Bumps and Thumps
Edmund creeps back up the stairs, his encounter with Mary’s shadow still chilling his body and clenching his soul. The staircase creaks with every step back to the second floor.
On the second-floor landing, the blackness is absolute. The hallway has no windows. The two bedroom doors across the hall are closed. On the wall to Edmund’s left is the doorway to his study, also closed. To his right are the stairs leading to the third floor, the thought of which makes Edmund shiver. The hallway is normally grim. Now, in the middle of the pitch dark of night, with the ceiling light turned off, the hallway appears to be a chamber filled with nothingness.
A small beam of light streams out from underneath the bathroom door. The door is dark, like a hole in the wall, but there are lines of yellow-white light around the edges, outlining the doorframe.
Edmund slowly crosses the hall and gently places his hand on the small table against the wall between the two bedroom doors.
CLUNK! A striking noise emanates from behind the bathroom door.
Edmund stares at the closed door, daring it to make another sound.
Abruptly, the light changes. There is a shift in the darkness of the hallway—a shadow passes behind the door and across the light seeping from underneath.
Edmund moves his hand slowly along the table edge and steps forward.
CLUNK! CLUNK! Two repeated sounds chasing each other. Quick strikes and then silence. Then faint splashing sounds.
Startled, Edmund’s hand slips, knocking over something on the table. He scrambles to catch it.
The shadow in the bathroom moves again. Did it hear my approach?
Keeping his eyes on the bottom of the bathroom door, Edmund grabs the picture frame and puts it back.
The light continues to drift out from under the door of the bathroom. Edmund waits, leaning slightly against the table. He licks his lips. The air doesn’t taste right.
Edmund tries to take another step but his body is numb.
He forces himself to breathe.
He begins to perspire. The light under the door shifts some more.
Edmund tries to move his foot, willing his body to obey his commands. He grits his teeth.
Stepping forward, Edmund is just a few feet away from the door.
CLUNK! The sound is even louder.
Deafening. The sound clashes and echoes through his bones. The banging from the other side of the door feels inhuman. Then there is a light sound of water splashing on a tile floor. The light shifts once more. Edmund clenches his hands into fists. There is nothing to fear. There is always a reasonable explanation—isn’t there?
Edmund lifts his foot, his weight shifting forward. He is now an arm’s reach from the door.
“Squelch.” A sharp squishing sound.
Edmund’s bare foot lands on the soaked rug. He looks down and sees water gradually leaking out from under the door.
CLUNK! CLUNK! The noise vibrates the air and the puddle under the door shimmers.
CLUNK! Once more the sound reaches out and shifts the air around the door. The light moves, the puddle shimmers.
Then, without warning, CRAAANG! Edmund leaps back from the sudden noise.
Reaching out, he slowly turns the knob.
[To be continued in Ghosts of Manor House by Matt Powers]