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The basement

by amandahladik


“Things will be better this year. It’s a new slate, don’t ruin it. You hear me, Jack?” My mother peered at me through the rearview mirror. I nodded my head, back to her. I continued to stare out the window studying every car that passed by, looking at the license plates: Virginia, Texas, Maryland, Maine, Maine, Maine and Connecticut. When I am not looking out the window, I am watching the clock, three hours have passed. My arm is numb, from my sister Lulu’s head.

My mom stopped the car, and shook my arm. “We’re here”, I fluttered my eyes opened and looked out the window, to see my sister already running up to the front door. The house drew you to admire it. Dead vines caged the front and right side of the house. The porch appeared like it was about to cave in. My mom rushed to take the sold sign out of the front lawn. “Welcome home, kids” my mom smiled at us.

“Are we really going to live here?” Lulu said while jumping up and down, grabbing my mom’s hand.

“Yes we are! Isn’t it great, Jack?” My mom waited for my response.

“Don’t get too excited, Lulu. The person who lived in here before died,” I wanted to ruin Lulu’s excitement. I walked onto the porch looking down at the old cigarette butts and paint chips that were scattered across the floor. Faintly in the background I could hear my mom explaining to Lulu there are no such things as ghosts and nothing is going to scare her in the middle of the night.

My mom grabbed a key from her pocket, and fidgeted with the old lock, it wouldn’t budge. I held my hand out as an offer to open the door myself. I took the key and turned the lock very slowly which made a low screeching noise that made Lulu cover her ears. I opened the door and gave my mother a know-it-all look. When I walked inside I tried to turn the light switch, which did nothing. “The electrician is coming next week to turn on the power,” my mom said while setting down a box on the table.

“Well that’s just great,” I hissed.

My mother ignored me and started to dig through a box, “Here are some flashlights”. She handed the bigger one to me, and the pink one to Lulu.

After we got settled and ate dinner, my mother tucked Lulu into bed. Then she headed to bed, herself. Before she closed the door, she told me “Don’t stay up to late, Jack. We have to unpack in the morning.”

“Alright mom,” I answered her.

“And Jack, please try to be positive. We are doing this for you-” she said grabbing my hand.

“-I thought you believed me. I didn’t do it. I’d never,” I roared.

“Be quiet Lulu is sleeping. Jack I know you didn’t do it, you just looked real guilty,” she hissed back to me. I didn’t know how to respond back to her so I just went inside, my room and slammed the door, “Love you too,” she mumbled to my closed door.

I studied my new bedroom, I could only see dimly because my mom always buys the cheap flashlight. Boxes were stacked against the wall so high it almost touched the ceiling. Cob webs filled all the corners. The walls were covered in a horrible and tacky pattern of wallpaper, which only an old lady would pick out. The room radiated a dusty smell that made my nose itch. I centered my flashlight onto the wall over my bed. There was something written. Don’t open the Door-EE was scratched into the walls. It looked like someone had done it with their fingernails, dried blood surrounded the writing. Great, some psycho mental patient must have stayed in my room before me. EE must have been their initials.

My bed was uncomfortable, and the room was so hot, it made it difficult to even breathe. I continuously flipped my pillow for the cold side as time passed. A crash coming from downstairs broke the silence, and cut off my thoughts. I grabbed the flashlight from the floor, and walked into the hallway and then down the stairs, to the kitchen, where I thought the noise came from. “Mom, Is that you?” I walked through the kitchen. I heard the noise again it was a whisper, this way. I pointed my flashlight at the wall and saw a door. I opened it and saw an old wooden staircase, that didn’t match the pine layout of the house.

The staircase led to another door that was locked. I heard a different whisper of an old lady don’t go down there. Her voice was brittle, which sent a wave of goose bumps all over my body. “Hello?” I started to call out to the voice, hoping for a response. The house was quiet, an unsettling silence. Well now I know I have to be crazy. I walked down the stairs, to the door. I heard the sound of muffled whispers. I put my ear up to the door. “hello?” I heard the whispering come from behind the door, Help us, Open the door, HELP! Get us out of here, open the door. I placed the flashlight on the floor. “Hold on, I’ll get the door open” The old lady whispered through the walls, don’t open the door. You’ll regret it. Don’t do it. They are dangerous. The voice rattled the old walls. The voices behind the door got louder open the door, she is lying, please help us. I looked around the walls the voice behind the door was a little girl her voice ran a shiver down my spine the key is under the bucket, please help us Jack. I flashed the light at the stairwell to see a bucket. I lifted the bucket up to see a key. No don’t, the voice of the old lady grew louder and more furious. I took they key and unlocked the door.

I busted the door open and took the flashlight and flashed it into the room. There was nothing just a cellar, with old wine on the walls, and cob webs polluting the room, “Hello?” I looked around the room. My stomach began to feel rotten. I knew I did something wrong. I walked back upstairs. I am going senile. I sat down in the living room. I held my head in my hands, “Jack there was nothing there” I kept repeating to myself. The voices seemed so realistic.

A loud screeching noise came from the kitchen making my teeth clench together unnervingly and my eyes twitch. I felt wetness in my ear that dripped down onto my neck. I took my fingers to dab it and saw that it was blood. I frantically hit my ears over and over rapidity. The dripping turned into gushing. I plugged my ears with my fingers. Nothing could stop it, from seeping out. The screeching noise became so unbearable, the room started to shake and then it all went to darkness.

My eyes opened slowly and at first it was very fuzzy. I snapped up and got lightheaded. Where I had fainted before was a pool of blood. I swiftly felt my ears; it was done bleeding, and the only thing I could feel was scabs. I studied the room around me. The couches were scratched, with cotton ripped out of it. The windows were broken; the room was covered in a thin blanket of shattered glass. The area around the furnace was charred. The room itself had an unsettling silence, and stillness.

“Mom?” I shout into the empty house, “Lulu?” My heart dropped when I had heard no answer. Uneasily I ran up to their rooms to see if they were still sleeping through all of this hell. When I reached the top of the staircase, and got to Lulu’s room. I was hesitant to start opening the door. I knocked instead. “Lulu, are you in there?” I bashed on to the door, when I heard no response. The door creaked open. I saw her body with a blanket over it. Her room seemed to be untouched. I slowly took the sheet off her. My stomach turned upside down, and I couldn’t think or breathe. Her face was frightened and her body was singed. Her eyeballs were melted onto her crusted cheeks. Unintentionally, I placed my finger onto her neck. She had no pulse.

I walked backwards out of her room and closed the door, I couldn’t bear the sight. I stepped into something wet when I got into the hallway. I looked at my feet to see a trail of blood leading to my mother’s door. “M-mmom?” I started to stutter. I opened the door. The sight I saw was something I could never let go. Something so disturbing my mind couldn’t even process it. My mother was dangling from the ceiling fan with a noose around her neck. Her body had been so slaughtered I could barely recognize her. Shreds of her skin were shoved into the corner, and next to it in a bloody pool was her heart still beating yet it was quite a distance from her body. On the walls written in her blood, was SHOULDN’T OF WENT IN THE BASEMENT.

I sat on the sidewalk watching the police carry out my sister and my mother in body bags. At least fifty police people had to be here running around like ants. The bag that carried my mother was dripping in blood. I couldn’t cry, scream or even whimper. I wish I could just show a little emotion. I sat there wishing that it was all a nightmare. Even if I did wake up from this dreadful nightmare, it would be something that would stay with me for the rest of my life.

“This is another Edna Evans case,” The police man whispered to the detective “Precisely” the detective shook his head in disgust. “Who is Edna Evans?” I broke into their conversation. “The old lady that lived here before you. That doesn’t matter. I have some questions for you,” the detective pulled out his notepad and pen.


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177 Reviews


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Tue Feb 12, 2013 5:15 am
Paracosm wrote a review...



Hey Amanda!

I'm going to give you a quick review. I enjoy horror, so this review should be fairly helpful. I'm going to go through and talk about three components of writing, characterization, voice, and idea. I'll highlight your strengths, and assist you in working out your weaknesses. Anyway, I hope my review helps, here goes!

Characterization

In horror, characterization is a huge deal. If you don't feel for the characters, you don't care what happens to them. That's why it's important to make your characters easy to relate to. Give them emotions or feelings that resonate with the reader, make us hope and pray they make it to the next page.

The characters in this work should be more fleshed out. I think you tried to make us feel for the main character by killing off his little sister and his mother. This is a common tactic that rarely works well. If you kill off his sister, it doesn't bother us. If you make us care for his sister, fear for his sister, long to see her safe, then we start to ask ourselves if she'll make it. Then we get that nice, tense feeling we are looking for when we read horror.

I did enjoy the main character's attitude. He had a snarky, angry out look. This sort of character fits well in horror, if you show us why he feels the way he does. What experiences lead up to him behaving this way? Show us that, and that'll make us care.

Voice

It's hard to write horror in the first person. Right off the bat the reader knows that the main character is going to live, unless you throw in a killer twist. You made a good choice by writing this piece in the first person. It gives us a little more insight into the main character.

One problem I had with the voice was the way it portrayed the massive amounts of gore. It felt impersonal at times. I would never be able to relate such awful things to someone, it'd choke me up, churn those same feelings I felt before, and make them fresh. Avoid using gore to make something scary, because it doesn't. Gore just makes the reader uncomfortable, it doesn't leave that lasting tension that suspense does.

Idea

You have a strong story here, just be sure to flesh it out some more. Who was Edna Evans? I feel like your ending would've been really powerful if we were left to wonder why this woman was a suspect. What did she do in the past? What are the police talking about?

It's rare that I tell someone to give more information in a horror story. In fact, you'll hear stuff like, 'Never show the monster!' and, 'Keep us asking questions!', but in this case, the reader needs to know more. The reader needs something to get the cogs turning.

Overall, this piece has a ton of potential. Keep honing away at it, and it'll turn out great! On another note, remember to rate your works properly before you post them. This story has some pretty intense gore, I would rate it at 16+, but use your own discretion. Keep writing!





A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.
— Steve Martin