Demon in the Basement by River Fairchild by River Fairchild - Read Online

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Thirty-two stories, including a novelette by the same title, to keep you awake at night.

A time-traveling Chevy, an ancient church of evil, a house possessed by black magic. Stories to fill you with dread, draw you into places you'd rather not go, smack you in the face with ironic possibilities.

Meet the monsters of myth, the creatures that lurk under your bed, the phantoms you thought didn't exist. Travel to the real Atlantis, strap in for the Bermuda Triangle. Terror lurks in the ocean, while an asteroid hides a secret.

Leave a nightlight on before you go to sleep. Something's coming for you.

Published: River Fairchild on
ISBN: 9781516347209
List price: $0.99
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Demon in the Basement - River Fairchild

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Demon in the Basement

and Other Stories

to Keep You Awake at Night

River Fairchild

Copyright ©2015 by River Fairchild

All rights reserved.

First edition published September 2015

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

Cover art and jacket design ©2015 by Erin Dameron-Hill, Award-Winning Graphic Artist

http://edameronhill.wix.com/edhgraphics

Draft2Digital Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Acknowledgements

To my four-footed babies

It doesn’t help when you walk across my keyboard but I appreciate your enthusiasm.

To my muse

I love you, Jezebel.

To my awesome readers

Sharing my stories with you gives them purpose and meaning. Without you, they’d merely be words on paper. Thank you for your generous support and I hope you’ll come along with me on this incredible journey.

I love being an independent author, able to publish stories that cross genres. One challenge, though, is promotion. If you’ve enjoyed this book, please consider leaving a review on Goodreads or one of the online bookstores. Your show of support makes a big difference.

Table of Contents

Ironies

Chevys Are Forever

The Final Bell

Martians Don’t Eat Corn

Superstition

Mirror, Mirror

Moonrise for the Dead

Dream Merchant

Dark Lightning

Thirst

The Sound of Silence

Heist Outré

Three Dog Night

Wish the Moon

Awakening

The Golden Demon

Food Chain

Metamorphosis

Hair of the Dog

Next Stop

Blood Reflection

Hunter

Dangerous Premonitions

Cruisin’

Forever Mine

Timing Is Everything

A Slight Detour

Guardian’s Gate

Served Cold

Blink

British Hospitality

Demon in the Basement

About River Fairchild

Other Books by River Fairchild

About Untethered Realms

Ironies

You seem lost in thought. Trisha sat down next to her husband. Mark had an old photo album in his lap, but his eyes focused on the view out the window.

I was just thinking about Vince. It’s hard to believe he’s been gone for ten years now. I wish you’d known him back then. You would have liked him.

Vince had been Mark’s best friend all through school. They did everything together, were as close as any two friends could be, until their sixteenth year. That summer fate’s cruel hand tore them apart. Just starting his first job, Mark couldn’t go on the annual family camping trip with Vince and his family.

Vince wished me good luck with the job, but I could tell he was mad that I wouldn’t go with them. When he walked away from the lot where I was pushing carts, I felt like I’d just lost my best friend. That was the last time I saw him.

Mark shuddered at the memory. Trisha put her arms around him, holding him until he relaxed. He twirled the slim gold band on her finger, thinking about how lucky he was to have married her.

Trisha kissed his forehead. You can’t blame yourself for his death. It was an accident.

I know. But if I’d gone with them, maybe I could have saved him.

Come on. Trisha coaxed Mark up into a standing position. Let’s go for a swim. It’ll make you feel better.

Mark smiled at his beautiful wife. Married five years and he loved her more each day. She meant everything to him. He couldn’t imagine growing old without her by his side.

A small dock stretched into the lake behind their house, a tiny rowboat the only thing tied to it. The water was deep enough to dive off the end of the wooden structure.

Trisha chose to jump in, feet first. Her progress was hard to track in the fading light and Mark had a moment of panic when she didn’t surface right away. At last her head bobbed up, smiling at him.

What are you waiting for? The water’s great.

Her enthusiasm made Mark laugh. At times like this, he wished they’d been able to have children. Trisha would make a wonderful mother. He hurried to the end of the dock and dove in to join her.

The murky water blinded Mark for a moment. A flash of pain stabbed him between the eyes, as if he’d drunk an ice-cold beverage too quickly. It cleared almost immediately, along with his vision. In fact, the water looked bright, like the sun shone high overhead.

Mark’s stomach clenched at the thrashing movement in front of him. Trisha was in trouble. He grabbed an arm and pulled her to the surface. As they broke for air, he realized the arm he held onto belonged to Vince.

Thanks, man. I thought I was gonna drown there for sure. Vince coughed a few times, then smiled at Mark. Good thing you were here.

Mark stared at his friend, the boy who drowned ten years ago while swimming alone. Vince hadn’t changed at all. Time peeled back the layers as if they’d never happened. Somehow, the past was being re-written. Mark was here on the camping trip. Vince was still alive.

You okay? You don’t look so good. Vince peered into Mark’s face. Let’s go sit down on the bank.

Mark allowed Vince to guide him to shore, not trusting himself at this point. He felt weak and disoriented. When they made it to shore, he lay down on the grass and got sick.

Roll him over or he’ll choke.

Unfamiliar voices accompanied retching sounds. Mark slowly realized he was the one throwing up. Opening his eyes, he found Trisha’s worried face studying him. Paramedics hovered, strapping things onto his body.

Trisha… His voice rasped as he tried to speak.

Shh—don’t talk, just rest. We thought we’d lost you for a moment. You hit your head when you dove into the water.

She patted his hand, her rings snagging his attention for a moment before his thoughts lost focus again. He heard someone running down the hill behind him.

Is he all right?

A man’s voice, coming closer. A blanket offered, spread over and tucked around Mark for added warmth. The man’s hand came into view, took Trisha’s hand and held it. Matching wedding bands sparkled in the light.

Hey, buddy, can you hear me?

Mark turned his head, stared into Vince’s face, an older version than the one he’d known.

You gave us quite a scare. Relief colored Vince’s voice. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without you in it.

Trisha stood up. The kids are in the house, still waiting for news. I’ll go let them know that Uncle Mark is going to be okay.

Chevys Are Forever

It would be the last day of life as Tom knew it, not that he realized it at the moment. Some things are better left alone. Time travel happens to be one of them.

He’d just finished polishing the coat of wax on his ‘57 Chevy when Amy came by.

Hi Amy. You want to go for a ride? Tom dusted a speck of dirt off the hood of the car, not noticing that she hadn’t answered.

He opened the door and jumped behind the wheel, puzzled when Amy didn’t join him. She stood in front of the car, her arms crossed and looking like she was mad or something.

You coming or not?

She answered by placing both hands on top of the new paint job he’d just waxed.

Geez Louise! What’d you go and do that for? I just waxed it. Now you’ve left handprints on the hood.

I came by to tell you I don’t want to see you anymore. I’m tired of competing with a car.

What’s that supposed to mean? Tom watched Amy walk away, her blonde ponytail swinging over the smiley face on the back of the blue shirt she wore.

He pulled his head back in through the window, refusing to chase after her. Taking good care of the first car he’d ever owned didn’t make him a fanatic. Why would she stop seeing him just because he liked his car? She’d been happy enough three weeks ago when he drove her over to the mall to go see a movie. Maybe they should have seen the chick flick instead of the thriller.

Feeling disgruntled by the whole thing, Tom turned the key on without starting the engine and flipped through the radio stations until he found a song he liked. He polished the steering wheel and tried not to think about Amy.

A strange hum came through the dashboard, getting louder even as Tom tried to pinpoint its location. The car started to spin, gyrating so quickly he thought he might puke. Please, not in the car, he thought and held one hand over his mouth.

The wild spinning stopped and Tom bolted out of the car, just missing his shoe as he emptied his stomach on the grass. Looking around in a state of shock, he saw that he was parked in front of the high school instead of the driveway at his house. Amy walked towards him, waving her arm to attract his attention.

How’d you do on your mid-terms? Her sunny smile showed nothing of her earlier anger.

Mid-terms? Tom scrubbed at his face, straining to understand what was happening. I already told you—three B’s and two C’s.

Amy laughed. Don’t be silly. You just got out of class. What movie are we going to see tonight? They have a romantic comedy playing that’s supposed to be really good.

Tom shook his head. This was the conversation they’d had three weeks ago—sort of, anyway. Amy mistook his head movement.

You don’t want to see it? All the other ones are blood and guts stuff.

Tom didn’t know how or why but he was being given the chance to live this day over again. Maybe going to the chick flick would change Amy’s mind about dumping him.

No, the comedy’s fine if that’s what you want to see.

Amy hugged him. I have to hurry or I’ll miss the bus. See you tonight. She skipped off, leaving Tom to ponder it all.

He eyed the car with trepidation. Whatever happened, it had something to do with that awful spinning. If he got back in the car now, would it send him somewhere else or leave him here?

Well, he couldn’t just stand here for the rest of his life. The car had functioned perfectly for three months without a hitch—although this was a pretty big hitch. He got back in and kissed the steering wheel.

Please don’t spin again, he muttered and started the engine.

It revved with a roar, but that was normal. He put it in gear and drove home like an old lady going to church, his shirt soaked with sweat by the time he pulled in the driveway.

His mother called out a greeting from her office as he walked in the door. Perfectly normal. Nothing odd here. He wasn’t trapped in the twilight zone.

Breathing a little sigh of relief, Tom ate a snack in the kitchen and contemplated how he would endure two hours of romantic mush tonight instead of the horror flick they’d originally seen. Amy hadn’t been too happy about that so maybe this would change things. The thought brightened his mood and he went upstairs to change clothes.

Amy was ready right at six o’clock, just like before, when Tom picked her up.

How come you don’t have the radio on? She reached for the knob.

Don’t turn that on! Tom yelled a little louder than he’d intended, breaking out in a sweat again.

Okay. You don’t have to bite my head off. Amy sat back in a sulk.

I’m sorry. I just thought we could talk instead. Tom didn’t know if the radio was part of the spinning equation, but he wasn’t taking any chances.

Oh, okay. Amy brightened and chattered on about girlfriends and things he had no interest in but she was happy so it was all good.

After surviving the movie, Tom pondered what to do next. Last time they’d gone somewhere to park with the usual struggle between what he wanted to do and how far she’d let him go. This time, he took her to get an ice cream sundae instead.

He dropped a very happy Amy off at her house, feeling like a hero. When he stuck the key back in the ignition, the spinning started once more. This time he knew what to expect and didn’t get nearly as sick.

When the car stopped, he was sitting in his driveway, wondering what day it was. He saw Amy walking up the street, wearing the same blue smiley face shirt she’d had on the day she dumped him. It was the same day he’d left then, as if no time had passed. Hopping out of the car, he smiled as she approached.

Amy walked up to him and slapped him across the face, turning back around without speaking a word.

What was that for?

As if you didn’t know, she said and kept walking.

Tom slunk into the house, wondering what his life had become.

At the beginning of lunch break at school the next day, Tom pulled his best friend Danny aside. You’re not going to believe this, but my car can travel through time.

You’re right, I don’t believe you. Now can we get in line? The food’s lousy but I’m starving.

They got in line while Tom told him the story.

Yeah? How’d it work out?

Not too good, Tom said, still feeling the sting of Amy’s slap. But it doesn’t mean it can’t work in some other way. Come with me after school and I’ll see if I can get the car to do it again.

I can’t. I’m grounded because of the D I got on the history mid-term, remember?

Do you still have the corrected paper with you? Tom thought this would be the perfect way to prove it.

Yeah. It’s in my notebook. He fished it out and Tom took it from him.

I’ll be right back, he said with a wink and ran out to the student parking lot.

I want to go back four weeks, he said aloud before putting the key in the ignition.

At first, nothing happened. Just as Tom decided he hadn’t figured out the secret after all, the car spun.

Parked outside the school again, Tom spotted Danny just as he walked out and waved him over.

What day is it?

Danny looked at him like he was crazy. Friday. What’s wrong with you?

No, I mean the date.

Are you feeling all right?

Just tell me the date.

It’s the 20th.

Tom smiled at his friend’s worried face.

And mid-terms are next week, right?

Man, what’s wrong with you?

Tom handed Danny’s history test to him. Now you have a week to study the correct answers and ace the test.

Danny stared at the paper as if it were poisonous.

Where’d you get this? How—

I traveled back in time. Tom knew he had a goofy grin on his face but he didn’t care.

Oh, shit. I missed my bus, Danny said as he watched it pull out of the driveway.

I’ll give you a ride home.

No way. Danny took a step back. If you’re telling me the truth I could end up somewhere else.

Suit yourself. I have to get back to have lunch with you in four weeks.

He laughed at Danny’s confused look. Never mind. You’ll understand in four weeks.

He watched Danny walk away before talking to the car again.

Take me back to the same time I left.

Back in the parking lot once more, Tom ran up the steps and into the cafeteria. Not spotting Danny, he walked up to the table where another friend sat.

Mark, have you seen Danny?

Mark stood up, a full head taller and fifty pounds heavier than Tom, and loomed over him.

That’s not funny.

What’s not funny? Have you seen Danny?

I oughta deck you. Have some respect. Mark walked away, leaving Tom to wonder what was going on.

He walked out into the quad and saw a pile of withered flowers placed beneath the bulletin board. A newspaper clipping lay behind the protective glass. Tom read it in shock.

A drunk driver hit and killed Daniel Robson, aged seventeen, while walking home from school on Friday, January 20th. He is survived by his parents and one sister…

Tom didn’t read the rest. He was the cause of Danny’s death. If he hadn’t gone back, then Danny wouldn’t have missed the bus.

He flew back out to the parking lot, convinced he could fix this somehow.

Take me back four weeks, to the same time you did before. Tom’s hands shook as he tried to fit the key in the ignition. Tears blinded him by the time he finally connected.

This round of spinning made him sick again and he threw up on the seat before the car settled into place.

This wasn’t where I asked to be! He sat in front of his house instead of the school.

His tongue hit something sharp, startling him into looking at the rearview mirror. There were braces on his teeth. He hadn’t had those since he was fourteen. That’s when Tom noticed his feet didn’t quite reach the pedals on the floor.

A police car parked behind him. The officer came around to the driver’s side and knocked on the window.

Do you have a driver’s license, son?

Yes, sir. Tom pulled out his wallet. The only thing in there was his student I.D. It said he was a freshman, not a senior. He slumped down in the seat when he saw his parents walk out of the house and head toward him.

Is there a problem, officer? His dad said.

Tommy, what are you doing in that car? His mom asked at the same time.

The officer started talking, leaving Tom without a chance to respond.

This car was reported stolen this morning. I’m afraid I’m going to have to arrest your son for grand theft auto.

As Tom sat in the back of the patrol car, he could hear his mother crying and his dad yelling at her. They didn’t normally argue but something about his arrest had them completely at odds with each other.

Somehow, he had to get back into the car. Tom knew where the former owner lived; he walked past his house every day admiring the car. That’s why the man had been willing to sell it to him, telling Tom it was more trouble than it was worth. That conversation took on a whole new meaning now.

I haven’t driven that car in over twenty years, Mr. Teague had said. She’s more trouble than she’s worth but I never had the heart to get rid of her either. I’m getting too old for her nonsense, but you mind what you say to her and she’ll treat you right. You’re young enough to have an adventure or two, I reckon.

This is an adventure, all right, Tom thought. I’m being booked into juvenile hall.

When his father picked up Tom the next day, he was ordered to stay in his room. His parents kept arguing, interspersing shouting matches with stony silences.

That night, after his parents went to bed, Tom snuck out of the house and ran the two blocks to Mr. Teague’s house. He took out the spare key he had hidden inside the fender and climbed behind the wheel.

Take me back home where I belong.

He welcomed the spin as it started, thankful to be leaving behind all the trouble he’d caused. Smiling at the lack of