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I moved from my childhood home at nineteen years old, just after I’d finished my A Levels and into a flat in a very old building. I should say that I didn’t see the flat in advance. I was moving in with people I knew in a different part of the country and it was only supposed to be a temporary situation while I got sorted. I hated the place from the start. The hallway and stairs hadn’t been changed at all since the building was built and the lights never worked properly, so you might be walking along quite happily and suddenly be plunged into darkness. The hall was dark and very creepy; the sort of place you’d see in a horror movie, but nothing strange happened for a while.
If you stood with your back to the front door then you would be facing the back door on the opposite end of the hall. Under the stairs there were two cupboards, each about as large as your average box room. They belonged to the two flats on the ground floor. One was always open and filled with a load of random worthless junk, but the one closest to the garden always had a really hefty padlock on it. I confess that from the beginning I was quite glad that it was locked. There was a small glass window at the top of the door that looked out onto the hall and every time I had to pass it I’d feel very uncomfortable.
One day I came downstairs to find the front and back doors wide open and both cupboards were unlocked, the padlock gone. The locks were changed on the front and back doors as a precaution, but the cupboard was left open from then on. That’s when the atmosphere changed really from creepy to terrifying. Even in the middle of the day I would hate walking through the hallway; it felt like someone was watching you. When it was dark it was ten times worse. The lights next to the back door just stopped working altogether and that end of the hall was black and gloomy even during the day. Occasionally we would find dusty footprints along the hallway leading from the cupboard, but most people assumed it was the person in the ground floor flat storing things in his cupboard. The only thing that was really weird was that each footprint was preceded by a pair of hand prints as though someone was walking on all fours.
One particular night I was late getting home. It was probably about eleven pm when I stepped into the hallway. The lights started flickering straight away and I knew they were going to go out soon and leave me stood there in the dark. I headed for the stairs and started going up as quickly as possible. That was when I heard footsteps behind me. I turned around and there was no one there, but even as I looked I heard another stair creak, this time a lot closer. Those stairs never creaked randomly, only when someone stood on them.
I ran up the stairs like some sort of Olympic athlete, albeit far less graceful. I felt like someone was chasing me every step of the way until I locked my flat door behind me. A few minutes later I heard the steps creak again, as though someone was going downstairs. It could have been a neighbour of course, but I didn’t hear any doors open or close in the building and it was quiet enough that I should have.
I started having nightmares, which was probably to be expected. In them someone would be walking up the stairs and something very white and bloated would slink behind them on all fours, creeping after them. Around this time most people in the building moved out. I have no idea whether it was a coincidence, but I know the people downstairs broke their lease as the landlord told me. This meant that at this point there were only two occupied flats in the whole building and one of them was mine. The other belonged to the person who owned the cupboard which had previously been locked. He was an oil worker, so was hardly ever at home. I think he worked something like four weeks on, four weeks off, but am not sure as he kept to himself.
On the worst night of all I was the only one in the whole building as the people I lived with were staying with their parents over the summer holidays (they were students). I had been out with other friends, but came home quite early. It was around eight o clock, so still light and I got upstairs without any real issue. I was watching a movie at around one am when I heard the stairs creaking like someone was trying to quietly climb them. There was always the possibility that someone had broken into the building as most of the flats were empty so I turned down the sound on my movie and listened. There was no more sound at all so after about ten minutes I grabbed a baseball bat and went downstairs. The front and back door were locked and there was no sign anyone had broken in.
In order to check the back door I had to shine a torch towards the cupboard as the lights there didn’t work and I thought that’d be a great place for a burglar to hide. There was no one there, but as the light hit the cupboard there was a loud bang, like someone hitting the wall. I could see no one was in the cupboard at the time. As most people would, I ran up the stairs and yet again, felt like someone was chasing me. For the rest of the night I kept hearing creaking steps and occasional scrabbling at my door. I only had the courage to peek once out of the window in the top of the door and there was no one there; the scrabbling stopped the second I looked.
I moved out not long after, half convinced I was going mad. I found out afterwards that friends who had visited me while I’d lived there used to run up and down the stairs because they also felt like someone or something was chasing them. I didn’t even ask them about it, they mentioned it in an embarrassed, aren’t I stupid, way. One friend had refused to come at all after the first time, saying that the buses were terrible because she couldn’t face it again. Without prompting all of them mentioned the cupboard underneath the stairs. The people I lived with also confessed that they thought the building was haunted, but had never said anything as it tended to put flatmates off. You think?
I did some research into the building, but couldn’t find out much. I know the flats beside mine had been bombed during the war and a lot of people killed, but that was all I discovered. I am in touch with someone who still lives in that area and she told me there is a very high turnover of residents, to let or for sale signs are frequently seen in the windows. I’d be interested to go back one day and see if I still felt the same atmosphere now that I’ve learned a lot more about the supernatural. All I can say for definite is that if there was a ghost in that building then it was a malevolent one that liked frightening people.
Tl;dr: Ghosts helped me keep fit.
Story credit: Anonymous.