Tread Not The Penrose Stairs

5 minutes read


The late-night silence is broken by the loud stumbling of a very drunk man and his sober driver, who somehow managed to lock the keys in the car. Neither seemed to mind the walk home as they sang and stumbled around; even the sober man joined in song and stepped lazily through the street.

Hours passed as they assaulted the streets with their terrible singing, which slipped into the homes of those nearby, waking everyone near. House after house had its doors and windows swung open to allow tired, cold, and angry inhabitants to yell at the men until their spirits died and they finished the walk in silence.

There was another half an hour of silence between the two tired and cold friends before they arrived at their home.

“Hey, I am sorry, Arlo; if I had not fucked up, we would have been home hours ago.”

“Pfft, who even cares, ma…”

Arlo stopped mid-sentence to hold back the urge to vomit; he stood staring at the ground, grasping his mouth as his body jerked forward.

“But think we can get in quickly, Thaddeus, before I throw up all through the bushes.”

Thaddeus got the both of them access into the building; after allowing Arlo in, he rushed to the elevator to get it started.

Elevator is out, unless you are going to fix it, don’t complain’

“Well, I have shit news, elevators out, we have to walk, but it is only twelve floors; think you can handle it?”

Arlo gave a sickened look to Thaddeus and nodded as he walked past the elevator and started on the stairs. Arlo slowly made his way up step by step, grasping onto the railings for extra balance. He pulled a corner to fall out of sight from Thaddeus.

“Hey, look halfway, Thaddeus, and the stairs smell nice here, kinda like roses.”

Thaddeus’s eyes widened as he ran up the stairs to help his friend,

“Don’t move, or she will get you!”

Thaddeus ran round and round as the floors flew past him, seven, eight, nine, eight, two, ##^*.

“Oh god no, she got me, but I could not smell roses, could I? Na, this must be a joke; someone has played with the floor signs to freak people out.”

Thaddeus went up and down floors checking the floor numbers as he went, but one after another, it was apparent that he was trapped in her world. Thaddeus stood there waiting, muttering to himself all the information that he knew about her.

“You can’t fight her, you can’t hide, she is above and below, get far enough away and survive, wait for her song, then run the other way. Ok, I have this. I can do this. I am fit. This should be easy.”

He stood there waiting for the song to start playing, knowing if he ran too early, he might be running towards her. Silence echoed all through the stairs as Thaddeus stood, eyes closed, listening to the beat of his own heart go into overdrive. Then from above him, he heard the singing, and without hesitation, he bolted down the stairs with all his might.

“One, two, three, and four
Up again, another floor
Five, six, seven, eight
let me find you, seal your fate
nine, ten, I’ll sing again till this song your final end.”

Thaddeus heard every word that sang out from above him; it pooled in his ears as he used all of his energy to move as far away from this demon as possible. He knew he had no time to take a breath, or he would be stuck longer in this hell world of infinite stairs.

“One, two, three, and four
Up again, another floor
Five, six, seven, eight
let me find you, seal your fate
nine, ten
I’ll sing again till this song your final end.”

This time the singing was coming from below; it took Thaddeus a few steps before he managed to turn his momentum around to start heading back up the stairs. Unfortunately for him, he had walked too far that night getting home; it had taken its toll as he sluggishly tried to make the next step; failing to lift his foot height enough, he tripped and landed on the next floor up, exhausted and winded.

“One, two, three and four
Here I am on your floor
Five, six, seven, eight
Now’s the time to seal your fate
Nine, ten
I won’t sing again; now you’ll meet your final end.”

Thaddeus started crying as he crawled his way to the elevator; knowing he could not beat her, he propped himself against the wall and stared down the stairs waiting for the horror to arrive. He started to hear her footsteps approaching. She was only one floor away; Thaddeus readied himself for oblivion as a little girl turned the corner and started climbing towards him.

She was no older than the age of six; she was wearing a dress with a simple flower sewn on the front. Her hair was in ponytails, and her eyes as black as charcoal staring into Thaddeus’s soul. She pulled out a sickle from behind her back and cocked her head.

“These are my stairs, and I do not like to share.”

The silence was then had by both as they stared at each other until, finally, she started to sing again.

“Ten, nine, eight and seven
Hope your soul reaches heaven
Six, five, four, and three
But your body stays with me
Two, one
Let’s have some fun, now my little song is done….”

She approached Thaddeus with her sickle high, but something behind her distracted Thaddeus, an enormous black hand reaching around the staircase with a booming voice.

“You touch Penrose, and you will wish she had cut you up.”

“That is my big brother. He will make sure I stay safe.”

Penrose started to giggle as she brought the sickle down into Thaddeus’s shoulder, causing him to scream out into the echoing stairs he had been trapped on.
Arlo stood completely still as the smell of roses dispersed and the faint sounds of a man screaming came from above.

“Damn, that is annoying; Thaddeus had the keys.”