The sound that came from the basement was disconcerting in its essence, not merely because it interrupted the quiet in the house. The cat must have knocked something over, I tried to convince myself. I didn’t believe it for a moment.
I’ve always hated basements ever since I saw the movie Them!, a 1950s sci-fi movie about giant ants. Also, I’ve hated ants. But it was a basement that confronted me now, and I had to find the source of the noise. So I turned on the light at the top of the stairs and walked down as though I expected to find nothing out of the ordinary. I always found that helpful for getting through the times I had to walk into a basement.
Down the stairs and another light switch, I saw an empty plastic container on the floor. It must have fallen off the shelf and made the noise I had heard. I picked it up and returned it to its place. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of a dark, indistinct figure just before the lights went out.
False bravado forgotten, I ran to the stairs and began to climb. The sound of heat came at me from all sides as the feeling of ice assaulted my skin. Nothing made any sense. Just as I reached the top of the stairs, the door to the rest of the house – to safety – slammed shut. I grabbed the door knob and began to pull with all of my might, but to no avail.
A voice from below called out, “Come back.” I had never heard such a sound before – it sounded like glass ripping skin – and I began to cry. As I sobbed, I sank down to the top step, my hands still gripping the door in futility.
“Come back,” it said again. It was not a request, but a command. Still the horror and panic made it impossible for me to move. I sat, petrified, for a long time. Each time it called to me, another sob escaped.
Finally, I grew numb. The next time it called, my body obeyed. My mind screamed in protest, but it had lost all its power over my movements. I was back in the basement, in the dark. Something was down here with me, and it wanted to kill me. But it would torture me first.
to be continued…
*A note to the reader: Them! has nothing to do with basements. But when you’re ten, anything can be in basements, including giant ants.