All Stories, Horror, Short Fiction

The Eleventh Step by Hugh Cron

I hate that eleventh step. It’s the darkest one. It always has been. I remember noticing it when I was around twelve years old but I couldn’t say anything, not to my parents.

I blamed them. I thought when they died it would leave me alone. It didn’t.

I’ve suffered that step for forty years now. But I don’t think I’ll need to for much longer.

It’s easy to say that I should keep the light on until I get to the top of the stairs but I can’t. I’m not allowed to. I have to summon up the courage to get past that bastard step. I continually feel like that twelve year old. I reek of fear and insecurity, that’s why I’ve never had anyone.

I’ve tried sleeping in the living room but the whispers come and they scare me. I don’t know what they say but they make me go to my room.

I’ve no problem during the day, or any time up until I’m going to bed. I can switch on the hall light and come and go as I please. But at 1.00am, every night, I am compelled to go up those stairs and that is when the fear and dread take over.

As I go up I feel the sweat run down my back. I shake and my mouth goes dry. The only way I can describe it is decay. I feel as if I am rotting from the inside. On stair ten I always pause as I begin to get light headed but I can only stop for a second. If I don’t carry on, I would be finished. I try and swallow and lift my leg to place it on the eleventh step. That’s when I see the images. They are there but I just can’t grasp them to pull them into my long term memory. I can’t stand there long as I can’t handle it. I need to move on to stair number twelve and when I do, the images are gone.

I tried missing it out once but I won’t do that again.

I always sit on the top step for a few minutes before I go to bed. My breathing calms and the sweat turns cold. I don’t understand why I have no trouble sleeping. I lie down and immediately fall into unconsciousness. Well I think so, I have no recollection otherwise. I’m aware that I dream and can recall the blackness the next morning when I wake. I don’t know what the blackness is, I just know that it was with me through the night. I wouldn’t dream of it if I didn’t step on the eleventh stair. But I have to, I always do.

I’ve never got used to the madness and I can’t take this terror anymore. I want to move house, a bungalow would be good but I know I’m not allowed to leave. I’d need to spend a last night here and that is when it would happen.

I’ll die on that step. I know this. I don’t know when but I know that it’ll happen soon. I wonder how my corpse will look. Will there be any marks? Will my face be contorted in terror? Will my body even be there?

…Yes…It’ll be there for someone to find when the stench annoys the neighbours. And me, I’ll be in the darkness I dream of, the darkness that I can always remember. The darkness is real.

I wish I could tell someone. Maybe they could help. But I don’t think so. They’d never believe me, not now. I’ll have to keep this to myself and live with it, I have no option.

I think everyone has an eleventh step. It may not be on their staircase but it is somewhere.

Hugh Cron

Image – Google Images

5 thoughts on “The Eleventh Step by Hugh Cron”

  1. ‘Tis 13 steps up to the gallows. Yet this 11th step is more fearsome. Wonderful Poe-like, “rational” paranoia. I suppose someone will say to herself “Not a fuck or shite or cunt uttered.” She should understand that you only use those words where they are appropriate to the situation–not for shock effect.
    Ever closer to the 100th step.


  2. When the narrator says “I’ve suffered that step for forty years now,” he hasn’t been able to live his life, he’s been dead inside because of his compulsion. We all have the 11th step, but most of us are able to keep it out of our minds most of the time, we’re not controlled by it. I think everyone can identify with this character though, because somewhere within us is that same fear. Good 1.


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