Fantasy Horror Fiction

The House at the Edge of Shadows

“YouTube videos make it look easy. Trust me; you can’t refurbish an old house with DIY videos.” Priscilla said.

The house had been on the market for well over a year. Built-in the 1600s, it stood like a forgotten sentinel, its time-worn facade weathered by storms and secrets. Nobody wanted to touch it. Not after the haunted rumors spread through the town.

They said the house had an eerie atmosphere as if it was inhabited by unseen spirits. It carried memories too heavy for mortal minds to comprehend within its depths. People believed that old houses tended to produce strange and eerie noises. These were not ordinary creaks or wind rattles. These were the murmurs of lost souls trapped between worlds.

The owner reduced the price by ten percent. I convinced Priscilla.

She preferred our safe, modern home in town. Our definitions of “livable” were completely different.

The gate opened to an overgrown, neglected lawn. Weeds clawed at my worn boots, and the air smelled of damp earth. Like ancient guards, the trees warned us away with their gnarled branches. I couldn’t resist the house’s allure, like a moth to a flame.

The Colonial architecture contrasted with the encroaching wilderness. Time-worn shingles on sloping roofs hid secrets. The central chimney twisted upwards, releasing memories into the misty air. Did the owner condemn innocent souls, only to have their echoes haunt his home?

Approaching the door, a murder of crows took flight, their wings beating against the gray sky. I took a sharp breath. Then I saw it—an owl rising from the eaves. Ravens chased it, cries echoing through empty rooms. I realized the owl was a guardian—a keeper of secrets, a lookout like the house itself.

I stepped over the threshold, my footsteps echoing in the silence. Stories etched into the walls whispered. At first, I thought it was a breeze, but it was something more. I vowed to uncover the truth as I lit a lantern. The past has a way of resurfacing when least expected, refusing to stay buried.

I would face the shadows and the illumination within the confines of this house, nestled on the fringes of darkness.

As the news of my inherited small fortune sank in, I could feel the weight of possibility settling on my shoulders. The list of tasks stretched out before me, each item expanding like a story told by a fisherman, exaggerated over rounds of drinks.

The creaking stairs echoed through the empty halls as I ascended. I admired the house’s slight tilt, hinting at concealed secrets. This home exuded a sense of loneliness. Faded wallpaper held memories, and sagging floorboards carried forgotten footsteps.

The first task was simple: repair the leaky roof. But as I climbed the ladder, hammer in hand, I heard whispers carried by the wind. The ghosts of previous owners, perhaps—their hopes, sorrows, and unfinished dreams. They urged me to listen, to understand that this house was more than wood and nails. It was a vessel for stories, a keeper of secrets. The muffled sounds prompted my exploration of every part of this place. I discovered untold secrets to share with you.

Inside, the rooms awaited transformation. With its faded velvet curtains, the parlor seemed to exhale when I opened the shutters. The dining room table bore scars from countless meals shared by families, now scattered like dandelion seeds. And the attic held treasures and tragedies, boxes of letters tied with ribbon, and dust-covered trunks filled with forgotten heirlooms.

And there it hung—a relic of forgotten artists, its frame gnarled like ancient roots. The painting—an oil-on-canvas enigma—had eyes. Eyes that followed me. Not just a casual glance, mind you. No, these eyes bore into my soul, dissecting my sins and secrets. They knew things—things I hadn’t dared utter aloud.

A blurred woman stared out from the canvas. Her once vibrant gown now faded to sepia. Were her lips curved in amusement or disdain? Her eyes held me captive. They were portals to another realm, another reality.

A chilling laugh escaped from Evelyn, the phantom muse. The corridors echoed with her haunting laughter. The weight of her words hung in the air as she declared, “You’re not alone.”

I sat before the painting, my fingers tracing the cracked varnish. “Tell me,” I pleaded. “What do you guard?”

And then it happened—the eyes shifted. It’s not a trick of light or imagination. They moved, focusing downward. "Down where?" I pondered.

Evelyn’s laughter—a spectral echo—filled the corridor. “Go,” she urged. “Find the truth.”

The creaking stairs were my companions during exploration. Each step uncovered more layers: peeling wallpaper, cracked mirrors, and worn floorboards.

I heeded, respected, and pledged to rejuvenate this house. It was more than just a structure. I sat on the porch as evening fell. The stairs creaked and settled as if relieved. I also felt a sense of belonging to the lonely house. We would write new chapters and find solace in each other’s company.

Days blurred into weeks—the old mansion, my sole companion. The old manor held its secrets close, its walls whispering stories of the past. As I slept, elusive whispers continued to haunt my dreams, creating an eerie atmosphere. The silent occupant of these halls, its walls adorned with faded portraits, seemed to beckon with a weighty secret ready to be revealed.

Was the secret meant for me? Listen, my friends, this story is explicitly meant for each of you.

As I wandered the corridors in the dead of night, the only sound was the muffled echo of my footsteps on the dusty floor. The moon’s shadows stretched through the windows, evoking memories. Restlessness echoed through the creaking stairs. What happened here? The floorboards were stained with sorrows like ancient ink.

The day before Priscilla was to join me, I cautiously descended into the basement, where the musty scent of dampness filled the air. The mechanical oil heater towered above, a remnant from a different time, its mysteries concealed by weathered panels.

Is this the place where Evelyn guided me - the dark, eerie basement?

A vision shook me to the core, with vivid sights and unsettling sounds that sent chills down my spine. A hidden pathway awaited discovery beneath a large basement workbench.

With a beckoning gesture, the ghost’s spectral hand disappeared into the infinite darkness. The soft whisper seemed to say, “Follow me,” its gentle tone carrying an air of intrigue and secrets yet to be discovered.

The workbench, made of sturdy wood, held countless memories. Kneeling, I touched the rough grain. The air grew heavy and still as the ghost lingered. The place’s secrets pushed me forward. What was hidden here? Is it a letter? Is it a relic? Perhaps a truth that transforms existence?

The old bench resisted my efforts to move it. The floor’s scars held untold stories of shufflings, rearrangements, and hidden intentions. As I moved the bench, my hand brushed against a worn handle hidden beneath a layer of dust.

Curiosity tugged at me. What lay beneath? Had others before me discovered this hidden compartment? Much like an ancient chest’s lid, the floor surrendered its secrets. I pulled upward, and the wood groaned in protest. Dust motes danced in the slanting light, revealing a cavity—an abyss waiting to be explored.

And there it was—a ladder, its rungs creaking softly as I descended into the darkness. Not a ladder for climbing to the attic or the loft, but a portal to another world waiting to be discovered. The wood, aged and sturdy, seemed to beckon. How far did it lead? What forgotten chambers awaited below?

In my mind, I envisioned the countless footsteps that had left their mark here—the adventurous seekers, the inquisitive spirits, the custodians of untold stories.

With a deep breath, I descended. The rungs were cool against my palms, and the darkness enveloped me. The walls, rough-hewn and ancient, whispered as I went deeper. The ladder seemed endless, each step taking me farther from the known world.

And then, a glimmer—a faint light below. My heart quickened. What awaited me? A forgotten library? A cache of parchment letters with wax seals from a royal edict? Or perhaps something more otherworldly—a portal to realms beyond?

As I turned on my flashlight, a beam of light pierced through the thick layer of dust, illuminating a hidden tunnel that seemed to defy all conventional plans and official records. This was no ordinary crawl space; it was a secret woven into the very fabric of the house.

The tunnel stretched ahead, its walls rough-hewn and damp. The air tasted of earth and anticipation. I wondered about its purpose—its forgotten architects. Had they burrowed with purpose or desperation? What lay at the tunnel’s terminus?

My thoughts were in a frenzy. The forms I signed excluded this hidden world, and the agent’s smile concealed the truth. Maybe the ghost orchestrated this revelation, or perhaps the house had shared its secrets with me so I could share them with you.

I moved forward, my footsteps echoing. The narrowing tunnel grazed my scalp. The walls had deep, jagged scratches as if someone had desperately clawed at them, seeking an escape. The darkness swallowed my flashlight’s beam, compelling me to keep going.

The tunnel twisted and disoriented. Had I crossed the property line? Did I enter forbidden territories? The ladder that was a hidden gateway led me here, now lost.

Lost in time, I contemplated the mansion above. Would Priscilla notice if I’m not there? Would she follow the same path out of curiosity or concern? Would she remain in blissful ignorance, oblivious to the underworld beneath her? Would the ghost contact her as well?

The tunnel’s end approached. I emerged into a cavern—a forgotten chamber. Shelves lined the walls, laden with artifacts—ancient scrolls, tarnished coins, and a compass that pointed nowhere. A map spread open—a cartographer’s fever dream, tracing ley lines and forgotten cities.

The haunting mark left by the wall shackles was a constant reminder of the horrors endured. Evelyn made sure I saw them, causing them to tremble as if they were still connected to someone.

I swallowed, feeling a wave of nausea as if last night’s dinner was threatening to resurface.

And there, etched into the stone floor, a message:

“Seeker, you’ve breached the veil. The house is more than wood and memories. It is a conduit—a bridge between worlds. Descend further if you dare. The answers await.”

I hesitated, my fingers tracing the inscription. The tunnel beckoned, its mouth yawning like a hungry beast. And so, with a deep breath, I stepped forward—the tunnel swallowing me whole. The mansion above receded, and the earth embraced me. The secrets—the ones not found in forms or blueprints—awaited.


Firelight flickered and cast long shadows on the faces of the crowd, creating a mesmerizing dance of light and darkness. Disoriented, I stood at the edge, feeling like a traveler lost in time. The air carried a distinct aroma of damp earth and wood smoke, mingled with a hint of something unsettling that triggered a feeling of fear.

Confusion washed over me as I tried to determine my whereabouts.

The scene unfolded like a forgotten page torn from history.

Stern and self-righteous men formed a tight circle around the woman. Their fingers were pointed accusingly, and their voices carried a harsh tone. Accusations hung heavy in the night air. She was no stranger to them—the poor woman with eyes wide as moons, her hands trembling with anxiety.

Whispers spread about her being a witch who dabbled in the dark arts.

I watched, my heart racing. The flames licked the darkness, revealing their anger, their ignorance. They believed her touch could curse crops, summon storms, and twist fate. Superstition clung to their souls like cobwebs. And she—the accused—stood defenseless, her fate sealed by their judgment.

But then it hit me—an icy realization. I wasn’t merely an observer. I was part of this tableau—a stranger in their midst. Hundreds of years separated us, yet here I stood, a time traveler caught in their web of suspicion.

“Oh, shit,” I whispered to no one. Clad in modern attire, my bewildered expression would undoubtedly set me apart from the rest. They’d see me as a sorcerer capable of summoning magic from mysterious realms. How do you think they would react?

The thought crossed my mind: Would they accuse me as well? Or worse, would they light their pyres, their flames dancing ominously in the darkness as a macabre welcome for my arrival?

If they saw me with my smartphone, capturing the scene with its camera, would they throw me into the flames alongside her?

The woman’s eyes met mine—a silent plea. She knew her fate, and perhaps she sensed my otherness. Did she see the future in my gaze? I wanted to help her—to tell her that time was a cruel mistress, that justice could be blind, and that fear transcended centuries.

But I was powerless. My phone, knowledge of science, and disbelief in magic were useless here. The firelight flickered, and the crowd closed in. Their voices rose—a cacophony of condemnation. I stepped back, my breath ragged.

And then it happened. The woman’s eyes flared—a spark of defiance. She mouthed something—a word or a curse. Her fingers traced symbols in the air, invisible sigils that defied their reality. Was she pleading for mercy or weaving her own magic?

I stumbled away, my mind reeling. The portal—the rift that had brought me here—was gone. I was trapped in this moment, this witch-hunt. The flames crackled, and the crowd surged forward. They would have their justice—their twisted version of it.

The firelight swallowed me, and I vanished from their history—a ghost among the accusers. The woman’s eyes haunted me—their plea, their defiance. And as the flames consumed her, I vowed to remember her—to carry her story through time.

I witnessed and participated in this tangled web of fear and prejudice. And the echoes of that night—the whispers of injustice—would linger, even across centuries.

A faint glimmer of light filtered down from above in the tunnel under the mansion, illuminating the ladder. Guided by voices from the past, I followed the tunnel and discovered a room where an unmistakable altar stood. The house’s owner, once a witch, had left remnants of a mystical past. Her influence led me to share her story with you, dear reader.

Once up the ladder, I slid the bench back into its original position, ensuring it aligned perfectly. Priscilla would never know of the hidden tunnel, the long, arduous journey, or the eerie presence of the ghost that had accompanied me these past few weeks.

I meticulously repaired Evelyn Bishop’s home, with the ghost standing by my side, ensuring every detail was restored to her liking.

The hits on my YouTube account surged—a curiosity-filled digital wildfire. Viewers, wide-eyed and eager, clamored for answers. They wondered: What sorcery conjured the realistic illusion of a witch aflame at the stake? Was it software, magic, or some unholy pact?

Evelyn—the phantom muse—had whispered her tale to me. This story reveals her secrets beneath this old house for you to understand.

During the wee hours, when the veil between worlds thinned, she would speak to me while dancing on the edge of memory. Her laughter—a haunting echo—reverberated through my thoughts.

She was more than pixels; she was a revenant, a specter yearning for vindication.

The witch trials—those fevered days in Salem Village—had scarred the pages of history. The spring of 1692 birthed hysteria, and young girls writhed in possession. Their screams echoed in the night, accusing women of witchcraft.

Evelyn, too, had danced with shadows. They accused her—the villagers, the zealots—of wielding forbidden magic. The devil’s pact, they whispered. The flames licked her skirts, and she defied them with a smile. Her laughter—a defiance of centuries—echoed.

But what of my YouTube illusion? The firelight, the screams, the pyre—crafted with digital sorcery. I stitched frames, conjured embers, and wove Evelyn’s story. The witch-burning—both real and imagined—merged in pixels. The viewers marveled, unaware that Evelyn’s ghost danced beside them.

And now, as the hits climbed, I wondered: Had I resurrected her or merely perpetuated her torment? The comments—praise, awe, suspicion—flooded my screen. They asked for secrets—the software, the incantations. But Evelyn’s laughter lingered, a reminder that illusions held fragments of truth.

I whispered to her in the quiet hours: “Evelyn, your story is told.” The flames—the real and the digital—flickered. She danced, ephemeral, and vanished into the pixels. The echo remained—a spectral applause, a requiem for the accused.

And so, as the YouTube algorithm churned, I vowed to honor her. Evelyn—the witch, the martyr, the illusion—would not fade. Her laughter would ripple through time, a beacon for those who sought truth beyond the veil.

So, my dear reader, when you read her story, remember: You’re not alone. Evelyn—the guardian, the watcher—knows the balance. She guards the house and keeps the darkness at bay. But she’s lonely.

Say her name. Invite her in. Share your world. And perhaps, just perhaps, you’ll find solace in her spectral company.

Much Love -Scott

April 21, 2024 02:13

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


William Mangieri
16:34 May 05, 2024

Intense. I kept wondering if you were going to wholy return to our world, or if we were reading a story delivered by some other means. Great atmosphere. I am curious - how did you manage to keep Priscilla from reading all this and following the path beneath the workbench, what with it going viral?


Scott Taylor
03:21 May 07, 2024

Priscilla is one of those who watches TV and never gets on the computer... She thinks it is witchcraft.. :) Thanks for the input.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Alexis Araneta
16:48 May 01, 2024

Hi, Scott ! This is stunning work. You gave us a riveting tale with a great twist. The voice you used is so brilliant. Amazing stuff !


Scott Taylor
18:29 May 02, 2024

Thanks so much!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Ed Wooten
21:08 Apr 29, 2024

Interesting, revitting, and neat twist.


Scott Taylor
22:48 Apr 29, 2024

Thanks, I am glad you liked it!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Darvico Ulmeli
12:57 Apr 26, 2024

Nice one. Very intriguing.


Scott Taylor
15:03 Apr 26, 2024

Thanks, Darvico! ... Have a great Weekend!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Trudy Jas
00:33 Apr 22, 2024

Wonderful! Haunting (and I don't mean Evelyn, but your voice). Amazing how your rhythm changes from tentative to breathless as the story/ discovery unfolds. A winner in my book, Scott. I'm not sure if they are left overs from re-writes/ edits. But you speculate on "caches of ribbon bound letters" twice (attic and basement) And I wonder if: The walls had scratches. Were they from nails .... would build tension more rather than "...probably from fingernails..." And: ..Perhaps the house had (only?) shared its secrets with me (or with me alo...


Scott Taylor
10:25 Apr 22, 2024

Thank you for the feedback. I am attempting different writing styles while working on my latest book, '1300 Feet per Second.' Yes, this story is complete fiction, just something that came to me in one of those dreams that wakes you up at 3 AM... -Best


Trudy Jas
11:07 Apr 22, 2024

LOL. I'm glad my 3am dreams are a little less haunting. Good luck with your book.


Scott Taylor
11:10 Apr 22, 2024

Thanks! I made those changes. I like this following paragraph much better... I moved forward, my footsteps echoing. The narrowing tunnel grazed my scalp. The walls were covered in deep, jagged scratches, as if someone had desperately clawed at them, seeking an escape. The darkness swallowed my flashlight’s beam, compelling me to keep going.


Trudy Jas
11:15 Apr 22, 2024

I agree. It flows much better.


Scott Taylor
11:49 Apr 22, 2024



Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.