Weclome to my One Question Interview, where I ask one question and have it answered by some of my literary pals.
The Question: You’re alone, cornered in a dark basement. Something horrible is upstairs looking for you, and it’s only a matter of time before it comes down those stairs. What is it? For extra credit, how will you escape (is escape even possible?!)?
Benjamin Kane Ethridge: It’s that damn rape demon again. I suppose I’ll just have to give it up this time.
Louise Bohmer: It’s a phooka crossed with goblin, better known as a phoogob. They’re nasty pieces of work with backward knees and breath that smells like a long forgotten outhouse that was never cleaned. But their heads are quite spongy, so if we’re talking my basement, I’m going for the poker by our woodstove and aiming for the cranium. Phoogobs are fast, though, so I’ll have to make my first hit count.
C.V. Hunt: The man lurking upstairs is a manifestation of my conscience. He stomps around with an arrogant stride, knowing he’s tormenting me. His snarky laugh echoes through the first story as he approaches the basement door. He knows there’s no escaping the windowless and dank basement.
I press my back into the cold cement of the corner as he slowly clomps down the stairs. I refuse to scream or beg or cower. I’m not giving him the satisfaction of watching me squirm. Besides, no one would hear me even if I screamed till I tasted blood.
He reaches the bottom of the stairs and he plants his feet firmly on the concrete floor. He folds his arms, lifts an eyebrow, tilts his head to the side. We make eye contact. We stare at each other, regarding each other as the enemy. I hold my eyes open, refusing to blink, and hold my firmest and most confident look I can muster.
My eyes sting from the lack of moisture. My eyelids flutter. But we continue our staring contest for a lifetime and wait for the other to relent.
Jessica McHugh: Malfunction
I’m afraid it will smell the gash on my leg. Even with a towel wrapped around the cut and half a bottle of Drakkar Noir soaking in, I’ve seen enough of the beast’s talents to know the cologne won’t be enough. If it had a normal sense of smell, I might have a chance. I might even have the courage to search the basement for an exit. Instead, I huddle deeper into a bulky mountain of toilet paper, my leg stinking of my first boy/girl party.
Truthfully, I don’t have the energy for much else after running all the way from Denmore Labs. I’d hoped the beast would lose interest in me, maybe get distracted by a jogger, but it seems the technician who ran 10,000 volts through its body daily wasn’t an easy man to ignore. When I busted into a random house on Porter Street, I thought it might pass me by, even with the old lady screaming and smacking me with her knitting needles. But when I saw it through the curtains, its mammoth nose snorting at the trail of blood I’d left on the sidewalk, I knew it was over…
Anthony Rapino: The thing upstairs is an electric razor. Of course, this is no ordinary razor; it’s both enormous *and* sentient. I cower downstairs in the dark, stroking my luxurious man-beard and plotting my escape. The razor, however, has picked up the scent: a musty mix of testosterone and whiskers. My face-pubes stand on end in anticipation of the violent face-rape now headed down the stairs.
Practiced as I am in the subtle art of misdirection, I quickly pull out a few strands of my beard and fabricate a trail for the slow-witted beard eater to follow. He buzz, buzz, buzzes his way into a dead end, and I hightail it up the stairs, turning back only long enough to pull out its power cord.
I’m safe. My beard is safe. But for how long?
Behind me, my girlfriend smiles menacingly.
Ennis Drake: You’re in the basement. That quintessential womb of Horror. And you’re being born, reborn, borne into Fear. You’re hiding. Curled. Fetal. Trembling. Willing yourself to be still, but your mind, your body are no longer yours. You whimper. Stifle yourself with your own shaking hand. You can’t be quiet. Your voice is no longer yours. It’s coming. It’s coming and it’s going to find you. The earth floor smells of finality. Sweet and pungent. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dirt. Soon, you will be one with it: the earth. Decomposing organic matter devoid of all things. Dirt and nothing more. Your bladder goes. Loose. Hot wetness between your legs. The smell is strong, stinging. The scents mingle. Earth and urine. Mingle with your sweat. The odor of fear. Fear. And it is coming. There are no windows. No exit. No escape.
Fear is our ghost. Our monster. It haunts us. Stalks us. Corners us. Devours us. But only if we let it. Fear is on the steps. Looking for you. Hungry for you. Does the fear of Fear paralyze you?
Dean Harrison: “What Came In From The Hurricane”
In darkness I huddled in a corner, hearing the grumble of thunder, the crackle and sizzle
of lighting, the dull pounding of wind-driven rain—
And the heavy thud of footsteps from the thing upstairs.
The thing that only moments ago crashed through the sliding glass door, barreling into
the living room where my wife and I sat cuddling on the couch, listening to the storm.
The thing that bit into her neck and ripped it open like a wet paper bag. The thing that
feasted on her flesh and blood as I scrambled for my gun in the coat closet.
I shot it five times with the revolver, but the bullets merely ricochet off the hard and scaly
surface of its huge, black-green body. Crouching over the grisly meal it made of my wife,
the reptilian creature looked up with its fierce red eyes and snarled. I knew then that I was
The power was out. The hurricane outside knocked a tree down in front of the house. The
giant, sharp-tooth monster blocked the only other means of escape left. I was trapped.
The only option I saw available in my frantic state of mind was to barricade myself in the
basement—a dark, damp, cluttered dungeon where alone I now awaited my fate.
I heard the creature upstairs hiss and shriek. I heard it reduce the basement door to
splinters. I heard it descend the stairs two at a time.
The gun was still clenched in my hand. I knew the single bullet left in the cylinder would
be ineffective on this lizard-like abomination, but it wouldn’t on me.
Not wanting to suffer a slow, painful death being devoured like a slab of meat, I slid the
bitter steel barrel of the revolver along my tongue as the wet, slime-dripping horror from
the storm towered over me; and prayed that this was all a nightmare—
That I was actually lying asleep on the couch, my arms around my wife, as the hurricane
passed through. None of this was real.
Dear God let this be a nightmare.
LET ME WAKE UP!
My shaky finger pulled the trigger.
Thanks for contributing, comrades! I loved reading these, and I’ll definitely be doing more One Question Interviews in the future.