My grandfather was dying in his hospital bed, being close to 95 years old I could tell he was tired of life. He lived long enough to see his son and his grandson graduate college. He lived long enough to see his great grandson being born. I could tell he made peace in his life. Today I decided to see him to hear some of the great stories one last time. He lived through the great depression, a couple world wars, and through the civil rights movement. The man was a living history book and he didn’t hold back on the details either. This story however was the last one that ever escaped his lips.
“Back when I was a young boy in a small town in maine there have been tales about the stairs. If you’ve never heard of it well let me give you a quick rundown of what these stairs were. In deep forests all across the world stairs appeared randomly out of nowhere. No one knew where they came from and no two stairs looked alike. Some were made of all wood, others were wide and covered in carpet. Some were made out of stone while others were made out of metal. The style of the stairs varied greatly, some believed that some sort of time travel was involved. That these stairs were plucked out of their respective eras and dropped into our time maybe even further into the future. Even though there was multiple accounts of seeing the stairs in forests across the world, everyone knew to never go up the stairs. There were various stories told why to never go up the stairs. Some say when you reached the top step you were cut to pieces, others say you simply disappeared and were never heard from again, but I knew what really happened when you went up the stairs.
I was in the woods with my friend jacob, we were both 10 years old and jacob just came back from a funeral for his grandmother. She died of pneumonia and I knew jacob was hit hard. She always gave him candy whenever he came by and cookies that were amazing. Anyway, it was a hot summer day and jacob was wearing the typical black and white suit with a red bowtie made by his grandmother underneath his neck. He was looking sharp as his mother puts it. We played tag, hide and seek, pretending to be pirates fighting over treasure near the creek. We took a break at clearing talking about today, how he was doing dealing with everything. While he was explaining how it went, that’s when we heard it. A high pitched buzzing sound pierced our ear drums. We covered our ears and looked at each other. Jacob was mouthing something but even as close as we were i couldn’t hear a single word he said. As quickly as the sound came, it vanished without a trace as if someone just pressed the stop button on a cassette player.
We looked at each other with confusion, then back out to the clearing only to be greeted by the stairs. What we saw were maroon steps, two wide steps leading to a landing with four more steps heading up to the right. I knew there was nothing good to come from it and frankly, i was scared. I heard footsteps beginning to move and i looked to see jacob walking towards the steps. I called his name multiple times i tried grabbing his arm but he shook me off and pushed me to the ground. That’s when i had a good look in his eyes, they were dulled as if he was in a hypnotic state like he was controlled by something or someone. I couldn’t stop him, he made a beeline for the steps and walked all the way up to the second to last step. He stood there for a moment, I got up to charge after him but i was too late what i saw next horrified me. He took his next step and fell face first. I closed my eyes wincing, waiting to hear some type of dull thud or crack but nothing happend. I opened my eyes again to see some type of…creature. It was so hard to describe at the time it had no eyes, a pale face, indents on where its eyes shouldve been. It stood around jacob’s height maybe even taller. Skinny stick like arms that were past its knees. The smell of death wafted off the creature with waves and I covered my mouth to not only blocked the smell but to also prevent any puke to come up. The creature tilted its head in confusion and stepped closer I jumped back, fear was bubbling up before i even realized it i was running, I ran so far and so long until my legs felt like they were going to explode. I felt disorientated things were looking the same anymore, everywhere I looked, I kept seeing the thing that use to be my friend standing there the faint sound of buzzing growing louder and louder.
Until i reached all the way to my back yard where I was greeted by my parents and the police. I bursted into tears hugging my mom and dad. I tried to tell them there was a monster in the woods and about the stairs but no one believed me. Everyone thought it was just the ramblings of a scared child. Soon after I felt a rough hand on my shoulder, I was turned around meeting the eyes of jacob’s father. He was asking me desperately where his son was. I kept saying I don’t know. That the last time i saw him was on top of those stairs. He didn’t believe me, I could tell and was getting furious thinking that i was making up lies. Things were never the same after that. I grew a big fear of the woods that day, and for a while I could never go up a flight of stairs. What was even worse, jacob was still missing. The police combed the area only to find jacob’s red bowtie, there were no stairs in sight. I told my story over and over again to the police, to the therapist, even to jacob’s parents. Everyone thought I just made it up, but I knew what I saw. There was only two possibilities happening here, either jacob was somehow replaced by that thing or jacob…was that thing.”
I sat there dumbfounded for a moment, the heart monitor machine breaking the silence with its rhythmic beeping. I saw a tear flow down my grandfather’s cheek as he looked out the window. I didn’t know what to say. I could tell these weren’t his goofy campfire stories. This was from a dark time, and clearly he never found closure of what he experienced. I took a moment to think, a black and white suit, long arms, a pale face and a buzzing sound. It all added up to only one thing.
“You mean to tell me you saw the slen-”
“DONT SAY ITS NAME! NEVER SAY ITS NAME!” my grandfather commanded grabbing my shirt and looking at me in the eyes. I could see the fear and panic, even the name of the creature horrified him.
“Okay grandpa! I’m sorry!” i replied, he released his grip and sighed.
“It’s my fault, listen visiting hours are almost over, and my hours are almost up why not we take one more picture just you and me for the memories.” he asked with a small smile. I nodded in agreement and took out my phone. He made a goofy face as the last second of taking the photo and we laughed. We said our goodbyes soon after and I went home. I arrived just after sundown onto my gravel driveway and decided to look at my possibly last moments with my grandfather. I opened the gallery app and swiped through the sequence of smiling faces until something caught my eye. I zoomed in on the photo to the forest that was behind us. Whatever that thing was, whether it was my grandfather’s old friend or not. It looked like it was paying my grandfather one last visit.