With all the work I had to do I soon forgot the incident in the cellar. Life slipped back into uneventful mode for a few days. Then one night I came down to the kitchen to find that it was swarming with beetles. Big black crunchy things scurrying all over the floor. I was taken aback for a few seconds, then I got the shop vac and laid into them like there was no tomorrow. Since I was in my socks I started to skate around the tile floor in pursuit of them, doing my best to imitate Bobby Orr. (A hockey player, to those of you too young to remember). As I go the last of them up I noticed the door to the celler had come open. I walked over to close it and I imagined heard more beetles down there. The was a sound like whole piles of animated corn flakes, or so I thought. When I turned the lights on the celler was it's usual dank, dirty self. I put the shop vac outside the kitchen door to the back yard. I figured the bugs would make good bait an the shop vac would hold them until then. But wouldn't you know it in the morning every single one of 'em was gone. I couldn't find a way out but they sure did.
Now I was never one to be credited with a vivid imagination. I was always more of a 'Bigger Hammer School of Solutions' type of guy. But hear me out.
A few nights later It's raining real hard. I'm just falling asleep when I hear a woman scream. It sounds like she's somewhere IN the house. So I pick up my .45 from behind the night table (remember the 'Bigger Hammer School'?) and a flashlight and head towards the front of the house where I heard the scream. I don't have the light on because if there's trouble I don't want to telegraph my location to any intruders. I hear a moan of terror or pain in the living room and think to myself 'Hang on, Honey! I'm almost there!'.
Now, I heard the low moan from just outside the room but when I come through from the hall the room is empty. I searched the house, methodically going from room to room. The doors are all locked. The windows are undisturbed. The cellar door in the kitchen is open. The shovel I found in the cellar is on the kitchen floor. At this point I guess I should have been a little put off about the cellar. But there's something about the heft of a Colt 1911 that banishes all fear, reasonable or otherwise. So I searched the basement. I turned the lights on before I went down because it was just too dark to see anything, even with the vision of my youth. It was empty.
I searched the house again, this time with the lights on because I was sure I had heard someone. I attained the same results but when I was getting ready to go back to sleep I felt like I was being watched. Yeah, how cliche, right. But I did. This time was very different from the time the lights went out in the cellar, though. I just didn't seem to mind. It must have had something to do with knowledge that I was the only one in the house. I cleared the Colt and put the bullet that had been in the chamber on the night stand. I slept the sleep of the working man and dreamed that my woman came to me and curled up next to me in the dark and didn't even steal all the covers.
The next morning I woke up refreshed and made my way down to the kitchen. Sunlight streamed into the house and everything was right with the world. It was the sort of morning that demands you make buckwheat pancakes, which are, incase you didn't know this, the universal symbol of health and life. And since upstate NY is the source of the best damn maple syrup in the world I achived male Nirvana. I had wondered if I had dreamed the whole episode of the night before but the cartridge was on the night stand where I put it the night before. I reinserted it into the magazine and locked the pistol away. Then I turned towards the days work.
Today was to be another plumbing day and I would spend much time in the dank old cellar. I decided to put a pot of my famous (to me) chunky pepper sauce on the stove to simmer while I was working. The work went quick enough but I noticed I was getting in a rather bad mood while down stairs. This progressed until I half resolved that the grim old tomb was doing it on purpose. Rather then let it get the best of me I decided to take the rest of the day off. I treaded up the stairs and slapped the light off with a half muttered 'Kiss my fat Yankee Ass'. I was washing up at the kithcen sink when the soap sqirted out of my hand and slid across the floor to unerringly find the area under the stove. I cussed a bit and got down on my knees to look for it when two things happened. One, I noticed in the oven window the blurred reflecton of a dark shape in the kitchen behind me. Two, and this saved my hide, I heard that scream again. This caused me to jump up and bolt towards the hall. And the falling pot of sauce landed right where my head had been a half second before. It spread the across the floor like three gallons of steaming blood.
I grabbed a cleaver on the way out of the kitchen and headed towards the front of the house. It was, of course, empty.
Well, by the time I searched the house again, cleaned up the sauce and got everthing put away it I was in a worse mood than ever. I took a shower and went outside to enjoy the view from the back porch. There were a few boats on the lake, the occupants of the nearest one waved cheerfully. I waved back, all the time muttering something unpleasant. The lake was beautiful. The sun- shown on the low forested hills that contained it. This lent a hue to the lake that transformed the water into a plain of shimering gold and emeralds. The nautral beauty lifted my spirits, but as the day came to an end I started to feel restless. I was planning on watch- ing the stars make thier appearance. I kept getting the feeling that I had to be somewhere else. You know that sense of unease you have right before you realize you left the stove on. Imagine that going on for about an hour. Eventually I got up and checked the kitchen. One glance showed I hadn't forgotten anything important.
I walked through all the other rooms I had been in that day. Nothing. With the feeling still gnawing at me I grabbed a book and went up to my room. As soon as I entered it the feeling stopped. The change was so abrupt that I clearly remember it. It struck me as very odd. So much so that I delayed reading to analyze why that might have happened. (And it was Tolkien, so you KNOW it had to be important to put off reading that!)
Eventually I started reading and visited J.R.R's far off lands. I got caught up in it, I guess, because I caught myself reading outloud. It had gotten kind of late so I put the book away and hit the sack. I felt very content and soon was asleep.
My dreams were filled with summer days in a house much like the one I was in, except the wall paper was different. And there was a boat house by the lake with a fine old wood Criscraft in it. It was summer and the house needed no work and we had a ball up here. But the pleasant dreams turned grey and cold and I could hear a church bell tolling mornfully somewhere.
I woke up. Whisps of the dreams slipped from my mind so it was a few seconds before I realized I could still hear the ringing sound. It sounded more like a pan being beaten against a rock. And it was coming from the bowels of the house. Before I could get the Colt the noise stopped. I did the pistol/flashlight/commando thing again because intellectually it made sense. But my gut feeling that I was the only living being in the house proved to be correct. I slept well the second half of the night as well.