Foraging

Posted by on Dec 3, 2012 in Blog | 1 comment

Foraging

We found it in the basement. An otherwise empty basement. Xochi’s been saying it was haunted, but she says all kinds of things. She’s that kind of person. Probably she’ll end up with one of those palmistry-Santeria shops on Callahan when we’re both old and gray. She grew up here in Mesquite, this hole of a place a handful of miles north of the California-Mexico border. Her parents are from Tijuana, which is only about thirty miles away. Xochi’s not going anywhere.

Me, I’ll be long gone. But not because of what happened that night.

Anyway, back to the basement. Xochi and I were mooching around the old abandoned quarter, on the east end of town. It was about eight p.m., and the sun had just barely gone down, but we were pretending it was midnight, because it was more fun that way. Yeah, Mesquite is a really boring place. But at least Xochi and I were doing something other than drinking crappy beer in the desert like everyone else at our school does on Friday nights.

We had sneaked into an empty office building that had had a giant “For Lease” sign on it for at least three years. The floor was still littered with plastic dropcloths from when they’d repainted it, but we hadn’t found anything else except for an empty, rusting paint can and a few roaches.

We walked past the stairwell, all metal pipework banisters and beige industrial carpet.

“Hey, Leesh,” Xochi said. “I dare you to go down there.” I looked. The staircase descended into complete darkness. Who knew what was in an office basement? Janitorial closet? The ghosts of unlucky tech support guys?

“Let’s check it out,” I said. I switched on my pocket flashlight and headed down. One flight of steps later and we emerged in a hallway—big deal.

“Ooh, a hallway.” I poked Xochi in the arm. “Freaky-deeky!” We both laughed. There were a few doors on either side, but all of them were locked.

Except one. The door at the opposite end of the hall opened on silent hinges, banging softly against the rubber stopper attached to the wall.

Inside, the walls were bare cement, as if they’d never bothered to finish this room. It was hardly even a room, really—I had to bend forward a little to shuffle in. It was more like a cubby. A hobbit hole. The only thing in it was an easy chair that looked like it was from some old lady’s living room. The ceiling was so low that the top of the chair almost touched it.

And that was IT.

But it was strange. It felt so still in here. Not musty, like you’d imagine after three years standing abandoned. More like—hushed. Like in a church. I couldn’t understand it. The hairs on my arms stood up. For a while, all you could hear was our ragged breathing, the shuffle of Xochi’s sandals as she moved closer and touched the mauve plush of the chair’s seat cushion.

Finally, we backed out, without having uttered a word, and closed the door. We didn’t talk until we’d climbed the stairs, gone back through the broken window into the alley, and left the building a block behind us.

“Why?” Xochi said. That single word.

I shook my head.

The CC licensed image above is courtesy of Flickr user Bonesue728. The original can be found here

One Comment

  1. I had similar creepy visions to this, kept thinking about old folks being walled up in there with their old lounge chairs.

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