The Basement

📅 Published on December 5, 2020

“The Basement”

Written by AnimatedMajor
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: 10.00/10. From 3 votes.
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So, this one… this is the beginning of the most terrifying paranormal thing that ever happened to me. Technically, this should be titled “The Doll” since it spans several years, and several locations, and the central theme is a ventriloquist dummy I got as a child… but it all begins in the basement. I lived in a house up in the very northern tip of Idaho, round about 1992-3. The house is still there today, still in exactly the same shape outside, but I hope for the sake of the current owners that they remodeled and repaired the basement.

That basement wasn’t huge. It had a “large” main room, basically a wide hallway. That had two doors leading to two small bedrooms there was an uncarpeted cement floor, and a little nook under the stair opposite the two rooms that we used for storage. In the spring, during the melt, the groundwater would leak into the basement due to a faulty sump pump. Because of that the whole place would smell of mildew and mold, I’m fairly certain I spent a small chunk of my life living with some sort of mold in my bedroom, probably not healthy, and it could have accounted for the weird things that had happened in that dingy basement… I would believe that if the events that span this tale hadn’t taken me into my adult life, and several states away.

It all started with a puppet. A snail puppet named “snaily”, when I was about 6 my family gave him to me, a glorified sock puppet with a long tube neck for my arm, and a shell at the back. I was very good at making it talk for me, and giving it expression, I even figured out how to make him retreat into the shell when he was “upset”. I really enjoyed it, and planned on making a living out of it. So much so, that on my 7th birthday my grandparents gave me a Muppet. He was a grey furry fellow with a big felt mouth and a stick attached to one arm. His legs ended in Velcro covered feet that could wrap around me and seem like he was sitting on my hip. I fell in love. He was an extension of me, always on my hip, and always cracking jokes. I loved that little fuzz ball,  and started looking up ventriloquism at my library. My Grandfather caught wind of my interest, and decided he would help me by getting me a ventriloquism dummy. It was a cheap replica of Charlie McCarthy, the famous dummy that all Hollywood dummies are based on.

That doll was awesome to the 7-year-old budding ventriloquist inside me. I didn’t care that he only had a cheap pull string to make him talk, and that his velvet hat fell off his head every time I moved him. I loved him. When my family split, he ended up going with my father while I lived with my mom in Utah. Eventually, we bounced from place to place, splitting our time between my mother and father in different states. Thus, in the final half of the fifth grade, I moved back to Idaho, into my father’s new home, and into a hellish nightmare that was that basement.

When I moved back in, I got a lot of toys my father had been storing, including Charlie. By that time, I was nearly 11, and I had forgotten about my love for ventriloquism, but seeing Charlie again reignited that flame, and I was at it again. Until a couple of months later when I got my first computer. Suddenly learning DOS Basic and playing Wolfenstein 3D became my new obsession. I cast Charlie into my moldy closet and moved on to more “adult” things. Eventually, he was put away by my father for safekeeping.

From the moment I moved into that house the basement was my greatest fear. When I found out my dad was sticking me in the dingy unfinished basement bedroom with no carpet and mold on the walls I pitched a fit, not because it was gross, but because I was terrified of that whole space. The stairs leading up to the house were open-faced, I could see into the small storage space under the stairs, and it always felt like something was back there waiting to grab my legs. I used to book it up the stairs at top speed, in hopes to avoid that fate.

The only light in the main room was a single bulb, hanging at the end of a long wire. It wasn’t designed to be like that, the wire should have been in the ceiling, and the bulb was hanging from the mount that should have been attached to the ceiling. My father mounted it twice during my stay in that house, both times it was down and swinging within a week. There was a wood-burning stove in the middle of the main room, it needed to be fed every couple of hours during the winter to keep the house warm. Of course, as someone who is terrified of the basement, the job of feeding the fire fell on my scrawny little shoulders.

So it was one day, in the middle of winter, I was in the basement feeding the fire. Since I had moved in there, I had experienced weird things, bumps in the night, stuff falling off a shelf while no one was near, the normal. However, this was the first time I had lived there that something truly terrifying happened to me. As I was struggling to open the door to the stove, I heard a deep guttural growl from below the stairs to my right. I froze, hoping it was my dog hunting mice, and slowly, without looking at the stairs, loaded the fire with a couple of logs. I closed the door to the stove and slowly turned to look at the stairs, when behind me I heard a voice clear as day, “I will kill you”, whispered in a harsh, deep, male voice. I lost my shit, screamed, and ran up the stairs, I think I only touched three steps of the 13 leading up to the main house. I ran to the back of the house, a new addition (by “new” read: 40 years old) and huddled under the blankets crying. I never wanted to go back into the basement, but eventually I had to go back to my room. From that point all, every bump, every scrape, every little sound had me on edge while I was down there.

Time passed. Eventually, I put the voice into the back of my mind, convincing myself I had imagined it. I always had a rational mind, one that I used to explain away all the strange things that happened to me. Finally, as things tend to do, it was pushed into the back of my mind, and I lived with just a general fear of the basement again.

Until one day, again while feeding the fire, I got a sense of dread in my chest. Something I couldn’t put my finger on, but it got my pulse racing. I began to nope it up the stairs, when the one thing I had always feared happened, something grabbed my leg from under the stairs. I freaked… and went lightheaded. I couldn’t figure out what was happening, I couldn’t decide if this was real life or a dream. I know I jumped backwards, I was nearly at the top of the stairs, and I didn’t land on a single step on the way down. The way my body twisted as I pulled away from something holding me had me land square on my back on solid concrete, I felt the wind rush from my lungs, and then I passed out. I don’t know if it was from the impact or fear, I just know I lost consciousness. I don’t know how long I was out, I do know when I came to my head hurt more than it ever had in my life. I was dizzy and not fully aware of my surroundings, and I crawled up the stairs and into the main part of the house. I laid down on the couch and fell asleep. My dad got home a few hours later and woke me up, I told him what had happened, he looked me over for any serious injury before telling me it must have been a dream. I was tired and lethargic for a few days after that, but eventually I felt normal, and I ended up deciding it had to be a dream, stuff like that didn’t happen in real life. (Thinking back on this now, I may have suffered a head injury, and should have gone to the hospital, but my dad was very much the “walk it off” type)

My brother knew of my fears, and would torment me as much as possible, jumping out at me, or sending me to get things from the basement just because he knew I was afraid. The worst thing he did to me though was move stuff around my room at night. My room didn’t have a door, so it was easy to sneak in and move stuff around. He would put my toy chest in front of the doorway, or turn my desk upside down and put my chair on it. Never anything subtle about it. I didn’t want to fuel his behavior, so I never got upset about it. I just moved things back, my mom always told me he would grow tired of his pranks if he didn’t think they were working. Old school “don’t feed the trolls” moment.  Eventually, it stopped… or so I thought.

One night, my brother’s prankster spirit came out in full force. I woke up to a loud knock on my closet wall. I looked over, and in the light of the nightlight I could see my dummy Charlie sitting on top of my toy chest, facing me. I laughed a little nervous laugh, Charlie had been “put away” in a garbage bag with all the other stuffed animals I didn’t use any longer, the bag was stored in a shed in the backyard. I was proud of my brother for the effort, this had more subtlety and class than his other pranks I fell back to sleep. A while later I was awoken by another knock, and I sat up hoping to catch my brother doing something else. This time Charlie was on the floor sitting upright facing my bed. I rolled my eyes and sighed. I respected the conviction, but I was too tired to deal with it anymore. So I fell back to sleep. One last time I was woken up, this final time the doll was on my chest. I flipped shit and ran into my brother’s room, yelling at him to stop messing with me. The only problem was his room was empty, and it slowly dawned on me that he hadn’t been home all day, and was planning on spending the night at his friend Nick’s house. I had been alone in the basement all night. It was quite some time later that I discovered he had never moved anything in my room, in fact by all accounts my brother did everything he could to not go into my room, it gave him the creeps.

I felt like I was going insane. I couldn’t fathom how the doll had ended up on my chest, or how it got inside in the first place. I ran upstairs, crying uncontrollably. My dad’s door was locked, so I climbed onto the couch and fell asleep with my face buried in fear. The next day, I woke up on the couch and it all felt like a dream. Still, I was done with the basement, I started sleeping on the pull-out couch after that. I don’t remember the story I told my dad, something about the mold bugging me, but I never slept in that room again. Luck was on my side, and the basement started to flood heavily the next few months, and my dad eventually moved me into the room upstairs with my sister. I thought my troubles were over… but that was just the beginning of the nightmare that spanned almost 10 years of my life.

* * * * * *

I feel I should clarify the appearance of the doll before moving on. He had a hard head and hands, molded plastic, his right eye had a slot carved out, to hold a plastic monocle. I lost that Monocle pretty early in owning him. He had a felt hat, that got beaten up pretty quickly by me, so it was misshapen, but I had managed to hold on to it all through this stuff. His jacket could be removed, his whole torso and arms were white cotton, the elbows were just a strip of sewn thread dividing a long tube of cloth. My doll’s hair had a scuff at the back of the partition, showing the flesh-colored plastic under the paint. He had two plastic shoes that you could tie, but I had lost one years ago. Inside the other one, I had painted two letters with white paint. The letters were parts of my last name, so I won’t divulge what they were, but they were distinct and very much supported my claim that Toy Story was a rip-off of my life as it came out two years after the events in this story. Pictured below is what this bastard looked like. I hate it with a burning passion, and looking at it makes me sick to my stomach. The last detail was he had a braided nylon loop sticking out the base of his neck, when pulled his mouth would move.

See, after Charlie had shown back up in the basement, I refused to sleep down there ever again. It was the first time I stood up to my father about anything. He tried to force me to stay in the basement, but I’d wait until he was asleep, then move myself to the den and slept on the couch. He’d get up for work every day to find me sleeping on that couch. Eventually, he stopped trying to make me go into the basement. It was summer by this time, and I have fond memories of staying up all night playing Nintendo, and then riding my bike to the beach every morning to swim for hours. Despite what happened near the end of the season, I still hold that to be the best summer of my life, because I felt so free. That might have had a lot to do with my dad working all the time so I didn’t feel the normal foreboding fear that I was going to do something to make him mad at me as often and could be myself without judgment.

Okay, so I’m going to stop being so long-winded I promise (this is a lie). I slept in that den for the whole summer, but my dad didn’t like the idea of me sleeping on the couch all the time, so eventually, he moved my bed and my toys into my sister’s room. This was ‘93 so she would have been 8 at the time, and I was just about to make that full-time rush into puberty, which made that situation uncomfortable to me. However, we made do, and I just avoided the room unless I was sleeping. But I had to maintain her “bedtime” so I was in bed super early, and I didn’t like that. I made do by reading under the blankets, and playing my Gameboy by the light of my book-light. No big deal, I adapted, but I missed the freedom of the Den. When my dad moved all the toys and my bed into the room, I distinctly told him to put Charlie back into the shed. I watched him throw it in the plastic bag that had all my other dolls and puppets from my younger years. He wasn’t pleased that I made him do this, saying I was being dumb and I needed to grow up and stop dragging him into my games of pretend.

Well, one night, before school started, I was sleeping soundly on my back (something I never do anymore) when I felt a weight on my chest. It was heavy and… I don’t know how to say this any other way… pointy. Like there were odd angles to it, pressing into me, at first I thought it was my dog, a 40 lb springer spaniel, but it felt wrong… too small. I know this sounds like a sleep paralysis demon, but two things push this outside sleep paralysis for me. One: I started flailing immediately, no paralysis involved. Two: I opened my mouth to scream when something hard and plastic shot into it and pressed into the back of my throat. I flailed around, grabbing at the thing on my chest, but it was weird, like, it was covered in a cloth, that had a lot of give, but it also was firm and heavy for something so small. The top of it was round plastic, and I kept trying to push it but it wasn’t moving and I couldn’t roll to my side. Eventually in my wild attempt to get this thing off me and out of my mouth (I was barely able to breathe, and I’ve had a distinct fear of suffocation ever since this day) my hand latched onto a part that was hanging off the main mass. A single string at the base of the hard plastic on top. That’s when I realized what this was. It was Charlie, I could feel it now, the weight of him on my chest was like someone had filled him with lead instead of fluff. It was his hand in my mouth, making me gag as it tried to push deeper in. I think realizing what was on me helped me panic less. I felt like I needed to see him, I needed to make him real I guess. So I fumbled around, grabbed my book-light, and turned it on. The second there was light in the room the doll was just that a doll. He slumped off my chest, and the wet cotton arm that ended in a rigid plastic hand fell out of my mouth as if I had been sucking on it, not choking on it. I stared hard at the doll, coughing and crying and scared as hell. I had realized earlier this summer no one in my house cared about what was happening to me, and I had nowhere to turn. I simply sat in bed with the small ring of the light illuminating that damned doll… something I used to love, and now despised. I don’t know how long I sat there. By the time the batteries died on my light, the sun was coming up casting a soft light in the room. By the time I left the room, my throat was extremely sore.

I never fell back asleep, I know that much for sure. It’s the only reason I don’t think it was all a bad dream. Well, that and the other nightmarish things that happened involving that doll. That day, after my father had left for work I took my frustrations out on that doll. I smashed his face in, I kicked him, I took him and swung him around smacking him against my porch outside. I was working some stuff out, okay? After that, I took him back into the shed and saw that the bag he was in had a small hole in it, about the size of his head. So I wasn’t going to take any chances. I put him in a toy chest I had in the shed, it was a square, with the ninja turtles painted on all the sides with a lid that locked. I shoved him in there and locked the lids declaring victory. Which worked, for a while. I didn’t see him again that summer, I had a different supernatural encounter, with a being the internet has begun to call the “hat man”, I guess. I didn’t know he was basically a cryptid, but, apparently, he’s a big deal and has a sub dedicated to him. I’ll leave that one be for now… this story isn’t about him.

The last time I saw Charlie in Idaho was after school had started. I had just come home from school and my “girlfriend” had come home with me. She was a cool kid, I really liked her (despite not know what a romantic relationship really was), but this was the last time we ever hung out. We got home, and dumped our backpacks on the floor next to my front door, and sat down to watch Star Trek TNG. It is part of why we were friends, she loved Star Trek and so did I. We watched it together every day after school until her mom picked her up. It should be noted that though the backpacks weren’t visible to us, from where my couch was, the only way to get to the bags was to pass by us, in between us and the TV screen, kinda hard to miss. Well, halfway through the episode we were watching our backpacks flew across the room. They didn’t roll or slide, they passed in front of the TV, in the air, like someone had chucked them. She screamed, I screamed, there was no ice cream involved. We ran over to the bags, then we looked back at where they came from. Sitting against the door, with a smug air about him was Charlie. It was like he was taunting me. The girl didn’t know what was happening, or why I was so much more freaked out than her. My mind was racing, and I decided the only thing to do was make sure he was gone forever.

Now, an adult would think “fire”, but to a 6th-grader fire was not on the menu. I decided to bury him, and the girl got conscripted into helping me. She was scared and confused, but eventually, she did help. I got my Dad’s shovel, and took Charlie to the woods behind my house. I dug a deep hole, super deep, to a pre-teen that had to have been at least 3 feet. I threw charlie in and the girl said the “As I lay me down to sleep” prayer while I buried him. I don’t know what it’s called, I never was a church kinda guy, but after I finished I put a set of crossed sticks on the dirt and covered the mound with pine needles. And that was it. The girl broke up with me when she left my house that day. The next summer I moved back in with my mom, and never looked back at Charlie or that house again. I never told anyone, neither did the girl as far as I know. Not that it’d matter, I never saw anyone who knew me from Idaho ever again, even when I went back, I didn’t run into any old friends.

So I grew up, moved to California for high school, met a girl and fell in love, as one does. Eventually, roughly 1998, my dad moved out to Cali to be closer to the kids he used to neglect and brought with him all the things we had left behind, hoping we would equate nostalgia with love. I kept that Ninja Turtle box out and left the toys in it. Don’t worry, he wasn’t in the box. The rest of the stuff went into the “attic” we had… a small crawl space with very little room. And that was that. Two years passed after dad had moved away from that property. It was January of 2000, we had all just survived Y2k. Life was good. I had dropped out of school the year before, so I was working for McDonald’s and taking every shift I could. Things were kinda growing stale between me and my girlfriend, We will call her A. A was kinda mean honestly, but she was hot and I was fat so I thought I’d never get anything better. So one day, after a morning shift of work I came home and she was waiting on my porch, she knew I would be home alone, and she wanted to do the thing 17-year-old kids do when they can be alone together. I was also a 17-year-old kid, and though I was beginning to dislike her, I was 17 years old. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more!

We went into my house, went into my room and I was trying to convince her to let me take a shower to get McMuffin stink off of me when she asked why my bed was so dirty. I turned around and on my bed was a small set of sticks, crossed, under a pile of pine needles. That made little sense, because there were no pine needles around my house. Also, dear readers, though you’ve made the connection I’m sure, I did not. I simply commented on how weird that was, brushed them onto the floor and did what I had come to do. It was later… after… we were sitting together talking and she said something about not knowing I had such a cool doll. I followed her gaze, and sitting on the Turtle Toy Box way dear old Charlie. Now, I won’t lie to you, I screamed. I got really dizzy and I thought I was going to pass out, I started hyperventilating as a ton of memories all caught up to me at once. The thing is though, this guy was fresh, he still had his jacket (I lost it years before the whole Basement thing), his hat was perfect, he had his monocle and both shoes. “A” didn’t know why I was freaking out so hard, I asked her to check inside his shoe, she said there was white paint inside with my special mark for my last name. I ran over and grabbed him, as I picked him up I realized what the pine needles meant. I spun around and looked next to the bed where they had been swept off. There was nothing on my floor, I told “A” and she started to get why I was so upset. I checked the doll all over, he had the same bald spot, everything. This wasn’t just another doll, this was Him. “A” wanted to know the story, so I explained it all to her over my Webber grill… I learned plastic stinks when it burns and leaves a residue at the bottom of charcoal grills. I also learned I wasn’t as crazy as I thought, cause as he burned we both swore he was screaming. A part of me wants to think it was just air escaping his head as it melted… but I don’t think that’s the truth.

Anyway, the long-lasting repercussions of those events mean I get terrified of any dolls. I can’t do ventriloquism, and I can’t watch the Goosebumps movies because guess who R.L. Stein based the looks of his Haunted Dummy off of? I swear, everyone steals my life story. Also, my wife (not “A”) bought a Charlie McCarthy doll from Goodwill just to mess with me. It isn’t the same doll, I’ve never seen it, and I forced her to leave it at her parents’ house across the country. She also laughed at me while I was struggling to find a decent picture of him for this story. That’s true love right there.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 3 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by AnimatedMajor
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: AnimatedMajor

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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