Contributor: Krystina Balogh

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The old Victorian house loomed ahead, its windows a dark reflection of the pending autumn storm. Sasha pulled her thin jacket closed and quickened her pace. She didn’t like the house. It was eerie with its unkempt garden and peeling trim.

“Can you help me, please? Excuse me? Can you help me?”

Surprised, Sasha looked around and saw the little girl standing on the porch steps, her dress straight out of the 19th century.

That’s odd, she thought. I didn’t think anyone lived here. I guess someone finally bought the old place.

“Excuse me,” the little girl said once more, coming down the steps towards Sasha. “Please, I need help.”

“What’s wrong, sweetie?” Sasha asked, rubbing her hands together to keep warm in the chill air. She should have worn her heavier jacket.

“It’s my father,” the little girl said. “He’s fallen and I can’t wake him up. Please, help him.” The little girl turned and moved quickly up the porch steps.
Sasha started to follow and then remembered her cell phone in her pocket.

“Did you call 911?” she asked as she pulled it out. “You should call 911 before you do anything when someone is hurt, you know.”

The little girl stopped near the top of the steps and replied, “The telephone isn’t connected yet.”

“That’s ok, I’ve got my cell. I’ll call 911…” Sasha said as she started to dial. Before she was able to finish dialing, the little girl bolted down the stairs, grabbed her free hand, and tugged her up the stairs. The force of the tug sent the cell phone flying out of her hand and onto the sidewalk. Sasha tried to retrieve it but the little girl wouldn’t let go.

“Please, there is no time,” the little girl pleaded. “He’s badly hurt. You must help him!”

Sasha saw how frantic she was and heard the panic in the little girl’s voice. She decided it wouldn’t hurt to check on her father first and then come back for the cell phone. No one would bother it and she was the only help in sight; the neighborhood was practically abandoned.

Sasha let the little girl pull her up the porch steps and into the foyer. It was dark inside. There were heavy velvet curtains covering the windows and no lights were on. She noticed a switch on the wall near the front door and pushed it. Nothing happened. “No electricity?” she asked the little girl.

“Yes, but the fuse blew. Father was going down to replace it when he fell,” she replied. The little girl picked up a candle stub from the foyer table, lit it, and motioned for Sasha to follow. They moved quickly through the gloom, the candle providing the only light.

The little girl stopped at a nondescript door just outside the kitchen. “Father is down there, at the bottom of the cellar stairs,” she explained as she pulled a key from her pocket. The lock softly clicked in the quiet hallway.

Suddenly, Sasha did not want to open the door. She did not want to see what was on the other side. Stop being silly, she told herself. There’s nothing on the other side except some stairs, the cellar, and an injured man. She took a deep breath, gathered her courage, and reached for the doorknob. She slowly opened the door. She let loose a nervous giggle when nothing gruesome jumped out.

Sasha moved to the top of the stairs and peered into the darkness below.

She couldn’t see anything, not even the little girl’s father. “Do you have a flashlight I could use?” she asked.

“Father had the only flashlight. It’s down there, now,” the little girl replied as she pointed down the cellar stairs.

“A candle?”

“This is the only one I have and I don’t want to be left in the dark.”

A soft scratching noise rose from the cellar. Sasha looked down the stairs, willing herself to see through the darkness with no luck.

“What exactly happened to your father?” she asked. “You never said.”

The little girl looked anxious. “We were in the kitchen when the fuse blew. Father was in a hurry and didn’t watch where he was going. He missed a step and fell down the stairs. I tried to help him but I couldn’t get him to wake up.”

“You saw the flashlight next to him?” Sasha was hesitant. She really did not want to go down the stairs into that thick, impenetrable darkness. Something wasn’t right.

“Yes, it was on the floor next to him. Please, go down and make sure he’s ok. I couldn’t get him to wake up,” the little girl sobbed. “Please!”

Sasha sighed and turned towards the stairs. As she picked up her foot to navigate the first step she felt a hard shove from behind and lost her footing. She tumbled head over heels down the stairs to the floor below, hitting her head hard. The last thing she heard before she lost consciousness was the door closing and the key turning in the lock. The last thing she saw was that she was alone at the bottom of the stairs.

In the hallway the little girl removed the key from the lock and put it back in her pocket. A small, wicked smile played across her lips. That should keep them occupied and well-fed for a while, she thought.

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Krystina Balogh is a freelance writer that haunts the mid-Atlantic region of the USA. She dabbles in the horror, science fiction, and fantasy genres and is the author of numerous short stories. When she is not busy writing, she indulges her love for the supernatural and video games.
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