The Wooden Staircase is a Japanese urban legend about an apartment whose tenants always leave within a week.
There was an old apartment building in Japan that was seven stories high. The apartments were very small and decrepit and the building had no elevator. There was only a large, dilapidated wooden staircase that spanned seven flights of stairs. Each one had seven steps.
On the first floor of the building, there was a one-room apartment, directly opposite the staircase. The landlord who owned it had a hard time finding tenants to stay in the apartment. Whenever he managed to rent it out, the tenant would suddenly leave, without ever giving an explanation. Every tenant left less than one week after renting the room.
One day, a young man came to look at the vacant apartment. He was a college student and didn’t have very much money. The apartment was very small, but the landlord was asking for a very low rent. The man decided to take the apartment and moved his belongings in a few days later.
The first day that the young man spent in the apartment was a Monday. During the night, he was roused from his slumber by a strange noise. It sounded like a child’s voice, echoing in the staircase near his front door.
“I have reached the first step on the wooden staircase,” said the voice.
“What is a child doing out of bed at this time of night?” the man wondered to himself. However, he was tired from transporting his belongings and just went back to sleep.
The next night, he was again awakened by the same voice calling out, “Two steps on the wooden staircase have I climbed!”
On Wednesday night, the voice cried, “Three steps on the wooden staircase have I climbed!”
The man jumped out of bed and ran to the front door. When he opened the door and looked out, he saw that the staircase was empty. An unnerving thought crossed his mind. “Could it be possible that the staircase is haunted?”
And so it went on the same way, on the fourth, the fifth and the sixth day.
Every night, the man heard the child’s voice calling out. Each time, it seemd to get closer and closer.
Sunday night finally arrived and the man was trembling in his bed. He thought about moving out, but told himself that he must be brave. He refused to allow himself to be scared off by a ghostly voice.
In the middle of the night, he woke to hear something scratching at his door.
A voice cried out, “I have reached the seventh step on the staircase!”
A shiver ran down the man’s spine as he heard his locked front door swing open.
The next morning, the landlord arrived to collect the rent. When he knocked on the apartment door, there was no answer. Suspicious about the whole situation, he took out his spare key and let himself in.
Sprawled across the bed, he found the tenant’s mangled body. His face bore an expression of unimaginable fear. The police came and examined the body, but no cause of the death could be determined. It seemed as if the man had been scared to death.
The apartment is stil vacant today, awaiting a new tenant. Over the years, all of the previous residents have fled before the week is through. They all say they left because they feared what might happen when the voice reached the seventh step.
There are only two people who knows the answer: The dead man and the unspeakable thing that climbs the wooden staircase every night.