The well on the back of the property
always scared me as a child. It was so deep, and so completely
absent of any light. The neighborhood kids used to tell me
horrible stories about the old man who used to live there
before my grandparents. How he used to drown cats deep in
the well and how their bones would rise during a full moon
to look for the old man that drowned them. Of course he was
never found due to his sudden and mysterious disappearance.
(As all urban legends go.) So now the cats' bones would search
for a victim to justify their untimely deaths.
It was one of those horror stories kids tell each other just
to make them freak out in the dark. This was the first time
I'd been back here in a long, long time. I didn't realize
the property was still in the family; I really hadn't thought
about it. Granddad had passed away some years ago, and Grams
had gone to a nursing home. A few weeks after her passing,
I got a call from the estate attorney. The land was mine.
Horror stories and all.
It really was a nice piece of property. The main house was
a little run down, since no one had been there in years. Mostly
cobwebs and rotting wood on the front porch. The roof needed
some patching here and there, but all in all it was a nice
I brought my wife and kids to see the house and its property.
One of the greatest attributes to the place was the fact that
it was paid for. Of course there was lots of room for the
kids to run around and play, unlike our current suburban life.
The house was certainly big enough. It had three bedrooms
upstairs with a bathroom, a wonderful study downstairs, a
nice big eat-in kitchen, and a musky basement. My eight-year-old,
Charlie, just loved the smell of a musky basement, and so
did my wife. It was the first place they went.
Hon, you want Charlies flashlight before you head
Thats ok, the lights work! she yelled.
I thought it was strange that the electricity was on, but
the attorney knew we were coming out with the kids; he probably
had it turned back on for us.
After a quick touring of the place, Tara thought it was absolutely
charming, even though the house needed some work, and a good
sweeping. The grounds were beautiful, and the air was as fresh
as could be. It would get us away from the outskirts of the
city, and the traffic. And, most of all, it was paid for.
On the other hand, I had my own reservations, but who can
It was while strolling around the back of the house, that
Tara saw it.
"Steven, look! It's a wishing well!" Instantly she
ran towards the well and started tearing the vines and weeds
away from it. Crickets and grasshoppers were flying everywhere.
She didn't care. She kept tearing until she got through.
I just stood there, frozen, watching.
"Come on, Steven!" she shouted.
Whether it was old childhood stories combined with paranoia,
or a just a really bad feeling, I hesitated. "It's just
an old well!" I shouted.
"Come on, help me clear the vines!" Tara yelled.
Slowly my feet began to move. Not an ounce of my body wanted
anything to do with that well. It was like one of those dreams
where you can't move your feet as fast as you want to, or
one leg is longer than the other. I've had lots of those.
Except, I was awake.
As I approached it, Tara had managed to clear a nice spot
for herself to hang over the interior of the ring of damnation,
Just as I neared, her balance failed and she began to lean
quickly towards the abyss of its opening. My heart nearly
stopped. I could feel my pores open to release what sweat
I had left. I lunged forward to grab her. Suddenly she caught
her balance, turned to me, and smiled.
"Almost had you," she slipped from her lips.
"Evil woman," I thought out loud, then I smiled.
Her face was this frightening glassy eyed cat, and the teeth,
sharp and dripping with blood. I screamed and fell backwards.
"What is it?!" she screamed
I looked at my darling wife. She lookedbeautiful. She
looked like Tara.
"Nothing." I hesitated. Was
I going mad? I shook my head and wiped my face with my hands,
as if to cleanse away the fright. I was quaking inside.
"Sweetie, are you ok? You scared the crap out of me!"
"Yeah, I'm all right. Got you back, didn't I?" I
chuckled nervously as she helped me up from the ground.
"You bastard," she said with
her special bastard voice. We called each other that
when one of us did something slightly evil to the other.
"Come on, let's go take a peek at the back porch!"
And off Tara ran to the back of the house, her pretty white
gauze dress flowing with every step, following her like wisps
of smoke from a freshly blown out candle. It was bewitching.
I needed to get a grip on myself. This place was already affecting
my brain. And my imagination needed no help when it came to
creepy. I could write stories about my dreams that would make
a person's skin peel from their bones.
When I was a kid, my friends would sneak up behind me constantly
to scare me. They would peek around corners meowing and rustling
leaves. I could hardly sleep at night. I so looked forward
to my visits here, but I'd also forgotten how much I hated
this placeand that well. I loved visiting, and yet the
place gave me the willies.
"Wow, honey! Look at this deck, it's incredible!"
The deck did look beautiful. There were benches built all
the way around it, and there was a trellis roof filled with
confederate jasmine that completely shaded the entire deck.
The wood was in pretty good shape, nothing was really rotted,
and it smelled like heaven. I took a deep breath. It was incredible.
I almost relaxed.
I heard it from the field. I snapped my head around to look
for the cat. Tara was so busy twirling around in circles on
the deck, watching her own dress twirl in concert with her
movement, she couldn't have noticed anything.
"Did you hear that?"
Tara stopped twirling. "Hear what, honey?"
"A cat... I heard a cat."
"I didn't hear anything. Its probably just your
No, I heard a cat.
Well, maybe a neighbor has a cat, and it's out here
because it knows how much you hate cats.
"I don't hate cats."
Yes you do.
Come on, I dont really hate them.
"Oh come on, yes you do. Every time you see one, you
pick up your pretend shotgun, and you shoot 'em." She
mocked me, right down to the exact motion of the shotgun;
she mocked me.
Ok, she was close to being right. I did have a thing about
cats. And I didn't particularly have a good reason for feeling
that way, it was as if it was simply innate. Tara on the other
hand had this freakish affinity towards them, or should I
say they towards her. It was like she had the
fresh scent of salmon that only cats could smell. It was endearing,
and a little creepy.
"I want to go inside and look
around some more!" and off she went into the house. I
watched through the porch window as she explored the kitchen.
She looked so happy, so content, so beautiful. Her long brown
curls swept around her face at every turn. I loved the way
she would always get a strand of hair caught just over her
nose so she would have to brush it away with her fingers.
Little Sara came running from the back yard. She was the image
of her mother, only in a pint. She came running towards me,
the front of her dress held up in a ball, covering something.
"Whatcha got there, sweetie?"
"Look Daddy, look!" She slowed to a careful stop
just in front of me. Her big blue eyes looked like they were
going to pop out of her head. Slowly she unfolded her dress.
There they were. The bane of my existence.
Five of them!
"Can we keep them, Daddy? Can we keep them?"
"Where did you find them, sweetie?" I didn't want
to touch them. I didn't want to see them, and I knew their
momma must be somewhere nearby.
Tara overheard the commotion and walked over to us. "Oh
Steven, they're so cute. We can't just leave them outside
by themselves." She was already in love with them. God
"Sweetheart, that meow I heard earlier was probably the
mother of these little fledglings looking for them. You should
probably put them back where you found them."
Tara flashed a "look" at me. It was one of those
looks you give to the town idiot. I didn't like it very much.
It made me feelsmall.
I cowered my head in shame. "Well, we weren't planning
on staying here tonight. We don't exactly have anything to
sleep on, anything clean, that is. I wiped some cobwebs off
the wall next to me. I guess we could find a box or something
and some towels for them."
"Oh Daddy, can't I bring them home?"
"We don't have room for them, sweetheart, and I'm sure
their mommy is probably looking for them right now."
(Which was something I didn't really care to think about.)
The girls were so enthralled with the cute furry little things
in Saras lap that I dont think they heard a word
I said, or noticed the fact that Charlie was nowhere to be
Where is your brother, Sara?
I dont know. She and her mother kept coddling
Hes probably down in the basement," Tara
said without taking her attention from the kittens. "Why
dont you go look for him, sweetheart? It's getting a
bit late. Ill find something to put the kittens in.
I rolled my eyes and grumbled.
I walked through the kitchen to the cellar door. The door
was open, but the light was not on. Charlie! I
called. Charlie, are you down there? The smell
of the basement crept up my nostrils like water would if I
was drowning in a pool. I covered my face and shook my head.
A breeze swept in from the kitchen window; it seemed to help
a bit. Charlie! I tried one more time. Still no
I hadnt been in that basement for a really long time.
It had always creeped me out just a bit too much to be playing
down there. Besides, Pop forbid me to go down at all, so sneaking
down there was not on my agenda. I reached into my pocket
for a flashlight.
Ordinarily I didnt carry one, but Charlie had shoved
it into my pocket when we got out of the car because he had
a hole in his pocket. He wanted me to keep it safe for him.
I pulled the flashlight out of my pocket and flicked it on.
The stairs were covered in dust and cobwebs, and footprints.
I was about halfway down when I found the pull chain for the
light. I couldnt believe the bulb still worked after
all of these years. Thank goodness.
I reached the bottom of the stairs and looked around. I had
forgotten how large the basement was. It was the size of the
entire first floor, and it was filled with dusty antiques
and odds and ends from all over, most of which I didn't recognize
The air was damp and cold. It was like
walking into a cave, or perhaps a lion's den. I was about
twenty feet from the stairway when the light suddenly went
out. It actually made a popping sound when it went out, like
it had filled with gas and just exploded outwards. Scared
the crap out of me. Fortunately, I still had the flashlight
There must be another light down here somewhere. I fumbled
through a few things on a shelf. Spider webs and dust clinged
to my fingers like chewed up taffy that had fallen in the
dirt. My fingers found a switch. I flicked it to what I thought
was an on position, but nothing happened. I flicked it on
and off a few more times, just in case. Still nothing. For
a few moments I had forgotten what I was doing down here in
the first place.
Charlie? Are you down here?
Still nothing. I seemed to remember an entrance from the outside
to the cellar. It was a set of those storm doors that lay
almost flat. I didnt remember seeing it while walking
the property, though. Im sure I just missed it. It was
probably covered with overgrown weeds. There had to be another
staircase down here. I kept shuffling my feet along the floor
with Charlies flashlight ahead of me. My eyes were curiously
fixed on all of the dusty objects on the shelves and pieces
of furniture that crowded the walls.
My foot caught on something. At first I thought maybe I stepped
on some old debris, or a box. The flashlight was aiming straight
ahead, but I hadnt noticed a staircase, just an emptiness
in front of me. I turned the flashlight to the floor, except
there was no floor; it was open. It was a ledge that led to
a staircase, except the staircase went down, not up. I could
feel the panic beating in my chest. My nose filled with the
muskiness in the air. It felt colder. I flashed my light down
to the bottom. I didnt count, but it looked like at
least twenty steps down, and some sort of doorway at the bottom.
Ok, now I was officially creeped out, and I really hoped that
my son did not find this staircase and go exploring. Half
of me just wanted to get the hell out, while the other half
could not walk away. That half is the half that always gets
me in trouble. That half is the part of me that pushed my
feet down those stairs. I closed my eyes for a moment and
actually said out loud, What the hell am I doing?
I kept going. The staircase was very steep. It seemed as old
as the house itself. The steps were a mix of cobblestone and
concrete. Every now and then my feet kicked a loose pebble
or clump of dust. I took my time. Of course, it seemed like
an eternity by the time I got to the bottom. But I finally
I was standing there in the basement, facing a large wooden
door with no doorknob. As I looked up and down for a way to
open the door, I noticed a metal latch at the top. It was
a crude iron latch, looked to be made by hand, not machined.
I reached for it. The latch was stiff. The door obviously
hadnt been opened in a while, so there was no way that
Charlie got in here. He would have had to have grown at least
a foot to reach the lever. My imagination was going wild,
and that troublesome part of me didnt careit wanted
to get in.
I fiddled with the latch until it freed itself from years
of rest. The door gave way to the pressure that had been forced
on it over so much time. It was as if the room exhaled, and
the door relaxed to an opening about a half-inch in space.
Air rushed through the opening. At first the smell was of
dust; then it was something else. I cant say it was
terrible, or pleasant. I couldnt identify it. It was
a sort of a metallic smell. Like a rusty penny. Thats
ridiculous, I thought.
I placed my hand at chest level and pushed the door inwards.
The hinges groaned and creaked as the door slowly opened.
The sounds of years of stillness made a popping sound as the
door freed itself from the doorframe. It was almost deafening
in the state I was in. I had only opened the door a few inches.
There was no light, except the now dimming and flickering
flashlight I held in my free hand. I knew that it wouldnt
last much longer. I pushed the door a bit further. It was
still stiff, but was willing to move. I directed what light
I had left in through the opening and instinctively reached
to the interior wall. There was a switch, an actual light-switch.
I tried it. A dim light flickered on ahead of me; another
followed further away, and another. What the hell is down
here? I pushed the door completely open to reveal the corridor
that was illuminated by just the right amount of light. The
bulbs in the fixtures above looked very old, like antiques.
If that was true, that explains why they still worked. That
means this place has been here a very long time. The large
filament in the light-bulb just ahead reached its maximum
brightness and was a glowing swirl of light. It burned its
image in my retinas. I had to close my eyes for a moment to
readjust. I still had a faint line that blocked part of my
vision, but for the most part I could see clear enough.
Did I really expect someone to answer me? No. I guess I just
wanted to hear something familiar, and to see if my voice
echoed. Hello! This time I said it a little louder.
My voice carried, which indicated to me that this passageway
went a lot further than I could see.
I reached back around for the doorway,
but when I extended my arm, I got nothing but air. I turned
around to check the door.
There was nothing but corridor.
What the hell?
My heart began beating just a little bit faster. I held the
flashlight up in both directions, back and forth, but the
lights on the ceiling gave me more light at this point than
the flashlight did.
Corridors in both directions!
But how could that be? I just
I slowly turned a complete circle in my place without blinking,
just to make sure I wasnt losing my mind.
There was no door. I was standing in the middle of a tunnel.
Hello! I yelled it in both directions this time,
my voice carrying in each direction.
Alright, this is not funny.
Who did I think I was saying that to? Did I really expect