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The People Under the Stairs

by Hugh Roberts

The countdown to Halloween is almost here. Hugh Roberts wrote this spooky story just for you, the readers of Always Write. I hope that you will enjoy it.

Thank goodness they had gone. She’d spent 30 years trying to get rid of them, and they choose to go now, a week before she moved to a new home?

Raising her hands in the air, Gloria celebrated, knowing she’d beaten them. It must have been the leftover stilton cheese from Christmas she’d placed under the stairs that had finally driven them out. 

Now, with only a week to go before she moved to the residential home that catered for people with the early onset of dementia, she could finally get started on sorting out 30-years of clutter. 

30-years of disturbed sleep, because of the people under the stairs, had taken its toll on Gloria. Rather than begin sorting out clutter, she could have comfortably sat in her favourite armchair and have taken a nap. The packing could wait until tomorrow, or somebody else could do it.

***

The following morning, Gloria awoke from the best night’s sleep she’d had since the night of her honeymoon. Throwing back the bedcovers, she made her way downstairs to make the first cuppa of the day.

Just as she walked past the door that led to under the stairs, Gloria came to a grinding halt. Was that a noise she’d heard coming from behind the door or was it her imagination?  

“Oh, I do hope you’re back,” sighed Gloria as she placed her hand on the door handle. “I’m going to countdown from three. If you’re not in there, they’ll be trouble. Three, four, two…Whoosh!”

Nothing but darkness and the faint smell of cheese met Gloria. She felt slightly disappointed that nobody was in there. A sudden noise from upstairs startled her, forcing her to close the door quickly.

‘Gloria? Is that you?” came a muffled, familiar voice from above her.

“You’re my little secret. My first job of the day after my morning cuppa will be to clear out this cupboard; your home,” Gloria told herself.

***

By the day of the move, Gloria had become a little depressed. How could the people from under the stairs have left her? They may have given her 30 years of disturbed sleep, but they were her best friends. She should never have made them go.

“Come on”, said a familiar voice of a man she didn’t recognise. “It’s time to go. Do you want to take a final look around the house before we go?”

Shaking her head, Gloria shed a few tears. Not only was she leaving behind 30 years of memories but leaving behind 30 years of living with the people from under the stairs. 

***

On the first night in her new home, Gloria woke to the sound of scratching coming from under her bed. Were they back? The people from under the stairs, were they back?

As she watched the duvet cover slowly disappearing down the bed, revealing the bodies of her and a man who looked familiar, Gloria knew they were back.

Hugh Roberts

Biography

Hugh W. Roberts lives in Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom.

Hugh gets his inspiration for writing from various avenues including writing prompts, photos, eavesdropping and while out walking his dogs, Toby and Austin. Although he was born in Wales, he has lived around various parts of the United Kingdom, including London where he lived and worked for 27 years. 

Hugh suffers from a mild form of dyslexia but, after discovering blogging, decided not to allow the condition to stop his passion for writing. Since creating his blog ‘Hugh’s Views & News’ in February 2014, he has built up a strong following and now writes every day. Always keen to promote other bloggers, authors and writers, Hugh enjoys the interaction blogging brings and has built up a group of online friends he considers as an ‘everyday essential.’

His short stories have become well known for the unexpected twists they contain in taking the reader up a completely different path to one they think they are on. One of the best compliments a reader can give Hugh is “I never saw that ending coming.”

Having published his first book of short stories, Glimpses, in December 2016, his second collection of short stories, More Glimpses, was released in March 2019. 

A keen photographer, he also enjoys cycling, walking, reading, watching television, and enjoys relaxing with a glass of red wine and sweet popcorn.

Hugh shares his life with John, his civil-partner, and Toby and Austin, their Cardigan Welsh Corgis.

Hugh W. Roberts: Author, Blogger, & Writer
Blog: Hugh’s Views And News
Author of: More Glimpses and Glimpses

Books: Amazon Author Page:
Twitter: @HughRoberts05
Flipboard: Hugh W. Roberts

Let me know in the comment section if you would enjoy more short stories from different authors in the future.

128 replies »

  1. Thanks so much for publishing my short story and giving it it’s first outing to readers, Marsha. Before now, only I and my editor had seen the story.
    I hope Gloria’s story doesn’t give readers too many nightmares. It may be worth not looking in the cupboard under the stairs for a few days.
    Happy Halloween. 🎃

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad you shared one of your creepy stories on Marsha’s blog, Hugh! I think I’m going with Gloria’s dementia fueling her ghosts under the stairs, especially since she sees herself. Just vague enough though to make you wonder, though! Reminds me a little of the movie The Others(?) with Nicole Kidman, thinking she and her kids were haunted by ghosts, when in reality they were the ghosts! Great Halloween fun, Hugh! Hi Marsha, hope you haven’t lost your mind yet getting things moved. I have, LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Terri. When Marsha invited me to write a guest post or share a creepy story, as it was coming up to Halloween, I thought the latter would be what her readers wanted.
      As for Gloria and her story, I always enjoy allowing the reader to decide on what they think is exactly happening. Doesn’t explain why I sometimes find the duvet cover at the foot of the bed during the middle of the night, though. It’s almost as if it’s been pulled off. And those strange sounds that I think are coming from the cupboard under our staircase. Is it the underfloor heating, or is the faint smell of cheese from inside a clue?
      Hope you had a spooktacular Halloween. 🎃

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Apparently she carries a love hate relationship with the people under the stairs. I see them as her alter ego her bad side maybe even having murdered her husband some years ago.

    On the other side I have always told my children about the boogleys that live in out attic. When they start smell the Christmas smells the sneak down the stairs and steal the candy canes from off the tree. This is how I explain the canes disappearing at night.

    Stay well and laugh a lot

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Luckily, we don’t have stairs in our camper van! And luckily, we were camped at a quiet location over Halloween. Great story, Hugh. I cannot imagine Gloria having dementia for thirty years, so she must have an incredible imagination.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, you’re right, I’ve not heard of any patient who has had dementia for 30 years, Liesbet. Maybe, with her incredible imagination, Gloria is a writer or blogger? Does your camper van have any steps? I only ask because the people who live under the stairs will reside under anything that resembles a step.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I vote for writer. I don’t think she has dementia at all. I think it’s a farce, the dreams of the writer Gloria, who doesn’t know what to do with the husband she killed in her story thirty years before during their honeymoon because she really loved him, but he was unfaithful the night before their wedding. It drove her mad. Writers go a little insane during the writing process.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Diana. Yes, I agree; it does. My mother had dementia, and some of the elements of this story were what I picked up from her. I often thought that she seemed to be living in a book, yet other times I wasn’t quite sure what she was saying was true or just what the dementia was showing her.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It’s hard, Hugh. I’m sorry that your mom struggled with dementia. As my mom’s health has been rapidly declining, I’ve been noticing the same. Most of it is innocuous, but sometimes it’s a little more than off. Sigh.

        Liked by 2 people

        • It’s a terrible health condition, Diana. It was a real struggle watching my mother go through it. After watching her mother go through it, she always denied she had dementia. It was a nightmare that came true for her. When she passed away, I was so glad that her living nightmare had also departed.

          Liked by 2 people

        • So sorry, D. Dementia is so scary. As my friends and I notice how easy it is to forget simple things as we are aging, we all laugh and worry about it at the same time. If I hadn’t been forgetting things since I was a child, I would worry more. It is annoying, though to be on the aging side of the fence. My mother died 14 years ago and so I immediately turned into the older generation. She did not have dementia but I could definitely tell a difference in her cognitive function after aged 65 or so. She quit learning new skills easily. Well, I’m rambling. I wish you the best with your mom.

          Liked by 1 person

          • This has been an excellent discussion, D. It’s made me stretch my thinking from something Halloweenish to something more sinister – real life. 🙂 Thanks for your insightful remarks.

            Liked by 1 person

      • That is interesting, Hugh. I was thinking as I drove to Prescott today about dreams and how real they seem. And when does the reality of the facts a person perceives in a dream start mingling with ones they learn until the person (hopefully not ever me) get to the point where they can’t tell the difference? I can definitely see that in your short story.

        Liked by 1 person

        • My mother died at the age of 78. We first noticed the signs of dementia when she was in her early 70s, so she went through the different stages of the condition at a slow rate, Marsha. It was heartbreaking watching what I can only describe as something else taking over her body. The worst part for me was when she could not remember who I was. I haven’t heard of Still Alice, but I may check it out someday. Although my mother died in 2015, her death is still very raw for me.

          Dream fascinate me, especially when they include strangers. I’ve often wondered if they are figures of my imagination or are people who are real and who I may have had a fleeting encounter with.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I’m so sorry about your mother, Hugh. It’s a frightening situation that no one knows how to cope with. Both of my husband’s had to deal with their mother’s dementia to some degree. My first husband died before hers progressed to the point she did not know him and we were able to get her cared for before he passed. However, shortly after he died, I went to see her, and she was very friendly, as though I were a long lost friend. She said very sympathetically, “You lost your husband recently, didn’t you?” She had no idea that I was her daughter-in-law or that her son was the one who had passed. Since I lived in a different state, I wanted to keep in touch, but my calls disturbed her because she did not know why I knew so much about her. So I had to quit calling. Your short story has led to a discussion much deeper than I had anticipated from a simple Halloween story about the people under the stairs, to a really serious issue of dementia. D’s comment about the unreliable narrator was the one that really turned my thinking. Thank you for continuing to push this discussion to a deeper level, Hugh. Well done.

            Liked by 1 person

          • And thank you again for inviting me over to your blog where I could share one of my newest stories with you and your readers, Marsha. The comments and discussions have been wonderful and thought-provoking.

            Liked by 1 person

      • Your transparency was what made the story chat so amazing. There are many people having to cope with the awful effects of Alzheimer’s Disease and someone being so open about it may help people more than you know. Let’s just hope it never catches us!!! I love my brain and the ability to think! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks, Marsha. I’m so pleased Story Chat is proving a success. I think it will help many writers knowing where our stories stem from. Not all of my stories are from real-life events, but I think there’s an element of real-life experiences in many of them. Even if only tiny, our real-life events play such an important role.

          Liked by 1 person

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Marsha

Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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