Behind a Closed Door
Behind a Closed Door by L. M. Schmidt
The path was long, dark, and eerie. Trees and vegetation lined the dusty road, littered with the occasional squirrel and robin. Every minute felt like an eternity from the outside world.
“Mr.Tonnesen, the property is just ahead,” said the realtor, Mrs.Harris.
“I was beginning to think that this would be my final resting place” I sarcastically replied. Mrs.Harris glared, unamused, and clenched her clipboard. “Mr.Tonnesen, this is most certainly not the outcome of the trip. Such a thing is unimaginable.” I could tell that my sarcasm was not appreciated.
“And we are here!” Mrs.Harris exclaimed. “Welcome to the Graz Estate!”
The Graz Estate belonged to Mr. R. B. Graz. He had a significant political influence back in the early days of the Republic. R. B. Graz served as head of state of old the Kodiaker government. Graz was the premier speaker of the house and was a prominent legal mind throughout his time served. However, after serving Kodiak for such a long time, Mr.Graz’s unfaithfulness caught up to him. Graz turned to the empress of Nova Quistonis, and left the nation, for what was thought, was for good. Many years after, Mr.Graz returned to Kodiak and denounced the treason he had committed. He spent his final days here, in this mansion, but was later auctioned to the highest bidder.
Mrs.Harris and I walked into the foyer, and it looked as if it hadn’t been dusted for decades. As we toured the estate, I sensed an eerie, uneasy feeling. One that would make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. However, I ignored the sensation and continued on the tour.
Mrs.Harris completed her guided tour of the home and dismissed me for recess. I had noticed that I was not brought into the second story of the home, and figured this would be the perfect time to do so.
“My, My!” I said to myself. “This house is huge!”
The stairs immediately ushered you into a primary hallway, one in which every room was accessible through. I stepped into the bedroom and started to stroll to the balcony. I leaned on the old, crusty railing, feeling the warm sun beaming on me. The wind was gentle but chilly, so I decided to head back inside.
“This place is wonderful, if only I could move in today!” I exclaimed, unknowing what was about to unfold.
As I began exploring the rest of the second story, I had a recurring sensation. I felt uneasy, almost as if I was being watched.
Clomp. Clomp. Clomp.
“Hello?” I asked. “Who may you be?”
The footsteps began getting louder and faster.
Clomp. Clomp. Clomp. Clomp
“Reveal yourself!” I exclaimed, not knowing from which direction the sounds were coming.
I was frantic. I did not know what was trying to frighten me. I quickly looked over my shoulder, and I saw a small figure scurry across the hall into the library. I grabbed a candlestick, ready to defend myself when I confronted the figure. I marched into the library, my palms sweating. My grasp of the brass candlestick was diminishing. I quickly turned the corner. Shocked, and motionless, I was staring eye to eye with the figure.
“My my, you were started by a little ol’ lady!” the figure cooed.
“Well, um…” I was at a loss for words. Her gray hair looked as if it were made of pure silver, and the golden locket around her neck glistened in the window light. “I wouldn’t have been as frightened if I knew that I was being chased by a frail old woman.” She was not amused.
“Who are you?” I asked, expecting a direct response.
“Well, darling, I am everyone who has ever lived in the estate!”
Confused, I continued to ask what her identity was, and more importantly, why she was at the Graz Estate. She motioned for me to have a seat as she pulled books off of shelves. I was prepared to stay a while.
“Long, long ago, when I was just a young girl, Mr.Graz hired me for his maid service. I was eccentric, as it was my first job, and I knew that many responsibilities would come with the job. However, I still wanted to pursue it. As I completed my first stay, Mr.Graz asked me if I would wish to reside at the estate permanently. Of course, I accepted, knowing that I had come from a poor farming township. I thought that the deal was too good to give up. I slept, cleaned, cooked, all day, every day.” The maid chuckles. “I didn’t realize that I was being used, and at such a young age, I wouldn’t.”
We sat in silence for a few seconds.
“Well, why did you stay?” I questioned.
The maid sighs. “If I went back home, I would go back to nothing. We have no money, no home, and no land. I was scared for my life at home. The only safe haven I knew of was in Mr.Graz’s estate.”
The maid sips her tea and continues with her story.
“Fast forward 20 years, Mr.Graz disappeared. He left his country to marry, oh I don’t know, some foreign woman. He left with no warning. His fortune, fame, and identity, gone. I was questioning what would happen to the home, and more importantly, me. However, the government didn’t compensate the house. Nor did Mr.Graz. I stayed in the house until his arrival years after. When he finally came back, he regretted all of the decisions he had made. He begged for my forgiveness. Shortly thereafter, he died, leaving the house to me.”
I was astonished. It was hard for me to comprehend her connection to the house.
I am sorry to hear that” I replied, “And I hate that Mr.Graz would do such a thing to you.”
She giggled in a monotone, which made me feel uncomfortable. She continued to laugh louder, and louder until I could no longer hear myself think. I was not sure what was going on with this frail lady. I conclude that she may have had mental trauma. Uneasy, I rose from my seat and continued my exploration of the second story. Finding nothing but dusty furniture and cobwebs, I deserted the mission and headed down to find Mrs.Harris.
Something caught my eye. A red, shiny, wooden door stood before me. It looked out of place as if it were decades newer than the house itself. I jiggled the doorknob… locked it. I noticed the keyhole was oddly shaped. Frantically, I crawled on my hand and knees looking for the key. Something about this door drew me in.
I stood up, startled, by the shadow of the old maid.
“That door is locked,” she said. “Only Mr.Graz had the key to that door.
“Well, then, what’s behind it?” I asked.
“I’m not sure myself, but don’t go blundering about the estate!” the old maid barked.
I was not content on giving up my search. What could have been behind the door? I pondered for hours, my mind racing as if it were about to run a marathon.
I decided to spend the night. Mrs.Harris prepared a guest bedroom for me. I fluffed my pillow and rest my head. As I began to doze off, a loud THUD woke me up. I jumped out of bed, got dressed, and began to investigate. My nerves were on edge. The house already creeped me out, to begin with. I began to look for the old woman, but she was nowhere to be found.
As I walked down the hall, something grazed my side. I jumped and screamed like a little girl, only to find out that I had gently passed by a curtain, or so it seems.
“I swear that curtain wasn’t there,” I said. “There is something off with this house, I can feel it.”
As soon as those words rolled off of my tongue, the red, shiny door began to glow. Someone was banging on the inside of the door in panic. I could faintly hear terrifying cries for help.
“Wake up, wake up, wake up!” I screamed as I slapped myself in the face.
A strange outside force drew me closer, and closer to the door. At this point, I was arm’s length from the door, and the shrieks of torture haunted me. My mind began to race. I could suddenly envision the horrors of past events that happened behind the door. The door was speaking to me, warning me of what was to come. I was in a trance-like state, haunted by the souls that were never granted freedom.
“Snap out of it boy!” a person yelled.
I lay motionless on the floor in a puddle of sweat. I glanced up and saw the old woman hovering above me, shocked. She leaned over, and her golden locket fell from her kneck and bruised my eye.
“Oh my! I truly apologize about this” she said.
“I… I…” I couldn’t speak.
I stood up, and the maid took me to the kitchen. I had not realized that it was morning already. She served a buffet-style breakfast, and a delicious one too.
After I finished, I went to the bathroom to cleanse myself. Sitting on the counter was a golden, heart-shaped locked, with a small key attached. I immediately recognized the locket, as it was the one the maid had worn. Intrigued, I opened the locket. It was a picture of her family. I had thought that I would finally know what was cursing this house. Angrily, I threw it against the tile, shattering the glass. A small piece of paper flew across the bathroom as I broke the locket. I unfolded the note and read it.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons of cold butter
¾ cup buttermilk
It was a recipe. I felt stupid, and now I had broken the old maid’s locket. How was I going to tell her? But then it hit me. I rushed upstairs to the red door. I inserted the locket and jiggled the knob. Locked. I did it again. Locked. After 3 attempts, I finally budged the door open.
The room was dark, only lit by candlelight. A putrid odor almost knocked me off of my feet. It looked as if it were nicely kept, and didn’t look like the rest of the estate. I turned on my flashlight and looked around the room. A nicely made bed was in one corner, with a nightstand intact. A dresser, a radio, and a closet were present as well. As I began to explore further, I notice something was off with the bed. It looked as if it had been slept in. I pulled back the sheets, and I could not believe what I was looking at.
As I pulled back the sheets, a rotting corpse lay in the bed. The skin was almost eaten away by maggots, and the person’s skeleton was clearly visible. It appeared to be that of R. B. Graz. As I opened the closet, another corpse fell beside me, dismembered by the force of impact. I knew I had to leave. As I grabbed my flashlight off of the bed, I noticed a single strange of silver hair. A hair that belonged to the old maid. I knew that if I stayed any longer, my time would be limited.
To this day I am still haunted by the horrors of the Graz Estate, only knowing that I could have been the next victim. The estate still stands for sale, however, only the souls of the unfortunate remain there.