Jane’s first couple of nights in the new house had been wonderful. The house was spacious and comfortable and the neighbors had been so kind to her when she’d met them, though she’d only spoke to all of them that one time, since their houses were all clumped together at the top of the hill and hers was at the end of a long, gravel drive in the middle of a little wooded patch. The clearing was just big enough for the house to fit, but it also offered a nice view of the large lake out back.
She had needed to get out of the city after her messy breakup, so when she’d found such a secluded little property that was priced for next to nothing, she jumped at the first chance she got. The real estate agent who’d shown her around the place had been a little skittish, but Jane didn’t mind the fact that there were some ugly stains in the basement or that the previous owners had complained about doors that swung closed by themselves and strange noises in the middle of the night. She’d heard them herself and she was quite certain it was just a trick of the breeze that often rolled off the lake when the temperature cooled down for the night. It was a drafty old house, so she figured the breeze was to blame for the slamming doors too. It hadn’t bothered her these past two nights and she doubted it would be an issue in the future. The only thing she had left to do was unload the rest of the boxes from the truck.
It took her almost until dark to lug all the bags and boxes into the house. She hauled them all into the basement so that they wouldn’t clog the main floor and get in her way. As she plodded down the steps with the last, and perhaps most heavy, of the boxes, she could feel the strain that all that lifting had put on her back. She knew this last package didn’t have anything to fragile in it, so she tossed it down onto the floor with a loud huff of breath. But the box didn’t land on the floorboards. It fell straight through.
Jane peered through the perfectly square hole and realized it wasn’t just a hole. It was a trap door. She wasn’t about to leave that box down there, she knew she’d forget all about it, so she reached through the little doorway and felt around. She found a narrow wood ladder hanging down from one of its sides and started down to retrieve her package.
The room at the bottom of the ladder was wide and empty. The light from the hole in the floor above sent a column of light down into the room. Its glow dimly illuminated the rest of the room, revealing that it wasn’t exactly empty.
There was a door in the corner of the far wall. Jane thought it was odd that the real estate agent hadn’t included this on the house tour. As she drew closer to the door, she began to hear a faint sound she hadn’t noticed before. It sounded almost like wheezing. As her eyes adjusted to the poor lighting, she noticed something she hadn’t seen from the other side of the room.
They looked like claw marks dug in to the wood planks of the floor. They were long, extending from a couple feet in front of the door all the way to where they disappeared beneath it. Jane was starting to feel a little uneasy when she noticed more of the marks scattered along the doorframe. The wheezing sound was louder now and Jane prayed it was just some kind of gas leak or strange animal that had burrowed into the room behind the door.
Suddenly, the door swung inward so fast it nearly snapped off its hinges. Inside, there was nothing but a great black mass of darkness. Where there had been no wind before, there was now a strong gale tearing at Jane’s hair and clothes. Tendrils of shadow reached out from deep within the room to wrap around her ankles and wind their way up her legs. They pulled her to the ground. Jane tried to scream, but the sound was swallowed up as the wheezing grew to an earsplitting shriek and the wind howled. She reached desperately for something, anything to cling to, but her hands found no purchase as she was dragged into the little room and enveloped in the deep, vast darkness.
The door swung gently shut. The wind died down and the shriek returned to its soft wheeze. And just like that, everything was as it had been. There wasn’t any sign left of the house’s unfortunate new owner, other than the boxes piled in the basement and the new set of claw marks etched into the floor of the secret little room beneath the hole in the floor.