One really good thing about starting again with your blog? You can reinvent your old stories to re-post them, which is what I’ve done here with this short story set on Halloween.
Ingrid slowed to a stop as the wipers on her car chased drops of rain back and forth across the windscreen. She peered up at the dark clouds out of her side window, the rain showed no signs of stopping any time soon.
Grabbing her bag from the seat next to her, she left the car and dashed up the narrow pathway to the house. If only she’d realised it was going to rain when she’d left home that morning, she wouldn’t have worn her new shoes, her new, not very waterproof, now pretty much ruined shoes. She was glad of the overhang as she scrabbled around for her keys in her bag.
When she stepped inside, she pulled the front door shut behind her. Now in the hallway she paused for a moment, an old clock ticked loudly in the living room opposite. She pulled open another door to her right, it had been a while since she’d been back here. If she was being honest she’d been putting off coming back, having to go down to the basement to sort through things of hers that had been left at the house years ago. It was one part of the house she’d never particularly liked, it had always felt spooky to her.
Clicking the light switch on and off, she realised the storm had either sent the power out, or the electrics were off anyway, since the stairway stayed in darkness. She used the torch on her phone to guide her down the steep stone steps. Thunder echoed outside but the lightning that must have preceded it was invisible in this part of the house.
She knelt down next to one of the boxes, propping her phone up against another box next to her as she started to go through her things.
Ingrid froze as the front door slammed shut. Footsteps sounded on the floor above, one, two, three, then a floorboard creaked on the third step, right outside the door to the basement. “Whose there?” Ingrid shouted, holding her phone up towards the door. No response. Thunder rumbled in the distance.
Ingrid nearly jumped out of her skin when her phone started ringing. Cassie’s name was on the screen, Ingrid tapped to answer.
Cassie’s voice came straight through the phone before Ingrid had chance to say anything, “Were are you?”
“Up at the house, I got here about half an hour ago, wait, listen, there’s—” Ingrid tried to say.
Cassie cut her off, “I’m stood in the kitchen right now.”
“You’re here? That was you?” Ingrid sounded incredulous, “I thought someone had got in, granted I did leave the door unlocked.”
“No, just me,” Cassie said in that laid back way of hers, “I wondered if it was your car on the drive.”
“I’m in the basement,” Ingrid headed towards the stairs. As she did, Cassie appeared at the top of the stairs, “I brought hot chocolate.”
Ingrid definitely couldn’t say no to that, she hoped by the time they’d finished it the power might be back on, “power’s out by the way,” she said as she made her way back up the stairs, then when she got to the top, “next time you’re going to let yourself in can you try and sound less like an intruder.”
“Hello to you too, I did try knocking,” Cassie said as they returned to the hallway. She hugged her friend, “it’s good to see you.”
Joining Ingrid on the sofa in the living room, one of only a few pieces of furniture that remained in the room, Cassie passed her a cup filled with hot chocolate.
“Thanks,” Ingrid took the cup and curled her fingers around it, the warmth from it warming her hands.
Ingrid remembered being up here on Halloween once before, when she was a kid, back then there had been ornamental pumpkin decorations dotted between old photo frames on the mantelpiece. Now it was just an empty, dusty shelf.
“So your parents are finally getting rid of this place?” Cassie asked her.
“Yeah, apparently they’ve already got someone interested,” Ingrid drank another mouthful of hot chocolate. As much as she disliked the basement, she had to admit she’d miss the rest of the house.
When they’d finished their drinks, Ingrid made her way back down to the basement with Cassie who had said she might stop by after finding out Ingrid was going to be in town.
“What the,” Ingrid said after a while, startled, as a tune started playing in one of the other boxes, she must have disturbed something. Cassie reached in to pick whatever it was up. A screen had come to life. Ingrid backed up against the wall as something slid off of one of the other boxes next to her.
“Some sort of mini computer,” Cassie said.
Ingrid went closer to the screen, she’d never seen it before, to be honest she’d never gone that far back into the basement before today. Perhaps the previous owners had left it in here and somehow it had ended up in one of her boxes. Which was a ridiculous thought, back when anyone else had owned the place, this sort of technology hadn’t even been invented.
A picture of a gnarly pumpkin appeared first then a message flashed up on the screen, ‘Welcome to the basement. Don’t try and leave.’
Ingrid looked from the screen to Cassie then back again, “okay, I’m done, this can wait for another day,” she set off up the stairs without a backward glance, thunder crashed in the distance again, “when there isn’t a storm.”
She tried pulling the door open when she reached the top of the stairs but it wouldn’t shift, “it won’t open. Cass, it won’t open.” Alarm was evident in her voice as she pulled at the handle again but the door still wasn’t opening.
Cassie followed her up the steps to the small landing space at the top of the stairs, a lot calmer than her, “let me try,” she tugged at the door, nothing, she tried to pull harder, still nothing, a third attempt and the door swung open.
Ingrid turned the torch off as Cassie joined her out in the hallway. Ingrid noticed a message on her phone, ‘been over to the house yet?’
‘Yeh, am here now, weird screen in the basement’ she replied.
‘Oh you found it then’
‘That was you??’
‘Left it in there when I was over last week’ then another message appeared, ‘you’d been saying for ages you were going to sort the boxes out down there, so I figured with your week off work’
Ingrid showed Cassie the messages, “I should have known it would have something to do with my brother, he was over this way last week.”
They’d been playing pranks on each other ever since they were kids, apparently he still hadn’t grown out of it yet.