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The Children Upstairs

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This is a story I heard from my friend at university. A man (we call him “K”) got whiplash in a car accident and decided to convalesce at home for a week. K was married but his wife was also working, so he was all alone during the day. For the first few days he enjoyed the freedom, but when the third day came boredom began to set in. Still he had to stay in because his injury kept him from going anywhere.

Then one day past lunchtime he was watching TV absentmindedly when he heard heavy stamping noises and children’s voices from upstairs. He didn’t pay much attention to it, although he wondered if they were on a school holiday. The next day he again heard the same children’s voices, around the same time as the previous day.

It sounded like they had two children up there. The place where K lived was a large apartment block but in spite of that it tended to be very quiet during the day; the children’s voices, therefore, echoed loudly in contrast to the quietness of the surrounding. K however did not feel annoyed, but was rather glad of the distraction and a break it gave him from the eerie silence.

The next day K, feeling bored and not motivated enough to cook lunch, ordered some pizza. The pizza, which arrived within 30 minutes, turned out to be too much for K that he left one whole pizza untouched. Usually he would keep any left-overs for his wife but this time he remembered about the children upstairs and, willing to do something kind, he decided to take the pizza to them.

K had no idea who the occupants of the room upstairs were but rang the bell on the door anyway. He heard something stir inside, but there was no answer. He rang the bell again. He felt someone was looking at him through the peephole. “Who is it?” A faint voice called out from behind the door.

K explained he was from the room below and that he had some pizza left from his lunch and wondered if they wanted it. The door opened a crack. It looked unusually dark inside the room. From the gap about 5 cm wide a woman appeared, revealing only half of her face. “Thank you very much. But we don’t want it,” the woman said coldly. It was a little too dark to discern her facial expression. K suddenly felt he was somehow out of place, like he shouldn’t be there; however he tried to explain to her that he wanted her to give the pizza to the children.

A lukewarm air breezed out of the door. He smelt an unpleasant odor. In an instant two children’s faces lined up below the woman’s face. The door was open still just a crack. The dull eyes of the children stared at him. The three faces were forming a line.

“I see…. then… I will accept your kindness.” The woman said. When K put the pizza box through the gap a hand reached out right from the side and snatched it away.

The three faces were still staring at K. “Thank you…..” He heard the faint voice again. K quickly left the place. He felt spooked. In the corner of his mind he sensed something was seriously wrong. The image of the children’s faces had left a burning impression in his mind. Faces….. He felt a chill down his spine. Faces…they were forming a line… His pace quickened. He wanted to get away as fast as he could. He waited for the lift but it would not arrive. Forming a line…vertically…on top of each other….. He pressed the button again and again, but the lift still did not come. He turned to the emergency stairs. His head throbbed with pain. He began to feel nausea.

Just as he opened the heavy door leading to the emergency stairs, he felt eyes on his back. Turning around, he glimpsed, about ten metres from him, the same three faces looking at him from the corner of the corridor. Like before, they were showing only the half of their faces and staring at him with their dull eyes. The cold day light shining through the windows illuminated their faces.

No longer caring about his neck he frantically ran down the stairs. Although the health-conscious K often used stairs instead of lift and could even run up four floors in one go, he felt as if no matter how fast he ran he would never reach the ground floor. Faces lined up, on top of each other…that’s impossible…that means there are…no bodies……and the strange things I saw behind the faces were…hands…..holding up the heads……

He ran into the nearest convenience store and asked the people there to call the police.

The police came, and searched the flat - and found the bodies of the mother and children in the bath tub. These bodies were headless.

According to their findings, it had been three days since the heads had been chopped off the bodies.

And the husband, who turned out to be the murderer, was found hiding in the wardrobe - insane. He insisted his family was still alive. There was a terror in his eyes; the police did not know the source of his terror.

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