View Full Version : The Basement (Some language)

February 10th, 2013, 05:19 AM
“That bum was supposed to call me half an hour ago.” Alone in a diner booth a man sat. His blazer hung loosely from his shoulders. It reeked of sweat and cigarette smoke. The only thing he hated more than his cheap blazer was flakey leads. Blake had waited for two hours in the same booth waiting for Edgar Gardner, a local celebrity. Small wonder thought Blake, the town of Miles River was hardly worth mentioning. Hell there wasn’t even a river. Gardner was one hundred and fifteen years old. Gardner had merely become famous for lingering well past his prime. Blake caught himself grinding his teeth again. His dentist had already threatened him with visions of dentures in his future if he didn’t change his habits. “My doctor and dentist must play golf together” he mused. Blake knew they were right, but he just didn’t care. He had made it forty years by playing by his rules. He just didn’t like where the game had taken him. He was a two-bit journalist for a laughable small time paper. It was not the way he had envisioned his career.

Still he didn’t like being stood up even if it was by someone who had no business still being alive. The waitress had long since stopped hiding her contempt for this cheap patron, and Blake knew he had overstayed his welcome. He paid for his coffee and shuffled out of the diner in shame. Blake glanced down at his cell phone. “Well Blake, maybe he forgot. He is over one hundred years old you know.” Blake gritted his teeth. Of course he knew, he had sat in that stinking diner drinking burnt motor oil for the last two hours. “Rick this was a waste of time.” Blake was ready to drive home with his tail between his legs. “Blake let me give you his address. Just go there and see if he’s home. Hell even if you find him dead, we can still get in into the Sunday edition.” Despite the extension of the wild goose chase Blake had to grin at Rick’s indifference to life. “And I thought I was jaded.” Blake hung up and walked to the parking lot.

Blake got into his car and turned the key. The engine roared to life. His eyes opened wide with amusement. His car never started on the first try. Blake pondered what he would find once he reached Gardner’s abode. Blake turned down the long dirt road which led to Gardner’s home. The first thing he noticed was the lack of almost anything. Blake slowed as he neared a dilapidated farmhouse. Every inch of the house seemed to be trying to shed its paint like a scratchy sweater. Even the boards seemed to have become tired of each other and were taking their lives in different directions. Blake stepped out of his car and strutted towards porch. He saw an old pickup parked in front of the house. Several days’ worth of dust had gathered on the pickup. Blake knew it wasn’t a good sign. The old man didn’t have any family. He had outlived all of them. Blake knocked on the door. Several seconds went by. Nothing. Blake knocked again, but still the old man did not come to the door. He tried the door knob but it was locked. Blake sighed “I’m out of here.” Blake walked back towards his car. He peered over his shoulder at the porch just before he slumped down into his car. The front door was open. Blake had tried the door knob which was locked, but he didn’t push the door to see if it would move. Perhaps it had been unlatched.

Something wasn’t right. Blake glanced around the property and down the drive way. Nothing else in view moved. Blake pulled out his cell phone. No matter where in that god forsaken town he went, cell phone reception was not to be found. Blake decided he would take a peek. After all, maybe Gardner needed help. Blake could see the headlines now, “Man in soiled blazer saves oldest man in the world.” Blake peeked through the opening in the doorway. He smelled something. His heart leaped. Despite the slight odor of mildew there was no smell of a decaying body. “Mr. Gardner, you home?” Blake’s question was met with silence. Blake made up his mind. He barged through the door. Blake searched the old farmhouse but had come across no signs of the old man. Blake eyed the door in the hallway. He hadn’t noticed that door before. He stepped to the door and tried the handle. As Blake opened the door he was met with descending stairs and darkness. He called out to the darkness, “Mr. Gardner? You down here?” For several seconds he heard nothing. He was about to close the door when a feeble voice called after him, “Help.” The plea was more a whisper than a shout. Blake’s heart froze. “Mr. Gardner? Are you hurt?” Blake never found himself afraid of the dark, until that afternoon. Any normal person would run down the stairs to come to the old man’s rescue. Blake didn’t like the thought of being a coward. “Help me” the voice insisted. The voice was so feeble and pathetic it made Blake wonder how long the old man had been trapped down there. “Hold on Mr. Gardner I’m coming down!” Blake suddenly remembered his cell phone. He pulled it from his pants pocket and activated the flashlight application he never used. Blake held the phone towards the blackness. Blake expected to find a staircase leading down to the floor of a basement. He saw the stairs, but the light would not penetrate down far enough to find the bottom. “Mr. Gardner are you still with me?” Blake called out as he inched down the stairs. “Help me” the voice repeated. Blake caught agitation in the voice. How many steps had he gone down so far? Blake had worked his way down at least twenty steps and yet he could still not see the floor below.

Blake glanced back at the doorway for a reference. All Blake saw was blackness. Blake aimed his phone towards the doorway. This illuminated a few steps but nothing else. A surge of panic found a home in Blake’s gut. “Help me!” The voice wailed and broke off. Blake steeled himself. He wasn’t afraid of the dark. Blake turned and put his foot where the next step down would be. There was no step waiting to meet Blake’s foot. Blake fell forward through space. In the darkness Blake did not see the floor coming up to meet him. Blake struck the floor with a grunt. Blake opened his eyes. Darkness. He tried to take stock of the situation. Blake tried to get to his feet. Pain surged through his legs and he crumpled to the floor. After several seconds he looked up and saw a wall. He noticed a faint light at the top of the wall. Peeking over the edge of the wall was the illuminated screen of his cell phone. Blake realized the stairs ended several feet before they met the ground. Knowing he didn’t have use of his legs he dragged himself up against the wall and propped himself up against it. “Help me.” The voice called out from the darkness. In his own emergency Blake had forgotten about the old man. Something was wrong. The voice was now filled with malice and anger. Something was dragging across the floor. “Mr. Gardner? I’m hurt! How do we get out of here?” Blake’s voice cracked as he felt his throat and chest tightening. His head was swimming. “Help me.” The voice was furious. The dragging continued. Terror had seized Blake. He had nowhere to go. “Help me.” Blake had lost all of his nerve. “Where the hell are you” Blake screamed to the darkness. Suddenly where it was, was all around him. Blake’s skin felt as if it had burst into flames. His eyes wept. Blake could hear himself screaming but his voice sounded as if he was being throttled. Waves of sadness and rage flowed through him. Blake could withstand no more and his consciousness faded.

The sound was muffled at first. It was a man’s voice, but it sounded as if it were under water. “Blake! I saw your car outside. Are you down here?” The voice was familiar. “Blake? Mr. Gardner?” The voice brought forth feelings of sadness and panic. Anger was also building. “Help me.” Seconds later footsteps could be heard coming down the stairs. “Hold on Blake I’m coming.” It could only wait, for it could not break through death’s shroud. “Help me.”

J Anfinson
February 12th, 2013, 02:30 AM
“That bum was supposed to call me half an hour ago.” Alone in a diner booth a man sat. His blazer hung loosely from his shoulders. It reeked of sweat and cigarette smoke. The only thing he hated more than his cheap blazer was flakey leads. Blake had waited for two hours in the same booth waiting for Edgar Gardner, a local celebrity. Small wonder thought Blake,

Small wonder, he thought.

Lots of editing needed. For example, Blake's name is used entirely too much I think throughout the whole piece. Especially the two larger paragraphs. Given that Blake is typically who you are talking about, it would be better in my opinion to use He said/He thought...and so on. You really only need to use someone's name every now and again to establish who is saying/doing what. Have a little more faith in the reader to know who you're talking about.

Other than that, I love the story. Then again I'm a horror fan and have written numerous short stories of my own. You know, one thing that struck me is- I think this story could be very, very good if you wrote it in first person. Granted, it would take some real talent to pull it off like the pro's do it, but it's something to think about. Hope I said something helpful, that's all I'm trying to do. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.


February 13th, 2013, 07:13 PM
I agree with the comments above, you use his name far too much, to the point where it makes it quite jarring to read. A good edit should solve this problem. I'm not 100% sure with what was going on, other than there was something in the basement? did i miss some clues earlier in the piece? I probably did.

February 13th, 2013, 09:00 PM
I agree with the above comments as well. Otherwise this was very creepy. I already hate being underground, including in basements.

February 14th, 2013, 01:30 AM
I knew he shouldn't have gone down those stairs - intriguing.

Please don't leave us in this dark basement - keep going.