I was 14 years old, the only girl in the family. I was a middle child with two brothers, one older and one younger. We loved scaring one another a lot. It absolutely defined our childhood. It was a great past-time, to hide in a closet or behind a door and jump out at one another. One of Vernon's--my older brother's-- favorite things was to tell us there were things hiding in the basement by the furnace. I never went downstairs unless someone else was in the house. In case something grabbed me and I needed to scream for help.
So when the following event happened, some part of me prayed it was just Vernon horsing around:
My younger brother David was at a school basketball game, not home yet. Mom worked late and who knew where Vernon was? He went to a different school and kept more to himself. The house was quiet and I figured he must be with friends.
I was alone in my room, a little scared of the rest of the empty house. I was probably reading when it happened.
There was an unmistakable laugh coming up through the basement's register. Not a cheerful laugh. Not a friendly laugh. It was a laugh that says, "You are f***ed if you ever come down here." A grating laugh that froze my blood and actions. Quite literally. Every part of me seized and I'm not sure how I continued breathing. I did not-- COULD not-- move.
I stayed in that position until someone came home. Probably Mom. Maybe David after his basketball game.
It was a very, very long time before I could go to the cellar again. Only in daylight. Only with someone home, or if Mom was down there sorting laundry.
I didn't tell anyone about this. Some part of me was so certain I had literally heard a demon that day, and I didn't want to acknowledge it. I told my own two teenagers some years ago. Somehow we had begun a conversation about paranormal things and they asked if I had ever seen or heard anything.
Are you wondering about where Vernon fits into all this? He came home several hours after the event, having been all day with friends.
I had been quite alone.
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