I’d be stuck.”
“Do you still believe the house is haunted?”
“Noises still come from the attic.”
“So you’ve been to this house recently, then?”
“Yes. Today, even.”
“Where is this house?”
“Here,” the woman who sat across from the man at the small dining room said. Her answer to that question brought a rather strange look to the man’s face.
“It’s this house?”
“Do the noises still bother you?”
“They do, from time to time. Now, not so much. I stay in one of the rooms downstairs now. Now and then, the attic smells, too. I imagine a few animals have found their way in and couldn’t get out. Poor things.”
“Can you show me the attic?” the man asked, curiously.
“I don’t see why not” the woman replied. Together they rose to their feet and she led him upstairs and to the room that had belonged to her parents. She opened the door to the bedroom and its closet before reaching for the door that led to the attic.
“What happened to your parents?” the man asked, peering around the room. It was obvious no one had lived in it for some time. The bed was too neatly made and a layer of dust covered the rest of the furniture.
“What usually happens when someone ages?”
“So they’re dead?”
“Pretty much,” the woman answered, opening the door to the attic and flicking the light on. She led him upstairs.
The man’s eyes took a little bit to adjust to the dim light provided by those cheap attic lights, as the woman had called them. When they did, what he saw sickened him.
“What is this?” the man rasped, stumbling back a few steps.
The woman didn’t answer. Instead, she began to turn around and descend the small staircase, as if to leave the attic.
“Where are you going?”
“I have a few errands to run. Do be a gentleman and entertain them for me while I’m gone?” the woman asked as she stepped out of the attic. Before the man could answer her, she shut the door. The man quickly descended the stairs and reached for the door.
It was locked.
Copyright 2011 © E. M. Jenkinson, all rights reserved.
As stated in the title, this is a rough draft. Whether or not I will actually revise it remains to be seen. I haven’t really done a healthy amount of writing in some time, and short stories such as this will be appearing on my blog as I work my way back into the habit and, hopefully, reawaken that muse of mine and the talent she gave me.
Please feel free to comment over whether or not I should consider completing this draft. (By completing I mean revising and finally going through with a final draft of it.) And yes, I definitely do know it needs work.