The Lodger – Short Horror Story

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September 23rd, 1924

I arrived at the boarding house, Hambleton Lodge, in the early evening.

The very agreeable landlady, Mrs Harlow, met me at the entrance. She asked me to sign in the ledger and I at once complied, noticing only a couple of names had signed in before me that day.

I informed her that, due to my unforeseen travel delay, I would likely need to stay another night. Her warm features suddenly grew cold, an inviting demeanour immediately became distant. ‘You can’t sir, we haven’t the room.’

Finding peace in security and in desperate need of a roof for the night I offered her double, knowing full well Hambleton Lodge needed the money. She begrudgingly accepted my offer. ‘You’ll be up there tomorrow night, sir’ she nodded towards the next flight of stairs which ended in a doorway to the attic. ‘I’ll make sure it's ready’

Before she turned the corner she stole a worried glance at me and took her leave.

September 24th, 1924

I concluded business in the late afternoon and retired back to my attic lodging as quickly as was socially acceptable, exhaustion having crept its way through my body all day.

I had not had a restful night's sleep. First it was the scratching noise – a hollow scraping of wood being lightly but repeatedly made in the ceiling above my bed. Though unnerving at first, as the fog of sleep cleared I concluded it must be mice.

Having drifted off I awoke again suddenly to the heavy sound of footsteps above me. Pacing above me with purpose, I could not get to sleep. It must have been Mrs Harlow, I thought, but it was an uncommon time to be doing housework.

Whatever her reasoning for her late night meandering, my room is in good condition. An open space with few pieces of furniture including a large locked wardrobe, writing desk and a comfortable bed that now beckons me.

October 10th, 1924

I write from the safety of distance.

I woke that night to the sound of footsteps.

I sat up in bed, met by nothing but darkness.

The footsteps continued, coming from just beyond my vision in the hollow darkness beyond the end of the bed.

‘Hello?’

The footsteps stopped.

Effeminate laughter creeped through the dark, followed by a whispered challenge.

‘You can’t find me.’

My nerves having taken more than they could bare, I rushed to gather my belongings and get out of there.

As I scooped everything in my arms and headed towards the door I saw it in my peripheral. The wardrobe door was now opened ajar.

An inhumanly broad smile and manic, glassy eyes shone in the dark of the wardrobe. It giggled, ‘You did it!’.

I stared, transfixed with horror.

‘My turn.’

Its damp, skeletally pale arm appeared from the depths of the wardrobe. The wardrobe door creaked slowly open, its face growing with glee.

I ran. The creatures' screams wake me still.

submitted by /u/ColdPenguinTime
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