As Arthur arrived at the bottom of the stairs, he found a suspicious piece of paper lying right next to the front door. He did not remember putting that paper there. He curiously picked it up. When he looked at it, he nearly dropped it when he saw what was written on it “This is not your house – you are trespassing, get out or else!”
Reading that, he was momentarily frightened. Was somebody else claiming that they owned his house? He lived alone, and owned the house. Whomever they were, the claim was baseless. Knowing this, Arthur quickly calmed down. He knew the neighborhood kids could be pranksters, and decided not to pay it any mind. He simply dropped the note into the recycling before having breakfast.
Despite the fact that he dismissed the note as a children’s prank, he couldn’t get it out of his mind. Something seemed a bit unusual about it, but Arthur simply couldn’t place it. However, Arthur’s concerns grew again later that afternoon when he saw another note resting on the hallway floor “This is my house! Get out now!”
When he saw this note, Arthur knew this was no children’s prank, since it was the middle of the day, when the children were at school. Arthur opened the door and looked outside. Nobody was hiding nearby, and there was no sign that anybody had come to his house. The path leading to his front door was made of dirt, which had become mud due to the fact that it rained heavily the night before. If anybody had come to his front door, they would have left visible footprints in the mud, but the surface of the mud was smooth and undisturbed.
“Who’s writing these notes,” he cried, in case somebody was hiding just out of sight, “who’s doing this?”
But there was no reply, so he shut the door, and locked it. As he stepped back inside to recycle this note, he had a crazy idea when he passed by a picture hanging on the wall. The picture showed him and his wife, Julie, sitting next to each other, smiling. This was from before their relationship turned sour. Julie had died of a heart attack about a month earlier. They would have gotten a divorce if Julie hadn’t died before either of them could file. Arthur realized that the notes could have been left by Julie’s ghost; they had disputed over who takes possession of the house – both of them badly wanted it. Now, was Julie calling from beyond the grave to claim it?
Arthur pondered what he would do about this for the rest of the afternoon.
The next morning, he found another note on the hallway floor.
“You don’t scare me, honey,” the note read, “this house is all mine now! You’ll never get me out!”
This confirmed Arthur’s crazy theory. During their relationship’s rough patches, they still had a tendency to call each other “honey”, albeit sarcastically.
“Julie,” he screamed, “I’m sorry, but you’re dead! You have no claim over this house! It’s mine!”
He then thought to himself how he could get rid of Julie’s ghost. So far, the ghost hadn’t done him any harm; she may not even be capable of doing him any harm, but Arthur thought it would be better to get rid of the ghost than to find out.
He rushed to his computer and checked the Internet. Online, he found several psychics and mediums who claimed to be able to banish ghosts, some even living in the general area. He was tempted to call one, but ultimately decided against it. He feared that if word got out, he might be ridiculed as being a crazy person. He ultimately decided to look for some do-it-yourself approach.
When he got up for a couple minutes, to use the restroom, he passed by the entrance hall again, and found another note on the ground. He picked it up and read it, his hands starting to shake from his growing fear.
“You’re wrong,” the note read, “it’s my house! All mine!”
He dropped the note, and ran back to his computer. He had to find a way to get rid of her, and put a stop to her ridiculous claims. He opened his internet browser to continue his search for do-it-yourself ghost removal, when suddenly, the screen went black. The computer had crashed. Arthur immediately accused Julie’s ghost.
“You think you’re so clever, do you?” he said.
He pressed the power button to try and turn the computer back on, but nothing happened.
“Very funny,” he said, “you always thought I spent too much time on the Internet, didn’t you, Julie? Now, you’re having your revenge? You’re not scaring me! I can just use the public computers at the library!”
He got up, and put on his coat. He was about to walk out the door to go to the library, when he realized something: Julie wanted to drive him out of the house. If he left, Julie could lock him outside, and would have won. If she could make the computer crash like that, sealing the doors would be easy. Arthur decided he would not leave the house until he’s certain that Julie’s gone.
He couldn’t sleep that night. This was partially due to his knowing that Julie’s ghost is in the house, watching over him, tormenting him. However, this was also due to creaking noises in the attic. Though these noises are relatively common on windy days and nights, Arthur knew that that night’s creaking was another trick from Julie’s ghost, trying to get him to leave the house.
The next morning, he found another note on the hallway floor. He picked it up and read it.
“You think you won, didn’t you, honey?” the note read, “This is far from over!”
Arthur was no longer fazed by the notes, but their damage was done. He tried to live normally that day, but remained in fear of Julie’s ghost sabotaging everything he wanted to do. He wouldn’t turn on any running water, out of fear that Julie would use it to flood him out of the house. He wouldn’t go near anything electrical, or anything flammable, out of concern Julie could use it to arrange a freak accident and kill him. He remained nervous all day.
During the day, he found yet another note on the floor in the hallway “I will never leave! Never! Never! Get out, before I find a way to force you out!”
Two days later, an orderly, Elmer, and a police officer, Officer Simpson, were looking into a padded room, where a new patient at the psychiatric hospital was screaming something angrily. The hospital’s head doctor, Dr. Bolton, walked in.
“So,” Dr. Bolton asked, “what’s this patient’s story?”
“He apparently came to believe that his dead wife’s ghost was haunting him,” Elmer explained, “through a series of notes left on the hallway floor, and trying to get him to leave the house so she could reclaim it.”
“Is that right,” Dr. Bolton said, “were there really notes?”
“Indeed,” Officer Simpson explained, “but I’ve been able to figure out their actual source. All of the notes we found in the recycling look like they could have been written by his wife, except this last one.”
Officer Simpson read the final note to Dr. Bolton and Elmer.
“Honey,” it reads, “please leave me alone already! You’re dead! Ghosts have no use for a house! Julie, I know we had our differences, but please, just let me live! Please, get out! Get out!”
“All of the notes were written by him,” Officer Simpson concluded, “all an attempt to respond to his wife. However, he is recorded as having some short-term memory loss, so he’d forgotten that he wrote the notes, and eventually convinced himself they were from his wife. The first note was simply a warning sign he posted on his door for trespassers that fell off. And his blaming a fluke wiring problem that caused his computer to lose power on her didn’t help matters one bit.”
“A sad case,” Dr. Bolton said, “he drove himself to madness.”
“Indeed,” Officer Simpson explained, as he and Elmer left Arthur, still pounding furiously on the padded walls, desperately wanting to go home so he could reclaim it from Julie’s ghost.
Author’s Notes (may contain spoilers):
I originally got the idea for “Notes on the Hallway Floor” when I was speaking with my uncle. He suggested I write a story similar to this, his main idea being somebody haunting himself. This idea definitely had merit, but how would I accomplish this? He had suggested a method, but I did not think his method could work, so I thought some more. I originally planned to give Arthur a split personality, with one personality intentionally haunting the other, who remains unaware of the other personality’s existence, but realized that stories like that get written all the time. Besides, if a split personality is behind the haunting, it would beg the question as to if Arthur really can be haunting himself. I eventually settled on the idea of giving him short-term memory loss, so he forgets writing the notes.
The notes themselves were part of my uncle’s original suggestion. The question became how do I write the notes so that it is logical that he wrote them himself, yet at the same time, alarming enough to frighten Arthur. I ultimately realized the best method was he attempting to use the notes to communicate back to his dead wife, but writing the notes carefully so they are a logical thing Arthur would say, yet could be interpreted as messages from Julie. Try reading the story again, knowing Arthur wrote the notes, and you’ll see.