Stay Away From The Basement
A slasher horror-suspense story...with a twist.
Stay Away From The Basement
It’s dark in the woods, and the leaves on the ground under their feet crunch as they walk. Alex can barely see ten feet in front of him thanks to the moonlight, but his boyfriend Michael keeps a steady grasp on his hand as he pulls him further into the woods. Michael’s friends Divya, Jack, and Eric, along with Eric’s girlfriend Monica, are laughing loudly behind them. The sound lightens the mood somewhat, but Alex still can’t shake the creepy feeling clinging to his skin.
“Michael, this might not be a good idea after all…” He whispers. Michael just grins at him like one would grin at a stumbling kitten. “Aw, Alex! Are you scared?” Alex scoffs and looks away. “Don’t worry, b-babe, I’ll protect you no matter what.” A dark look comes over Michael’s face, but Alex decides not to question it as it soon morphs into one of annoyance as Michael looks over his shoulder.
“Is wittle Alex scared of the woods? Well don’t worry, it looks like we’re almost there, dickwad!” Jack mocks, pointing in some direction to their left before clapping Alex on the shoulder so hard that he stumbles. Michael glares at Jack and pulls Alex in the direction he had pointed, and as they get closer they can make out the entrance to the Briarheart Mental Hospital through the trees. The doors are tall and wooden, the blue paint peeling and chipping away with age. A huge padlock is looped through their brass door handles, and Alex wonders how they’re going to manage to get inside, unless Michael remembered to prepare. But then Eric pulls out an ax, looking freshly sharpened.
“Good thing I brought this, huh?” He winks at Monica, who giggles, before starting to hack at the door handles in an attempt to break one of them off. After 5 minutes he’s still hacking at the door, sweating profusely, but it doesn’t even look like he’s made any progress besides a few shallow wedges in the wood. A few seconds later Monica steps forward and wrestles the ax out of his hands.
“Move over,” she says sweetly, before bringing the ax down in one swoop, knocking one of the handles clean off. Eric, his mouth hanging wide open, rips open the now unlocked door and stomps inside without a word. Giggling nervously, Monica trails in behind him holding hands with Divya, followed by Jack. Alex goes to walk in as well, but Michael grabs his wrist tightly and pulls him back.
Alex turns around to face him. “What is it?” he asks, rubbing the back of Michael’s hand lightly with his thumb.
“Just..just don’t go off alone, okay? A-and stay away from the basement.”
He must be worried that the others will try something tonight.
Alex sighs. “Alright, I’ll be careful!” Giving him a small smile, Michael kisses him on the cheek before heading inside.
Here goes nothing.
The inside of the hospital is unnaturally cold, making Alex glad he had brought a coat. He can hear water dripping somewhere. The air is heavy, and he feels an almost foreboding atmosphere settle around them.
“Careful not to pee your pants there, Alex. It would suck to ruin the one pair your mom could afford to buy you.” Monica jeers, laughing. The others join in as well, all except for Alex and Michael, whose face grows an ugly shade of purple.
“You fucking bi—” Suddenly a piercing scream rips through the air from down the hallway. Alex’s blood runs cold, and he reaches for Michael’s arm. And then just as suddenly it cuts out, leaving an eerie silence behind as they all glance at each other.
“What the fuck.” Divya breathes out, and Alex is inclined to agree with her for once. What the fuck! He looks over at Michael, who shoves his hands quickly into his pockets, before stuttering out, “W-we should go investigate. Someone could be in trouble.”
They all look around at each other before Eric finally steps up. “I’ll go,” he gestures to Monica, “And you’re coming with me.” She starts to shake her head, but with a pointed look and raised fist from Eric, she follows him down the hallway, looking back at the rest of the group once before they both disappear into the darkness. Damn, they should’ve brought flashlights. But Michael thought they wouldn’t—
“Let’s stay here, so they can find us easily when they come back,” Michael suggests, and they’re all quick to agree, not willing to go explore after what they had just heard. They decide to sit in one of the rooms to their left, the floor littered with dirt, abandoned hospital equipment, and trash. There was even a discarded bra in the corner, but Alex didn’t even want to think about why that was here. He jumps when Michael grabs his hand, Michael’s other hand still deep in his pockets, but Alex smiles at him reassuringly when he feels Michael’s hand trembling, and grips it tighter.
45 minutes go by before Divya finally jumps up and shouts, “That’s it! They’ve been gone too long! Something must’ve happened!”
“Calm down, Divya! They probably just got lost. Let’s go look for them.” Jack reasons, Divya looks pleadingly at Michael, who nods and moves to leave the room. Alex follows, not wanting to be left alone.
They start to walk, glancing warily through each broken window and door, hoping to see Eric or Monica. No luck. But just as they reach a fork in the hallway, Alex hears a choked sort of sound.
“Michael!” He hisses, grasping Michael’s jacket sleeve to stop him. “I heard something in here!” Alex points towards the door he thought the noise had come from. Michael motions for him to be quiet, and slowly opens it with a prolonged creak, revealing a storage room of some kind with metal shelves still stocked with cleaning supplies and linens. They don’t see Eric or Monica, but Alex notices Eric’s ax lying half underneath a row of shelves on the floor, and a spray of fresh blood on the walls.
“Well, we know something went down recently,” Jack says. “But they obviously aren’t in here anymore.”
“I know what I heard! Someone was just in here.” Alex cries, trying to get them to listen to him.
Jack scoffs, “It was probably just Eric getting mad at Monica for showing him up. So he slapped her around a little? That’s nothing new. And he probably just forgot the ax here when they left.”
Alex feels a rush of anger at both Jack’s words and the fact that he isn’t listening to him, but decides to keep his mouth shut for now. After glancing around one last time Alex lets himself be led out of the room, but not before he hears another faint cry that he could swear almost sounds like Michael’s name.
After another hour of looking through the seemingly endless hallways of the hospital, Divya stops, leading the rest of them to also stop and stare as she hops around, looking uncomfortable.
“I…have to go to the bathroom.” She says quietly. Jack looks up at the ceiling and groans.
“Really, Div? Right now? Just go piss in one of those rooms or something.” She sends him a heated glare. “There’s no way I’m peeing with the disease-ridden rats! Find me a bathroom.”
“How in the hell—”
“Maybe there’s one in the basement?” Michael interrupts, “I’ve been hearing dripping water through the elevator shaft, maybe it’s still running? I mean, this place has only been closed for a few years…” I look at him in disbelief. How could the water still be running? But Divya just smiles brightly.
“See! Some people can be helpful! Take notes, Jack.” With that said, she spins around and bats her eyes at Michael. “You’ll have to show me the way, Mikey.” Rolling his eyes, Michael complies, mouthing an ‘I’ll be back soon’ to Alex before Divya loops her arm through his and they go off to find the basement.
Alex looks anywhere but in Jack’s direction, silently willing him to just please fucking ignore him, but the universe just doesn’t care about Alex’s suffering or something.
“Hey. Alex.” Don’t look, don’t acknowledge, don’t—
“What Jack?” Fuck.
A residual radiance seems to cling to objects they’d handled and places where they spend time. The popular crowd. They’ve always been untouchable to me; an ironclad quintet that never seems to acknowledge anyone else, except in disdain. Monica, the pretty cheerleader; Eric, the football team’s star linebacker; Divya, the school gossip; Jack, class clown….and then there’s Michael.
I sigh deeply, watching from my locker as he tackles Jack in the school hallway, laughing brightly. I’ve had a crush on Michael for a few months, since the beginning of sophomore year when I walked into art class and there he was, tapping a charcoal pencil on the desk. And even though I had felt a spark of hope when he came out as bisexual a couple months ago, I knew I’d never have a chance with him. Me, the poor Korean trans loser with no friends dating Michael, the resident bad boy?
Ha. Fat chance.
But despite his appearance, Michael has always been different. He’s never joined the others in their bullying, always helping kids up after Jack or Eric push them down. His kindness is one of the things I lov—like most about him.
I’m so engrossed in my swooning over Michael that I don’t notice Jack approaching until he slams my locker door shut.
“Keep your eyes to yourself, loser,” he hisses, before shoving past me with his shoulder, knocking me to the ground. I blink the gathering tears out of my eyes and move to stand up, when something softly touches my shoulder. I flinch, but when I look behind me all I see is Michael, extending his free arm down to me.
“Need a hand?”
Fumbling, I grab the offered hand, and he pulls me to my feet. I look around and notice that the halls are now empty; I hadn’t even heard the bell ring.
“—lex,” I hear. “Alex!”
I snap out of my daze. “Huh?”I say.
“I asked,” he says, laughing, “If you want me to walk to your Biology class with you?”
“How do you know my—"
“Secret!” he says, giving me a wink.
I blush heavily and manage to nod, and he gives me an easy smile as he starts to walk ahead.
And as we walk together, I feel that spark of hope I thought had long been extinguished get a little bit brighter.
“You know Michael is only dating you because he didn’t have any other options, right?” Jack laughs to himself, “You’ve been together for a couple of years, but the second someone better comes along? He’ll drop you like a hot potato. And it wouldn’t be hard to find someone better, I mean,” He looks Alex up and down, from the secondhand sneakers his mom had bought him for his 16th birthday up to the crooked glasses on his face. Alex adjusts the bottom of his chest binder self-consciously, “look at you!”
Alex shrinks in on himself even more, “Why are you telling me all this? It’s nothing I don’t already know!”
“Oh, I know you know. You aren’t stupid; it’s probably the only good thing about you. But you see how much Div likes him?” Reluctantly, Alex nods. “Well, why don’t you just dump him then? He’d be so much happier with her. He’s just dating you cause he’s desperate and confused. We all knew when he came out as bisexual that—"
Something bursts from the shadows, and instantly Alex panics and begins running away from whatever it is. It grabs him around the waist, and growls in his ear, a low raspy sound that sends a shiver down his spine.
It takes a minute, but slowly Alex realizes that the growling isn’t growling at all, but a human voice. “Al, it’s okay, I’m here, it’s just me…” Alex goes boneless and turns around in Michael’s arms to hug him.
Though he also wants to strangle him.
“What the fuck was that, babe? You can’t do that!” But when Alex looks closer at Michael’s face, he sees that he’s deathly pale, and Alex’s anger turns to worry.
“Michael…where’s Div?” Jack asks. Michael turns to Jack, and his face seems to get even whiter.
“It’s disgusting how they treat you, Al.”
I look up from my desk at Michael, who sits perched on my bed, to see that he isn’t even looking at me. Instead, his eyes are trained on something outside my window, something only visible to him in the dark oppressive night.
“And what they did to you last week...it was practically inhuman...” I run my fingers over the gauze bandages still wrapped around my arm, the words carved into my skin buried deep underneath.
“Are you talking about your friends?”
He finally turns to look at me, “They aren’t my friends.”
“You sure hang around them a lot for ‘not being friends’…”
“Just biding time, baby,” He says with a grin, and I don’t even bother asking what he means.
I know I’ll find out soon enough.
“What?” Alex hears himself ask, “What do you mean she’s gone?”
Michael takes a deep breath, gasping for air like someone would after they had just been drowning, “Like, one second she was in the bathroom, and the next I went in to check on her—she had been gone for a long time—and she wasn’t in there!”
“But how is that possible? Maybe she just left and you didn’t notice?”
“Nah, man,” Michael says, “I was standing outside the door the entire time! I would’ve seen her leave.”
Jack throws his hands up in the air, “So what are you suggesting? Some ghost or something just waltzed into the bathroom and made off with Div? Yeah, that’s really believable, Mike.”
“Well I don’t know what happened, but we need to figure out where she is. Monica and Eric, too!” Michael’s face is tight with anger, but as he looks toward Alex his expression softens.
“Why don’t we all just go back down into the basement and look for th—her?”
Jack doesn’t seem to hear Michael’s slip up, and nods in agreement before charging back in the direction Michael had just come from, with Alex and Michael following close behind.
It’s 3 am, and Michael’s laughter rings through the nearly empty McDonalds. The other patron at the corner table only spares us a brief glance as I blush wildly at Michael’s reaction. He reaches across the table, resting his hand lightly a couple of inches from mine. My heart echoes in my ears.
He smiles at me widely, and it almost feels as if Jack had never been cruel to me. As if I had never been sad at all.
Just us, here in this McDonalds, at 3 am.
The basement is dark and damp, the sound of dripping water now louder than ever in Alex’s ears. The corridor seems to go on forever, and Alex instantly wonders how Michael and Divya could have actually found anything, let alone a bathroom, in this pitch black. Jack is behind them by several feet, but when Alex slows down to let him catch up, Michael grabs his arm to keep him walking. Alex gives him a questioning look, but Michael just continues staring straight ahead.
“Hey Michael, I thought you sa—” Alex hears a loud snapping sound and turns around just in time to see a barbed arrow impale Jack straight through his shin. Jack screams, and the chain the arrow is attached to begins to drag him through a door Alex hadn’t noticed was there before.
“Don’t just stand there!” Jack spits, “Help me!” But neither Alex nor Michael move to help, and Jack is dragged through the door, it slamming shut behind him. The sound echoes through the hall.
They both stare at the spot where Jack had just been for a few moments before finally, Alex gives a sigh of relief.
“I had forgotten about that one.” Alex mumbles. “Where are they being kept?”
“That storage room down the hall, the one I showed you last month?”
“Ah, right, right.”
“I have all the stuff, too. I brought it to the room yesterday.”
“Knives, whips, hanging hooks, everything?”
When they approach the door, taking extra care to make their footsteps obvious, the agonized moans of the four teens already inside become louder, the frantic clanking of chains rising above that in a cacophony of pain and regret. Alex smiles to himself.
“I love you, Mikey.”
“I love you, too, Alex. Happy Birthday, baby.”