Aaron stood in the backyard and contemplated how he was going to get into his house. He had gone to check the mail and returned to his townhouse to find that he locked himself out. It was a dark Saturday night so the managers were not in the complex with the spare keys. Fortunately Aaron had opened the kitchen window earlier that evening to let out the strong odor of the onions he cut for dinner. As he approached the window, the hairs on the back of his neck stood. Something evil was lurking in the darkness. Aaron reached for the window and– SNAP! He twisted through the air and fell to the ground with a subtle thud.
Taylor sat on the end of the U-Haul watching her younger brother play in the grass a few feet away. Her older sister and parents had been trying to get the couch through the doorway for the past ten minutes and were getting frustrated. Taylor had been waiting to move back to Eugene for the past six months. Life in Corvallis was horrible; she had no friends, school was not fun, and the little town was like a magnet for redneck college students. Luckily the rest of her family felt the same, and the unanimous decision to move back was finalized.
It was almost nightfall and the U-Haul only had small boxes left to be transferred to the garage. Taylor sat on a mattress in the living room, anticipating the knock of a pizza delivery guy. As she waited she reminisced on when her family had previously lived in the same townhouse complex but in a different part of it. The lazy weekends, the short distance to the numerous soccer fields and running trails, the smell of freshly cut grass the summer before they moved away– it was all coming back together.
Finally the rest of the family made their way to the living room- flopping on mattresses and bags stuffed with comforters. Taylor could feel their exhaustion and jumped toward the door when the doorbell rang. However, it wasn’t the pizza delivery guy, but the creepy neighbor from their old townhouse.
“Welcome back. How’s your dad liking his new job?” asked the woman.
“Thanks. He likes working in the jail and he went directly to being a deputy,” replied Taylor, wishing she hadn’t answered the door.
“Ah, I see. Well it’s nice to know that there is some sort of security around here now. Have a good night,” and with that the woman left.
Taylor sighed and unfolded herself onto the mattress once again. It had only been a few seconds before the doorbell rang again. This time Taylor told her sister to get it, just in case it was another neighbor. Thankfully it was the pizza guy and she helped herself to a hot slice of pepperoni pizza. The food distracted Taylor for a few minutes before she began to think about the woman again. There was something eerie in the way she spoke but Taylor couldn’t put her finger on it. Her thoughts put her to sleep and the darkness of a deep slumber came over her.
With a gasp Taylor woke up. Cold sweat laced her forehead and her heart raced. It was only a dream, it was only a dream Taylor repeated in her mind over and over again. Her thoughts were scattered with horrifying images, images she had never even dared to think of. Taylor brushed it off as a nightmare and wiped her forehead dry. Looking at the clock she realized it was almost four in the morning.
The grass tickled Aaron’s left ear almost to the point of torture. Wind blew over his body and gave him the chills. He tried to figure out if he was dreaming or if he had really fallen to the ground. The lights in his neighbor’s townhouse turned on and casted a dim light into the backyard. Then Aaron realized that a person was standing at the window. It was only a silhouette, but Aaron could tell that the person was looking out at him. For some reason, he couldn’t motion to the person that he was there. Weird, thought Aaron as he laid there, unaware that his neck had been broken.
It had been a week since her family had moved in and in a just a few days, school would start. Taylor’s family had unpacked all week and the house was finally arranged to their liking. Something wasn’t quite right, though. One of the pieces was missing, and Taylor could feel it. She walked across the room and woke up her sister, Allison.
“Hey. Wake up,” Taylor whispered.
“What? What’s going on?” Allison grunted.
“I think something is… I don’t know… Wrong with this place.”
“Why? It’s way better than living up in the middle of redneckville.”
“Ya I know but something is just off and I don’t know what it is.”
“Go back to sleep, Taylor. We don’t have to get up for another two hours.”
Taylor climbed back in bed and thought about her dream some more. The images played back in her head and soon she realized that some of the images were that of the neighbor who came over the week before. She started to feel sick and rolled onto her side and fell asleep.
Two hours later the annoying buzz of the alarm woke Taylor up. She got out of bed, went to the bathroom, and took a nice, hot shower. The steam felt good on her skin as Taylor dried off from her shower. As she wrapped the towel around her body, a weird sensation came over her. She opened the shower curtain and stepped out into the bathroom. The feeling of being watched crept over her, and she gripped the towel even tighter. Taylor walked towards the door and scared herself when saw her blurry reflection in the fogged up mirror. Oh my God, I’m an idiot she thought as she laughed at herself for getting scared.
Taylor sat at the table and looked out into the backyard. The little privacy fence was new which surprised her considering that the other townhouses still had old, shabby fences. When the plate of pancakes was set on the table, the thought went to the back of her mind.
“School starts in two days guys, are you excited?” Taylor’s Mom, Anita, asked her kids.
“Ya, I hated Crescent Valley! I’m ready to get my Sheldon Irish on again,” Allison laughed.
“I can’t wait to see my friends again,” said Taylor.
“I want to have Mr. Canagan this year, too, Mom. I don’t want Ms. Bena,” Nick, Taylor’s brother, complained.
“Well Nick, Ms. Bena is excited to have you back at Holt this year so you should have fun this year. Besides, Mr. Canagan is a kindergarten teacher and you’re a first grader. Are you excited for senior year, Allison?” their Mom replied.
“Senior year is going to be amazing! Claire and I have almost all of our classes together this year so it should be fun.” Allison commented.
“I’m going to go outside,” said Taylor.
“Okay kiddos, after breakfast we’re going to go to Roseburg and visit Grandpa, so clean up. Michael and I are going to go shower and get ready and you guys need to, too.” Anita said as she headed upstairs.
Taylor walked around the backyard and also noticed that the shrub underneath the kitchen window had been taken out. When she looked at the neighbor’s side of the townhouse, she got the chills. Darkness swept around the townhouse and Taylor wanted to run, but something was restraining her. A figure walked in front of the upstairs window, but Taylor couldn’t make out who, or what, it was. Taylor felt cold even though it was a hot, summer morning.
“Taylor! Let’s go! Everybody is waiting for you in the car!” Anita called out the back door.
“Sorry! I thought I saw something,” Taylor called back.
Aaron tried to scream but nothing was coming out. Something was stuck in his mouth and duct tape covered his lips. He tried to get up but couldn’t move. His body wasn’t responding to his mental commands. A low scraping noise came out of the darkness and stung his ears. Sparks seemed to come out of nowhere and disappear in the night’s black shadows. What is happening? What is going on? Why me? Aaron thought. The noise grew louder, closer. Then a new noise replaced the scraping. This noise was a terrible ripping noise, and Aaron finally realized what kind of noise this was– the sharpening of a knife.
It was around midnight when Taylor and her family got back from their visit with Taylor’s Grandpa. The visit was like all the other visits they had made; they watched the news, had dinner, played with the old poodle, and cringed through a horrible western movie. As exhausted as Taylor and Allison were, they still had enough energy to set up a sleepover in their room. Taylor made a big bed on the floor while Allison put a movie in the DVD player. Nick had fallen asleep on the way back from Roseburg and refused to sleep anywhere but with his sisters. Taylor put Nick down in the middle of the bed before putting the final blanket down.
Halfway through the movie, Allison sat straight up. Something was wrong, terribly wrong. Taylor felt the air thicken as Allison got out of the bed and walked toward the TV. Allison turned down the volume and sat still.
“Wha–” Taylor started.
“Shhh,” Allison cut Taylor off mid word.
The sisters sat in silence for what seemed like an eternity. Then Taylor heard it too. Thump, thump, thump. Electricity shot through Taylor’s body and she held back a scream. Allison concentrated on the sound for another minute or so before turning the volume back on.
“It’s all good. It was just the neighbor walking around,” said Allison.
Taylor wasn’t convinced. She knew just as well as Allison that the thump came from their side of the townhouse.
The knife penetrated his left leg, then his right leg. If I could just scream! Aaron’s mind raced. I have to get out of this… I have to! Aaron attempted to move again but this time a sharp pain rocketed through his whole body. Somebody was stabbing him. Over and over again the blade sliced through his skin. The pain was unbearable. Suddenly the stabbings stopped and Aaron saw his feet being lifted up. Whatever was stabbing him was dragging Aaron towards the back door of his townhouse.
“Thank God for Fridays!” Allison exclaimed as she dropped her backpack and sat on the couch next to her best friend, Claire.
“No kidding, our strength training class is kicking my butt. How about you?” asked Claire.
“Ya I could use a few more stretches to get this kink out of my back.”
“Well do you want to stretch out while I go get some sodas out of the fridge?”
“Sure. Oh can you get me a Dr Pepper? Please and thanks!”
“Yup, no problem.”
Allison got up and bent over to stretch out her back. Then she laid on the floor and spread out like a starfish and arched her back. Finally she squatted down and stretched the inside muscles of her legs. When she heard Claire coming back she stood up and jumped a few times to get her leg muscles nice and loose. That’s when Allison noticed the sound she was making. Thump, thump, thump. Allison froze and looked down at her feet.
“Oh my God! Claire, check this out!”
“Listen to the difference when I jump.”
Allison jumped where she was then moved over a foot and jumped again. Thump, thump, thump. The first time she jumped, the thump was almost hallow sounding. When Allison moved over a foot and jumped, the thump was more solid sounding.
“It’s like there’s a piece of foundation missing or something.” said Allison
“Huh, that is pretty weird.”
“I wonder what is up with the floor. Maybe we can snoop around and see what’s under there.”
The person dragging Aaron broke the back door open and drug him into the living room. Once inside, the stranger slid the knife around Aaron’s throat and down his chest. Who would want to do this to somebody? thought Aaron. Suddenly the person plunged the knife into his left arm and then again into his right arm. Then, in a sadistic manner, the perpetrator took the knife and slid it under part of the carpet next to Aaron. Under the carpet was a trap door and inside was a compartment about three feet wide and ten feet long. Aaron was being dragged again, this time towards the compartment. Before he reached the coffin-like area hidden under his living room floor, the person dropped his feet. There was a swift movement in the darkness, then a light turned on. Aaron could not believe his eyes.
When Taylor got home from school, she heard Allison and Claire talking quietly in the kitchen. Taylor quietly went upstairs to put her backpack down and check on Nick. When she saw that Nick was busy playing with his toy cars, Taylor went downstairs and sat on the edge of the kitchen, listening to the conversation between her sister and Claire.
“I think we should see ask who used to live here,” said Allison.
“Ya, that way we could get an idea of what went on in this place,” replied Claire.
“My parents are pretty good friends with the complex managers so next time they come over for dinner I’ll ask them. I wonder if we look around the edges of the hallow part of the foundation if we’ll find a rip in the carpet or something.”
“Hmmm, or maybe the carpet has been replaced since the last person lived here.”
“That’s true. It wouldn’t hurt to look though.”
“Alright. I’m spending the night tonight by the way.”
“Okay. I need somebody to talk to that actually witnessed what happened today.”
“Ya no problem. I’m going to run home really quick and grab some extra clothes.”
“See you in a little bit.”
Taylor walked around the corner and pretended to not know what was going on. Allison reached forward and opened the refrigerator and let Taylor pass behind her. Hopefully Taylor will be in this with me and Claire, Allison thought.
“Hey, what’s going on? Is Claire spending the night tonight?”
“Yup, she just went home to get pajamas and stuff.”
“Oh fun stuff. I’m tired and have homework so I think I’m just going to go to bed.”
“Are you sure? You can hang out with us if you want.”
“Well if it’s okay with you then sure. I have a question though.”
“Okay, ask away.”
“Do you ever feel like somebody’s watching you?”
Aaron stared as his ex-wife peeled off a ski mask and tossed it to the ground. She approached him and squatted down. Then she took the knife again and traced his lips with the tip of the blade.
“Did you really think that you would be able to get away with everything?” she questioned sarcastically. “Of all the crappy things you could have done, you chose that? I feel disgusted knowing that I actually married you. You are worthless. You are nothing. Nobody is going to know where you went and nobody is going to care. You know why? ‘Cause you are a deceiver. A liar. A murderer. And you blamed it all on me. I think that you should be reunited with that little girl you took away from this world. What do you think? Do you want to experience the pain of a final breath, the torture she went through, and the assassination of a life that had so much potential? That was my little girl. Welcome to hell.”
“Watching me? What do you mean?” Allison played it off like it was nothing.
“I always have this feeling that somebody is going to jump out at me. I feel like if I turn around quickly, I’ll find somebody staring at me.”
“Yes. It freaks me out. I hate going downstairs by myself and I swear to God I saw a man standing in the living room this morning when Mom asked me to vacuum.”
“You’ve got to see this then.”
Allison demonstrated how when she jumped from one spot to the other the sound changed. Thump, thump, thump.
“That’s the sound we heard the other night!” Taylor cried.
“I know. I didn’t want to scare you but I think that there might be something under the floor.”
“Let’s get somebody to help us find what’s underneath.”
“No, don’t. Claire’s coming back and we’re going to look around the area for a rip in the carpet. I need you to play with Nick until Mom and Dad get home.”
“Okay. But can I help you guys out tonight when everybody’s home?”
“Sure. Claire’s back. Go play with Nick and I’ll call you down when Mom and Dad get home.”
Claire brought in pink tape and Allison started jumping. Wherever Allison jumped and it was hallow, Claire would trace it with the tape. They came up with a sort of rectangular shape of hallow foundation. With only an hour left before Allison’s parents would get home, Claire and Allison searched the tracing for any signs of a rip in the carpet. They were almost done when Claire found a mark in the carpet.
“Allison! I think I might have found something.”
Oh God! Jamie don’t kill me, Aaron kept repeating in his head. Jamie slid the knife around his throat once more. “Just one little slit in your neck and you’ll be dead in two minutes. How does that make you feel Aaron? Does it make you feel bad? You should want to die after the things you did to my little girl. Should I beat you till you’re half dead and tie your hands and legs together and see how good you swim? All because she didn’t agree with you. All because she was trying to be her own person and you didn’t like it. All because she was starting to be an independent person and didn’t think the same way as you. You yelled at her. You called her names and made her feel worthless. You sent her into a dark depression that took me almost two years to bring her out of. You ruined her innocence by manipulating her every word. You even tried to turn her against me. That didn’t work, did it Aaron? In the end it was always me she was going to really rely on and you couldn’t handle that truth. I hope you rot in hell.” Thump, thump, thump.
Claire started to peel back where the carpet was ripped. Allison stared as a large piece of carpet came up. Underneath was a trap door. The doorbell rang and scared Allison and Claire. Allison got up and went to answer the door while Claire put the carpet back in place.
“Good afternoon, Allison,” said a woman. It was the same woman that came over a week or so ago and gave Taylor the creeps.
“You too,” Allison replied.
“Do you happen to know when you’re getting your carpets replaced? The manager said that she was going to start replacing carpets in this part of the complex.”
“Uh no I don’t know. I actually didn’t know that we were getting the carpets replaced at all.”
“Ah, I see. Well may I come in?”
“Actually we’re about to leave but maybe you can come back another time.”
The woman tried to force herself in but Allison slammed the door and locked it. Claire ran across the living room and locked the back door and closed the kitchen window.
“What the hell is wrong with her?” said Claire.
“I’m not sure but my parents will be home soon so I’ll let them know what happened,” replied Allison.
“Okay. That was pretty freaky though.”
“Ya it was.”
“Do you hear that?”
Thump, thump, thump.
Aaron’s mind was racing. He couldn’t believe that Jamie figured out that it was him. He couldn’t stand that his own daughter was turning her back to him, pushing him out of her life. It was ridiculous how much Liz was like Jamie. Aaron couldn’t even talk to Liz without her getting upset with him. He refused to pay child support when she stopped visiting on his weekends. Liz might not have deserved what I did to her, but Jamie is lucky I didn’t follow through with my plans for her. She would get what she deserved for turning Liz against me.
“I can see it in your eyes that you wish you could have gotten to me first. But you didn’t Aaron. And now you’re laying in your own living room praying for life. Even God can’t keep you from your place in hell. Don’t worry Aaron, this should only be the worst thing that ever happened to you.” Jamie said with a sinister smirk as she rolled his body into the compartment. Thump, thump, thump.
“Quick, pull back the carpet. My parents will be home in a half hour.” Allison instructed.
“Alright. Here it goes.”
Claire pulled back the carpet and the trapdoor was visible once again. Allison reached forward to open the door. Thump, thump, thump. Both girls jumped and Allison pulled her hand back with lightning speed. Then Allison reached forward again and with a hard pull opened the trapdoor. Dust came flying up from the cracks around the trapdoor. The lights flickered and the girls stared into the darkness of the trapdoor. Allison suddenly felt a pulse of adrenaline and shut it.
“We should wait for my parents.”
“I think there is an evil down there that can’t be handled by just us.”
“Ya that’s a good idea.”
“I think they just pulled up.”
Jamie took one last look into the shallow grave of her ex-husband. Then she closed the trap door, replaced the carpet, and headed for the back door. Cleaning the blood off of the knife took a few seconds, but trying to clean up the blood from the fence, the side of the house, and the shrubs was going to be more time consuming than she had planned. Quickly and quietly, Jamie made her way to the street over where her truck was parked. She turned it on, turned the lights off and drove over the fence. Piece by piece, Jamie placed the bloodied planks into the back of her truck. She hosed down the side of the house then tied a rope around the shrub and pulled it out of the ground with her truck. Last, but not least, she filled the hole left behind and closed the back door. No one will ever find that sorry bastard she thought as she drove off to her house, two hours away.
Once Allison’s parents were home, Taylor and Nick came downstairs.
“You spending the night tonight?” Anita asked Claire.
“Ya if it’s okay with you,” replied Claire.
“You know you can. You practically live here every weekend!” Anita laughed. “Are you two okay? You seem a bit shaken up.”
“Well, Claire and I found a trapdoor under the carpet today.” Allison chimed in.
“You found what?” Michael asked.
“There’s a trapdoor under the living room carpet,” said Claire.
“I think there’s a body in there and that his spirit is trapped in this house,” added Taylor. “I’ve seen him too. The other day when Mom asked me to vacuum, I turned around and saw a man standing in the living room. It scared me so bad that I ran all the way upstairs and when I looked back, he wasn’t there anymore.”
“Oh my God. Taylor, I want you to take Nick upstairs and watch a movie. Michael, I want you to help me look in the trapdoor. Allison and Claire, dial 911 but don’t call them until I say whether to do so or not. Everybody ready?” Anita asked.
All four nodded in agreement and Taylor took Nick upstairs to distract him from the event that was taking place downstairs. Allison and Claire took their position with the cell phone, and Michael and Anita walked toward the misplaced piece of carpet. Anita held a flashlight while Michael lifted up the trapdoor. Thump, thump, thump. The sound startled Michael and he dropped the trapdoor, which slammed shut with a loud bang. Once Michael recuperated from the scare, he reached down to open it again. Anita pointed the flashlight into the darkness and ignited the small space with a white light. With a gasp she pointed toward the opening and her jaw dropped. Michael saw what she was looking at and his face lost its color.
Inside this trapdoor were bones, human bones. Just then the door flew open and in came the woman from earlier. Allison and Claire screamed, Anita dropped the flashlight, and Michael jumped to his feet, ready for whatever was about to happen.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Michael yelled at her.
“What are you doing? Get away from that trapdoor!” the woman yelled back.
“Excuse me? You need to get out of my house!” This time Michael walked toward her and pointed his finger toward the door.
“You will never know. You will never know.” the woman kept repeating as she stared at the trapdoor. “You will never know how it feels to be betrayed. To have your little girl taken right out of your hands. Right out of your life.” With those words, Jamie pulled a gun out of her jacket and took her own life. Right in the middle of the living room. Right next to the trapdoor.