I’ve been house-sitting at my uncle’s for about two weeks and every day has been weirder than the last. Let me catch you up first. My uncle got divorced six months ago and moved into this place shortly after. No one had heard from his now ex-wife since the divorce, but no one bothered because she never seemed to like the family. His house is old; he said it was built sometime in the late 1800s. It’s out in the woods thirty miles from my house. He’s an accountant for a few millionaires in Europe, and he leaves on business every six months. Until recently he was living with his wife, but now he’s alone and likes to have someone watch over the house. When I first got to there, I noticed a metallic smell in the house, especially near the basement door. My uncle said it was from the slaughterhouse a mile down the road.
He gave me the grand tour when I originally arrived. The place is old, and makes a lot of noises, he warned me. The boiler makes a high pitched whine when you’re running hot water, the furnace makes weird machine noises when it’s turning on or off, the shutters on the windows are loose and they flap a lot in a breeze. The floors creak, the pipes rumble, and there is a high chance an animal lives in the attic. The house is creepy at night because of all the noise, but during the day, it has a lot of rustic charm.
The weirdest thing that my uncle didn’t explain is that when you’re sleeping in the guest bedroom, which I was, you hear a sound like a door unlocking and a bone-chilling moan like a dying animal coming from the basement. At first I thought it was just the furnace or the fans or something but I became more suspicious as the days went by. The thing about the noise is that it happens around sunset every day. I try not to leave the guest bedroom at night.
Sometimes I can’t help it. Sometimes I just have to get up in the middle of the night. Sometimes its that moaning sound that wakes me up, and sometimes it’s the sudden need for a glass of water. Every time I do, I swear that moaning sound gets louder, like whatever it is knows I’m up. It sounds crazy, but I think the moaning isn’t part of the house, but something worse.
Let me explain: Out of boredom, I was doing some snooping around my uncle’s office last night and I found ownership documents for this house, except these documents were ten years earlier than my uncle says he’s owned this house. I thought it was a clerical error but the more I dug, I found bills, taxes, payments made for this house that confirm it. Somehow my uncle managed to keep this house a secret from the whole family for over a decade. I also found the original plans for the house which say there’s an extra room in the basement. I took a look in the basement this morning but only saw a design etched into the back wall, where the extra room should be. It was several circular marks, about a finger’s width apart, etched into the stone wall in a semi-circle with one dot at the bottom. If you imagine a clock, there were ten marks between twelve and three o’clock, and ten marks between nine and twelve o’clock, no marks at twelve o’clock and one mark at six o’clock. Between three and six o’clock, was a line that connected the two dots. That brings you up to where I am now.
The plans said the extra room was just beneath my bedroom. I thought maybe it was time to face my fear of this dark, damp, basement and see if I could find it, as I thought it was related to the moaning. I waited until before sundown, and went to the basement with the only flashlight I could find. When the sun fell behind the horizon, I started scanning the room with the flashlight; left, right, behind me, back up the stairs. I wasn’t seeing anything. I didn’t even hear the noise until-
That’s it! I turned around and shined my light in the direction I heard the sound, and on the wall, in the middle of the circle of markings was a door knob. Many things happened at once, when I heard the noise: I saw the door knob, I heard the moaning, and I smelled an intense boiling blood smell. I gagged and covered my nose with my shirt as I slowly made my way towards the door. I looked closely at the door knob. There was a mark on the top of the door knob that matched those on the wall. It was possible to see a faint outline of where the door was. I turned the knob to the right until the mark on the knob matched the second mark of the design and opened the stone door.
I couldn’t see anything through the doorway. Shining my flashlight through the door didn’t help either. I stepped through the doorway and found myself back in the dirty, damp basement. I stepped all the way through and the moaning stopped. The doorway was still black; I couldn’t see back to where I came from. I found the staircase and walked back upstairs to the main floor. When I got to the kitchen, I saw a newspaper on the table. The date said October 8th, 2018.
Wait, 2018? I had just traveled two years into the future! Did my uncle know about this? He must have known, if he had the old plans to the house. What would he go into the future for? Could it take you to the past? I was amazed. You could do so many things with this time traveling house! You could stop the Kennedy assassination; you could even stop the Lincoln assassination. What did my uncle use it for? Before I went back to the present, I wanted to explore the house more.
Nobody seemed to be home. The guest room I was using in the present was untouched. I checked the drawers I kept my clothes in and they were empty except for one which had a folded piece of paper. I picked up the paper and read it. It was in someone else’s handwriting.
̶W̶ ̶ — ̶ ̶1̶0̶R̶/̶2̶0̶1̶6̶
V — 100R/2016 ̶I̶I̶I̶I̶ ̶I̶I̶I̶I̶ II
What did it mean? I wanted to find out, but I think I had to be back in 2016 to start figuring it out. As I walked back to the basement, I saw the clock on the stove giving the kitchen an eerie orange glow. 1:32 AM. I’d been here for almost an hour looking around. I walked through the kitchen as the floorboards creaked and whined. A gust of wind rattled the house and made me jump. I realized I’d been holding my breath as I walked towards the basement. I turned my flashlight on and made my way down the stairs into the dark, musty basement. I found the door, with the knob still there, and pulled it open and entered the blackness. I came back out in the same dark, musty basement. I was back home. Ugh, that metallic smell was back too, and I could hear that animal moaning sound again. This whole place creeped me out.
I looked back at the door one more time and went upstairs and checked the clock on the stove. 12:35. Only five minutes passed in the present. How convenient. I debated going back to bed but I just had to find out more about that door. My curiosity won over my fear and I walked back downstairs through the basement, the stairs groaning with every step.
I stared at the door for a moment. Another gust of wind hit the house and I heard house groan attempting to remain intact. I heard a faint thumping coming from behind the door this time. I reached for the door knob and turned it to the left this time. Slowly, carefully. When I lined up the mark on the knob with the fifth mark on the left, the metallic smell became so intense I could taste copper in my mouth, and the moaning became a blood-curdling scream.
“GET ME OUT OF HERE PLEASE, SOMEONE HELP ME!”
I quickly let go of the doorknob and ran back upstairs. I practically dove into bed and covered myself up to my head. I was shaking. From my bed I could still hear the muffled moaning coming from the secret door below me. My heart was racing. I couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night.
I didn’t go down to the basement for three days. That scream haunted me. Every time the wind shook the house, I jumped. On the fourth day after my brief foray into time travel, I decided I needed to learn more. I went downstairs to the basement to check out the door again. The knob was gone, as was the outline of the door, but the marks were still there. I studied the marks on the wall. If turning that door knob to the right takes you into the future, does turning it to the left take you into the past? What was the mark at the bottom for? I had to wait for the door to come back to find out.
I waited in the guest room at night until I heard the door appear. I quietly braced myself and went towards the basement. The taste of copper growing in the back of my throat as I got closer to the basement. When I opened the door the moaning started again. My stomach churned. I didn’t know if I was ready to see what was beyond that door tonight.
The knob had appeared, but up until now, I hadn’t decided what I wanted to see first. I wasn’t ready to face whatever was screaming, so I tried turning the knob all the way to the right until the mark on the door lined up with the mark at the bottom. I opened the door and walked through.
The first thing I noticed was the smell. It smelled like what I imagine an underground slaughterhouse smelled like. I turned on the flashlight and quickly found out why. The basement looked a hundred years older: moss and lichens growing on the old stone foundation and ground. The wood ceiling in the basement, which was the floor of the main level had holes in it. I could see the moonlight. The house must have been demolished, but the basement remained. In the basement was old equipment that looked like it belonged in a slaughterhouse. A rusty meat hook hung from the ceiling and below it, a drain in the ground with a dark brown stain around it. Something was being killed here. Along one wall hung many knives, a pistol, and a hunting rifle. Wait, I’d seen that rifle before. When I was young, I had used that rifle to hunt pheasants with my uncle. It was my uncle’s rifle.
I felt my heart jump up to my throat as it began to beat faster. I shone my flashlight around the basement and saw a large mound under a green tarp. I lifted the tarp and was hit with an intense stench. I gagged and keeled over to catch my breath. When I was ready, I held my breath and lifted up the tarp. It was bodies. Bodies in various states of decay. I gasped for air and tasted that metallic taste again in my throat. I was frozen, staring at the corpses. I tried to count them, starting from the most decayed to the least. I counted twelve.
At the top of the pile was a familiar shade of red hair. I slowly reached towards the head and tilted it towards my flashlight and saw that it was my aunt. I stifled a scream, because even though I was alone, a hundred years in the future, I was still afraid of getting caught down here. My uncle must have killed his wife at some point after the divorce. She was on top of the pile.
I dropped the tarp and turned away from the pile. Everything started to make sense. The note I’d found two years in the future said V — 100R/2016 ̶I̶I̶I̶I̶ ̶I̶I̶I̶I̶ II. Those marks on the note were for a body count. 100R meant one hundred years to the right. I was most certainly in the future, which explains the dilapidated shape of this basement. The other line, ̶W̶ ̶ — ̶ ̶1̶0̶R̶/̶2̶0̶1̶6̶, was that where he kept his ex-wife? It was crossed out on the note. It must’ve meant that he’d already killed her and brought her here.
That means if an entry crossed out means a victim is dead, then the other entry, 1–5L/2016 must mean that one person is still alive. That’s where the screaming and moaning is coming from. I ran back to the door.
Back in the present, my heart was pounding. I had to go back five years. I needed to face whatever was in there. If something happened back there that I changed, something would be different in the present. I’ve seen enough science fiction to know how time travel works. You can play with the future as much as you want, but the past doesn’t leave much room for that. I grabbed the door knob and turned it until the mark on the knob and the fifth mark on the left lined up. The moaning turned back into screaming.
“GET ME OUT OF HERE! PLEASE HELP, HE’S COMING BACK!”
I pulled the door open and went in. It was the same dark basement. When I closed the door, I heard a someone crying. I turned on the flashlight, and in the corner, where the bodies would be in a hundred years, I saw a woman in shackles, bound to the floor.
“Please don’t hurt me any more, I just want to go to home. Please let me go.”
I ran over to her, she flinched when I came close. She was blindfolded. “Are you okay?” I asked.
“No, don’t hurt me, please I just want to go home,” she cried.
“I’m not going to hurt you, I want to help get you out of here. I know you’re in danger” I whispered as I took the blindfold off.
“He’s going to come back,” she whimpered.
“Where is he?”
“He just left a minute ago, he said he’ll be right back.”
“He’s here?” I said.
I heard footsteps upstairs. He was here. He’s owned this place the whole time. I struggled to undo the shackles, but they were locked. The footsteps were making their way towards the door heading down to the basement. I got up and started searching on a nearby workbench for a key when I heard the door open and my uncle start to come downstairs. I couldn’t let him see me, so I hid behind the bench. I saw him come down and stand over the girl. He picked up the blindfold that was on the ground.
“How did this get off you?” he asked slowly, leaning towards the girl.
She screamed and thrashed around in the shackles and chains. My uncle looked disappointed and reached into his back pocket. He took out a pistol and aimed it at her. She looked over at me and cried for help. My uncle paused and followed her gaze over to where I was hiding. He continued to stare in my direction, and he shot the girl.
“No!” I yelled, and jumped up from my place. I was too late. My uncle calmly stared at me, and smiled, which made me sick to my stomach. He didn’t move towards me, or aim the gun at me. He just stared. I took the chance I had and reached for the door knob and pulled it open to bring me back to the present.
When I stepped out of the door in the present day, I was face to face with my uncle, holding the same gun he killed that girl with five years ago, smiling that same smile.