The Secrets of the Third-Story Window by Alex
*Editor's note: Alex's inspiration for this story was a photo of the Dolley Todd House from the 1950's.
Every morning is the same nowadays. I walk along the street, I pass the stores and shops and the people, and every morning, I come to that house. I come home every afternoon from my work, exhausted and tired, and on my way home, I come to that house.
And every night, as I try to lull myself to sleep, trapped in a fathomless limbo between awake and sleep, I stare out at the stars and the moon. And under that sky, I see that house.
That deceptive yellow house with the clean windows and perfect appearance, and bright disposition; but it is not the house that I notice, though it's appearance to me only suggests more clearly the secrets that it hides. No, it is not the house I see. It is the third story window, the one on the furthest left hand side. Every morning, every afternoon, every night I see that window, and I know, I know that it hides something from me. Because every time I see it, every single time, I can see the eyes looking at me. I know not whose they are, and I don't know why they look at me, but they terrify me.
And whenever I try to examine those eyes, they fly behind the safe shield of their curtains. I would not be so possessed with thought over this, except, these eyes are inhuman, at least, as far as I can tell. Those faceless, peering eyes, belonging only to a dark abyss, staring back at me with a look that I can't describe, a look I wish I could forget. Those eyes in the third-story window of that innocent yellow house.
Apparently, only I ever see these ghoulish eyes. Whenever someone else looks in their direction, they are already long gone.
Come to think of it, I have never known the owners of this house, or if it even has owners any more. I've never seen anyone exit or enter the house before, and I dare not. Not with those eyes from the third-story window.
What secrets must it hold, I wonder? Do these eyes act as a guard, do they hide some secret? Or is it a haunting figure, a shade of horrors hidden in mystery?
I must know why they are staring at me-through morning, day and night.
I had to know. I stared out my window all day, obsessively watching that window, watching all the house in case someone could come out of it. But no one ever does. How can a house kept in such prime condition be uninhabited? It's just not possible! I know somebody lives there! I've seen the eyes.
I know that the house used to owned by a man under the name of Gregory Poe, but that was too long ago - fifty years, if I'm not mistaken. And even then, I know for a fact that he does not inhabit the house any longer.
Then who stares at me?
The eyes retreat behind their curtains yet again. But something different happens, something that chilled me to the bone.
A hand, bony and grotesque, emerged forth from behind the curtain, slowly, eerily, and holding a red marker. It began to write upon the window pane a message. I assume it was directed at me; I don't think anyone else knows about him/her. The message was scrawled with difficulty, with a trembling hand that created crooked, misshapen letters. The message said to me in red: "Do not search for secrets."
That message struck me-whatever was inside that house, it knew I was watching it. It knew me.
I couldn't wait any longer. I had to find out who owned the eyes and that bony hand, who warned me not to look for them. It was against my better judgment entirely, but I couldn't let it go.
My curiosity was insatiable, and I had to have this mystery solved, otherwise it might haunt me for the rest of my days. I needed to find out what such a perfect, pristine, happy house was really hiding.
I knocked on the front door of the building the next morning. There was no answer, and upon my very first knock, the door just creaked open. I didn't even need to turn the handle! When I pushed the door open further, I noticed that his house was indeed much more than it seemed. It was dark, and ruddy, and full of cobwebs. It looked like it hadn't been touched or lived in for hundreds of years.
It was eerie, and I could feel something watching me from around every other dark corner. There were no lights at all, and I had to rely on the open door and what few windows there were for visibility. Maybe he was waiting, waiting around some wall, for me to turn there, to make that single step so those bony hands could grab me. Maybe he was right next to me, breathing down my neck, whispering cold hisses into my ear. My brain told me to run, to get out of there before those eyes popped out from behind a corner, or shut the door behind me, trapping me in the blackness with him forever, always running and trying to hide from him.
But the door never closed, and that thing never popped out at me. I managed to find my way up the stairs, and on the third floor, I reached an entirely vacant room, like an attic. There were two small windows hidden by curtains, and nothing else. Everything was hidden in absolute blackness. But I did see something.
I saw the figure of a man, standing behind the curtain. It was just me and him in this room, and he didn't move. I felt my skin shiver, watching, waiting in silence for the creature to move from his frightening spot behind that curtain.
My heart was racing, telling me that I had to run. But my brain, curious fool that it was, urged me further on. I crept closer to that man behind the curtain. I reached out my hand.
I grabbed the curtain.
And I pulled.
There was no one behind it. It was empty space. How is this possible, I thought? I saw someone behind that curtain! Was it a ghost?
But though there wasn't anything behind the curtain, I once again beheld the red message, reversed from where I was standing. "Do not search for secrets."
But now, I looked out from the window that I had only looked into for so long. And I saw my own house - a run-down hovel, with a falling roof and shattered windows. What had happened? My house was in fine condition! I had lived in it for years!
But then I saw something that terrified me even more, far more than the eyes of the man in the third-story window. I saw the name engraved next to the door, faded from the passage of time: Gregory Poe - the man that had passed away those many years ago. But that was impossible! This makes no sense! I have lived in that house all my life!
An yet there it was, from my own eyes. That house was mine, I know this for sure. But it was not the same house that I had been living in.
I moved toward the door, to try to see what this whole business was. But it was locked. I turned the knob, but the door wouldn't move. I thrashed my entire weight against it, but it was locked. I looked around, expecting the man with eyes to come out and grab me, but he didn't. I was alone.
I was trapped in this place. I was caged.
I moved to the window again. A wrecking ball had swung into my home.
I screamed at the man controlling the machine, I begged him to stop, but it was useless. the ball continued to decimate my house, crumbling it to the ground.
I looked at the hateful man who was controlling that mechanism of destruction. I was stricken with awe to find those eyes on that man, and those same hands. But they were no longer the same - the eyes were no longer eerie and ghoulish, the hands no longer bony and dark; they were normal, but I knew they were the same. I watched as the man who had stared down at me all these days, who had haunted me, destroyed my life, and left me trapped in the vessel of my obsessions. He looked at me, trapped behind the window with his message still engraved on it. "Do not search for secrets."
He was right. I should not have searched. Now I am trapped here, in this room, forever.
The years passed by, and I came to live in this darkness. I could not escape and I have become a horrible figure, something from a horror story.
Every now and then, I look out the window, my final gateway to the light of the world. I see that over the years, a new house has been built where mine used to stand.
It belongs to a fine family, and their house is beautiful, too. It is a pleasant, quaint sky blue house that blesses my view now. To hide my new horrid appearance, I must look from behind the curtains.
The name Gregory Poe is familiar to me now. It is my name. It is the name that I was buried with. And now, it is Gregory Poe that stares out at the world, trapped forever in the dark house painted yellow.
Of course, it's not like I'm lonely. Every now and then, I like to look down at the people who walk about their lives. But there is one in particular that I like to watch. He is the man that lives where I once did, in his beautiful blue house.
He looks up at me. I can tell he fears me. I can't blame him.
But I visit him every day through my window. And I know that he will wonder who I am.
He will wonder who it is that stares at him from behind the curtains of the third-story window.