The Mysterious Staircase is a scary story about two friends who experience something strange while taking a shortcut through a shopping center.
When I was 13, I had two best friends in Junior High School. Their names were Toshi and Hiro. One weekend, we were planning to go to the movies together. I was excited. We lived in a small town and there was precious little to do, so going to the movies was a big event.
On Saturday, I got a call from Hiro. He told me he had a violin lesson and wouldn’t be able to come to the movie, but he could meet up with us afterwards. We arranged to meet in the train station after the movie finished.
So, that evening, I went to see the movie with Toshi. Even though it was just the two of us, we still had fun. When the movie was over, we left the cinema and headed towards the train station to meet Hiro.
As we were passing a shopping center, Toshi said, “I know a shortcut. Let’s go through here.”
He told me that there was a pedestrian bridge on the 3rd floor of the shopping center that led straight to the train station. I thought it was better than walking around the long way, so I followed him inside.
It was a Saturday evening, so the shopping center was crowded with customers. We found the staircase on the ground floor and went up. However, upon reaching the 3rd floor, we discovered that there was no door to enter the shopping center.
“Let’s go up to the 4th floor,” Toshi said. “Maybe we can get into the shopping center that way and then take an escalator down to the 3rd floor.”
However, when we reached the 4th floor, there was no door there either.
We kept going up the staircase, to the 5th floor and the 6th floor, but there were still no doors.
Toshi kept walking steadily up the stairs and I kept following him.
At one point, I realized we must have been on the 10th floor. That’s when I started to think something strange was going on. When I saw the building from the outside, I was sure there weren’t 10 floors. But Toshi kept climbing the stairs, saying, “Let’s go up one more.”
We went up the stairs steadily. Toshi was leading the way and I was following.
By the time we came to the 15th floor, I had a very eerie feeling. The stairs had become old and rickety. The wooden steps were dusty and rotten and the paint was peeling off the handrails. It felt like it hadn’t been used in years.
I was pretty afraid at this point, so I called out to Toshi, “This is really weird. Let’s go back down.”
Toshi didn’t turn around. He just kept climbing the stairs.
“Ha ha ha, it’s weird,” he laughed.
I was a little bit disappointed.
“Why are you laughing?” I said. “I’m telling you I want to go back down!”
Toshi, still with his back to me, said again, “Ha ha ha, it’s weird.”
I was getting irritated by his attitude. Then, as I watched Toshi climbing the stairs, I noticed that there was something odd about him. The movements he was making seemed very strange. The way he was climbing up the stairs just didn’t seem… human. It looked awkward, like a doll being manipulated by hand.
Right hand, left hand, right foot, left foot… Each of his limbs was moving in a strange way, as if they were all operating independently.
All of a sudden, I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Something was very wrong. I stopped on the spot. My legs refused to move.
Toshi stopped climbing too and he slowly turned around to face me.
“Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, it’s weird,” he laughed. “Ha ha ha ha ha ha, it’s weird.”
As soon as I caught a glimpse of Toshi’s face, I let out a scream of terror.
He was laughing, but his facial expressions were strange and awkward. His lips hung open and his teeth were gnashed together in a garish grin. His head was vibrating back and forth at an alarming rate and his eyeballs were rolling backwards in his head.
I turned on my heel and ran back down the stairs at full speed.
I could still hear his voice echoing behind me.
“Ha ha ha ha ha ha, it’s weird.”
I was running so fast, I was afraid my legs would get tangled and I would fall down, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to get away. I kept on running, down and down, until I reached the bottom.
When I got out onto the street, I didn’t look back. I just kept on running until I wound up at the train station.
My friend Hiro was waiting for me at the ticket gate. He was angry.
“Where have you been?” he demanded. “The movie ended almost an hour ago! And why isn’t Toshi with you?”
I was panting and had to stop to catch my breath. Every time I looked around, I was terrified that I would see Toshi following me with that strange movement. When I had managed to calm myself down, I told Hiro about what happened. At first, he thought I was kidding around, but gradually he realized that I was serious.
“Let’s go back to the building,” he said.
I didn’t want to go back there, but Hiro insisted.
“Toshi’s in trouble,” he said. “He needs our help.”
When we got back to the shopping center, I showed Hiro the stairs. They looked the same as before. We began climbing up. On the 3rd floor, there was a door. It led into the shopping center. On the 4th floor there was another door leading into the shopping center as well.
The staircase ended there. The building only had 4 floors.
I stood there, looking around in amazement, unable to believe what I was seeing.
There was nothing more we could do, so we decided to go home.
Maybe Toshi will show up tomorrow morning in school, I thought, and then everything will be OK.
The next day, however, when I went to school, Toshi was absent.
Hiro arrived about 10 minutes late. He said that, during the night, he had had a strange dream. His face was pale. In his dream, he saw Toshi walking barefoot in a forest, crying and muttering to himself.
I had a feeling that it was more than just a dream, but neither of us knew what to do.
The next day, when Toshi still hadn’t shown up, his parents went to the police and reported him missing. A search of the town was conducted, but no trace of him could be found. Hiro and I went to the police and told them what we knew, but it didn’t help. Nobody knew where Toshi was. Our friend was missing and there was nothing anyone could do about it.
About a month later, Toshi’s body was found.
I got the news directly from his family. They said he was found in a forest on a mountain more than 100 kilometers away from the town where we live. It seems that he had died of exposure. Nobody could explain how he had come to be there.