Jorel here, and if the title of this post wasn’t enough to thrill you, then I don’t know what will.

I can see the celebrations now. The men are taking their shirts off and lassoing them around their heads hooping and hollering as if the home team just scored, while the women are crying tears of joy as they cook a bag of popcorn in the microwave and bring a blanket to their favorite reading spot in the house. A new story to read from Bailey Day herself! It’s been a while. (Consider this an early Christmas present!)

While I put my shirt back on, let me offer a bit of background behind Bailey Day’s story. At one point during Day’s college American Literature class, the students studied the work of the renowned author Edgar Allan Poe, and were tasked to write a review of how Poe’s work has influenced modern media, OR to write a short story in the Poe-esque style.

Do you even need to ask which of the two options Day picked? She opted to write the story of course! Bailey Day wanted to channel her inner Poe and craft a dark mosaic of pure etymological bliss, just like Poe often did during his time. And this she did. Hours of focus and mad typing has led to the manifestation of Day’s most spine-chilling story yet, The Agoraphobe. And she gave me permission to share it with all of you! Get ready to READ, everyone!

As R.L. Stine often warns: reader beware, you’re in for a scare!

(Agoraphobe: A person who has an extreme or irrational fear of crowded spaces or enclosed public places.)

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The Agoraphobe

By Bailey Day Simpson

For American Literature, Response #3

It is scarcely conceivable to believe that the man in front of me had managed to kill three people. Supposedly, that was; no evidence had been secure enough to convict him, which was not entirely surprising. The man simply did not appear capable of such an atrocity. His scrawny arms, so thin that his sleeves hung loosely about his frame, did not seem able to carry anything larger than a letter opener for a weapon, and a certain jitter followed his every motion. His eyes constantly twitched hither and thither, unable to focus on one object of interest for more than a few seconds at a time. His fingers, too, were constantly convulsing, as if unseen slugs were crawling over his hands and he was trying in earnest to knock them off at every possible chance. Every time I spied this young man, I could not help but feel the innocence of Adam leaking off his figure, none of the treachery of Eve. Which could have been one explanation why my patient chose to no longer leave his Eden.

My patient’s house was quaint and quite comfortable in fashion, but by no means a palace capable of maintaining him for the long duration in which he had refused to quit the premises. It was clear that my patient had not left for an incredible amount of time, for his floor was covered in a scattering of opened books, with loose papers fluttering over the moist carpet and festering mold. The man chose to have all of his windows barred with thick slabs of wood, which were nailed clumsily into the windows where sunlight was banished from pouring inside. It was a marvel to me that he had chosen not to nail the door down with the unpierceable panels as well, which he claimed he left unattended because he needed some way for sustenance to infiltrate his crowded abode.

The effects of having boarded himself inside of his cramped, dank home were beginning to appear over his facial features as well. I could tell he was meant to be a handsome man, despite his twitching and skeletal frame. But his skin had grown to an unearthly shade of white, his black hair a long, ragged mess tripped down his spine, having neglected his morning ablutions. He might as well have crawled out of Hades’ Underworld and situated himself in his own personal Hell.

No, I simply could not believe that young Fearrid was to blame for the murder of those three men, especially in the act of stabbing them repeatedly. The only one Fearrid was managing to kill was himself.

“Come now, Fearrid,” said I, trying to strike sense into this patient of mine. I attempted to sit down on one of his ornamental armchairs, only to find it soggy to the touch. I shuddered, relieving my frame from the seat. “This house of yours–it is madness to stay here! You must come outside.”

“Outside!” Fearrid proclaimed. The young man cast a fervid glance to the nearest boarded window. He shuddered, grabbing a candle and lighting it. Very unfortunate, to have to use such a candle at noonday!

Fearrid shook his head in a feverish frenzy, holding the candle with a shaky, thin hand. All the while, his gaze never faltered from the timbered aperture, as if the very jaws of Hell were waiting outside, ready to swallow him.

“Outside! How pleasurable it would be, to stand outside again! But I cannot.”

“You wish to go outside?” I asked. I mused, careful to step closer to my jittery patient. “And here I thought the mere thought of the outside world terrified you.”

“It does. Oh, Doctor, it does!” he cried. Tearing his eyes away from the window, he now peered over at me. A look of contempt immediately spread over his features. “Which is why you are here.”

“Dear Fearrid, I am here to prove you are rational,” I reminded. “The police—they wish to condemn you for the murder of those three men. I am merely the doctor who has come to prove or disprove your sanity.”

“Sanity?” At this, Fearrid laughed. His laugh was loud and shrill, like the laughing of a banshee after a successful night’s scare. “Sanity? Sanity! Ha–ha–ha! My sanity has long left me, Doctor! You will find none of that in this house.”

“Fearrid, tell me in earnest—and remember that police wait outside, should you try anything outlandish. Did you kill those three men?”

“No,” Fearrid immediately exclaimed, his laughter cutting out like the flickering of his dim flame. He set his candle down, disappearing into his darkened dwelling. “No, not me.”

I followed Fearrid deeper into the residence. Without the candle near, my feet constantly knocked over piles of old books that were strewn across my patient’s whole abode.

“You must explain then what happened,” I insisted. I caught up to Fearrid as the young man arrived at his kitchenette. The small corner where he prepared food was as furtive as the rest of his decaying house. As I stepped inside, a skittering passed across my shoe. I peered down in time to see a roach crawl over and disappear again within the cracked marble of his flooring. “Fearrid, why did you leave your home last week? It is reported that you never leave your house. And—I dare say—I thought they were correct.”

Fearrid was silent. He opened a cupboard, refusing to look at me as he grabbed a pot and prepared the stove. He sent a feverish glance to the covered window in his kitchenette, staring at it intently.

“Sometimes—sometimes I forget,” Fearrid said, his gaze ever so fixed on the timbered aperture. “That he’s out there.”


“It’s the planks,” he continued. “I boarded the windows because of him. But, because I no longer see his horrible face constantly, I sometimes forget he is out there. Waiting. Watching.”


Fearrid’s gaze snapped over to me. His fingers twitched above the pot on the stove, causing it to flip over.

“You cannot see him. No one can see him. Except for me. Heavens, I miss the outside!”


“Him!” Fearrid screeched. He spun around, an accusing finger pointing at the covered casement. “Him! Him! You shant believe me, but he haunts me. Every time I look out a window, he is there. Every time I open a door, he is there. Do you know what it is like, Doctor, to have a monster staring at you every time you peer out a window in hopes of seeing the lovely sun? A normal man would be terrifying to look at through the security of the window, but he is not even that. I do not know what he is, except that he is always watching me. Waiting.”

“Someone watches you?” I asked.

Fearrid nodded. I pointed to the nearest boarded window myself.

“Out there?”

“Any window,” he insisted. “It does not matter if I rush from one end of the house to the next; he is always there, watching.”

“This . . . man,” I stated, still watching the planked casement. “Does he wish you harm?”

“Yes,” he answered. “Yes! But I have managed to evade his grip. Yes, I have. But he is very unhappy when I escape his clutches. Very unhappy!”

“What does he do?”

“What does he do?” Fearrid exclaimed. He turned to me, his eyes wide. Twitching. “He kills some other poor soul! Why do you think it is that every time I leave the dwelling, someone dies?” He shook his head, resuming work on the empty pot on his stove. “It is why I cannot leave, Doctor. Let the police arrest me, but let it be house arrest. I shant ever leave this residence again. I have learned my lesson far too many times. He makes me a villain. He causes the death that so eagerly follows me. I am only safe inside, and the aforementioned for everyone around me.”

I was quiet. Studying the boarded up window, I slowly stepped over to it. I grabbed the edge, and—for he must have sensed my intentions—Fearrid shrieked.

“No! Leave the beast outside! Do not invite his presence in!”

“Is he capable of entering?” I asked in earnest. “Does it lie within his power?”

Fearrid gulped. He backed away from the casement, practically pressing himself against the wall of the kitchenette.

“Not in the ways of man,” Fearrid said. “He cannot open doors, nor can he windows. Do not ask me why; I do not know. But if one is to leave the door or window open–”

I dug my fingers under the nearest board. The nails, though hammered in carefully, were not attached with much arduousness. All Fearrid had required was to keep the sunlight from leaking in, and the water that seeped down the walls made it easy for me to tear the plank off with one compelling wrench.


Sunlight exploded into the room. Fearrid immediately fell to the floor, holding his arms up as daylight ignited a path inside. I yanked another board off the window, tearing it away in the same fashion. The bright light of noonday flooded into the room, soaking up the dirt and decay moldering this once sweet house.

Fearrid screeched. He covered his face with his hands, huddling into the corner of the room.

“Close it! Close it!” he shrieked.

I stared out the window with the cracked glass. All I could see was the sun. The sidewalk in this nearly vacant part of town. The hat of one of the police officers outside. But no man. No monster. Nothing staring in the window, directly contemplating my patient.

“There is nothing out here, Fearrid.”

“For you!” he shrieked again. “Of course there isn’t for you! Close it! Close it, please.”

I refused to listen to my patient. I slunk my hand close to the actual window, feeling the glass that separated us from the outside world. I lifted the pane.


Fearrid bolted to his feet. Before I could even turn around to address my patient again, he was fleeing from the kitchenette. I had not even opened the window more than a slight breach.


I chased him out of the kitchenette. He fled back through the darkened home, somehow knowing the location of every obstacle and dodging past them all. Even with the bright beams of sunlight illuminating the strange man’s kitchenette, it was not sufficiently lit for me to be able to follow him through his chaotic abode.

“Fearrid!” I shouted into the house, to wherever the young man had scampered off to. “You are suffering from an acute delirium. If we are to free you from it, you must be willing to face your monster–”

An unforeseen slithering sounded next to me. I whipped my head back toward the kitchenette. What little roaches remained quickly scampered, hiding in their crannies engraved in the floor by negligence. My eyes wandered from the floor, focusing on the window I had left open a mere crack.

It was completely agape.

I hurried back into the kitchen. I stuck my head outside, for the window was now opened tall enough for me to do so. There were no other people on these vacant streets. Just the two police officers, who had not moved from their erect positions in front of the door. One of them sent me a glance, to which I quickly dragged my head back inside the building.

I closed the window. I waited for it to click close, and a part of me was tempted to grab the timbers I had strewn across the floor and nail them back to his cracked casement. Absurd thoughts. The thoughts of a madman, like my patient Fearrid.

“Fearrid?” I said again.

I once again poked my head out of the kitchenette. I stared into the darkened hall ahead of me. Except, it was not darkened anymore.

A candle sat on the far side of the room, sitting precariously on top of an unusually tall pile of books. I could not recollect Fearrid having a stack quite so tall, like a Grecian pillar that stood proudly to keep the moldy house from caving in. The candle flickered up top, a beacon that lit my way through the residence.

I blinked at the odd sight. Fearrid was not tall enough to create a tower of books quite so high, nor did I think he would have made the time in his mad run through the house.


I stepped through the lighted hall, the eerie orange glow of the candle helping me maneuver through the substantial obstacles in my way. I turned the corner, leading back into the living room where Fearrid and I had started our discussion not long ago. Two towers of books were now erected in the living room, both of which carried a candle, casting the whole living room in the nocuous, chilling light.

I shuddered as I walked into the living room. To my recollection, these towers had not stood here previously, but it must have been my inane imagination. They must have stood here before. Though I knew without a doubt that the floor had been a mess, whereas now it was not. A straight path had been cleared for me, one which I could walk across without any trouble. It was as if all the books, papers, and other debris that had littered this floor had carefully been scooped up to create the pillars that now towered near the ceiling of this dwelling.

I continued down the laid path set before me. The towers kept my trail lit, even as I approached the back of Fearrid’s damp living room. Bookshelves lined the walls, but most of the books had either tumbled off onto the fetid floor or were hanging by mere threads against the rotting wood. One of the shelves, directly in front of me, stood away from the wall it had been propped against for so long. I found it recently disturbed. I pressed my fingers behind the shelf, finding a space big enough for my patient to have easily slipped inside.

I gathered my strength and pulled back the bookshelf. Behind it lay hidden an open doorway, revealing another room inside the house I had not been privy to. It was a cold, damp room; nothing was scattered across the floor. The whole room was bare, with nothing to decorate the walls or the floor in any way. The only ominous item was located on the opposite end of the room; a black door. Tall, black, and closed, shut out from the outside world.

I could scarcely believe the scene laid before me. I felt as though I had opened a forbidden tunnel only meant for the haunting eyes of Hades to behold. A low, pathetic whimper cut away my feelings of dread. The source of the cry originated from there.


I left my better sense, strutting across the room until I arrived at the blackened door. I knocked. Another whine radiated to my ears from the inside.

“Leave,” cried Fearrid’s voice on the other side. “You’ve already ruined me. What more can you do?”

I mused. I grabbed the knob of the blackened door, turning. However, the presence on the other side of the door yanked back, keeping it securely shut.

“No!” cried Fearrid. “Leave me! Leave me, please!”

I spared a glance at the doorway. The candles still shined, revealing a stark picture of the once disheveled living room before me. I shook off my feelings of horror; I was not here to lose my own mind. I was here to cure my patient of his malady.

“Fearrid!” I declared. “You cannot overcome this by hiding away!”

“Let me be,” he lamented. “Let me be!”

I wrenched the door back, and Fearrid on the other side just as quickly pulled me back. We wrestled, one trying to open, one trying to close. I was not entirely sure why I fought. With the book towers, the lit candles, the mysterious room in the back of his home; I felt it was my sanity slipping, which may have been why I fought, attempting to force Fearrid out.

“Out! Out I say!”

I gripped the knob tighter. I burrowed my feet into the floor. I flung the door, breaking Fearrid’s grip on the opposite side of the door. The door slammed against the adjacent wall, forcing my patient to finally see the outside.

I peeked my head in. And—to my utter astonishment—I did not see Fearrid on the other side.

I gawked in horror as a stranger—a man—a creature stood in the doorway where Fearrid should have been. The creature wore an exceedingly long black tarp that brushed the floor, shielding whatever feet held the fearsome thing up. Its neck must have been exceedingly long, for its face—wretched face!—was way above the creature’s skinny arms. Its face was flat, with a singular cyclopean eye that glowered down at me. The most hideous smile decorated its features—a lopsided, scraggly, mess of teeth against the beast’s face.

The creature, whatever the miserable thing was, glared down at me with that despicable eye, though its smile never changed. It raised its small arm, revealing, for the first time to my frantic eyes, a long, hideous knife.

The creature lunged forward. I attempted to back away, but so encompassing was the horror that possessed me that I had frozen to my spot. The creature grabbed me, collapsed upon me, and we both fell to the ground. It raised its knife—sharp thing!—and brought it down upon my stomach.

The creature stabbed, thrusting the cold blade hard into my stomach. I gasped; the sudden chilliness that pervaded from my frame made me completely useless on the floor. The monster stood, looming over me, face unchanging. It left me, wandering away and leaving my injured body on the floor. The last thing I saw before it left me was its hands; its twitching, twitching hands.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I don’t know about you, but If I were the teacher grading this story, I’d give it an A++, 110%, two thumbs up, a plethora of smiley-face stickers, AND a voucher for a free Dilly Bar from Dairy Queen.

It deserves to be more than just a graded assignment though. Bailey Day could quite possibly win contests with this story if she decided to enter any. Heck, Bailey Day very well could be the next Edgar Allan Poe! But it’s Bailey Day’s story. Bailey Day’s career. She can do whatever she wants with it. I can’t wait to see what she does next!

I hope you enjoyed the story. This is Jorel, advising you to be wary of slick roads! It’s getting colder, and that means the roads are getting icier. So when you need to drive, take it slowly and safely.

Stay healthy.

Jorel signing out.