With one hand upon the door, Andie pushed open the entrance. Below her, the basement loomed. Cold and musty.
Echoing inside her mind the click of the light switching off echoed from five years ago. But the light was on. Why is the light on? Who’s been down here? Who’s down here now?
Tense fingers tightened around the railing. Her plimsoll gave a soft scrape as it left the top step as she started her decent down the stairs and Andie froze.
Her eyes darted around the dimly lit basement, across the once white painted walls that were now chipped and yellowed with age. As she scanned over the room her eyes missed the darkened hidden corners. Her heart thumped in her chest as her inner voice screamed; what are you doing?
Andie took the second step towards the end. This is it, the realisation that she was walking towards the finale descended on Andie like a darkened cloud. Whatever happens down here? The end has arrived.
Each new step echoed into the silence. The sound grew faster, louder, as though someone was coming up behind to pass her on the stairs.
“There’s no one here” Andie chanted as she tried to slow her rapid pulse. She failed. Her heart beat with the increase rhythm of the fantasised footsteps. “There’s no one here.”
Her hands covered her ears but they couldn’t block out the the noise drumming louder and louder in the forefront of her mind. Andie squeezed her eyes shut and yet she still saw that person pass her on the stairs. She didn’t want to remember her.
But the drumming continued and a footloose carefree Andie bounded down the stairs excitedly calling her parents. Their housekeeper said Andie’s parents were archiving business documents in the basement office when she left to do the grocery shopping. Andie couldn’t wait to share her fantastic news. She called to them again. There was no reply.
A strange stillness had fallen on the basement. One that she’d never experienced in their family business headquarters before. But with no footsteps in the rooms above and no noise from the gardens outside it was like even the air had stopped moving. A spider-like tingle crawled up Andie’s spine. The basement might be empty, but Andie wasn’t alone.
“Mum?” She tried to hide the shiver in her voice as she called out to her parents again. “Dad?”
Slowly, Andie turned. The rise and fall of her feet splashed against the ground. “What the …” Creases pulled in her forehead as she stared at the trail of dark liquid on the floor. “Mum?” A knot of panic twisted inside her stomach as stared at the dark stream slowly painting red ripples over the toes of her white plimsolls. “Dad?”
Andie’s heart began to race. Her head whipped around, her body straining to follow as she tried to find where this leak was coming from. The trail leading her eyes towards a wall of heavy duty cases stacked side by side from floor to ceiling. A ball of fear clogged up the back of her throat. There was nothing behind the wall that could leak. No pipes. No paint pots. Nothing!
As she stepped towards the stack of disturbed boxes Andie’s heartbeat crushed the wall of her chest. The moisture evaporated from her mouth leaving nothing but the bitter taste of dread and it intensified with every step.
Andie stiffened against the wall of cases. Straining beyond the blood thumping in her ears she waited, held her lungs still, while she listened for signs of the intruder’s presence. She didn’t want whoever was behind there to know she had found them. But there was nothing. She let the breath silently leave her lips.
“There’s no one here.” She told herself again and took a shaky step around the corner and behind the wall.
“Mum!” Andie’s heart stopped. “Dad!”
Her hand smothered her gasp.
A shiver ran down her spine.
Andie eyes widened with horror. Her parents were… they were together… they were in each other arms. They held hands and from ear to ear a long red slice decorated under their chins like a smile.
“Oh god” Terror tore through Andie’s airway. Her lungs burned as Andie dropped to her knees. Her trembling fingers reached towards her mother’s still hand. “Mum?”
Her hand was cool. Andie’s gaze drifted along her mothers arm towards her face. Her skin was pale and grey. Her mouth a tight thin line, her lips blue. But her face was perfectly relaxed and gentle. If her hazel eyes had been closed she could have been mistaken for sleeping.
Fighting against her tears Andie turned to her father. “Dad?” The word caught on a sob in her throat. “Dad?” She reached towards his shoulder gently rocking him backwards and forwards “Dad!”
The panic exploded as she shook harder on his shoulder, his entire body following the motion. “Dad!” The strangled cry burst from Andie’s lips followed by choking sobs. “Wake up!” An afterthought had her snatching at his wrist searching for a sign of life. A faint one responded to her touch.
From behind her footsteps echoed through the cavernous basement. Andie looked up “Help!” She crawled towards the sound “Someone help me!” she was reaching out for whoever might be there.
The footsteps ran up the stairs. The basement door closed. A Key turned in the lock.
Oh God! Andie scrambled to her feet. They’d locked her in! She scrambled up the stairs and rattling the door handle. The door wouldn’t open. Andie pounded her fists against the door. “Please!” She slammed her shoulder into the door. It didn’t budge.
Her Dad had the keys.
Andie ran back towards the boxes. He always had them on him. Her trembling hands tapped him pockets; nothing. Slowly Andie sunk to her knees beside her parents taking their hands in hers.
“Hold on Dad” A cry shudder through Andie.”Just hold on.”
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