The Stairs


This is my entry into Finish the Story held within the @bananafish realms.

I had a lot of fun with this one. For @ntowl's challenge request/demand/suggestion/do-it-or-else [LOL], I took up the second part more than the others. (I'm not a person that uses a lot of adverbs so the challenge would have to be the opposite for me.)

Dialogue is tough to write. I did learn something I think will be of use as I continue and it may be of use to you. What I learned were three questions to ask when writing dialogue:

  1. What do the characters want?
  2. What happenes if they don't get it?
  3. Why Now?

Now, all that is left to do is... practice over and over and over...

The Stairs

By @ntowl

The darkness flowed into the basement stairwell as Jon opened the door. He paused, listening. Shit! They’re already asleep, he thought. His parents had gone to bed promptly at eleven thirty when the evening news was over. Usually he did his best to get into his room before they went to bed so he could avoid the situation he now found himself in. I knew I shouldn’t have tried to finish that bonus level! It was so easy to lose track of time in the basement hangout.

A tiny night light at the end of the kitchen counter illuminated a small spot on the floor beneath it, but otherwise the room was dark and still. In his mind he ran through the short path that would take him down the hallway, up the stairs and into his bedroom. All he had to do was turn the basement light off in the stairwell and walk through the darkness to get there. Keeping his hand firmly on the doorknob and taking a deep breath he flipped the switch. The stairwell light went out leaving him with after image shapes moving in front of his eyes. Deliberately he closed the door slowly so he wouldn’t wake anyone, and tried not to panic. Nothing to be afraid of, he thought, it’s just my house at night. The hinges creaked and the latch snapped shut with a jarring bang in the otherwise noiseless space.

Stay calm, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Stepping carefully, he made his way down the hallway. As he got closer he could see the faint yellow glow of the upstairs hallway light through the doorway to the next room where the stairs were. He paused, took a breath and continued. At the bottom of the stairs he looked up and saw the light. He hated that light. The dim yellow reflected off the walls, making the stairs and hallway appear dingy, rundown, dangerous.

With his first step on the stairs he felt the darkness close in behind him, lurking, waiting to see what he did next. Another step and he felt the pull of it, coaxing him to step back and let it take him. Stop being stupid. It’s just dark, there’s nothing there, he thought. He went up the next three steps quickly while trying to keep the panic at bay.

Tink, tink, thud. He stopped and turned around. Tink, tink. Waiting, he heard nothing else and rationalized the sounds as the house settling. But he looked at the bottom of the stairs, where the dark now consumed whatever light managed to escape down the stairwell. Nothing moved inside it, but he felt the pressure of it, reaching for him through gloomy light. Instinctively he knew it wasn’t bright enough to hold it back, that if he waited where he was, halfway up the stairs, the darkness would eventually reach him. He didn’t know what would happen if it did, but some part of him wanted to find out. The sane part screamed at him to run.


“Hello,” his voice was barely above a whisper. Of course, the dark isn’t going to answer back, he thought. He turned to continue his trek up the stairs, feeling his way with his hands along the rough patchwork of wallpaper his step-father threw up in a hurry.

Tink, tink, thud. Again, he stopped and turned around. His upper lip began to tremble. The floor beneath his feet felt like shifting sand dunes about to carry him down to the monster that waited in the darkness. He gripped the railing. “Hello?” His trembling lip made him sound like Nepoleon Dynamite when being questioned.

The darkness was as cagey as a Mafia crime boss on the prosecution stand, as hollow as witch's carved pumpkin, as divisive as the white man’s power in Africa. Then, as Jon stood as solid and still as a cat, the darkness produced two eyes, one red, the other blue, both of which stared at him.

This has got to be my imagination, he thought. Resident Evil is just a game.

He wanted to close his eyes and pretend he was in bed experiencing a nightmare of which he had full control over, but his eyes refused his command as the adrenaline began to take effect over his body.

The eyes shifted back and forth like the Karate Kid mesmerizing his opponent in the final scene before taking him out with a final kick to the head. Tink, tink. The eyes stopped moving. Tink, tink.

No, this can't be the end of my life.

shrik-shrik. At the foot of the stairs and out of the darkness came sparks that danced in the dark matter before being suffocated and extinguished by it, leaving no trace of having ever existed. shrik-shrik

Jon's legs kicked like a wild buck as he propelled himself up the stairs into the yellow light that turned from an enemy into a friend as he felt the safety of the light within its caged, protective radius.

He looked back down the stairs into the darkness. No eyes were seen. How am I going to wake mom? was his next thought. I don't want our brain going to the brain-freeze company to sit forever with the life extensionists!

He turned to run, but stopped dead in his tracks, breathless like losing lost treasure, speechless like having your tongue cut out, frozen like the planet Pluto.

Two eyes, one red, the other blue, stared back at Jon.


Jon let out a blood bowling shriek and dropped to his knees. "PLEASE, DON'T KILL US!"

His eyes closed, he held his heart with his hands and waited for the final blow.

The lights in the hallway were switched on. "MOM, ROBERT, WATCHOUT!"

Then he heard laughter, a man's coming from behind him. He looked down to the bottom of the stairs. Robert, who was standing in a full of suit made to look like a boss from Resident Evil and holding a sparker, asked, between his chuckling and giggling, "How do you like your mother's and I's Halloween costumes this year, Jon?"


p.s. The subtitle of this post is "How to terrorize your children and scar them for life." LOL Let me know how this works out for all of you parents out there.

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  • twenty-four-hour short story - You gotta be quick to get this one posted in time. He posts the contest on Sunday (usually) and ends it about 48 hours later. This contest has a 2000 word limit.

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  • Micro-Fiction Writing Contest - This is a fun challenge. You get two-hundred and fifty words to tell a story or vignettes. Here is a great post that will explain the difference between the two concepts. Here is another post explanation of what a story is. Good luck, Brave Story Writer!

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Wow. I was really slipping in and out of reality, the game and my own projected fears. I FELT that caged in sense of panic - if his brain running hard about waling his mom whilst LIVING that terror, in the moment.

Your ending? LOL. A total surprise. Touche. The light nervous laughter at the end? I wasn't sure if it was me or him. :)

You should write suspense fiction and psycho thrillers more. :)

Thoroughly enjoyed over here in Thailand.


I'm so happy to read your response. It lets me know what I did right. Now, only if I could do this every time, I'd be a genius. lol

I think only a person who enjoys horror humor would laugh at the end. 8-)

We shall see what comes out as I continue the work.

Hi tristancarax,

This post has been upvoted by the Curie community curation project and associated vote trail as exceptional content (human curated and reviewed). Have a great day :)

Visit or join the Curie Discord community to learn more.

This is the first time I read a writing contest here on Steemit, and I had fun reading it. I like the way how you describe even the minute detail of "rough patchwork of wallpaper." Your image in writing is so vivid, I can touch what Jon touched and I can feel my heart racing as his! Hahaha! 😁

I love your story. Very artistically done. Hope you win in the contest.


I'm so glad you hop on when a quality post of mine came out! haha. Will you come and join us for a "Finish the Story" contest?

I did get carried away with the images myself, and I liked that it pulled you into the scene. I think this is one of my strongest works yet.


Oh no! I am not a writer, and I'm just learning English. Its not my first language. So my English is limited. If I write, I will surely ran out of words. Hahaha! 😂

Yes, I definitely enjoyed your piece. I am hopeful that you nail this contest out! 😊😊

Have a pleasant day. 😊


If you want to do a teamwork entry, let me know. You'll type 300 or so words in your language and then we'll use google translator. I'll edit and add to what you give. After I finish it, I will post it as a collaborative effort entry. I did a thing like this with a Spanish speaker. We had fun. story


Ahaha! That's a great idea. I do not have great imagination to create a story. My ideas are boring. I just enjoy reading, and appreciating others talent in that field! I really envy those people who can write, because I really can't. Hahaha. 😊 I'm sorry. But thank you for the invitation. 😊😁


Should it interest you, this is an amazing book that will open up your natural writing skills. This is one of the best books I've ever gone through.


Oh, I see.. Yeah, I'll gonna try.


haha. Yes, It would be helpful to leave the link instead of testing your mindreading capabilities.

So, did Jon like the costumes? :)


Tough to say. After he gets over the nightmares, maybe... He'll probably never leave anywhere without a flashlight.

Whoohoo! The only member of the realms (so far) to take up the additional challenge. You did a great job of using direct dialogue in a scene that didn't really require any. So glad you've learned something and now have more skills to use in your already beautiful writing. You've got some great metaphors and descriptive language that make us feel the scene and his fear.

As for terrorizing children, yes, that is how you would do it! And no, as a parent I strive for the exact opposite of that, though I know some parents who think that sort of thing is fun. You captured their energy perfectly with the callus step-dad's dialogue! Anyway I hope their children get the therapy they need and are able to become functioning adults.


Your first half, @ntowl, was easy and fun to riff off of.

@ntowl, live a little in your parenting. Having traumatized children offers many adventures for years to come. haha

Jon's parents are so... adorable.
I hope this story isn't based on real facts.


It's not, but it could be... lol

Wow it was i n t e n s e, I didn't expect the end, really... I even felt the fear of the character!😣 You really are an excellent writer, I can't stop saying it hahaha


So nice of you to stop by again. This was a fun piece to write as I am learning what a metaphor is and how to write them, something of which has made speaking easier.

Hahaha, if my parents would do this to me I would probably need a lifelong therapy :D I'm scared of dark anyway and seeing a blue and a red eye would probably give me nightmares and I wouldn't be able to sleep peacefully ever again :D

Great story! And I'm happy that it didn't happen to me :)

Thank you for sharing and have a lovely day!


haha, Yeah, those are some rotten parents but, when life gets a little dull, try this.