's 2013 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by Pyro Gibberish

The dank, cramped basement is flooded with light as I flip a creaky, ugly switch in the wall. The scratched wooden walls and chipped concrete ceiling are illuminated in all their tumbledown glory by a solitary, flickering lightbulb.

"The last owners really didn't use the basement for much," I say to the couple behind me. "So it might need a bit of fixing up, but that shouldn't be a problem, right?"

The man coughs in disgust, and his girlfriend follows suit, although with less subtlety.

"Yeah," I sigh. "The basement needs cleaning, but that's not too bad."

The floor is entirely obscured by a thick carpet of dust that reaches my ankles. The still, grey mass covers the floor, from underneath the stairs to the restroom door on the other side.

"Christ, how long has it been since this place has been cleaned?" says the woman. "It's like this room hasn't been touched since the last owners moved out."

I nod slightly, although I'm not sure what that nodding meant. I step further into the dust, careful not to stir it and make too much more of a mess.

"Come on." I raise an arm to beckon the young couple off of the stairs and towards me. "Let's check out the bathroom over here. It's actually pretty nice."

The couple very hesitantly takes their first steps into the basement proper, their faces betraying their thoughts with off-put grimaces. Slowly they follow me into the center of the room, just below the lightbulb.

I smile and continue to walk towards the bathroom door, but I stop upon hearing a shrill cry from behind me.

I turn to find the woman screaming, shrieking that she cannot move. Very gradually she seems to be getting shorter, although a quick glance down assures me that she actually appears to be sinking into the dust as she would sink into water, albeit at a much slower rate.

Her boyfriend grabs her arm and tries to wrench her from the dust, but abandons this when he realizes that he, too, seems to be slipping beneath the blanket of silt as well.

They are both cursing me now, swearing at the top of their lungs and writhing in desperation. They try to push themselves off of the floor, but there is not floor to speak of now. They try to pull themselves up with the lightbulb, but they are already waist-deep, far too low to reach it.

I make no move to rescue them, for I know all too well that it is a vain task. I try my best to maintain a cheery smile as they sink and shout and scowl at me, even waving goodbye to them when the dust reaches their neck.

The are no longer screaming, but weeping, their tears mixing with the dust that consumes them. It begins to fall into their mouths, stop up their noses, sting their eyes. With one final muffled goodbye, they are submerged.

The dust is still and silent.

I sigh to myself, straighten my tie, and head up the stairs to prepare for the next open house.

I used to feel remorse for doing this, but after a few years, you become desensitized. Better them than me, right? Better them than you?

After all, if I don't feed the dust, it might get hungry, and if it gets hungry, who knows where it might end up?