Shadows On The Stairs

Submitted into Contest #92 in response to: Set your story in a countryside house that’s filled with shadows.... view prompt


Drama Contemporary Suspense

Shadows On The Stairs—George Davis

  At noon, we arrived at Hickory Manor in the western hills of Maine in the small town of Cumberland Falls. The realtor said the manor was, as some say, haunted. This excited me. I remembered the old TV series, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Captain Gregg haunted the home but became a member of the family. 

  The dark ominous clouds hung over the large Victorian home like a funeral shroud. The scene was akin to a 40s horror movie, only the lightning and thunder were missing.

  As our party walked up the rickety steps to the front porch, I heard some heavy breathing and a couple of shrieks, not from a ghost, from a member of our party. “What was that?” Mary Fielding said, grabbing me by the arm and pulling me nearly off the porch.

  Opening the creaking door only added to the mystery of Hickory Manor. After all, we were on a ghost hunt. Oh, we aren’t professional ghost-hunters. We are a bunch of those interested in the supernatural, or some, like myself, are here to debunk this ghostly nonsense.

  “Come on, folks, move along now,” Sheila Carrigan, our tour leader said.

  “Boy, this is scary,” Nelson Smith said, holding tight to Miss Carrigan’s sleeve.

  The inside of the house with its cobwebs hanging from the light fixtures, and living room furniture for effect. The large framed picture of Stanford Archer the Third, the Hickory Manor’s builder was hung on the wall leading to the second floor. Sanford’s eyes followed one wherever one moved. It was an eerie sight.

  The long curving staircase winds upward and seems to disappear at the top. 

  The mahogany balustrade is polished to a high shine with a global orb newell post at its end. A common construction in the Victorian era.

  “I am not going up those stairs,” Mary said. “You couldn’t pay me enough to go up there. I’ll stay down here and wait for you all.” 

“Oh, come on, Mary. I’ll protect you,” I said. “Stick close to me.” 

“No way. If there is a ghost up there. You all can talk with them. I’m not moving from this spot,” she said as she sat in an overstuffed Morris chair in the living room.  

  “What’s that over in the corner?” Mary said to herself. “It’s a dark shadow. It is moving toward me.” As the shadow moved closer. Mary jumped up from her seat and ran upstairs to join the rest of the tour.

  Nelson Smith, now over his fear, chuckled. “What’s the matter, Mary, have you seen a ghost?”

  “I don’t want to talk about it, Nelson. And, besides I remember you downstairs, grasping Miss Carrigan’s blouse with fright.”

  “I wasn’t afraid, Mary. I was…just trying to help guide Miss Carrigan.”

  “Oh sure, Nelson. I suppose that shaking was my imagination.”

  “It was cold in here. After all. I am not an Eskimo.”

  When the tour got to one of the bedrooms, a dark shadow covered one wall. It appeared to be the shadow of a large skeleton; its ribs showing, and an outline of a human skull.

  “Wha…wha’s that?” Nelson said. Answering himself, he said, “It looks like a…skel…eton.” 

  Miss Carrigan said, “There is nothing to be afraid of here. That shadow is…” Before she could finish her answer, she fainted. 

  “Quick, someone help her,” Nelson said. 

  “I’ve had two hours of rescue training. Let me help her,” Mary said. She bent over the frail figure of Sheila Carrigan. “She’s breathing, and she’s got a pulse, a good strong one at that.” 

  “Where am I?” Carrigan said, sitting up.

  “You’re in Hickory Manor, Miss Carrigan,” Nelson said. “You fainted.”

  “I did? I fainted from what? I am in very good shape. I exercise every day. I run two miles every morning before breakfast.”

  “It was that skeleton’s shadow. You saw it and fainted,” Mary said. 

  The tour over. Two men emerged from a closet on the second floor. “The people certainly got their money’s worth, Joe Green said to his accomplice, Mike Ranagan. We scared another bunch of fun-seekers.” 

  “Let’s have a little lunch now, Mike,” Joe said. “My wife packed me a bologna sandwich. I swear if they ever stopped making that lunch meat, my wife would curl up and die. Bologna, bologna, that’s all she ever feeds me.” 

  “You should complain,” Mike said. “I ain’t got a wife. I have to make my own sandwiches. I’m tired of cold cuts myself. So, today I brought a roast beef on rye with a dill pickle and a Twinkie for dessert.” 

  “I should live so.” This is Joe’s favorite expression. He never adds ‘long’ to his quote, and that drives poor Mike up a pole. 

  While the two were eating their lunches, a noise came from upstairs.  “What’s that?” Mike asked. 

  “Sounds like something fell over. Go up and see what it is.” 

  Mike said, “Why me? I always have to be the one who goes into the unknown to find the known.” 

  “Because, I’m the boss, that’s why.” 

  “You ain’t my boss. Miss Carrigan is.” 

  “Well, do you see, Sheila anywhere around here?” 


  “Then I am the boss when she’s not here. Now go upstairs and see what made that noise.”

  Mike crept slowly up the stairs. Not anxious to reach the top, he took one step at a time.

  When Mike entered the first bedroom, he didn’t see anything out of the way. The second bedroom, the same. When he opened the door to the third room, he jumped back. There sitting on the edge of the four-poster was a stranger wearing…an invisible suit. Mike later explained it this way. “I could see right through him. He didn’t seem to have a physical body.”

  Joe, staring at his sidekick saw the terror in his eyes. “What’d you find, Mike?” He related his story to his partner. Joe didn’t believe him.

  “Are you two going to sit around here all day?” The voice came from the living room. Curious, the two peeked around the corner of the doorway. 

  “Well?” It was the invisible…ghost. He was now in human form and no longer invisible.

  “Who are you?” They asked in unison. 

  “I am the owner of this home. My name is Stanford Archer the Third.” 

  “You can’t be the owner. Our club owns this property.” 

  “What’s the name of your club?” 

  “It is the Hickory Manor Ghost Tours.” 

  “Well, it looks like you folks are about to be tossed out on your ears. I will have no mortals occupying my mansion. Now leave.” He pointed to the front door. Joe and Mike didn’t waste any time. They both jumped up and ran out the front door, and down the steep knoll in the side yard. 

  “Miss Carrigan, I quit,” Joe said. “That place is haunted.” 

  “Oh, nonsense, Joseph. That’s a tale I started to increase our business. You see. People like to tour old Victorian mansions that are ‘haunted.’” 

  “No, Miss Carrigan. We saw the ghost of Stanford Archer the Third. He told us to scram, and we didn’t waste any time leaving that place. I am not going to return there. I am finished with all this ghost stuff.”

  “Joe’s right, Miss Carrigan. We saw him all right. First he appeared to be semi-invisible. I mean, I could see right through him. Then later, he appeared as life-like as you or I,” Mike declared.

  “You two must be on something. There is no ghost in Hickory Manor. I’ve taken tours through there for nearly eight months and the only scary thing in that house is you two paid specters. 

  “Miss Carrigan,” Joe said. “You and I know Mike tends to be a little…you know, soft in the old beany.”

  “I’d say, you weren’t far behind him, Joe.”

  “I was gonna say, Miss Carrigan. We both saw, and talked to that Stanford Archer the Third. He was a ghost all right, no question in my mind. And, I am quitting right now. You can hire someone else to do your scaring. Old Archer will do it for free. However, I wouldn’t want to be there when you tell him you’re going to continue your tours through his house.”

  Sheila Carrigan drove out to Hickory Manor. It was during a thunderstorm. 

I wouldn’t give her ten cents to go with her. She will soon find out just how haunted that place is.

  Maybe Sheila Carrigan could have debunked the idea of a ghost inhabiting Hickory Manor. However, Sheila Carrigan was never heard from again, that day to this. She entered the manor, but never came out.

  Did she encounter the ghost of Stanford Archer the Third. Maybe she joined him, or maybe he frightened her to death and he buried her in the ten acres behind the manor house. We may never know. But whether you believe in ghosts or not. One thing remains, Miss Carrigan, the stalwart leader of the Hickory Manor Ghost Tours, vanished without a trace.

May 04, 2021 11:49

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


RBE | We made a writing app for you (photo) | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.