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Find the original r/nosleep version here.

It was many months after the thing chased me through the corn stalks, gotten into my house and left me a wreck that crawled under my bed to sleep every night. The corn had been harvested and the field cleared. It was Spring, bringing a quick thaw and hard rains that soaked the earth and caused our septic tank to fill and back up, flooding the basement. That drove my brother upstairs from his dark, basement dwelling. He claimed my room and I moved in with my younger brother, sleeping in a bunk bed.

Everything was very tense at the time. My parents were on edge because of the flooding in the basement and the cost of repairing the septic tank. My brothers and I were on edge because of our parents. Dinners were quiet, shouting matches often. When things got too heated, we’d retreat to our separate corners to cool off.

There was a performing arts theater downtown of which my parents signed up to be annual members. It was decided that we’d go as a family to see a performance of Oklahoma. The night of the play, I said something stupid, something I shouldn’t have. Something that set everybody off into another fight, and in the end I was left home alone while they went to see the play.

Night settled on the house. I sat in the den with all the lights on in the house and the shades drawn, watching old Twilight Zone episodes. Our den was situated at the corner of the house with windows filling two sides that looked out into the backyard and over the pool and patio that were a flight down at basement level. I was sitting on a loveseat with my back to the windows and a cat curled up in my lap.

There came a rumble and a slight tremor that spooked the cat. I muted the television, watching the actors pantomime. The shades over the windows were illuminated briefly from outside, followed seconds later by another rumble… of thunder. Going to the window, I pulled up the shade. The sky was orange, and off in the distance a crackle of lightning lit up the horizon. An electrical storm. The rumble happened again, closer.

I dropped the shade and returned to my seat, but just as I unmuted the teleivision, there came a bright flash from the windows and the house house plunged into darkness. Shit, I thought, Maybe all the lights on caused a breaker to flip. The breakers were in the basement, across the main room, through my brother’s old room, on the far side of a dark storage room filled with boxes of stuff we’d never unpacked. Isn’t it always the case.

I went into the kitchen and got a flashlight from the tool drawer. Gathering my courage, I went back to the den, where the door down to the basement was. The electrical storm must have been right overhead at that point, because when the back yard got lit up, the rumble of thunder came immediately after, and was so loud that I could hear my mother’s China rattling in the cabinets.

Walking down into the basement was easy. I had a full head of steam and was determined to not be frightened. There were windows in the basement, looking out to the patio, but they were around a corner and across the room, so I no longer had the occasional flash from outside, just the loud rumble of thunder every 30 seconds or so.

The basement floor was covered with plastic tarps my father had laid down to soften some of the damage the next time it flooded. Every step I took made a rustling sound. There were piles of ruined books and boxes of moldy computer parts littering the way to my brother’s room. I trudged semi-confidently across the way to the door into his bedroom. It was wide open and looked cavernous. There was a smell of rot coming out of it.

His room had gotten the worst of the flooding because of it’s location so close to the buried septic tank. His bathroom was the first to get hit by backed up sewer water, and the rug was crusted up by filth I didn’t even want to think about. My father hadn’t bothered to cover anything in the room because of all the stuff my brother had left lying around: dirty clothes, paperbacks, old homework, new homework, potato chip bags… a teenage boy’s room.

I gagged entering the room. The smell of rot was overlaid with a stench of feces and sewage. I lingered, examining the ruin, before it occurred to me I was wasting time in a place I didn’t want to be. I crossed the bedroom, stepping over the soggy, stained mattress he had used to sleep on when it was dry. The door to the storage area was also wide open, left that way by my father who had hoped would help the rooms air out.

I set one foot into the storage room, shining my flashlight across collapsing columns of boxes. My foot crunched on the cement flooring and the whole house rumbled, making me pause. In that moment, a silence fell over the world, and I heard a whisper come out from behind a row of boxes. There was a voice, so soft I might have thought it was my mind playing tricks on me. I couldn’t understand it. I shined the flashlight in the direction of the voice. Across the room, one of the cardboard boxes shifted slowly, turning.

I was back in the corn field suddenly, reliving the night I was chased back to my house. I could see every moment in my head as distinctly as watching it on television. My hand holding the flashlight trembled, but I gripped it tighter. The box continued to slowly turn and then stopped. The voice returned, clearer.

“Look what I did.”

Oh Jesus, I thought, Just come down now and take me away. I’m done with life. I couldn’t move. Or rather, I couldn’t think of moving. All I could think to do was keep the flashlight pointed at the boxes in the corner. Just to the left in the wall beyond them, I could see the panel with the circuit breakers.

“Come see.”

A thin, gray arm extended out into the beam of my flashlight from behind the boxes, causing my heart to start racing. The hand attached to the arm had thin, bony fingers. It was covered in grime and what looked like blood. They waved slowly, hypnotically at me. I felt something warm run down my leg. The hand reached out and grasped the side of the box, followed by another thin, gray arm extending out. It was like watching a person pull themselves up out of a hole, only it was happening sideways.

My arms and legs were shaking bad and I was standing in a puddle, but I still couldn’t will myself to move. A head. A head rose up sideways from behind the box. It was a woman: Gray skin, black hair cropped and mangled like she’d had it cut by an angry barber. Her eyes were sunken, but I could see the reflection of the flashlight somewhere deep inside. Her lips were wrinkled and curled back over her teeth, making her look like she was grinning. She was staring straight at me as she clambered slowly around the side of the box like some sort of lizard. She held her arms out, palms upward to me, displaying how covered in gore and dirt they were.

“I made a mess.” she whispered through her teeth. Her body seemed to sink low, and as I watched, horror-stricken, she moved entirely out from behind the boxes. She had on an old dress, polka-dotted, with an apron over it that was covered in blood. The dress might have had color to it once, but by then it was almost as gray as her skin, and looked like she’d been standing out in the rain. Her feet were bare and shriveled, and as she took a horrifying step toward me, she hunched over, bent unnaturally at the waist and fell onto her hands and feet like some sort of animal. Her head remained angled looking up slightly at me and my flashlight.

There was a scream building up in my throat, but I had lost control of everything. I couldn’t even think, all I could do was look and see and allow this image to burn itself into my brain, where I’ve never gotten rid of it. My arms and legs started shaking like I was having convulsions. Somewhere, I heard the rumble of the thunder, but the woman’s whispering seemed to drown it out.

“Come see what I did!” Her whispering was becoming shrill. I managed to lean my head down and roll my eyes back front as they had been beginning to roll up into my head. My jaw was hanging open, and it snapped shut. Inside my chest, my heart felt like it was going to explode. She was crawling toward me, knees and elbows up, like some sort of spider. She shook her head as she scuttled toward me, trying to make some sort of coocoo sound with her mouth but her lips wouldn’t close over her teeth.

My brain screamed inside its prison and somehow I found the strength to move. Dropping the flashlight, I turned and tripped over my feet, falling down on the soaked mattress. My lungs felt suddenly like I was trying to breathe underwater. My nose filled with the stench of shit and mold. I remember gurgling and clawing at mattress as it squelched and sloshed underneath me.

It gets hazy here. I remember feeling hands, cold and wet, grab onto my ankles. I remember being pressed further down into that disgusting mattress. I think she was on top of me, climbing over me. That’s where my memory of it all goes. I believe I passed out, but it’s hard to say when you can’t recall.

I came to standing in front of the mirror in the bathroom, brushing my hair. It was like I was looking down a long, black hallway, and at the end I could see something. Suddenly I was being propelled straight toward it, and in less than a second, I was there, and the something I had seen was my reflection in the bathroom mirror. And there was a hairbrush in my hand. And I was humming to myself. And then I stopped. Because what the fuck? How did I get up here?

I was wearing a bathrobe. I didn’t remember putting it on. The lights were still out, but the whole house was lit up by several dozen little candles. I didn’t remember lighting them. The bath was run and full of cold water. I didn’t remember running it. My found my wet, dirty clothes in a pile in the corner of the den. I took them and put them in the washing machine.

There was still well over an hour before my family was coming home, and I felt violated. I wasn’t sure what to do. Could I call the police? Would they handle that sort of thing? I sure as hell wasn’t going to go back into the basement. EVER. I still hate basements. I curled up on the loveseat and just held my knees, staring at the dark screen of the television.

And then something tapped gently on the glass of the window behind me and I went into my old bedroom, now my brother’s bedroom, crawled under the bed, covered myself with clothes and toys and cried until I fell asleep.

So now you understand a little of what it’s like. It’s not like in the movies, or with Jennifer Love Hewitt… you never get used to the things you see. There’s never a moment when you feel safe, and there’s nowhere, and no time, when they can’t reach out and touch you.

After so many years, your mind can start playing tricks on you. Sometimes, when I go into the basement of my duplex to do laundry, I feel like that woman is still around. I’ll head to the stairs, turning off the lights as I go, and out of the corner of my eye I’ll think I see her emerging from the far side of the basement, where the door to the circuit breakers is, scuttling on her hands and feet, lips curled back, eager for another brief moment of life.


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