Growing up, my parents told me never to go into the basement. It is kind of interesting now that I think back on it. I was an obedient kid and never did anything that my parents told me not to, but I also never once questioned, until very recently, why I wasn't allowed to go down those stairs.
Our house was huge. My dad worked in finance, but grew up a country boy before college so, as soon as we had the chance, we moved us out into isolation, even though this made his commute over an hour into town. I loved it, especially when I was younger because we had lots of animals on our property - some wild and some actually owned by my parents. My mom would stay home and take care of the chickens and the geese while I watched and played with them. My mom would always tell me not to get too close with the animals because we would sell some of them from time to time and she didn't want my feelings to get hurt. I did my best to follow her instructions, but I have to admit, there were definitely some animals I missed when they got sold off. I spent many evenings after the long bus ride home from school, sitting out back with the animals, watching the sun go down over the wide open fields. It was more peaceful than words could describe.
But of anywhere on the acres and acres of property, the only place I wasn't allowed to be was that basement. I once tried to walk down with my mom when she went downstairs to do the laundry. I offered to hold the basket of dirty clothes for her as she went down the steps, thinking that she would definitely appreciate the help, but I was terribly wrong. As soon as my foot hit that top step behind her and before I could squeak out my offer to assist her, she turned around and pushed me back using the laundry basket. Not a hard push, but enough of one to force me back through the door and into the kitchen.
"What have I told you?" she said to me. "What have I said about coming down here?"
I apologized and hung my head, feeling like a bad kid. She could sense that and patted me on the head.
"It's ok." she said. "Just don't do that again. You need to stay up here. Why don't you go see if any of the chickens have laid eggs? I forgot to go out this morning and I would love the help."
I smiled and agreed to do it, walking out the back kitchen door towards the coop, my mom closing the basement door behind her before I even made it outside.
The weather was terrible a few winters ago. We were pummeled by the snow and, unfortunately, a lot of the animals died on the farm. Don't get me wrong, we were ok and everything - again, farming was more of a hobby than a means of income or survival - but I was pretty upset by the animals no longer being there. For some reason my parents got jittery and seemed to be more and more out of character the longer we were forced to be in the house. We had plenty of food and our power hadn't gone out so I couldn't figure out what it was that they were freaking out over, besides being stuck and not being able to go outside.
YOU ARE READING
My mother told me to stay out of the basement, but when the stranger seeking my family's help from the blistering cold goes missing, I decided to figure out what was going on first hand - and the truth was more than I could've ever imagined.