Creepypasta #1095: The Room At The Bottom Of The Stairs
Length: Super long
This is the story of what happened to my family when I was 14. It was the strangest series of experiences I’ve ever had.
My dad was an abuser. He never really touched me - he mostly ignored me, like I was beneath his notice - but he was terribly cruel to my mother. He never raised his voice or hit her when we were watching, but he would just quietly criticise her in an almost unbroken stream of soft, matter-of-fact verbal abuse. Also, while he may not have done it in front of us, I know he definitely hit her. My mother was - and still is today - a graceful woman. The stories about her tripping on the stairs or slipping on the wet bathroom floor never rang true, and yet we all saw the bruises, the arm in a sling, the band-aids over grazes.
She left him when I was 14 and we were all relieved. I felt no love for him and I had become more and more convinced over the last couple of years that one day he would kill her, and maybe us too. Seriously, he was a frightening man - seemingly soft-spoken, but cold and intense. When stories crop up on the news about fathers snapping and murdering their families, I always imagine my dad could easily have been one of them.
So we left, and I was glad. There were three of us: me, mum, and my big brother Joseph who was a 16 at the time, only a few months off 17. Technically, he was old enough that he could have left home already, but like me he lived in fear of what dad might do without a tall, muscular 17 year old in the house. Joey was a rugby player, a hundred kilos of solid muscle, but the opposite of our father: gentle, sweet, generous. I think it was his growing resentment of our father that pushed mum to leave. She told me years later that she had nightmares about Joey losing it and beating dad to a pulp, ending up in prison.
Mum did her homework as thoroughly as she could. She got the court order in place so dad would be barred from entering the property or coming anywhere near it, and the very next day she had the moving truck and the self-storage unit booked. A soon-to-be homeless unemployed single mother has limited resources, so we had to do all the moving ourselves. That was a long, exhausting day, but it was good, too. Liberating. We knew we were leaving that bastard behind.
Most of our stuff was stored away and we lived for a couple of months with mum’s sister Bella and her husband Steve. Their apartment was small for just the two of them, so with five of us there it was insanely cramped. Mum’s plan was simple enough - get a job, any job, and then find a place to rent - but the job market wasn’t great for a fortysomething single mum who hadn’t worked in almost 20 years.
Thankfully, the government came through with some emergency payments. Between that and Joey’s income from his weekend job, we had enough money coming in that we could maybe think about moving into somewhere very cheap. It wasn’t just the cramped apartment, either. Mum didn’t talk about it much, but she knew that dad knew her sister’s address. A few times the phone would ring in the middle of the night and the caller would hang up without saying anything, so mum was starting to get spooked.
Our stroke of luck came in a matched pair. Mum got a job interview for an office admin position, and it went very well (the interviewer was a sympathetic older woman and mum was very honest about why she was looking for work after such a long break). On the way home on the bus, she saw a “for lease” sign. My mum has always been very spiritual but she was feeling very optimistic and decided the sign was, well, “a sign”. She jumped off at the next bus stop and ran back to check it out.
It was an actual house, not a unit or apartment. Most people in my mother’s position would have walked on, assuming it was out of their price range, but my mother was very observant. The road it was on ran along a kind of ridge between two hilltops, and the house was on the uphill side of the road, nestled in against a fairly steep slope. As such, the back yard was considerably higher up than the street, and the back door was on the same level as the upper storey out the front.
My mother noticed that the exterior of the house - stucco over brick, painted a creamy white - was looking pretty shabby. It was all surface dirt, the kind that would come off easily with a hose and a broom. The fact that nobody had bothered made mum feel certain the house wasn’t getting a lot of love. She took a closer look at the “for lease” sign, swinging from a wooden post in the front yard. Sure enough it was looking very weathered too. She jotted down the phone number and - she confessed to me later - almost skipped back to the bus stop.
Her instincts were good: an unusually frank agent admitted that it had been sitting empty for months and the owners were eager to get a tenant in. The rent they were asking was shockingly low and well within our budget. Mum got the rental approval and a new job on the same day, and we all felt like our troubles were over.