Tara was calling. "Sara,
have you seen your brother?"
"No, Mommy, I've been
sitting here with the kitties the whole time waiting for you
to come back with a box, and some nice soft towels."
"Ok, stay right here,
sweetheart. I'm going to take a look upstairs to see if your
brother is hiding on us. Ok?"
"Ok, Mommy. I'll stay
here with the kitties." Sara whispered just loud enough
for her mom to hear her, "They're asleep anyway. I don't
want to wake them."
Tara climbed the staircase
while wiping cobwebs from the banister the whole way. They
were plentiful and sticky. She shook her hand when she reached
the top to knock off the ones that adhered themselves to her
There was only the sound of
creaking beneath her feet as she slowly crept through the
Tara entered the large master
suite. "Charlie, are you hiding in here?"
There was still some furniture
left in the place. There was actually a large carved bed in
the room where she was standing. She walked up to the bed
and wiped away the dust from the massive headboard. She hadn't
really noticed the detail when she was up there earlier. She
was too busy running from room to room to really stop and
There were strange symbols
carved in a beautiful pattern. At first it just looked like
some sort of vine, or flowers. Tara looked closer and blinked
her eyes several times before it registered that this was
indeed a pattern of symbols. She didn't recognize them.
The air in the room chilled.
A breeze swept over the back of her neck and goose bumps formed
over her entire body. She shivered, then looked up at the
It was closed.
Tara shook off her shiver,
realizing she had probably done that to herself by reading
a little more into the carved headboard than was necessary.
She had a wild imagination, and sometimes she could fool herself,
not unlike Steven. The carvings were definitely real though,
and the wood grain on this bed was spectacular. She wanted
to look over the entire bed, but knew she had to find Charlie
Tara squatted to the floor
to look under the bed. No eight-year-old there.
She went into the bathroom.
"No place to hide in here," she thought out loud.
The large claw-foot tub was just hollering for some company.
It was beautiful. The entire bathroom, aside from the dust,
was immaculate. Right down to the small black and white mosaic
tiles on the floor, it was in perfect condition.
Alas, no Charlie.
Tara went through every room
upstairs. Still nothing.
She returned to the closet
door at the end of the hallway that had been previously locked,
and checked it again, just in case.
The door opened without a
"Now that's really weird.
This thing wouldn't budge earlier." She opened the door
It was not a closet after
"Ooh, the attic! Now
if I were eight years old, where would I be? Hmm, would I
be hiding in the secret attic that no one knew about? How
Slowly Tara crept her way
up the squeaky attic stairway. The steps were steep and very
narrow. There was no railing, so she kept her hands close
to the walls. There hadn't been a light switch, but soon after
the fourth step a small chain tapped Tara on the forehead
and she stopped to pull on it. The narrow passageway was well
lit, and very high.
"I don't remember the
roof line looking so high from the outside," she thought
to herself, but that did not slow her down. She reached the
top step and was amazed at the size of the room she had just
entered. It was actually quite large, and not quite as dusty
as the rest of the house, which was strange.
There was a large wood carved
desk with a matching chair, and a tall brass lamp alongside
of the desk. It looked more like a lantern hanging from a
stand, like perhaps the lantern was carried around and placed
there when necessary. There was a small bed on the other side
of the room. It was a strange size. Kind of halfway between
adult and child size. It looked pretty perfect for one person.
The bed was actually still made up, with a fluffy white blanket
and a pillow knitted of blue and white checks. There was a
little dust on the bed, but not as much as one would expect
from an attic.
Alongside the bed was a small
painted table. It was round, with three perfectly symmetrical
legs. There was a small drawer with a little cut glass knob
to open it with, and a shelf just below the drawer with a
small clay pot. Tara walked over to the bed and sat down.
She didn't stay seated for long; she just had to lay herself
down and sprawl out.
She closed her eyes for a
moment. "Perfect," she whispered.
* * *
Charlie knew he was in trouble.
He had wandered off one too many times, and now he wasn't
really sure where he was, or how to get back. He didn't have
his flashlight, and he was scared. He had yelled for his mother
and father until he couldn't yell any longer. He sat against
the cold wall on the ground, pulled his legs close to his
chest, and wrapped up in his oversized coat. After long enough,
he fell asleep.
* * *
Alright, the door must be
here somewhere. I ran my hands across the wall behind me.
It was smooth rock or something, with a hairline crack I could
feel that ran the length of what I thought was the doorway.
"Terrific," I thought
to myself. The door must be hidden from this side by the wall.
It must have closed behind me.
The tunnel seemed to have
a curvature to it. Almost a flattened out U shape. That must
have been why I got so disoriented when I turned around to
look for the door. Well, now all I have to do is decide which
way to go. I obviously cannot go out the same way I got in.
I decided to keep to the left
side, so I could keep my right hand free. There was just enough
light in the passageway from the bulbs above that I didn't
need to use what was left of Charlie's flashlight. The ground
was even enough, although every now and then my feet would
catch on something. I'd like to believe it was just a rock
or two. I couldn't see the ground very well and I was creeping
along at a slow pace.
I was about fifty feet into
the tunnel now. It had turned slightly two times already.
I had no idea where I was. The ground seemed to be descending.
I could feel the muscles in my legs straining against the
earth like I was walking downhill.
"Where the hell is this
I can't imagine what this
was used for.
I could hear a faint humming
sound. It continued to get louder the farther I went. I was
still going downhill.
A bright light flashed and
I can't see a thing. But I
can hear the humming.
* * *
Tara decided it was time to
get back downstairs to her daughter. She had found a wonderful
secret upstairs, but it did not contain her son. She lifted
herself from the splendid comfort of the bed, and headed toward
"Mommy! Where are you?"
Tara could hear her daughter
calling to her.
"I'm coming, sweetheart!"
Tara reached the bottom of
the stairs and opened the door to the hallway. It was dark.
The light to the attic was
still on, but the entire second floor was pitch dark.
She stood still at the attic
"Sara, are you up here?"
There was nothing but silence.
Tara was becoming a little uneasy.
The light of the full moon
was shining through one of the bedroom windows just enough
to cast a small amount of light directly onto the staircase
leading down to the first floor. She took advantage of the
light, and headed back downstairs.
Tara reached the bottom of
the stairs and looked over to where Sara had been sitting
with the kittens. She wasn't there.
"Sara? Where are you,
honey?" She began to search the first floor.
"Oh God!" Tara jumped
and turned. Behind her was her little girl.
Sara was standing there as
innocent as could be, rubbing her eyes and scratching her
"You scared the life
out of me! Goodness gracious, where were you? I heard you
call for me, sweetheart, but when I came downstairs I couldn't
"I was right here, Mommy."
"Have you seen Daddy
or Charlie yet?"
"Nope. I've been sitting
down here the whole time. I even fell asleep and had a dream
about candy canes and dolphins."
Tara patted her quietly on
the head and reached down to lift her up.
"Where are the kittens,
"They went back to their
mommy. I'm tired. Can we just sleep here tonight?"
"We really need to find
your brother and daddy. I bet the two of them are hiding on
A faint creaking sound could
be heard from another room, like a door slowly opening.
Tara froze in her spot, listening.
Footsteps could be heard over
the deafening silence. They seemed to get closer.
Tara stiffened. "Steven?"
The word came out of her mouth, but this time it was more
of a question than an announcement, like it usually sounded.
"Charlie?" she tried, but nothing. The footsteps
stopped, but the tingle running down her spine would not.
Nervously she began to walk with Sara held tight against her
body, her head resting on her mother's shoulder. Sara's body
She couldn't believe her daughter
could fall asleep against such a rigid thing.
The sound of thunder could
be heard in the distance, and faint flashes of light filled
the windows. A storm was coming, and now she didn't know where
her son or husband were.
"They had better be together,"
was all she could think. She didn't know whether to be angry
or worried. The feeling running through her entire body was
not of anger, though, and Tara's senses were better than anyone
she had ever known. And what she sensed
* * *
The earth seemed to shake.
The sound that followed the flash was almost deafening. The
humming ceased. I stood there trying to focus my eyes, but
the flash was too bright for me to get my bearings just yet.
I kept my hand against the wall and moved forward slowly.
There wasn't much choice in the matter. I could just sit here
and do nothing, or move on and try to find a way out.
I could feel a breeze. I came
upon a pretty sharp turn in the tunnel, and after I cleared
it I could see light shining on the floor from above. Another
flash of light. It was painfully bright, and this time the
ground shook at the same time. I could hear the popping and
hissing of electricity not a few feet away, it seemed. I was
having a lot of trouble getting any kind of bearing. Then
I heard it.
It was rain. It was coming
in from an opening very close to me, but far above. I let
out a deep breath. A deep deep sigh of relief.
It was lightning, and thunder.
It wasn't the end of the world at all. At least I hoped not.
I moved to the edge of the
light, the water dropping to my feet. I tried to look up,
but the rain was coming in too heavily and the lightning was
getting more frequent.
"It must be a way out."
I tried to remember exactly
where the well was on the property, but I really had no idea
where I was in relation to the well. I was so disoriented,
and I had no idea how far down I was from the surface at this
point, although it sounded like a fairly long drop from the
sound of the rainfall and the thunder. That shudder must have
been lightning hitting something just above me, though. And
the electricity I heard could possibly have been spidering
its way down a grate, or a ladder that came down from the
surface (I hoped).
I tried to remember what the
well looked like from above. I hadn't dared look down there
when Tara and I were walking the grounds, though she
got a fair look down. All I remember as a kid was looking
down and seeing metal grating that would have stopped anything
that would have fallen down there. I don't know how old it
was, but as a kid I thought it was put there to stop things
from coming out.
Wow. Now all kinds of thoughts
were going through my head, like
I'M THE ONE that needs
to GET OUT!
It was like a horrible epiphany.
The rain was letting up slowly.
Enough for me to look at the wet ground below my feet, and
just in front of me during the next flash of lightning.
My eyes widened. My throat
constricted with what I saw. I lifted my foot as if to check
to see if there was anything stuck to my shoe. All those things
that I have been walking across. The things that have been
catching at my feet.
I bent down and squinted my
eyes. I turned on the flashlight that now had barely a glow
At least, I think they were
bones. I picked a piece up and held it up to eye level, waiting
for another flash of light bright enough to see what it was.
Charlie's flashlight was almost completely dead at this point.
I stood under the rain. I
was frozen. Out of fear or chilled by the weather, I couldn't
tell. The light flashed like a bulb bursting at a snapshot.
Instamatic. The fractured piece of a skull flashed into view.
The lightning was quick, and though it was gone, I could still
see the skull.
It started coming in long
bright bursts. I dropped the piece to the ground, and as I
looked down, a slow-motion film ensued. The flashes created
this surreal feeling of an old silent film, a macabre vision
There were bone fragments
all over the ground. Pebble shaped, dust, pieces that had
become part of the path. I almost couldn't breathe. The rainwater
was building up in a puddle, and pieces began to float. My
head was floating.
I needed to get out of here.
* * *
Tara could feel her bones
turning almost brittle. The thunder and lightning had become
almost unbearable. It was the most violent storm she had ever
seen or heard, and yet little Sara still slept. She walked
to a large chair that was in the living room and pulled the
sheet from it so she wouldn't sit in a pile of dust. She slowly
collapsed into the chair and held her daughter tight, while
the room filled with flashes of light and sound.
It was the only light in the
room, since the power had now gone out. The clouds had covered
any hint of moonlight. Sara was sound asleep in her mother's
arms. Though Tara could not understand how anyone could sleep
amidst the thundering, she was thankful that this little person
Tara faced the kitchen from
where she was sitting. Another flash of lightning lit up the
kitchen from every window.
There was someone there.
Tara froze and stopped breathing.
And then, upon the next flash,
there was nothing. No one.
Her heart jumped into her
isn't funny at all!"
There was no response. Not
even a sound.
The storm had suddenly stopped.
"God, was I imagining
things?" She knew it was possible, considering the odd
Tara could feel something
behind her, in the stillness, in the dark. Her eyes widened,
as if somehow they could allow more light into them, though
it was just the terror approaching.
No sooner than her mouth and
nose were covered, was she out.
* * *
Tara opened her eyes slowly.
Her head was pounding. She couldn't move. She was bound to
a table or something. She was tied at the feet, with about
two inches between each ankle. The rope was coarse and sliced
into her skin as she moved. Her hands were strapped to her
sides, and her throat bore a kerchief of leather and sweat
that also kept her still.
She couldn't remember anything,
and she couldn't scream because of the gag wrapped around
her mouth. She tried to yell for Sara. "God, where is
Sara? Where is Steven, and Charlie?" Tears were flowing
steadily from her eyes. The stinging was terrible.
She couldn't tell where she
was. It was dark and damp. There was only a small amount of
light in the room, and she couldn't see where it was coming
from. The room didn't feel very large; there was no air movement.
Tara tried to move her head
sideways. She could turn from left to right, but could not
lift her head. "This can't be happening." She closed
her eyes. The words kept pounding through her mind, "This
can't be happening," until she lost consciousness again.
* * *
The rain finally let up. The
thunder and the lightning subsided. The clouds cleared within
moments, enough to let the moonlight shine down through the
opening. I looked up to see how high the actual opening was.
It was very very high. I could see the top, the top of the
well. It was the grating that gave it away. I couldn't tell
how close to the top it actually was, or what shape it was
in after all of these years. There was a ladder, but it didn't
come down far enough for me to have even the slightest chance
at it. I had always hated that well. I had to find
a way out of here.
The humming sound started
again. It was coming from farther down the tunnel. The lights
came back on as well. It must be some kind of generator, but
how did it get turned back on? I didn't know if I really wanted
the answer to that question.
I pushed myself to go on.
My clothes were pretty well
saturated at this point. Between the dampness, the rain, and
just plain angst, I was wet any way you could cut it.
Well, at least I could see
again. I kept my hand on the left side of the wall like before.
The tunnel seemed to have gotten a bit narrower, and the walls
were damp and slippery. They felt almost slimy. Something
dropped onto my head. I flailed and waved my hands over my
hair like a wild person. "My God, I've got to get a grip.
It was probably a spider, or a drop of water."
I stopped to compose myself.
I took a deep breath and focused. "I've got to get back
to the house. There has to be another way." There was
no delay in my step now. I moved on, and I went as fast as
the light allowed. The tunnel suddenly ended with a sharp
right turn. I almost walked flat into the wall ahead of me.
I turned, and kept following for maybe twenty feet, when the
tunnel ended. I felt the entirety of the walls with my hands.
This part of the tunnel was very dark. I could easily miss
something. As I turned to feel behind me, something tapped
me lightly on the top of my head. I reached up slowly and
felt a small metal loop that was hanging from a chain. I pulled
carefully on the loop. Slowly the ceiling opened. It was a
hatch, a doorway or something. As I pulled harder, the doorway
came completely down. It was like a pull-down attic stairway.
Part of me was not pleased
that there was another hidden pathway, but most of me was
just happy to get out from the dankness of the tunnel. I pulled
the ladder down to the floor and stepped on it until it felt
firm enough to climb. I could only hope there was light up
I began to climb. The wood
rungs were damp, like the walls, but still I managed to pull
a shard from them into my hand. I ignored it.
Although it was dark, I could
feel that I was in another chamber by the stillness of the
air, and the smell. I tried to focus my eyes. There was nothing
to focus on. I felt around for a switch or a chain. "This
is ridiculous." I could feel my blood just starting to
boil, like when I'd lost my car keys and I knew they were
around somewhere close, but I couldn't find them anyway, and
I wanted to scream. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs.
How could I climb up into
whatever is up here, and not see anything?
I could hear a scratching
sound scurry across the floor in front of me. It was small,
must have been a rat or a mouse. It scurried off about ten
feet to my left and suddenly the scurry was met with a squish
I did not react well. I reacted
so poorly, in fact, that I lost my footing and slid back down
to the bottom of the ladder. I saw the Milky Way, then nothing.