It all started with her insistence that we move into that house. She used words like “charming” and “rustic,” where I would have used “horror” and “foreboding.” She sensed my reluctance to embrace the place, but as usual I shirked her questions and shrugged. How could I explain that the place felt wrong to me? I couldn’t, so I kept quiet.
She spoke in excited tones about all the cool little home renovation projects that I could do. She yearned for the smell of fresh paint the way most women yearned for a child. That I couldn’t provide her with the latter made my handyman skills all the more essential.
Her top priority in the home, though, was the basement. The “honey do” list she provided me made that perfectly clear. I was to get the nailed shut door functional again and re-build the stairs that had been destroyed in some strange little freak accident that the real estate agent glossed over when I asked. My wife didn’t care, but instead scrawled those 2 tasks at the top of the list, which she circled repeatedly in red pen. The addition of stars around the circle gave the impression that the door and stairs had taken on a whole new solar system of their own in the universe that was our home.
It didn’t take long for things to start going downhill after we moved in. Sleep evaded me, while the noises from the basement gnawed at my sanity. Rats are what I told myself. Nothing more than rats, all of which will be taken care of when I fix the door and stairs and set about laying traps down there. The problem was that I had also convinced myself that I was never going to go anywhere near that door. Fixing it meant giving whatever……rats…..was down there the chance to get out.
She started talking about getting a handyman to come do it, calling me all sorts of names in the process. They were names I had heard before after my fertility tests came back. The names would sting, but she would soothe those sores with apologies and promises to be nicer, kinder, a better wife. Those attempts at forgiveness were what I lived for, as they allowed me to put off fixing that door for another day.
The arguments grew worse, though, and there were nights were I was condemned to the spare bedroom. The noises were even worse in there. The old laundry chute that led to the basement sounded as though there was a swarm of insects with snapping pincers eating away at the inside. I got the courage to look inside, but it too had been nailed shut. Sleep wouldn’t come with that sound, and I had to know what was making it. Perhaps if I could just get some proof that out homes was infested by rates or roaches she would see sense and we could leave. I knew that wasn’t going to happen, though, because she loved the place. She danced around from room to room, as though walking on air, only breaking from the spell she was under when she saw me. The disgust on her face couldn’t be disguised, no matter how hard she tried to explain that it was just because I had startled her.
The nails in the laundry chute door came away pretty easily. The noise stopped as I worked, as though whatever was there sensed that I was coming. The opening revealed nothing more than a laundry chute, with steel wrapped around the first two feet of the opening before it gave way to wood that looked rotten to the core. The overhead light did little to illuminate the cramped space of the chute, but my flashlight did that perfectly. The wood wasn’t rotten at all, but rather riddled with claw marks and scratches that must surely have been made by hungry rats. The steel was obviously in place to stop them climbing all the way up and out, those scabby little claws unable to get purchase on the smooth surface.
It was then that I started to feel somewhat better. Rats were filthy beasts, but they could easily be taken care of. There was nothing to fear in this place, which perhaps meant that now sleep would finally come. Relief filled me for a moment, but that was snatched from my grasp as it crawled into the bloom of illumination from the flashlight. It looked as though his skin were made of dried leather, pulled tight over a distended belly. He was no more than two feet in length, but his pendulous cock added a foot more, swinging between his stunted legs as his clawed hands pulled him ever upwards within the chute. Hid yellow eyes bore a hole through my soul, and when he smiled, revealing teeth as sharp as razors, I let out a scream and stumbled backwards.
The sound of my terror brought her running into the room, yelling at me to stop screaming like a frightened fucking schoolgirl. I remember her shaking me and asking what was wrong with me. I pointed at the open door to the laundry chute, which had once again grown quiet. She looked inside and told me it was too dark to see anything. The rest of it came while I was in a trance. Grabbing her by the hair and shoving her face into the opening. I found the strength to lift her, trying to force her body into the hole as you would with a bag of stinking trash.
She fought hard, but I held on tight. She fought harder still when the scratching started up again. The sounds that followed were unlike anything I had ever heard before. I imagined that the tearing of sinew and crunching of bones would sound the way they do in horror movies, but this was more like butcher shop violence. This was a professional at work, devouring flesh and sucking marrow until the body it fed on went limp, or he became satiated. It was impossible to tell what came first.
The face I had loved, but had grown to hate was all but gone when I pulled her free. I shine the light down the chute, but saw nothing except the glow of those yellow eyes. A chill ran through me when he whispered, “more,” but that sense of calm was back and I knew just what to do.
That was all a little more than a month ago. She belongs to him fully now, with every single one of the tiny pieces I hacked her into long since gone. He fed well, and it was only days before he could no longer fit inside the chute. I took to dropping the pieces of flesh and bone down the chute, singing a sweet lullaby as I did so. The singing seemed to calm him, and I imagined how my child would have loved to hear those little songs.
It has been three nights since the last of her was gone, and all attempts at feeding him anything else have not gone well. He is angry. I can feel it. His cries for more are becoming frenzied and I can sense his desperation. I need to feed him, and I sense that I soon will as the noises I hear now are the rattling of the knob on the door to the basement.