The hallway in this house is too dark. Not dark in the sense of low visibility (though calling it bright would be a massive overstatement), but in the sense that it just feels off. The paint was tattered, stained, and generally less colorful than the rest of the house. Not to mention it led only to a small cold cellar with plain walls and a small un-covered light bulb with a little chain attached. I wasn't a man of routine, but I made it part of my routine to stay away from that hallway. The way to it was soon blocked off by cardboard boxes and when company was over, I liked to make sure that no-one knew it existed. I had tricked everyone, including myself, to believe that behind those boxes was nothing except for a wall, and that the stench of piss and rotting was most likely a rat that had gotten trapped under cardboard.

Life went on in my small town with little to no mention of the new guy and his hallway, so life felt good for me. I had a wife, two small daughters who listened to me in most situations, and a well paying job down at the bank. I also, of course, had that hallway. But I didn't pride myself over it. It was the holder of the only rule out of the norm my children had. "Never go into that hallway." Sometimes we would hear scratching in the night, only to find next morning that some rats had knocked down boxes, but we just put them back up and never thought another second about that hallway. That god damn hallway.

My daughter, Lleshi, was older than Sapphire and therefore generally more rebellious. She would sneak out of the house past curfew and skulk whenever I wouldn't get her a new dress or something along the lines (to which my wife got her anyway, infuriating me bit by bit). One night, I heard the stairs to my basement give off a soft creaking noise. Carefully, as not to wake my wife, I slid out of bed in my groggy state to go discover the source of the noise. I was large and careless on my trip to the stairs. I couldn't hear the scratching on the boxes get more and more aggravated until at last the boxes tumbled and I heard a scream.

My wife was stirring now. She went to check on the kids and found me, frightened, explaining that Lleshi was missing from her room. I ran down to the bend of my stairs, turned and... stopped. What I saw down there was nothing I wished to partake in. A creature so grotesque that no matter how far it had lodged its image into my mind, it was something I could never bring upon myself to force others to deal with. Nay, I can't begin to search these lands for words to explain what I saw dragging my daughter. It would have been a life-long pursuit. All I can bring to tell you of is that when it smiled its toothy smile at me, I saw fear. Inside its gullet, behind rows and rows of teeth, was nothing. Less than nothing. It was the kind of emptiness that could not be touched by matter. No definite color, shading, brightness, nothing. All I can say from that day is I shall never be affected by evil or fear again. I have looked the source of the two in the face, and nothing will ever again come close to what I saw. That damn hallway.

Finally, I nerved myself and ran down the stairs, yelling futile phrases in an attempt to make the creature yield. When at last I reached the base of the stairs it had disappeared behind the boxes. I moved them aside in a frenzy only too find... more god damn nothing. It was gone, along with Lleshi and the hallway. Nothing was behind those boxes.

A week past before I left the house again too go hang out with a friend and drown my sorrows away. I walked down his stairs casually, and froze. In a corner of his house was a pile of boxes, and coming from behind those boxes was a stench of piss and rotting meat. I asked him about it, and he blew it off as rats. That god damn hallway.