I write this because by the time anyone reads it, there won’t be anything they can do.
It began when I opened the basement door the wrong way. Before, it pulled open to the downstairs. But I was drunk that night and wanted to get drunker, so I had to get where I keep the beer cold, down in the basement. I pushed on the door. Putting a sign up telling me to pull wouldn’t have helped—I was drunk beyond reading. I pushed and pushed. A right door would’ve held closed or its hinges would’ve strained or broken, but this was no right door. I pushed and cursed until it swung the wrong way.
What I saw was not my basement. It got me sober right quick. The stairs weren’t the kind that went down, for one thing. They did go down, but they were angled to go up, like if I crossed onto them I would’ve swung around. Like gravity was fucked beyond the door and down the stairs. What they descended into reminded me of a TV show I saw where they opened up some woman’s tumor, all tissue and teeth and hair and eyes. Those eyes looked at me.
I pulled the door shut. Then I pulled it open, but see, it was too late then. I’d opened something I shouldn’t have, an opening that was more than the door itself, and there was no closing it. This was told to me soon enough, but somewhere in the depths of being drunk, I already knew there was no going back.
The next morning said hello with a hangover and a knock on the front door. The knock came from a man in a suit, and he had friends. Not the kind of suit you probably think I should be in after seeing a toothy tumor in my basement. These were government spooks, though what government, I couldn’t say. They showed me their credentials whenever I asked, and they always looked official, but I could never remember what they looked like. Even now, I can’t recall.
They told me that because I was the asshole who opened the way to her little nook of the universe, it was my responsibility to keep her there. We had some back and forth, but eventually I got the message—what I’d seen was real and it was my problem.
There were two rules. Keep the basement door closed except when feeding her and to feed her what they brought—everything they brought and nothing else.
That night, they brought a body. He was an older man in his sixties with a big gray beard, I remember that, and best I can tell, that was the last time I saw one of her meals as a person. I cried. I’m man enough to admit it. But the spooks stayed and saw the job through. They said I’d be tried for treason if I didn’t and I had no need to be court martialed again. I did what I was told, but I didn’t pretend I was happy about it.
The thing is, she doesn’t really have a mouth. She probably has all the pieces you need for a mouth, somewhere, but not in one place. When I tossed that bearded man in his sixties through the basement door (and I swear it looked like he floated up) it was her hair that grabbed him. It squeezed him inside its locks, against her red muscles, between her eyes and teeth, and sort of crushed and rubbed him until he was creamy enough for her to slurp, bones and all.
That is the worst sound I will ever hear.
The second worst was the knock on the door. Those spooks have a slow, obnoxious knock. They knew I was living on a pension and had my food delivered—they must have, because they never arrived at the same time as the mailman, the grocery boy, girl scouts, any of them. Always alone, whenever they wanted, day or night.
Whenever they wanted, not when she wanted. I could tell she was hungry because of the smell, a rotten eggs mixed with animal musk kind of a smell. It got so bad once that even when the spooks finally brought the body, I couldn’t bring it to the basement. The smell of death on that body was nicer than the smell coming from her. Of course, I had to bring him eventually. The smell’s from a gas she gives off. The spooks wouldn’t tell me this, even when I asked. I sorted it out for myself. The smell’s the sign, but the gas does worse than stink. It gets in the skin. First you get a dark ring. Then a bump. Soon you’re leaking yellow and that was enough to get me to open the door and feed her. The smell stopped and the rings faded in a day or so.
I didn’t delay feeding again her for a while. I couldn’t if I tried. The spooks used to bring a body once a week or so. But then they came knocking twice a week. Then three times. Then it was daily. Then I lost track. They’d come two, three times a day. Or night, for that matter. Feed her, feed her, always that. They’d bring men, women, children. If I asked how they died, the spooks would say it was a car crash, or a mob hit, or political enemies of their leader. People who were dead anyway. I started to wonder how many of them were killed for her.
And then I started to wonder if it was even for her. There had to be a benefit to having her around. Kill the people they don’t like, get rid of the evidence. They had a leader to answer to, at the very least. If that was so, maybe they weren’t above the law. Could be this had nothing to do with keeping her fed and everything to do with the spooks and their desires.
If all that was true, it made sense why early on they would let her go hungry. They didn’t care about feeding her. They just wanted a place to put their bodies, and if a time came that they didn’t have any bodies to toss, she went hungry. Like I mentioned, she has no mouth. She can’t cry. Best she can do is give off that smell. It’s not fair. I wasn’t brought up without a sense of honor, and even though our good government took some of that honor away from me once, damned if I’ll let them do it again.
That leads me to this night. Halloween night. This morning I left the basement door open. I know she can move, at least a little, and I’ve heard her down there. She’s working her way up here.
The air’s thick with her smell. I still hate it, but I’ve gotten used to it, and I don’t hate her. She was left in a prison to starve, a neglected animal in a cage. She wants to hunt. I know the feeling. For me it was wrong. I represented something greater than my own little life and I stained its image with what I did. But she belongs to no military, no government. Her allegiance is to herself. The spooks brought her their leftovers, like they always do, but I think she wants live prey. She’s coming up here to get it.
The work is done now. I didn’t feed her the bodies. Neighborhood kids think those are decorations in the trees, covered in stained sheets. They think the bloodstains on my porch are fake. They think my leaky sores are a costume. They like me. They’ll come to my house for treats.
I’d like to see the spooks wring their pencil-pushing hands, see them try to cover this up. Everybody’s going to know. Everybody’s going to see her hunt. Well, not everybody. I’m not leaving this house except to mail this off and when I come back, I’ll wait for her. Give her a whiff of live prey. It’s what she wants and after I’ve starved her for a week, it’s only fair she gets the one she’s seen at the door, but couldn’t taste. I gave her my apologies. I’ll make up for it when I get home.
Tonight the kids will come trick-or-treating and they’ll come to my door looking for me to hand them candy, but I’ll be gone. She’ll be here and she’ll be to the front door by then. And she’ll be hungry.