“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.