The footsteps didn’t let up, small feet pacing back and forth above me. The rancid smell of trash and old meat seemed to only get stronger the longer I focused on the hatch in the ceiling—there was no way I could even take a look around in the attic unless I grabbed one of the face masks from downstairs. When Darren and I did our initial walk-through of the house, we didn’t notice the hatch. There was no odor coming from the back of the second floor hallway, there were no sounds coming from the roof, and the realtor didn’t even mention that the roof was accessible from the inside. Part of me wondered if this was intentionally left out and hidden, possibly hiding some kind of secret.
There was a small string hanging from the hatch with a handle at the end of it. I reached up to grab it but I couldn’t reach it, making me realize just how high the ceiling was. If I did a jump, I knew I could have grabbed it and pulled it down. Taking a few steps to line myself up with the handle, I bent my knees to give me a strong spring when I go for a jump, but I straightened myself back out when I heard something crack. Backing up a few steps, I looked down at the wooden floorboard, but didn’t see any kind of cracks or breakage. Hesitant to try again, I put one leg on that part of the floor and pressed down with my leg; the snaps and cracks of wood breaking came from underneath, most likely from the lack of support beams directly under this floor.
I sucked my teeth as I brought my leg back, “Shit. If I jumped there, I’ll probably fall through the floor. How the hell could I reach the handle to the hatch?”
Curious to see just how far the floor was cracking, I slowly walked across the floor. For the first few steps, the floor barely made any sound. Once I was a foot or so away from the hatch the floor began creaking under my feet, lasting until I reached the wall, the end of the hallway. Knowing how much room I had, I had to tread lightly. I made my way back to the safe portion of the floor and tired to think of how I could reach the hatch without putting on too much weight, and possibly go crashing back onto the first floor. To mark where the floor began to crack, I took out my notepad and placed it on the floor. As I searched the entire second floor for something to give me a good enough boost to grab the handle, the sound of crashing tools echoed throughout the house. I paused for a moment, waiting to hear something from Darren. His voice didn’t call out for a minute or so.
Curious about what was going on, I walked over to the second floor landing and called out to him, “Darren? Everything okay down there? Did you drop your tools?” Still no response. Just in case I couldn’t hear him, I climbed down the ladder to the first floor and called out again, “Darren?”