January 1st 1939

This is the journal of professor Edward T. Scott. Today I rifled through my late colleague’s office looking for unfinished works when I stumbled upon a box of dust covered files. They were not his, which I found very odd. They were labeled “Top Secret. Property of Dr. Marcus Nixione of The Institute for Paranormal Research.” My deceased colleague’s name was Dr. Fortzler. He would never entertain the idea of following someone else’s research. If it wasn’t his idea it was not worth a moment of his time.

As I rifled through the dusty research papers I came across a file labeled “The relic of downtown Terryville.” Clipped to the front of the file was a photo of Dr. Nixione. He was a thin man who wore spectacles, and had even thinner greasy black hair. How unsightly! The document mentioned an old apartment building in Terryville that had been preserved as an historical landmark. As it was simply an apartment building I found myself puzzled as to why it was given such status. There was nothing in the town records that indicated any historical significance to the town or the country. Each document in this report mentioned a door and a key. The documents were all typed, but there were also strange markings scribbled by hand on each page that for the life of me I could not decipher.

March 12th 1939

I called one of my colleagues at Yale University and asked about this report as it seemed to have originated from his office. The date on the folder, and each of the documents was December 1892. Not a single person at my friend’s office had even heard of Dr. Marcus Nixione. Such a strange turn of events, but I was now compelled to understand the meaning of these documents. I mailed a copy of the documents to my colleague at Yale and awaiting a response.

April 4th 1939

I finally received a response from my colleague (Dr. Daniel Foytino) from Yale. He said that the documents did originate from his office but he had never heard of “The Institute for Paranormal Research.” Curious. One thing of note was he did recognize a few of the strange characters drawn on the documents. He could not recall what language they were written in but could make out the words “Key,” “Open,” and “Gate.” One of his good friends was an archeologist who had recently discovered an ancient tomb in Iraq with similar writings. This was getting stranger and stranger by the moment.

November 13th 1939

I had finally drummed up the nerve and went to investigate that old apartment building in Terryville. I had called ahead and asked for permission from the current owners to investigate. They were a bit hesitant at first, and informed me that the building was in a slight state of disrepair. That it was a little bit dusty. I did not mind this. If I could stand a box full of dusty old documents I could stand a few cobwebs and spiders. Apparently they weren’t even renting the place out. How odd. They begrudgingly agreed after I stated I was from a University, and that I was conducting research about the history of the town. I made that part up but they seemed to buy it hook line and sinker!

When I arrived the caretaker handed me the keys but refused to join me inside. Gave me some excuse about feeling under the weather. How convenient. Upon entering I was smacked with a most pungent aroma that reminded me of hot sulfur. I say this because my aunt on one occasion had left a carton of eggs in the stove instead of the refrigerator. She was elderly and confused. When she went to warm up the oven to bake me some cookies the whole house was filled with a most unpleasant odor. We all gagged and opened every window and door to air out offensive stench.

When I reached the second floor of the building via the stairwell the smell seemed to die down a bit. I had my coat sleeve covering my nose and mouth to keep out the smell until I found a large window that I cracked open wide to let in some fresh air. When I continued to ascend the staircase I noticed that some loose papers had been strewn about all over the stairs. There was a slight breeze that came from upstairs and as I drew closer I saw where the papers were coming from. The door to a room on the third floor was slightly ajar and the papers flew out of the crack a few at a time. I bent down and picked up one of the papers and noticed they had symbols drawn all over them that were eerily similar to those drawn on the dusty documents.

When I stood back up I noticed the sign on the door which read “3 H Nixione.” Jackpot! I cracked it open and revealed a dimly lit apartment adorned with ugly checkered furniture. A slight breeze came in from an open window which greatly reduced the stench. There was an old couch, a kitchenette, a small bathroom, and a bedroom which strangely seemed in a better state than the rest of the apartment. If I didn’t know any better I would say that someone had slept here, recently. The only thing that deterred me from believing this idea was the sheets of the bed being covered in a strange soot like substance.

In the corner of the bedroom was another door. When I entered it I was presented with some sort of an old study. There were dust covered books about the occult strewn about the room. Some of them torn to bits with strange scratches on the covers. There was also a large bookshelf set just below a half circle window. Hung on the wall by the bookshelf was a portrait of Dr. Nixione. It was strange, but I just noticed how dark his eyes were. They seemed different in the photograph from the file, and for some reason they felt as though they stared directly at me. I continued to stare at the image until I felt something tap me on the shoulder. I turned my head slowly and saw the largest spider I had ever encountered in my life making its way down my shoulder. I yelped and accidentally kicked one of the dusty volumes clear across the room.

The spider scurried away in a hurry, and disappeared under pile of books. At that point I was not sure if I should stay a moment longer in this dreadful place. That was until I heard a strange click, followed by a drawn out  creek. Apparently the book I had punted had slammed into the bookshelf which caused it to reveal a secret. This was very exciting indeed! I rushed over to see what was behind it but upon revealing its secret I found myself quite perplexed. Behind the bookshelf was a…doorway? It was covered with that same strange writing from the dusty documents and was adorned with an even stranger keyhole. I mean the door was flush to the outside of the building so it couldn’t lead anywhere. Could it? Now all I needed was, a key.

I searched and searched the study but to no avail. I did get scratched by a stray cat that had made it’s home in this filthy place while rifling through the many book in search of the key. I had hoped it would be hidden in a handmade cut out, but alas. It was nowhere to be found. I was about to leave when I turned and took one last look. I peered at  the top of the bookshelf to see if perhaps the key was tucked on high. To my horror…it was. Only it was grasped firmly in the hands of some foul creature. It looked like a man, but not. I did not chance a second look. I ran. I ran all the way down the stairs, all the while I could hear howling and screeching just behind me. As I quickly descended the stairs the air became hotter and more foul. I barely got out of that place, that hell, in one piece. That thing, whatever it was, had grabbed a hold of my hair and had pulled out a sizeable chunk of it. I slammed the door behind me when I left, and I did not look back.

February 9th 1940

The oddest thing about my encounter was that the creature, it’s face, it looked just like that portrait of Dr. Nixione, but naked, and gaunt. It’s eyes glowed an inhuman green that pierced my very soul. Whatever that thing was guarding I had no interest in knowing. I did not dare speak of this to anyone, but I had to write it all down to exercise that evening from my tired mind. That face, and the glowing red key in it’s claw like hand haunts me. It is burned into my mind, and it is all I see when I close my eyes. Perhaps that’s what my late college Dr. Fortzler had seen. Perhaps that’s why he jumped out of the top floor of our office. Either way I still feel like I am being watched, and I have strange dreams about that study. The study and what lies beyond that door behind the bookshelf.


This story was inspired by the artwork of Brian Coldrick. If you would like to hear this story in audio form it was performed as part of the show open for The 9th Story Podcast.

The Dusty Documents

Image comes from a video I created for HauntingTV on YouTube.

3 thoughts

    1. Thank you so much! We interviewed Brian Coldrick for The 9th Story Podcast and I wrote this story based on one of his “behind you” series of illustrations. I could perhaps see a part two for this story. The style for this story is based off of one I read on ShadowsAtTheDoor.com. Still trying on different styles to find my own voice.

      Liked by 1 person

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