We lived in several different houses when my brother and I were growing up. We were renters and a lower-to-middle class family who survived pretty much paycheck to paycheck. And for a while we had been lucky enough to live in a very nice house in a quaint little neighborhood paying rent that was beyond reasonable even for the time. But the unfortunate thing about renting is that it is never truly your home and if the landlord decides to sell you’re out. And that’s exactly what happened to us.
I was too young to really know the goings on and the stress my parents were under to find a new, affordable house before our time to vacate had rolled around. But I know the pressure and fear of not finding something was great due to how my mother reacted with tears of relief when we finally were rented out to just weeks before we had to be out of our other house.
From the outside the house looked fairly normal. It was a townhouse and looked pretty much like the one next to it and so on and so forth. The inside was alright. Although it was three floors it still felt smaller than the house we were leaving. But I was sure it would soon feel like home as we had moved before and one always felt a little off before settling in.
And they were located on the door leading to a room where there was a washer, dryer, and a small, dark crawlspace for what I could only assume was for storage of some kind. It still gave me chills nonetheless and I rarely went in there alone or unless I had to. The worst part of this room was the fact the bathroom and toilet was right beside it and there was a lock from the outside of the door. And when using the bathroom the thought would often cross my little adolescent mind about what exactly someone before us had been trying to lock in.
Basements are always inherently creepy in most cases anyway. But this basement just gave off a weird vibe and when you were down there you always felt like someone was watching you. And it was not just me who felt that way. Nobody in our family liked the basement. But nobody, especially of our financial status, was simply going to up and move because of one creepy ass basement that nobody liked. Why would you?
I am honestly not sure how long we had lived in the house when the incident happened. I feel like it couldn’t have been longer than a year. Although I’m unsure of the time frame of the incident, I can still envision exactly what happened as clearly as if it had happened last week.
Our parents had gone out, running some errand or another and left me in charge of my younger brother. I watched my brother often so there was nothing out of the usual for me to be left alone with him. And on this particular afternoon my little brother was in a playful mood. Being a good big brother I decided to indulge him and was playing around with him in the backyard. Our final game before going in to watch a video was tag.
He went inside and as I reached the front door it suddenly slammed violently in my face. I remember getting ready to sternly yell at my brother through the door for slamming it with such force. Had my hand been there he could have broken it or even smashed out the glass window for that matter. But as I prepared to scold him I realized something was very wrong. I could tell this from his desperate and extremely panicked screams from the other side of the door.
“Open the door,” I said to him sternly, trying to hide my worry.
My brother was not saying words but was simply calling my name repeatedly in long, drawn out squeals of fear. I was frightened too because I didn’t understand what the hell was happening on the other side of the door.
“Open the door!” I called to him in a firm, loud tone. “You have to open the damn door!”
And then the door just seemed to gently pop open. I pushed it open and my brother lunged at me with tears streaming down his face, his eyes darting wildly in the direction of the living room and door to the basement. As I made my way inside I tried to calm him and get him to explain to me what had happened.
My mind immediately jumped to “When a Stranger Calls” and any other slasher with the killer in the house and a babysitter left alone to defend the young children. So I grabbed myself a weapon of protection and inspected the house.
“It was a man,” my brother persisted as I took him up to my room, his sobbing still uncontrollable. “It was a red man and he was coming at me! A red man! A red man!”
I finally managed to lull my brother into enough of a sense of calm that his stressed and frightened little body soon fell limp and into a deep sleep on my bed.
Now I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t and still don’t always get along with my brother. But he was my little brother. And he was a little child. And I didn’t like the idea of some “red man” threatening him. If there was something or someone in the house who had a beef with him, they had a beef with me. And as far as I was concerned, they were to take it up with me and pick on me, not him. So that’s exactly what I said aloud in the center of the house.
“Show yourself to me,” I dared this unseen “red man.” “Show yourself and leave him alone.”
Once again, nothing.
I told my parents about it and my mother tried to write it off as my brother having been frightened by a glare or sunspots in his eyes where we had just come in from outside. She said it had to have been his imagination and that he must have locked the door himself.
I didn’t believe my brother had imagined this, but none the less I slept soundly that night. Nothing happened once darkness fell at all. It wasn’t until early the next morning that my earlier challenge was accepted.
I heard movement downstairs and it woke me up. So I got up out of bed and made my way to the railing and looked down over. From the kitchen I could see a shadow cast across the living room floor. From the shadow’s masculine build I was pretty sure it was my father and so I turned and made my way back to my room. But as I passed my parents room I realized…Both my mother and father were still sound asleep in bed in front of me.
Over the years we spent in that house, we all seemed to have nightmares about that basement at one time or another. All were eerily similar dreams of being confronted by someone in the basement or at the head of the stairs leading down to it. For all the years we were there I never once felt comfortable in that basement.
We don’t live in that house anymore, I’m happy to say. And I’m even happier to say that whatever “red man” seemed to dwell in that basement didn’t seem to follow us when we left. But sometimes at night when I’m asleep I do seem to find myself back in that house in my dreams. And each time I always find myself going to the basement door and trying desperately to keep whatever is on the other side of it from breaking out.