Light — Part 1

Silas was just about to climb the last stair out of his basement when he heard a small *scraping* sound on the concrete floor. He paused and looked back over his shoulder. The noise he heard could have been his own feet on the stairs, but to him it seemed like it had come from somewhere in the basement. Like a cardboard box being slid to the side. He shuffled his foot against the stair a few times, trying to replicate the sound. Satisfied that his foot was the culprit all along, he took the last stair out of the basement and stepped into the evening air.

The basement emptied into a driveway that ran the length of his house. Turning around, he looked down the stairs. The short ceiling and narrow stairwell allowed for but a small glimpse into the basement. A single bare bulb illuminated the space, casting yellow light and long angular shadows. Behind him, shadows cast by the setting sun had dissolved into the consistent gloom of night, the moon rising behind a copse of clouds. The basement door hung open inside the stairwell, and Silas leaned in to close it.

As he pulled the door closed, its rusted hinges squealing in unison, he realized he had forgotten to shut the light off. He snaked his arm around the door and felt for the light switch along the wall. With a *click* the light went out, and Silas pulled his arm back out.

A small breeze traced up his back. Standing at the door, the darkness of the basement yawning around its edges, he heard the *scraping* sound again. The hair on the back of his neck rose, and he grabbed for the door handle.

Like the sound of leathery feet in a shuffling run, the noise got louder. Silas’ hands were shaking as he fumbled with the knob. He had time to realize that whatever was making the sound was getting closer, and heard the *slap* of bare feet rising the concrete stairs just as the door slammed closed.

With one hand firm on the knob, he fished his keys out of his pocket. He squinted in the darkness to find the right key for the deadbolt, and then stabbed it into the lock. The knob began to shake and twist in his grip as he wrenched the key to one side. The deadbolt slid home with a heavy *thud*.

Silas stumbled back from the basement door and tripped, dropping his keys, the skin of his palms biting the asphalt. The doorknob continued to shake as whatever was on the other side tried to open the door. All he could hear was the rattling of the knob and his heart, thundering in his chest. He gasped in great lungfuls of the cool night air, and backed further away from the door.

The doorknob stopped shaking. Silas held his breath, crickets chirping obliviously around him, fearing that whatever was in his basement had found the catch on the inside of the door for the deadbolt. As if on cue, he heard the scraping of ragged fingernails against the metal door. It was then that he remembered the deadbolt locked with a key on both sides.

The scratching sound stopped. Silas heard the *click* of the light switch, and a ring of dim, yellow light spilled out through the cracks around the door. Footfalls descended the stairs, and then all was silent.

Silas gathered himself up from the ground, found his keys, and ran inside.

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