Hallway

I always hated hallways, but now I never want to enter any of them ever again. What happened tonight scared me beyond anything. It twisted and disturbed some of my sweetest childhood memories.

When I was little, I lived in an old farmhouse with the rest of my family. My grandparents had been farmers their whole life, but when I was little, they had already retired.

The farmhouse was huge, more than thirty meters in length. I used to sleep in the same room as my mom when I was little. Once I was a little older, I got my own room. I loved it. It was huge, had a couch, a bed and all my toys were there.

There was one problem with the room: It was located in the middle of the building.

To go anywhere, I had to follow a long hallway which stretched through the whole building. This was fine during the daytime since big windows on both ends allowed the light to enter.

At night though, this hallway was my own, personal hell. It was creepy and both sides ended in nothing but darkness. The worst part was the light switches. They were located on either end of the hallway, where stairways connected it to the ground floor.

Whenever I had to go to the toilet at night, I had to walk down the hallway for about ten meters before reaching it. What made it even worse was that the farmhouse was more than a century old. You’d hear noises all the time. The creaking of the old beams or the floor made me shake in fear.

It was terrible and walking those ten meters at night was the worst part of my childhood.

Whenever I had to go, I’d open the door to my room all the way to illuminate the hallway. The only thing it did was to fill it with weird shadows and turning the small cupboards into lurking monsters, waiting for me to come closer.

I had a savior though, my grandma. My grandparents had their own bedroom a few doors up the hallway, away from mine. After one of my nightly visits, I told them all about my fears, how scary the hallway was at night and how I hated to go to the toilet. All they said was the typical ‘There is nothing to be afraid of, it is all in your imagination’.

During the next night, when I had to go again, I saw a dark silhouette at the end of the hallway looking into my direction. It shocked me, and I’d have screamed if not for my grandma’s voice. She told me all would be fine. I should close the door because the light was not good for her old eyes. Then she walked towards me. She said it would be our little secret. No one had to know that she was here. If I were quiet about it, everyone would think I had overcome my fear all by myself. It was only natural for me to follow her advice. When she held out her hand for me in the dark, I grabbed it. She’d walk me to the toilet, wait for me till I was done and then walk me back to my room. Before she went back in the direction of her and my grandpa’s room, she’d always ask me if I wanted to come and sleep in her bed.

By then I thought of myself as a big boy. I told her, I could handle the night all by myself and went back to my room. At times I would look after her though, as she vanished into the dark. It was often that I heard her repeat the invitation to come to her bed.

It was tempting at times, but I never went.

The first few months I dreaded nothing more than going to the toilet at night. Once grandma was there though, things got better. I used to hate the hallway, as well as my room, but not anymore.

The one thing I was a little perplexed about was that my grandma always knew when I had to go to the toilet. Maybe she heard all the ruckus I mad when I got up and walked to the door? It didn’t matter. What was important for me, was that she was always there.

The whole thing continued till my mother and I moved to the city because she had gotten a better job. The last year, holding hands with my grandma felt a little weird. I was already ten and all that. I might have even told her that she didn’t have to do it anymore. Deep down, I was happy that she was still looking out for me and knew that I’d be scared to death without her.

I am now twenty-four years old. I’ve never been here much since back then. My mother and I lived in the city and had only visited my grandparents during the holidays. We could never stay over because my mom was busy with work all the time.

My grandma had died when I was sixteen years old and my grandpa died three years ago. After that my mother had moved back into the old house. She was self-employed by the time, so nothing much changed for her and by then I was already in college.

At the moment I am taking a little bit of a break. I decided it would be an excellent time to visit my mother and to spend some time in the house I grew up in. It is the first time I am back here at my old home for more than an afternoon.

When we had moved, we had left most of the old furniture behind. It surprised me to find my old childhood room in the same state I had left it behind in. I decided to sleep in my old room for nostalgia’s sake. It would be nice to think back to the times of my childhood.

After my mother had gone to bed today, I went back to my room and decided to browse the web for a bit. At one point I had to go to the toilet.

“Great, time to relive some more memories,” I thought.

I knew no one had bothered to put up new light switches or a new lamp for that matter.

Well, I wasn’t a kid anymore. I got up and opened the door and carefully peered outside like I used to when I was little.

At the end of the hallway, I saw a familiar dark figure. Only now, as an adult did, I realize how tall, almost towering the shape was. It filled out the entire hallway. At the same time it seemed to be hunched over, leaning forward in my direction. I saw long dangling arms that reached from the top of the figure almost down to the floor.

As a little kid, it must have seemed normal that my grandma was taller than me, that her arms were longer than mine. The sheer size must have seemed normal in the dark. One of the impossibly long arms reached out to me, ending in a hand so large, it would easy enclose mine. Then I heard a somewhat distorted, almost giggling version of my grandma’s voice:

“Everything is going to be fine my dear little boy.”