Wallpaper – a creepy short story


Each time I walk into that room, my mind starts to splinter. I’d assumed Mrs Wainwright had dementia. Her daughter had laughed off her mother’s strange ramblings. Our paths had crossed briefly in the narrow hallway as they wheeled the old lady out the door.

You, the next person moving in, need to know about it. Don’t be fooled by the sweeting-talking landlord. He’s after your money. The house will take your sanity.

They move from one wall to another. Yes, really, they do. The leopard’s spots change nearly every day and there is a snake amongst the leaves whose tongue darts in and out. Such a rude creature, hissing behind my back.

The rest of the house is fine. It’s that back room, which looks out over the garden and rarely catches the sun, it’s as gloomy as a jungle. I admit, when I viewed the house, I fell in the love with the quirky wallpaper. Never crossed my mind to replace it. Two months in, I tried. I picked at the edges in one corner, but the lion’s teeth snapped at my fingertips. I even washed a wall down with a sopping sponge. Useless. They licked the water off the leaves—horrible mischievous things.

It’s incessant: frogs hop along the skirting boards, countless lizards’ eyes bulging, never blinking, which makes my skin crawl each time I enter the room. There is a scorpion who hangs around the light switch, its tail coiled ready to attack my hand and the tarantula lurks behind the curtains, preventing me from drawing them. Sitting in there is impossible. The rustling noises, the grunts and yowls as they tear each other apart. The hullabaloo drowns out the TV.

When they huddle together behind the fireplace, peeking out from time to time, checking I’m still there, my empty stomach churns; I know they’re plotting something, it’s freaky.

The man in the DIY store recommended a steamer. Fantastic, I dashed home and pressed it against the wall, watching the steam billow out. They loved it. While I sweated, my glasses misting over, they clamoured around the source of heat, warming themselves. However, the paper wouldn’t shift. Exhausted, I admitted defeat, and as usual I slept badly.

My last attempt involved a trip to Ikea where I bought bookcases. The instruction booklet was indecipherable with letters and numbers for everything. I turned things upside down, back to front and bruised a thumb with the hammer. They cackled with laughter, seemingly untroubled by my plan. By midnight, I’d finished. It did the trick—muffled and trapped, they were barricaded behind the backboards.

I slept well that night.

My relief was short lived. In the morning, I came down to a heap of broken shelves and books scattered on the carpet. They’d knocked everything over! That was it, I wanted out.

I’ll leave this note hidden under the mattress. Don’t be fooled.

They tell me I’ll be happy where I’m going. The walls are painted magnolia.


Hoped you enjoyed this short tale.



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