First, let me preface this by saying that I have had a lot going on lately and offer my apologies for making my readers wait so long to read the second half of the story.  I meant to get it online two weeks ago but never got around to it.

But the good news… here it is!  It’s really more like the last 4/5 of the story because it is so much longer than I intended.  So thank you for reading and I hope the lengthy cliffhanger was worth it when you read the rest.  Enjoy!

“Forbidden Basement” (continued) by Sabrina Buie

Harper pulled her long cardigan tight around her and kept her arms crossed as she stared into the dark abyss of the basement.  She could see the faint glow of muddled sunlight coming in through a small window somewhere down there.  A few stairs down there was an old dusty light switch.  She stepped cautiously down to the third step and reached out to flip the switch.  It made a light click, but nothing happened.  She flipped it off and on again a couple more times.  Still nothing.  The moonlight streaming into the basement was not comfort enough for her to venture any further into the dark, dank basement so she backtracked quickly up the stairs and closed the door behind her. 

She stood leaning against the door, listening quietly.  The basement was silent.  All she could tell about the basement with the light from the kitchen and the basement window was a general depth of it and that it had a cement floor.  A shiver went up her spine again and she tried to shake it off.  It was the very early hours of the morning – too early to get ready for the day, but she was wide awake.

Realizing she probably wasn’t going to be able to get back to sleep even if she tried, Harper went into the office, grabbed her laptop, and went to her room to work on some of the recent freelance work she had picked up online.  She nudged the door closed behind her with her foot and slid into bed.  Junior was still asleep on his bed next to her nightstand.  Harper looked curiously at him, wondering what had come over him.  His feet kicked adorably and he chomped his teeth – most likely dreaming of chasing cats.  She booted up her laptop and intently worked, the clicking of her keys filling the room.

The sun was glaring in on Harper’s face and she stirred, something heavy was on her lap and a crick was in her neck.  Her eyes opened sleepily and she saw that her laptop was still sitting on her, her hands at the ready to type; she had fallen asleep propped up in bed.  She pulled the laptop onto the bed and sat up, stretching her neck.  Realizing Junior must be dying to get outside and do his business, she glanced over at the door and saw it open.  Weird.  I thought I closed that last night.  Considering Junior’s ability to use his nose and paw to open any door even slightly ajar, she decided that she must not have pushed it hard enough to close it.  She walked out into the living room and found him sitting patiently by the couch.

“Good morning, Junior!  Need to go outside?”  She asked him.  Junior stood up and trotted happily to her and they walked through the kitchen and she let him out back, watching him through the doorway.  She heard a creak behind her and glanced back into the kitchen.  She saw nothing but her heart was beating quickly.  Trying to calm herself she kept thinking, “You’re being paranoid.  It’s just the house.”  She heard another creak and willed herself to ignore it.

“Inside, Junior.  Come on.”  He wandered back into the house and watched her with a fixed stare.  She always fed him first thing in the morning and he typically waited beside her just as he was, but today the look in his eye creeped her out. 

“Junior, knock it off.”  In response he exhaled sharply through his nose, shook his head, and whimpered.  Harper smiled.  “Silly boy.”  She proceeded to feed him and then left him chewing happily to take a shower. 

Harper stood in the steaming hot shower wondering about the basement.  Junior hadn’t even flinched this morning when he walked by it, like nothing had ever happened.  He probably heard something that he thought came from the basement.  In any case, it seemed like the basement was already a non-issue for him.  She was lathering her hair with conditioner when the water went suddenly ice cold. 

“Agh!  What the hell?!”  She pushed the shower head to the wall and tried turning the shower knob both ways but it stayed cold.  “Just what I need.”  She turned the shower off and hopped out of the shower, throwing on her fluffy knee-length robe.  Frustrated and cold, she walked out to the kitchen and stopped short at the basement door.  She knew the water heater was in the basement rather than in the corner of the kitchen where it had previously been because the owner had disclosed the water leak accident they recently had before renting out the house.  Being basically naked with gobs of conditioner in her hair motivated hers to go down into the basement. 

Harper opened the door and looked down the old wooden staircase and started down them, flipping on the light switch out of habit when walking into the room and started to huff at the unnecessary effort when she realized the light had turned on.  She hesitated for a moment in surprise then continued down the stairs feeling an icy draft hit her bare legs.  The stairs were rough against her soft feet.  Ice cold water dripped down her back from her hair, hustling her forward with a shiver.  The water heater was in the far right corner of the basement.  She cursed herself for not putting on slippers before going down there; her toes were frozen and the bottom of her feet were surely filthy.  

A fine layer of dirt covered the basement floor and a small box just to the right of the stairs.  She ignored the urge to inspect the box and shuffled quickly over to the water heater and bent down to check the pilot light.  It was still lit.  The lights went out in the basement and Harper straightened up.  The hair on the back of her neck was standing on end.  Ignoring her fear, she turned sharply around and ran for the stairs trying not to look around the basement.  She took the stairs at a run and tripped just as she reached the last few stairs.  She hit the first and second stairs hard – her hip rebounding off of the second.  Taking in a deep breath she crawled over the top step and sprawled onto the kitchen floor, kicking the basement door closed behind her. 

She laid there with her eyes closed, panting for what felt like an eternity.  Her hip ached and she couldn’t help but chuckle at the absurdity of what she had just done.  She had been scared off by a basement light that probably hadn’t been changed in months and was going out.  She heard panting followed by hot stinky breath and opened her eyes.  Junior was standing over her. 

“Oh, don’t laugh.  After your antics last night I deserve a moment of absurdity.”  He gave her a sloppy lick on the forehead and she returned his love with some pets before getting up.  Halfway to the bathroom she realized there was a sharp pain in her left foot.  Looking down she noticed something sticking out past her big toe.  When she lifted up her foot she found a large sliver of wood nestled deep into the meat of the ball of her foot.  Seeing it increased the pain tenfold.  Harper groaned at the pain.  She hobbled the rest of the way into the bathroom and dropped heavily onto the edge of the tub.  She took in a deep breath and blew out hard as she yanked out the sliver. 

“Gah!  Shit!  Damn it, that hurt!”  She saw Junior through tear blurred eyes, his head cocked to the side.  “It’s okay, Junior.  I’m okay.”  He walked over expectantly and waited patiently for love; Harper leaned over and scratched behind his ears a few times before turning the shower back on.  Junior hated getting bathed and took off out of the bathroom.  Her foot was bleeding lightly and it throbbed with the beat of her heart.  Blood and dirt mixed with water and ran down the drain in the tub while she waited for the water to heat.  As if there were never a problem, the water heated right up.

After finishing her shower, bandaging her foot, and getting ready for the day Harper went into the kitchen to make some coffee.  She was hungry and needed caffeine to help her cope with the fact that she now had to limp to avoid shooting pain from her foot to her calf.  The delicious scent of hazelnut coffee filled the kitchen as she fixed herself toast and a bowl of cereal.

Harper sat drinking her coffee and eating her cereal at the kitchen table, mulling over the basement.  Why was the owner so adamant about keeping the basement locked?  There was nothing down there except an old box.  She had briefly wondered what horrendous thing might be in the basement when she first moved in but had since let the basement slip from her mind.  But there was something in the basement – that box.  When she finished eating she went to her bedroom to continue work on her freelance jobs, but she couldn’t focus.  Her mind kept drifting back to that damn box.  She stood up to go into the basement but faltered at the pain in her foot; she definitely needed to wear shoes this time and take a flashlight just in case.  There was a flashlight under the kitchen sink, which she grabbed on her way through the kitchen – sneakers laced and mind caffeinated.

Without hesitation she pulled open the basement door and started down, flipping on the light and creeping down to the bottom.  The light came on like last time and she could see her steps to and from the water heater across the floor but this time she turned her attention to the box.  It was filthy like the rest of the basement but the box looked to be in good condition; on closer inspection she found that it had a small lock on the front.  She knelt down and tried pulling on the lock to see if it was brittle enough to break – unfortunately it wasn’t.  She sat back on her good foot and pondered her options.  She could leave it here and come back for it after she found the key (if she found the key) or she could just take it upstairs so she didn’t have to go back down into the creepy, cold, dank basement.  Definitely option two.

She grabbed the box and took it upstairs to the kitchen table.  It was completely possible that she would never be able to unlock the box without cutting it off.  She hadn’t noticed any boxes or keys left in the house from the owner when she moved in, but she rooted around in the kitchen drawers and in the closets around the house anyway.  Nothing turned up.  She sat resignedly in a chair at the kitchen table and stared at the box.  It was getting late in the afternoon now since she lost so much time searching for the key.  Her stomach growled loudly and she decided to give up the hunt for the key.  For now.

Sliding the box under the table she forced herself to move on.  Out of sight, out of mind.  But as the day went on she realized the box was testing her self-control.  She really wanted to open that box.  The owner had cleaned out the house to the point of OCD; there weren’t even leftover appliance manuals in any of the kitchen drawers.  So Harper found it incredibly strange that this box had been left in the suspicious forbidden basement.  If the basement is forbidden and locked, why would the box need a lock and why would it be left behind?  Harper hadn’t even realized she was thinking about the box again and she cursed herself for getting sidetracked by it.  Again.  She had a lot of work to get done and their deadlines were beginning to weigh heavy on her chest.

Junior strolled into the room and plopped himself down in the doorway from the kitchen to the living room.  He looked up at her with sad, imploring eyes.  “Seriously?  You’re going to come in here looking for a treat after your recent behavior?”  He continued to stare.  There was something in his demeanor that she thought was a little off but attributed it to his understanding her complaint to him.  She caved from the intensity of his begging gaze and gave him a single treat.  “That’s all you get, beggar.”  She pet his head and scratched the length of his spine and then left him to finish his treat.

It was dinner time and she was starting to feel a pang of hunger in the pit of her stomach.  She looked at the paper plate filled with crumbs next to her laptop on the coffee table and wondered how the day had flown by so quickly; it felt like she just ate that sandwich for lunch.  In the fridge there was enough lunch meat leftover to make another sandwich, a block of cheese, carrots, leftover pasta from a few days previous, a half a bottle of wine, and a couple of beers.  I really need to go shopping.  She grabbed a beer, popped it open, and went to the scant selection in the pantry: dry pasta, rice, a can of chicken noodle soup, two cans of chili, a box of mac n’ cheese, cereal, chips, and candy.  She sighed and grabbed the can of soup.  It heated up quickly and she ate it mindlessly while thinking about the box sitting just under the table.

Junior had joined her but again sat only partially in kitchen, leaving his rear in the living room.  “What’s going on, bud?”  He looked up at her with that same strange look in his eyes.  “Come here.”  He lifted his head but stayed put.  “Junior.  Come here.”  She saw his eye look steadily at her feet.  He looked back up at her, whimpered, and scampered off into the living room.  “It’s just a box, Junior.”  She started to chuckle but then stopped.  A creeping feeling went up her spine and she got up from the table.  It’s just a box, Harper.  But she couldn’t shake the feeling and decided it was time for bed so she could get out of the kitchen.

Moonlight was shining through the bedroom window when Harper was woken by Junior’s growling.  She was cold and realized her covers were no longer on the bed.  Sleepily she wondered how Junior had managed to pull the covers completely off of the bed.  

“What is it, Junior?  What did you do to my blankets?”  She asked, teasing.  She pushed herself up lazily and rubbed her eyes, trying to figure out what was going on.  Junior was at the bedroom door growling into the room.  Harper followed his gaze to the bedroom window and went cold.  The moonlight enhanced the silhouette of a child behind the curtains.  She screamed and fumbled with the light on her nightstand.  It finally clicked, illuminating the nightstand and side of her bed, but cast long shadows across the edges of the room.  Harper looked back at the window, winded and heart pounding.  The figure appeared to have vanished but she got up cautiously to ruffle the curtains anyway.  Junior was still growling from the door, clearly distraught.  She gathered him up along with her blankets and bundled herself and Junior at the headboard.

She stared intensely at the window, adrenaline still pumping through her veins.  What the hell was that?  After nearly forty-five minutes Junior seemed to be calming down but Harper was afraid to turn out the light for fear that as soon as she did the moon would silhouette the child once more.

Before she knew it the sun was up.  Her sleep had been restless between the creepy figure and Junior’s snoring.  She unwound herself from the blankets, found her slippers, and went sleepily into the kitchen to make coffee. Harper couldn’t shake the ominous feeling looming over her.  She wondered if she might be working too late and stressing too much about the overwhelming amount of work she had taken on this month.  The coffee began to brew and she turned around, leaning on the kitchen counter, to look at the box.  She noticed the basement door was slightly ajar and quickly went over and slammed it shut.  Understanding now that the reason the door was probably kept shut was to keep it from creaking open whenever it pleased.  Or so she hoped.

Harper picked up the box and set it on the table.  She wondered whether it was an invasion of privacy for her to go through the box and decided she was far past that.  She had gone against her lease and broken into the basement as it was.  And besides, the box had been left to gather dust in the house that she had to live in.  Convincing herself it was acceptable to riffle through, she pulled off the lid and leaned it against the wall on the floor.  Inside she found countless newspaper clippings, photos, a small worn teddy bear, and a well-loved and faded green blanket.  She left the bear and blanket in the box and started reading through the newspaper clippings.

She was stunned.  The first was a remembrance clipping about a missing woman in the area who had never been found.  It was short and discussed her achievements in life and her family’s love for her and continued hope that she might return home one day.  The brief article tugged at Harper’s heart strings and she wondered what might have happened to her and if she was a loved one of the owner.  She flipped to the next article and read the heading, “Mother kills son, commits suicide.”  Harper was stunned.  Her eyes flew across the article taking in every horrific word: 

Sharon Tenney, thirty-one, and Daniel Tenney, seven, were found dead in the basement of their home on Sunday, January 30.  Husband and father, Steve Tenney, reportedly found them laying together.  Daniel appears to be the victim of a murder-suicide by his mother.  Steve, distraught over the loss of his entire family, reported to police that his son was mentally disturbed and that his wife must have snapped.  The cause of death has not been released for either of the deceased but deputies have stated a press conference will be held in the coming weeks to provide the public further information on this horrible event.  Reporters have been assured that all leads are being investigated and the presumed murder-suicide, although the most likely circumstance, will not be confirmed until all scenarios and suspects are fully investigated.

Harper’s heart was racing.  She flipped to the next article and read the gruesome details provided by the coroner of how the mother had dragged her child down the basement stairs leaving bloody scratches and bruises all over his back, arms, and legs and then proceeded to strangle him.  After which she ingested a large quantity of rat poison and then joined her son’s lifeless body in the basement.  It was unbelievable to Harper that someone – no not just someone – a mother could murder her child.  She realized she had been staring at the basement door.  A now familiar chill ran up her spine which she shook off and looked back to the box.  The rest of the articles regarded the investigation into the father and more on the missing woman along with family photos.

They looked so happy.  Harper couldn’t help but wonder what could have made the mother snap.  Then she had a nervous realization.  She was digging through a box she had found in the basement specifically forbidden by the owner, Mr. Tenney.  What if he was the killer and made it look like a murder-suicide?  She hurriedly put everything back in the box, hoping it was close to how she found it, then replaced the lid and cautiously walked it back down to the basement.  Walking back up the stairs she realized it was quite dark, she’d been staring at her feet and hadn’t noticed the basement door was closed since she could see by the light of the basement window.  Harper didn’t remember closing the door behind her but was in such a rush to put the box away that the event was a blur.  She reached out for the handle and turned it.  It didn’t move. 

“No way.”  Harper tried turning the knob again and again it didn’t budge.  Panic set in and she began to aggressively beat at the door, pushing with her entire body weight and wringing the doorknob.  Tears began rolling down her face when suddenly the door opened and she hit the kitchen floor with a thud.  “What the hell.  I’m never going down there again,” she vowed to herself.  She knew it was probably just because the door was old and probably hadn’t been opened in years, but something in the back of her mind scratched at the paranormal possibility.  She pushed those thoughts out of her mind as she popped up off the floor and slammed the basement door shut. 

It had been a few days when Harper decided to come clean with her homeowner and ask him to come lock the basement door again.  She knew she would be in deep since she had deliberately gone against his single request but was desperate to ban herself from the basement once more.  There was no direct contact for Mr. Tenney and all calls went through his real estate agent first.  She called Ms. Clark and informed her of the situation, only to be met with frustration: 

“You opened the basement door?  How long ago?” 

“Just a few days ago,” I said with mild concern. 

“Are you alright?”  Ms. Clark asked mousily.  Dread was beginning to wash over Harper.

“I’m fine.  What’s going on, Ms. Clark?”

“Nothing, nothing,” she said.  “It’s just that…in the lease you signed the stipulation states that under no circumstance will the renter open or enter the basement.”

“Right, and I want the door locked again.”

“I can come by tomorrow morning but I’m not sure what good it will do.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’ll see you in the morning.”  Harper heard a click and then the dial tone.  She was baffled by Ms. Clark’s statement but went about her business for the morning and figured she could ask what she meant when she saw her the following day. 

Back at the grind on her freelance jobs, Harper’s day flew by.  She took a break at about 4 o’clock and poured herself a glass of wine to eat with a sandwich in front of the television.  She quickly began drifting off to sleep after eating while listening to her favorite home improvement show. 

After nearly two hours Harper was jarred awake by a lack of oxygen.  The only light in the room flashed from the television and as Harper tried to open her sleepy eyes she saw a blurred black figure above her.  Her body felt heavy and she realized when she tried to reach for her neck that she couldn’t move.  She was being choked and there was nothing she could do about it.  Just as her body began to go lax and give up on the struggle, the sensation vanished.  With a large gasp she shot upright on the couch, grabbing her throat, and began to cough.  Her eyes darted all over the room and she caught a glimpse of a small black figure disappearing into the kitchen.  She jumped up and ran to the kitchen only to find it empty.  But the basement door was open.  Scared and confused she slammed the door shut, huffing and crying.

She turned and saw Junior peeking his head around the corner and whimpering.

“It’s okay, Junior.”  She walked over and picked his long awkward body up and carried him into her bedroom, only stopping momentarily to shut off the TV and close her laptop as she went.  Junior was still whimpering as Harper carried him into her room.  She was still shaking and her breathing was quick.  She sat down easily on the edge of the bed with Junior and let him make himself comfortable as she took a few sips of water from the bottle on her nightstand in an attempt to relax.  It took nearly ten minutes for her to stop shaking and even then she was still scared.

Junior circled on top of the pillow on the opposite side of the bed and finally laid down after about five rounds.  He was tightly wound with his head facing her and he looked up at her with large concerned eyes.  Harper pet his head a few times trying to calm him and scratched behind his ears.  When he finally seemed to relax it helped Harper relax as well.  She picked up the book she was slowly reading from her nightstand and propped herself up in bed to read for a while before trying to sleep; there was no way she could sleep at this point with how amped she still felt.

Her eyelids grew heavy twenty-seven pages into her nightly read and she felt she would be able to fall asleep no problem – but she couldn’t.  Harper lay wide awake staring at the ceiling while Junior snored soundly beside her.  She wondered at the strange events that had occurred since she opened the basement door and about the box of paraphernalia she found down there.  She had never been actively opposed to the paranormal but had never experienced anything overtly unusual herself – until now.  Relenting to the fact that she probably wouldn’t get any sleep, she crept out to the living room to get her laptop then ran back to her bedroom and closed the door.  Junior lifted his head momentarily and apparently satisfied to see that Harper had caused the ruckus went back to sleep.

She pulled up the browser and began searching for information about the Tenney family.  It turned out that the investigation into the murder-suicide of Mr. Tenney’s wife and son had resulted in a much larger finding regarding the missing woman from the article in the box: she had been murdered – and buried – in the basement of their house.  This house.  She shuddered at the thought.  Obviously the police did not leave her buried in the basement, but the thought of not one but three people having died in the basement made her nauseous.  She looked into Mr. Tenney, finding herself more and more suspicious, and uncovered the reason she wasn’t able to ever contact him directly; he was in prison for aiding in the disposal and hiding of the missing woman’s body as well as for the death of his wife and child.  There had been little evidence in support of his defense and he had provided no credible alibi during the investigation.

Not only had people died horribly in the basement, her landlord was doing time for all of it, and she had managed to release some kind of evil spirit from the basement seeking revenge.  She did a handful of searches about paranormal activity and restless spirits, looking for potential “home remedies” to the situation her curiosity and nosiness had put her in but could only find the typical priestly exorcism type solutions – or moving.

Harper was in information overload.  It was still hard for her to wrap her brain around what had been going on in the house and until she woke up feeling choked she was willing to write it all off to her imagination and lack of sleep or to the house being old.  Then it hit her, she woke up feeling choked.  Just like the little boy.  Maybe it’s Mrs. Tenney.  She glanced at the door to make sure it was closed, then over at the curtain to see if any creepy, shadowy figures were lurking nearby.  But maybe it was Daniel based on the small dark figure she had seen at her bedroom window.  Her online searches had taken up much of the night but she still wasn’t sleepy.  She flipped on the TV on her dresser hoping it would help her fall asleep.  The TV in her room was so rarely watched it took the DVR a moment to reboot.  It had been left on a movie channel the last time she had it on and the first thing that popped up on the screen was a young teen being brutally murdered by a silent masked figure.  She scrambled for the remote which had been engulfed by the covers when she was making herself comfy after turning off her laptop.  Her go-to channel when creeped out was the food channel because it never showed scary commercials or shows.

The last thing she remembered was a cute brunette man teaching viewers how to make homemade flour tortillas.  It was still dark when she woke but she thought it must be getting close to day break.  She rolled out of bed and shuffled to the bedroom door, accidentally kicking Junior as she went.

“Get out of the way, Junior,” she said, irritated.  He growled in response and Harper looked down in shock.  “Knock it off and move,” she said louder, her irritation building.  Junior laid still, clearly taking a stance against her wishes.  Harper reached down to slide him over but before she could reach him he snapped at her.

“Woah! What the hell?!”  She bent down to swat his behind but he jumped up and ran across the room and out of reach.  He sat by the window where she’d seen the dark silhouette of a figure before and gave a long, low growl.  Harper eyed him and felt irritation explode; she was completely incensed by his behavior.  Ignoring his change in attitude, she walked out into the kitchen to get a glass of water.  What she saw when she walked into the kitchen made her freeze.  Every cabinet door and drawer was open, including the basement and back doors.

Dread struck her.  Was someone in the house?  A thief?  She quickly flipped on the kitchen and living room lights and surveyed the rooms.  There didn’t appear to be anyone in the house so she closed the back door and made her way around the kitchen closing every open door and drawer before rounding on the basement door.  It had been closed before she went to bed – she knew it.  She walked slowly, listening hard for someone hiding in the basement.  She heard nothing but when she got to the door she saw the silhouette of a figure at the bottom of the basement stairs.  Harper screamed and slammed the door shut, grabbing a kitchen chair to prop under the doorknob.  Her heart was pounding in her ears and adrenaline rushed through her body.  It was hard to hear over her own heartbeat but there did not appear to be any sound of steps or rummaging coming from the basement.  She put her ear close to the door beside the kitchen chair – silence.  She waited there listening for a moment when the door suddenly began violently shaking.  Terror washed over Harper as she leaped back from the door.  The kitchen chair appeared to be holding the door but would eventually be shaken loose if rattled long enough.

The shaking stopped abruptly and an eerie hush filled the house.  Harper took off back to her room at high speed without water.  She pushed the door closed as she jumped into her bed and pulled the covers up over her head.  Tears were rolling down her cheeks.  Her cute, character-filled house was haunted without a doubt and events were escalating quickly.  Even her sweet little Junior was changing.

She was wide awake the next few hours impatiently waiting for Mr. Tenney’s agent to arrive.  Junior was curled up under the window observing her with dark, accusing eyes.  Harper was starting to doubt her trust in him and wondered what he might do to her.  Would she have to get rid of him?  A gentle knock at the front door broke her staring contest with Junior.  She swung her feet off the bed and slipped them into moccasins half hiding under her nightstand.  Before going to the door she peeked into the kitchen and found everything in its place except the kitchen chair which she put back at the table.  There was another knock at the door and Harper rushed to let her in.

“Good morning, Harper,” she said wearily.

“Good morning.  Thank you for coming so quickly.”  Harper was right on her heels as Ms. Clark walked hurriedly toward the kitchen looking around the house suspiciously.

“Are you well?” the agent asked as she locked the basement door.

“What’s going on here, Ms. Clark,” Harper rudely demanded.  The agent looked at her with tired, fearful eyes.

“Nothing…” 

“It’s not nothing,” Harper interrupted.  “Tell me what is wrong with this house.” 

“There’s nothing I can tell you.  I’m very sorry, Harper.

“Then I want out of my lease,” Harper blurted out, furious.  The agent appeared unfazed by this decision and sighed.

“I will bring the paperwork by tomorrow afternoon.  You’ll have thirty days to vacate the premises.” 

“I’ll be out by the weekend.”  The agent nodded and wished her a good day then left Harper to dwell on evicting herself with nowhere to go.  But the alternative was that she would lose her mind if she didn’t leave – and soon.

Locking the door had done nothing.  Harper had run errands all over town getting boxes and packing materials, eating lunch out, and visiting a friend.  Away from the house she felt lighter, almost free, and she missed Junior.  When she returned home she was ready to start packing and excited to see Junior, but he did not greet her at the door as he usually did.  As she walked to her bedroom a weight set in on her mind and she found him sitting rigid on the beige French chair next to her dresser.  The dark look in his eyes remained but she couldn’t place it; it was a new and terrifying expression on a formerly timid and lovable house pet.

“What’s wrong, Junior?”  Harper walked toward him and he let out a low, short growl.  She was nervous and scared, which she knew he could feel, but she continued, “Come here, bud.  What’s wrong?”  He let her get close but when she tried to pet him he bit her hard on the wrist.  The anger from that morning flared inside her again and she lashed out, smacking him hard on the nose.  He released her arm and pressed himself into the back of the chair, fur raised on his spine, teeth bared, and growling.  

“What the hell?!”  She stormed out of the room, glancing back at the still tense Junior.  That was the last straw.  Something had to be done about Junior or he would end up really hurting her.  For the moment she moved on but in the back of her mind she knew she couldn’t let his behavior stand; he was out of control.  She wrapped her wrist where Junior had bitten her and then began packing in the kitchen.  There would be two full days of packing ahead of her if she wanted to get out by the start of the weekend.

Two hours passed of wrapping, packing, and taping and Harper was beginning to get hungry.  She paused to take a breath and stretch her back and neck.  She was rolling her head side-to-side when she saw something out of the corner of her eye in the living room.  Assuming it was Junior she ignored it, deciding that giving him the silent treatment would be best for now.  She bent down to tape closed the box she had just finished packing when she saw it again, only faster this time.  The hair raised on the back of her neck as she realized it wasn’t Junior because he doesn’t move that fast.  She stood up slowly and replaced the packing tape with a knife from the drawer she’d been emptying.

Before she could turn around she felt icy fingers reaching around her neck and up to her chin and face.  She tried to scream but nothing came out.  She swung the knife frantically for what felt like eternity until she heard a sharp bark.  Junior.  The sensation vanished and Harper collapsed against the counter.  Perhaps he is good for something.

Harper kept Junior nearby the following two days while she packed up the house.  She moved into a room at a friend’s house in the town over.  Junior was back to his playful, joyous self and Harper was just starting to get used to sleeping in the dark again three months later when one day the local news broadcast a story about a strange murder-suicide nearby.  The hair stood up on the back of Harper’s neck when she looked up to watch the report and saw her old house flash across the screen with yellow caution tape across the front gate.  She turned up the TV and couldn’t believe what she heard: 

“A local woman and her daughter were found dead in the basement of their house by a family friend when no one had heard from the woman after four days.  A police officer on the scene reported that it appeared to be a potential murder-suicide but that they would continue their investigation of other possibilities and suspects.”

Junior was sitting next to Harper on the couch and she pulled him close, hugging and kissing him, and realizing just how lucky they had been to get out.

 

Thank you again for reading, WriterlyBite patrons.

Enjoy the sun and moon!  ❤

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