Monday, November 28, 2011

The Circle by Christopher Grant

There’s a gigantic circle, with jagged edges, carved out in the stairs leading from the main floor up to the apartments. The staircase is curved and has probably a good thirty to forty steps. The jagged circle is no more than six stairs up from the main floor. It looks like blood has been spilled into this circle and then someone attempted to wash it out with mixed results. On the back of the front door, there are bloodstains.
Legend has it that a woman who caught her husband cheating on hung him in the front doorway and people could see him struggling to free himself. They just stood and watched, apparently. Ultimately, however, he succumbed to the to the strangulation. His body is rumored to hung there for days before anyone did anything about it.
There is also the matter of the phrase that’s said to hang in the air, “With these words, I hung him.” The words, as tenants have discovered are Fuck You, which is carved into the doors and walls of all of the apartments, as well as the wall leading down the staircase until it reaches the front door. Some tenants say they have seen the hanging man after uttering the words Fuck You in genuine anger.
Some people believe that the curse of the building can be lifted if two people, who love each other, have sex in the jagged circle in the stairs.
There’s a gigantic circle, with jagged edges, carved out in the stairs leading from the main floor up to the apartments. There is blood splashed in the center of the circle and skin around the edges. No one has ever been brave enough to determine if the skin belongs to an animal or a human.
On the back of the front door, there are bloodstained handprints.
Legend has it that a cult used to inhabit the apartments up the curved staircase. Legend even says that a young Charles Manson drifted through here on his way to California and infamy.
At night, people that used to live in this neighborhood but long gone now say that you could hear screams and chanting coming from behind the closed doors. On the lawn, they say, there were hordes of copulating men and women. Cars would pull up to the tenement and sometimes one person would get out and sometimes it would be a half dozen.
For days, these cars would sit on the street while their owners were inside the apartment house.
Sometimes, those owners didn’t come out at all, their cars driven away by other, previously unseen people.
When the police were finally brought into the matter, they found the bloody handprints on the back door and the jagged circle with blood in the center and skin on the edges and, carved into the walls leading up the staircase, the words Fuck You.
Oddly, they never found the inhabitants of the apartment house, even though many of their cars were still parked out on the street.
The police investigated but, ultimately, the file was buried and the case never discussed again.


  1. This reminds me of Jorge Luis Borges, richly labyrinthal in quality. These things happen, these things happen.

  2. Yes, I think Richard hit on something there -- the "these things happen." I get that.

    Loved the second one more, because it somehow mirrored in structure of the title, if that makes sense. Writing geek, I know. Also, I love cults. Why are there not more cult stories? Especially like this.

    Ah! I just got what this reminded me of (esp. the second one): a 1970s horror movie, like the kind I grew up obsessively watching. I picture the inside of the apartment house to have some sort of ramshackle, rundown glamour, all gilded candlesticks and worn carpets.


  3. Becky,

    Weirdly, that's what I felt like I was writing with the second of these: a 1970s horror movie, wih the couple whose car breaks down and, unlike Rocky Horror Picture Show, they don't find a group of misfits but rather that cult. And the wife decides that she's found her soulmate in the cult leader and the husband is wanting to get them away from this whacked-out band of probable killers. And, of course, too late, the wife realizes that he's probably right but, instead of running with him, she stabs him to death with a scissors and credits roll over the wife and the cult leader having their own black wedding.

  4. Kind of strange. I had this feeling of an interstellar tape worm or lamprey eel kind of thing. The circle with the jagged teeth being the mouth. Part two though erased that image (maybe not entirely. the cult might have worshiped the interstellar tapeworm) These two have set the wheels to grinding. Very cool.