The next night, we started up the stairs. We were all tired of walking through the awful water covering the basement floor and the last two incidents had everyone on edge. Though we should begin to divide and conquer to cover more ground, nobody was prepared to leave the relative safety of the group to explore alone. After the lady in the padded room, I didn’t blame them.
Each stair creaked under our weight and we wondered if any of them might give way through a rotted board or termites or who knows what, but we somehow managed to avoid difficulty on that front. There were 6 of us again and our “tail gunner” cameraman who was the last man up the stairs reported hearing an odd sound. We paused but couldn’t hear it ourselves. He described it as a scratching like someone was walking behind them dragging a foot.
[Addendum: We later listened to the audio recording our cameraman set up after hearing the noise the first time. The microphone picked it up just as he described and somehow the rest of us were just too far away to hear it.]
As we approached the landing at the top of the stairs, we paused and looked around the room a bit. A couple of pictures of the staff through the years adorned the walls here. Our intern noticed a particular figure who appeared even in the staff picture on the floor below – a monster of a man wearing a brace on his left leg. Though the man grew steadily in girth through the years, the brace never changed. We all agreed it must have been a painful way to walk around such a facility with so many stairs. She volunteered to do additional research on the man when we left in the morning.
There were two doors leading from the stairwell – one into the main hallway of the first floor and the other into a lavatory area. Around the corner and down the main hallway lay a series of doors leading into all the more public areas of the hospital. This was where visitors would come to see their loved ones and the better behaved patients could spend time in the “Day Room”.
As we headed into the Day Room, our lights shined on the grand piano the window area. It must have been nice in here at one point, during daylight with sunshine streaming into the room and many tables around which the patients could gather. When we were all in the room, the door slammed behind us and we heard the continuous plink of a string inside the piano. Our technician who suffered electrical burns downstairs joked that it sounded like a patient was hitting the same key repeatedly to annoy the other patients…
That brought a soft chuckle to the group until the strings began to break. At first it was a string at a time and then they broke in entire octaves, building into a crescendo when the whole piano imploded upon itself in a cloud of dust. We were all coughing and trying to clear our vision when three of us saw a figure in the dust… a huge figure advancing on the party.
Before the dust settled we heard a scream and a door exploded behind us… We all turned to follow and saw our intern being dragged up the stairs to the next level with nobody doing the dragging… We charged up after her, paying little heed to our own safety.
Creepy stairwells are a fantastic element of many horror movies that I did not explore in the Big Book of Little Spaces: Haunts (nor any of the Little Spaces series so far). So it was a perfect time to come up with a new table to explore…
- Newel post (anchor post in the railing)
- Spindle/Balluster (smaller rail post)
Roll a d8 on this and then use the Sense and Sense Descriptor tables in the Big Book to round it out.
In this case, I came up with Step/Hearing/Scratch to inspire the haunting sound of the steps following the crew up from the basement.
Our intrepid band of ghost hunters has breached the main level now during our 31 Days of Halloween challenge…