The realty agent in the black suit hopped from his shiny jeep and approached the old house with a cheery face. Placing the 'sold' sign into its sleeve, he eyed the house from across the weedy lawn. It was a relief to have this place sold. It made his business look bad.
The house was probably not much older than its neighbors, but it looked to have aged an extra century. The paint was like the flaking skin of a dead snake and the porch was rickety and full of protests. The yard was badly kept with chest high weeds and prickles across the clumps of decay. In the very center was a giant ant hill, and for some reason, there was even a log buried in the grasses by the porch. The windows glistened as if with sweat, and the door was squat with a rusty brown handle.
An old man had lived in the house for as long as anyone could remember. Many years ago, the man had been a well known citizen of the community and had often told stories at the library on summer nights. But now this friendly memory was almost lost in the rumors that surrounded the old man in his dying years. It was said that he had gone senile and loony. He would spend days in his house without even appearing at the window. And when a concerned neighbor paid him a visit, he would come to the door looking like a mess, with tousled hair, stains across his clothing, and a shifty gaze that would set anyone at unease.
And yet, when old man Charles died, there was hardly any discussion. His son from Alabama drove up in his car, inherited the house, put it on the market without a second glance, and then went back to whatever important business he was running.
And then Mel had purchased the house. He had been surprised at how little it was being sold for, and he was just happy to have a place that he could call his own, especially since it was in a friendly neighbor tucked away on the east side of town. He was a chef working for a catering company, so he was neither rich nor poor. But if he hadn't have found this place, he would have purchased an apartment.
After moving in, Mel soon began to notice some oddities about the house. The old furniture that was left in the living room was bolted to the floor. And one of the pieces, an old oak trunk, was locked with a steel chain. So Mel decided to work on the outside of the house. The first thing he did was start tearing up the lawn.
It was late afternoon on a crisp summer day and Mel was leaning against his shovel in the front yard. He had worked all day in the yard, and the grim satisfaction it gave him was enough to make him smile, although grimly.
He sighed and then took another swing with the shovel. Clump, tear, toss. Clump, tear, toss. He could do this all day. And then his shovel hit steel.
Mel stopped rather suddenly. Then he hesitantly lifted the shovel and let it drop one more time. A muffled clink was all to be heard, but the jolt on his shovel was enough to make him drop it and bend down for a closer look. He brushed the dirt away with his blistered hands and felt the texture of a steel plate.
"Oh Dear," said Mel. "What's this?"
He began to dig again but this time in order to uncover the steel. As the work progressed and he still could not find the edges, he began to look nervously over his shoulder for any watching neighbors. He felt like this was something he should be digging up in the dead of night.
And then his shovel clicked the side of something protruding from the steel plate. He bent down, clawed the dirt away, and then knelt back on his heels with sudden suspicion. It was a latch. The type commonly found on old doors.
Then Mel stood up. He had made a sudden decisions. Yes, he had dug enough for the day. Opening a door in his yard and descending into the underworld was not something he would like to do when the neighbors were watching. This was certainly something for the night. And, this was most certainly reserved for his special friend Eddy.
Mel retreated into the house to call his reinforcement. Eddy would be all over this one.