Is there anyone who’s ever heard of the game called “Stairway Ghost Stories?” It won’t show up if you try to google it, it’s probably just something we play in my town, but I have a story I’d like to tell you.
The first time I heard about this game was in the sixth grade. From the fifth grade I always hung out with the same three guys; A, B and C. We were the type of kids who were always noisy in class, and we liked rather ‘refined’ games. We’d build secret bases, play Kokkuri-san, we’d test our mettle in the local graveyards and so forth. It was the normal stuff that kids anywhere would do.
But around halfway through the year “Stairway Ghost Stories” started to become really popular. Of course, we were like, “How do you play it? You wanna play?” “Of course I wanna play!”
The rules were as follows:
From the top landing of the school’s stairs, that is, from in front of the door leading to the rooftop, you sit down and tell as many stories as there are stairs leading up, one by one. Each time you tell a story, ‘something’ will take a step up. By the time that ‘something’ reaches the top step, something really strange will happen.
* Once you start, you mustn’t stop.
* Until that ‘something’ reaches the top landing, you mustn’t look down.
There were a few other rules, but they weren’t as important. It was essentially a game that mixed a round of ghost stories with Kokkuri-san.
In addition to us four guys, a girl named D also joined us. Eventually, the game became so popular that the teachers got wind of it and banned it outright, so we decided to play it on a Sunday when no-one was around.
We gathered at school on the day with two or three ghost stories prepared each. I remember looking for really scary stories that would make the other boys wet their pants because I wanted to look cool in front of D.
Once everyone was there, we went straight for the stairs. We counted each step on the way up. There were 12 in total.
“You’re not scared, are you?”
“Of course not!”
We were ready for anything. D-chan was also unexpectedly brave, she looked like she could take on anything.
We sat down on the dusty landing, made a circle and got ready. I was sitting with my back to the stairs. To be honest, I was a little scared, but I didn’t want the others to know, so I pretended otherwise. Then, we started to play.
We started from A, then B, C, myself, and finally D-chan. Including my own, each of the stories we’d prepared were actually somewhat scary, so as we finished a single round I started to feel chills run up and down my spine. Every now and then one of the guys would poke fun, saying things like, “You’re scared, aren’t you?” But eventually we started to lose momentum, and even D-chan looked a little worried.
Being that it wasn’t a school day, the school itself was rather gloomy. Wrapped in an ominous atmosphere, we began round two of our stories.
A finished his ghost story. According to the rules, this was now the sixth step. We were entering the final half. I think everyone was thinking the same thing.
Something made a noise.
We all looked at each other. Not a single one of us said anything. At that moment in time, all I wanted to do was go home. I think the others probably felt the same as well. But, according to the rules, we couldn’t stop, so we kept going. We didn’t know what might happen if we did stop.
B started his story. As he did, the air around us changed. It felt heavy, like something was closing in on us. ‘No way, we need to get out of here, something horrible is coming,’ I thought. No, we probably all thought.
B finished his story.
There was another noise behind me. Only five more steps. What would happen once it reached the top? Nobody was acting tough anymore. D-chan was nearly in tears.
C finished his story.
It wasn’t just my imagination. I definitely heard something. Something was behind me. A, who was sitting directly in front of me, was desperately looking down at the ground. Perhaps whatever ‘it’ was had already appeared, so he was doing his best not to look at it.
It was my turn next. I did my best to remember the story I’d prepared and recited it to the group. At that moment I heard a girl’s voice behind me.
“You noticed me, huh~~?”
My breath caught in my throat. Somebody let out a small scream. D-chan started crying. For a moment we sat there in silence. I wanted to think about what we should do, but my brain wasn’t working. There was nothing else we could do. I had to keep going. It was forbidden to stop once you’d started, I couldn’t think of anything else.
My voice trembled and I stumbled over my words, but I finished another story.
Laughter rang out all around us at the same time the stairs creaked. We could hear the girl clapping right behind me. Everyone started crying.
Next was D-chan. She fumbled over her words and took over 10 minutes to tell her short ghost story, but I don’t think anyone actually heard it.
It was the girl’s voice.
I started sweating. She was right behind me. She was so close I could hear the rustling of her clothes.
A started telling his story.
“Just stop already!” C yelled out.
“Huh? B-but…” A stammered.
“N-no, I’m sorry. We can’t do that. Sorry…… Sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sososososorry sosososorry.”
C suddenly started repeating the word ‘sorry’ over and over, like he’d gone crazy. His eyes were blank, like he was no longer in there.
We had no time to worry about him. D-chan closed her eyes and covered her ears. “Just hurry up and finish already.” A began telling another story. C continued to repeat ‘sorry’ over and over, interrupting A’s story, but finally, he finished.
One more step. Everyone was praying for the game to finish quickly. Then, B started to talk. Time felt exceedingly slow.
Finally, he finished his story.
I felt it to my right. ‘It’ had arrived. We all closed our eyes and covered our ears. Even C fell silent. What was going to happen?
Then, in an instant, the atmosphere returned to normal.
I cautiously removed my hands from my ears, opened my eyes and looked up.
“Did you have fun?”
She was there, right before our eyes in the middle of the circle. She was wearing a flower patterned dress with just her ankles peeking out from underneath, holding her hand out towards me. Her head was twice the size of a normal person’s, but… her entire body was covered in laughing faces! They were packed tightly together, so many of them, all over her body.
The faces all laughed together. We all got up at the same time and ran. C seemed to have returned from his bout of craziness as well. We ran all the way to the schoolyard before we stopped to catch our breath.
“What the… what the hell was that?!”
Everyone was crying, and when we remembered what she looked like we started crying even harder.
D-chan pointed to the school rooftop. That girl was standing there, waving at us. We took off again, running all the way back to A or B’s house, I don’t remember which.
After that day, we never saw that girl again. We never told anyone about what happened, either. We heard that some kids from other classes also tried playing, but I don’t know what happened to them. We decided to never speak about it amongst ourselves ever again, and that was the end of it.
… but even now we still don’t know where the rumour of the “Stairway Ghost Stories” originally came from.