The following is a guest post by Ryan Reid. Ryan is earning an MSW degree in the school of social work at Aurora University. He is an aspiring author working on a young-adult horror novel.
“Tell me a scary story, Grandpa Seth,” Jeff Slater told his grandfather.
It was a snowy January night. Jeff and his grandfather were sitting in two rocking chairs facing each other next to the fireplace. The room was small, but cozy; and the fire blazing in the fireplace provided a warm, inviting glow despite the cold of the weather outside. Grandpa Seth rocked back and forth in his rocking chair, a smile on his face. “I don’t know, Jeff,” Grandpa Seth said. “You don’t want to have nightmares, do you?”
“Aww, grandpa, I won’t get scared,” Jeff replied.
Grandpa Seth sat in silence for a moment. “Your parents wouldn’t be happy with me if you were to have trouble sleeping,” Grandpa Seth said.
“I won’t tell them about it,” Jeff said.
After a few more seconds, Grandpa Seth said, “All right, but you need to promise you won’t tell your parents.”
“I promise,” Jeff said.
Grandpa Seth gazed into the roaring fire. “What I’m about to tell you is the scariest thing that ever happened to me,” Grandpa Seth said. “This is something that happened a long, long time ago. I wasn’t much older then than you are now. Back in those days, I lived with my parents in a small house in a quiet neighborhood. I had a happy childhood, and I had a lot of fun with my best friend, Andy Baker. In many ways, my childhood home was an ordinary, ranch-style home. However, there was something about it that was very strange: there was an odd door in the cellar.”
“What was weird about the cellar door?” Jeff asked.
“It’s difficult to describe. It looked like any ordinary door,” Grandpa Seth said. “It was made of light-brown wood with a metal knob. The first strange thing about the door was that it couldn’t be opened. My parents and I tried many times, but we could never open it ourselves. Also, whenever you’d get near the door, the temperature would seem to drop about twenty degrees. People always say that’s a sign of the presence of ghosts.”
“Was your house haunted, grandpa?” Jeff asked.
Grandpa Seth laughed. “No, I don’t think there were any ghosts in the house,” Grandpa Seth said. “What was there was worse.”
Jeff felt cold, despite the warmth of the fire. “What else?” Jeff asked.
“Sometimes, when you’d be around the door you could smell cat pee; and we never owned a cat. There were times when I’d be standing near the door, and I’d feel like someone, or something, was watching me out of the corner of my eye,” Grandpa Seth said.
“That would scare me really bad,” Jeff said.
Grandpa Seth said, “It was very scary; I didn’t like to go down in the basement by myself. There was one particular day that I’ll never forget, even after all these years. It was the day my friend Andy disappeared forever.”
“Where’d he go?” Jeff asked.
“I’m not sure,” Grandpa Seth said. “I remember it was a hot, humid summer day. Andy and I had been playing in the backyard of my house. We couldn’t stay outside for very long, because it was so hot. Andy and I decided to go down in the coolest room in the house: the cellar. Now, that door in the cellar had always been closed whenever I had been in the room; but that day it was wide open. Andy and I were shocked.”
“I wonder what could’ve caused that,” Jeff said.
“I don’t know,” Grandpa Seth said. “Andy decided to go inside the room behind the door to see what it was like. I had a very bad feeling about the room. I remembered all the strange things that would occur around the door. I tried to convince Andy not to go in, but he wouldn’t listen. The room seemed like an ordinary space. It was about ten feet by ten feet. The walls were red brick; the floor was the same cement as found in the rest of the basement. There wasn’t any furniture or objects in the room. There weren’t any lights, and it was very dark. I could barely see anything.”
“Why do you think your friend wanted to go in the room?” Jeff asked.
“I’m not sure,” Grandpa said. “I guess he was just curious. I told him not to go in, but he went anyway. Andy had been telling me there was nothing to worry about, when the door suddenly slammed shut. I started banging on the door and trying to get in. I was so scared. I couldn’t hear any sounds from the other side of the door. It must’ve been soundproof. I imagined Andy yelling for help from the other side. After a few minutes, I went to get my parents.”
“I would’ve tried to chop the door down,” Jeff said.
“We did,” Grandpa Seth said. “My parents kept an axe in the tool shed in our backyard, and my Dad hit the cellar door over and over. That door had looked like it was made of ordinary wood, but nothing could break it. The axe didn’t even make a dent. The only thing I could think is that it was some kind of metal painted to look like wood. It was very odd. My parents tried everything they could to get the door opened: they tried to unscrew the hinges; they called a locksmith and had him try to open it; and many other things. Nothing worked.”
Jeff and Grandpa Seth were silent for several minutes. “What happened next?” Jeff asked.
“Days passed, and we were unable to get that cellar door open,” Grandpa Seth said. “I felt terrible. I felt like I had been responsible for Andy’s disappearance. My mother was constantly crying. Andy’s parents were in shock. His mother just about had a mental breakdown. Andy’s father didn’t fare much better. They moved away about a year after Andy vanished. The neighborhood was never the same.”
“I’m so sorry, Grandpa,” Jeff said.
“It’s all right,” Grandpa Seth said. “That was about seventy years ago.”
“What do you think happened to Andy?” Jeff asked.
“I’ve thought about that many times over the years,” Grandpa Seth said. “Maybe that room was a gateway to another time or place; maybe it was some kind of death trap; maybe it was an alien experiment. I honestly can’t say. Questions such as these have haunted my dreams.”
“Did that door in the cellar ever open again?” Jeff asked.
“It did,” Grandpa Seth replied. “It was years after Andy disappeared. I must’ve been seventeen then. I had gone down into the cellar to get a tool for my father. That cellar door was standing wide open. The area around the door reeked of cat pee. I was really afraid. It was like the door was beckoning me to enter the room. I just stared into the room beyond the door for several minutes. There was still nothing inside the room. I resisted going in, though. After that, I never saw that door open ever again.”
“What happened next?” Jeff asked.
Grandpa Seth said, “I lived in that house until I was eighteen. That was the year I joined the army and left my hometown. I would visit my parents every now and then at their house, and I’d always go in the cellar to check on that door. Never again did I see it open.”
“You never found out what happened to Andy?” Jeff asked.
“No,” Grandpa Seth said. “I’ve always wondered what became of him. That incident with the door in the cellar was the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced. I’ll never forget it. Now I think it’s time for you to be getting to sleep, Jeff.”
“Can’t I stay up just a little bit longer?” Jeff asked.
“I don’t think so,” Grandpa Seth said.
The fire was dying down. It was time for bed.