Thursday, October 28, 2010

"DON'T LOOK!" ~ By Zelda Martin and Harry B. Sanderford of Harbinger*33

By Zelda Martin and Harry B. Sanderford

There are reasons why a basement is a scary place.  It's underground.  It's dark.  It's damp.  It smells funny.  Things are stored down there for years on end; boxes that have been there for so long that you don't even know what's in them anymore, or who put them there, or why.  But the contents must have some value, you tell yourself, or you (or someone else, whoever it was) wouldn't have gone to the trouble to box them up and place them on the floor, or shelves, or rafters.  They're all stuck back in the darkest corners, where you never go, because it's kind of creepy back there and what would you do with the stuff if you did haul it out into the light, anyway?  And the spiders!  My god, it's like the NYC of spiders and spider webs and lots and lots of dead things caught in those webs.  Just let sleeping bugs lie, you've told yourself over the years. Always a reliable philosophy in retrospect, but somehow, this time, you just had to know.

Curiosity is notorious for offing its share of cats and looking back, maybe finding Fluffy’s mummified remains sandwiched there between the stack of moldy leftover sheetrock and those long forgotten boogie boards should have served warning enough for you to curtail your own intrigue. Maybe you should have left the basement right then. Just climbed the stairs, switched off the light, and locked the damn door on the NYC of spiders, never to return.

But it was Fluffy! So, with a lump forming in your throat, you couldn’t help but reach out and stroke the little lost tabby.  Her orange hair exploded in a puff and scattered like dandelion seeds, dozens of which you inhaled with a horrified gasp before scrabbling backwards into a pyramid of paint cans, coughing and spitting and blinking back your tears.

Yes, maybe you should have left right then. Terror and disgust gave way, however, to a pitiful sort of relief. As sad as finding the kitty made you, at least now you finally knew what happened to the lovable little fuzzball everyone had panicked over and searched for. The one that little Elinor had cried little rivers for.

Elinor is almost twenty now!  So Fluffy has been down here for over fifteen years.  It's time to clean out this creepy basement, right now, you told yourself.  So what if today is October 31?  It's still daylight, after all, and it'll feel good to be sure there are no other unpleasant surprises down here.  So in you went, you foolish woman.  Pulling down old boxes, hauling them up the steps to the back yard, while dust flew and spiders scattered.  You recognized some of the boxes; they were labeled and taped, and hadn't been opened since you'd moved to this old house, a long time ago.  You decided that you would just haul them to the dump the next day, without even looking inside.  If you hadn't needed whatever was in them in the past 15 years, you sure didn't need it now.  Finally, you reached the back wall, and felt a sense of elation.  Look at all the space we'll have to store important stuff now!  But then, you saw the small, locked door in the corner.
If you’d been hoping to avoid unpleasant surprises, not looking inside the boxes was a good choice. Had you been in less of a hurry to clear out the crumbly cardboard containers, less eager to sweep the dust from all that glorious empty space, space you could now fill properly with tons of those cool, color coordinated, Tupperware containers you saw at Target, you might never have opened that damned door. Maybe if you had stripped the tape off of the box marked “Bone China,” for instance, and looked under the lid of Aunt Saucy’s Wedgwood soup tureen to find Mrs. Parker’s long missing Pekingese, Pugsy; his bleached skeleton simmering in a puddle of its own congealed sauce. Maybe then you would have run screaming and just abandoned the whole idea.

I can’t say I told you so. Heheh, no I cannot. But the signs were all there for you. Right there in each crusty carton, each corrugated crypt. Cats and kitties by the score and cute bunny rabbits galore. Guppies and puppies, turtles and frogs, oh so many gerbils and hamsters, but just the one prairie dog. The big box marked LIONEL, the one you thought was Johnny’s train? Jeffrey Archer’s German shepherd, of same name fame. Lionel was supposed to be romping on a farm upstate. At least that’s what they told Jeffrey.  Not that Jeffrey will ever be the wiser, but Elinor knows. She knows about Fluffy and she knows a lot more.

You avoided the unpleasant surprises, but you missed all the signs. The ones urging you to TURN BACK!  “Unpleasant” does not begin to describe what horrors lie beyond that door. You just have no idea. But Elinor knows. She knows about Fluffy and she knows a lot more.

She was so meticulous in her concealing of canine and kitty corpses, hiding them so carefully in all those cartons.  How could she have been so careless as to leave that cursed key in the lock?  Of course you couldn't resist turning that key, opening the lock, and slowly . . . oh so slowly . . . opening the small, low door.  In the dim, murky light, you see another container.  This one is made of wood, about five feet long.  You think it's your imagination, but it does smell kind of like formaldehyde in here.  Turn back, honey.  No good can come of this.  Don't open the crate.  Oops!  Too late.  Screaming won't help, my dear.  Johnny is dead.  Johnny, your little boy, Elinor's little brother, the little brother you and your husband loved so much that you neglected Elinor. You doted on that silly boy, showered him with praise, attention and gifts, while poor little Elinor sat on the sidelines, seething with jealousy.  Of course, she grew to hate Johnny; what did you expect?  She worked so hard in school, got all A's, while Johnny goofed off and came home with C's.  But that was just fine with you and Daddy, wasn't it?  You never praised me for my good grades, but you acted like Johnny was a goddamned genius for getting C's!  Yes!  I killed him and I'm glad I did it!  You should be glad that I studied chemistry and preserved his stupid body in formaldehyde, instead of letting him rot, like all those other stupid animals.   Now stop screaming Mommy, you're next! I have one more coffin to fill, right here next to Daddy's. 

(C) 2010 Diabolical Duo Authors ~  
Zelda Martin & Harry B Sanderford
  at it again

Zelda's a zingsation
in her very favourite howliday of the year
and Harry always hobgoblins wit'the best!

Get-Your-Z's with Zelda's zany zen ... 
and then ... hell, go back again

The surfing cowboy who would sooner spin yarns
then mend fences tells all @ Harry B Sanderford 
(He stayed up all night to conjure that blog-name, folks! Honest.) 


~ Absolutely*Kate


Crybbe666 said...

Dr.Seuss meets Wes Craven!
You two really know how to tell a story (or two)...this absolutely rocked!!!

Carrie Clevenger said...

Eww. Thanks for the Absolutely(!!) creepy tales this morning yous two!

Wendy said...

Deep into the darkness creepy cryptic critters and a cat killer too! Halloween just wouldn't be complete without you two stirring up a cauldron of words to charm us!

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

My God ~ reading this was like unweaving the NYCity of spider webs. I was never sure where I was goin' -- but I just creepily kept going. (You guys are that good).

Holy alliteration Dynamic Duo! I was getting creeped out yet more at "every crusty carton and corrugated crypt". I roared at the tunnel vision of LIONEL and new my curiousity was getting as notorious as your back and forth phrasing, kinda stacking up now. From each crittered box to danger's door left unlocked, I forgot to listen.

I looked.
I was scared.
But I'm glad I looked.
You guys write-scare so swell!

THANKS ZELDA AND HARRY FOR SPOOKIFYING Z'S FAVE HOWLADAY over at your other theatre for the mind home ~ AT THE BIJOU.

~ Absolutely*Kate,
thinkin' Elinor has issues

Marisa Birns said...

Until I read this, the only scary thing I knew about basements was that Mrs. Fisher's son still lived in hers, until they moved away.

Good thing it's bright and sunny here as I read this. Though, I know that homicidal kids are worse than any spooky creature around.

Great job in bringing the shivers!

Sad about Fluffy.

shannon said...

I just love basements, they always seem like they have a story buried in their bowels. And in this case it was one suspenseful, creepfest! Awesome :-)

Anonymous said...

Okay you two, you upset me with Fluffy, then Pugsy, then it continued. I had just watched a similar story on CSI so the visual was dramatic. Then the twist at the end with Johnny and Daddy, My God you people are sick! SICK, SICK. But! I am too. I loved it.

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

Jeanette's take on you two terrifiers of abasements in the basement was slick, SLICK, SLICK!

( still got grin ) ~ A*K

Pamila Payne said...

And a fine job you did building suspense and revealing the monster at just the right moment... When it's too late to escape, of course. You two can do anything.

Anonymous said...

I knew there was a reason for my fear of basements...

Steve Green said...

Brilliantly written, it grabbed me all the way through, and I love the way all the venom comes out of her.

Anonymous said...

Wowzer. I shoulda stopped reading at Fluffy. But then y'all knew -- KNEW -- I couldn't. Thanks for not disappointing!

Jodi MacArthur said...

You two do pen excellent spinetingling suspense. I loved the easy voice of this and how it leads to absolute horror. I like Paul's assessment of Dr. Suess meets Wes Craven-indeed! Yuo two would make such romantic serial killers. ;-D

Happy Halloween!

AidanF said...

Nice way you built tension through this piece by pointing at the open door and then delaying through the pacing.

Harry said...

Thanks alot for all the kind comments everyone! Conjuring these up has become a Halloween tradition for Madam Z & Me. I hope all of your trick or treat sacks are full (with no rocks)! Happy Halloween!

Madam Z said...

Wow! How often can a couple of hack writers (pun intended) get praised for having fun? I am so glad that you all appreciated our fledgling attempts at "horror."

Maybe next Halloween we'll make you afraid to go into your attic, or maybe the back yard, or the bathroom!

And thank you, Kate, for providing the perfect venue for our tale.

Kevin Michaels said...

Excellent Halloween story - creepy and eerie, with just the right touch of spookiness thrown in. Well done!

Harry said...

Thanks Kevin!