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June 14, 2010 / Maleesha Kovnesky

Scary Basements

The house I live in has a Scary Basement. 

Basements built today are usually pretty nice…shaped and molded to look like home theaters, game rooms with pool tables, or at the very least, man-caves.  Newer basements do not come with scents of mold or zombies.  The windows are up to code and allow for escape in the event of fire.  They are light and airy and if you didn’t know any better, you may not even realize you were in a basement.

The basements of yore, however, are a different story.  My basement was definitely built in yore.  1914, actually.  And there are nooks and crannies and dark places that house God-knows-what, as I am too afraid to even shine a flashlight in them.  In fact, I haven’t been in the basement since I moved in.  I am afraid that if I went down there, I would get caught in a giant cobweb and never be seen again.

As scary as my basement is, it is not nearly as scary as the basement of my childhood.  Now that was a pit.

Really, it was an actual pit.  It was made up of a giant hole in the ground.   The house sat atop a hole that was just slightly smaller than the house itself, probably to prevent a cave-in.  The door to the basement was narrow and had one of those hook-and-loop locks.   People brave enough to venture into the basement would have to open the door, go down five creaky stairs and reach into the dark for a string that hung from a bare bulb.  I hated flailing around in the dark for that string…I expected to be met by a bony hand, probably belonging to that dude that hosted Tales from the Crypt.

Deep in the basement, there was a tunnel.  The walls were made of dirt, and one of the walls had a tunnel that went somewhere.  Where, I don’t know, because I wouldn’t have gone into that tunnel for large sums of penny candy.  I would only venture near the tunnel when my dad was also in the basement, because he was usually armed with tools and flashlights and everyone knows that zombies and the other undead never attack when dads are present.  My dad sometimes worked in the basement, not really sure why (he may have been stabilizing the dangerous walls) but he found a lot of “treasures” down there.  Old coins, and copper wire shaped into figures. 

The other scary thing about the basement was the furnace (isn’t the word furnace just terrifying!?).  It would turn on with a roar-whooooosh and the blue shimmer of the pilot light would be visible through the grate in the hallway to the kitchen.  To this day, HVAC appliances scare me.  This is probably because my family told me the story of the unfortunate fate of Great Uncle Charlie, whose house exploded due to a gas leak.  The largest part of the house that was found was a piece of the telephone receiver.  People – if you have stories like this in your family history, don’t tell your kids about them…not even when they are thirty.  Tell them Uncle Charlie died of old, old age in a nursing home in Hawaii.

It’s hard to explain the terror of that basement, but it was there.  I haven’t thought about that basement for a long time.  I think I will stop thinking about it NOW and just go to bed.

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9 Comments

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  1. David / Jul 5 2010 5:40 pm

    My basement is not the least bit scary. My dad lives in part of it. He’s not scary, just annoying, and somewhat of a zombie. The rest of the basement is where we feed our woodstove, check on the boiler, wash clothes and watch TV.

    Your childhood basement does indeed sound dreadful. But your reminiscence of it was quite charming. It’s always a surprise to me the things that frighten ex-Marines. Severed doll heads notwithstanding …

  2. megan / Jul 2 2010 1:05 pm

    I’ve got a Scary Basement, full of things I don’t want to think about. Unfortunately, the washer and dryer are in that Scary Basement, and since of course it has to be at the other end of the house from the stairs, I have to fumble through the semi-dark and actively-used spiderwebs, over leftovers from Hubby’s grandma just to wash my clothes. Shudder.

  3. morethananelectrician / Jun 15 2010 6:47 pm

    You should do some writing in the basement…that could be some interesting reading!

    • maleesha / Jun 17 2010 8:48 pm

      EEK

  4. Rambleicious / Jun 15 2010 12:21 pm

    My parents also have a Scary Basement – most of it is only moderately scary, but one portion of it is partially boarded up with a mound of dirt behind it. Just a big ‘ol pile of dirt.

    No one has any idea what is in that dirt.

    I have my suspicions given that every male who has owned this nearly 200 yr old house has died in it (of non-gruesome causes so far as we know).

    I hope your basement is just regular creepy even if it does smell like zombies.

    • maleesha / Jun 17 2010 8:49 pm

      Bodies, for sure. In the pile. That’s where the zombies come from.

  5. Taoist Biker / Jun 15 2010 8:55 am

    One of the houses we looked at when we first moved to town had one of those old dirt-floor, slipshod-brick-wall, no-lighting basements (more of a cellar, really, I guess) that I said looked like nothing so much as a waypoint on the Underground Railroad.

  6. shmode / Jun 15 2010 7:09 am

    Blech, I hear ya, terror it most certainly is. We rented an old house when we were first married. A large estate house, so although the basement was more than a hole in the ground, it was just as creepy. I went down there once, and only once because my dh was going down to check it out. I never went in there again.
    BTW, dh found severed doll heads in that one. ~shudder~

    • maleesha / Jun 17 2010 8:50 pm

      Severed DOLL HEADS? Doll heads are scary even when they’re NOT severed.

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