No Scary Stairs For Me

I was recently invited to be a part of a project you’ve no doubt heard of by now. Secret Stairs: Tribute To Urban Legend by Silver Empire. It was an amazing anthology that I am proud to have been a part of. Evidently, readers of horror and urban fantasy agreed.

It spent quite some time as either the #1 New Release or #1 Bestseller in its category on Amazon, as you can see here:

While my entry was the first time I ever wrote about mysterious stairs it was not my first encounter with them. I actually have my own real-life encounter with a set of stairs I will never forget.

The stairs we wrote about were out by themselves with no structure around or any reason for their existence. But the stairs I encountered were too-uncomfortably close to home.

The Stairs At An Old Farmhouse In North Dakota…

In 1974 my family moved to Steele, North Dakota and landed in an old two-story farmhouse about three miles outside of town. It was a nice place despite its age and it came with a storm cellar directly underneath the house. A storm cellar that was only accessible by going outside, pulling open the red wooden door and descending down a dozen concrete steps.

The steps that led down to the cellar were secret and scary.

The actual farmhouse in North Dakota with its own secret stairs.

I never saw any further into that cellar than the outside light shone into. Nor did I ever manage to get past the tenth step down. Every attempt to go further ended on that tenth step when a feeling of dread would envelop me as I peered into the pitch blackness beyond that final step.

I was convinced if I went any further that something lurking in that darkness would snatch me. I was convinced I’d never be seen or heard from again.

Legitimate Fear Or Overactive Imagination?

Was there a monster down there? An alien? An angry spirit of a long-dead Sioux Indian? Or perhaps a pioneer that had met his or her demise on this ground? Or was it the overactive imagination of a 10-year-old child who’d watched way too many horror movies on TV?

Truthfully, I don’t have an answer. We only lived there for a year before moving into town and I never worked up the nerve to step down onto number eleven. The old place eventually burned down and a whole new house was built to replace it. I believe the cellar was filled in so there’s no going back now to see.

But even four decades later I vividly remember that feeling standing on that tenth step. So whenever I hear real-life stories of people fearing that which they cannot see, I don’t scoff.

And yes, when I was writing my entry for Secret Stairs I had the memory of that particular set of stairs in the back of my mind. So, in case you were wondering, if I ever find myself out in the woods and encounter a set of free-standing stairs to nowhere? Yeah, it will probably end like this:




About the author

Richard Paolinelli