Short Story: Out of the Darkness

Donna Brown533 views
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Out of the darkness a soft mewling sound emerged.

“There’s something in the cellar,” I whispered.

“Probably just a cat,” my husband, Peter, replied, patting my arm reassuringly.

I didn’t ask the obvious question: how does a cat – how does anything – get into a sealed cellar?

My husband tried the light switch.“Fuse has gone,” he muttered, picking up a torch.

“Be careful,” I urged as he made his way down the stone stairs, the small torch casting a pitiful amount of light into the gloom.

I listened to his footsteps as he moved around the small cellar.  I imagined him checking corners, moving boxes.  I heard the shuffles and scrapes of his investigations, followed by a dull thump.

Then, nothing.

“Peter?” I called down from the top of the stairs.

There was no answer.

“Peter?” I repeated, moving down a couple of steps.

Again, silence.

I deliberated for a moment but imagining a fall, an accident was enough to spur me on.  I turned back into the kitchen.  No torch for me – Peter had the only one.  After much fumbling around in the kitchen cupboards I found an old candle and some matches.  I lit the candle quickly and moved back to the cellar entrance.  Fear urged me to hurry but common sense told me to tread carefully.  I made my way down the stairs steadily, one hand gripping the hand rail, the other firmly round the candle.  However, no amount of caution could prevent my foot from sliding on the smooth step, slick with unexpected liquid.  The candle flew out of one hand, the fall extinguishing it.  At the same time my other hand tightened reflexively on the hand rail, whilst my rear hit the ground with a heavy thump, jarring my back and knocking the wind out of me.

Dazed I sat for a moment, catching my breath before I realised that my left hand lay in the viscous liquid which had been the cause of my fall.  In the darkness I raised my hand towards my face and smelled the unmistakable iron tang of blood.  I shivered and gripped the rail harder with my right hand, beginning to pull myself up.  Pain surged through me as I got to my feet and I realised my ankle was severely sprained, if not broken.  I leaned against the wall to steady myself, unwilling to sink back down into the rapidly congealing blood despite the agony of my ankle.

“Peter?” I whispered but I already knew there wouldn’t be any answer.

I was almost at the foot of the stairs.  Gripping the rail with both hands I slowly worked my way down the final two stairs, dropping to the floor at the foot of the staircase.  I rested for a moment and then began to inch my way across the floor, using my hands as a support, keeping my sore ankle elevated to avoid dragging it against the floor.

In the centre of the cellar I stopped, exhausted and tried to catch my breath.  I fumbled for my mobile phone in my back pocket but the fall had smashed the fascia.  I pushed down the power button: nothing.  I sat in the darkness, the sound of my breathing seeming to echo around me.

Out of the darkness a soft mewling sound emerged.

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Donna Brown
Avid reader/audiobook listener, fan of podcasts, prone to the odd Netflix binge. Mum to six crazy and incredible rescue cats. Occasional writer of short stories and poetry.

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