Kishimu Isu (The Creaking Chair)

This is an original short story I wrote for my high school's fiction contest. (I won). This story is about a protagonist haunted by a rocking chair they had purchased from an old dingy antique shop. Despite numerous warnings from the ancient shopkeeper, the protagonist persists and takes the chair home. Let's just say this was a poor decision...


1. The Creaking Chair

It all started in a dingy antique shop on the corner of 1st and Monroe.  I distinctly remember it to be raining heavily enough that I needed to carry an umbrella. It was fairly late in the evening when I arrived and several stars twinkled out from under the ashen rainclouds, illuminating the chipped bricks and peeling yellow paint that made up the antique shops building. Below me the cracks in the concrete were flooded with rainwater creating a water channel out into the street. As I pulled open the heavy ancient looking door and stepped inside, my senses where immediately filled with the scent of old books and candle wax.
As I stepped across the room, the floor creaked and groaned unpleasantly and gave me the uncomfortable impression that I was walking on something that could collapse at any moment. Different types of furniture were scattered around the room in a chaotic fashion, most in pretty poor shape, looking as if they were barely being held together by a few nails and wood glue. 
One piece that sat in the far corner of the shop caught my eye. A dark wooden rocking chair with a neat blue cushion. I felt drawn to the chair. It felt as if small hands were somehow coming from the chair beckoning me, calling to me to come closer.  I was intrigued, fascination filled my face as moved closer. 
As I neared the chair, an older woman from an Asian descent, who I assumed must be the owner of the shop, appeared out from behind a dusty bookshelf and began moving quickly in my direction. Her complexion could only be described as a wrinkled paper bag with two sunken holes for eyes. She had a strange look upon her face, not one of excitement at the prospect of a possible sale, but one that more closely resembled fear.  She spoke with a coarse whispered voice clouded by a heavy foreign accent. “That chair,” she explained as her eyes shifted from me to the chair and back again, “that has caused much concern to some customers, I will sell it cheap.”   Not quite understanding the anxiety that was clearly visible on her face as her eyes continued to bounce between me and the chair.  I pulled a five-dollar bill from my wallet, “How does five dollars’ sound?” I said sarcastically.  She quickly snatched the money from my had, “I’ll take it!”
I looked at her in disbelief. She quickly turned away and mumbled, “Be warned nothing good has come from owning Kishimu Isu!”   “Kishimu Isu?” I asked. She stopped and turned back with a sigh, “It means… Creaking Chair, Kishimu Isu means creaking chair in Japanese.” I simply laughed off her absurd name for the chair as I lifted the surprisingly light piece of furniture into my arms to load into my truck. I couldn’t believe it; I had gotten the deal of a life time. 
 After strapping the so called Kishimu Isu down into my flatbed I gave her a quick wave and got into my truck. I took one last look back at the shop in my mirror as I drove away, and I could see a solemn expression on the shop keeper’s ancient face as she watched me drive away. 
The entire ride home to my ranch was uncomfortable, every noise I heard reminded me of a creaking chair, the shop keepers story had really done a number on me. I turned a corner and distinctly heard the old chair creak, and the hairs on the back of my neck would shot right up.  I started to think it may not have been such a great decision to purchase the chair after all. But yet, I remembered my feelings in the shop, feeling that I had to have it, to own it, to make it mine.
I made it home and I carefully placed the chair into the far corner of the living room and went about my bedtime routine. I was standing in the kitchen preparing a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a glass of milk. I was reflecting on all that had happened, the words the old woman had said. “Kishimu Isu is Japanese for creaking chair.” This was about the time when I heard a soft creaking coming from the living room, as if someone was rocking back and forth. The noise got louder CREAAAAAAK, Thunk, CREEEEEEAKKKK, Thunk… CREAAAAAK…… and on and on. I put down my sandwich and peered around the corner into the living room. And suddenly the noise stopped. One thing was different however, the chair which I had carefully placed into the far corner of the room, was no longer in the corner, it was in a different spot much closer to the kitchen. I did put it in the corner when I got home didn’t I?  I went over to the chair, grabbed the arms and moved it back a few inches so it lined up with the couch.  I stepped back to survey my work, yeah it looked good, “That should work.” I said out loud. 
 Thinking that I was simply hallucinating from exhaustion I shrugged it off and prepared myself for bed. Despite feeling completely exhausted I just couldn’t fall asleep, I lay in bed tossing and turning all night. And I swore I was hearing those same creaks and thuds coming from downstairs. Must be the furnace I thought, turning on and off, I will have to call the repair guy to have it looked at tomorrow. I am not sure how late it was but at some point I drifted off to sleep, but even in my dreams the Creak, Thunk, Creak, Thunk, continued. At times I swore the noise coming from just outside my bedroom door.
 I am not sure what time it was, but, at one point during the night I left my room to get a glass of water, as I stumbled down the hallway into the bathroom, I glanced down the dark hallway and caught a glimpse of what looked like the old rocking chair sitting at the end of the upstairs hallway. I rubbed my eyes and turned on the light, but when I looked again there was nothing, it was just one of those nighttime hallucinations. “Get it together,” I thought to myself, it is only a chair. I got my drink and returned to bed, but my dreams were restless, and by the time morning rolled around, I was glad it was time to get up, but I was still exhausted.  
I called the furnace guy that morning and he was able to find a couple things wrong with the furnace, and after charging me a quick $400 dollars, he was gone. My day was fairly uneventful, and by bedtime I was really ready to call it a night, I needed a good night’s sleep. I went through my evening routine, no Creaks, or thunks, and the old chair was still where I put it yesterday next to the couch. “Crazy old Woman,” I thought as I turned off the light and lay down in my bed. I was almost asleep when I heard it again. “Creak, Thunk, Creak, Thunk, Creak, Thunk”, and it was getting louder, “Creak, Thunk, Creak, Thunk.” By the time I reached over and turned on my light, the noise was so loud it sounded as if it was coming from right outside my room! I got up and went over and opened my door, and to my horror, there sat the old chair, right outside my room, slowly rocking back and forth, “Creak, Creak, Creak, Creak.” I screamed and slammed the door!” I must be losing my mind,” I thought. “It’s just a chair!”  “Creak, Creak, Creak” the soft creaking continued outside the door. 
I took a deep breath, trying to pull together every ounce of courage I could muster. I reached over and flung open the door, and without a second thought I reached out and picked up the chair, shuffled down the hall, down the stairs and right out the front door, with the chair firmly in my grip. I headed around back and flung open the door to my old tool shed and tossed the chair inside. I turned and closed the door to the shed, looking around for something to prop against the door, I found a shovel and wedged it firmly up against the door of the shed. “That should be the of this nonsense,” I said out loud. Satisfied that the door was secure and that no crazy, mystical rocking chair was going to disturb my sleep anymore, I went back into the house and back to bed. 
My sleep was a bit restless but nothing like the previous night, and in the morning when I woke, I felt fairly rested. I started humming a little tune as I went about my morning ritual. After I had showered and dressed, I headed down the hall towards the downstairs kitchen. As I neared the stairs I glanced out the window towards the backyard and the shed which had been a big part of last night’s events. I stopped dead in my tracks and stared in horror at the shed, it was wide open and the shovel which I had wedged against the door, was lying in the yard, the handle broken in half. My heart was beating hard, “Wha, but I,” I thought to myself as I slowly walked down the stairs. “This is not possible,” I kept thinking. Then suddenly I stopped. “Wait, where is the chair?” I asked myself. I soon realized I wasn’t sure I wanted to know. I was standing at the bottom of the stairs trying to rationalize everything in my head when I heard a familiar sound. “Creak, Creak, Creak.” 
“Bang, Bang, Bang.” I banged on the ancient splintered wooden door at the corner of 1st and Monroe.  “We’re closed!” Came a creaky old voice from the other side of the door. “Please. I need your help! The chair… It’s alive!” I pleaded. 
“I cannot help you.” Said the old woman as she opened the door. 
“Why not? You sold it to me, can’t you take it back?”
“You cannot simply give it back once it has found its new home.” Said the old woman.
“I don’t understand.” I growled, just wanting this nightmare to end.
“Look. If you want to get rid of the Kishimu Isu, you need to destroy it, completely. Burn once, and burn it again. Leave not a single piece or it will not work.”
Normally I would think that this old woman has lost her mind, but at this point, I was willing to try anything. I have lost so much sleep I was starting to look like the old woman. That very night I headed out towards the fields behind my house and created a large bonfire to hopefully end this horrible legacy. I watched the wood simmer and burn under the bright moonlight. Golden flames devoured the wood almost like a beast and its prey. In my exhaustion I began to hallucinate long serpent like arms stretching out towards me. The crackling of the flames almost sounded like screams begging for mercy instead of the normal sound of air escaping the cracking wood. I froze and simply stared in horror at this site until the flames extinguished.
 Fighting my exhaustion, I tossed another match onto the fire hoping this would do the trick. Seeing the ash pile after two separate bonfires filled me with relief.  I walked back to my house ready to finally get some rest. I went through my nightly routine however without disruption. Laying in my bed never felt as comfortable as it did in this moment. Drifting off to sleep comforted by the silence…until I began to hear a familiar noise.
Creak, Creak, Creak….


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