I could feel every pulse with every step I took, my heart’s racing pace still going. I’ve never wanted to leave a house so badly before, and that hatch would lead me out. When I grabbed the handle, my ears popped and the sound of my heartbeat quickly faded away. However, I wished that I didn’t gain my hearing back.
Loud banging and crashing of metal echoed from above, resembling something being thrown around in a steel box. The crashing was quickly closing in on me from behind the hatch. I didn’t dare open it. Something was suddenly inside the vents, and was obviously trying to find a way out. After another few seconds of loud metal, everything went silent. I pressed my ear against the hatch, making sure that there was nothing waiting for me on the other side.
I shook my head, realizing that if I wanted to get out of here, I had no choice but to go through the vent to get to the other side of the brick wall. Gritting my teeth, I opened the hatch and flashed my phone inside. Besides the broken up dust piles and cobwebs from before, nothing seemed to have happened. I let out a sigh of relief, assuming it was nothing but loose animals trapped in the house. I kept my priorities in order as I made my way through the vents. Coming up to make the turn, I heard more crashing of metal coming from above. I paid no mind to it. That was, until I saw what fell before me.
At the far end of the vents something large fell straight into my light, landing with a wet crunching sound. The loud crash bounced off of the metal walls and left a sharp ringing sound in my ears for a few moments. When my head cleared, I was able to focus on what exactly fell.
There was a large, malformed lump covered in a flowing, red liquid. Among it was some shredded clothing, the most notable being the tattered white top and a pair of torn, dark-colored jeans now soaked red. Sticking out at obscure angles were white pieces of bone, splintered and severed at multiple places, as if something crushed and folded the lump over and over.
My stomach struggled to try and stay calm; my insides came up and violent waves of vomit came out. The smell of rust, most likely the scent of blood from the lump, was too concentrated inside the vents. I’ve been inside rooms with bits and pieces of old machinery made of iron, steel and copper, and none of those rooms came close to this – one single meaty clump was more powerful than a collection of metals. However, it just wasn’t the smell that made me lost it.
All of the clues leading up to this just confirmed my undesired theory, but in the worst possible way. First was the sudden sound of falling tools and breaking doors. Next, the unanswered calls and texts that will now stay that way. Third was finding his construction vest and cellphone being hung up on the wall. And now, his battered and destroyed body fell from the top of the vents and landed right in front of me.
I didn’t have time to mourn my co-worker and best friend; the vents started making crashing and banging sounds again. I was certain that there wasn’t a loose animal inside. Whatever was inside these vents was the thing that killed Darren.
And I was still a couple of feet from the next hatch that lead back into the basement.
Copyright © 2019 by Luka Tatsujo