The old man reached the top of the steps on the third floor
with ease while Flynn and Jess huffed and puffed behind him.
“I didn’t think we would make it!” Jess said, holding onto
his husband’s waist while Flynn was pulling himself up by the banister.
“Yeah,” said the old man while unlocking the door to their
new apartment, “these places were made with tall stairs back in the day. Every
floor is tall so the heat could rise and keep you cool in the summer.”
“I love the architecture,” said Flynn, “and I’m sure we’ll
get used to the stairs, but wow, I was not prepared.”
The old man chuckled and pushed their door open. The large,
solid wooden door creaked but seemed to glide well. He motioned for them to
enter, and they did.
They were excited to see the crown molding around the
14-foot ceilings, the worn hardwood floors, and the general feeling of the
100-year old building.
“This is the living room and over there is the small
They turned to look at the kitchen while the old man walked
past them and rounded a corner.
“In here is your bedroom. I told you, it ain’t much, but
it’s a home.”
“Oh, I love it!” said Jess, as he walked into the big
“The bathroom is there in the corner. However…”
The old man turned and walked to another door, and looked
it up and down. Without turning to them he said, “Don’t open this door.”
Flynn and Jess looked at each other and back at the man.
Before they could say anything, he turned back to them and
continued, “This door is nailed shut for a reason. Don’t open it.”
“I don’t…” Flynn started, “we don’t need to know why at
all, and it’s none of our business. But if we could know a little more, that
“That’s fair. You will be living here.” The old man placed
his hands on his hips and looked at the floor, thinking. A moment passed and he
looked up again. “You gotta get your things?”
“Okay. Let’s go outside.”
The three walked down the long staircases which were
original to the building, and were so thick and strong that they didn’t creak.
When they went out onto the street, the men walked to their
car and opened the back hatch, revealing boxes and suitcases.
“The trip down was so much nicer,” joked Jess.
“Yeah,” said the old man, smiling. “So, about the door.”
The two turned back to him. Jess folded his arms.
“I don’t like to talk about it because I don’t like to run
people off, and I hope this doesn’t run you off, but I understand if it does.
That door goes up to the attic space.”
“That’s creepy enough for me. I don’t want to go up there,”
The old man nodded. “Agreed. It’s not much of an attic.
It’s really just a small space to access wires and pipes. Above that is a hatch
that goes up to the roof, which of course you don’t need to be up there anyway.
Nobody does. No reason.”
Flynn nodded. “So, is that it? Just the small attic and the
The old man nodded again.
Flynn looked from him to Jess and back again. “Did I see
that the door was nailed shut? And why would that run us off?”
The old man sighed. “Okay. There’s something not right
about that staircase. The attic space. Whatever.”
Jess took a step back as if to distance himself from the
The old man looked at each of them for a second, then said
“The last three tenants I’ve had there have complained about things. Strange
things. Two years ago I had someone come out to inspect the wires and pipes in
that small space to make sure everything looked good, and when it all checked
out we nailed that door shut. No reason to go up there, and as long as there
isn’t one, that door stays shut.”
Jess’s mouth hung open in shock.
Flynn nodded and frowned. “I might add more nails.”
The old man agreed enthusiastically.
Several weeks later, the two were sleeping in bed, which
they decided to put against the wall opposite the one with the bathroom and
Jess fussed, his mind showing him all sorts of strange
things, haunting his dreams. He sat up abruptly, his eyes flew open and he
gasped for air.
His eyes were instantly focused on the door. The evil door.
At first he couldn’t quite figure out what he was seeing, or if he were still
dreaming. But the longer he stared at it, the more it bothered him.
The door was wide open, and there was a light on inside the
staircase. Jess stared at it for what seemed like an eternity, his heart
beating hard inside his chest.
Finally he decided to lay down and attempt sleep. He pushed
himself back up against Flynn, and in his sleep Flynn reached his arm over Jess
and held him. Despite the comfort, Jess couldn’t take his eyes off the door,
and he stared at it until he fell back to sleep.
Jess’s night was full of more terrible dreams and torment.
He had more nightmares in that one night of sleep than he had his entire life.
When he woke that morning, his eyes were instantly focused
on the door. Not only was it shut, but the nails were back in it. As he tried
to figure it all out, the only thing he could think was, did the old man
somehow know and come in to nail it shut while they slept? Or had he dreamt the
whole thing and it just felt so real that he thought it was?
He didn’t want to tell Flynn and scare him, or make him
worry with how scared he was, so he kept it to himself completely. As far as
anyone else was concerned, nothing happened.
The door swinging open forcefully is what woke Jess up a
few nights later. He couldn’t believe Flynn didn’t wake, but was thankful he
The door bounced off the wall so hard it closed almost
completely before stopping. And the light was on inside.
Jess wanted to wake Flynn badly, but couldn’t bring himself
to do it. Nor could he bring himself to go close the door. He didn’t want to
get that close.
Jess gathered all the strength and courage he had and leapt
up from the bed and ran out to the living room to sit on the couch. He grabbed
his favorite fleece throw blanket and covered up with that, then he stared at
the light on the floor until he fell asleep.
As soon as he fell asleep, the door slammed shut, startling
him awake. From the bedroom, he heard Flynn jump up and cuss.
Jess was so happy Flynn was awake and he didn’t have to
wake him, he called out loudly.
“Oh my!” Flynn yelled from the bedroom. “Are you okay?
Where are you?”
“The couch! Come here!”
Flynn ran to the couch and dove on Jess. They held onto
each other tightly.
The next morning, Flynn woke Jess up, and suggested they
leave for breakfast, so that’s what they did. They spent it mostly in silence.
When they were done eating, they sat across from each
other, sleepily staring at the table between them.
“I don’t wanna go home,” Jess said without looking up from
Flynn took a minute to respond, but when he did, it was
just as lifeless as what Jess said. “Why?”
“Because I…I didn’t want to tell you. I didn’t want you to
Jess told Flynn all about his experience and what happened
just before the slam woke Flynn up.
“Oh my God! Jess, don’t you ever! Wake me up and we are
Jess nodded, then they went to the car, drove to the
nearest cheap motel, and got a room.
“I don’t even care how nasty this is. I need sleep,” said
Flynn didn’t say anything. The two of them crawled into bed
and were out immediately.
The following day they went home and checked the place out.
Everything seemed fine, and the attic door was still nailed shut.
“Do you think it’s safe?” Jess said, his hands clasped
together by his chest.
Flynn nodded. “For now, I guess. We’ll see.”
Jess made his way to the couch and plopped down.
Flynn went into the kitchen and came back with two glasses
and a bottle of wine.
“It’s so early!” Jess said, grabbing his glass.
“You took that awfully fast!”
Flynn sat down and poured, then the two took a long drink.
They sat there, drinking wine in silence, staring off at nothing in thought.
They were both kind of numb from the whole experience.
The rest of the day was a lazy one and that night they went
to bed exhausted and ready for sleep.
After a kiss and a goodnight, the two curled up in each
other's arms and fell quickly to sleep.
A thud startled Flynn awake and he lifted his head, though
his eyes didn’t open. He listened for another noise and was almost back to
sleep when Jess screamed and Flynn’s eyes darted open.
From the bed Flynn saw the attic door wide open with a
light shining from inside. He sat up in bed and that’s when he saw Jess laying
on the floor, halfway inside the door. His arms were extended along the wall as
he frantically tried to pull himself out of the doorway.
Flynn jumped up and crawled to the foot of the bed, never
taking his eyes off of Jess. The more Jess struggled, the more he was pulled
into the stairwell. Flynn lunged forward, arms stretched out, reaching for
Jess’s hands, but just as he got to them the attic door slammed shut with Jess
on the other side, still screaming.
The nails flew up off of the floor and back into their
spots into the door, nailing it shut, and from under the door Flynn watched the
light go out at the same time Jess’s screams stopped.