Black Mold

📅 Published on July 3, 2020

“Black Mold”

Written by J.M. Cennamo
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 7.90/10. From 10 votes.
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Tommy Ihlman was only seven years old when his parents bought the house on Tamara Lane. Though it was no mansion by any stretch of the imagination, the five-bedroom raised-ranch style home seemed like a palace compared to the one-bedroom studio apartment he and his parents had lived in prior. His dad loved to brag about the size of the new house; he said that it even had a finished basement.

“I thought the whole house was finished,” Tommy said, confused by the term. His father laughed.

“Yes, Tommy,” he replied. “The whole house is finished. It just means the basement is set up to use as an activity room, a den, or even bedrooms.” Tommy gasped.

“You mean I have to sleep in the basement?” This idea clearly upset him and his protest continued until his mother interrupted.

“Of course not, sweetie,” she assured him in a low, soothing tone. “You can pick which room you want as yours.” His eyes lit up.

Before he had a chance to respond, he was cut off by his dad. “Except the master bedroom.” Tommy let out a disapproving “hmpf.” He hated that his father always seemed to know what he was thinking. He figured that was just one of the perks of being a grown-up.

As they stepped through the front door, Tommy squealed with delight. He dashed off through the living room, into the kitchen, and down the main hall to look at the rooms. Though the size of the master bedroom was impressive, he was equally satisfied with the other two rooms on the main floor. He returned to the hall and pointed at a door that sat just off of the kitchen.

“What’s that? Is it the basement?” His dad nodded. Tommy turned the knob and slowly opened the door. He was greeted by a wooden staircase that plunged downward into a dark, wide-open room. He turned to his parents, fear painted across his innocent face.

“It’s okay. Just turn on the light. The switch should be on the left wall. Show me your left.” Tommy lifted his left hand slowly. His parents smiled and nodded encouragingly. He slowly slid his hand along the wall until he felt the switch. With a click, the light above the stairs came on, forcing the darkness to retreat. Tommy gave a weak smile then carefully began to descend the stairs.

The basement was much larger than he expected and far less scary with the lights on. The main room was the length of the entire first floor; big enough to run around in or even play a game of tag. Two bedrooms sat against one of the longer walls with a small half-bathroom between them. As Tommy marveled at the size of the basement, he was startled by loud footsteps on the stairs behind him.

“I thought the basement was supposed to be finished,” his mother said with disappointment in her voice. “The walls are just bare cinder block and the floor isn’t even carpeted.”

“Only the main room needs carpeting. The bedrooms are carpeted and the bathroom is ready to go. And I like the cinder block walls. Gives it a certain vibe,” his father responded, placing a reassuring hand on her shoulder.

His mother scoffed, “Yeah, like a dungeon.” Tommy laughed. Sure, the concrete floor and gray cinder block walls weren’t exactly homey, but the space definitely made up for it. Tommy peeked his head into one of the small rooms.

“I like it down here,” he said excitedly. “Can this be my room?” His parents looked at him with a mixture of confusion and shock. “Come on,” he pleaded. “This room can be my bedroom, and this one can be like a game room,” Tommy explained, walking through the adjoining bathroom. “I’m a big boy now and this way I can make noise, and play video games, and have friends over, and practice karate and…” His parents started chuckling.

His mother gave him a comforting smile. “Okay, okay. If you really like it, then I guess we can give it a shot. If you change your mind, we can always move you to an upstairs room.” Tommy gave his mom and dad a big hug.

“Hey,” Tommy began, as he looked toward the far corner of the main room, “what’s that?” He pointed his tiny index finger at a large, rebar grate in the floor.

His dad walked over to it and peered inside. “Hmm, looks like an old drainage grate. Bone dry in there now. Must have been used to drain water from the basement during construction before it was flood-proofed. Don’t worry though. Realtor said they sealed it up real good, like a submarine.” Tommy giggled; he loved submarines and boats. With a thumbs-up, his dad reassured him this would be the best room in the house.

* * * * * *

That first winter was very trying for Tommy and his family. Repeated snowstorms brought over five feet of snow and temperatures that dipped well below zero. Of course, these conditions bothered his parents much more than they did him. Even though he couldn’t play outside due to the winter advisory that was in effect, the schools were closed and he got to stay in and play video games with his neighbor and new best friend, Ryan Fisher. He was slightly older than Tommy, and though the age difference was only by a couple of months, Ryan loved to rub it in Tommy’s face. However, Tommy didn’t pay attention to any of his teasing. In fact, he thought this behavior only showed that even though Ryan was older he wasn’t any more mature.

“So, what made your parents buy a haunted house?” Ryan asked, never taking his eyes off the video game they were playing.

“What do you mean, haunted? It’s not haunted,” Tommy protested, having lived in the supposedly “haunted house” for several months. Ryan shrugged, eyes still glued to the TV screen.

“People say it’s haunted. They say the last guy who lived here liked to lure kids down to the basement with candy then he would kill and eat them. They say he killed himself when he heard the police were coming to get him and… BOO!” Ryan shouted and lunged at Tommy, causing him to let out a high pitched yelp and drop his controller. He punched Ryan in the arm and began using words that would surely get him grounded if his mother heard him say them.

That night at the dinner table, Tommy decided to break the usual silence with his newfound information.

“Ryan says our house is haunted.” His parents stopped eating and waited for him to continue. “He says a bad man used to live here and he ate kids in the basement.” Naturally, his parents were mortified at what the neighborhood kids said about their house.

“Sweetie,” his mom said placing a hand on his arm. “That is just a scary story the neighborhood kids made up to frighten you. The house isn’t haunted and no one that lived here ate people. Isn’t that right, dear?” Tommy’s dad nodded in agreement.

“That’s right. The realtor said the house had been foreclosed after the original owner had passed away.” Tommy gasped at the thought of someone dying here. “It’s okay, T. The realtor said he was an old man and it was just his time to go. Nothing to be scared of.” Tommy believed his parents, but still felt uneasy about the house – especially the basement.

“Can I move my room to one of the upstairs rooms?” he asked with a hint of fright in his voice. His parents nodded and told him he could use the guest bed until they moved his things up from the basement.

* * * * * *

When the spring came, the warm weather brought more than the usual birds, flowers, and insects. The enormous snow mounds that had built up over the previous winter had melted into a deluge of water, causing Tommy’s entire street to flood. It was then that he and his family found out their “finished” basement would not live up to its title. One afternoon, as Tommy opened the basement door to get his skateboard and helmet, he found himself staring at several feet of water instead of the bottom of the staircase. The water was dark, smelled of mildew, and appeared thick and viscous. “Dad!” Tommy yelled down the hall. “The basement is flooded!”

Tommy’s dad came running down the hall. When he saw the swamp that sloshed lazily at the base of the stairs, he unleashed a tirade of swears and curses directed at no one in particular, save maybe the basement itself. Tommy’s mom rushed in when she heard the yelling and told her son to go play outside while they get the situation sorted out. He agreed and quickly hurried out to the yard to play, thankful he had moved his bedroom upstairs when he did.

After several days of plumbers, home inspectors, and insurance agents coming and going coupled with his father yelling at what he called the “Rat Bastard Realtor,” the basement was finally water free. The inspector told Tommy’s parents the original seal had been a “slap-dash” job and the new seal should keep the water out for the coming years. Before he left, he cautioned they may experience some mold issues, but to give them a call and they would send someone out to handle it. They thanked him and the rest of the workers for doing a quick job and hoped that would be the end of it.

* * * * * *

Not long after the flooding and repairs, Tommy was woken from a sound sleep by a faint scratching noise at his bedroom floor. He quickly snapped on his bedside light and looked all around his room. He was alone, but the scratching sound persisted. He slowly crept out of bed and placed his ear near the heating vent in his carpet. It was then he realized it wasn’t scratching he was hearing; it was whispering.

“Tommmmmmyyyyy…” The voice rasped like the sound of dry leaves scraping on pavement. “Tommmmmmyy, please. Come down here… I want to meet you…”

Tommy was frozen with terror, but mustered all of his courage to respond. “Who… who are you?” he asked, voice trembling. The whispering returned.

“I’m a genie,” the voice lied. “I was trapped down here until the water set me free. I have so wanted to meet you and your family. I have listened to you for months, hoping I would be set free so I could grant you wishes.” Tommy’s uneasiness began to wane. “Come downstairs so I can grant you wishes…”

Tommy grabbed his flashlight and made his way down the hall. He carefully approached the basement door. He reached out with his tiny hand, placed it on the knob, and slowly opened the door. As the hinges squealed and groaned, the batteries in his flashlight died. Tommy let out an audible yelp then quickly cupped his free hand over his mouth. He peered into the inky blackness of the basement, too scared to descend the stairs or even reach for the light switch on the wall. In the darkness, he swore he saw a shape moving at the base of the stairs. As his eyes adjusted, the shape appeared to be a person, swaying back and forth like a tree caught in a light breeze. Tommy swallowed hard as the shadowy figure lazily lolled from side to side. Then, the unthinkable happened. The shadow took a step. Tommy screamed as the figure moved slowly up to the next step, still swaying side to side. Without warning, the light above him flashed on and the shadow had vanished.

“Tommy?” his dad’s voice boomed from behind him. Tommy screamed and quickly turned to face him. “What are you doing out of bed, son?” Tommy was taking increasingly deep breaths. He raised his arm and pointed to the bottom of the stairs, not daring to turn and face what might still be lurking below. His father looked passed him and gave an exasperated sigh. Tommy turned to see what was wrong and why he wasn’t running in terror. On the wall at the bottom of the stairs was a large, black stain. “Great, just what we needed,” his father let out another sigh. “Mold. Come on, Tommy, get back to bed. We’ll deal with this in the morning.” As Tommy followed his father back down the hall, he glanced back, filled with dread. His father didn’t see it, but he did. The mold wasn’t only on the wall. There were two dark stains on the two most bottom stairs as well.

* * * * * *

The next day, Tommy told Ryan what had happened.

“Dude, you’re full of crap!” Ryan exclaimed. “That story I told you is something we all tell the new kid to scare them. There is no ghost or genie or whatever in your basement. The old dude that lived here just croaked. Don’t be such a baby!”

“It’s true!” Tommy argued back. “I can prove it!” Tommy walked with Ryan over to the basement and swung the door open. “What do you call that?” Tommy asked, triumphantly pointing at the dark spot on the wall.

“Mold, you dingus. All of the houses have it after the flooding.” Tommy pointed his finger at the stairs.

“What about those footprints? Explain that!” Tommy said, challenging his assertion. Ryan shook his head slowly.

“Still just mold, dude.” Tommy was starting to get angry. His parents hadn’t believed his story either and dismissed the shadowy creature as a “nightmare.” Ryan flicked on the overhead light and started down the stairs, “Come on, Tommy. Let’s find this basement genie.” Before Tommy could stop him, Ryan had already disappeared into the basement.

Tommy quickly caught up to his friend, who was now standing in the far corner near the drainage grate. Ryan gestured at the floor surrounding it. Dark greenish, black spots encircled the small opening and the surrounding walls.

“See, dude? Mold. It sucks, but it’s just mold.” Before Tommy could argue, the two of them were startled by a loud bang. The basement door had swung shut. Tommy ran back to the steps to see if maybe one of his parents had accidentally closed it not knowing they were down there. But, before the word “mom” could escape his lips, the basement light blew with a sharp pop. “Come on, Tommy, this isn’t fu– AHHHHHHHH!” Ryan’s words were cut short by a blood-curdling scream.

Tommy squinted in the darkness too frightened to move from the base of the steps. He stared at the far corner as unimaginable fear washer over him in waves. Even without the light, he could make out the horrible scene that was unfolding before him. The shadowy figure had returned and was wrapped around Ryan, only this time it looked far less human than the night before. Numerous limbs, claws, and tendrils groped, slapped, and squeezed his friend until the screaming stopped. Tommy saw the shadows lower his friend’s limp body to the floor.

“Tommmmmyyyyy…” the shadows whispered, “I’m still hungry, Tommmmmmyyyy…” The dark mass shambled toward him, twitching and chuckling. “Will you feed me, Tommy? Will you bring me more food?” Tommy began to sob. He knew that this was the end. He knew this creature would squeeze the life out of him like it did Ryan, then it would get his parents. He closed his eyes and braced himself.

“What the hell are you kids doing down here?” His father yelled from the stairs, flashlight in hand. “Didn’t I say it wasn’t safe to be down here because of the mol–” He didn’t finish his sentence. Tommy’s dad cupped a hand over his mouth as tears began to form in his eyes. “Oh my God, Ryan! Tommy, what happened? What did you do?”

The shadows had retreated once again. Tommy ran to his father and wrapped his arms around him, hot tears stinging his eyes. “It was the mold, Dad! It was the mold!”

* * * * * *

The coroner’s report had ruled Ryan’s death an accident. They said it appeared he had suffocated from an intense allergic reaction from the mold spores in the Ihlman’s basement. They said that situations like this were rare, but not unheard of in young children. Ryan’s parents, however, did not accept this explanation. Instead, they took their sadness and frustration out on Tommy and his family.

“This is all his fault!” Ryan’s mother screamed through tears, pointing an accusatory finger at Tommy. “That little bastard did something to him! He’s sick! Your whole family is sick!” Mr. Fisher tried to calm his wife down, but the same pained, judgmental look lingered on his face.

“Honey,” he began, “Not here. Not like this.” Ryan’s closed casket sat just a few feet away on a small, white altar adorned with flowers, stuffed animals, and photos of the now-deceased boy. Tommy hid behind his parents and burst into tears, his small voice trembling,

“It w-w-was the m-m-m-mold monster, Mrs. F-f-f-fisher.” Tommy struggled to get the words out. The sudden loss of his new best friend gripped him in fear and anxiety that would not shake loose. Mrs. Fisher approached the Ihlmans, hatred and pain in her eyes.

“The only monster is you! Now get out! Out!” With that, the funeral director approached the Ihlmans and firmly asked them to leave.

* * * * * *

After Ryan’s funeral, things only got worse for Tommy and his parents. The voices and shadows had stopped, but his fear of their return kept him awake most nights. One evening, when he should have been sleeping, he heard his parents arguing in the living room. Tommy’s mother wanted to sell the house and move. “We can’t stay here,” she pleaded. “The mold is dangerous and Tommy is terrified. His best friend died down there!” His father met her concerns with anger.

“We can’t just leave! We’ve sunk so much money into this goddamn house! And who’s gonna wanna buy it after a little boy just died here, huh? I had that shit in the basement cleaned best I could and I filled that damn drainage grate with cement! What more do you want from me?”

“What about our son!?” she screamed. “Don’t you give a shit about him? He won’t sleep. He barely eats. He won’t even go near the basement. He’s traumatized.” Tommy’s dad paced back and forth, hands covering his face.

“Fine, fine! Then take him to therapy! Get him some help! He’s obviously all screwed up! I told them not to play in that damn basement! You do whatever you want, but I am not leaving!” His mother grabbed her coat and stormed down the hall to Tommy’s room.

“Get up sweetie,” she said lightly shaking Tommy’s shoulder. “We’re going to go stay with Aunt Linda and Uncle Steve.” Tommy slipped on his shoes, took his mother’s hand, and the two of them drove off into the night.

* * * * * *

Tommy didn’t see much of his father after that fight. He and his mother stayed with his aunt and uncle until they were able to find an affordable townhouse. For the first few years after his parents separated, his father would come and visit a few times a year, but the constant bickering with his ex-wife made his visits less and less frequent until, one day, they stopped altogether.

Tommy attended therapy at the behest of his mother and school guidance counselor to help cope with what he had witnessed in the basement. After years of therapy, he eventually came to terms with Ryan’s death being a “freak accident” caused by severe anaphylactic shock. True, he still had his fear of basements, sewer grates, and mold, but he tried not to let it interfere with his day to day life. The visions and voices all seemed to vanish the night he and his mother left that moldy old house.

Now eighteen, Tommy had decided to leave the townhouse he and his mother called home for the past eleven years and rent his own, small place in the city. His new apartment was barely bigger than the living room of the townhouse he just left, but it was closer to campus and he could even walk to work if he had to.

One evening, as he was just getting in from work, the weather took a terrible turn. Rain had been hammering down for hours. The gutters below Tommy’s apartment filled with rushing water and debris. This type of weather always made him anxious. Thunder boomed just above, shaking his windows. He closed his eyes and tried to tell himself it was just a storm. As the noise from the growing storm raged on, his mantra was broken by the sound of his cell phone. The phone jingled to life with a number he did not recognize. Tommy nervously pressed the accept button.

“Hello? Tommy speaking.” There was a pause. He heard someone on the other end breathing heavily.

“Tommy, it’s… um, it’s Dad. I know it’s been a long time since we last spoke, but I heard you moved to your own place and were going to college and, and I just wanted to see how you were.” Tommy sat silent for what felt like an eternity. There were so many things he wanted to say to him, wanted to shout at him. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes.

“I’m fine, Dad, thanks. Been keeping busy. Work, school, you know?” He heard his dad chuckle on the other end. It had been so long since he had heard his father’s laugh that he forgot how soothing it could be.

“You sound so big now, T. I’m sorry I let time get away from me like that. I should have been there for you and I wasn’t. I hope I can make it up to you, son. Anyway, I have some news you might like to hear. I know how much you hated that old house after your friend Ryan passed away. Well, I just heard from our old realtor that they tore it down to make way for condos or something like that. Isn’t that great?” Tommy felt his heart sink.

“Tore it down? Even the basement?” Tommy asked, fear causing the hairs on the back of his neck to prickle.

“Yeah, even the basement. Great, right?” Before Tommy could respond, his living room light flickered and went out. The room filled with a wet and rotted odor as the vague shadows began to shift around him.

“Dad,” Tommy nervously whispered into the receiver. “They let it out… they broke the cement in the grate and they let it out, Dad.” His eyes darted around the room, phone still pressed to his ear. The silhouettes seemed to dance and weave with every move he made.

“Tommy, calm down, okay? We’ve been over this. There is nothing in that basement that can hurt y–” His father’s words were cut short. He pulled the phone away from his ear. The screen was blank. Dark. Dead. Panicked, he bolted for the front door.

“Tommmmmmyyyyy? Where are you going, Tommmmmmyy?” the whispered voice of the shadows asked from just in front of his only means of escape. Something was different this time. This time the shadows had more than one voice was speaking in unison.

“R-r-r-r-Ryan? Ryan, is that you?” Tommy choked out between stunted breaths.

“We’re hungry again, Tommmmmmmy. We haven’t eaten in years… you’re going to feed us, Tommmmmmy… You’re. Going. To. Feed. Usssssss…” The engulfing darkness slithered through the air, wrapping Tommy in their damp embrace. The stench of mold and decay filled his nose. The inky blackness wriggled and squirmed in and out of his mouth. The shadows blanketed his eyes and filled his ears until all fell dark and silent.

* * * * * *

Tommy’s father came bursting through the front door of the small apartment. He knew he hadn’t been the best dad, but he had to see what had happened to his son when he heard the panic and fear in his voice. He needed to be sure that everything was going to be okay. But it wasn’t okay. Nothing was okay. In the small beam of light that trickled into the apartment from the outside hall, he saw the lifeless form of what used to be his little boy sprawled on the floor. He rushed over and held his son’s body in his arms. Silent, weak sobs escaped him as he rocked back and forth trying to make sense of what could have happened since they last spoke three hours ago.

The door to the apartment slowly creaked shut, extinguishing what little light the hall had offered. A damp, moldy smell crept into the room. Tommy’s father began to cough and choke on the noxious odors that now seemed to surround him. He raised his head and peeked over the shoulder of his son’s corpse. On the other side of the room, the shadows bobbed and weaved from side to side. The squirming mass of darkness lolled toward him.

“Daaaaaaadddddddd… we’re hungry…”

Rating: 7.90/10. From 10 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by J.M. Cennamo
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

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Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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Severus Snape
Severus Snape
1 year ago

What the fuck ?

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