The Thing in the Basement

This story brings to life a nightmare we all had once (or more). You are sleeping alone in the house on a dark night and then you hear something. You try to let it go, but the noises don’t stop. Your curiosity takes the better of you and you go down into the dark basement. Our protagonist does the same. What will he find?

I should take this opportunity to tell that whether or not you find this story scary, or entertaining, or whatever it is you are looking for, is of no concern to me.  I am taking this opportunity to share with you something that happened to me on October 27 of 2009.  I have never shared this story with anyone and thought this would be the perfect venue for it. Enjoy (or not.)

I tried to act like I didn’t hear what I just heard, but the sound came from downstairs and it was unmistakable. Glass breaking.

A screech.

I laid in my bed immobile, staring at the ceiling, waiting to hear something else. I cursed myself for being overcome with fear.  If my wife hadn’t gone out that night she would’ve been laying right next to me. In which case I would’ve put on a “tough guy” face and went to investigate.  But she wasn’t there, and I was lying in bed with terror coursing through every vein in my  body, trying to convince myself that I had imagined the sound. That was until I heard the growl, a low, repulsive growl.

I didn’t know if it was coming from downstairs or the space between my ears. Either way I had to get up and check, or I would go crazy.  I slowly sung my legs over the side of the bed and sat up.  I began to stand up but my knees betrayed me when I heard the crashing. Like something, the something downstairs, was hurling itself against the walls.

There had been a rash of break-ins in my neighborhood that week and it was hard to think that I wasn’t the most recent victim.  If that was true however, what was that shrieking noise?  It sounded like a 200 pound bird mixed with a hungry lion.  That was impossible of course but then what in the world was it?  Whatever it was, it had me glued to my bed, paralyzed with fear.

I regained my composure and slowly opened my door.  The living room window at the end of the hallway let in the faint shining of the moon. It cast a pasty light over the hallway and the living room beyond it, transforming the room into a maze of grotesque, elongated shadows.  The shadows were creepy but at least they provided an uneasy sense of stability.  The foreign lamp in the corner cast a horrifying shadow but at least I knew what it was.  The plant in the middle of the room portrayed a web of elongated black appendages across the floor, but at least I had a grip on that. I had no idea what I was dealing with downstairs.

All I could hear downstairs was the sound of movement.  I walked sideways, slowly crossing my feet as I traversed the hallway.  At the end of it, I encountered the broom closet.  I opened it, reached in and found an old-fashioned broom.  The one that I had etched “Quidditch” into because it reminded me of a witch’s broom.  I gripped it tightly and continued my long journey downstairs.  I turned the corner and edged toward the stairs.  I proceeded down them as slowly as a child does when he’s walking down the steps into a frigid pool.  As I made my way down, I heard the thing growl.  Or was it a moan?  It was like the kind of growl that a lion makes when it’s just been caught in a trap.

Frustrated.

Pissed off.

As my feet touched the cold cement floor of the basement I realized that I hadn’t even put socks (let alone shoes) on.  All I had on was some pajama pants, a t-shirt and a fistful of broomstick.  The thing wasn’t in the main room in the  basement. But then again there were no windows in this room either, and I had distinctly heard it crash through a window. It had to be either in the bedroom or the storage closet.  I  looked around and saw that both of the doors were closed and that’s when I realized how quiet it was.  I never believed in the phrase “too quiet” but right then, at that moment, it was too damn quiet.  I inched towards the door nearest me, the closet door, walking sideways again.  I didn’t know if I wanted to hear a noise again or not.  If I did I thought I’d have a heart attack.  If I didn’t, I thought I’d die of anticipation.  The door crept closer and closer to me, still no sound.

I reached out towards the door knob.  I took one step towards it and grabbed it.

Still nothing.

I twisted the knob as fast as I could and flung the door open.  I was attacked almost simultaneously.  I didn’t feel the pain right away but the blood ran from my forehead immediately.  Something sharp had come down hard on my head with such force that I stumbled back and landed on my butt, broomstick still in hand.  I began to swing it wildly, connecting with nothing.  Bewildered, in pain, and petrified, I crawled back until my back met, rather roughly, with a wall.  Panicked, I reached up and wiped the blood from my eyes.  Finally, opening my eyes, I was able to see my nemesis.  A fire poker lay harmlessly on the ground in the threshold of the room.  In my haste, I had knocked it off of its rack while swinging open the door.

I smiled.  It was hard not to laugh at myself.  I had been scared half-to-death by a household item.  The storage closet was clear but what about the – The growl came right on cue.

I whipped my head to the left to get a look at the bedroom door.  Below the door, through the tiny crack where the door didn’t quite reach the cement, I saw something.  Something was moving in that room.  As if it knew that I could see it, the movement stopped.  It emitted a low sound, resembling a purr.  It was like it was waiting for me, anticipating my next move.  My legs wouldn’t allow me to stand.  Panic grasped me so violently that It was hard to breath and my vision blurred.  I slowly rolled to one side until most of my weight was on both elbows.  I managed to crawl two feet away from the door when the thing inside moved slightly and I felt that I was going to pass out.

I regained composure just in time to stop myself from throwing up.  I could taste the vomit in my mouth and it caused my eyes to water as I began to bring myself to my feet.  If I was going to approach this thing, I’d have to do it standing up and cautiously.

I was about ten feet from the door.  I almost tripped over myself several times because I was taking such small steps.  I was sure I was going to get splinters from how tight I was holding this broom but I ignored that as I began to reach out to grab hold of the doorknob. I almost retracted my hand immediately when I felt the warm slimy metal but then I realized that it was my own sweat pouring down my arm.  I tried to will myself to do what I knew needed to be done.  I found that I was slowly turning the knob.  I opened the
door slightly without looking through the opening.  The low whine of the creaking door became somehow deafening.  I found that my eyes were closed again so when the door was completely open I couldn’t see what was in front of me.

That low growling came again and I felt warm, wet breath on my face.  I’ve been trying since that day to come up with some adjectives for what that breath smelt like but I never can.  It was worse than anything that can ever be described by characters on a page.

This was the first time I truly regretted going down there.  My left eyelid found itself slowly creeping open and then my right eye snapped open, hoping to make a liar out of the left one.

I had to be in bed sleeping What stood in front of me couldn’t be real. Right in front of me, looking down on me, was the most vile-looking demon creature that could possibly be conceived by the human mind. I’m 6’1″ and it stood at least a foot taller than me.  It’s eyes were thin vertical slits that framed blood-red eyeballs.  It’s head was a gross hybrid of a horse’s face attached to a Rottweiler’s skull.  Its teeth looked sharp enough to cut diamond and it’s snout emitted a pinkish mist as it exhaled.  It had the body of an overgrown reptile with t-rex arms and the webbed wings of a pterodactyl.  It stood on two legs.  Two incredibly muscular, incredibly hairy legs that bent backwards at the knees. Its feet were long, too long, and there were two-foot talons coming from what I assumed were the big toes.

It glared at me.  It picked me apart, I assume, planning on how it was going to pick me apart literally. It let out a deathly shriek and my world came to a stand-still.  My heart came to a stop and my blood stopped flowing.

Somewhere, somewhere miles away, a broomstick fell out of a man’s hand as he urinated on himself.

I lost consciousness momentarily so I didn’t feel myself hit the floor.  When I opened my eyes I managed to lift my leg up, hook it around the door, and try to swing it closed.  The beast roared and lifted its leg. It planned to put that talon right through my stomach.  I closed the door just in time as the talon came crashing through the wood.  I sprung to my feet.  Apparently, somewhere deep inside of me, a survivor resided. I had just seen the infamous Jersey Devil, that had to be what it was, and it was in my house right now.  I put the full brunt of my weight against the doorknob.  The creature let out an unbearable roar.  I could feel it scratching, trying to claw it’s way through the door. It was pissed off.

The shrieks became more and more erratic and I began to have the sense that it was jumping up and down.  It finally hurled itself against the door.  The force pushed me back and I found myself dazed and with distance between myself and the door.  I frantically scrambled back to the door and repositioned myself against it. I pushed harder against the door but then I realized that I wasn’t being met with any opposition.  The thing had  also fallen silent.  I stepped back a little bit, still with my hands on the knob, and stared at the door.  I stood there for what felt like hours listening, almost hoping for a sound of movement or something.

Nothing.

I backed away slowly.  I stared into the wooden door, too afraid to peek through the hole through which the monster had borne his talon through.  Somewhere on the other side of this door an unearthly creature resided.  It wasn’t moving, I could hear it when it moved, but I knew exactly where it was. It was right across from me on the other side of the door, staring just like I was.  But somehow I could feel its eyes on me.  Its presence tied a knot in my chest where my heart was supposed to be. I tried to take a deep breath but it got caught in my throat.  Both of my hands came up to grasp my throat as if that was going to help.

The monster was doing more damage to me now than when I could see it! After an agonizing battle to catch my breath I was left light headed.  I had enough wit about me to spot the broomstick out of the corner of my eye. I dashed over to it and picked it up, holding it like a baseball bat.  I was ready to strike if the creature decided to break through the door. I gripped the stick so hard that it hurt my hands.

A minute later the anticipation got the best of me and I flew forward, with bravado acting as the wind under my wings. I kicked right at the doorknob and the force blew the door right off the hinges.  I was surprised by my own power, but the surprise that gave me chills was what was staring back at me in the bedroom.

In the bedroom, my eyes fell upon what lie beyond the door.

Nothing.

I cautiously moved forward to investigate, carrying the  broomstick in front of me like a sword.  There was nothing, the room was just how it had always been.  I began to laugh at myself, almost hysterically. I began to think that I had imagined the whole thing.  Maybe I had had a little too much to drink at the bar that night and it was finally catching up to me.  I knew I shouldn’t have been up late watching those horror movies the night before!

This train of thought ended when my gaze fell upon the  window in the corner.  Shattered, wide open and letting in the night’s cold air, I didn’t know how I hadn’t noticed it before.  I walked towards it, and upon closer inspection I found the jagged edges to be drenched in a thick maroon liquid.

The beast was real.

The beast was real and it injured itself when it broke into my house. I sat on the side of the bed and stared out the window.  The night sky looked the same as it did every night, but I knew this was a very different night entirely.  I was just relieved that the monster was gone, so I took the broom, left the bedroom and began to think of a way to explain this to my wife.  I knew she would never believe it if I told her the truth. I was almost to the stairs when I heard a faint shriek out in the distant night.  I ran back to the window, with a surge of eagerness for some reason, and tried to catch a glimpse of the monster.  I saw nothing but the night sky and began to retreat back up to my room again.

The monster was gone for the night, but I had a feeling that it would one day be back again.

What are your thoughts about this story?