I reached for one of the root cellar’s doors, and pulled. The hinges creaked in resistance and I felt like I had just rung a door bell. If anyone was in the root cellar they would know I was coming.
As I slowly walked down the stairs into the cellar I chided myself for not bringing a flashlight.
I was halfway down the stairs when the cellar door slammed above my head and I was shrouded in pitch blackness.
I inhaled sharply. I knew it wasn’t windy enough to blow the door shut, so unless I didn’t prop it up right… someone else had shut me in.
I froze in place and didn’t dare move. I listened for any sound, but all I heard was a scuttling in the corner. I clutched the railing and something small ran across my hand.
I threw my other hand across my mouth to keep back a scream. When I let go of my crutch, I heard a loud clatter as it fell the rest of the way down the steps.
I was frozen in horror. I needed to get my crutch but I had no desire to descend the steps in utter darkness when I knew there had to be mice. Maybe even rats.
I slipped back up the stairs. Maybe I could re-open the door, and let the light in.
I held out my hands, and I finally felt the door. I pushed with all my might, but nothing budged.
“Philip?” I yelled. “Open the door!”
It had to be Philip, didn’t it? If it wasn’t Philip, than who was it?
In books, the people trapped like this always bang their fists against the door and demand to be let out. I thought about doing that, but I wasn’t sure if anyone had really locked me in. For all I knew, it could have been my own carelessness.
Waiting for something to happen, I stood still and did nothing. After what felt like an eternity, I decided to go down and get my crutch.
Climbing stairs without my crutch was a challenge, but as I forced my left leg to move, it rose to the challenge and did what I needed it to do.
When my feet finally hit the dirt floor, I slowly kicked my foot around trying to feel for my crutch. I couldn’t find it anywhere.
There wasn’t even a sliver of light anywhere in the room, and I was starting to get claustrophobic. I reached down to feel along the floor for my crutch, but my fingers felt something furry. By the time I realized it wasn’t moving I was already running the other way.
My directions were all turned around, and I didn’t remember which way the stairs were. I tried to shake the feeling that I was all alone in a dark root cellar with a furry creature, but it wouldn’t go away.
I remembered touching the fur, and how the animal didn’t move, and an image of the dead squirrel under the porch flashed into my mind. I rubbed my hand like crazy across my leg as if I could wipe the feeling of the fur into my skirt.
I stumbled around trying to find the stairs. If I were in a book, I suppose I would have magically found an old lantern, but I didn’t find any such thing. Instead, I smelled a brand of men’s cologne that I hadn’t smelled in years. It reminded me of the bank where Uncle Keith had worked. The rich men had worn that type of cologne.