The Cellar (Alex Hormoaning)

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Little Timmy, age six and a half (the half being very important), was asked to go down into the cellar to get a block of butter for his mother from the freezer. Being six and a half is a very trying time for a child. At six and a half a boy is still quite young but very much wants to grow up; he hasn’t quite grown out of the childhood fears — fear of the dark, fear of the monster in the closet, fear of the cellar — but doesn’t want to admit to them and desperately tries to act brave. Little Timmy was no exception.

Before entering the cellar Little Timmy stood at the top of the stairs for some time trying to listen for anything that might be lurking down below. Timmy knew all about monsters: the monster that lives in your closet, the monster that lives under the bed, the monsters that live in the shadows — the ones that grabbed you and sucked your brains through your ears. Oh, Timmy knew all about monsters, he had his older, wiser brother to teach him late at night after they were supposed to be asleep. Timmy loved the stories.

«They are just stories, aren’t they»? Little Timmy would ask, his heart, which was always a little weak, racing at the speed of light. «Now, why would you say a thing like that?» His brother would ask coyly and Little Timmy would sleep a little less soundly that night. The basement had a slight musty smell and was a few degrees cooler than the rest of the house, "a perfect place for a monster den, " his brother would say casually, but Little Timmy heard nothing. When he was confident that there was nothing down there he proceeded to climb down the stairs at a painfully slow pace, as if each step may conceal some trap just waiting to be sprung.

Upon reaching the bottom step he filled his lungs with a deep gulp of air and cautiously placed one foot on the cold, cracked, cement floor. Looking around, Little Timmy made sure there were no monsters anywhere around. This was very important, if he saw any suspicious looking shapes he could still quickly sprint up the stairs to the safety of the kitchen. Confident, once again, that there was nothing waiting to grab him, Little Timmy walked down the long hallway that led to the room with the freezer. One step at a time he made his way closer and closer to the freezer expecting that something may jump out at him at any given moment and whisk him away to some hidden lair where he could be eaten at the monster’s leisure. Little Timmy arrived at the doorway to the room with the freezer after a very laboured walk down the hallway. He slowly stuck his head past the doorframe and looked either way making sure not to expose any more of his head than absolutely necessary. Once again, nothing. He crept to the freezer and wrapped his little fingers around the cold door handle and pulled. The magnetic strip resisted for a moment and then relented with an audible hiss. Cold air rushed out at Timmy and made him shiver. A cold harsh light illuminated the contents of the freezer and made a small halo around it.

Little Timmy saw the butter, all the way up on the third shelf, forcing him to tiptoe to reach it. The block of butter was cold and hard in his hand, making his fingers go slightly numb. He closed the door and turned around. The hard part was over…

Suddenly, the lights went out all over the cellar leaving Little Timmy in absolute darkness. The single eye of the furnace flared and gazed at him, cruel, judging, but not bright enough to illuminate any of the surroundings. Timmy stifled a gasp as the freezer pump kicked in filling the air with a low hum. Timmy’s heart was starting to speed up again. Breath in, breath out. Little Timmy tried to calm himself down so that he could think and get himself out of this. Once Timmy calmed down he realized that all he had to do was walk forward and he would eventually find the stairs.

Sixty-seven steps. That was all, just sixty-seven steps. Little Timmy had done it before so he knew exactly how far it was. One, two three… pause, listen for monsters. Ten, eleven, twelve… Thirty-one, thirty-two, thirty-three… pause, listen once again. He waited a little extra this time. His heart was banging at his ribcage. Timmy could not recall ever being that afraid in his six and a half years of living. Straining his little ears Little Timmy could almost hear monsters laughing in the distance, just watching, waiting for him to get there so they could eat him.

Sixty-five, sixty-six, sixty-seven… No stairs… With his small, cautious steps Little Timmy’s little legs didn’t quite carry him to the bottom step this time. He panicked, the cold block of butter bit into his palms and fingers, so cold it was burning. He now could almost hear his heart beating in his chest, telling the monster in the darkness his exact location. No choice but to go on.

Sixty-eight, sixty-nine, seventy… At the exact moment that his tiny, stockinged foot touched the cement something grabbed him from behind and screamed in his ear. Little Timmy’s heart was hammering away now. Painfully.

At 9:06 p.m., six minutes after Little Timmy’s bedtime, his older brother, Kain, jumped him from behind and screamed in his ear. At 9:06 p.m., six minutes after his bedtime, his tiny heart, which was always a little weak, just gave out and Little Timmy, age six and a half, died.

- February 4, 2000 (12:21 am)