The Remains

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: House of Ghosts
when finding old books save your life

Submitted: May 08, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: May 08, 2017



The Remains

Quinton B. McKinney


“Dang, Ol’ Mac sure loved to read. Look at all these books.” Jason quipped while clearing the old house his parents left to them. He and his older brother Joshua had the task of clearing out the old stuff since the “folks” moved to Texas after retirement. Their sister was first in line to inherit the place, but she was in sunny California living the dream of a successful writer. The siblings had agreed to the terms set out by their parents. They each had a stake in the properties in three states; Texas, Washington, and Missouri. Each of them had to choose a “base camp” and rotate every five years so that they didn’t get bored with one area and want to sell the place. “Also, the selling of the properties is not negotiable. These homes and their land shall remain in the family, passed on from one generation to the next.” Their father had thought of everything.


“Some of these things look as old as you” Jason joked, blowing dust off one of the books in the direction of Joshua.

“And this jacket is as slick as your head” Joshua countered, throwing their dads old motorcycle jacket over Jason’s head. It landed with a heavy “flump,” the buckles jingle-jangling a little tune. “Try it on” he said with a chuckle.

Jason shook it off like a dog shaking water off its fur “Aww, man. This thing smells like beer and motorcycle exhaust.” The jacket fell to the floor, but this time there was a different jingle from one of the many pockets. “Did you hear that?”

“Hear what…” was Joshua’s reply as he grunted while lifting one of the heavy boxes of books. They both agreed to donate them to the local city library and schools. “Quit horsing around and help me get this stuff loaded up. We’ll be here all day at the speed we’re moving.” Josh took a few steps, stumbled and cursed; “I should have brought a handcart.”

“Oh, big Josh…you’re so strooonnng.” Jason sang whimsically, holding his clasped hands against the side of one cheek and fluttering his eyelids rapidly.

“Shut up and get back to work or I’m leaving” Joshua replied grumpily while carrying the loaded box out of the room.


“Grouch,” Jason muttered under his breath when his older brother had left the room. He bent and picked up the jacket by the collar, reminiscing how his father loved this thing. The old man’s face would light up like a child on Christmas day whenever he pulled it from the closet, grabbing his helmet and heading for the garage to mount one of his iron steeds. “Have a good ride and be safe,” his mother would say like a ritual prayer. “I’m not worried about you; it’s the other folks out there you have to look out for.” Old Mac would close the ritual by kissing his wife on the forehead and saying “I’ll be safe and alert...whatever a ‘lert’ is.” Then he would give her a wink, throw a leg over the motorcycle seat, settle in and thumb the starter bringing the beast to life. You could hear the rumble of urban thunder for a couple of blocks.


“I wonder if Mac left the key to one of his bikes in a pocket” Jason thought as he drifted back from his trip down memory lane. He began to poke around in each pocket and struck gold on the third try. Bingo! He thought removing the key ring from the inside pocket. This is a lot of keys for a motorcycle. Some of them look like keys to a padlock.

“Are you still farting around with that old jacket?” Josh moaned upon returning to see Jason still in the same spot as when he left. “Come on, man. I want to get outta here and get some food.”

“Oh, go eat a Snickers or something. You always get grumpy when you’re hungry.”

“I don’t want a damn Snicker, I want some real food.”

“Here,” Jason said tossing his car keys to Josh. “Take my car, but you have to bring me something back.”

“Two monster thick burgers with curly fries…” Josh sang “and a large Mountain Dew.” He put the key ring on his index finger and gave them a twirl.

Jason was salivating just thinking about the food “that sounds great.”

“That’s what I’m getting, I don’t know what you’re gonna eat” Josh teased while jogging to the front door.

“You’re an a-hole” Jason shouted as the door was closing.

“I know!” came a distant reply.


Being left alone, Jason furrowed his brow and rubbed hands in a wily manner. “Now, I’ll go and get a Snickers” he chortled while scampering down to the basement. Flicking the switch on the wall by the entrance, a series of blink-blink-hum from the florescent lights filled the area. I know dad kept a stash of snacks down here somewhere he thought, standing in the middle of the room and tapping an index finger on his temple. “Check behind the bar, stupid.”  He said to himself as he passed the coffee table in front of the recliners his mom and dad spent numerous evenings watching movies and laughing with each other.


Man, those were the good ol’ days, taking a trip down memory lane was something Jason did often. His dad had kidded that Jasons’ first words as a baby weren’t “Mama’ but ‘remember when.’

Lost in thought and searching for the snacks, Jason leaned against the bar while reaching into the upper cabinet causing it to slide a little at one end. “What the…” he said, teetering on his left foot trying to regain his balance. He immediately looked around, going into the childlike denial mode. When he realized how foolish he must have looked, he let out a huge belly laugh that caused tears to stream from the corners of his eyes. It wasn’t me… he thought as he dried his cheeks.

Jason decided to move the bar back, just in case the folks made a surprise visit from Texas. He didn’t want Mac to come down to the sanctuary and see things had been moved around too much. Walking around to the opposite side of the bar and getting ready to push it back in place, Jason noticed what appeared to be a hinge on the floor just underneath the toe kick panel. Kneeling down to get a closer look confirmed that it was exactly that, a hinge; his eyes weren’t playing tricks on him. Curiosity had gotten the better of him, so instead of putting the bar back in its original position he slid it further away exposing a small trap door in the floor. Locked! 

Okay, we have a trap door in the basement. Mac was a private dude and was always talking about preparing for the worst case scenario. I wonder what he has stashed down there. Jason began searching the bar for something to pry the lock off the hasp but the only things available were a spoon and an icepick.

Knowing his brother would return at any moment, Jason wanted to explore this hidey-hole and put things back in order PDQ. He could go out into the garage and get the bolt cutters, but then he would have to replace the lock...Bad idea. He could go and search the bedrooms upstairs for the key…strike two. Pacing to and fro Jason was tapping his brow with an index finger, when he decided to sit and think this out. “Hey, what the heck??” Jason started with amazement, being pinched on the butt by something in the chair. Standing up, there was nothing there. Feeling his back pocket, he was puzzled and energized simultaneously. He had forgotten the keys retrieved from his father’s jacket. I wonder…


“I knew it!” Joshua exclaimed with exasperation. “I leave you for a few minutes and you didn’t get anyth…” His words trailed off through the living room and kitchen with a slight echo. “Jason? JASON??”  He can’t be far; maybe he went to the basement.

When Joshua found Jason, he was sitting at a small metal desk bolted to the wall in a bunker built underneath the basement. It was filled with supplies from floor to ceiling and had an arsenal that would make any doomsday prepper green with envy.  Audible crying was coming from his younger brother as he approached him, which meant he had found something disturbing or worse. Placing his hands on Jason’s shoulders, Joshua glanced over the left one to see what he was reading.

“It’s Macs journal; he made an entry every day from the time he met Mom until last summer when they moved back to Texas” Jason managed to croak, his voice cracking near the end. He passed the book over to Joshua and placed his head on his arms and wept silently. Joshua couldn’t believe what he was reading at first but it began to make sense as he put events from memory with the writings on the pages. Don’t believe the media when they begin saying there is peace in the world, because the powers that rule governments cannot control the masses if everyone is at peace. A war is coming on a global scale and it will be on United States soil, get prepared for it. Your mother and I have made provisions in each location for you to survive if you follow these instructions completely.  

The last sentence sent cold chills up Joshua’s spine and without thinking he retrieved his phone from his pocket and attempted to call his parents. No service. Man, I hope they’re okay. When did Mac build all of this and stock it. How does he know there will be a war coming? As if he was reading his mind Jason walked up with more papers that answered everything. The old man has researched political trends and world events, comparing historical events from civilizations long forgotten and created a timeline of reoccurring incidents which led to his conclusion. Joshua remembered Mac always taught them “if you are not aware of your history, you are destined to repeat the same mistakes.”

Ensuring the lock on the trapdoor was secure and the bar was replaced in its original position, the brothers went upstairs. Sitting on the couch, each had a look of bewilderment on their faces. How could the old man know what would happen? And if his calculations were accurate the events described were due to unfold in just under a decade. “Now I know why he had all of the books” Joshua finally said, breaking the silence. “He was researching and building to ensure our safety.”

“Yeah” Jason nodded in agreement, “I think we have a lot of studying to do also.” Standing up and moving toward the door he added “let’s get this truck unloaded and the books put away.”


© Copyright 2018 Q.B. McKinney. All rights reserved.

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