Estimated reading time — 11 minutes
The obnoxious buzzing from the dryer that signaled the end of the cycle came up faintly from the basement. Shane could already feel Jen’s eyes boring into the side of his head. Shane kept his attention on the baseball game that was playing out on the TV.
“Are you going to get that? You know how much I hate going into that basement at night,” said Jen.
“C’mon babe. It’s the 7th inning. Another hour or so and it’ll be over. It can hold.”
“I wanted to get it done and folded before bed.”
“After the game,” Shane said.
He didn’t need to look over to see she wasn’t happy at all about the situation. She’d live. With a loud sigh, Jen stood and walked in front of Shane toward the door to the basement. She jerked the door open, reached inside, and flipped the light switch two or three times. Letting out another loud sigh she turned toward Shane.
“You still haven’t fixed this light switch. I’ve only asked a hundred times.”
“I’ll do it this weekend. Promise. Hey, since you’re up will you grab me another beer?”
If looks could kill Shane surely would’ve been dead at that moment. Jen mumbled something unintelligible, flipped him off, and headed down the basement stairs.
“Guess that’s a no,” Shane said to the empty room.
Jen had only been gone a couple of minutes before a scream came from the basement. Shane rolled his eyes and stood up. Jen was so dramatic, he thought. Shane watched as the pitcher struck out the last batter. Giving a little arm pump Shane made his way to the basement entrance.
“You okay?” Shane called out.
“Something bit me. As if you care.”
Before Shane could head down the stairs, Jen was hobbling up with a basket full of clothes under one arm. Shane reached for the basket and got the look of death once more. Backing up Shane let her come out of the basement. Shane noticed her ankle was already beginning to swell a little and he tried once again to grab the basket. Before Shane could get it, Jen had dropped the basket onto the table.
“Let me take a look at your ankle,” Shane said.
“What and make you miss your precious ball game? I’m going to bed.”
Shane watched her hobble down the hallway and into their bedroom. Shrugging his shoulders, he grabbed another beer and headed back to the recliner. Taking a swig of beer, he watched his team put another run on the board.
With another win in the books for his team, Shane turned off the TV and shut down everything in the living room and kitchen on his way to bed. Stepping into the bedroom he saw Jen was under the covers and facing toward the wall. Jen emitted a little snore. Thankfully, Shane wouldn’t have to endure an argument, at least not right now. Dropping his jeans and t-shirt onto the floor he climbed into bed and was asleep in a few seconds.
Shane woke suddenly with a strange feeling that someone, or something, was staring at him. He was facing toward Jen’s side of the bed, but she wasn’t there. Lifting his head, he turned to look over his shoulder, and a dark blur shot across his field of vision. Turning his head back toward the other side of the bed, Jen was back and sleeping peacefully. Shane sat up and shook his head a little. He squinted at the clock and it read 3:11.
“Whew, no more pizza before bed for me,” he mumbled.
“Hmm, did you say something?” asked Jen, obviously still asleep.
“Nothing, go back to sleep.”
Shane swung his legs out of the bed and put his feet on the floor. He looked around the dark room and back to Jen to make sure she was still there. Shane tried to play it off like it was nothing. Just a dream brought on by the pizza and beer. Still, it unnerved him a little. Rubbing his face, he stumbled to the kitchen and got a drink of water before returning to bed. When the alarm rang at 6:30 he was still awake.
“Hey, do you remember getting out of bed and staring at me last night?” Shane asked.
“I woke up and you weren’t in bed and before I could turn around and back you were back in bed.”
“Too many beers for you last night, cowboy.”
“I don’t know. I’ve been up since then. Couldn’t go back to sleep.”
“Probably a guilty conscience for not going down into the basement last night for me,” Jen said as she stepped out of bed.
Shane watched as Jen hobbled around the bed, and then into the bathroom. She was limping worse than last night. There was no way she had gotten out of bed and back in as quick as the thing he saw. Whatever it was.
“Damn!” Jen exclaimed from the bathroom.
“What’s wrong?” Shane asked as he got out of bed.
Shane pushed the door open to the bathroom and Jen had her foot upon the toilet and was examining her ankle. It had swollen to the size of a softball and was bright red. Jen was touching her hand to her ankle when Shane stopped in the doorway. Shane could clearly see four puncture wounds in a perfect square. These weren’t little insect punctures. It looked like someone had taken a number 2 pencil and jabbed it into Jen’s ankle.
“What the hell bit you? Maybe you should think about getting it looked at” Shane asked.
“I don’t know. I heard a hiss, and then I felt the jab in my leg. It almost knocked me off my feet. And since when are you all concerned about me?”
“A hiss? I guess it could be a snake bite or something, but I haven’t ever seen anything with a fang so big it would make a puncture like that. I’m going down into the basement to see what I can see,” Shane said, brushing off the pointed question.
“Oh, now you want to go down there. Whatever it was is long gone by now. Great white hunter,” Jen scoffed.
“Okay, you can knock it off. I’m sorry.”
Shane left the bedroom and rummaged around in the kitchen until he found a flashlight with half-dead batteries. He tried the old bang the flashlight in your hand trick to get it to brighten up, but that didn’t work either. Shane opened the basement door and instinctively tried the light switch. Jen snickered in the background. Shane started down the steps, sweeping the dying flashlight left and right in front of him.
Shane stopped halfway down, crouched, and strained his eyes to see into the murky darkness. He made a mental note to get some batteries for the stupid flashlight the next time he was in town or fix the light switch. Finally, he made it to the bottom of the stairs and swept the floor in front of him with the dimming light. Shane shuffled further into the basement. He stopped when he thought he heard breathing.
“Um, hello?” Shane said, his voice cracking.
Shane looked up to see what appeared to be two eyes glowing yellow. They were about two inches above his height of six feet. There was a distinct hiss, and Shane dropped the flashlight, turned, and ran up the stairs taking two at a time. Once he reached the top, he slammed the door behind him and fell against the door. Shane was taking in huge gulps of air and he could feel sweat starting to roll down his back as he slid down the door into a seated position.
“Oh, jeez, you’re not gonna believe this but…ahhhh,” Shane stopped in mid-sentence.
Shane dug his heels into the tile and was trying to push through the door behind him. Across the room stood a reptilian-like creature that had Jen’s body, but a head that resembled a snake.
Shane let out another scream. The creature started to speak, as it morphed back into Jen.
“Why are you screaming and why are you so pale?” Jen asked.
“Because there is something not natural in the basement, and you were just looking like a snake or something.”
“A snake,” Jen laughed as her face glitched in and out of her real face and the snake head.
“Oh jeez. I can’t breathe.”
“Calm down. You’re just hyperventilating.”
“I can’t calm down. There is something down there and you’re turning into something!”
“Okay, well yelling at me isn’t going to solve anything.”
Jen took a step toward Shane and he screamed again as he scooted away from her. She stopped and put her hands on her hips. She tried to advance once more, and Shane moved back once more.
“Okay, I don’t have time to play with you. I’m going to be late to work,” Jen said as she limped back toward the bathroom.
Shane fell over and he rested his cheek against the cool tile. He willed his heart to stop beating so fast. Shane lay there until Jen came back into the kitchen and started the coffee, and then turned and leaned back on the counter. Shane couldn’t help but notice the gold flecks in her eyes that hadn’t been there before. Jen already thought he was crazy, so he thought better than to mention it.
“You going to work today, or are you just going to lay on the floor all day?” Jen asked.
“Why are you being so mean? This is real.”
“All the years of verbal abuse you have dished out on me and you want to call this mean?”
“I don’t know what you want me to say.”
“Nothing, Shane, I want you to say nothing. I’m going to work.”
After Jen left Shane finally found the strength to stand. He struggled out to the garage and found a hammer and some nails. Once back inside, Shane began to pound nails into the door of the basement until he felt like it was fully sealed.
Shane tested the door several times and felt like it was secure. He walked to the bathroom and shut and locked the door behind him. He quickly undressed and got into the shower. Shane showered facing the door and tried to keep at least one eye open as he soaped up and rinsed off. His shower completed, Shane hurriedly got dressed. He wasn’t even sure if what he was wearing matched, but he was out the door and in his truck in minutes. Shane fumbled three or four times with the keys trying to get them into the ignition, dropping them once before the truck started.
“Shane, this is what we’re going to do. This is all your imagination. You had too many beers last night and it’s starting to affect your mental health. So, no more alcohol. That’s it. Not another drop. And you’re going to start appreciating Jen,” Shane said to the empty truck cab.
Shane barely made it through the workday. He had fallen asleep at his desk two or three times. Each time he jerked awake Shane checked under his desk and scanned his office. Luckily, his boss hadn’t caught him. This wasn’t like him at all. He wasn’t scared of things that go bump in the night. This thing, however, felt real.
Shane almost fell asleep twice more on the way home. Finally, Shane turned onto his street and he could see Jen’s little sports car was already in the driveway. Parking his truck Shane got out and walked into the house. Jen was standing in front of the basement door staring at it when Shane walked in.
“What the hell did you do to the door, Shane,” Jen said, turning toward him.
“I-I didn’t want that thing in the house,” Shane said.
Shane walked to Jen and wrapped his arms around her. As soon as he got his arms around her, he jumped back with a look of horror on his face. He was still backing as Jen smiled at him, her eyes flashing gold.
“Why are you so cold? What’s wrong with your eyes!?”
“I haven’t a clue about what you’re talking about. I thought you were a big, strong man,” Jen giggled.
“This is crazy. I think I need a drink. Did you do something to me last night?”
“What would I have done to you exactly?” Jen said, walking over and leaning against the counter.
“Why aren’t you limping? I know that thing didn’t heal already.”
Jen shot across the kitchen in a blur, and she pressed against Shane’s body. Shane felt the ice-cold starting to seep into him. Jen was lowering his body heat.
“You aren’t scared, are you? Macho man,” Jen said, her tongue flicking out and licking his ear.
Shane tried to push her away and it was like pushing against a brick wall. He was six inches taller and outweighed her by at least 50 pounds, he should’ve easily been able to push her away from him. Jen laughed as she backed off him. Her eyes returned to normal.
“What do you want for dinner,” Jen said as nothing had happened.
“Um, I don’t think I’m very hungry.”
“Oh? Are you not feeling well?”
“Are you kidding right now?”
“Shane, what’s wrong honey? You don’t look well. Maybe you should go lay down.”
“I think I need some fresh air,” Shane said.
Shane turned to walk out of the kitchen and heard a faint hiss. Quickening his steps, he pushed open the screen door and found himself on the front porch. The weather was mild, but he was sweating buckets and shaking. Shane’s legs felt like jelly, but he made his way down the front porch steps and into the yard. The neighbor, Brad, waved and approached the fence.
“Jeez, Shane, you look like crap. You okay, buddy?”
“I don’t know. I think I’m in a nightmare,” Shane sputtered.
“At five in the afternoon?”
“You got a cigarette?”
“When you quit you said to not give you one no matter how much you begged.”
“Cut the shit, Brad. I need one.”
“Damn, okay, no need to get violent.”
Brad took the pack from his breast pocket and shook a cigarette to the top. Shane could hardly control the shaking of his hand to pick the cigarette from the pack. Brad flicked his lighter and the flame jumped from the metal case. Shane barely got it lit before taking a long, deep drag.
“You and Jen fighting or something?”
“Something like that,” Shane said, glancing back over at his house.
“Well, you’re welcome to the couch for a night. Let things cool down or whatever.”
“I appreciate that, man. I might just take you up on that.”
“Seriously? It must’ve been a doozy of an argument.”
“Yeah, let me go tell her, and I’ll be back.”
Without waiting for a reply Shane turned toward his house and stopped at the bottom of the steps. Taking a deep breath, he walked up the steps and to the front door. Shane had his hand on the doorknob and took another deep breath as he turned the knob to open the door. He poked his head inside the door.
“Hey, I think I’m going to crash on Brad’s couch tonight,” Shane called.
Jen appeared around the corner dressed in her workout clothes. Her face was glitching in and out of the snake face again and Shane felt a wave of nausea come over him. It was all he could do to keep his knees from buckling.
“How cute, you think sleeping at Brad’s will save you.”
“What did you say?” Brad said in a voice two octaves higher than his normal voice.
“I asked why on earth would you do that?” Jen answered.
“Oh, uh, I need some space…I guess.”
“Space? Whatever, Shane.”
Jen didn’t wait for an answer before turning from him and walking back into the kitchen. Shane didn’t even want to go back into the house for clothes. He closed the door and walked as quickly as he could back to Brad’s. Brad was rambling about throwing some steaks on the grill or something as Shane looked over his shoulder back to his house. Jen was standing in the kitchen window watching him. Jen wore an evil smile and Shane could make out another snake-like figure standing behind her. It was smiling too.
Shane barely tasted the steak that Brad had made. He couldn’t shake what he’d say at the window. Should he tell Brad? Brad would think Shane had lost his mind. Shane wasn’t entirely sure that wasn’t the case anyway.
Shane endured an evening with Brad and his wife talking about who knows what. Finally, they ran out of steam, and Brad’s wife brought down some blankets and a pillow. Shane thanked them as they turned and left. They had turned off the lights as they had left out of the room. Shane quickly moved to the end of the couch and switched on a lamp. There was no way he’d be sleeping.
The clock turned over to 3:11 and Shane was awoken by something bumping his leg. A rancid smell forced him to cough a little. Shane opened his eyes, and the Jen snake creature’s face was less than half an inch from his. Shane tried to scream but nothing came out.
“You should not have fallen asleep. Of course, it wouldn’t have saved you,” Jen hissed.
Once again Shane tried to scream but couldn’t. His heart was racing, and he saw a taller creature standing behind Jen. Jen raised her arms, and her hands had been replaced by what looked like talons. Shane was paralyzed and could do nothing as Jen dug her talons into each shoulder and raised him straight off the couch. Shane’s head flopped forward, and he could see his feet dangling a foot off the ground.
Jen began to move effortlessly toward the door. Seconds later Shane watched as his porch, and then his entryway tile moved under his feet. Jen was more gliding than she was walking. Moments after that he saw, what he guessed was, the basement door scattered in shards all over the kitchen floor.
Jen flung Shane down the steps. Shane landed awkwardly onto his back on the floor, and he heard a bone snap. He was still paralyzed, so he wasn’t sure what had broken but it couldn’t be good. Looking up he saw Jen and the other creature come down the steps. Shane wanted to move but couldn’t. They both stood over him at his feet. The other creature reached out and touched Shane. Suddenly a flood of pain hit him. He could now tell that the broken bone was his left leg. Shane hurt all over, but the broken bone and talon punctures were by far the worse.
With his right leg, Shane began to try and move away from Jen and her friend. They looked at each other and laughed as they watched Shane struggle. Jen began to grow taller until she had reached the ceiling and hunched over. Shane knew the ceilings were nine feet, so Jen had grown to ten plus feet.
The last thing Shane remembered was Jen’s face crashing down on his. He tried to utter a scream that never came.
Credit : Unkle Tormented
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