“Todd,” she shouted has he dropped through the floor. She fell to her hands and knees and, carefully, crawled closer. She could hear coughing and then a grunt from the hole in the floor.
“I’m okay,” he called up. “I found the cellar.”
She gave a small smile in spite of her concern. “Anything broken?”
“Just the floor. I’m fine.” She could hear him dusting himself off. “There are some stairs here, leading up. One sec.”
The sound of shuffling, then feet on wooden steps. “Hey…there’s a trap door here in the ceiling.” The jiggling sound of a bolted door, then, “It’s locked from your side.”
She looked and saw the rug moving slightly as Todd tried the trap door again. She stood, grabbed a corner and dragged the rug out of the way.
“Yeah, I see it.” Taking care not to step on any rotten floorboards, she made her way the trap door. It was about three feet square, it’s metal bolt pulled into the locked position. She reached over and unlocked it.
From beneath, Todd pushed and the door creaked open loudly, then slammed into the floor when he released it.
“Why,” he asked, “would you have a trap door in your living room like this?”
“Better question. ” She said. “Why would you lock it?”
He stepped back up to the main floor, dusting hands off on his jeans. “No idea.” His eyes flicker from the cellar stairs to her face. “What you would keep locked in a cellar?”
“Better question,” she said. “Who would you keep locked inside a cellar?”
The both stood there in silence for a long moment.
“I think we should back to town,” Todd said.
“I think we should go down there and take a look,” she said at the same time.
He was dubious. “The light is fading. We don’t have a flashlight.”
She reached into her pocket and retrieved her cell phone. She thumbed at the interface and the camera’s flash lit up, casting pure white light down the stairs into the darkness.
She descended the stairs. He sighed and followed.
As expected, the cellar was about the size of the house itself. Old brick held back the dirt to make the space, which was curiously free of the usual stuff you find in a base. Instead of old tools, boxes, and other storage pieces, there was little more than a broom in a corner and an old lunch bag.
But there were passages. On was a full-blown corridor leading…where? And another was a crack in the foundation, just large enough for a slim twenty-something to fit through.
She shined the light, taking in her options. She started to hum the little tune she always hummed when she was about to start something potentially unwise.
He rolled his eyes. “Krista…” he said, with their air of a person who has been dragged on a great many troublesome adventures in his life that didn’t end all that well.
“What?” she said with forced innocence.
He glared at her.
“What?” she repeated.
“You know what. I’m not doing this.”
“Doing what?” she smiled sweetly.
“Crawling through that crack in the wall. No way.”
Krista picked up the old brown lunch bag on the floor and peered inside. Empty. She folded it neatly and stuck it in her back pocket.
“Of course not. Who wants to crawl when you can stand upright and explore a weird passage in a creepy old house?” She flashed the light on the corridor leading out of the cellar. “Come on. You HAVE to be a little curious.”
“No. I really don’t.”
She shrugged. “Ok. Fine. I am. I’ll see you a little later. Meet you at the Ace?”
He looked less sure. “You’re going to go on alone?”
“Uh, yeah. I’m not gonna force you. Go on. Go home.” She flashed a grin at him. “I don’t need a big strong man to protect me. I’ll be fine. ”
With that, she walked down the corridor and out of sight.
I started writing the thing I’m calling Legacy last week, and a few people told me they wanted more. So I’m going to write more.
In the past, I’ve always tried plotting things out and building a particular story. I’d overthink it and grind to a halt. This time, I’m doing something a little different: I’m playing with the skeleton of an idea and letting the character decide what’s going to happen. I’m also playing around with a terse style that is similar to some authors I like. I hope to use this as a learning exercise in style as well as on-the-fly storytelling.
Also, I want to have some fun instead of obsessing over stupid writer stuff.
I’m enjoying this, so I may do more like this with different stories. I have a lot of ideas, and right now, it’s better to put words on the page than to overthink it. These aren’t polished…they are first drafts, proofs of concept.
I’m not used to playing around with fiction in public, so this is a big experiment for me. I hope you enjoy it. And if you do…you know…tell me or tell someone else. It’s good for my fragile little ego.
He followed her. She cleared the way, swinging the crowbar side to side, beating the grass back. They found the gravel path again and followed it to the front door.
She reached out and tried the knob. It was locked. She hefted the crowbar and looked at the door with a smile.
“Wait,” he said. She turned and looked at him. “Didn’t you say there was a back window that was open?”
She nodded. “Yeah. That’s how they think my uncle got in.”
“You want to try that first?”
She made a show of thinking about it. Then, “Not really.”
She wedged the business end of the crowbar in the slim space between the door frame and the door and pulled.
There was a creak. Then a crack. Then the door popped open about six inches. A chain on the inside stopped it from swinging open all the way. She lifted a combat-boot-shod foot and kicked at the edge of the door. The chain let go, and the door slammed open.
The afternoon sunlight hadn’t seen the front room of the house in a long time. The front room of the house looked bare except for an old area rug, faded and covered in dust. Another door across the way led to a back room.
She shot him a grin. He grimaced. “Adding B&E to your repertoire. Nice.”
She shrugged. “No one is going to care. This place was abandoned decades ago. No one uses that road out there anymore. No cops are going to drive by.”
He mmm-hmmmd. “If you say so.” He gestured. “Ladies first.”
She grunted. “Ain’t no ladies around here.” She stepped into the house. He followed.
The front room, probably a living room, smelled like dry rot and old wood paneling. It wasn’t as empty as they first thought: there was a display case hung on the wall to the right, empty. To the right, there was a fireplace and to the right of that, a boarded-up door frame.
He glanced around. “Whole lotta nothing.” He walked back into the rear room. She looked at the display case, ran her fingers through the heavy layer of dust. Nothing had been on these shelved for a long time.
He stepped back out. “It’s a kitchen. The back window is boarded over. There’s a staircase, leads up.” He pointed at the boarded-up door frame. “What’s that about?”
“No idea,” she said. She toed the area rug, a large faux-Persian thing, with her boot. “Place has been empty for a long time, seems like.”
“Well, that how you keep excusing your destruction of property. Are you going to attack door with the crowbar?”
She shrugged. “Seems like the next logical move..”
As she took a step to cross the room, they both heard the sound of wood splintering. She looked at him. He looked at his feet.
“What…” he said, and then the floor collapsed under him, sending him plummeting into darkness.
“This is it?” he asked.
She nodded. “Yeah. The place has been here for almost a hundred years, but the trouble really started about fifty years ago.”
She continued walking up the road toward the house. He followed.
She said, “Some kid went inside and vanished. They found a window open around back, and some of his stuff inside. Nothing else.”
She walked up to the old mailbox and pulled it open. It was empty. She grunted, then slammed it shut.
“That was your uncle.” He said it rather than asking.
She shifted the backpack on her shoulder and stopped. The yard of the old house was overgrown. The house, which might once have been white but was now a faded gray, peeked above the tall grass. At here feet was the remains of a gravel path which looked like it had once led up to the front door.
“I’m surprised it’s still standing,” he said.
She grunted again. “Rumor is some rich family owns the place. Forbid or paid off the county to leave it along.”
She exhaled slowly. He watched her take the backpack off her back, she it on the ground and unzip it, and then pull out a crowbar. She flashed him a smile.
She pinned him with a speculative glare. “Yeah, I’m serious. I’m going to see what’s in there. You coming?”
Second ticked by. She shifted her weight and sighed impatiently.
He shrugged. ‘Fine. Yeah. Let’s go,”
Together they fought their way through the tall grass, toward the old ruin of a house.
I’m not going to lie…I missed a few entries this weekend.
I’m not sure that the 100 Days of Words project I’m working on means 100 Continuous Day of Words.
That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
Because it sounds better than the truth.
I was bitten by a radioactive Easter bunny on Saturday at the Midway Plaza rest stop on the Pennsylvania turnpike. I found that I could hop very quickly, could color eggs with my mind, and could sense small children nearby. Also, the carrot craving was incredible and disturbing.
See? I told you.