Time. 10:19 p.m. South Florida. The traffic light rests at red for an eternity, mocking me with its condescending gaze. I quickly turned my head both directions, not a car in sight for what it seemed to be miles. Is this some kind of joke? Looking into the rear view mirror, nothing there by me. James Montgomery. Glasses, brown hair, green sweater vest, and an untrimmed beard. Some people say I resemble a young Robin Williams from Good Will Hunting. I’ll take that as a compliment. A journalist of ten years at the same section in the local newspaper. The only thing I’ve done differently in the time span is learn Spanish. With being in a Hispanic community, I thought it would be beneficial. Besides, it’s not like I’m in a hurry to get to the family reunion, we all know how they go. People ask you some meaningless scripted question like, “James, how’s work going?” And you lie that work is going well and you’re on the verge of that big promotion. In the end, when your life is stuck at a red light, sometimes you just got to run it. To be honest, the only thing I was looking forward to was the Galettes. My favorite treat since I was a kid. My mom would only make them around the holidays, but when she made them, they were pretty good. Nine eggs and a pound of sugar, you know that’s good. If I can maneuver through the bullshit and get my hands on them and leave, that’d be a win. As I’m about to put my foot to the accelerator, I see a bug climbing my window. It staring at me with those green eyes through the looking glass. It almost looked like a chameleon. I roll down the window, flick the bug onto the pavement of the road, and roll the window back up. Without any further delay, I propel my car forward, through the stubborn light and down the road.
I reach the front of my parent’s driveway, looking at my childhood house just poking out of the thick woods. The lamp out front sporting a reddish color, it was so captivating, almost like it was drawing me towards the house. The outside of the house now suddenly terrified me. It was a plain white house but with age, it began to peel off and reveal a pale brownish color. The roof remained intact with a dark maroon color with the front porch, old, gray, and missing plenty of floorboards. At day, the house would seem harmless, but at night, it would turn into this hazy mirage of a peeling grinning face. I had a feeling that this house wasn’t my house, but you couldn’t deny the similarities. It’s been years since I’ve been here so it was bound to change. Especially with my boss keeping me at the office all the time. Surprised that I’m able to go now. I pull up behind this massive black truck that shadows the cars in the front of it. No doubt, my brother Alex is here. One could tell because it still has a “Class of 2002” sticker on it, as well as “State Champions 2001” on it. Yeah, he still thinks he’s hot shit for winning a state championship in high school football fifteen years ago when he was the backup quarterback. My parents would always put him on a pedestal, even over me. I walk past the monstrous truck, up the porch and to the door.
The door read, “Welcome. God bless this home and all who enter.”
Reading that over and over again, I said, “Should be fun.”
The living room looked exactly the same since I last saw it. The large entertainment center that took up most of the room. Furniture all around it as well as the cat toys spread out across the worn down brown carpet. All the cat towers and furniture made it like an obstacle course to get from one side of the room to the other.
“Hey, mom!” I yelled. “Sorry I’m late, got stuck in some traffic.”
While turning around and closing the door behind, I feel a cold chilly breeze hit the back of my neck that left my frozen in place. I slowly turned my head around and saw Alex standing no more than a couple of inches from me.
“Holy shit, Alex!” I said slowly pushing him to a comfortable distance. “And there you are.”
Alex just stands there with a grin on his face. His car salesman uniform stained with something red. Cherry Coke was his favorite drink, could be that. His long blonde hair combed to the back of his head, along with a black bruising polluting his left eye. He always had his class ring on, but now it seemed to be absent from his fingers. He just stood there, looking at me.
“Do you want to spend some more time together, Alex” I joked. He laughed in the weirdest way that I’ve ever heard him laugh, giggling like a hyena. This laugh seemed to shake his entire body, then he went back to staring.
“Hey, could you tell mom, wherever she it, that I’m here?” I asked awaiting his response.
He nodded and said, “I can do that for you, James.”
Then Alex turned slowly and flew into the kitchen ahead and downstairs around the corner. Ok, that’s when I knew something was up. He NEVER called me James, or every by my actual name, really. There was a fag, douche, and pretty much anything else you could think of, but never James. I strolled over into the kitchen and started scanning the table. There was so much food, but not a bite had been taken out of the plethora of dishes. Chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, gravy, and …wait, no way. Galettes! I rushed over and sat at the table, the Galettes lay right next to the spoon and knives. They look golden brown and just like waffles, but they are cookies. I pick one up and sink my teeth into it. Deceptively good.
A noise started to pick up from downstairs and on its way upstairs, the footsteps began to get louder and louder, until the door flew open with Alex standing there with the unpleasant grin that didn’t leave his face.
“Everybody is waiting downstairs for you.” Alex said. “That’s such a damn shame, you being so late.”
“Ok…” I say as I look at him and back over at the open basement door. I couldn’t help but glance over and see a shovel just outside the door on the other side of where Alex was standing. The fact that I still haven’t seen anyone else is a little unsettling.
Very carefully, I slowly walk over to the basement door. Alex just staring at me as he throws his arm threw the door to present the dark abyss of a basement.
Scared, I ask, “Are you sure they are down there? Cause I don’t see any--“
“Oh, they are down there, all of them, every part of them.” He hissed, as he almost said the last part under his breathe.
I take the first step down but quickly retrace my step. “Ladies first?” I spewed. He just stared at me with a menacing gaze.
“Ok, I’m going.” I said.
Looking down the basement steps is almost like staring death in the face. This had to be some sort of prank that Alex is doing, because if it is, he is playing it to a tee. I look back at him with small fear in my eyes.
“Go ahead.” Alex said softly.
Then, I start to descend down the stairs, fear rising with each step I take. I get about half way down and I can see a light on the wall at the far side of the basement. A glowing red light, almost as bright as the stoplight. I think back to when Alex lured me down here when I was young, and locked me down here. The cold darkness welcoming me, just like it did on that day.
“Mom? Guys?” I cry, but no answer.
I set my feet on the ground floor of the basement, it felt different. I take a few steps and out of the darkness I see a hole.
“What in the—” I say.
It’s too dark to tell what could be at the bottom, or for how long it goes down. I look around to see Alex, but he is nowhere to be seen. Scanning the basement, I see beg dirt piles, like there were more holes before. I lean over to get a closer look, but feel the presence of something behind me. I turn around only for my face to be illuminated by an oncoming truck. As it approaches, as if it were going downhill, I brace my arms for the impact and my impeding death. At the last second, the truck vanishing and through a mirage comes a figure that pushes me into the hole. The fall wasn’t long, but the landing was rough. I could feel the pain of something jagged as well as hear the crunch of bones and metal. As I try to recover from my fall, I look to my right and see Alex’s class ring on the hand of a detached limb. Under it, dozens of rotting mutilated corpses.
“Jesus Christ!” I say as I fumble up to my feel to hug the wall of the hole.
I hear a laugh coming from above, the same laugh it had. I tilt my head up to catch a glimpse of it.
“Comfy?” it asked.
It looked like Alex, but it couldn’t be since Alex is down here along with the other chopped up humanity.
“You’re not Alex! What the hell are you?” I ask to the point of begging.
Without it even answering, its eyes pop out of its sockets, leaving these ungodly glowing green reptile eyes. Spikes began to shoot out of its back, along with a large slimy tail. It looked like a much bigger version of the bug I saw on my way here. It seemed to change form from one person to another and dispose of the body in this hole. It grabbed the shovel and started throwing dirt down on me at an alarming rate. The dirt getting heavier with each punch from the earth. As the red light begins to fade, so does the air. I find myself alone with my own thoughts. I look to my watch with 10:21 staring back at me.