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"In The Basement"
The first shot rang out like a clap of thunder. The next one was deafened by time as the final transition happened in
between those two shots as she went from one living heap of terror to a limp, lifeless lump of nothingness on the floor of the basement. The heart that had pulsated within her like the strong, gloved fists of a prize fighter out to become the next world champion
eventually stopped their futile hammering. "Win, win, win," had been their message, but now these imaginary fists lost their strength and surrendered to the inevitable. The heart beats stopped like fingers of a deadened hand, spreading out like the petals
of a flower in bloom.
As she watched Rowan grab her limp feet and drag what had been her own living body along with him over the bloodied floor Stella herself went from one stage of being into another. She stared at the man who had been her beloved husband
for two years, disbelieving her own eyes, as he started to stow her lifeless body away into a refuse bag. That can't be done, she thought, I'm too big. I woun't fit, heavy with his child as I am.
However, to her dismay she did fit into the bag, and right
before he pulled it over her poor, shattered head she saw the spasmic movements in her miraculous, big belly which had been her joy and pride for almost nine months. He didn't even look at it although he had been the one who had wanted her to become pregnant.
She hadn't been too keen on having children this early in their marriage, but as time went on and she felt the child within her she had come to love the idea of motherhood.
Now she and their child were nothing but garbage to him, something to dispose
She stared at his face and suddenly he raised his head and looked straight at her, but obviously without seeing her.
No, you idiot, she thought, you can't see me, but I can see you. Within her a red hot flame shot up. Rage? No, more than just
plain rage it was like a pyre of the love she had felt for this man. "Let's burn together," she said out aloud, and he looked like he was listening to her words although she herself was the only one able to hear them as there were no sounds in the basement
except the creakings of the refuse bag being tied at the top.
However, suddely someone called out to her from upstairs.
"Stella, is that you?" her mother's voice rang out. She didn't sound overtly worried, more like puzzled. It was obvious that she
had heard something, but didn't know what to think of it.
"Stella isn't here, but I'm cleaning out?" he shouted at the top of his voice and Stella heard the steps of the staircase creack as her mother went down to the basement to see what was going on.
"No, no, keep away!" She shouted at the top of her voice, but still with no sounds to be heard by anybody but herself.
"Oh, that's fine," her mother said as she stepped down the stairs and into the basement. "When the child is born you will need a lot
of spare room for storage." She smiled her usual polite and always extremely affable smile. "I see, you've dropped some of the red paint on the floor. What a pity, we needed it for the bench in the garden."
She bent forward to watch the glittering, red
spot in the dim light from the naked bulb in the ceiling and even touched it, dragging a tentative forefinger through the tell-tale pool on the floor. "Never mind," she said, "I shall remove it."
He stood watching the elderly woman with his special smile
that always had been so attractive to her because of the gentleness it exhibited. Stella waved her arms and shouted out to her mother, urging her to run, to hide, to call the police, but nothing happened until she bent forward to eye the red pool once more.
At that moment he took out his gun and shot her in the head. She fell forward, a surprised, but still very polite half smile on her face.
Stella felt a hatred that was foreign to her and she rushed over to him and started to pound his well built
chest, but it was obvious that he didn't feel a thing as he started to open another refuse bag for the limp and bloodied body of her mother. Without much to-do he dragged the dead woman along with him and into the bag. In the process the skirts of the shy
and so very well brought up elderly woman were pushed up over her head. Stella felt this as the ultimate insult to what her mother was by nature and by upbringing and she rushed over to him and clawed at his face, but still to no avail. He just stood there,
by the two bags, unscratched and still smiling his special smile. She screamt at him, condemning him in the worst curses she could think of, but it was obvious that he didn't hear her.
After that she watched as he dragged the two bags up the stairs, one
at the time, humming a tune she couldn't remember. When he had succeeded in dragging them upstairs he turned around and turned off the light bulb, leaving her in complete darkness.
At first she was so consumed with rage that she felt how the air
around her almost glowed with it, but after some time - actually, some weeks - she simmered down. That was a relief to herself, but maybe also to all the people who came to see the house which he had put up for sale right after he had shot her and her mother.
One young woman had commented on the "sort of vibrant air" in the basement and she had told her husband that she didn't want to live in the house as she felt that "something awful has happened here". Stella listened to her, hopeful that an investigation
would open, but to her dismay, nothing like that seemed to be afoot. Then she realized that he had told everyone that she had left him for a lover and that they felt sorry for him.
"That poor man and he doesn't even know where his child is by now," another
silly, young woman had whispered to her friend as he had shown them the basement.
Poor man indeed, she thought, if I could lay my hands on him ...
Unfortunately for her, that was exactly what she couldn't do. No matter how hard she
hit him he didn't feel a thing, but sometimes he seemed to be able to hear her voice so she often yelled at him.
However, one day she heard another voice, but her own in the cellar. It was the clear and pearly laughter of a young infant and she had to
admit to herself that before that she had heard the fierce crying of a new born child, only she had dismissed it from her mind. Could it be her own baby she had heard? When she heard the laughter one more time she felt that it was her child and she called
the name she had chosen for a boy: "Victor!"
There was no reply, so she tried out the name she had thought of for a daughter: "Victoria?" This time there was the same pearly and mischievous laughter as before. Also there were the pattering of small feet
on the staircase so when the door into the basement opened at exactly that time she called out in terror: "Look out! Someone is coming!"
All the sounds stopped as by magic and there only was the creakings of her husband's steps downwards. As he was half-way
down the staircase he stumbled on the child and fell down onto the floor. He screamt in pain and horror and it was obvious to her that he had hurt his hip or his back as well as one of his legs very badly. Moaning on the floor, but not being able to get up
on his own, he fumbled for his cell phone, but as soon as he found it in his pocket and was about to phone for help it was ripped out of his hands and thrown or kicked out of his reach.
Stella couldn't help herself, but burst out laughing as she
had never done in her life. "I shouldn't gloat over you," she said, seeing that this time he heard her, "but frankly, I do." When she saw his face so full of terror she couldn't stop laughing, but her laughter was almost drowned in the pearly, childish laughter
of her daughter and the subdued, polite cough of her mother.
© Else Cederborg