There are only a handful of events in your life that you remember where you were. For many Americans such as myself, 9/11 was one. For the older generation, the assassination of John F. Kennedy was another. For me? The day my parents died.
I hope no one has to go through the pain I went through that snowy January evening, and if you have the unfortunate luck to have experienced that kind of trauma, then my thoughts are with you.
I was close with my parents. My father, a college professor, always told me about the importance of getting good grades and staying in school. My mother, a nurse, always told me to help others in their times of need. They were perfect role models for me and the day they died was the day a part of me died as well.
Their car slid off an embankment in the snow and ice and crashed, killing them almost instantly. I was at the bar with a few friends and my fiance at the time when I received the phone call from the local police. I was away at college when it happened, and unfortunately, nearly 400 miles away. The news hit me like a ton of bricks and all I could do was stare endlessly into the background. The lights were on but nobody was home, if that makes any sense.
After the funeral, my brother Joe and I were going through their house to get their belongings out so the home could either be sold, rented out, or become property of the bank. The familiar smell of the home reminded me of better times; times where I woke up on Christmas morning to see a Nintendo 64 and Pokemon Stadium waiting for me. You know, those good times.
Like an episode of Scooby-Doo, Joe and I split up to make the job easier. I would be in charge the basement and main floor, while Joe would be in charge the top floor and attic area. I started on the main floor, mainly because I still had this irrational fear of that basement. When I was younger, I fell down the steps and broke both of my legs, and my right wrist in the process. All these years later and it’s still implanted in my mind.
Hours went by, and after taking a break to sit down, rest, and enjoy a cold beer, I opened the door to the basement. As I looked down the narrow flight of stairs, memories of 8 year old me falling down and breaking bones flashed before my eyes. I gulped and took it one step at a time. Once in the basement, the old musty smell became familiar with my nostrils. I looked over toward the single window in the basement, where a framed photo of my mother and father hung below it. There was a time where my father wanted to make the basement a lower level family room, but the hanged photo is as far as he got. Under the stairwell there were a few boxes from previous years that have yet to be unpacked. I pulled up an old wooden chair and began to search through the boxes, hoping I’d find something worth keeping.
The first box were just holiday decorations: Christmas, Halloween, hell, even Thanksgiving; my mother was very festive, no matter the holiday. I set it off to the side and pulled the next box closer to me. There was an old white binder that had hundreds of Pokemon cards in the sleeves. I felt like I had just discovered gold in the form of these little paper cards. I flipped through the pages, just smiling from ear to ear. For those of you who are too young– or too old– to appreciate Pokemon cards, it was the greatest thing for an eight year old kid in the 90s. Hell, I even went to a few tournaments and won badges.
The rest of the box was almost uneventful. There were some old pieces of art that Joe and I drew in class, but nothing worth keeping. As I searched through the remaining boxes, I thought for sure there was nothing at all worth keeping. The last box just had old silverware and plates, half of which were cracked and broken. I pulled out my phone to turn the flashlight on the search under the stairwell if I missed anything, and that is when I saw a small brown box, tucked into the back corner. On my hands and knees, I crawled under the stairwell to grab the box.
The box was covered in dust, seemingly untouched in at least a decade. As I wiped the dust off, I opened the box to see a set of video tapes, unmarked. Intrigued, I grabbed the Pokemon binder and the other materials that I deemed worthy to keep, put it in the box of video tapes, and headed upstairs. Once I exited the darkness of the basement and embraced the light of the room, I saw Joe sitting on the couch, smoking a cigar.
“Took you long enough” he said sarcastically.
“Where did you get those cigars? You don’t even smoke”
“I found them upstairs. They’re high quality stogies, TJ. I think dad was saving them for a special occasion”
I couldn’t help but feel disgusted that my brother would smoke a cigar that our dad was saving for a special occasion, knowing damn well that less than a week ago he passed away. I sat next to him on the couch and placed the box on the coffee table in front.
“Why in the fuck would you put that dusty ass box on this good table?”
Good question, but I just smirked and shrugged it off.
“Look, dude. My old Pokemon binder. I bet some of these cards are worth a good penny, especially since they look to be in good condition”
“Yeah, you could sell them all and make a 5 cent profit from all the money mom and dad wasted on those things. Good investment.”
I set the binder to my side and pulled out the first video tape I saw.
“Check these out. Want to watch some home movies and laugh at how fucking cringey we were?” I said, waving the video tape in front of my brother.
“Yeah, let’s pop those right into the VHS player. Oh wait a minute, it’s two thousand and fucking seventeen– no one uses those anymore”
He had a point, but I knew something he didn’t; the secret compartment I made when I was younger in my room upstairs. I hopped up and ran upstairs to my old room. It was empty, but I knew what to look for. In the floor in my closet, I made a make-shift compartment to hide, well, adult-themed movies and magazines. In the compartment was an old VHS player that I would hook up to my TV when no one was home and watch said movies. I ran down stairs with the VHS player in my hand and a giant grin on my face.
“Thank God I was a smart little pervert” I said, holding the VHS player above my head.
“Oh look, you found a VHS. But please, tell me how that ancient thing is going to plug into this new TV. Are you going to science the shit out of this, too?”
Again, another good point, but I knew better.
“When you were searching upstairs, did you find an older television?”
All I needed to know. I told him to follow me upstairs while I went to the attic to find my old television. I brought the television back downstairs and plugged it in, along with the VHS player.
“Alright, wanna’ take bets on what the first video is? I’m gonna’ guess your 10th birthday party where you pissed your pants from the clown”
“Shut the fuck up.”
I guess old wounds never heal. I popped the first tape in and walked backward, making sure it was loading up. The all-too familiar blue screen appeared, shortly before the video started up.
I took a seat on the couch next to Joe as we watched the video begin to play. It was grainy and dark, but we could make out movement from the side.
“What the fuck is this? Some kind of backward-ass snuff film?” Joe said in a mocking tone.
The darkness soon disappeared as a light kicked on without warning. There, we saw a male and a female in white coats with white masks covering their faces. In the middle of the room was a lifeless body of a young boy, laying on his back with a black tarp over his body. We saw the feet and arms danging off the side.
“Okay, what the fuck” Joe said, leaning forward. “Turn this shit off, dude. This is some kind of illegal shit”
I was a bit confused what I was watching. I gulped and continued watching, despite Joe’s pleas to turn it off.
There was no sound to the video, just the video itself. The two white-dressed individuals nodded as a third individual came out from the background. It had to be at least seven feet tall. It was lanky and looked as if he hasn’t eaten in quite some time. Its arms were very long, almost touching the ground. Its neck was elongated as well, but its head was very small, almost comically small. It did not look human at all. The creature began to slowly surround the lifeless body of the boy before he placed one of its long legs onto the bed where the boy was laying. It had only three toes from what we could see, but that could just be the bad quality of the video.
Joe and I watched in horror as this creature surrounded the child, but the real horror happened after it mounted the child and began to drag its tongue across the boy’s cheek. The tongue was purple in color, very long, and very skinny, almost like a serpent.
“Turn this shit off, TJ!”, Joe screamed.
I didn’t listen, I was almost in a trance. I had no idea what I was watching, but whatever that creature was, it wasn’t human, nor anything I’ve ever seen before.
The creature dragged its tongue down the face and neck of the child, before placing its hands on the child’s face. The creature was in a squatting pose above the child, but its arms and legs were so long that it looked as if he were standing. Joe got up without hesitation and turned the television off before we saw what was next.
“Dude, I fucking told you to turn that shit off. Whatever this is? It isn’t legal. We need to show this to the fucking cops, man. Where did mom and dad get this shit and why did they have it?”
That’s the 64 thousand dollar question, isn’t it?
“Joe, we have to watch these before we give them to the authorities. What if they’re just some home made horror film or something? We have to watch to make sure it’s real and not something made up, or else the authorities are just going to laugh at us for being scared by a work of fiction”
Reluctantly, Joe sat down and agreed, as we turned the television back on. I rewound back to the part where we last left off on, which was the creature squatting above the lifeless child with its hands on the child’s face and head. The creature dragged its finger across the cheek of the child, and its nail was so sharp it left a visible cut across the child’s face. That is when my eyes widened and looked at Joe.
Joe’s eyes widened. The cut across the child’s left cheek was very similar to a scar across Joe’s face that apparently happened after he fell off of his bicycle at a young age. He never remembered it, but that’s what we were told.
“What the fuck?”
Maybe it was just a coincidence, but things were starting to add up. The creature grabbed the leg of the child and began to drag its tongue up and down the left leg, as if it were enjoying the taste and smell of the child. I gulped as I jumped up and paused the tape from the VHS.
“Joe, look in the background. What do you see?”
“I don’t see shit, dude. It’s so old and grainy”
“Look in the background by the window, then look under. What does that look like?”
Joe leaned closer into the television and squinted to get a better view.
“Shit, it looks like a picture or something”
I gulped my fear and remembered the picture hanging below the window in our basement; the basement directly below our feet. I hit play, against my better judgment, mind you, and sat back down. The creature continued to drag its tongue across the leg of the young child, before hopping down from the bed. It stood straight up and held its arms to its side. Its knuckles touched the ground and it was so tall that its head was out of view from the camera. The man in woman dressed in white nodded their heads as the creature bolted out of camera view. The man in white proceeded to walk toward the camera and turn it off as the screen turned to static.
“What the fuck?! What the fuck?! What the fuck was that, TJ?! What the FUCK!”
I tried to calm Joe down, but hell, even I was perplexed. I looked down into the box and realized there were more videos, but I did not want to look what was next. I popped the first video out and put it to the side as I sat down on the couch next to Joe, who looked as if he had just seen a ghost.
“There’s three more videos, Joe, but Jesus Christ, I’m afraid of what they show”
He hung his head into his hands and began to stomp his feet in disbelief.
As we sat in silence on the couch, our attentions turned somewhere else.
We heard a noise that was similar to something dragging across the floor.
It was coming from the basement.
“Shhh… did you hear that?”
My attention was brought toward the basement door for a moment. I stood in silence, closing my eyes to listen as closely as I could for the noise I heard. Joe wasn’t as patient as I was (imagine that).
“Hear what? I didn’t hear shit”
Almost on cue, the noise appeared again; the sound of something dragging. Joe’s eyes became as wide as his mouth as he began to back away from the basement door in fear.
“What the fuck what that?” he cried. I placed my index finger over my lips and proceeded to tell him to be quiet. I saw Joe gulp his fear down his throat, but for some strange reason, my fear was overshadowed by my willingness to get to the bottom of what was going on. Against my better judgment – and Joe’s wishes – I opened the door to the basement.
“What the fuck are you doing?! Let’s get out here!”
His pleas fell on deaf ears.
“Look, if you want to leave, fine, but I’m going to go down there and see what that noise was. It was probably nothing.”
“Nothing? Jesus Christ, we just watched a video of what looks like a young me and some fucking creature in our basement, and then we hear a noise coming from the basement and you want to tell me it’s nothing?!”
I just wanted him to calm down. Truth be told, I wanted him to leave so I could be alone and not have to listen to his constant bitching.
“Leave if you want. I’m going down there.”
Joe shook his head in disbelief.
“You’re fucking crazy. I’m out of here.”
And that was that. I watched as Joe grabbed his coat and some belongings before leaving the house. Perhaps I should have done the same, but my curiosity got the better of me. What’s that saying about curiosity and the cat? Doesn’t bode well for me, does it?
I looked down to the bottom of the stairs leading to the basement and nothing seemed out of place. Slowly I walked down the stairs, making sure to grab the railing with each step. Once I made it to the bottom, I flipped on the light at the end of the stairwell. I looked around for a moment until I saw the familiar picture that once hung below the window, which was now laying on the ground. With a sigh of relief, I walked toward the photo to hang it back up. While I was doing that, however, the dragging noise appeared again.
I quickly jumped and turned to look behind me, but there was nothing. I looked at the empty black abyss that was the space under the stairs as I slowly walked toward it. It appeared to be a black hole and the curiosity was its gravitational pull sucking me in. I grabbed my phone to turn on the flashlight again, but just as before, there was nothing under the stairs but dust and dead bugs. Another sigh of relief.
For that moment.
I tucked my phone back into my pocket and went to head back upstairs. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move; it moved incredibly fast. As I turned my head, my eyes became wide in fear. I was staring at a familiar sight – the sight of the creature in the video. It was taller than I imagined. Skinny, lanky, with arms that dragged across the cement. Its neck was long and skinny, but its head was small. Its face had a pair of two dark eyes, practically black, no nose, but a smile (if you could call it that) which was crooked to the left-hand side of its face. It stood there staring at me as if I were its prey. The creature was letting off a hideous odor that smelled like a mixture of rotten eggs and what I could only describe as roadkill.
The creature bent down. I watched as its knees went above his shoulders in a crouched position, which seemed physically impossible; then again, everything about this seemed impossible. The creature began to sniff around before crawling toward me slowly. Its eyes maintained focus on me while it slowly crawled toward my stoic body. Its head was shaking back and forth uncontrollably as it crawled toward me. I had to make a move – I needed to make a move. Without hesitation, I bolted up the stairs and slammed the door behind me. I grabbed the box of video tapes, the VCR, and left the home, not looking back. I threw the box of tapes in the back of my Ford Focus and left the driveway as fast as I could; I must have hit every red light on my way out of town. I refused to look back, fearing I’d see the creature. In a panic, I grabbed my phone and dialed Joe to talk to him, but the phone kept ringing.
“You’ve reached Joe. Leave me a message.”
God dammit, Joe. I hung up the phone and tossed it to the side as I thought about what to do next. With nearly 400 miles back to my home on campus, I had no other option but to rent a hotel room for the night.
Pulling up to a Motel 8, I booked a room for the night and thought over everything in my head. Did I see what I thought I saw or was my mind playing tricks? How did a creature that size remain hidden while I was down there? I sat on the edge of the hotel bed, still in disbelief. I looked over at the box of videotapes and the VCR that I was able to get in a hurry. Looking back, wasting time to get that fucking VCR was stupid, but there had to be more of this story. I was able to plug the VCR into the hotel television and went over everything in my head again. Should I watch the next tape? Should I go directly to the authorities? With a deep breath, I inserted the next tape and waited to see what was next.
The video started out like the last one, only this time there wasn’t a boy strapped down into a bed. Instead, the two white-dressed individuals stood off to the side with a pad and pen, jotting down something that I couldn’t read. There was a jump cut and my stomach began to turn. The camera was fixated on the creature, which was standing still against the cold cement wall of what looked like my basement. The creature’s eyes were closed and its mouth seemed to have disappeared; its face was completely blank. Suddenly, the dark eyes opened and the crooked smile appeared on the creature. It did not move, but it seemed to be awake. The two white-dressed individuals approached the creature and inserted a syringe into its elongated neck before the video cut.
After another jump cut, the camera was pointed up the stairs toward the basement door. The door was closed, but not for long. The door opened and I saw my father slowly walking down the stairs to the basement. He seemed to be in a trance, and his eyes weren’t what I remembered; they were pitch black.
The creature was eating; what it was eating I am not entirely sure. It was slumped against the wall, picking up pieces of food with its long fingers and forcing it into its mouth. The creature turned its head 180 degrees like an owl and was looking directly at the camera.
I couldn’t contain myself anymore. I got to my feet and headed to the bathroom, vomiting from what I just saw. The creature made me physically ill, just by the way it looked and how abnormal it was. Leaning over the toilet, thoughts rushed through my head. What was this creature? Are there more like it?
I flushed my vomit down the toilet and went to get some rest. Everything from that night wore me out, and I could decipher more of the videos tomorrow after a decent nights sleep.
I awoke the next morning to the sound of someone knocking on the door to my hotel room. In a groggy daze, I opened the door to see nobody there. When I looked down, I nearly jumped backward. Sitting on the ground was a single videotape. I gulped my fear down my throat, shaking from head to toe. I picked up the tape, looked around the hall of my floor, but saw no one. I closed my door, locked it, and sat on the edge of my bed.
What was this tape? What was on it? Shit, I was too afraid to even find out. I had to talk myself into it, but fuck, I wish I didn’t.
I put the tape into the VCR and braced myself for the worst. What I saw sent chills down my spine.
It was Joe. Not as a child, but as an adult, wearing the same clothes he was wearing last night. Behind him was the creature, resting both hands on his shoulders, standing tall with its head out of view of the camera. Joe’s head was lowered, looking down at the ground below his feet. He seemed to be asleep or unaware what was going on, but he was breathing. Both Joe and the creature stood completely still for what seemed like hours, with the creature’s hands placed firmly on his shoulders, tightening the grip with every passing moment. I watched in horror as the creature then dragged its tongue across the cheek of Joe before the video cut to static.
The creature had Joe. The creature was still in that house. But that begs the question:
Who was filming it?
“Jesus Christ, this can’t be happening…”
I mumbled those words under my breath after watching the tape of the creature and Joe. Joe went back to that house after I left and tried to save me, but in return, he was taken by the creature himself. All I could think of was every time I wished harm on Joe for something he said or did. I’d take it all back just to make sure he was safe.
Thoughts spun around my head like a merry-go-round. I knew time was of the essence, but I had no idea what to do or how to go about it. I had to go back; I had to save Joe.
As I left my hotel room, every bad thought imaginable began to creep its way into my mind. From Joe being killed, to the creature being loose outside of the house – I couldn’t shake the bad feeling.
When I arrived at the house, the drive way was empty – no signs of Joe’s red pickup truck as I had imagined. I rushed into the house to find the basement door ajar, which was a bad sign. I ran as fast as I could, screaming Joe’s name. “Joe! Joe!”, but I heard nothing in return. I swung the basement door open and ran down the stairs until…
I’m not sure what happened, but I awoke in pure darkness and with a gash above my right eye. The pain above my eye was throbbing and I could feel my heartbeat in my ears and in the back of my head. As I blindly stretched my hand out to feel around in darkness, I found what I assumed was the cement wall of the basement. Cold, harsh, and rigid, the wall served as a guide through the darkness. There was no light source at all and my eyes have yet to adjust to the harsh darkness that was clouding me. As I blindly continued to feel my way around, I started to hear unfamiliar noises. They sounded like footsteps coming from above me. I gulped my fear down my throat and contemplated what to do.
“Hello? TJ? Anyone here?”
That was Joe’s voice. There was a sense of salvation that I hadn’t felt in a long time.
*”Joe! I’m down here in the basement!”, I screamed.
I heard the door open and a beam of light appear from the top of the stairs. I started making my way toward the light source where I met up with Joe.
“Fuck, I thought you were dead!”, Joe said as he smirked. “What the fuck happened to your head?”
We walked up the stairs to the living room, where I collapsed on the couch. The bright lights of living room caused my headache to intensify beyond belief. Joe grabbed me a wet cloth to stop the bleeding for a bit.
*”Joe… are you okay?”, I said, looking at him with one eye closed.
“Yeah, why wouldn’t I be? You’re the one I’ve been worrying about. Look, I’m sorry for last night. Y’know, the whole leaving you behind thing. Just that shit really creeped me out, you know?”
“How did you know I was here?”
“Because you’re like a real-life Scooby-Doo detective or some shit. I knew you’d be back here at some time after what we found. What happened last night after I left? Watch any of the other tapes?”
I didn’t know how to talk to Joe about the tape I received at the hotel, but I had to tell him what I saw.
“Do me a favor, alright? Go to my car and grab the tapes and the VCR. I have something to show you”
Joe shook his head.
“I’m not watching any more of that shit… you must be crazy!”
Maybe I was.
“Joe, listen to me… it’s important. Please.”
With a sigh, Joe went to my car and grabbed what I asked. When he walked back into the house, he threw the box of tapes and VCR onto the couch.
“You set it up. You’re welcome.”
Nice to see Joe was still as cheery as always. The tape with Joe and the creature was still in the VCR, so when I plugged it into the television and hit play, I told Joe to watch closely. Joe watched in horror as he saw himself standing with the creature directly behind him.
“When I left last night, I stayed at a hotel for the night. When I woke up, this is what I found. That’s you, Joe. That’s you and the creature.”
“I… I don’t remember any of this. What the fuck is going on?”
“I don’t know either, but this happened sometime last night after I left. Do you remember coming back last night?”
“What? Fuck no, dude. When I left, I drove my ass right to Diana’s (his girlfriend) house and never looked back. I only came back here because I couldn’t get a hold of you and was getting worried. I figured you’d be back here, and lo and behold, there you were, in the basement with a cut above your head”
Nothing seemed to make sense. Joe didn’t remember coming back, but on the video he was with the creature. Perhaps the creature followed Joe to Diana’s and dragged him there without him knowing.
“TJ, I don’t remember anything after I got to Diana’s. Last thing I remember was falling asleep in bed and waking up the next morning. No dreams, no nightmares, nothing. This doesn’t make sense.”
I placed my head into my hands in disbelief, trying to think of what this means. Joe stood up from the couch.
“Be fucking honest with me. Last night, in that basement, did you see anything? You said you left to go to a hotel after I left, but I feel like you’re not telling me the entire story. What did you see, TJ?”
I had to tell him.
“I went down there after you left to search around after hearing that noise. I saw the creature, Joe. It was more disturbing than I imagined. That creature lives in that basement…”
I saw all the life drain from Joe as he looked at me in complete disbelief.
“Here’s what we’re gonna’ do. We’re both going to leave, lock the door, and never turn back. Let someone else deal with this. TJ, if you were smart you would do the same. Please, as your brother, I am begging you… leave. Just… leave. Go back home.”
Reluctantly, I nodded my head and grabbed my things, including the tapes and the VCR.
“Leave them, too.”
I couldn’t just leave them. There were still two more tapes to be watched, and perhaps it provided clues as to what this creature was and how to stop it.
“Let’s make a deal. We’ll watch the last two tapes and then we’ll leave and never look back. Sound good?”
Reluctantly, Joe agreed.
I popped the next tape in and sat down on the couch and prepared for the worst.
The tape started out different from the others. It wasn’t the basement, but rather, Joe’s bedroom. Sleeping soundly in his Buzz Lightyear pajamas was Joe as a kid. I could tell this was causing Joe to feel uncomfortable, but for some reason we just kept watching. Suddenly, young Joe sat up abruptly in his bed. His eyes were as black as night, and he seemed to be in a trance. He left the room, walking as if he were sleep walking. The camera continued to roll for what seemed like hours until young Joe made his way back into the view of the camera. He laid back down and went to sleep as if nothing happened.
Suddenly, our attention was brought toward the edge of the bed, where we saw a long, lanky hand reach out and grab the bed sheet. The creature stood up and stood over young Joe. The creature got onto the bed quietly and began to stare at him. Joe did not seem to notice. Just like before, the creature began to drag its tongue across the cheek of young Joe before stepping off of the bed and disappearing into the background. The video ended shortly after.
“Jesus Christ, Joe… what the fuck was tha—“
I stopped mid sentence as I looked over at Joe, who had a sick and demented smile on his face.
His eyes were black; as black as night.
And there was a smell creeping into the room.
An all-too familiar scent.
The scent of the creature.
“What the fuck?!”
I was taken aback by what was happening to Joe, but just as I was starting to back away, Joe would speak.
“What? What’s wrong?”
I was almost speechless.
“You… your eyes… the smell…just…”
Everything was coming out in intervals rather than all together. Joe would shake his head with a smirk.
“I think you’re seeing shit, TJ. What are you talking about?”
I was dumbfounded. I began to sniff deeper and deeper.
“You don’t smell that?” I said as I covered my mouth and nose with my sleeve. “It smells rancid, dude. It’s the same scent I smelled when I saw… y’know, the creature…”
Joe shook his head as if he had no idea what I was talking about.
“I think you need to sleep… you’re losing your mind, man”
Maybe he was right. Maybe I had just envisioned everything I saw moments before. Maybe it was all just my mind playing tricks on me. With a sigh, I reluctantly agreed. As I got up to leave with Joe, he would wrap his arm around my neck.
“Look, I don’t know what was on those video tapes, but we need to just stop. This isn’t healthy and it’s driving you crazy. You’re seeing shit and smelling rotten eggs? That isn’t right.”
At that moment, my eyes widened. I told Joe I smelled something, but I didn’t tell him what I smelled.
“Joe?” I asked, quivering my bottom lip.
“Yeah, what’s up?”
“I never told you what the smell was. How did you know it was rotten eggs?”
Joe was quiet. I stared at him as he flashed a smile.
I jumped backward as Joe flung himself onto me. I resisted as much as I could, but I knew there was nothing I could do. Joe – now looking more like the creature – stuck its tongue out and began to drag it across my cheek. I was frozen fear. I couldn’t move any part of my body no matter how hard I tried. I laid there, completely motionless as the creature dragged it’s serpent-like tongue across my cheek. Its breath was unbearable, but no matter how much I squirmed or screamed for help, it would not loosen its grip on me. The creature extended its finger and dragged it across my cheek, drawing blood in the process. I stared into its eyes and felt like I was staring face to face with Satan himself. Accepting my fate, I closed my eyes and expected the worst.
That’s all I remember. I awoke a sometime later in the familiar surroundings of a hospital. The white walls and the taste of anesthetic made me feel safe, as well as sick to my stomach. I was greeted by my fiance and a group of doctors.
“Oh, thank God!”, my fiance screamed as she began to cry. “Are you okay?”
There was a tube down my throat, which was preventing me from answering, but I nodded my head. Soon enough, the doctors came in to remove my feeding tube from my throat. I can’t describe the feeling, but it’s nothing I wanted to experience again.
I was in a coma for a solid week; a neighbor of my parents found me in the basement at the bottom, knocked completely unconscious. Apparently, the front door was open and the neighbor grew worried. I’m alive thanks to him.
Nothing made sense to me. “Where’s Joe?”, I questioned. My fiance had a look of confusion on her face.
“Honey, do you not remember?” she said, wiping a tear from her eye. I shook my head. “TJ, Joe died in that accident with your parents.”
My entire world flashed before my eyes. How was that possible? I had just seen Joe moments before I blacked out… right? Or was everything just my subconscious running wild while I was knocked unconscious?
“What about the videotapes?” I questioned.
“What videotapes, babe?”
“The videotapes in my parents house. Where are they? They were in a brown box on the coffee table!”
My fiance shook her head as if she had no idea what I was talking about. Everything took place in my head. From Joe, to the videotapes, to the creature – everything was apart of my subconscious. I felt sick to my stomach, perhaps from the anesthetic. My fiance ran her fingers through my hair to calm me down, but nothing seemed real. Hell, was this even real? After a few days in the hospital to recover, I was allowed to go home. My fiance told me everything. I received a call away at college that my parents and brother died in a car accident. Joe was driving them somewhere when the car slid off an embankment and crashed. I didn’t have the heart – or the stomach – to tell my wife what happened, but I had to.
I told her about Joe. I told her about the basement, the creature, the videotapes, everything. She smiled and ran her fingers through my hair again; it was her way of calming me down, and it always worked.
“Sounds like you have a wild imagination.”
I guess the brain works in mysterious ways. In a sense, despite losing my brother and my parents, things seemed normal for once. The entire ordeal – even though it was played out in my subconscious – was over. I was a bit confused as to why I was in the house to begin with, but everything started to come back to me. After the funeral, I went to the house to get the belongings. I must have blacked out shortly after and imagined the entire thing – including Joe – in my subconscious. I don’t remember blacking out, but I remember Joe vividly. I remember him smoking one of dad’s cigars. I remember him freaking out about the videotapes and whatnot. Everything just seemed so real, and the fact it wasn’t just left me completely dumbfounded.
I went back to the home a few days later, just to ensure my subconscious was right. The basement was as I remembered it, but no matter how much time I spent in there, I never did find the videotapes. They were gone, or perhaps they were never there to begin with. As I sat in the basement, I sighed with relief and walked back up to the living room, shut the door behind me, locked the door and never looked back. Eventually, the home became property of the bank and a family of four moved in shortly after. That part of my life was behind me.
* * * * * *
I graduated and we both moved into a nice two bedroom home in the city. She became pregnant with our first child, expected here in a few months. It’s a boy – we’re naming him Elijah after my grandfather. We’re hoping to have another child sometime after Elijah is born – hopefully a girl. We just want to start a family and live happily ever after, as corny as that sounds. The wedding is planned after the birth of Elijah. Her parents weren’t too happy we conceived before we were married, but they’ll get over it – it’s not like they have a choice.
As for the black outs? I haven’t had them since the last incident in the basement. Sure, I still think about what happened, but I have to remind myself it was all in my subconscious; none of it actually happened. It may have seemed real, but not everything is what it seems. Things were good for the most part, but lately my wife has been acting weird. She keeps saying I’ve changed and grown a bit irritable. I’ve done nothing that I can think of; perhaps it’s just pregnancy hormones or something like that. She caught me sleep walking a few times at night and said I looked as if I were in a trance. The house we just bought, which we thought was our dream home, turned out to not be the perfect paradise we had hoped.
We’re thinking of moving. My wife keeps smelling a foul odor in the home and she feels it’s going to be bad for the baby. She keeps trying to get me to fix it, but I have no idea what she’s talking about.
I don’t smell anything.