It was a warm summers evening and I was home alone for the week, as Claire and the girls had gone on holiday while I had to stay and work. It didn’t bother me all that much though as it was great to get rid of the kids and the missus for some peace and quiet which I rarely get these days. To treat myself I bought the latest scary film and decided to wait till 2am and headed to my basement where we had a kind of games room with a flat screen TV, DVD player and a comfy sofa. As you know I have always been a huge fan of horror films and I always try to make it my goal to really scare myself and to see how far into the terror I could immerse myself – while still knowing I was safe in my own home.
With a beer close to hand and the film just kicking in I was quite happy in my little secluded world away from the chaos of family life. The killer was happily on the loose and the female victim had cleverly decided to run upstairs away from safety. I never understood that, and can see why so many spoof films like Scary Movie were made as it’s a bit of joke and no one in their right mind would run upstairs instead of out the front door. It was then that I heard pounding footsteps on the first floor.
This was a common annoying occurrence when my family was home – every time they passed through the front hallway, past the basement door, I heard their footsteps. This time, fear immediately shot through me at the sound. My reflex was to turn the television off immediately as the basement door was up a flight of steps and around a corner, so whoever it was would not have seen any light. The footsteps made their way around my house and with great fear growing inside me I heard them make their way towards to my direction.
The basement door handle clicked and turned as I sat in absolute darkness. I moved slowly so as to be absolutely silent, and crawled behind our large television. As I passed it inch by inch, I noted with panic that its black screen still dimly glowed. I heard footsteps coming down the carpeted but creaky stairs. I froze in my hiding place, listening. For many long minutes, I heard nothing. Had the intruder seen the television’s afterglow, or had it faded in time? Was he or she standing in the pitch dark listening for me? I seemed to crouch there in total silence for an interminably long time and my panic began to fade, and I began to think more clearly. Had I really heard an intruder? Could someone possibly be standing there in silence for so long without making any noise?
The basement was so exceedingly quiet that the silence itself began to hurt my ears and the thumping of my heart and pulse of blood in my ears began to cloud my senses. Could the unknown person really avoid any noise from shuffling or breathing or anything else? If there was an intruder, they were still in the basement, because the creaky stairs were incredibly loud, the door handle clicked, and he wouldn’t know to mask his footsteps on the first floor so that they couldn’t be heard down here.
I began counting in my head trying to pass the time, as drool fell from my mouth onto the carpet – I didn’t dare risk the sound of swallowing and making a noise. I reached sixty seconds once, twice… thirty times… sixty times… by now my fear had faded and I was more confused than anything. I estimated I’d been crouched in the absolute black for almost two hours, and had still heard nothing. If there was an intruder, none of this made sense, until finally, I decided I’d have to make a move.
If I did nothing, eventually the sun would come up, and shine in through the small basement windows, and, worse, I began to smell something horrible and cloying. Slowly, ever so slowly, I began inching my way towards the stairs by way of the walls. If someone was standing there in the dark, I would be able to go around them and then make a break up the stairs.
Meanwhile, the horrible odor grew stronger and was starting to offend to my nostrils. Had something gone moldy down here that I had missed while cleaning? Surely I would have smelt this before, so it must be something new and recent. No living person would smell like that either and terrible images of some sort of corpse-monster listening for me in the dark erupted in my thoughts, and I moved as fast as I could without making a sound whilst trying not to freak out.
Just as I finally approached the stairs, there was an enormous clatter, as if something was falling or collapsing on to the floor. It was at that moment I leapt forward and crashed up the stairs, running out through the open basement door and my wide-open front door. Now certain that someone was in the house, I called the police from my mobile and watched my house from afar, making sure to keep well hidden so that whoever was in my house wouldn’t come after me and attack me on the street.
The police took an age to turn up, although I’m sure it was only minutes. They checked inside the house, and then grimly came back out to question me. They told me that after a thorough sweep of the house and basement they had indeed found somebody in the house. The relief of my escape outweighed my terror and I began to tremble. The policeman, who was eyeing me closely, asked if I had caught a glimpse of the person. I explained how I’d made my escape in darkness to avoid detection and he seemed satisfied.
An ambulance had arrived on scene and I presumed this must be for me incase I was suffering from shock or trauma, but to my dismay they walked straight past me and into the house. The officers must have seen the shock and confusion on my face because they then began to explain to me what had happened. It would seem that my elderly neighbor, who was suspected to have died of a heart attack, currently lay face down at the bottom of my basement stairs. Their belief was that I must have left the front door unlocked, and he must have wandered in my house while dying, looking for help. You can imagine my reaction to this news.
At first, I felt horrible, thinking that I had sat there in the dark while the old man literally died a few feet away. Then it occurred to me – what the hell was that loud noise of things falling, that last prompted me to bolt up the stairs and out of the house? I asked the police and they confirmed – the back door of my house had been left open as well, near a single bare footprint in the mud.
Somehow, for some reason I’ll never know, there was someone else in that basement with us… silent, waiting, and listening in the dark over the fresh corpse of an old man.
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