13 The Woods – Thirty Years Earlier (1985) by LV Gaudet

•October 14, 2017 • Leave a Comment

1“Kevin! Jesse!” The boys’ mother calls. It will be time for supper soon.

She stands in the open doorway looking out at the backyard. “Now where did those boys get to?”

She calls again, her voice lilting up in the form of a question.

“Kevin? Jesse? Dinner!”

June shakes her head and goes back in. She needs to finish making supper.

She looks at the kitchen counter where she set out flour, sugar, a mixing bowl, a wooden spoon and a measuring cup in preparation of baking a cake. That is as far as she got before she had to go deal with the unbalanced washing machine in the basement jigging across the floor with loud thumping that sounded like the drum would come right out through its side.

After dinner. The cake will have to wait.

She washes and peels the potatoes and carrots, setting them in a pot of water on the stovetop to boil.

She opens the oven door to check the roast. Pulling the fat baster from a drawer, she turns back to the open oven, sucking up the juices starting to leak out of the meat and dribbling them over the roast. Finished, she closes the door and sets the baster down.

June returns to the back door, looking out. Still no sign of the boys. She frowns and goes to the front door. She opens it and steps out on the front steps, looking up and down the street.

No boys in sight.

“Kevin! Jesse!” She yells loud and clear. Half the neighbourhood would have heard, maybe more. She stands there looking and finally goes back in, closing the door.

She waits, she paces, and she checks the supper cooking again.

“Where are they?”

Finally, June pulls out the little phone book with names and numbers neatly written in. She goes to the tan phone on the kitchen wall, taking the receiver off its hook. She wanted to get a newer phone. Everyone else is moving to the new push button phones and they still have the old rotary dial. But, the phone still works and until it quits, they can’t get a new one.

She flips through the little book and dials the first number, waiting through the rings. Finally, someone answers.

“Hi, it’s June. Are my boys at your house?” She listens. “Well, if you see them, can you send them home please? It’s dinner time.” She listens again. “Thank you.” She hangs up.

June goes down the list, calling neighbours and all the boys’ friends.

No one has seen them.

The first flutter of fear dances in her stomach.

June checks the cooking dinner again. It’s almost ready.

She hears the back door and turns.

“Smells good!” Henry takes his shoes off at the door. Like the boys, he is trained to use the back door so as to not to cause her that extra cleaning assumed from the use of the front door.

He enters the living room, walking past the discarded comic book and socks, towards the kitchen. She meets him at the kitchen door and he takes her in his arms, giving her a quick kiss and releasing her.

“Dinner will be ready in a few minutes and the boys haven’t come back from playing outside.”

“Did you call them?”

“Yes. I phoned their friends’ houses too, and the neighbours. No one has seen them.”

He sees the worry on her face, and in her eyes.

“They can’t have gone far. I’ll go out and take a look.”

While Henry goes out to look for the boys, June drains the carrots and potatoes, pulls the roast out, and makes gravy, straining it into a gravy bowl. She looks at the finished meal on the stovetop and frowns at the dinner table, set for four and with no one sitting at it.

She keeps the elements on low, trying to keep dinner warm without ruining it.

By the time Henry comes back, the roast is over-cooked and dry and the carrots and potatoes have started to brown in the pot. In an attempt to salvage the meal, June had turned it off and it’s now cold.

Henry comes in the back door, stomping the snow off his boots and taking his boots off. His face is ruddy from the cold air. He pulls his gloves off and blows on his hands, warming them up. The sun is getting low in the Western sky and with it the temperatures are dropping.

June stops anxiously pacing and rushes to him. The butterflies are having a fluttering fit in her stomach.

“You didn’t find them?”

“No. Let’s call again.”

She watches him go past her, her look pained.

Henry goes into the kitchen, finding the little phone book where she left it on the kitchen table next to the empty table settings.

He starts making phone calls, starting with the boys’ friends, and then working through their neighbours.

He puts the little book down, taking a break. He points to the now cold pots on the stove.

“We should eat.”

June looks to the stove, then at the table, and finally at him.

“But, the boys.” She looks like she just lost something very important and doesn’t know what to do.

“I know,” Henry says heavily. “We’ll find them. For now, we need to eat. I don’t feel like eating either, but I have a feeling this is going to be a very long night. We’ll feed the boys when we find them.”

He looks to the bowl, flour, and sugar on the counter. “You can bake them that cake for when they come home.”

Normally they would be annoyed, angry with the boys for not being home for supper and not telling them where they are.

But, after calling every one of the boys’ friends again, each of them accounted for and having not seen the boys, Henry and June both have a heavy feeling in their hearts about this.

June moves stiffly, feeling like everything is unreal. This is not her kitchen, not her meal. It is not her. She puts the cold roast on the table with a long fork and carving knife. Henry carves it into slices while she serves two plates with carrots and potatoes. She scoops out a large spoon each of gravy. The congealed gravy slaps onto the plates with a plop, jiggling and perfectly keeping its shape like puke coloured cranberry sauce out of a can, which perfectly keeps the can shape after being unceremoniously dumped into a bowl.

She sits down and they both stare at their plates, feeling shocked and empty and worried.

They both look at the unappetizing gravy and then at each other, and they both burst into laughter.

They turn their attention back to their plates, the moment of levity gone, and eat to the sound of their cutlery clinking on their plates. There is none of the usual dinner conversation, asking and telling about their day, sharing a little of the time they spend apart during this family moment.

When they are finished eating, Henry is back on the phone and June washing their dinner plates. She packages up the leftovers and puts it in the fridge. She can warm it later, after they find the boys; or make them something else to eat.

Whatever the boys want.

June takes the washed and dried place settings, carefully setting the plates back on the table.

Henry watches her as he talks on the phone.

She sets the cutlery for their two places.

Finished the call, Henry hangs up.

“June, what are you doing?”

“I’m setting the table.”

She returns to the sink and picks up their glasses.

“Why? We’re done eating.”

“For the boys.” She returns to the table, setting their glasses in place.

“The boys’ plates are still on the table.”

She stops and looks at him, then returns to making sure the table is perfect.

Henry watches her for a moment, and then goes back to his phone calls. June turns her attention to baking the boys’ cake.

The cake is cooling in the pan on top of the stove and June washes out the bowl, spoon, and measuring utensils.

Henry is finished calling. He has run out of people to phone.

He sits in that kitchen chair as if the air pressing down on him is heavy.

“June, I think it’s time we phone the police.”

 

Available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon:

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The McAllister Series

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And  for the teens and middle years kids who like middle years/teen drama and monsters, a fantasy psychological thriller.

 

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Garden Grove: 1 Vandalism & The Town by LV Gaudet

•October 13, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

Beep Beep Beep.

The incessant beeping and growling of construction equipment relentlessly fills the air, driving all the nearby residents to distraction.

Last night was Halloween, the kids are all over-tired and cranky and so are the parents, some of whom were up dealing with sick achy stomachs from kids scarfing down piles of sweet candy bliss.

The morning dew still sits as an icy crust on the grass and the orange glow of the rising sun still fills much of the sky, leaving remnants of the dark shadows of night clinging where they will.

Three deer jog across the road in single file.  First one, who looks back to show it’s safe, then another, and finally after a pause in the road the last one brings up the rear.  They always come through at the same time.  You could set your clock by it.

They are unusually alert and nervous.

The chill frost in the air seems to be making them uneasy, or perhaps it is the recent changes to their environment that has awakened their sense of danger.

Their usual winter trail has been irrevocably changed by the construction and the crispness in the air has urged them to turn to their winter habits despite the lack of snow on the ground.

Trees have been ripped ruthlessly from the ground and the topsoil scraped away and carted off to be sold back to the homeowners after the houses are built.  Roads for new houses are being roughed in by the hulking metal monsters that roam back and forth growling and beeping.

Canada geese fly overhead, their flight patterns seeming to make no sense while they make their practice runs in preparation for the great migration.

They seem confused, or perhaps they too are agitated by unusual activity on the ground where they previously fattened themselves on the grasses.

Inside one of the houses bordering the construction area, a group of housewives hunch over their cups of hot coffee after sending their kids off on the school bus, plotting how they can silence those infernal construction tractors that are taking away the woods, desecrating the adjoining farm fields, and have destroyed the tranquility of their quiet community to build a new housing development.

The large billboard sign welcoming all to the new addition to the community taunts them with its artist’s depiction of the perfect happy family and the large lettered words:

GARDEN GROVE MEADOWS

Where Families Come to Live

 

GARDEN GROVE IS AVAILABLE ON KINDLE AND IN PAPERBACK ON AMAZON

 

Available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon:

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And  for the teens and middle years kids who like middle years/teen drama and monsters, a fantasy psychological thriller.

the-latchkey-kids

Garden Grove: 1 Vandalism – The Watcher in the Woods by LV Gaudet

•October 9, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front coverThe last of the woods that once bordered this small town which my home has become are disappearing; those beautifully twisted old oak trees that filled this little piece of the world with their mangled skeletal fingers, clacking in the winds of the dark fall nights and offering protection from the strong prairie winds.

They are being ruthlessly knocked down by the big monstrosities of metal clearing sections of land to make room for more houses.  Day by day, they are taking away those trees which once surrounded me and watched me with their stoic wooden faces, always watching while I can only helplessly stare back.

Their ruination is my salvation, their obliteration my release from their bony prison.

This land was once a mixture of woods and prairie, open land with farms and pastures surrounded by grassy plains and scattered woods on the edge of a scattering of new settlements that grew to call themselves towns.  It did not take much to call a handful of buildings a town back then when the land was first being settled.  And before that, it was a wild land of buffalo-filled plains and forests, home to a few indigenous tribes whose land had been taken over and colonized by the people of Europe, beginning the slow conquering of the indigenous people.

Now, generations later, those towns that started more than a hundred years ago as a scattering of farms and a small timber-walled fort has become a city surrounded by farm fields and cozy little bedroom communities only a short drive outside the city’s borders.  Bedroom communities like this one, that city people love to hate for daring to flaunt their small community lifestyle and yet continues to grow because city people move out to these little communities.

They assume I don’t know all this because I am ancient by their standards.  They think I sleep when I am really awake.

I think, perhaps, they have even forgotten I am here.

People think that somehow those little rural communities feel friendlier and safer than the suburbs within the city do.

They think the evils borne of crime and overcrowding are confined within the city limits.

Sometimes, in these sleepy little communities, evil just waits a little deeper.

 

GARDEN GROVE IS AVAILABLE ON KINDLE AND IN PAPERBACK ON AMAZON

 

Available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon:

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The McAllister Series

where the bodies are

 

Where the Bodies Are

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Hunting Michael Underwood

 

 

the-latchkey-kids

And  for the teens and middle years kids who like middle years/teen drama and monsters, a fantasy psychological thriller.

12 The Woods – The Municipal Office (2015) by LV Gaudet

•October 9, 2017 • Leave a Comment

1The realtor walks into the municipal office. He wouldn’t have bothered, but he has time to spare and the new girl there caught his eye.

Unfortunately, she’s not there when he walks in.

“Are you here to find out about your commission?” The clerk in the office is a frumpy thing, about thirty pounds overweight, too pale with too much makeup and a frizzled mess on her head that has seen too many home perms and die jobs too close together. Her clothes are a combination of cheap and ill-fitting dreadful articles, which he suspects were designed by a fashion designer who is either colorblind or was drunk.

“She could be pretty if she toned down the effort and went more natural,” he thinks.

He gives her his best appealing smile, trying to throw a little flirt into it for good measure.

“Hi Sally. The auction was last week. Any bites on the old Bennett place?”

She smiles and shakes her head, instantly hating herself for that unwanted smile. It’s a nervous reaction to feeling bad and embarrassed for him.

“That derelict old place? It’s been abandoned for thirty years. I can’t believe you bothered chasing down a commission on that.”

“Beggars can’t be losers.”

“You’ve got that completely wrong. They saying is beggars can’t be choosers.”

“And? How did the auction go?”

Her smile grows, growing crooked too. “That guy showed up at the auction. The only one too.”

He raises a questioning eyebrow.

She smirks bigger. She didn’t mean to. She just couldn’t help it. It’s funny in a sad pathetic kind of way.

“He bought it.”

The realtor perks up, almost perks up. His reaction is small, but hopeful. There’s a reason he wasted time chasing down a losing sale. He’s not a very good realtor and is desperate for a sale. Any sale. Although he steadfastly blames the housing market being in a slump for his poor sales record.

“How much?”

“A thousand.” She tries hard to make her face take on a solemn expression, fighting the embarrassed smirk pulling the corners of her lips up. She’s embarrassed for having to give him the sour news, and for him. She feels bad for him.

“He works so hard and deserves better,” she thinks.

She loses and her lips curl up in an awkward smirk.

The realtor bristles at her smirk.

“She’s laughing at me,” he thinks.

A thousand dollars.  The number is a jolt. The commission won’t even cover his gas. He feels sick. He feels sickened too, at the futility, the joke of it.

“I’m a joke,” he thinks. “Sally thinks I’m a joke, judging by her amused smirk. My wife does too.”

“Bastard.” He almost mutters it out loud, managing to keep the oath under his breath.

Sally still hears and flushes with deeper embarrassment at having to witness his shame.

He grimaces at her, trying to be polite, burning with the time wasted showing the guy the house. He knew before he approached the municipality about trying to help them offload the property that it would be a waste of his time. His best chance was finding someone gullible enough to pay more than it’s worth. More likely, he might have found someone who would pay the value of the land without the house.

Normally, the municipality would have priced the bid start price at the value of taxes and fees owed on the property. In this case, all they wanted is to write it off their books.

“Thanks Sally.” He takes the opportunity to leave.

 

Available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon:

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

The McAllister Series

where the bodies are

 

Where the Bodies Are

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

 

The McAllister Farm

HuntingMichaelUnderwood - final - media copy

 

Hunting Michael Underwood

 

 

the-latchkey-kids

And  for the teens and middle years kids who like middle years/teen drama and monsters, a fantasy psychological thriller.

 

15 Real Life Horror Stories That Will Creep You Out – TheRichest

•October 9, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Even the best horror writer can not come up with some of the twisted things people do to each other in real life.

 

http://www.therichest.com/rich-list/most-shocking/15-real-life-horror-stories-that-will-creep-you-out/?utm_source=TR-FB-B&utm_medium=Facebook-Distribution&utm_campaign=TR-FB-B&view=list

11 The Woods – The Boys Appear Back in the Woods (1985) by LV Gaudet

•September 23, 2017 • Leave a Comment

11985

 

“No!” A swarm of swears bursts through Kevin’s mind, but he checks himself. Mom would lose it on him, especially swearing in front of his brother.

Jesse looks around and crumples to the ground in open-mouthed silent despair.

They are back in the woods next to that ugly goddamned old rotting stump.

Kevin slaps his own head in frustration and anger, spoiled with the loss of hope. A whine escapes his throat, like a small frightened animal.

He slaps himself again and again, harder and harder. It becomes a frenzy. The whine bursts from his throat, moaning and wailing, slipping into insanity.

“Kevin, stop. Stop, Kevin, stop.”

Jesse is on his feet shaking Kevin, more terrified now by his brother’s break into insanity than the impossible madness happening to them.

Through the blood red fog of terror gripping him, Jesse’s cries and shaking him seep through to Kevin.

Jessie is pawing at him, grabbing for his arms, pulling on them, trying to make Kevin stop slapping his head.

Kevin’s head is ringing from his own blows, swimming in disbelief.

He has worn himself out and is worn down. His cries trail off and his hands slip from his head. He finally lets Jesse take his arms and pull them down.

Kevin sags and expels a long deep breath, releasing a world of fear and tension.

He feels empty now.

He inhales, long and slow, trying to push away the panic making his hands and knees shake and his whole body weak.

He is the older brother. The man of the house in the absence of his father. He has to be brave and strong.

He almost collapses, swimming in nausea and trembling weak limbs.

“I can’t do it.”

“What?” Jesse feels a rush of fear that shadows the terror already gripping him.

Kevin shakes his head, shaking it off.

“Nothing, it’s nothing. I’m just talking to myself. Trying to figure things out.”

“What are we going to do?”

“First,” Kevin pauses, trying to think. He can’t. That’s it. They need to think. “First, we need to think.”

They both make faces like they are thinking hard, but really they can hardly think at all. They are stuck in time and in fear.

Kevin tries to put his thoughts into something that makes sense. An order. He tries to put the crazy that has become their world into order.

“Let’s think this out. Everything was normal, good. Mom was going to bake a cake. You got your comic. Then we decided to play outside.  We went out, messed around.”

“You dared me to go in the woods.” It doesn’t matter how small and innocent Jesse’s voice is. It rings as an accusation in Kevin’s ears.

“We dared each other.” Kevin isn’t ready to take the blame. “We went into the woods, to the old stump.”

“Now we’re stuck here.” Jesse spat the words out insolently, moving towards the stump and swinging his foot to kick it.

“I don’t think we should-,” Kevin starts, his face going slack and a sickly grey as the color drains away, reaching out a hand as if to stop him.

Jesse’s swinging foot stops just short of contact.

“We shouldn’t make it mad.” Jesse says the words that are in Kevin’s mind. He turns to Kevin, his expression full of loss and despair.

“Why won’t it let us go? Why won’t it just let us go home? I want to go home.”

“It did.” Kevin is back to focussing on trying to think this through. “We don’t even know if it’s the stump. Whatever is happening. We can go to the house. It lets us go inside.”

“It won’t let us leave the yard.” Jesse finishes the thought.

“It won’t let us leave the yard,” Kevin repeats. “Every time we try to leave the yard, we end up right back here.”

“The house is wrong too, and the yard. The snow is gone and then it’s back. The house feels wrong too. Like it died. Kevin, what are we going to do?”

“I don’t know. Come on; let’s go inside. I don’t know about you, but I’m really tired. I could eat something too.”

Jesse sniffles unhappily and follows, letting Kevin lead the way back, crawling over that fallen tree. They both pause just before going over, before having to touch it. The memory of Kevin being trapped inexplicably under that tree is a raw open wound in both their minds. They both cringe at the thought of touching it, but it’s the only way. They don’t dare venture off that well-beaten path they have taken time and time again trying to leave the woods. The woods that won’t let them go.

“Still snow,” Kevin observes, taking in the snow-covered ground of their yard.

“That’s good, right?”

“At least it’s the same as when it started.”

Jesse pauses and looks back.

“What if the only way out is back? Through the woods?”

Kevin stops, turning and looking at him. He looks at the woods with a faraway look in his eyes.

“We are not going deeper into the woods. Who knows where we might end up then?” His voice has a firm resolve he doesn’t feel. He feels only empty and scared. He wishes their dad is there. He’s tired of having to be strong. So very tired.

“Come on. Let’s see if we can find something to eat and have a rest.”

They return to the house, taking their boots off at the back door. They take their jackets off, tossing them on the couch in the living room.

Kevin heads for the kitchen. Afraid to be left alone, Jesse hurries to follow.

His eyes fall on the comic book splayed out on the floor. The Thing forever locked in battle.

Has it moved?

He shakes it off, jogging to catch up to Kevin.

Kevin is already rummaging in the cupboards. He pulls out two bowls, spoons, and a box of cereal. Count Chocula. The box features the chocolate loving count enjoying his cereal. A cloud in the bottom corner shows a werewolf boy and the offer: “INSIDE! MONSTER DISGUISE KIT AND IRON ON”.

Jesse blanches. “Not that one.”

Kevin looks at him. Count Chocula is Jessie’s favourite cereal, and his favourite cereal character.

“No monsters.”

Kevin nods, putting the box back and pulling out another. It’s a new cereal, and one neither boy was fond of the taste of. New G.I. Joe Action Stars.

“A hero,” Kevin says.

Jesse nods approval and Kevin pours the cereal.

Kevin goes to the fridge and gets milk. He opens it, sniffing it tentatively before pouring.

“How is there milk?” Jesse has always been the one to pick up on things that seem out of place.

“Dunno,” Kevin shrugs. “Enjoy it while it’s here.”

He puts the milk away and sits down. They both inhale their cereal.

“Let’s try to sleep.” Kevin leads the way to the bedrooms, leaving their bowls and spoons on the table.

“Where?” Jesse, always the practical one too.

They pause in the doorway of the first room, Jesse’s bedroom, and look at each other. Jesse shakes his head.

Kevin already knows where this is going. He knows what Jesse wants and thinks he is too old to admit he wants it too.

They stop at the second doorway, Kevin’s bedroom. Again, Jesse shakes his head.

“Okay,” Kevin nods.

They move on to the last bedroom, their parents’ room. The boys curl up together on the bed, taking that small comfort from the ghost of their parents’ presence even in their absence.

Soon they are softly snoring.

 

The Woods 10 The House – Inspecting the Basement (2015) by LV Gaudet

•September 16, 2017 • Leave a Comment

2015

 

The buyer has had enough of this morbid shrine to those who are no longer here.

 

“Is there a basement?”

The realtor pauses, thinking about it.

“I should have read the file on this place,” he thinks, dismissing it almost as quick. The commission wouldn’t be worth the extra time. He thinks fast. Do the other houses in the area from the same period have basements? As far as he remembers some do, some don’t. Some have only a crawl space or a partial basement, an area dug out just large enough for the furnace and hot water tank. He has about a seventy-thirty chance it has at least a partial basement.

“I think so. Yes, it does.”

If he’s wrong, it won’t matter after the auction if this guy bites. If he bites.

“You never did say if you are married, have a family. Do you have any kids? There’s a school not far from here. Playground too. It’s an older neighbourhood, but things circle around, as they say. You know, circle of life and that sort of thing. New neighborhood, young families move in and have kids, fill up the neighborhood with kids. The kids grow up and move out, have their own kids. The neighbourhood gets old, fills with grandparents and empty nesters, no more kids around. The school gets empty. But eventually people move out, go into nursing homes, and new families move in. You get a new cycle of young families moving in and having kids. Lots of kids around again. Circle of life. This neighborhood is in a rejuvenation phase, lots of new younger families moving in.”

“That’s not what they mean.”

“About what?”

“Circle of life. That’s not what it means.”

The realtor is a little annoyed at being corrected. He pushes past it, just wanting to get out of there. He finds the house a bit unsettling. He has better things to do too. The game is on this afternoon and he could be sitting on the couch with a beer watching it.

“You know, if you want this house you could probably skip the auction. The thing is, with an auction, there’s the risk someone will outbid you.

Whatever you are planning to bid, just make an offer now. I think I could convince them at the municipal office to take the offer.  We can go draw up the paperwork right now.”

If this buyer has spent this much time walking around, checking the place out, and hasn’t made any disgusted faces or disparaging remarks, there has to be some interest. If he can pin him down now with a formal offer, he won’t have the time between now and the auction to change his mind.

He makes his move, leading the buyer out of that grisly bedroom with its appalling bedding and towards the door.

They reach the living room, so close, only steps away from the exit.

“So, where’s the basement?”

The realtor falters. “The basement?”

“I’d like to see it.”

“Damn,” the realtor thinks, “more time wasted.” He fights the urge to glance at his watch. Looking at the time makes a buyer feel rushed, as if they aren’t as important a something else. It doesn’t matter what else. It can lose the sale. He loses, glancing at his watch and hoping the buyer doesn’t notice.

He looks around. He has no idea where the basement is. It’s not a large house, so the options are limited. He remembers seeing a closed door in the hallway and another in the kitchen. Halls have closets, kitchens have pantries, and kitchen broom closets were not uncommon for houses built when this house was. It’s fifty-fifty.

He turns to the hallway. The buyer follows.

The realtor opens the closed door they had walked by earlier.

“Linen closet.” He nods as if he meant to show him the closet, doubling back to lead the way to the kitchen. The buyer dutifully follows, letting the realtor be in charge despite his lack of usefulness.

They enter the kitchen and the realtor looks around. The buyer spots the door immediately, but it seems to take the realtor minutes of checking the kitchen out.

The buyer looks at the door, but makes no move to touch it. In the time they have spent in the house, he has touched only one thing, the comic book.

He just stands there staring at the closed door, waiting for the realtor to notice it, as if he somehow is loath to touch the house.

Finally seeing the buyer staring at the door, the realtor realizes it is there and pounces.

He opens it with a small flourish. “The basement.”

The buyer peers down into the darkness swallowing the bottom of the old wooden stairs.

The realtor looks at the buyer, hesitates, and then leads the way down.

The stairs creak under their weight. They can feel the slight sag of the wood with each step. For a moment, the realtor imagines the rotting wood giving way and falling to be injured below. He grabs the railing, but it proves to be less stable than the stairs.

They reach the bottom of the stairs and the realtor is more than happy to get off the rotting wood steps. They look around.

The basement is not in complete blackness. There is no electricity to the home, so there are no lights to turn on. The small grimy basement windows allow some light into the gloomy basement. It’s the typical lower middle-income family home basement.  Crude cement walls and floor, cracking where the years of weather shifting the home caused weak spots to split, are dull and adorned only with shelves and items hung for storage. The unfinished basement is storage for old things the family chose for whatever reason to sentence to the basement rather than throw away.

It is infused with a vague eeriness as basements, particularly unfinished ones, will be.

The buyer steps forward, his shoe making a dull scraping sound on the concrete floor. He shows more interest inspecting the basement than he did the rest of the house.

“He’s looking for something.” The thought flashes through the realtor’s mind. He pushes it away. Silly nonsense.

The realtor moves forward, roaming the basement and pointing out the obvious, trying to make conversation in the too quiet cellar.

“Furnace, hot water tank. They look old, but I’m sure they’re serviceable enough. There’s no rust or water stains on the concrete around the hot water tank, so it looks solid. Probably hasn’t leaked. It has been thirty years though, so you might want to drain it and flush it out a few times before using water from it.

He pictures the sludge that is probably filling the tank right now. Black and slimy with long dead algae that bloomed and ran out of oxygen and died. Putrid and rotted to nothing but oozing black slime. The stench will be foul.

“The basement floor is a bit heaved up, but not too bad considering the house has sat abandoned for thirty years. Check the foundations and the weeping tiles. With proper drainage it might just settle down flat again. You could fix up this basement, finish it, and double your living space.”

“I’ve seen enough.” The buyer heads for the stairs, leaving the realtor to tag behind, taking the lead for once.

“Are you ready to make an offer?” The realtor asks hopefully. “Like I said before, you can make an offer now, skip the auction, and scoop this place up before anyone else can. You aren’t the only one I’m showing this place to. I have someone else coming to look at it later too.”

The lie rings hollow, both on his lips and in the buyer’s ears.

“I’ll let you know,” the buyer says, dismissing the realtor as he heads out the door.  He pauses on the way to his car to take one last look towards the backyard where the yard meets the woods.

 
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