Contributor: Samantha Seto

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Downstairs, in the bottomless emptiness, Scarlet sat in the far right corner of the room in lotus position sketching in her notebook. She was trapped in a basement, way at the bottom of the earth, never trying to figure out a way to get back to reality. There was a plain straw-backed chair, a few pieces of old-fashioned furniture, and some cardboard boxes lying ridged and going every which way on the floor of the room. She imagined herself in a far away place, away from everyone else.

A few pieces of fabric from a brownish quilt that had once been colorful draped like a curtain from a one-legged table toward the center of the room. The dust burned her eyes as moths buzzed in and out of the quilt, burrowing new pathways. The silence bothered her, so she steadily eyed an ancient record player nearby. Not quite sure how it worked, she figured that she’d place a giant record on top and lower the panel. Dust lined the edges, torn and empty in some parts as if acid had burned it, around since the ‘70s. The walls were so thin she could hear everything that happened in the house. There was no air conditioning. She sat there for a couple of seconds in deep thought, waiting.

Moments later she heard a creak on the hardwood floor right above her head. There was an unexpected loud boom as he dropped something heavy. Only a small amount of sunlight filtered into the room so she grabbed a flashlight, directing her way through the darkness. Scarlet immediately turned off the music player, a choir of nightingales. Classical notes of melody drowned her into the calmness of the quiet room. Scarlet felt her body sway gently to the lullaby before she got up, moving towards the door of basement.

As time passed, she climbed the stairs in order to reach the door that connected the basement to the rest of the house. Unsure of where the noise came from, she didn’t want to open the door and fear which direction to take. She needed more clues to cue her closer to the noise.

The hard white stone steps she waited on seemed stiff on the soles of her shoes. She pressed her ear to the door and listened to a muffled voice along with tiny footsteps in the distance. I must’ve left the front door open, she thought.

She heard a creak against the floor coming from the kitchen before it immediately moved itself to the upstairs bathroom. It took all of her courage to put her hand on the doorknob and turn it. She didn’t want to pull it open but she had to figure out who this mysterious man was and what he was doing in her house.

Scarlet opened the door a crack and peeked around, surveyed the room in a clockwise motion. Now she could be sure he wasn’t anywhere nearby. She quietly watched her steps as she tiptoed to the living room.

Then, she went upstairs holding the bat firmly in her hands. It made her feel more secure. She noticed dark muddy footprints at the top of the stairs leading into her bedroom. She covered her mouth with one hand, startled.

With each coming step she got closer, tiptoeing down the hallway. Four closed doors were lined on one side and two doors on the other side. Passing the bathroom, she discovered that her things had been ransacked. She gasped. Her mascara had rolled under the counter and her eye shadow was crumbled in tiny clumps all over the floor. Scarlet walked through pieces of glass and colorful arrays of cosmetics that covered the ground.

It smudged her feet with imprints of make-up. She stepped on a piece of glass and her foot began to bleed. She stared at her own reflection. Her eyes swelled a dark pink as a result of pain. She carefully pulled the glass out of her foot.

She continued down the narrow hallway, following the footprints, the baseball bat to her side. She was only a few steps away. I can do it.

She opened the door to her bedroom. The bed was covered with black markings and there were papers shuffled everywhere around her desk. A tall man wearing a dark jacket and jeans emerged from where he stood in the room. Scarlet noticed the mask he wore over his eyes.

Carefully, she backed away not wanting to stir any sudden movement. He scared the hell out of her. She began dialing 911 but it was already too late.

He pulled out a bloody knife and moved towards her, raising his hand. He made a small cut on her arm and she screamed so loudly that she was sure the whole world could hear her.

Scarlet’s vision was closing, growing narrow, blackening into a dark hole. She felt tired, almost weary, as she plummeted to the ground.

The next thing she knew, she had fainted, lying unconscious on the floor.

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Samantha Seto is a freelance writer that has been published in various anthologies including Ceremony, Soul Fountain, and Black Magnolias Journal.
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