The Crawl Space

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Deep secrets haunt a house and a young boy's imagination. In the course of time the history that he shares with others will come to be unexpectedly, and gruesomely, revealed.

Submitted: February 12, 2008

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Submitted: February 12, 2008

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Seven Years Ago
 
Ronnie was in the basement rummaging around with his dad for Christmas decorations. The floor was cold, unfinished concrete, and the whole expanse of the basement, about twenty-five feet in length, was lit by a solitary naked light bulb. Ronnie's dad pulled the chain connected to the light bulb on their way down the stairs, and the basement was flooded by a murky, dim yellow glow.
There were boxes and boxes. Boxes of old clothes and decaying old cardboard boxes of broken down junk and mounds of other boxes marked X-Mas decorations. Those were the ones that Ronnie and his dad were looking for.
The basement ceiling was low, only about five feet and a couple of inches high and Ronnie's dad had to duck and shuffle along while being all hunched over as he searched for the right box of white string Christmas lights to decorate the outside of the house with.
Twelve year old Ronnie was just short enough to move freely through the basement without having to bend over. The low ceiling was criss-crossed by irregular, bare, sturdy and ancient wooden beams that supported the entire weight of the house. The tip's of the hairs on Ronnie's head brushed against these beams as he walked through the basement.
Whenever they were in the basement, Ronnie's dad would run his hand along one of those weathered beams and say, "Original beams, as old as the house." Then he'd look at his son. "They've been here supporting this house for a hundred and ten years," Ronnie's dad would say with a hint of awe in his voice.
Ronnie would just stand there and watch his dad run his hand along the beams. He would subtract twelve from one hundred and ten in his head. Ninety-eight. "Some thing's last for a really long time," his dad would say. Ronnie could never figure out why his dad was so impressed by that fact. Ronnie's dad was forty-two years old, and to Ronnie, forty-two years was a hell of a long time. Even the hairs on his dad's moustache were beginning to turn gray.
Ronnie's dad said the exact same thing about those beams that day in the basement when the two of them were looking for the Christmas decorations.
"This house is really old," his dad had said.
"Yeah dad," Ronnie had mumbled. Then the two of them had set about the work of finding the right box of Christmas lights amidst all the clutter.
"I think these are the ones your mother was talking about," Ronnie's dad said.
His dad was bent over in a particularly dark and dusty corner of the basement and holding a crumpled cardboard box in his hands. The yellow light from the bare naked bulb hardly even reached that far back into the recesses of the basement.
"Yeah, this is it," Ronnie's dad said after he'd pulled out his reading glasses and read the words that were written in faded black marker on the box. "White X-Mas outdoor lights," Ronnie's dad read aloud.
Ronnie walked over to the dark corner of the basement where his dad stood in shadows. He had intended on giving his dad a hand with carrying the box up the stairs, but something about that dark corner of the basement caught his adolescent attention instead. 
Hanging from the ceiling just above his father's head was a chain exactly like the one that hung down from the light bulb on the stairwell. Ronnie couldn't see any kind of light bulb attached to this chain. He couldn't see anything hanging from the ceiling in that dark corner of the basement. Ronnie went to go grab the small chain. 
"Don't do that!" His dad shouted just as Ronnie's hand was about to grasp the chain and pull.
"Why not? What's that dad?" Ronnie asked as he stared up at a plywood square between the beams in the ceiling.
Ronnie's dad pushed the box of Christmas lights that he was holding out to a less cluttered spot on the floor and said, "That? That's the crawl space."
"The crawl space?"
"Yeah it's a little space that runs the length of the house under the floor in the living room and the kitchen," Ronnie's dad said. Then his dad went back to intently moving around more old boxes of Christmas decorations.
Ronnie stood still, stared up at the basement's low ceiling and wondered. "Dad, did you ever go into the crawl space?" he asked.
Ronnie's dad stopped what he was doing while he was bent over and turned at the neck to face his son. "Yeah once," he said, "but there's nothing in there Ronnie. It's just a small space with dirt and bugs."
"Can I see it, dad?" Ronnie asked.
Ronnie's dad tried to stand up and bumped his head against one of the beams. He hunched back down again and said, "Nah, Ronnie you don't want to go in there. It's dirty and cold. There's nothing in the crawl space."
"Come on dad. Please?" Ronnie begged. He was still young enough to whine and sometimes get his way. He hoped that this would be one of those times.
"Alright," his dad said, "but I'll just give you a boost up and let you look inside through the opening. If you go in there I might not be able to go in after you and get you out. Got it kiddo?"
"Got it."
Ronnie's dad reached up and pulled on the small chain. There was a snap and a long drawn out creaking sound. Rusted hinges that hadn't been disturbed in years, suddenly and reluctantly started to turn as Ronnie's dad applied more and more force to pulling the chain.
And then in an instant a square of wood flapped open like a trap door right there in the ceiling of the basement.
"Come on Ronnie," his dad said.
Ronnie climbed on his dad's back, propped himself up just above the lip of the square opening in the ceiling and looked into the crawl space.
He couldn't see a thing. Dust filled his nostrils, cold air rushed around his face, and Ronnie could smell the musty odor of damp wood rotting, but he couldn't see a thing. He sensed that he was staring into a tunnel that did indeed go on for quite awhile, maybe even for the entire length of the house like his dad had said, but no matter how much he strained, Ronnie couldn't see anything but darkness inside the crawl space.
"You finished now?" Ronnie heard his dad say.
"Yeah," Ronnie said, and the he let himself be guided and lowered down to the basement's concrete floor by his dad's steadying hand.
As they walked back up the stairs with the box of Christmas decorations, Ronnie's dad said, "See, there's nothing in the crawl space. It's just a weird old house."
"It's big dad," Ronnie said.
"Yeah, but there's nothing in there Ronnie. I've checked."
"You checked all of it dad?"
"Yeah I checked it, Ronnie. There's nothing in there. Don't go into the crawl space," Ronnie's dad said while he looked his son straight in the eye.
"Okay dad. I won't," Ronnie said.
"No joke Ronnie. Promise me you won't ever go into the crawl space," his dad said in a deadly serious voice.
"I promise I won't go into the crawl space dad," Ryan said. And then the two of them reached the top of the stairs with the box of Christmas decorations in hand.
 
October 30, 1929
 George Mayfield pulled his Model- A Ford into the driveway of the house that his father had built thirty-two years before. A black Model- A Coupe with white-wall tires. It looked just like the cars at the movies that he and his wife saw every Sunday at the matinee. 
The car was new. George had bought it six months ago thanks to the chairman's salary at the bank that he'd inherited from his father last October.
Only a year ago George had inherited the salary, the house and all the responsibility that went with being the new chairman of the Mayfield Saving's and Loan Bank. The members of the Board of Trustees always looked askance at George's new position as having been the result of nepotism, but so what George figured. After all, no one else had put up with the old man's shit: the drinking, the yelling, the pressure for longer than George had. George felt that he deserved everything he'd inherited and he may have been right too.
Only one year ago, right after the old man had died, George had moved into the big colonial with his childhood sweetheart and blushing new bride Mildred. Back then, only a year ago, things had definitely been looking up.
A new car, the woman of his dream's as his wife, their own home and a professional career in banking. A year ago, the world had been George Mayfield's for the taking, but now, everything was falling apart.
As George pulled his Model- A into the driveway of his home late that night, he didn't even realize that he'd forgotten his hat in his hurry to leave his office at the bank. He didn't care about his hat either. He had the briefcase. The briefcase was all the mattered now. It contained $10,000 in cash, all $100 dollar bills and George hoped that maybe it would be enough for Millie to get by on once he wasn't around anymore. It was all the cash that was left in the safe at the bank.
George walked through the backdoor of his house in a daze. His hat was gone, his shirt un-tucked, his vest unbuttoned and his tie all undone and draped over his shoulder. Everything had fallen apart so quickly.
A few days ago there had been rumors of a fall in the markets; of an economic panic and a rush on the banks.  George hadn't paid those rumors much attention. There had always been rumors about a possible market crash and subsequent bank collapse, but none of them had ever come to fruition in the past. George himself didn't even know all of the economic intricacies involved, but he had always been confident that borrowing, lending and saving would last forever.  It was what his own father had made a fortune on. He thought it would all last forever. George Mayfield had thought wrong.
Now, as he stood still in the dark kitchen of his newly inherited home, George realized that all the plan's he'd ever made; all the thought's he'd ever had, were nothing more than an illusion. They'd all been down-right frauds.
The bottom had fallen out of the market suddenly, almost overnight, it seemed. The papers were calling it a crash and a depression. George wasn't exactly sure what that meant, but he did know that soon all the investor's, all the account holder's and all the borrower's would be coming back to Mayfield Saving's and Loan and looking for their money. Everyone from million dollar investor's, to small business owner's, to the old lady who kept a trust fund for her grandkid's; the entire mob of angry people would come looking for George Mayfield once they heard about the crash. They'd all come to him looking for cold hard cash and George knew that he had none to give them. Nothing had been insured. Every deposit; every loan; every account was nothing more than a worthless piece of paper that had been signed in good faith. Everything was a worthless bank check with George Mayfield's signature on it. All the money that Mayfield Saving's and Loan had was in the briefcase that George held in his right hand. That was Millie's money for when he was gone. It was all over.
George stood in the kitchen and looked around. All was dark and quiet. His wife was asleep. George crept over to the cabinets above the kitchen counter. He opened one and pulled out a bottle of Canadian Club whiskey that he only brought out on those rare occasions when he really needed it in this time of prohibition. This was one of those rare occasions.
Then George opened another cabinet and he took out a small metal strong-box. He reached into the inside pocket of his gray suit jacket and found his key-ring. He used the smallest one of the keys to open the lock on the metal strong-box.
It had been a retirement gift that had been given to George's dad by a wealthy Texas oil magnate who had a million dollar account at the bank. The inscription, "Best Wishes in your life after work," was etched in fancy lettering on the barrel of the gun. George opened the chamber and checked for bullets. The gun was loaded. Six bullets. George wouldn't need that many.
He tucked the gun into his pants and covered it with his jacket. Then George took the bottle of whiskey and the briefcase up the stairs to the bedroom to go and say goodbye to Millie.
For a minute George stood in the master bedroom and looked down at his wife. She was sleeping soundly in a silk white nightgown that George loved and her mouth was slightly open. A lock of golden hair fell haphazardly atop her pale cheek as she slept. George put the briefcase full of money inside the closet. Then he sat on the edge of the bed and took a long gulp from the bottle of whiskey. He sighed, and then Millie began to stir on the bed behind him.
"What is it Georgie?" she asked, and George saw her soft pale hand rest slide atop his shoulder.
He took another hit from the bottle and then turned his head to face his wife. Mildred's silk white nightgown glowed in the moonlight that came through the window. "It's over Millie," George whispered to her.
"Over? What's over, Georgie?" Millie said with a look of panic on her face. Her heart skipped a beat because she was afraid that the next words out of her husband's mouth would be, "I want a divorce," or "our marriage is over."
Instead, her husband said, "We're ruined. The market's crashed and there's no money Millie."
A wave of relief rushed over Mildred. She leaned over to kiss her husband on the cheek. "No money?" she said. "Oh Georgie that's ridiculous. What about the bank and all the inheritance that your father left you?"
"That's just it Millie. There is no money. No real money, anyway, and there never was. Nothing was ever insured and now it's all gone," George said as he placed the bottle of whiskey on the bedroom floor and stood up.
Millie sat there on the bed with her nightgown lit up by the moonlight. "Georgie, I don't understand," she said.
"We're ruined. It's all gone, Millie. Everything we have is in that briefcase in the closet. I love you Millie," George said and then he began to walk away from his wife and out of the bedroom.
"Georgie, where are you going?" His wife called from the bed.
"I'm just going for a walk," George said to his wife without turning around as he walked away.
George pulled the chain that lit up the one solitary light bulb that hung from the ceiling in the stairwell of the basement. The basement was bathed in a dim yellow glow.
George walked down the stairs and into the basement. He ducked and was careful not to hit his head on the cross-beams. He went over to the darkest corner of the basement and pulled another chain that opened a wooden flap like a trap-door in the ceiling.
George pulled himself up and into the crawl space. Dust and the scent of damp and mildewed wood filled his nostrils. George couldn't see a thing inside the crawl space. He slid and slithered along for a couple of feet and came to a stop somewhere beneath where he thought the living room would have been.
He pulled the revolver out from under his jacket and opened his mouth. He tasted metal.
George Mayfield's life ended when the mush of his brain splattered against the damp mildewed wood of the crawl space.
The sound of a gunshot pierced the still October night and two floors above, his wife Mildred let out a high pitched scream and sobbed into her pillow.
The Present Day
Nineteen year old Ronnie remembered the crawl space. "Don't go into the crawl space," his father had warned him once before.
Well, fuck that Ronnie thought. Fuck his dad and fuck that bitch who said she loved him three years and then left him for the first frat boy with a big dick that she could find when she got to college.
If Ronnie was really going to end it than there was no place better he could think to do it in than the crawl space. Ronnie would just crawl into the darkness; smoke a cigarette, slit his wrists and then silently wait to bleed to death.
It'd be easy and it'd all be over quickly he thought. Two little slits vertically along the veins and in a minute or two he'd pass out and die from loss of blood. He figured that either his mother or father would come looking for him in the morning and find his body lying in a crimson pool deep within the crawl space. Even if they happened to let his body sit there and rot, and let the maggots eat out his eyeballs, at least Ronnie could rest assured that soon all the pain would be over.
Ronnie went down the stairs and into the darkest corner of the basement. He pulled the chain and down fell the little flap of wood like a trap-door in the ceiling. Ronnie pulled himself up and slithered through the crawl space with a box-cutter pressed between his lips. He couldn't see anything and the scent of dust and mildew filled his nostrils. This is where it was going to end.
Ronnie crawled along for a couple more feet. He wanted to get way far back into the crawl space where no one could hear him or try to stop him. 
He reached out a hand to feel ahead of himself in the darkness of the crawl space. The box-cutter remained firmly clenched between his lips. Then Ronnie felt something hard and smooth with his hand. He searched around the crawl space, groping with his hands, and he felt more of those smooth hard and mysterious things.
"Oh shit," Ronnie thought. His dad had said this place was empty. Now was not the time for new discoveries, but curiosity got the better of him. Ronnie let the box-cutter drop from his mouth and dug around in his pocket for his cigarette lighter.
He laid on his belly in the crawl space and held the lighter out in front of his face. Ronnie flicked on the lighter.
The narrow confines of the crawl space were flooded by the glow of the lighter's flame. Ronnie laid there on his stomach and stared face to face, eye to eye, with a skeleton dressed in a three piece suit. The skull lay right next to Ronnie's hand and the body was slouched against the wall with the vertebrae of the spinal column sticking out of it where the neck should have been like the tentacles on an octopus. The skull stared right back at Ronnie with the teeth gleaming white and the mouth wide open. It was like the thing was laughing at him from the grave. Ronnie gazed into the two hollow eye sockets and saw the shattered hole at the back of the mouth where the tongue should have been and he screamed and screamed.
Instantly, Ronnie forgot all thoughts of why he had come into that claustrophobic tunnel to begin with. All he knew is that he wanted out. Out! Out! OUT! Ronnie screamed and he cried. He pissed himself as he tried frantically to turn around inside the narrow crawl space.
He'd gone in about twelve feet, but Ronnie felt like the walls of the crawl space were closing in around him and ready to swallow him alive.  He turned himself around and slowly, inch by inch, he struggled, crawling and slithering toward that tiny square of light in the ceiling. Why did he feel the smooth sensation of silk, like the fabric of a woman's nightgown brush against the back of his hand as he struggled to get out? Ronnie didn't want to know. Inch by inch he moved his way toward that little square of the light in the basement ceiling. The end of the crawl space.
Ronnie fell from the square opening and landed with a THUD on the unfinished concrete floor. Ronnie was crying and shaking in convulsions as he laid on the floor. He vomited, screamed and then vomited again. When he opened his eyes, Ronnie's dad was standing there, bent over him in the basement.
"You didn't go in there, did you?" Ronnie's dad asked.
Ronnie could only shake his head up and down as a way of answering yes to his dad's question.
"I warned you not to go in there Ronnie. Did you see what was inside the crawl space?" his dad said.
"Yes," Ronnie gasped.
"I told you not to ever go in there Ronnie. You don't want to end up like what's in the crawl space, do you?" Ronnie's dad asked him in the dim yellow light of the basement.
Ronnie cried and shook his head no. Ronnie's dad had to bend down and pick his crying and shaking nineteen year old son up in his arms. His dad carried Ronnie up the stairs, out of the basement and away from the crawl space.
 
October 30, 1934
It had been five years and the money was almost all gone. Mildred was only thirty-three, but she felt old. Sure, she'd kept her husband around all these years to make herself feel young, but their talks just didn't seem to be the same anymore. Millie wanted Georgie to take her someplace new and exotic. Someplace that would rejuvenate her.
On the six year anniversary of their wedding, Millie put on the white silk nightgown that Georgie always loved so much. She went down the stairs and into the darkest corner of the basement.
Millie pulled the chain on the flap of wood that was like a trap-door in the ceiling. She pulled herself up and into the crawl space and then closed the wooden flap behind her. The crawl space is where her Georgie liked to spend all of his time these last couple of years. Millie crawled along for a dozen feet or so. Give or take a few feet.
Then Mildred held her husband, her Georgie whom she loved so much, in her arms. Nothing felt so good to her, or as loving, as her Georgie's warm embrace. True, his flesh was almost all gone by now, but there were still some tufts of brown hair that remained on the skull. Her sweet Georgie's hair.
Mildred sat in the crawl space and held her husband. Soon, either the air to breathe in there would run out, or she'd starve to death. It didn't matter to her as long as she could hold her sweet little George. She'd worn the white silk nightgown that he loved so much.


© Copyright 2017 WriterMike730. All rights reserved.

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