Our basement has always been creepy. I know that everyone says that about their own basements, but I genuinely mean it when I say that I wouldn't come down here in the middle of the night. I may not believe in werewolves and vamps and all of that monster crap in books, but I believe that there's something in my basement.
After I'd gotten over the creepy thrill of seeing the stranger out in our backyard, I realized that mom was a believer. She'd collected, for years, dozens of books about the supernatural world. Whenever I saw her reading a vampire novel, or something about witches, I'd rolled my eyes. It's not that they are dumb books, it's that so many people put so much trust in them that their reality becomes intertwined with their fantasy worlds.
Since mom died in her accident three years ago, I'd only come down here enough times to count on one hand. But none of those times were because of my sudden interest in her reading material, unlike now. I don't know why I suddenly thought to look through her novels and texts and supernatural paraphernalia, but it just felt right.
I swallow, forcing my sudden chills down my throat. My hands brush along the wall at the top of the staircase that leads down to our cool, dank basement. I turn on the lights when my fingers stumble upon the light switch.
"It'll be fine," I tell myself, squelching all the thoughts of ghosts and ogres and monsters. It's interesting how whenever we are going into a creepy situation we think of the worst outcomes. "You're just going to grab a few books and get the hell out."
The stairs creak under my feet as I slowly descend, my heart beating loud and fast. I finally reach the bottom and the cold cement floor tingles under my bare toes. I look around at our old, abandoned workout machines, large t.v. set, bar, and bathroom. Everything appears to have frozen in place the moment my mom died. She'd come down here all the time to read and workout and just have some alone time. The thought of her sends a ripple of sadness through me and I quickly shake my head.
The basement is a large square room that is separated only by the things found in it. Off to the far right and against the wall are the couches and t.v. and a few feet beside that is the bathroom. The left hand side of the basement, slightly hidden from the stairs, is where all of the workout equipment is. My mom's elliptical machine and treadmill sits under layers of dust and her workout ball is deflated. Finally, right across from where I stand at the bottom of the stairs, two large bookcases full of small, medium, and massive books sit waiting. Oddly enough, there's no dust on them, even though neither dad nor I have come down here in ages, let alone cleaned anything here.
I walk over to the bookcases, taking long, quick strides. My fingers gently pass over titles like Beware: The Night is Nye; The Wolves Within Us; and The Faeries that Haunt Us. I scan past titles that get more and more absurd. I frown at my own immaturity in believing anything like this would actually be real.
I straighten my back and shake my head. I'm really losing it. At the rate I'm going, I'll probably be giving Ella from Sunrise a run for her money. I remember that she was in this state of insanity too, trying to see if Eddy was a vampire or a monster. I take a step back, feeling only a little relieved at having come to my senses just in time.
I stop and my eyes shoot up towards the ceiling. The noise of someone stepping on a loose floorboard upstairs alerts me that maybe someone else is in the house with me. All of those sick scenarios that ran through my mind the moment I'd stepped onto the first stair of the basement, come rushing back: monsters with gnashing teeth and witches with threatening cackles.
I pivot on the spot, following the movements that signal someone walking in the direction of the basement. Quickly, but silently I walk to the bottom of the stairs and look up. No one is standing there, looking for me. Goosebumps rise on my skin, warning me of something unseen.
"Dad?" I call out, my voice shaking but somehow powerful. "Dad?"
Nothing. No noise in the rest of the house symbols an intruder and no more floorboards groan under unwanted weight. A shadow passes over the top landing, but I see no one who could have created it.
"Hello?" I yell, feeling the fear of eyes on me. They burn through me, just like when I was up on the mountain. My hands start shaking as I place them on the banister, hoping to God that it's just my dad.
The house is now eerily quiet, which is weird because there are always clocks ticking or cars honking, or children playing. There is always some sign of life around our house, but right now, there is nothing. There's only that awful silence that breaks your heart for fear of something bad coming. Like in the horror movies, where music suddenly stops because something bad is going to jump out and say "Boo!"
Then I remember something that makes me scrunch up my nose and close my eyes in a second of prayer. Dad is in Toronto working on a case. All day. He'd told me a week ago and I'd completely forgotten. Instead of making me feel more comfortable however, this knowledge only freaks me out more.
With one last look at my mom's books I start racing up the stairs. Then many things happen very quickly.
A shadow, dark, yet oddly not menacing, races past me.
The stairs creak, following the movement. I'm pushed aside with the sudden wind and force following whatever it is.
The door to the basement slams shut, making my nerves ricochet around my body. The walls shake with the power of the door closing. The lights flicker, every few painful seconds turning off for moments at a time.
A scream is building up within me, but I am unable to let it out. Mute with terror. I am shaking uncontrollably now, thoughts of why this is happening and what the hell was that, racing around my head, competing for my attention. My white tank-top is soaked with sweat and my lips are trembling uncontrollably. My blond hair, once in a high bun, is now loosely lying on my soaked neck.
I jump and press myself tightly against the wall, hoping that this isn't happening. I close my eyes and tell myself to count to ten, just like when mom used to help me forget about the monsters I'd sworn I'd seen in my closet only moments before her arrival. Her sweet, calm voice counts with me as I search for some kind of grip against the wall.
Something cold envelopes me, making every single hair on my body rise like hair attracted to an electrified balloon.
The stairs creak around me, but I keep my eyes tightly shut.
In the darkness of my mind I can sense the light coming on and off.
More creaking from upstairs, some invisible intruder.
Another loud wham! sounds in the basement, making me flinch with fear.
The cold dissipates from around me and my breathing slows down a bit...
The door to the basement slowly opens, the rusted hinges sending a high pitched shrrreeeee into my ears.
Something warm envelopes me now, seemingly breathing on my neck. The sudden warmth makes my heartbeat slow down.
"Search for the Truth. I can only show you the way." The same voice as before in my room whispers in my ear, sending surprised tingles down my neck. Something soft brushes my cheeks and I realise that I'm crying.
My eyes open and, like last time, I see no one there. I place a hand on my chest, only to feel that my heart has stopped pacing so fast. I wipe away my frightened tears with the back of my hand, sniffling pathetically. The sounds of life around the house and the ticking of the clocks fills up my ears now and I feel no eyes burning on me. I look back in the direction of the bookcases and intake a choked breath.
Very slowly, I descend the stairs that I'd climbed in my fear and walk over to where two, heavy looking books lie on the cement floor. One says Disturbances in the Night: Burlington and the other makes me sit back suddenly, knocking the air out of my lungs. Eyes that Haunt the Night sits dark and meaningfully in front of me with two large golden-yellow eyes staring back at me.