Audrey was glad to finally move out of the city. She was sick of the constant traffic and bright lights, but most of all she was sick of her boring, low-paying internship. She knew she was ready for a change so she decided to buy a house in the suburbs using the money she had saved up for years, and get a new job, hopefully something that she actually wanted to do.
But as she pulled up to her new house in her beat-up minivan, all she could feel was a mix of frustration and helplessness. What am I going to do? she thought. She gripped the steering wheel until her knuckles turned white. The moving van wasn’t coming for another few days and she hadn’t even begun to look for jobs yet. Audrey felt tears well up in her eyes. She bit hard down onto her bottom lip to prevent herself from tearing up.
She parked the car into her new driveway, climbed out onto the newly mowed grass of her lawn, and clutched her car keys tightly. Don’t cry, don’t cry, she thought. You’re an adult now; you’re not allowed to cry. “This wasn’t supposed to turn out like this,” she mumbled shakily under her breath. Despite telling herself not to, she let a hot tear roll down her cheek. She wiped it away quickly. You are not going to let yourself cry, not now, definitely not now, she thought to herself.
“You all right, there?” asked a deep gravelly voice. Audrey whipped her head around to see a man in his late fifties with curly hair white as snow, standing on the porch on the house next to her.
“Uhh, no, actually,” she replied, surprised by her honesty, “The moving truck isn’t going to get here for another three days, and… and…” She suddenly started to cry, unable to finish her sentence. She dug her fingernails into her palm, desperately trying to get herself to stop.
“Do you have a place to sleep tonight?” he asked.
“N-n-no… I, uh, don’t.” Audrey replied, finding it hard to talk through her tears.
“That’s all right, sweetie,” He said in a kind voice, “Why don’t you stay with me until it comes? I have a spare room you could stay in. It won’t be much trouble, trust me.”
“Y-You’d do that?” She asked.
“Why, of course! It’s always good to help out those in need!”
With her purse in one hand and her car keys in another, Audrey walked across her lawn over to the old man’s lawn and stepped up his creaky porch. “I’m Audrey, by the way,” she said, smiling.
“I’m David Wilson. You can just call me David.” he responded.
David led her inside. He brought her past the foyer and up the front staircase. The wall to the right of the staircase was covered with pictures. Audrey stopped to look at one. The picture was of a man who looked like David and a beautiful woman standing next to each other. They were smiling from ear to ear. David had a full head of dark brown hair, as opposed to the white hair that he had now. The woman was wearing a lacy white wedding gown and had a smile on her face that radiated pure happiness and joy. “Is this your wife?” Audrey asked, “She’s very pretty!” As soon as she said that the grin that David wore faded away.
“Yeah… She was an amazing woman.” David replied in a sorrowful tone, “Diane was her name. Sadly, she’s not with us anymore.”
“Oh, I-I’m so sorry for your loss, Mr. Wilson! I’m sorry for bringing her up!” Audrey cried, immediately feeling guilty for mentioning it.
“Please, don’t apologize. No harm done.”
David led her down a hallway to large bedroom filled with gorgeous Victorian furniture. “This is where you’ll be staying. Make yourself at home!” David told her. He was smiling once again.
That night all Audrey could think about was how nice Mr. Wilson was as she lay in the queen-sized bed. She couldn’t believe that people that nice could actually exist. She slowly began to feel her eyelids droop with fatigue. Today was a long day, she thought as she reached over to turn off the bedside lamp.
She awoke the next morning to the smell of bacon and eggs. She kicked off the smooth cotton sheets and climbed out of bed. She hoped that she looked presentable even though she wore the same clothes as the day before. She walked down the hallway towards the stairs as she admired the lovely decor of David’s home. Every piece of furniture was spotless and nothing seemed out of place. How does he keep his house this clean? Audrey wondered. She walked down the stairs and into the doorway of the kitchen to see David by the stove cooking scrambled eggs.
David looked up when he saw her. “Looks like someone’s awake. Would you like some eggs?”
“If you don’t mind, Mr. Wilson.”
As David handed her a plate, Audrey heard the loud clanking of metal coming from the door to the left of the dining room table. She slowly stepped toward the door, curious of what the sound was. She was about to press her hand on the doorknob when she was interrupted.
“DON’T YOU DARE YOU GO IN THERE YOUNG LADY!” shouted David in a booming voice, causing Audrey to jump. She looked over at David. His furrowed white eyebrows created a face of hatred and malice, a face that Audrey didn’t even think David could make. He’s like a completely different person, Audrey thought, a bit scared.
“M-Mr. Wilson?” Audrey asked cautiously, trembling slightly.
“I mean, uh… I mean please don’t go in the basement. Yeah, the uh, basement’s going through some renovations so it wouldn’t be a good idea to go down there.” David said frantically. Audrey wasn’t reassured by his smile.
David’s reaction sat at the forefront of Audrey’s mind for the rest of the day. She found the way he reacted abnormal and very suspicious. Her curiosity grew by the minute. He must be hiding something, Audrey thought. It has to be that, there’s no way that it’s just because of renovations.
That night, Audrey lay in her bed, unable to sleep despite the clock reading 12:05. She needed to know what David was hiding in his basement. Her curiosity was getting the better of her. She rolled out of bed and made her way to the door. She opened the door and wincing at the creaking sound it made. She looked across the hallway.
In the dark she could make out David’s bedroom door, open slightly ajar. His light was off, so he was asleep. Audrey let go of the breath she was holding. She walked down the hallway and carefully placed each step. She desperately hoped that the creaky floorboards would not wake him up. Finally she made it to the stairs, and began to walk down them. She was relieved that they did not make a lot of noise.
At last she made it to the kitchen. She walked to the basement door and grasped the cool metal doorknob. Turning it to the left, she opened the door, her adrenaline pumping wildly. As the door opened, a foul stench hit Audrey like a wave. She quickly shielded her nose with her hand. What is with this smell? She wondered. Beginning to panic she thought Maybe this isn’t a good idea… I mean, it is his house. Despite herself, she started down the basement stairs.
With each step, the smell became worse. Once she reached the bottom of the stairs she began to make out a figure in the darkness. As her eyes adjusted, she realized that the figure was a woman, wearing a now ragged and dirty, yet still recognizable, wedding dress. Her mouth was covered with an old piece of cloth and her face was as pale as a ghost. As soon as she saw Audrey her eyes began to plead for help, and she started to yank on the handcuffs, that bound her to a radiator. That made the familiar clanking sound Audrey heard earlier.
The color drained out of Audrey’s face and she began to feel sick once she realized who this woman was. This woman wasn’t just anyone, it was his wife Diane.
She suddenly heard the door to the basement creak open. Startled, she whipped her head around to see David looking down at her from the doorway. He said in an calming, yet eerie voice, “I told you not to go in the basement…”