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Mari Peacock

The Monster in the Basement

Grandma Eden’s house was west of town and situated to the front of the farm. It was two stories high and green. It was built in 1904. The structure seemed fitting of its age with its coal furnace, creaking floors and ladder-steep stairs but it was very well-built. I always felt safe and happy there. The feeling inside lived up to the title of “Grandma’s House”.

We mostly spent our time playing in the yard and on the unused farmland. There were old tractors, cars from the 1950’s, and lots of huge, pulled tree roots to keep ourselves busy for hours. In the front of her yard was a large lilac bush that made for a superb playhouse. The branches parted in such a way that there were naturally rooms and small hallways.

One of the best things about Grandma’s house was the “secret passageway”. The back room had a closet that led to the front parlor. I remember the time Cody and I discovered it. He used it as a magic trick to disappear and reappear behind me. I never dared go all the way through it though. More so because I was afraid of getting in trouble and not so much that it was dark, dusty and had lots of old clothes hanging in it.

Grandma’s house didn’t get indoor plumbing until 1964. They built a bathroom onto the back of the house, and dug a cellar-like basement to hold the water heater. I wouldn’t have paid much attention to those long, dark cement stairs had I not seen them every time I went to the bathroom. There was no door at the top of them so they were hard to miss. Sometimes I was afraid of falling down them. I never did, but it wouldn’t have been a surprise if I had.

On several occasions I stood at the top of those stairs and wondered what was at the bottom. I contemplated going down but never did. Once I dared go down two or three steps but that’s as far as my courage took me. I never saw anyone else go down there and just assumed it was off limits. I asked my Mom what was down there and she told me there were jars of canned fruit and vegetables and the water heater. That seemed harmless enough but I couldn’t shake the strange feeling about them and wasn’t going to risk it. It was always odd to me that even though the rest of Grandma’s house was old and somewhat cob-webby it always felt safe, unlike those basement stairs.

Now something interesting about my family is that my Mom had twins. She named them Todd and ReTodd. One of the twins died but we never knew which one. So even though the living twin is referred to as Todd, we don’t really know which one he is. I’ve always known this fact but have never been told how the other twin died. Recently however, I discovered why my 4-year-old inhibitions to go into Grandma’s basement, despite my daring and independent nature, were valid.

Todd and ReTodd were born August 13, 1962. Only one baby was expected so it was a complete shock when there were two. What was more flabbergasting was that they were so identical that no one could tell them apart. They both had pointy ears like leprechauns and they always cried at the same time, with the same pitch, and for the same length of time. My Mom and Dad couldn’t think of any other names because the twins were basically the same person, so they just reused the name they had been talking about.

Grandma Eden passed away in 2001 and my Mom got the laborious task of going through all of her things. Mostly what she had was letters, heaps and heaps of them. My Mom sorted them and had given most of them back to their originators. However, a few piles of them were set aside and I found them one day and went through them to help out. This is when I discovered a little notebook. It mostly had recipes and a few to-do lists in it, but towards the end of it I found the account of Todd or ReTodd’s tragic death.

My Mom and Dad were at the Price Hospital having a new baby girl so Grandma was tending them at her house, along with the 5 other kids, on May 9th, 1969. All of the kids were playing outside on the grass when one of the twins had to go to the bathroom. He went in the side door, past the basement steps and up to the bathroom. While he was in there he heard some weird noises coming from down below. At first, it sounded like a tuba concert and, like most 6 ½-yr old boys, he was pretty proud of himself. Then he realized that the noises weren’t coming from him and got very curious. He hurried and finished up in the bathroom and decided to head down the stairs.

The stairs were dark and cob-webby and he couldn’t reach the switch rope to turn the lights on so he sat on the bottom step for a minute to let his eyes adjust. When he could finally see a little bit he started walking toward the noises. When the noises would stop he would stop, and then start back up with them. The cellar wasn’t large but he was disoriented in the darkness and bumped into a wall. That is when he discovered that the noises were coming from behind the wall! At that point he started to panic just a little bit and turned around to leave but bumped into another wall. He really panicked and yelled for help.

The rest of the kids were wondering what was taking Todd or ReTodd so long so they sent the other twin in after him. Alan decided to go with him because he knew the twins could easily get distracted. The two boys ran past the stairs and up into the bathroom. They heard the noises too and figured they were coming from the cellar. Alan and Todd or ReTodd thought their brother was playing a trick and trying to lure someone down the stairs. It worked. They also headed down the stairs towards the noises. They could hear the tuba noises but not their brother. They walked farther and farther into the darkness until they too ran into a wall. It knocked them both over and knocked Todd or ReTodd out cold. All of a sudden Alan could hear his brother yelling and he yelled too.

A light flashed and the boys quickly discovered that when they had bumped into the wall it had spun around and taken them into a hidden, small, dark, brick room. They looked to see where the flash of light had come from and to their horror they saw the scariest thing they could never imagine. They were paralyzed with fear and became speechless. In the corner was the ugliest, smelliest, biggest, hairiest thing they had ever seen; and it was playing a tuba!

Alan and Todd or ReTodd started banging on the wall to see if they could get back to the regular cellar. The passed-out Todd or ReTodd woke up as he felt something grab his ankle. He began to yell out but it was too late. The monster grabbed him by the throat and choked his cries for help. Alan turned around and saw this all happen. He ran over and started pulling on his brother to try and free him from the monster. The other Todd or ReTodd joined him. They pulled and pulled but it was no use. The monster was too strong and in a single movement ripped their brother from their arms and stuffed him down the bell of his tuba. The force of the move threw Alan and Todd or ReTodd backward into the wall, causing it to spin around again and dumped them back into the regular cellar.

Shocked by what had just happened the boys ran up the stairs to get help. Alan was faster and ran out the front storm door to find the rest of the kids. Todd or ReTodd stumbled a little on the stairs and reached the door a second after it had latched shut. Alan reached the lawn when he and everyone else heard a huge crash! They sprinted around to the front yard where they saw a bloody Todd or ReTodd standing there in shock and a broken storm door.

Grandma Eden picked Todd or ReTodd up and rushed him to the car. She told Alan to grab a towel and jump in the backseat and hold it over the cuts to slow the bleeding. She told Neal and Eden to watch the younger kids while she took him to the hospital. Then as no other grandma had ever done before she floored the gas pedal and sped down the dirt lane, her tires spat rocks and dirt 20 feet behind her.

All of the kids were in shock and worried about Todd or ReTodd. The twins were always together and in the haste and scene of blood everyone assumed they were both in the car with Grandma. They forgot, and it would be a fatal mistake, that one of them was trapped in a tuba, behind a brick wall with the monster in the basement.

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