Just when the hair on the man's neck couldn't get any more rigid, there was a loud crash and he jumped high enough to collide with the rickety old beams above his head while simultaneously calling out the name of some imaginary deity combined with a nonsense word swear. He landed on the dirt floor with a jarring thud and a plume of dust wafted from his butt toward the ceiling. His uncontrolled breathing gulped down mouthful after mouthful of the fine, dry mist, but that instantly dried his throat and sent him into a loud, retching spasm of coughs that folded him like a shrimp as he attempted to gag it out.
There was a single bulb overhead, with a chain, and hanging from a dark and frayed tether. The man would not be surprised to find the entire building would be constructed from knob and tube. A thick layer of dust coated the exposed bulb, which cast an uneven, yellowed, spotlight-like glow toward the floor but left the ceiling in relative darkness.
His senses seemed to abandon him, yet he was pretty sure the crash had been from the door at the top of the stairs suddenly slamming itself closed of it's own accord. This assumption made his forearms tingle with goose flesh. His blood pressure shot to dangerous levels he knew, for each beat of his heart was a thunderclap inside his head which made his vision throb as the blackness of tunnel vision began to close off his sight.
He cried out like an injured animal, trapped as the hunters closed in on him, a feral will to survive. Adrenaline burned like acid in his veins and he took the stairs three-at-a-time, until he miscalculated and jammed one foot hard against the front of one of the steps. An icy blue explosion of pain blossomed in his eyes briefly as he went down, bashing his knee on another stair in the process. He tried not to call out, to hold his tongue as a vertigo-like swirling buffeted his head, even in the darkness, and he had to close his eyes to keep from vomiting. But he emitted more feral grunts with each raspy exhalation.
The pain caused a slick coating of sweat to burst forth from his pores, and he unconsciously dabbed at his forehead with one hand, not realizing it was gray from one hundred years of dust. A thick, black spider scurried from his thumb to his hairline, and he swatted at it, but was more concerned about leaving this god-awful cellar in his wake, so he pushed himself to his feet without another thought of the creepy-crawlies which probably accompanied him upstairs.
As he neared the top step a terrible thought occurred to him: What if whoever had slammed the door on him had engaged the lock? His hyperactive Fight-or-Flight response sent horrific images to his brain; images of him slowly starving to death as he went blind in the darkness, and maybe someone would stumble across his dusty, gray bones in another hundred years...
But no, the door wasn't even completely closed anyway. The man hit it with all the force of a linebacker with a clear shot to the quarterback, and the paper thin wood splintered into a mass of dry-rotted wooden shards as he tumbled into the kitchen and skidded across the moldy tiles before finally coming to rest at the foot of the sink.
His first thought was one of jubilation; he had beaten that cellar, he had escaped. He even looked smugly at the darkness beyond the shattered doorway, leading downstairs.
Until he realized he still clutched that cold, cobwebbed diary in his hands.