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Category: Fiction

Descent

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Legacy

“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.

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Breaking and Entering

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Legacy

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.

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West of House

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Legacy

“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.

“What happened?”

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.

“Yeah.”

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.

“You coming?”

“Seriously?”

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.

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Not Quite Peter Parker

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.

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They Met In a Dream

He closed his eyes, and he dreamed.

He saw her again, just like last night, next to the fountain, beneath the canopy of fluffy pink leaves.

“You,” he said.

“Grndlsnayf, pergalon,” she whispered back breathily.

“Yes,” he whispered back, leaning in and brushing his lips against hers in a kiss.

He took her hand in his. She smiled. They stood and watched the sunset over the cotton candy forest.

And then the carnivorous squirrels poured out of the trees and ate them.

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The Running

I couldn’t sleep last night, so I decided to watch the running of the dinosaurs.

I’m unclear on whether big lizards are nocturnal or not, but I do know that if you don’t run them, they’ll drive you nuts; they’re like Dalmatians or greyhounds, you’ve got to exercise them regularly.  Nighttime is the only time that folks can let them out into the streets to get a good run without causing traffic problems.

Anyway, they raced past my hotel at about 3am, flocks of muzzled Velociraptors weaving in and around the groups of triceratops and T-Rexes. My tenth-floor room allowed for quite a view. It was neat to see how the posts that hold the traffic signals swivel and swing out of the way to avoid being damaged by the large creatures.

I do think it’s a little draconian to use Democrats for bait, but I have to admit it was a little funny to watch the park rangers using cattle prods to get the politicians running so the dinosaurs would see the movement and start the race. But hey…it probably wasn’t fair back in 2012 to offer up Newt Gingrich and seven conservative pundits to Ah-Puch, the Mayan god of death in an effort to delay the Mayan apocalypse. Politics, man. Politics.

Anyway, the whole parade was over in about twenty minutes, and then the street sprayers and cleaners came through to deal with the blood and offal left behind. By 4am, the streets here in Arlington were nearly spotless. The whole thing was a marvel of efficiency and planning.

Over breakfast, I overheard that tonight the board of United Airlines will be the bait. I think I’m going to stay up to see that. I don’t think I’m the only one.

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Prepping

“Hello?”

“Hello, Mr. Paul Thorn? This is Naomi from the Red Cross calling. Are you free to talk?”

“Well…I am a little busy. Things to do. You know how it is.”

“I’m sorry sir, but we noted that it has been over six months since your last donation. As a member of the public with an O-negative blood type, your donations are extremely helpful to people in need. Are you aware that O-negative is what we call the universal blood type?”

“Yes…I had heard…”

“Then you can understand how vital it is in this time of shortages that we schedule a time for you to visit your local Red Cross to donate. Can we schedule a time for you right now?”

“Actually…I’ve been meaning to call you. We need to talk about my donations.”

“Yes sir? Is there a problem?”

“I hope not. The truth is…I’m going to need them back.”

Pause.

“Are you still there?”

“Ah…yes, Mr. Thorn. Did you say you need your donations…back?”

“Yes. May I schedule a time to pick up the eight pints I have donated in the past six years? I’m going to need them.”

“Sir…I’m afraid that’s not how this works…”

“I understand, but you see, something bad is coming, and I’m going to need that blood. As you say, since I am the Universal blood type, that makes my blood extremely useful for certain things. I’ll come by this afternoon.”

“Mr. Thorn…we cannot give you…”

“Look…I know this is awkward, but look at it this way, this is not as awkward as my last call.”

A pause, then a sigh. “Ok. I’ll bite. What was your last call?”

“The sperm bank.”

Click

Paul Thorn sighed. He tossed the phone into his backpack, grabbed his keys, his last elder rune, and his hunting rifle. He didn’t lock the door behind him.

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The Nothing Under The Bed

Jack didn’t think Mom would come, but he called her anyway.

“Mom?” A pause, then louder, “MOM?”

A loud sigh, a shuffling of steps, then his mother was opening the door to his room. Her voice was a sharp hiss. “What. Is. It. Now?”

“There’s…under my…” Jack faltered, not really wanting to say it.

“Dammit, Jack. NOTHING is under the BED,” his mother seethed in a fierce whisper. “No. Now…go to SLEEP.”

The door was shut quietly but firmly, then Jack was alone again.

Sitting up in the glow of the night light. He waited.

And waited.

And…waited.

There was a rustle, then a ghostly arm reached out from under the bed. It pulled a body…shrunken, withered, wasted away, out into the open. Jack stared. It was pale like moonlight, like what Jack imagined a ghost would be like. It pulled itself free and then turned, pulling itself onto the foot of the bed. It sat there across from Jack, legs folded underneath indian-style. it stared at Jack.

“Hel…hello.” Jack said.

It nodded.

Jack pursed his lips, then, “What are you?”

It smiled. “Nothing,” it hissed.

“Are…are you going to eat me?” Jack asked.

The creature smiled wider. It’s teeth glinted.

Jack swallowed. “Why?”

The creature’s smile widened more than any mouth could widen.

Jack said again. “You tell me why. What did I do?”

The creature’s voice was a growling whisper, like two stones being rubbed together, “Nothing.”

Jack slouched. A tear started to roll down his cheek. “But…but…”

The wraith reached out, sharp nails drawing blood on the the boy’s cheek.. Covering Jack’s mouth, it tilted the boy’s face up to meet it’s cold eyes. Inside its eyes was…nothing.

Jack was pretty sure he didn’t want to be eaten. . Staring into the mouth of the thing was like staring into one of those black hole things he’d seen on the Internet. Jack didn’t like where this was headed, so he did what any little boy would do. He grabbed the Nothing’s arm and bit its hand.

There was a lot of thrashing. The Nothing tasted, Jack thought, like cold jello and dust, but he didn’t mind. There was something about it that made him feel warm inside. Like…he was waking up. Like he was supposed to eat the Nothing. He continued to bite and lick and suck and chomp, all the while the Nothing’s thrashing becoming weaker and weaker. Finally, only the head was left, held in young Jack’s hands.

His mother’s voice called out from her room, “Jack…what are you doing in there?”

Jack smiled, and the smile was not so different from that of the creature. ”Nothing, ” Jack called back.

And then he finished his snack.

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