23 Feb The Monster in My Dead Father’s Basement Is Getting Bigger
“The Monster in My Dead Father’s Basement Is Getting Bigger”Written by JGrupe Edited by Craig Groshek Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek Narrated by N/A
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available
⏰ ESTIMATED READING TIME — 10 minutes
The couch reeked of cigarette smoke, ashes, and body odor. It was faded yellow like the wallpaper, its springs creaking loudly as I sat down.
It smells like him, I thought to myself, surveying my late father’s living room and its precarious stacks of old books and magazines. I couldn’t help but sigh. It was going to take forever to clean this place up.
A fat cockroach ventured out of the couch cushions and began to scuttle across my bare arm. I stood up, feeling sick, and saw several more of varying sizes abandoning the couch like a sinking ship.
It’s a good thing I brought rubber gloves, I thought to myself, flinging the large bug off my arm. And an N95.
I was about to put those things on when the lights in the house went out, all at once. It was suddenly pitch black inside the living room and silent, the humming background noise of electronics and home appliances conspicuously absent. I could only hear the thud of my heart in my ears accompanied by a nocturnal orchestra of crickets outside the window.
Why had I chosen to come here at night to clean up? It was spooky enough as it was just being inside this house. Especially after he had died last month sitting right there – in his favorite recliner. Ghosts felt so much more real in the night, with nobody else around.
As I thought about that, a chill ran down my spine and the room seemed to grow colder. In the darkness, I pulled out my phone and turned on the flashlight function. The harsh white light cast the room in a bright glow, and I surveyed the crowded, messy space around me.
A narrow path through the piles of junk led towards the kitchen, and from there, I could go downstairs to reset the breakers. The old house did this from time to time, its original wiring and circuits not designed for the strains of modern electricity.
Starting to make my way through the piles of faded magazines and newspapers, I edged sideways and sucked in my gut at one narrow section to get through to the kitchen.
Once there, I tried to ignore the rotten smell which greeted me – sweet and sour aromas of spoiled food – and something else much worse beneath that. It occurred to me there might be something dead inside one of the cupboards. It could have been a mouse or a rat, for all I knew. Neither one would surprise me.
Opening the door at the top of the stairs, I began to make my way down the steps. They creaked and groaned beneath my weight, and I made sure to cast the light towards my feet to avoid falling. The stairs were lined with stacks of old journals and magazines, printed news articles and folders bulging with papers. Dad’s “research,” as he had called it.
I felt a pang of regret, wishing I had tried to understand him better. He had grown emotionless and reclusive over the years, paranoid that others were mocking him for his theories. He truly believed there were things from another world living among us, invisible and in the shadows. We’d never been able to convince him to seek help as much as we’d tried, and my mother had eventually left him after years of emotional neglect.
I was careful to avoid the wobbly stacks as I made my way down the stairs to the lower level, as I imagined they would collapse like dominos if I knocked something over. The precarious towers swayed and bent with my weight pressing down on each step. I cringed, picturing one tipping over, causing a cascading effect that would somehow turn the whole house to rubble like a massive Rube Goldberg machine.
My breathing stopped as I heard something moving down in the shadows of the basement, further within the blackened space. It sounded like it was coming from the direction of my dad’s old office.
Probably just mice, I told myself, stepping from the bottom stair onto the linoleum tiles of the basement. They crinkled and crunched beneath my feet, yellowed and brittle with ancient water damage. The sound in the distance stopped immediately, and my skin broke out in gooseflesh as I began to tread hesitantly forward toward the source of it.
The breaker box was in the furnace room. I would go to it and flip the switches, then go back upstairs to clean. There was no way I was going to investigate that sound coming from ahead and to the left, deeper in the basement. That was the kind of stupid thing they did in horror movies right before getting killed.
Creeping forward, being careful not to touch any of the precarious stacks, I finally arrived at the furnace room door on the right. As I pushed it open, that sound came again from the office, through the den, which was just to the left of me. A noise like papers rustling and things being shuffled around. It immediately made me feel uneasy, my throat tightening with fear as I thought about my theory that the noises were being made by a mouse. That no longer seemed possible. Whatever was making that sound, it was larger. A raccoon, maybe? Or a possum? No, definitely bigger than that.
Rushing faster, I nearly ran into a stack of boxes that was just around the corner inside the furnace room. The idea of knocking something over and becoming pinned beneath a pile of magazines while that rustling sound grew ever closer was too much for me to handle. Nearly in a panic, I ran across the small cement floor room to the breaker box.
I reached up for the lever and gripped it firmly, pulling it down, then jammed it back up into the ON position again.
Nothing happened. The room was still drenched in blackness, aside from the beam of my cell phone’s flashlight. That rustling sound continued in the distance, undeterred by my presence.
My heart thudding in my chest, I reached out and pulled the lever down and back up again, resetting it once more. The lights remained stubbornly dim.
And then I realized, of course, I hadn’t flipped the lightswitch at the door of the furnace room. None of the basement lights were turned on, so I couldn’t even tell if resetting the breakers had worked.
So I walked away from the breaker box and flipped the switch on the wall near the door, expecting the lights to turn on. But they didn’t. It was still pitch-black in the basement of my dead father’s house, And the longer I spent down there the less comfortable I felt. My skin was tingling with a sensation telling me something else was down there with me, my primal lizard-brain instincts urging me to run.
I quickly realized why that was.
That sound of rustling papers from my father’s office was gone, replaced by a swishing sound indicating movement. Whatever that thing was, it was larger than a raccoon or a possum, and it was headed straight for me.
More afraid than I’d ever felt in my life, I stepped out of the room and began to move through the stacks of papers that lined the basement floor to ceiling, wall to wall. I tried to walk at first, pretending that the sound like a large lizard moving in the night wasn’t real. But then, as it got closer and I heard its bulk scrape against the door frame of the den just behind me, I started to run.
Too terrified to look back, I began to push over the stacks of magazines and papers, knocking them over with my hands as I ran past. The stacks toppled over, sending a collapsing chain reaction of junk-towers in the thing’s direction.
Whatever it was, it made a pained sound, unlike anything I’d ever heard before. It was a dark, alien sound. A high-pitched shriek mixed with an undulating drone like a swarm of bees beneath that.
Unable to stop myself from looking, I pointed the light from the phone in the thing’s direction.
All I could see was the boxes and papers being knocked aside by some large invisible force in the darkness. Whatever it was – I couldn’t see it for some reason. But it could see me. And it was headed for me again, as indicated by the papers being knocked aside in its wake.
Running as fast as I could up the stairs, I got to the top just as the thing began to bound up the steps from the bottom. I pushed over the stacks of boxes near me, sending another domino-wave of junk toppling over, crashing into the bulk of the thing chasing after me.
It was already so close! In the short amount of time it had taken me to push the piles of junk over, it had nearly reached the top of the stairs. Still, my plan worked, and I heard the sound of it tumbling loudly down the steps.
Panting and out of breath, I went through the door to the main level and slammed it shut behind me, just as the thing caught up again, scraping and scratching against the wood. I pulled the deadbolt closed as it pounded with its weight against the threshold.
The door rattled and shook in its frame as I held it shut with all of my body weight, feeling it pound against my back and hoping that whatever this thing was, it did not have claws that could pierce through the flimsy barrier I’d made between us.
After a while, the pounding stopped. The dark house was silent once again, and I thought I heard the sound of it retreating down the stairs into the basement.
But as I listened closely, I realized I could still hear the sound of its breathing – raspy and quick.
“What are you?” I asked through the door, and the sound abruptly ceased.
For a long time, I just listened, waiting for it to go back into the basement again or just to breathe again, so I knew where it was. I couldn’t tell if it was behind the door or not, and after a while, I began to almost wonder if I had imagined it all.
Was there really an invisible creature living in the basement beneath my dad’s house? The whole thing seemed impossible.
Whatever had happened to the power, my attempts to reset the breakers had done nothing. It was still pitch-black throughout the house.
My phone had plenty of battery, so I cast its light around the room from where I sat with my back against the door. The stacks of books and magazines were still standing upright, unlike down in the basement where it was now in shambles.
That was when I heard the sound of the thing descending the stairs, its footfalls noisy amidst the mess. I could tell exactly where it was, based on those sounds.
A very unusual thought occurred to me, hearing the creature heading back to the basement. I stood up and picked up a folder from one of the wobbly stacks in the kitchen. It was stuffed with pages of text, the margins thin and the print packed tightly together in a tiny font.
I began squinting my way through the text and was amazed to see it was written by my father. And it was all about the thing in the basement. It appeared to be a continuation of a previous document which I could find no trace of. The pages were all scrambled and out of order – disjointed fragments of memories and recollections:
…creature is clever. First the light. Then the heat. Makes me go down there every time. It knows I have to go down there. Fix the furnace, reset the breakers, repeat.
It’s gotten so big! I remember when it was so small, so easy to ignore. I could almost pretend it was just a cold breeze moving things around and causing the hairs to stand up on the back of my neck.
Feeds on memories. Feeds on thoughts and feelings. Do I feel anything anymore? Do I even feel fear? Yes, the answer is yes. Every time I go down there, the answer is yes.
I will kill it somehow. Kill it it kill Kill it will until its kills it or it kills me. How do you defend yourself from something you cannot see?
* * * * * *
That last bit of garbled text made me feel sick to my stomach as I thought about my dad’s final days and his confused and paranoid state in the hospital.
Looking up from the pages, I surveyed the crowded room and realized he had managed to defend himself from the creature, in a way. He’d made a fortress out of his “research,” just to keep the thing away and to warn him if it was coming.
And then I realized the worst part. I had just unwittingly destroyed that barrier of protection.
The temperature began to plummet in the room, and I realized I’d have to go back down there again. Not that minute, but sooner or later, I would have to face the creature again. Otherwise, the house would remain cold, dark, and unlivable.
I picked up another stack of papers and began to look through them in the glow of my cell phone light. There were more rambling pages, many of which made no sense whatsoever, the text written sideways or spiraling in crude print. But then I would find one where my father had written coherently about the monster, describing exactly what he had learned.
Another section caught my eye, and I read it carefully, growing more and more terrified with each sentence:
It’s gotten through the locks again. I’ll have to lure it downstairs with another bribe. Oh, I hate doing it, but it’s the only way. The poor creatures, they don’t deserve this, but they are pests. Still, I don’t like it. But it’s better than having that thing up here with me on the main level, creeping around and doing God knows what in the shadows. I don’t trust it.
The thing – I’ve begun to call it Samuel, although I don’t know why – it’s started to learn how to mimic sounds. It’s like a ventriloquist, casting its voice across the room and making you think it’s leaving when really it’s still sitting just next to you.
What am I going to do? How am I going to get rid of this thing before it takes everything from me? I’ve already lost my family. What will I lose next?
* * * * * *
I looked up from this page written by my father to see the basement door was now hanging wide open, revealing the darkness leading downwards. The sound of footsteps could be heard coming towards me again as the towers of papers began to topple, this time towards me.
The stacks of books and magazines, papers and folders stuffed with documents, they all began to tip over, landing on me and pinning me to the floor.
A moment later, I could smell the creature’s rank odor as its invisible face floated above me, examining me. I shook with fear, feeling its gaze on me, feeling it taking something indefinable from me. Like I was losing a part of myself – the very thing which made me me.
It’s in the room with me now, sniffing through the cupboards and the pantry for more dead rat carcasses while I remain pinned to the floor beneath a thousand pounds of junk mail and rambling missives.
I’m reading through the pages around me frantically, trying to find something, anything that will help. I’m clueless as to what I should do right now. It feels like I should know, but I’ve somehow forgotten some critical things. Memories that were very important which the monster has deigned to feast upon.
Who do I call if I need help? Why can’t I remember anymore? The creature is coming back to feed again, sniffing at my face in the darkness, pondering what it will take next. It feeds on all sorts of things.
And it’s always hungry.
🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None AvailableCraig Groshek Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek Narrated by N/A