Monster in the Basement

monster in the basement smash words cover1.Archer vs. the perfect house

The house wasn’t just big, it was huge, grand, it was a mansion. I was still awestruck every time I climbed up the front steps, walked across the huge front porch that was built just for having those fancy Victorian garden parties I’ve seen in movies, and entered the front foyer. That’s right, my house now had a foyer.

I didn’t even know what a foyer was until Mom showed me our new home.

Shifting the heavy box in my arms, I looked around at the stained glass windows, the fancy carved wood stuff everywhere, the glossy wood floors. It boggled the mind to think that we could afford to live in a place like this. Especially after the big “D” word that had left Mom broken hearted and broke.

Mom really got the deal of a lifetime with this house.

“Madeline, could you bring the pots and pans into the kitchen for me?” My mom called.

“Already got it,” I called back.

As I walked the box of pots and pans down the front hall toward the kitchen, I could hear Mom’s footsteps coming from the front parlor.

“Honey, you’re going to get dust in your hair,” she said catching up to me and pulling a handkerchief out of her pocket.

“Mom, it’s fine,” I said, trying to duck under her hands. Of course trying to do that, while holding a big box of pots and pans didn’t help.

“It’s not every generation we get a redhead, you have to take care of it,” Mom said, netting my head in her neon pink handkerchief and tying it on tight enough to make me wonder about how much blood flow was getting to my brain. She tucked the little corners and ends of the cloth into the knot, so not a single one of my stubbly little hairs was in danger of getting the much-feared dust on it. I rolled my eyes as she kissed me on top of my head. I know she thought it was cute, but it just reminded me how I was practically doll sized compared to my statuesque Mom.

“Oh that look!” she said with a laugh, giving me a little push toward the kitchen, “You know if someone slaps you on the back, your face will stay that way forever.”

I couldn’t help but smile. After all these months, finally, she was happy. I could barely even remember what her laugh sounded like. I was practically skipping by the time I stepped through the kitchen door.

Then I heard it. An odd rustling sound coming from a wall in the kitchen.

Rats?

Better not tell Mom, she hated rats and it would ruin the move for her. She was so happy now, I couldn’t do it. I would just look around a little to make sure it was rats and then call the exterminator my self. I could pay for it out of my savings and mom never would have to know about it. Why ruin this moment for her, when I could just take care of it quietly.

As I put the box down on the counter, the scurrying/scratching sound came again. turning around, I walked over to the wall the sound was coming from. There wasn’t any mouse holes or anything obvious. In fact, the wall looked perfectly fine. Well, except for one little part that seemed to be sticking out about an inch. The green patterned wallpaper morphed and stretched around this part. Running my hand over it, the wood underneath was completely smooth and solid.

Stepping back and looking at it, the odd part looked about the size and shape of a door frame. But why would anyone board up a door and wallpaper over it? And where did this door go to anyway? The only thing that should be in this area of the house is the space under the stairs. So this was what, an extra closet? Why would anyone want to close up that?

“Hey Mom, did the real estate lady say anything about this door?” I called to the front parlor.

“What door, Pumpkin?” my mom asked, walking into the kitchen while wiping dust off of her hands.

“This one here,” I said, pointing to the kitchen wall.

Mom looked at the wall and shrugged.

“No, she didn’t say anything about that. It’s probably just a door to an old root cellar.”

“A cellar?”

“Yup, it was pretty common for these old houses to have things like that.”

“Why did they board it up like that?”

“Who knows. With a house this old, the stairs down there could be in really bad shape, dangerous by now. It might have been just cheaper and easier to board up the whole thing instead of bringing the stairs up to code.”

Mom shrugged again and wandered back into the front of the house.

So there were rats in the basement? Well, at least they weren’t in the house. It should be fairly easy to keep them and the exterminator off Mom’s radar.

I shrugged too, and walked back through the house to grab another box from the back of the moving truck.

Several times during the day I heard noises coming from the blocked up doorway. More than a few times I had to steer Mom out of the kitchen so she wouldn’t hear them too. And there was only so many times you can point out how pretty the light through the stained glass windows in front were before people (like my mom) started to wonder what was wrong with you.

“I never knew you loved antique glass so much,” Mom said, being prodded once again back into the front parlor.

“Are you kidding? I love the stuff,” I said, a little strain tightening my huge smile.

My mom raised an eyebrow at me.

“Really?” she asked, crossing her arms over her chest.

“Sure, sure,” I said, nodding my head vigorously.

“Honey, this big move isn’t freaking you out, is it?” she asked, looking worried, “I know leaving the house you grew up in wasn’t going to be easy on you—.”

“No way, this place is great,” I insisted, “Mom, seriously, you picked out the perfect house.”

“Are you sure you’re not just a little bit stressed out over this?”

You don’t know the half of it.

“Of course not. Now you just go back to unpacking boxes and listening to your old-people music and I’ll work on the kitchen,” I said with a big smile.

“Gee thanks honey, it’s always so nice to hear that young people are looking out for senile old ladies like me,” she said, squinting her eyes at me.

“No problem, I always had a soft spot for the old and feeble,” I said, walking backwards into the kitchen so I could watch her reaction. Turning forty had been another sore spot for her this year and I liked prodding Mom about it.

“You’re what, ninety now?” Ninety-one?” I asked, tapping a finger on my chin in thought.

“Oh you are going to get it!” she said, throwing a dust rag in my direction.

I dodged it and ran into the kitchen while Mom called after me, “Just wait ‘til you start getting wrinkles, then it won’t be so funny!”

And just like that she forgot all about me keeping her out of the kitchen.

That night we ate dinner out and we were both so exhausted we went to bed right after, so it was easy enough to almost forget about the little rat problem.

Days passed and the rest of the move went pretty smoothly. My room was set up and it looked good, if you didn’t mind that everything looking kind of squished together.

There was a lot more rooms in this house than the old one, but all the rooms were smaller than I was used to. Which meant that if I wanted to pull out a dresser drawer, I had to push in my desk chair or if I wanted to turn on my floor lamp I had to climb over the bed to do it. Mom said it was only temporary, that over the summer we would knock down a wall and make two bedrooms into one big bedroom for me, but until then I just had to learn to live with it. Though it was a little cramped, my room had an attached bathroom, all to myself, which was a nice change.

Once or twice while I was coming or going I would just barely hear the sound of what almost sounded like muffled footsteps or a distant laugh on the other side of the closed up door, but I’m sure it was just something the rats were up to that got distorted when the sound moved through the walls. Besides, it seemed to be getting less and less frequent as the days passed. I figured we were making so much noise; it was probably scaring the rats away.

Hmm, maybe the problem will just solve itself and I won’t even have to call the exterminator, I thought, closing the door to the refrigerator.

It was about one in the morning and for who knows what reason I suddenly woke up dying of thirst. Wrapping myself in my giant fluffy bathrobe, I waddled down to the kitchen, which wasn’t as easy as it had been in the old house that I grew up in. I ended up walking into a wall twice and nearly falling down the stairs as I tried to find my way through the new house, half asleep, and in the dark.

Well, at least I was wide-awake by the time I finally got to the fridge.

Thinking better of trying to walk back to my room while holding a breakable glass of milk, I drank it in the kitchen. Maybe if I hadn’t, I would have never heard it.

The quiet sound of footsteps treading up the stairs. But not the stairs from the front hall to the second floor, it was the stairs of the basement.

I turned my head to stare at the sealed spot of kitchen wall.

(Tap, tap, tap)

Had someone just gently knocked on the door? The closed up door?

Trying to keep my movements silent, I walked toward the boarded up door.

(Tap, tap, tap)

That was definitely knocking. Rats weren’t smart enough to knock on doors were they?

I raised my hand and knocked on the door. Not a gentle tap, but like a knock that an actual human would use. Three times in a nice steady pattern. If it was just rats, it would surely scare them away. If it wasn’t, well then . . . .

(Knock, Knock, Knock) came the reply.

I gasped and stumbled backward, away from the door.

“Hahahaha!” I could clearly hear someone laughing on the other side of the wall.

Okay, right then and there, I nearly wet my pajamas.

My mom shifted in her bed upstairs.

Oh crap, she wasn’t waking up was she? The last thing she needed was to find out there was some strange person living in our basement.

“Shut up, you,” I hissed at the door.

The laughter died away.

“You better get the hell out of here, before I call the cops,” I whispered, my lips nearly pressed to the walled up door, “this is trespassing, you know.”

“Well, somebody is,” a voice replied, “I think I’ll stay for a bit.”

“What?! Get out right now.”

“No, I don’t think I’m gonna do that,” the voice said, and then I clearly heard footsteps treading down the stairs.

Why that little— I was going to get who ever that was.

I just couldn’t believe it, there were squatters in our basement. How could the real estate lady not mention that? What was I supposed to do now? There’s no way an exterminator would handle a problem like this and if I really did call the police, there’s no way I could hide this from Mom. And finding out that she picked out and bought a house that had hobos living in it would make her feel even worse than if she found out about the rats, that probably never existed.

No, I needed to get them out of here, and fast.

Tip-toeing my way through the house, I went to the boxes that hadn’t made it out to the garage and quickly found a heavy-duty flashlight, a box cutter, and a crowbar. I was going to get who ever was down there out of my mom’s house tonight, if it killed me.

The box cutter sliced through the old brittle wallpaper easily enough. Holding the flashlight in my teeth, I carefully wedged the end of the crowbar under the edge of the sheet of plywood that was covering the door frame. To work silently took some extra time, but bit-by-bit I got the nails loose and tilted the giant sheet of wood off and leaned it against the kitchen table.

Under the plywood, was a completely normal looking door with an antique door handle that looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in years. For all I knew, it hadn’t.

I tried the handle, but it wouldn’t turn.

Darn it, did it need a key?

Shining my light on the dull metal knob, yes it did need a tiny little key to unlock it. Like about the size that you would use on a diary. Now where did I see that drawer of old keys and little metal thingies?

I turned my back on the locked door to look through the drawers of the kitchen. I thought it was perfectly safe, after all, the door was locked.

And then I heard the horror-movie sound of an old door creaking open.

I turned back toward the locked entrance to the basement, and sure enough the door was open a crack.

Yeah, because that wasn’t creepy or anything.

In one hand, I hefted the nice long metal heavy-duty flashlight, in the other I grabbed the crowbar off the counter where I had left it and held it slightly behind me. I was just bringing it as a precaution, nothing more.

Slowly, quietly, I walked toward the now open door. Nothing popped out and tried to get me. That was good. I nudged the door open wider with the tip of my toe, and still I didn’t see anything too menacing. So far, so good. I shined the light down the stairs, which seemed to be made of thick wood planks and in perfect condition. Just a little dusting and they would be as good as new. I placed my bare foot on the first step down, still no sign of anything/one scary.

Hmm, maybe the person left when they heard me prying the board off to get in here. But then, who opened the door?

I took another step down, still nothing but dust and cobwebs to be seen. The house above me was completely silent now; it was like I was completely alone in this vast old space. I walked another few steps down. I was now down the stairs far enough to see into the basement area. It was solid and well built, but it wasn’t a finished modern basement like we had in the house that I grew up in. The floor was loose dirt. Thick beams of wood stretched across the ceiling and were used to brace and hold up the whole house. There was a slightly damp musty smell down here that I didn’t like. It reminded me of dead things.

I shined the flashlight around the walls of the basement, but there wasn’t anything to see. There wasn’t anyone here. There was no sign of anyone living down here either. No nest of blankets, no ring of trash, not even some cigarette butts. In fact, the whole place looked pretty tidy, for a hole in the ground.

A breath behind me ruffled the little hairs on the back of my neck. I spun around.

No one.

The basement behind me was still empty. Maybe it was just a breeze?

Someone snickered close by my side and I spun in that direction. Still my flashlight beam couldn’t seem to catch anyone near me.

What the hell was going on?

I took a step toward the stairs thinking that maybe some how someone was hiding behind them, even though my flashlight shined right through the open treads.

And then someone blew in my ear.

I swung the light around again, and again.

Nothing.

Laughter was coming from nowhere. I was shining my light all around me, and there was no one there. The laughing wasn’t muffled so it wasn’t coming from another part of the house. It always sounded as if it was right by my side. At least now that the voice was so close, I could tell that it was a guy’s. And not an old man either, there was a slight unevenness to it, like it was someone my age.

“Hey, this isn’t funny. Get out here right now,” I said.

“Really? ‘cause I think this is hilarious,” the voice said.

I was starting to get really freaked out. No matter where I shined my flashlight, there wasn’t anyone there. Was I going crazy or something?

“I-If you don’t stop this right now, I’m going to—”

“You’re gonna what?” the voice asked with a laugh.

“I’m, I’m—”

I heard someone’s feet slip a little in the soft loose dirt of the floor. I swung around, lifting my hand up high.

“Boo—”

The hand still clutching the crowbar slammed into something. The flashlight beam flickered around the basement wildly. There was a muffled wet squeak sound and then something heavy hit the ground.

I stood there panting and shaking. At some point I had dropped the flashlight and it was now rolling across the floor away from me. For a split second it shined on a jeans leg and sneaker currently in use and then the light rolled on.

Someone coughed a couple times nearby.

“What’s wrong with you?!” the voice asked, practically sobbing, “You hit me in the face—with a crowbar!”

I scurried across the basement after the flashlight. Dropping the crowbar, I scooped up the flashlight with both hands and walked back to where the complaining was coming from.

If he didn’t want to be hit, then he shouldn’t break into other people’s houses. But I also didn’t want to get in trouble if he was really hurt, so I wondered back to check on the little trespasser.

“Took you long enough to come and help,” he complained some more, sitting on his butt in the dirt and holding one cheek. The boy was about my age with straight black hair, clear-ish pasty skin, and clothes that looked like they escaped from a yard sale.

“Stop being such a crybaby, I barely touched you,” I said, crouching down next to him.

“Yeah right, if I had been alive, I could have died,” he said, climbing out of the dirt.

What? That made no sense at all. Maybe I hit him on the head harder than I thought.

“A tap, like I gave you, couldn’t hurt anybody,” I said, though I wasn’t so sure anymore.

“Oh yeah, how would you like to be hit?” the boy asked, grabbing the flashlight out of my hands and hitting me over the head with it and then handing the flashlight back to me.

“Owow! I can’t believe you did that,” I said, holding my head where a large lump was forming.

“Now you know how I feel,” he said with a sniff, crossing his arms over his chest and sticking his nose in the air.

“You jerk, you would hit a defenseless girl?” I asked.

“Since when have you been defenseless? Oh, and you’re a girl? I hadn’t noticed,” he said.

I didn’t even need to reply, I just bonked him over the head with the flashlight.

“Ouch, you hit me—again,” he said, holding his head and giving me a bewildered look.

“Yeah, and you deserved it both times,” I shot back, standing up.

“Give me that flashlight,” he said, climbing to his feet and then grabbing one end of the light.

“No,” I said through gritted teeth, holding on with both hands.

He swung the flashlight around, shaking it and me like a dog shaking a chew toy. I stumbled around, being dragged back and forth through the loose dirt. The dry dirt drifted in dusty clouds all around us and began to climb up the stairs.

By the time I thought of kicking him, my arms felt like they were going to be pulled out of their sockets and I was so dizzy I could barely stand up on my own. In the end, my feeble barefooted jabs only resulted in stubbed toes (mine) and my feet getting caught up in his.

We fell to the ground in a heap. Lucky me, I was on bottom and he was bony and heavy. His jabby elbow harpooned my spleen and his pointy chin hit my teeth—hard.

“Ack,” I said as all the breath was mushed out of me.

I lay there in pain for a moment catching my breath before I tried to move or even think too much.

“Boy you’ve got plenty of padding, don’t you?” He asked, not bothering to get his carcass off me, “I bet you and Twinkies are like best friends, right?”

I brought my knee up, hard. The boy squealed in pain.

“Ahhh, my man meat!” he sobbed, grabbing his most sensitive spot and rolling off of me.

“And for your information, I’m a perfectly healthy weight for sixteen,” I snapped at him.

“Sure, whatever you say,” he panted, his eyes watering in pain, “Jeez, I was just messing with you.”

“Not funny.”

“Got it.”

Getting back on my feet and dusting myself off as best as I could, I said, “You better get out of here, I’m done playing with you and if you don’t leave, I’m calling the cops to make you leave.”

In an instant he forgot his pain and got up to his feet. But the movement was strange. It was more like he pushed off of the bottom of a pool and floated to his feet.

He quietly chuckled. It wasn’t a happy sound. He wasn’t smiling.

“You know, I’m not a nice guy,” he said matter of factly, “You probably shouldn’t try so hard to get on my bad side.”

He stretched his mouth into a toothy smile. The pointed teeth at the corners of his mouth were long, like really long, as in they reached completely over his bottom lip.

Saber-toothed boy?

He took one menacing step toward me. I hopped back and then stumbled on the bottom tread of the stairs.

“You’re looking an awful lot like dinner to me,” he said, rubbing his hands together and taking a few more steps toward me.

I spun away from him and bolted up the stairs, or at least I tried to. After just two steps up, I came to a sudden stop as the boy grabbed my robe by the back of my collar and yanked me backwards in one sharp jerk.

Falling back down the stairs, I turned in mid air and fell out of my robe. The good thing was that I was now out of Saber-toothed boy’s grasp. The bad thing was that I fell backwards onto the basement floor. Lucky me, there was a handy rock to cushion my head from the fall.

The ceiling to the basement spun with Technicolor sparkles.

A voice nearby said, “Half of her was this giant, fluffy robe?”

Then everything faded to a dark foggy gray.

What woke me up for the second time that night was the feeling of someone lifting up one of my eyelids and then letting it go. The stretched out eyelid would shut over my eye with a snap. And then the person would grab my eyelid and pull it open again. Over and over it went. Pull, stretch, snap! Pull, stretch, snap! Pull, streeeeeetch, snap!

It was really annoying.

Opening my other eye, I wasn’t surprised to find that it was the saber-toothed trespasser boy that was the one harassing my eyelid.

“Uhg,” I said, waving his hand away from another go at my eye.

I tried to sit up. It was a slow process. My head was pounding. My back felt stiff. This was not my night.

I looked over at the boy to tell him to beat it, and I noticed something a little off.

He was in the basement, which was reasonable. He was by my side, which was expected. He was kneeling, which I’ve seen people do plenty of times before. The problem was that he didn’t seem to be kneeling on the ground. Actually he looked like he was kneeling about eighteen inches above the ground and on a slight tilt to the Earth.

I rubbed my eyes and looked at him again.

Yup, he was still floating.

Okay, so obviously I’ve gone bonkers and at least some (if not all) of the events of this night were just hallucinations.

Awesome.

I should have guessed I had gone crazy when I first heard the laughing. I mean really, even if there were squatters in the house, the last thing they would want to do is laugh at and taunt the home owner that could very easily have them arrested.

“Uhg, I’m going to bed,” I said to hallucination boy and stumbled to my feet.

The boy floated upward with my movements. As I made my way back to the stairs, the hallucination floated toward the ceiling and then hung upside-down, hanging his face right in front of mine.

“Hey, why are you leaving?”

I ignored the figment of my imagination and stepped around him to get to the stairs.

“Hey. . . . . Hey. . . . . Hey,” he kept calling after me.

Pretending I couldn’t hear him, I calmly walked up the stairs and halfway across the kitchen. The feeling of someone grabbing the bottom edge of my T-shirt pajama top stopped me. I patiently waited for the tugging to go away and then kept walking across the kitchen toward the stairs in the front hall. Not even out of the kitchen yet, and the tugging at my shirt was back.

“Hey. . . .Hey,” the voice that wasn’t really there continued to pester me.

Again I waited to be let go, and then I started walking. . . .

Until I was stopped—again. Like two steps later.

“Heeeeeyeeeeeyyyyyy,” the voice that wasn’t there called, shaking the back fabric of my shirt.

“Would you knock it off,” I said, yanking my shirt tail out of his grasp, “You’re not even real, stop pestering me.”

For a split second the boy actually looked slightly shocked as he floated in the middle of my kitchen. And then. . . . not so much.

“Wow, really. I mean really. Wow, that hurts my feelings. (sob) I think I need a moment,” he said, covering his face and fake crying.

And using my fluffy robe as a tissue.

“Give me that,” I said, yanking the robe out of his hands before he could use it to wipe his nose that wasn’t really running.

“Awe, what’s wrong? Are you mad that I took your fluffy?” he asked with an exaggerated pout on his face. As if he already knew that it would weird me out, he started slowly turning counter clockwise as he floated.

“No, you’re just a figment of my imagination, and you didn’t take anything,” I insisted.

He put his hands on his hips and raised an eyebrow at me, “Really.”

“And besides, you were all ‘I’m going to eat you’ like a second ago. Where did all that go?” I pointed out.

“Well, then I saw you without your giant robe of doom, and you were kind of cute,” he said with a shrug.

I can’t believe I’m having this conversation with someone that isn’t even really there.

Without saying a word, I turned on my heel and marched out of the kitchen, down the hall, up the stairs, and straight to my bedroom. All the way he floated behind me, calling after me, “Hey. . . . Hey, why are you walking away? Where are you going? Was it something I said?”

Of course every sentence was punctuated with his crazy, maniacal laughing.

When we got up to the second floor, almost instantly I heard my mom shift in her bed. In a panic, I spun around to the floating boy, “SHHHHHH!” I said, holding up one finger to my mouth.

“My mom’s asleep up here,” I snapped.

“Oops,” He whispered and covered his mouth with both hands. He stayed that way, floating after me until we were both in my room and the door was shut.

Exhausted from the night’s psychotic adventure, I flopped down on the bed and crawled under the covers moving like an old, old woman.

Just let this night be over.

Letting out a sigh of relief, I rested my head down on my pillow, closed my eyes, and prayed that all this craziness would be a bad memory by tomorrow morning.

That’s when the: “So. . . . .you’re going to sleep then?” came.

I ignored it.

“Hey. . . . .Hey,” started again.

I put a pillow over my head and continued to actively ignore it.

I’d like to say that after a while he just gave up and went back to whatever strange regions of my mind he came out of, but he didn’t.

For the next eternity he spent the time: whipping the covers off of my feet, grabbing one of them and then yanking me through the covers; bouncing on the bed; pealing back a corner of the pillow covering my head and then blowing in my ear; jabbing me in the spine; yanking the pillow covering my head completely off and then dumping it back onto my head; a few times he thought it was funny to smack me in the head with the stolen pillow before dumping it back on my head; and of course he couldn’t forget the classic, flicking the lights on and off again, over and over.

Through all this, I desperately tried to ignore him and get some sleep. The first part I almost managed. The second part, not so much. If there was ever an evil army that was short one torturer, they should seriously contact this guy.

I looked over at my bedside clock. The evil little glowing red numbers said it was nearly seven in the morning.

Uhg, he had kept me up all night long.

Just then he decided to lift up the corner of the pillow covering my head and blow in my ear again.

That’s when I exploded.

Bolting straight up in bed, “What the hell do you want from me?” I demanded through gritted teeth, glaring at him with all my strength.

“What? I was just messing with ya,” he said with a shrug.

“Messing with me? Messing with me?! You’ve been harassing me for over four hours, and you call that messing with me?” I hissed. I could feel my eyes bulging.

“I’ve been napping for like thirty years, so I guess anything seems entertaining now,” he said with another shrug, bobbing slightly as he floated cross-legged over the foot of my bed.

“You’ve been sleeping for thirty years? Really?” I asked, giving him the squinty eyes, crossing my arms over my chest.

Well, that would explain why he isn’t exhausted right now.

“Yeah,” he said with a half shrug.

“So what are you supposed to be, a ghost or something?” I asked, humoring him for the moment.

“A ghost! How could you mistake me for one of those idiots?” he asked, giving me a scandalized expression.

“You float,” I said with the lift of my shoulders.

“So do balloons.”

Okay, he had a point.

“For your information my name’s Archer Lee Grant Garfield Haversham the third, and I’m an evil vampire of the highest order,” he said, sticking his nose in the air.

I looked him over. His hair was an inky black mess that flopped every which-way. Bed-head or would that be grave-head? He was wearing old dirty jeans with a hole in one knee, dirty and torn sneakers, a ratty blue Tab Soda T-shirt with the logo half worn off, and an ugly red plaid flannel shirt over the T, that he left un-buttoned.

Okay, I’ll admit that he did have a nice face, and from the smirk that always seem to be there, he knew it too. But some kind of vampire royalty? Yeah right. I doubt he’d count as royalty in the middle of Burger King.

Wait, did he just say that he was evil?

I looked him over again.

“Sure you are,” I replied.

“Well, it’s better than your explanation. That I’m, what, the man of your dreams?” he said, whipping the covers off of my feet once again, only this time he floated down and licked one of my toes.

I squealed and curled my legs up away from him and the yucky sensation. He chuckled his evil laugh and floating out of throwing distance as I grabbed a pillow.

He’s right, I would never think up someone so annoying.

“And I never said that you were a dream. A nightmare is more like it,” I said.

“Oh please, you could hardly keep your eyes off me,” he said, brushing dust off his shoulder.

What?! What?!

“As if!” I shot back.

(Yawn) “Well, it’s getting kind of late, so I guess I’ll call it a night,” he said, stretching his arms and completely ignoring my outrage.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said.

“What, even the un-dead need to sleep,” the embodiment of pure evil said.

Striking viper fast, he swooped in and planted a kiss on my cheek, and then pushed off of the bed to float toward the bedroom door. Watching the reaction on my face, he chuckled deep in his throat.

“Jerk,” I said, and lifted up the pillow again to throw at him. Before the fluffy projectile could hit its mark, he whipped himself out the door and down the hall. I chased him to the door and stared after him down the hall.

Waited for a long moment.

No, he really seemed to be gone.

I hobbled back to bed and coved my head with the blankets. Closing my eyes, I hoped for just a few peaceful hours of sleep. Then, in what seemed like just five minutes later, Mom was knocking on the door.

“Come on sleepy head, time to get up. You don’t want to waist the day.”

I pushed off a blanket corner and looked at the clock.

It seemed like only five minutes later, because it was only five minutes later.

Oh joy.

With a sigh, I threw off the covers and climbed back out of bed. And I vowed that if I ever got my hands on that guy from the basement (that may or may not have been a figment of my imagination) I was going to strangle the jerk.

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