It’s Friday! Yeah, it’s Friday. That means it is time for another feast. This is a continuation of a short story I posted last week.
The fall weather has kicked into high gear in the Pacific Northwest. It has been cool and damp and I feel like getting pumpkins this weekend. I hope your fall is off to a good start. Enjoy part two of “The Bradford House”. And look for part three next week. Have a great weekend.
The Bradford House (part two)
by Wade Finnegan
Darkness settled across the room. I brought the candle down to the floor and set it next to Rachel. Her face had a reassuring presence in the candlelight. No other person on the planet I would do this with.
“I don’t get what the big deal is,” I said. “We can talk the whole night. What’s scary about that?”
“Well, some of the things you come up with are pretty scary.” Rachel chuckled at her own joke. “Before we start conversing the night away I have to pee. Where should I go?”
“You know, I didn’t think about that. I’m sure the plumbing is out of commission. I would say use a bush out the back.” I pointed to the back door that was just off the kitchen.
“Really? That’s gross.” Rachel’s nose wrinkled up.
“Okay, just hold it and I’ll make sure to tickle you in about an hour.” I made squiggly motions with my fingers.
“Whatever, jerk face. I’ll be right back.” I watched Rachel scamper across the floor. I had been trying to get in her pants forever. But I counted my lucky stars to have a friend like Rachel. She is loyal and will listen anytime I have a problem. Rachel can do a lot better than me as a boyfriend. Whom ever she chooses I will make sure he treats her with respect or there will be hell to pay.
I fluffed her pillow and straightened out her sleeping bag so it was perfect upon her return. I could feel a layer of cold air hanging on the floor. A shiver shot up my spine. I tilted my head sideways and stretched to get a good look at the back door. I thought about putting the candle under my chin to give Rachel a spooky face when she walked in. But I thought better of it, because it was early in the night and I didn’t want to fight. Then it hit me; she didn’t take any toilet paper. I popped open the little suitcase and grabbed a role.
“Hey Rachel, I actually came prepared. I’ll close my eyes and toss it to you,” I said as I reached the door. “Rachel? I’m being serious. I may be a perv, but I’m not that big of a perv.”
I opened the back door just a little not to startle her. I called her name. She didn’t answer. I opened the door a bit further and was surprised to see that it didn’t lead directly outside. There was a small alcove in a circular shape. To the right was a stone spiral staircase that led down. The candle gave just enough glow to see the stairs went deep underground. I thought about grabbing the flashlight, but convinced myself I would only be out here a minute. The coldness of the stone shot up through my wool socks, so I shifted side to side. I took one step, then two; I could see the moss and weeds taking home in the crevices of the walls.
“Rachel, can you hear me? I’ve got TP. Pinch it off. It’s cold out here!” My voice echoed down into the earth. The cardboard roll smashed in my hand and I held the candle further out. “Okay, you got me. I’ll admit it. I’m freaking out. Let’s go get back in our bags.”
“Click, click, click,” three distinct sounds rolled up the stairs. I turned to go back inside. “HELLO!” Erupted from beneath me.
“Come capture me!”
I jumped back a step and squinted down the staircase. “Rachel?” That voice wasn’t Rachel’s. I rushed back inside. I had a feeling Rachel would be standing there laughing her ass off, but she was nowhere to be seen. I made my way to the fireplace to get the little suitcase. It was gone. So were the sleeping bags, food, and the monopoly board. It was like we weren’t even there. I spun around trying to take stock of the room. The shadows danced from my candle and my heart skipped at every little flicker I spotted. I wasn’t sure what to do next. Rachel’s smile flashed across my mind and I rushed back to the stairs. I held the candle next to my face and took a very deep breath with each step down.
“Rachel, where are you?”
My voice bounced off the cement walls. My bravado shrunk to a size of a pea as I went deeper into the basement. I turned the corner and came to a doorway. I entered slow and stepped down onto a dirt floor. My toes dug in and I didn’t move a muscle.
“Come capture me,” filtered with a whisper. The voice caught me from the right and I pivoted with fists up. I couldn’t see a thing.
“HELP!” Rachel’s voice rang from the left. I made another quick spin; total darkness swallowed me as the candle extinguished. My instinct took over. I ran toward Rachel’s voice and smacked my head on a rafter. The impact sent me backward tripping over my feet. I caught myself and covered my forehead with my right hand. The warm wetness flowed over my fingers and heat rose up in me. I couldn’t let myself pass out. I rolled to my left and got to my knees. In a hunched over position I made my way in the general direction of Rachel’s voice.
“Rachel, I’m here. Tell me where you are. I will help you.” My voice rattled and I worried that Rachel would give up on me finding her. I raised my head to try to make sense of the landscape. Blood ran into my eye and my heart attempted to blow out through my brain. I caught a glimpse of light off to the right. It appeared to be at the end of a long hallway. My steps were measured as I made my way to it. I used the wall as guide, sliding my hand along. I grazed what I thought was a picture frame. I paused, why the hell would someone have pictures in this dust bowl? Buzz, a small motor hummed from the end of the hall.
“Are you in there Rachel? Just make a noise, anything,” I yelled. I took more deliberate steps towards the noise and light. I concentrated, making sure my ears were wide open. The hum coming from the end of the hall sounded familiar. I got closer and could see a door ajar. My fingers twitched. I reached out like I was trying to pet a butterfly. The gap widened with ease. I grasped the jam with my other hand and forced my eye to the edge. I made out a desk in the corner. A computer monitor illuminated the tiny room. I stepped in. My head snapped left and right. The desk, a wooden chair, and a computer decorated the tiny space that was nearly dark. I started to walk out, stopped, turned around, stopped, and turned in a circle. My eyes scanned everywhere until they centered on the computer screen. The blinking words in bright green letters covered the top half of the screen. I put my hand on the desk and leaned in to read. THE IMAGE CAPTURES THE SOUL.