04 Nov Down the Pit
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"Down the Pit"Written by
Estimated reading time — 7 minutes
He knew it was there but couldn’t see it. The basement wasn’t wired for electricity yet and was completely dark save for the light from the stairs leading up to the kitchen. With the boxes in his arms blocking his view, Gil shuffled along the basement floor feeling for the pit… or was it a well? The house was over a hundred years old and he couldn’t be sure what the hole in the dirt floor was originally used for. He only knew it was in the middle of the basement, hewn out of ancient dirt, and about 2 feet wide—the perfect size for the wayward foot or ankle. Remembering this, he stopped and tripped on himself abruptly as his toes teetered over the edge–“Christ! I almost didn’t see that…” he murmured to himself as an errant fork and butter knife went flying, clanging, along the floor and into the abyss of the pit. He didn’t hear the items hit ground.
“Do we need any more dishes out of this one?” He yelled up, setting the box down beside the abyss.
“Just the cutlery set and mugs, babe, thanks!”
Ascending the stairs, he admitted, “Fork and knife are MIA. Lost them in a battle with the basement, down that big fucking hole. Sorry.”
“One night and the house is already winning. Great,” Jen responded cynically.
As they went to bed that night, Gil made a mental note to call a contractor about closing up the pit. Creaks and groans from the old house aside, the couple felt good about the new move and fell asleep peacefully on the blow up mattress upstairs.
In the next few days, several contractors came in and out, the couple finally settling with a local Joe. Unable to stay and babysit the contractor, Jen and Gil left him the keys, hoping to come home to some progress that evening after work.
Instead, they came home to an absolute mess. Damp, uneven pools of concrete were scattered throughout the basement along with some cracked wooden planking. Of course, the pit lay untouched, damp cement spread in wide semicircles around it. Angry, Gil called Jen down and they looked at the terrible job with the industrial flashlight. After leaving several angry voicemails that day to no response, they gave up on Joe contractor for the day. However, a week later they had still not heard from their contractor; they assumed they got swindled, and they were unsettled to know he still had their house keys. Once they realized nothing had been stolen from their home, they took their lumps, and lost deposit, and had the locks changed on their doors. They decided on another renovation project, giving up on the basement for the time being.
That night, Jen lay snoring and Gil was awake. Restless, his slightest movements bobbed the blow up mattress and woke Jen, so he decided to get up and watch some tv downstairs. Gil sifted through the static to find some infomercials that would make him drowsy. Around 1 am, he heard a scuffling in the basement. It sounded like boxes shifting on earth, slowly—almost imperceptibly. He turned the tv off and listened—the last shuffle and then silence. The empty echo bounced around in his head and he immediately became suspicious. What if the contractor had been down there hiding the whole time? Was it to steal their property… or for some more sinister purpose? Determined, Gil grabbed the industrial flashlight in his left hand, swung open the basement door and descended the stairs, picking up a baseball bat just removed from storage in his right.
Descending into the dark, Gil waited a moment for his eyes to adjust on the middle stair. The smell of damp earth filled his nostrils. Raising the bat in his right hand, he also lifted the flashlight in his left as he tried to scan the basement without going further. Realizing he must continue, he slowly forged on and as his foot met the floor, CRASH—a box seemingly fell over on its own and its contents slammed on the ground… rolling near the pit. What had caused all that movement? And that sound…that snaking whisper had to be from various objects from the box falling, bouncing, and echoing deep down into the abyss. A round, small shape with dimpled, tough skin seemed to descend, or jump, into the darkness of the hole. Did his old black basketball fall down into the pit? He remembered he had a throwback, orange basketball, not a black one. It had to be one of Jen’s things, now lost forever.
After rooting through the remainder of the box and searching the space for animals, Gil walked back toward the stairs and felt a distinct crunch underfoot. He lifted his slipper heel to find a broken picture frame. He and Jen smiled up from the photo, but the scribble left in the now dry cement beside it was foreboding. The print—or was it an animal track?—was smaller than a human hand and excessively thin. It seemed etched in like a signature made in wet cement. The “fingers” weren’t straight but crooked and measured about three inches long; each “finger” ended in a sharpened point. How had they missed this before? How had they been made in dry cement? He hastily threw a few of the broken boards over the opening and ran upstairs. He couldn’t bring himself to look down inside the hole that night. And he couldn’t tell Jen that, either. So he ignored the incident altogether.
A few days later, Jen had to do laundry—in the basement. Basket in her arms, she tried to get her task done as quickly as possible. The basement freaked her out and was starting to smell terrible. Returning to the first floor, she casually remarked:
“Gil, it smells like death down there. We really need to get that damn thing sealed up.”
“I know. It’s probably time to get serious about covering it again.”
“Did you see those weird markings in the cement? I can’t tell if its an animal that got in or…”
Gil froze. “Markings? There’s more than one?”
“Yeah. Like jagged, pointy sticks. You knew about it? Go check it out. I don’t remember them being there before.”
Even during the day it was dark and cavernous. Again, Gil descended, his cell phone light dimly lighting the path in front of him until there it was, the new print. It was a good two feet away from the first he saw last night… and closer to the stairs that led to the first floor. Three pointed edges of each indent this time were clawed deeper into the cement somehow. It had been dry for weeks now.
This time, he knew he had to look inside. The boards had already been removed from the opening and cast aside. He doubted that Jen had gotten close enough to do this due to the terrible smell. He took a few pictures of each print on his phone and held it out for light, avoiding the boxes and boards while slowly walking towards the hole in the ground. On the edge, he took a deep breath, and peered over.
Nothing. Nothing was there—just a dark hole in the ground. He listened for a moment and heard only eerie silence. He snapped a photo of it anyway with a bright flash, for reference, and stood back up and returned to daylight.
That night they lay on the mattress, a general ominous feeling settling over the two. Jen was vaguely uncomfortable with the shuffling sounds emanating from the basement, but Gil had a growing apprehension and fear.
“Let me see those pictures again, Gil. It has to be some animal, like a possum or something, that’s making those noises. And they’re supposed to smell awful like that.”
He took out his phone in reply, and sorted through his images until he came across the three shots he had taken earlier. The first was the print nearest the stairs. Its gnarled fingers ended in points somehow cast deeper in the cement than the rest of it, almost like an ominous threat. The second photo was nearly identical, though more benign as it was further away. Gil flicked to the third photo, which he hadn’t shown her yet.
It was a photo dominated by dark, blurred edges. Flecks of light from the flash reacted with the dust motes in the swirling air, like gold and white snowflakes in a coal mine. Nothing could really be made out distinctly in the shot. Tired, Gil grabbed the phone back. Jen refused to let go of her grip: “What’s that in the corner?”
“Huh?” Gil frowned and held the phone closer. In the very corner of the photo, a midnight black, round object had two red dots in the center of it. At first sight it looked like flecks of rust-colored dust, but as Gil enlarged the photo you could see the lights belonged to the shape in the darkness, somehow discernible as more dark than the pit shadows itself. They were paired fairly close together in the middle of the black mass as he realized they were eyes. It had been staring at him the entire time he was looking in.
“What the fuck is that?” Jen uttered, her voice rising in fear.
Downstairs, the low shuffles in the basement turned to distinguished movements. Large boxes were being overthrown as if they weighed nothing, their contents clacking and banging along the damp earth.
They turned to each other, unsure if they should head off whatever creature was downstairs or just run.
“Just stay up here and I’ll check it out.”
“No fucking way, Gil. We need to get the fuck out of this house. This is bullshit, we just moved in and I can’t believe—”
“Shut up, take the bat and go out the front door. I’ll check it out, its only in the basement. If I don’t come out in 5 call animal control. It will be fine—its just an animal trapped in there.” Though, by this time, Gil was unsure what kind of creature he would meet.
As soon as their feet touched the floorboards, the basement shuffling ceased. Heightened, the couple tip-toed downstairs, floorboards anxiously creaking as Jen reached the front door, hurried out and hugged herself on the front lawn.
Grabbing a knife from the cutlery set and the industrial flashlight in the kitchen, Gil stood in front of the closed basement door in silence. He put his ear against the flimsy door and listened… just more silence. The temporary peace of the moment lulled him. Stepping back, he whirled open the door and shined his light on the stairs.
Five minutes passed, and no Gil. Jen started to panic and after 5 more, she called 9-1-1. A team arrived promptly and went inside the house, unable to understand her fear. After another 10 minutes, two policemen emerged.
“Ma’am, please just come with us” intoned two officers as they closed in to block her path into the house. Crashing through them, Jen rushed in, determined to see.
She snaked through the hallway, and then into the kitchen. She stops abruptly and slips on a sticky substance. It’s as if someone had thrown a full water balloon where the kitchen floor meets the stairs–but its a deep maroon red splatter, saturating the floor and walls.
A screech tears from Jen’s throat as she looks up and sees dozens of twisted, deformed, red prints strewn across the ceiling. They emerge from the basement ceiling and exit out the open back door into the night.
Credit To – Skyla2186