The clanking and stomping didn't stop all night. Up the stairs, down the stairs - all she wanted was sleep.
She lay there imagining who, or what, could be making those noises.
Since Mr Parker had died a few weeks ago she hadn't seen anyone in the hallway, and there had been no noises from the apartment upstairs, until now.
Thump, bang, slam... thud umph, thud umph, thud umph. Like someone dragging something heavy down the stairs.
Maybe they were laying carpet, or moving in and that was the noise of the mattress being dragged up the staircase.
Mr Parker had been a quiet sort.
Unmarried, a stickler for a schedule. Up at 7am, down the stairs once and then off out to work. Home at 6pm, TV for a few hours and then the slow clump clump up the stairs, the weary meander of a worker at the end of day.
Twice a day she'd heard Parker move around... this racket has been going on all night.
Some people say why do I keep going?
Why does anyone keep going with anything? Habit!
They never asked me why I kept going at work after Laura. Never asked me what the point was then, and no one is asking me now either. I just keep walking these stairs after Coronation Street has finished.
Up, down, rinse and repeat. Breakfast, bus journey, work, home, ITV news, single bake pie. Walking the stairs after memories fade of something drifting in the back of my mind.
I can't sleep anymore, so I walk the stairs, then drift into the memories of the light. Wallow in those times before, and the expectations of all those people who pretended to love me.
"He comes with baggage, I'm not sure he's the type of guy you can trust to be honest babes."
" I don't really care at this point, I just need a date. It's been so long ya know."
"Yeah, I know. Well I'll text you his number, ok."
Thump, bang, slam... thud umph, thud umph, thud umph.
"OMG, this new neighbor is stomping about again. Listen, I'll call you back babes. I'm going to have to have word with these people. Yeah, text his number, laterz."
She clicked off her mobile, shook her head and walked to the door.
The hallway seemed to stretch away endlessly. Damp mold spotted the edges of the Victorian cladding as she vaulted up the stairs.
This freak had been banging about for the last three nights, and now they were going to get a piece of her mind. Fucking pikeys.
"Can you keep the fucking noise down,"
She slammed her fist on the door and it slowly swung open. Staring up the apartments staircase, she froze, paralyzed.
Fierce dead sunken eyes, glowing from pale flesh speckled with an aurora borealis of rotten mold-green. A flood of bile flowed up her throat as she tried to scream, but nothing came out other than the lightest gasp of air.
Mr Parker thumped down the stairs dragging his carrion cargo, his dead wife's face creasing into a broken smile with each 'thud umph' as her head hit the steps.
A death rattle escaped his mouth, slowly fading into breathy words as he stretched a mold-spotted arm out to her pleadingly.
"Why do I keep going?"
© Rowan Joyce, all rights reserved.
As this is a short story, I veered a little from the guidelines of publishing it unedited and spent some time editing the first draft - around thirty mins in all to double check sentence structure to make sure the plot/ideas were clear. All of the prompt sentences are highlighted in bold. I hope you enjoyed reading this story about the haunting of a moldy staircase.
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