Hallway of Fire
E. Nigma, IL, USA
Where I lived when this occured the winters were always very harsh and bitter. The nights were black as pitch and the wind was strong and relentless. We moved around a lot. My father was in the army at the time.
To begin with, the house we lived in, for a brief period, was very large. There were only 4 of us, my mother, father, younger brother and I. I was 16, eager to turn 17. No one really knew about our house's past history, so my parents had no reason not to move into it. One thing about our house was that there was one particular hallway, very long and narrow. Many doors protruded off of it, leading to bathrooms and bedrooms, mostly. At night the hallway was always the most intimidating thing in the house. I always ran to my bedroom, which was at the end of the hall.
That night, which will always stay with me, my parents went out for dinner and my brother went to bed early because he caught the winter flu. I was in the kitchen, making my usual vanilla ice cream dessert, finished complete with nuts, whipped cream and hot fudge. I watched a movie and put the dishes in the sink. After I brushed my teeth and did my usual "going to bed" routine, I smelled something rank. It smelled very strange, as if something was burning. It reminded me a lot like the autumn days where there was the perpetual smell of burning leaves. I immediately ran back into the kitchen and checked the oven, but nothing was wrong. Very weird, I thought. I went to bed, with a full stomach of vanilla ice cream. I was abruptly awoken about two hours later, making it around midnight. My parents were still gone, which was not surprising. The sound that woke me was that of a door slamming. My stupid brother, I thought. I threw the covers off in a fury to go tell off my brother. I was speed walking in anger as many teenagers do when they are not in a good mood. I opened my brothers door ready to release my rage by yelling, but he was sound asleep, drooling on his pillow.
Fear was beginning to overcome me at this point. I went to the other end of the hallway, opening the door that led to the rest of my house. The door had a lock on the end of the knob, the kind that you had to turn. I ripped the door open and walked into the living room. The smell of something burning again reached my nose. At this point my hairs were standing up, and goose bumps were felt all over my body due to the still freeze of the air around me. I asked myself if someone left a window open. Nah, I thought, my mom never opened the windows because it was the dead of winter. My head whipped to the far end of the room as I saw a figure run into the kitchen. My stomach jolted and a rush of energy spread throughout my body. My first instinct was to get out of that house, and quick. I remembered my brother was sleeping. Oh no, I thought. I sprinted back to the hallway, through the door, and into my brothers room. I grabbed him quickly and yelled, "We have to get out of here, there's someone in the house!" His eyes widened and he ran first, with me right behind him. We were approaching the door at the end of the hallway. My brother tore the door open and escaped to the front door and outside. I was right behind him but the hallway door slammed shut. I bolted for the doorknob to open it but it was locked! My fingers scrambled furiously to unlock it. Then I caught then scent of something burning again. Only now it was much more apparent. I turned around and saw a person standing at the other end of the hallway. Panic. He was approaching me, walking at a steady pace. Only something was wrong with him, his entire body was scorched black. I screamed and my focus was on the doorknob. He came closer, the smell was stronger. Tears came as I yelled at the door, praying for the lock to turn. I screamed my brothers name. He was closer, now, at least 3 steps away from me. All I could do was scream. I began to pound the door in a blind panic. Pounding and screaming. He stopped. I thought I was doomed to die in my own house. He reached out and grabbed my shoulder. "No!" I screamed with the passion of survival. Then I threw myself against the door, forcing it open. I ran and never looked back. My back was stinging, there was a burn where he grabbed me, and it was the worst pain I had had in my life. I was crying as I met my brother halfway down the driveway. I cried until my parents drove up in the Cadillac. I cried until we got to the hotel room. We moved out. I never went back.
Later, I found out that a very rich man lived in our old house alone. One night he left a fire going in the fireplace, and as he slept that night a gas line ripped open. That created a fire in the house, engulfing the man in a fiery death. To this day I wonder if he still dwells there.