Sleeping in the basement of my parents’ home, my man cave was one that had my friends jealous. Unlike other teenagers, I worked hard during the summer, driving up and down streets to mow lawns for twenty or thirty dollars. I had over forty houses that I would cycle through over the course of two-weeks, and our regular rainfall ensured that I was always in business.
When school started back up, I used my saved money to buy a PlayStation and a flat screen TV, along with a slew of games. The large couch I’d purchased at a going-out-of-business sale for a local furniture store completed my perfect loft. The basement was split up into three rooms, the largest connected to the kitchen upstairs that I moved the couch and television into. The second room had the water heater, and I took the shelves from my old room and set them up here, along with a comfortable chair that I could sit at and read. A portable refrigerator was always stocked with Dr. Pepper, and was my source of nourishment during the long weekends where I would binge on video games and Netflix.
The third room had a door with a thick lock on it, the key always dangling around my neck. In there was where I slept, on a king-sized bed with a dozen pillows just beneath an air conditioning vent. My father being a portly man, he was always warm, and ran the air conditioner almost all day, every day. This led to a chilly basement that allowed me to dress in warmer clothes and hoodies, which I didn’t mind.
The only opening points to the outside world was the door leading to the kitchen at the top of the stairs, and a small window in my bedroom that had bars on it. It’s not that our home was in a bad neighborhood, but the house came with bars over many of the windows. It’d cost a pretty penny and a few good man hours removing the offensive iron, using spackle to cover up the holes in the walls from where the bars had been bolted.
The bars on the small window had stayed, as dad wasn’t concerned with how they looked, as there were a clump of bushes blocking the view of the window from the outside world. I never really cared, as the window would normally have let sunlight into the room every morning which would wake me up. But after my second month of living down there, cut away from the rest of the world, I started hearing strange noises at night.
If you ever thought you’d seen darkness, you’ve never been in a basement at night. Utter pitch clogged my vision as I sat up in my bed, the blanket falling from my naked form. The basement was silent, save for the thrum of the water heater in the other room, and I began to feel as if I’d just dreamt of the noise. That is until I heard it again.
Something hard was tapping against glass, which forced me to fetch my flashlight from under my bed and switch it on. Pointing it at the window, I gasped in horror. A woman, gray and naked with long greasy black hair and a prominent lower jaw, was crouched before the window tapping with a finger as large as a banana, a sharp nail tapping on the glass. Her black eyes looked at me as the light flashed over her, and a wide grin split open her face, revealing brown gums and broken teeth.
“Hello boy,” she crooned through the window. “I just want to come in to retrieve my cat. Would you open the window for me?”
I didn’t know what to say. The window was barred, and there was no fucking cat anywhere in the house. I watched as her grin slowly melted into a frown, her long nose and furrowed brow making her resemble the trolls of legend.
“I just want my cat child, nothing more, nothing less.” The woman growled, tapping on the glass a little harder. “I know she liked to hide in the basement, and need to gather her before I move on.”
“There’s no cat here!” I shouted, a little more frantic than I wanted. “Go away!”
“Go away?” She repeated, her mouths forming around the words as if they had a bad taste in her disgusting mouth. “I’m afraid I can’t do that. Now let me in before I come in myself.”
“No!” I cried, walking over to my door to unlock it., I grabbed the handle and tugged, only to find that it wouldn’t budge. Heaving with my weight, finding the door impassable. The tapping grew louder, and more frequent.
The tinkling of broken glass told me that the woman had made her way into the basement, and swinging my flashlight back towards the small window, I saw that the bars were bent, glass lying in a mess on the concrete floor. Bloody footprints led towards my bed, and I followed them with my flashlight, reaching next to my door for my baseball bat. The feet stopped next to my bed, continuing over the covers and onto the nightstand, and up the wall.
Confused, I followed the trail as it led to the ceiling, where the footprints were joined by humongous hand prints. A scuttle from the corner had me swivel my flashlight towards a bookshelf I had in the corner. Several books were pulled from the shelves, one opened with the pages fluttering.
Spinning the flashlight around, I choked back a gasp as the bloody footprints were nowhere to be seen. Backing up towards the door, I swept my flashlight around the room in a vain attempt to locate the strange old woman.
When my back humped into the doorway, I winced as I noticed that it was wet, and lumpy. Spinning, I saw the woman standing before me, limp hair dripping grease onto the concrete as her face stared down at her feet. Her hands, gigantic in proportion to the rest of her body, were curled into fists. Bare breasts, limp and hairy, hung from her sallow skinned chest. She was mumbling something, twitching every few moments as I backed away from her.
“I just want my cat… I just want my cat… I just want my cat…” she repeated, over and over.
Her head flashed up, eyes flashing a violent red as she raced forward, hands wide as she sought to throttle me. Shrieking, she was knocked back when I kicked her in her distended belly, the flesh jiggling as she let out a grunt of pain. I watched in shock as brilliant red blood leaked from the bushy crux between her legs, trickling down her leg as if she were urinating.
She giggled, holding up a swollen hand to her mouth. I kept the light on her, backing up until my legs bumped into the edge of my bed. Falling back onto my ass, I drop the flashlight with a clatter and in an instant, she disappeared.
I fell back onto my bed with a groan, rolling off the side to stand up, bending down to scoop up my flashlight in a hurry. I held it up and scanned the walls and darkened corners of the room. The woman was nowhere to be seen. I nearly shrieked when a drop of water fell on my head, forcing me to walk over to my door, flinging it open in surprise.
“Damned thing was jammed a few moments ago, now it’s like it’s been recently greased…” I grumbled as I walked into the large entertainment room. I heard scampering along cement and swiveled around, my light pushing the darkness back as I looked for any sign of her. The woman was nowhere in sight, but I could still feel her presence around me, the smell of her oily skin and hair tickling my nose.
Another drop of water caused me to jump, and I reached back to wipe away the water.
The droplet was sticky… bringing my hand up in front of my flashlight, I saw that my hand was smeared with red.
Looking up, I scream out as the woman, holding onto the ceiling with all four limbs, dribbles out a stream of blood from the crux between her legs. Cackling at me as I held up my hand to prevent the sticky, smelly bloody from falling on my face, I dropped the flashlight and hit the ground as the woman dropped onto me.
One huge hand grabbed my forearms, holding them together while the other hand reached out and throttled me. Her flat face and beady eyes spread into a wide grin as I felt my vision swim, spots dancing before my eyes. Her horrid breath washed over my face as she lowered her face to mine, whispering small noises that I couldn’t understand.
“Meow?” A cat inquired, causing the woman to stop squeezing my throat, her face snapping up to look at my parent’s cat, Mr. Pringles.
“Kitty?” The woman asked, her voice wavering. She released my forearms and held out both hands towards Mr. Pringles, who took a step closer and sniffed her hands. “Kitty play?”
Mr. Pringles meowed again, a small noise that seemed to echo through the room. The woman stood up and walked over to the cat, scooping him up into her arms. He instantly started purring, her thick fingers rubbing under his chin.
“I just wanted me cat,” the ghost said. She walked away, disappearing in the darkness of the house, her final words making me shiver.
“You’ll be a good kitty, won’t run away like the others…”