Something we all fear...Basements
We all have dreams. Some are silly, sexual, or are deadly serious. Then there are those that are in a category all their own, called nightmares...this story is one of them.
I was in a house. My house, as a matter of fact. Ordinary by most standards, with 3 bedrooms, 1 1/2 baths, and kitchen...the kind you see in any newspaper listing. The only unique feature was the house had been rebuilt where an old farmhouse had once stood but burned down many years before. During the rebuild, they had decided to keep the original foundation of oversized boulders, dug from some deep pit quarry located somewhere or other. Places nobody knew, remembered, or even cared about.
The basement/foundation was vast in its capacity, and no homeowner would even entertain the idea and cost of trying to remove or reshape it in any way. So someone had made the decision to build the house half the size of what lay beneath, straddling the opening with beams of steel and wood, hiding the rest from sight. Stairs leading down to this cavern were located in the kitchen and descended at a comfortable angle, traversing to the other domain that lay beneath the modern abode above.
I had been living there for awhile or must've been, as all things above ground had a warm and familiar feel to me. But every time I passed that stairwell, the cool breeze would float by me, raising the hairs on the back of my neck, leaving me with a guarded sensation. Naturally, the long and hollow size of the basement would pick up and amplify sounds from sources unknown, or so I reasoned when I heard unfamiliar noises traveling up from below. To add to the effect, the mechanics that handled water, heat, and cooling were also located below. Every switch or motor could be clearly heard as if you were standing right next to them. This, obviously was not my favorite part of the building, but the right price offered and the thought of ample storage below, made the deal hard to resist. Having a packrat mentality, it was a deal clincher indeed! Feeling that I had been there for several months, my life had settled into a routine and most noises no longer affected me. It's been said before how amazing it is what you can get used to; even the strange noises and feelings had become suppressed in the back of my mind and casually dismissed.
I thought to have a little housewarming party of friends and neighbors; just so everyone would know who I was and the neighbors would recognize my face (I always thought this to be of good practice). The party was going well, a dozen or more had arrived, forming into their "clicks" as usual, carrying on conversations. Some were quiet as a whisper, while others were loud and animated; gestures made with hands to show how big or fast something was. Always, though, there were two that stayed separate from the crowd with eyes darting about. Stranger still was their reaction when someone bumped them, or in particular, forced them closer to the stairwell in the kitchen. Since they didn't seem familiar to me, I surmised these must be the neighbors from down the road and went to greet them with my best "I'm your friendly neighbor" face.
The conversation was hard with them. I gave them the "warm approach", then the "let me assure you I’m not an ax murderer" approach. I told them about my work and places lived, and finally asked quiz show questions about their lives, offering prizes such as dip and chips, or grilled meat on a stick. Each endeavor was met with short and stark answers or just blank stares. No information from them was given or expounded on in the least. This left me thinking "these guys must be secret service or in a witness protection program to clam up this way". Either way, I knew there was no way to make these fellas relax, even if I poured a dozen drinks down their throats.
The party was winding down now; one or two leaving every 15 minutes when they felt it was polite to go (or their favorite food/drink was gone). At last and to my surprise, was the two fidgety neighbors, Frank and Josh (as someone else during the party informed me). Then the barrage of questions flowed from them...it was like an interrogation routine. Frank would ask very pointed questions, Josh apologizing for the question but still wanting an answer. Where you from? What made you buy this house? Do you plan to sell it again soon? Do you know why it was sold to you? On and on went the questions until I said STOP! Why the third degree?
Each man looked at the other, and a long pause happened before Frank spoke up. "Look, we don't want to say anything, you seem like a nice fella and all, but anyone who's lived here more than six months has gone stark raving mad or sold it right away. One guy even walked away from here, leaving everything in it saying he'd burn it down if he could get away with it! We came over to check you out, and maybe give you some advice about this place. "
I was thinking about what they were saying but kept coming back to the same thought. These guys are probably trying to pull a scam; they just didn't get their bid in on time before I bought the place. I thanked them for the advice, said I’d think it over, and walked them out the door. After a little cleanup and relaxing awhile, my emotions flared and I flushed a little with anger that these guys would try to talk me out of my property with a few "ghost stories". What did they think? I was a five-year-old or something? Anyway, off to bed to focus on work the following day.
A couple of days came and went, nothing happening with life back to its routine. Sitting there watching TV, catching up with the world events on the late news channel when the house slid and I mean slid sideways. I jumped up looking to hold onto something, thinking an earthquake had just happened! Looking around I noticed nothing had moved or fell during this attack from the ground, and all seemed normal. But I knew it had moved. The sense of it was still lingering in my brain, screaming at me, that something major had happened and I should take flight before it occurred again! Feelings of this magnitude were extremely hard to fight off. But with the passage of time, my body relaxed and the more rational part of my thought process took over. It was then I could hear (or more like feel) the faint noises coming from below. Sometimes hearing, sometimes more of a feeling, like when you catch a sound in the wind and you're not sure where it came from. After trying to relax for an hour and unable to, I gathered my nerve (convincing myself I was annoyed, not scared) and went to investigate the sound, to see what damage had been done.
I took with me my favorite flashlight. You know, the kind with a lens the size of a dinner plate, a strap to carry the 50-pound (or so it seemed) battery and 10 million something’s... well, the number was impressive. I’m sure it could substitute as a tanning lamp if it had to. One thing I could never figure out though, here's this cavern of a basement (and you know this is true everywhere), that has only one stink’ in light bulb for the whole thing, maybe 40 watts at that! I headed down the stairs armed with my flashlight and a wrench (you never know what you might need to hammer or actually wrench with it). My thought; if I couldn't fix it, I’ll beat it into submission. Well, at least that was my theory.
The light bulb below appeared dimmer than before or so I thought, causing me to throw on the beacon of a flashlight that I carried. The beam lit up about half the length of the basement, just enough to reach the heater and hot water tank but nothing else. I swung around doing a 360-degree sweep, panning the light up and down on the walls, looking and expecting to find a beam out of place or wall crack that would explain what I had felt above. Nothing appeared out of place, but the sounds were still there. Like a slight whisper or conversation, you catch parts of. It felt like a mosquito buzzing around your ear, driving me nuts, and angered me at the same time because I couldn't get rid of it. By then I had worked my way around the mechanical beast that dominated the center of the basement and could finally see the back walls.
Aha! Something at last! It was now obvious one of the larger boulders of the foundation had fallen out of place. I felt justified and not so apprehensive, knowing the source of the problem had been discovered! I approached the boulder but kept stopping as my light would flicker and change intensity. I felt like I was passing by something or someone and this gave me a more cautious stride as I got closer, but I reasoned, here lay the source of my troubles! I was closer to the boulder now, pushing on it like I even had a remote chance of moving a ten-ton rock (with one hand, no less). I examined the rock, top to bottom, just to reassure myself nothing was falling or going to move anymore but more importantly if my house was safe for the time being.
The problem with 10 million of anything’s, they use up a lot of battery quickly. Of course, it was here when my trusty beacon started to fade and was as bright as the 40-watt bulb at the furthest end of the basement. Now I began to feel things brush by me, stirring air and dimming light alike. That familiar feel of flight I had before now was coming back, strong as ever. I stuck to the boulder, having it guard my back as I slid around its side with the hope I could stuff myself in a crevasse for a defensive position, flashlight, and wrench in hand. For this much I knew now, I was not alone down here.
Moving further around the curve of the boulder, I discovered a feeble light coming from the gap the boulder had left from its original resting place. It had opened a small crawl space leading to a larger chamber inside. Thinking it was better to be somewhere lit than not, I squeezed through the hole, dropping my wrench as I squeezed through to the chamber within. Standing up and looking about, I noticed the stones in the walls were glowing, giving off light not bright but usable for sight. It was a chemical reaction or so I thought, just in its behavior of emitting light fluidly in parts of the stones at different times. A small rocky path led down with twists and turns along the way. For unknown reasons, I went down that path, human curiosity for the better part, and not wanting to go back into the basement for the latter part. Slowly going further down it seemed like hours before I hit the large hall that was the end of my journey. Peering cautiously around the corner, I could feel and hear the buzzing voices that had annoyed me from up above.
I could see them now. Things. Not human, not animal, but parts of both. Rats with human hands, snakes with part human face, maybe a leg or arm attached to their slithering body. Grotesque, deformed people. I could only wonder that this is what happens in hell. You start out human, but you slowly take on the personality of whatever creature you were like. A half beetle with arm and leg stumped its way by me not noticing or caring, I don't know which. Two of them, larger than most started fighting, calling threats in their hideous voices which was the sound I had been hearing, only loud enough now to cause my head to feel like it was splitting in two. I yelped at the sudden pain I felt, not expecting what I heard. It was my yelp that now caught the attention of several creatures near me, and the alarm was sounded. They were now after me.
I ran. As hard and fast up the winding path as possible. The air was thick here and hard to breathe. Most of the creatures were big and ungainly and could not keep with my frightened pace. But the smaller ones were at my heels, in particular the rats. Their hands would grasp my shirt and I would shake them off at the next turn I would slam into. Slip, grasp, fall, and run was all I could think of. Fight for breath, a glance back now and then at the pursuers, trying to keep the pace ahead of them. Hideous noises coming from them, ripping my head apart while I fled in terror. What seemed to take forever, I finally reached the entrance. I dove for the crawl, blasting my way into the darkness of the basement; more fearful of what was behind than in front.
Things were clawing and bumping into me, things unseen but I knew were there. I fought my way through, reaching now the midpoint of the basement, rounding past the heater now. The light bulb above offered no help and appeared darker than ever before. Still fighting, still being clawed at, I could feel blood trickling down my side now with the stairs just in my reach. Light, blessed light and warm air hit me as I launched onto the stairwell. I grabbed the railing and started to pull myself up the stairs but noticed I wasn't moving! I tried pulling with all I had, both hands on the rail while my heart beat wildly with fear as I realized I was now moving backwards! Hearing voices now that are screaming for help, while others are cursing and threatening as I slipped back into the darkness awaiting me in the basement. I turned to see my attackers...
I shot out of bed, waking up, screaming loud. My wife fell out of bed and then peered over the edge to watch my antics of dancing around for the next few seconds. What the hell happened to you? Is the house on fire? Did you just get shot? The questions streamed on from her, and all I could do was catch my breath. After a few minutes, I calmed down and was able to tell her what happened in my nightmare, and how glad I was we didn't live in a house like that. Finally calming down completely, I sat in my chair until the light of daybreak lit the house and I could continue with the day's activities. Later that evening my wife asked if I was feeling better and I replied yes, but still a little shook from last night's episode.
We laughed a little, she took a few jabs in fun about how I acted, and both of us said how dreams like this occurred now and then in everyone. With that, she decided to retire and I retreated to another room to watch some show on TV before going to bed.
That's when the noises started from below...