Night Terrors Vol. 4: Short Horror Stories Anthology
Night Terrors Vol. 4: Short Horror Stories Anthology
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🗣 Narrated by Johnny Raven and Stephanie Shade
It knows what scares you…
A cursed mansion puts a curious house sitter’s free will to the ultimate test. An old polaroid camera holds a monster that yearns to be released. And two brothers encounter a demonic force in the caverns just beyond town…
Enter a dreamscape of supernatural terror with Scare Street’s latest collection. This diabolical volume contains fifteen terrifying tales of fear and horror. And each story pulls you deeper into the realm of perpetual night.
There’s something eerily familiar about the shadowy landscape you find yourself in. The crumbling old house on the hill, the pale fog rolling through the cemetery, the stone gargoyles perched above ancient tombs…you swear you’ve been here before.
But as your breath quickens and your heart beats faster, you realize this is no déjà vu. Something has pierced your consciousness and delved into your darkest nightmares. The spirits have brought your greatest fears to life.
And now, they’re hunting you through the darkness…
This bone-chilling supernatural collection contains:
1. Down the Stairs by Lewis Brett Smiler
2. Polaroid by Tim Sturk
3. Feline Instinct by Justin Boote
4. Mother Spook by Elin Olausson
5. Review: The Let of Dark by Benjamin Gardner
6. Satan's Harley by Brian Malachy Quinn
7. Shadows of Time by Bradley Walker
8. The White Suits by Richard Beauchamp
9. The Moaning Caverns by Karl Melton
10. The Thing in the Dark by Faith Pierce
11. This Time of Night by Bill Davidson
12. The Black Pumpkin by Mike Weitz
13. The Lightning Dwellers by Michael Maguire
14. The Detective by J. M. White
15. Reading a New Book by Ron Ripley
7 hours and 09 minutes
Down the Stairs
By Lewis Brett Smiler
Ever since Frank and Judy bought the old Victorian mansion, locals had been reminding them that their home was cursed. During the past century, the mansion had been owned by five different families, and they were all victims of burglary. Legend had it that the owners’ valuables would mysteriously disappear without any sign of a break-in. It was as if the mansion itself had swallowed up their belongings. Yet, Frank and Judy had owned the mansion for eleven years and never had one valuable disappear. Judy once lost her keys, and Frank would occasionally lose a sock, but nothing of great importance ever vanished. Frank often joked that he had broken the curse although the locals were not convinced. They continued to insist that anyone who lived in the mansion would sooner or later lose their most valuable treasures.
Frank and Judy would be spending two years in Japan on business. It would be two years away from their Queen Anne mansion, but they were not going to leave their home unsupervised. Steve, Frank’s best friend since fifth grade, agreed to stay there as the house sitter. He promised that nothing in the mansion would vanish under his watch, but Frank was not the least bit concerned. He and Judy had many wealthy friends whom they played golf and dined with. Yet, when it came to watching their valuables, there was nobody whom they trusted more than Steve. Shortly after moving into the mansion, Steve would hear continual reminders from the locals about its supposed curse. He could not help feeling amused as his life already seemed cursed. The 45-year-old was laid off from his job, his wife had abandoned him, his young daughter barely knew who he was, and his bills were piling up. What could the mansion take from Steve? He had already lost everything that was important. Well, almost everything. He still had his friends Frank and Judy.
The couple offered to pay Steve to watch the mansion, but he would not hear of it. As bad as his finances were, he still had his pride. Frank and Judy were the ones doing him the big favor by letting him stay in their home rent-free. Steve told himself that this arrangement was only temporary. Sooner or later, he would have a job again and get back on his feet. The important thing was to be persistent and not give up. Steve was still the master of his own destiny, and no economic forces were going to bring him down.
After spending a few months in the mansion, Steve was feeling very frustrated. Try as he might, he was unable to find a new job. He had sent his résumé out to several employers, but he was lucky to get even one interview. Always supportive, Frank regularly called to check on him. He would ask Steve if he had witnessed any supernatural activity yet, but the question was obviously in jest. At times, Steve wished that the home really were haunted. It would offer some relief from the daily monotony. There was an old sycamore tree in the backyard. One of the neighbors had informed Steve that the tree looked to be dying, and there was a risk it might fall. After consulting with Frank and Judy, Steve contacted a tree service to have the sycamore removed. For one day, Steve had a little excitement watching the tree specialists at work. However, he knew that once they were done, his boring life would resume. At least that was what Steve was expecting.
One of the workers found a wooden box buried near the roots of the tree. Steve opened the box and found a key inside it. It was a vintage key, probably dating back to when the mansion was first built. How long was it buried in the yard? What was it for? Judy had mentioned that many of the mansion’s original locks had been replaced over the years. The key could easily have been for a lock that no longer existed. Steve assumed that was probably the case. Nevertheless, there might still be a few original locks left in the mansion. Steve tried the key in every single lock but to no avail. Why was he wasting his time? Still, he could not help feeling intrigued by the key. Why did someone bury it in the backyard? Was there something the person was trying to hide?
Steve then remembered that there was an old wooden door in the basement that he never saw open. It was in a remote corner, very easy to miss. He had always assumed it was a closet, but he did not know for certain. Could the key possibly match the lock for that door? Steve had nothing to lose by trying. He walked down the basement stairs, passed the billiard room, and went down a dark hallway. Steve placed the key into the keyhole and, much to his surprise, it actually fit. Opening the door, he was amazed to see a large empty room behind it. Were Frank and Judy aware that the room existed? He could not see them putting such a large space to waste.
There was an opening at the other end of the room to the right side. Steve walked over and saw ten steps leading down. Was there another level underneath the basement? Getting a flashlight, Steve walked down the stairs to find another large room that seemed identical to the room he was just in. There was another stairway on the right side leading further down. Were there two levels under the basement? Steve walked down the next flight leading to yet another identical room. There were still more stairs going even further down. This was unbelievable. How many levels were there underneath the mansion? Did Frank and Judy know anything about this? Steve could not wait to call them. As he started heading back up the stairs, he began to feel a little dizzy and suspected that his blood sugar might be getting low. He sat down on the step, pulled a mint from his pocket, and tossed it into his mouth. Steve had diabetes and would never go anywhere without his trusty mints. They were genuine lifesavers. He soon felt better and continued up the stairs to the basement. He had no idea how Frank and Judy would react to his new discovery.
It was 7:00 AM at the mansion and 8:00 PM in Japan. Steve tried calling Frank and Judy, but there was no answer. He tried again a half-hour later and still could not reach them. No problem. Frank would be calling Steve next week to check up on him, and they could discuss the mansion’s secrets then. In the meantime, Steve was eager to do more exploring. What else would he find under the mansion basement? There must be something interesting down there. Why else would someone bury the key to the stairs? Steve tried not to get too excited. There might not be anything to see except empty rooms.
Steve unlocked the wooden door in the basement again and ventured down the first flight of stairs. He noticed that the room below had a wooden door with the same design. How had he missed it before? It was on the opposite side of the room from the stairs. Steve tried opening the door, but it was locked. No problem. He was able to unlock the door with the same key he had used for the door above. There was a hallway on the other side, and Steve could hear men’s voices conversing only a short distance away. How could that be? Were there people under the mansion that he was unaware of? It was hard to believe. Even more puzzling, one of the voices sounded like Frank’s.
Following the voices, Steve was shocked to find a billiard room that looked identical to the one in the basement. Peeking out from behind the doorframe, he watched in amazement as Frank and his friends were there enjoying a game of pool. How was that possible? Frank was supposed to be in Japan. There was no way he could have come back without Steve knowing. Why was Pete there laughing with Frank? Steve was certain that the two of them now hated each other. Worst of all, how could Ron possibly be there playing pool? Steve vividly remembered his funeral a few years ago. He continued to look at Ron carefully, wondering if he was seeing correctly. This pool game could not possibly be real. Was this a figment of Steve’s imagination? No, his imagination could not conjure up anything this elaborate.
He saw that Pete was walking toward his direction. Feeling frightened, Steve quickly walked down the hallway and returned to the stairs. He knew that low blood sugar could impact his behavior, but he had never had a hallucination before. What happened just now was downright bizarre. Steve headed back up to the mansion basement, which was more familiar territory, and locked the wooden door behind him. Everything was starting to seem normal again. Steve hoped that things would stay that way. He was not going to say a word to anyone about the floors beneath the basement.
For the next several days, Steve kept himself occupied helping a neighbor with her garden. He also spent plenty of time at the public library chatting with anyone who happened to hang out there. Perhaps he would start volunteering. It was important to stay social and not get cooped up in that lonely mansion. Whenever there was a fantasy show on television, Steve was quick to change the channel. He wanted to stay in reality at all times. It was the only way he would ever be able to hold a job or see more of his daughter. It was the only way Steve would ever stay in control of his own life. Yet, no matter how hard he tried, he could not forget that pool game below the basement. He could not forget the sight of Ron talking, laughing, and being very much alive. Something was definitely wrong.
Steve walked down to the basement and unlocked the wooden door. There was still an empty room with stairs leading down to a lower level. He ventured down those stairs to another empty room with another wooden door. There were also more stairs leading further down. Should he continue down the stairs, or should he open that second wooden door again? He noticed that he had left it unlocked from his last visit.
After a brief hesitation, he decided to open the door and see what he would find this time. Much to Steve’s relief, it was quiet on the other side. There was still a billiard room, but there was nobody playing pool. There was no Frank, no Pete, and certainly no Ron around. The idea of Ron’s ghost haunting the mansion was too much to accept. Steve tried to be thankful for small blessings, but things still did not make sense. He could not understand why the basement and the floor below it had identical billiard rooms. As he continued to explore the sub-basement, he realized that it was a perfect replica of the basement above. The room layout was identical, and the furnishings were very similar. Steve was astounded to find a washer and dryer in the exact same spot. Even the laundry detergent was stored in the same place. Once again, Steve was starting to feel a bit scared. He spotted a stairway leading up, identical to the basement stairs. Where would those stairs take him? They probably went up to the basement as it was one level above. Steve followed the stairs up, but, to his surprise, he was back on the first floor of the mansion. How did he skip an entire level? Steve ventured into the living room, hoping things would be normal, but something did not seem right. The living room furniture was not arranged the way Steve remembered it. He was sure of that. The television and one of the armchairs were different, and the coffee table seemed less cluttered than before. Was he having another hallucination?
He walked into the kitchen and noticed a different light fixture on the ceiling. His trusty jar of sugar mints was nowhere to be found. Steve struggled not to panic. He looked out the window and saw an old sycamore tree in the backyard. That tree was removed only a short time ago! Today’s date was June 3, 2007. Yet, there was a calendar hanging on the kitchen wall for June 1997. Steve looked at the newspapers on the kitchen table. They were also dated for June 1997. A ridiculous thought made its way into Steve’s head. Did he actually travel back in time?
Steve continued to explore the mysterious stairways leading down from the mansion basement. It seemed that instead of going from one floor to another, they went from one decade to another. The first flight of stairs brought Steve from the 2007 basement to the 1997 basement. Frank and Judy had only recently purchased the mansion, and their friend Ron was still alive to play pool. The second flight of stairs transported Steve from the 1997 basement to the 1987 basement. He would see what the mansion looked like with different owners, different furnishings, and different carpeting. Another flight of stairs brought Steve to the year 1977. There were more drastic changes to the décor. It was all so fascinating.
Steve noticed a television in the 1977 living room with a dial and no remote. When was the last time he had seen a television like that? Steve was about to turn it on, but then he heard a car pulling into the driveway. He scurried into the basement, not wanting to be seen. Now that the mansion had different owners, Steve was no longer a welcome houseguest. He did not want to think about what would happen if the police arrested him.
He ventured up the stairs back to 2007, still struggling to make sense of his recent discovery. He could not understand how time travel was possible. As much as Steve tried to find a suitable explanation, nothing would come to mind. All he knew was that each flight of stairs transported him exactly ten years back in time, not one day more nor one day less. It seemed that the only way to open the wooden door and access the stairs was with that special key that had been buried in the backyard. No matter which decade he stopped in, that same key would unlock the wooden door from either side. Were there any other keys like it, or did Steve have the only one? How could he find out? Steve would not say a word about any of this to Frank and Judy as they would never believe him. For Frank, the idea that the mansion was enchanted was nothing more than a joke. Traveling through time in a Queen Anne basement was beyond crazy. Yet, Steve knew what he had seen, and there was no way he could deny it. He also began to realize how he could use time travel.
Ever since Steve moved into the mansion, he had always wanted to do something special for Frank and Judy. The perfect opportunity had now come. The couple had always dreamed of restoring their old home to its original 1887 appearance, but they were too busy to do the research. Yet, with time travel, Steve could easily research the mansion’s history for them. He was going to travel back to the year 1887 and take color photos of the mansion in its prime. The photos would capture the mansion’s original wooden siding, Victorian colors, front porch, and all its original charm. There was no finer gift that Steve could give his friends. Of course, he would have to explain to them how he had obtained those great photos. That would be another problem for another day. He could not recall the last time he had felt so empowered.
Steve picked up his digital camera and unlocked the wooden door in the basement. For the first time, he noticed that there were no stairs leading up beyond the year 2007. It was possible to visit the past but not the future. Perhaps it was because the future was not yet written. Steve hoped that was the case.
He began his long walk down the stairs to the year 1887. Since every flight was ten years, he needed to walk down a total of twelve flights. He wished that there were a sofa on the way where he could rest, but that was not to be. Regardless of which decade Steve went through, the room by the stairs was always completely empty without even a chair to sit on. There was no evidence that any of the mansion’s previous owners had ever used the room. Probably none of them had a key to get in.
Steve counted each flight of stairs as he went down, but it turned out not to be necessary. Once he had reached 1887, there were no stairs leading down any further. That made sense as the mansion did not exist before 1887. Steve could not believe that he was now setting foot in the 19th century. His grandparents were probably not born yet. Unlocking that familiar wooden door, Steve excitedly made his way from the basement to the living room. The Victorian furniture was a sight to see. Steve felt like he was in one of those house museums except that there were no ropes to block off the furniture from being touched. Judy had often said that a Queen Anne mansion was a work of art and should never be contaminated with modern blandness. She and Frank would finally have a chance to see their home in all its original glory.
Steve could not resist taking pictures of all the beautiful furniture and antiques in the living room. After photographing a hand-carved Victorian lamp, he started hearing voices from the second floor. Steve scurried back into the basement again. He had to remember that he was trespassing in someone else’s home and could not risk being discovered. Perhaps it would be best to save his photography for Sunday morning when people were at church. Nobody would catch Steve then. He could not imagine what would happen if someone in 1887 saw his digital camera. As he was proceeding up the stairs to 2007, the image of the hand-carved lamp remained lodged in his head. If he brought the lamp back with him, he could sell it for a few hundred dollars. He could definitely use the money. It made him uneasy, but then he realized that nobody in 2007 would know or care who owned the lamp over a century ago.
Steve returned to the 1887 living room late that night and took two lamps and a bronze mantle clock. All the residents were fast asleep and unaware of his presence. He carefully carried the antique treasures down to the basement and into the secret room, placing them on the floor directly by the stairway. Steve was about to go back to the living room to check out more antiques, but he was starting to feel dizzy. He felt better after helping himself to another mint only to realize a new problem. How was he going to carry those heavy items up twelve flights of stairs? It would be a challenge for younger, stronger men in better shape. Perhaps it would be best to resolve the issue when he was more alert. He could leave the antiques in the secret room now and come back for them later.
Steve walked up one flight of stairs to the year 1897. Much to his delight, the three antiques were still on the floor exactly where he had left them. He walked up another flight of stairs to the year 1907. The items were still untouched. They remained in the same spot in 1917 and 1927. The reason seemed clear. Nobody else but Steve had a key to access that room. How else could these priceless antiques stay untouched for multiple decades?
As Steve continued to look over the lamps and clock, more questions started to bother him. According to legend, items were mysteriously disappearing from the mansion without explanation. It suddenly dawned on Steve that his actions just now might have caused that legend. Were all the stories he had heard about the mansion his own doing? Did his actions have an impact before he even performed them? These thoughts made him tremble.
Steve tried to assure himself that his actions had not been predetermined. He had discovered time travel and he was deciding how to use it. Nobody else was deciding for him. Nobody else was telling him what to do. But somebody else had to know about the magical stairs besides Steve. Whoever buried the key in the backyard had to have been aware. As Steve continued upward to 2007, the antiques remained in place exactly where he had left them. There was no evidence that anyone else was using the stairs or watching Steve. The following night, he headed back down to 1887 to collect more valuable pieces. The proceeds from the sales would go a long way toward paying the bills. Steve was starting to regain control over his life again.
Several days passed. The mansion’s one empty room was now filled to capacity with treasures that Steve was planning to sell. There were gold jewelry, silverware, chinaware, porcelain vases, Tiffany glass, musical instruments, and a box full of rare coins. During one of his visits to the past, Steve had helped himself to a mahogany rocking chair. By keeping it in his storage room, it allowed him a means to relax between stairways while he munched on his energy bars. It did not matter in which decade Steve visited the mansion as every owner had luxury goods. He had carefully tried to schedule his trips for when residents were sleeping or away from home. It was not always so easy. Since discovering time travel, Steve had had more than his fair share of scary experiences. However, there was nothing creepier than watching the 1997 pool game with Frank and his friends. The fact that Pete almost saw him remained very unsettling. Steve kept telling himself that nobody had seen him during any of his trips back in time, and nobody had known what he was doing.
He now had a large collection of merchandise to sell, and he could not believe how much money he was going to make. He would be able to spoil his daughter on her birthday, Christmas, and any other time he felt like it. What gifts could he buy for her? What trips could he take her on? These thoughts brought Steve so much joy, but there was still more work to be done. Where was he going to sell all this merchandise? Taking a break from time travel, Steve spent the next few days pondering the issue.
He decided to start by focusing on the jewelry as it was small and easy to transport. He knew a jewelry store in Philadelphia with a stellar reputation. Steve would bring the jewelry there and see how much they would offer. He went down to the basement, unlocked the wooden door, and loaded all the rings, necklaces, and earrings into bags. As he was about to bring the jewelry upstairs, something troubling caught his eye.
The hand-carved lamps that Steve had taken many days ago were missing. The same was true for the bronze mantle clock, box of rare coins, and a few other items from the collection. Steve was starting to panic. Had someone else found the secret room? He walked down one flight of stairs to the year 1997. The items were still missing. Somebody else clearly knew about the secret room and the stairs. How was that possible? Did someone else have a key besides Steve?
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