This week’s prompt:
A scary situation, A slipper, an animal
A scary situation, A slipper, an animal
The news theme woke Chloe first. She blinked a few times and looked at the clock on the wall. It was well past 11. How long had she been asleep? She leaned forward to put the foot rest on her recliner down and the blanket slipped off of her lap. It was chilly in the house. Really chilly.
She turned off the television and in the new quiet she thought she heard something scurrying around. Maybe in a wall? She wasn’t sure. She was going to be pissed if she had mice again. She paid that exterminator enough to get rid of every mouse in the county. They better not be back already.
Chloe stretched and felt her back pop and her knees creak. She must have been asleep for a while to be this stiff. She shuffled across the worn brown carpet to the hall and checked the thermostat. It was set for the normal 70 degrees, but the temperature it registers was in the low 60’s. No wonder she felt cold.
The heater was working earlier in the week, but a snowstorm was coming and not having a working heater would be a disaster. She better go make sure the pilot light was lit. She made her way to the door leading down to the basement, her chair blanket wrapped around her shoulders for warmth. She tossed it onto the back of her kitchen chair and put on her going outside slippers. The ones that sat over the patch of linoleum that was worn down all the way to the ply wood sub floor. They were beat up, stained and frankly pathetic, but they were her slippers and she didn’t care what anyone thought of them. Not that anyone came around that often.
When was the last time someone did come for a visit? Not counting the exterminator, she wasn’t sure. It had been a while. Months. No matter, she had her TV and her little farm, that was all that mattered. Who cared if the neighbors stopped by or the Mormons wanted her to talk to them about God. God with a capitol G, not just any old god with a lowercase g.
She turned the thumb bolt on the door leading down and pulled the creaking old door open. She had not been down here since she put up the canning from the summer garden. It was probably time to sweep out the cobwebs and check the foundation; she noted. The air that came up the stairs was even colder than her kitchen. It smelled of damp, and dust, and earth.
Earth? There was no dirt down there, it was all covered over cement. She poured it herself after Daddy died. Every inch. She went down a couple steps and reached for the string for the little bare light bulb that hung over the stairs.
Her foot touched something, and it fell down to the next step below. Her nerves gave a jolt of surprise and she felt her heart rate pickup. Was it a mouse? No, bigger, a rat? If there were rats down here, it was going to be a long winter.
The chain gave a rattle, and the light bulb blinked on with a soft plink sound. The warm yellow light made her blink owlishly for a moment, but she made out what she had stepped on and laughed at herself for being startled. It was just a slipper. She bent to pick up up but froze as her own feet came into view. She was wearing her sippers. Whose slipper was on the stairs? This was clearly a men’s house shoe.
The weak light from the single bulb did little to illuminate the basement itself. It really only made it look even darker by contrast. The scrabbling sound came again. It was out there in the dark. Whatever it was. Chloe’s heart sped uncomfortably. It smelled of earth, the men’s slipper, something digging. Digging where the body of that sorry old bastard lay. With a gasp and a small squeak, Chloe leapt to her feet and dashed back up the stairs. She stumbled in her panic and she imagined the rotten grasping hand of her dead father reaching for her from between the stairs. She reached the top and slammed the door shut behind her, throwing the lock before leaning back against it.
The house was still cold, but she felt sweat running down her back. She would call the handy man tomorrow. Send him down there to relight the pilot. For tonight, she had plenty of blankets to keep her warm.