Even with my lips folded in and one hand covering my nose, clumps of dust still managed to find a way into my mouth and nose. Even with dust clinging to my face, it was a lot less cluttered than I anticipated. The top corners were lined with broken spider webs and broken, dried insect carcasses. To my surprise, the bottom of the vents were rather dust-free—it created a clear path that I could follow.
The vents were surprisingly large, allowing me to crawl on all-fours with ease. I thought about the various uses such a large vent could be used for in a house, but nothing reasonable came to mind; it always related back to some kind of movie or video game reference where the main character had to travel through vents. The only thing missing was having a health bar over my head and a little radar in the corner of my eye, and I could have felt like I was a spy. I had to push those thoughts away for the moment and focus on trying to find the exit. I kept my phone light out in front of me as I continued to crawl my way through.
Just a couple of feet away, the light from my phone seemed to reflect back at me. I realized that the vent reached a split, one turn going left and the other going right. Looking at my options, I peeked around the right corner first. There was another dead end. I reached in to have a further look and aimed my phone upwards, realizing that the vent took a steep vertical climb. The light from my phone couldn’t even reach the top of the vent.
This must connect to another floor of the house, I thought, but there was nothing to allow a person to freely climb up and down the length of the vent: no handles, no railing, nothing whatsoever to get a grip on. There was just one long, silver tunnel that lead up. What kind of purpose could it have served?
I backed up and looked down the left corner. Just a couple of inches away was another hatch. Cautious before leaving the vents, I moved up as close as I could to the hatch, listening for any sound coming from the other side. Nothing. I grabbed into the handle and pulled down, slowly opening the hatch. With my phone being the first thing out, I took a quick scan of the area. Just like before, it was nothing but brick walls and no light. The air was blowing much more, a constant breeze moving around the scent of aged copper. I crawled out of the vent and got to my feet to do a proper look around. Just behind me was the small hole in the wall where the brick fell out. From this distance I could see the bottom of the steps in the dim, overhanging light bulb.
Being on this side of the basement feels like an entirely different room. There must have been a good reason behind putting up a brick wall.
I brought my attention back to the new side of the wall. Just a couple of feet away my phone light was shining on a large pile of metal. After further inspection, it turned out to be nothing but old pressure and water tanks that connected to the central plumbing of the house. Both tanks were rusty, layers and different shades of brown eating away at the dulling, aged silver. Pipes connected both on top and met up with the pipes that traveled along the ceiling. Perhaps there was still some water traveling in and out from the tanks? That would explain the dampness around the wooden beams on the other side of the basement. Pushing the thought aside, I took a few more steps and continued my search.