I Spent 10 Years Locked In A Basement
Even to this day, it seems incredible to think of how much time I really spent locked in that basement. Though I wouldn’t find out exactly how long it was until after the ordeal was over, I knew even while it was happening that it was years. As it turned out, it was a little more than 10 years that I spent there, growing from a teenager into an adult while the cold steel manacle was clasped around my ankle.
I was kidnapped just before my thirteenth birthday. It happened at night, while I was walking home from basketball practice. It was a clear night, and I’d felt that the light of the full moon above me was more than adequate to drive away the fears I normally had while walking in the dark. Of course, I didn’t really know what fear was then. Not yet.
As I hummed a tune I’d heard on the radio the previous afternoon, I kicked the occasional rock and glanced up from the ground in front of me only every few seconds to ensure that I was still aiming in the right direction. I hadn’t bothered to change from my basketball uniform, knowing that once I got home I’d be shower-bound anyway. My practice basketball was tucked safely under my right arm, and I was too worn out from practice to even consider dribbling it in front of me as I walked. I couldn’t have been more than a half mile from my doorstep when it happened.
A van roared past me and then slammed on its brakes just ahead. I froze, suddenly unsure of what was going on. Remembering this now is painful because if I’d just run – run as fast as I could have right then – my life would probably have been very different. But, despite what I’d been warned about the dangers of situations such as this one, my muscles were as solid as ice, and I just stared.
A man in a dark coat and jeans jumped out of the now-open side door and lunged at me. I finally got my body to respond, but it was much too late by that point. He had his hands on my shoulders, and pulled me nearly off my feet as he dragged me back toward the van. I cried out, but his left arm wrapped around my thin frame and his right hand shot up to cover my mouth. The basketball fell to the ground, splashing in a puddle and bouncing once, then twice. I still remember the flat sound of the ball smacking the asphalt and water. Funny, what the brain chooses to pick out in times such as these.
Before I could do any thing else, I was inside the van. The panel door slid shut, and the man withdrew from me. Even then I could not see his face – nor would I for some time. I screamed, but my cries were met with laughter from the man, as well as another man’s voice coming from the driver’s seat.
“Shut him up”, was all the driver said. The man who’d grabbed me stopped laughing and reached out, delivering a hard blow to the side of my head. I blacked out and don’t remember anything else of the ride.
I don’t know how long it was before I woke up in the basement, but I can only assume it wasn’t too long. An hour, maybe.
The room was very, very dark. So dark, in fact, that even after my eyes adjusted, I couldn’t pick out many details. I felt that the room was large and mostly empty, and as I splayed my palms out on the ground beneath me, I could tell that I was laying on top of some very old wooden plank flooring. The kind you found in many basements around the Seattle area; splintery, slightly damp, and overly musty. Swiping a hand across those planks would result in a grimy coating not far from what you’d get if you spent some time gardening.
All around me was a silence so complete that it made the darkness seem even deeper. I could hear nothing, no matter how hard I strained my ears. I stood, and it was then that I noticed the heavy chain which was attached to my ankle. I quickly sat back down and ran my hands down my left leg. Sure enough, there was a thick steel ring there. It hung tightly to my flesh; so tightly that it nearly cut off the circulation. Welded onto the back of the ring was a heavy chain. I picked it up, feeling the cold links and trying to get a sense of dimension. I pulled on the chain. There was quite a bit of slack; I pulled it hand over hand for about five seconds before it went taut. I could feel that it was connected to the wall behind me. Standing and walking in the opposite direction, I seemed to have about ten feet of slack at my disposal.
My young mind began to panic at the situation. I was chained up in a very dark room, with no idea where I was or who’d grabbed me. I didn’t know if I was alone in the room – let alone if someone would be coming back to hurt me. Even at that age I knew that this was bad – very bad. My mind recalled a story where a man had kidnapped a young girl, keeping her locked up and doing unspeakable things to her for years on end before a neighbor rescued her. Was that to be my fate?
I was alone in the room for hours before I began to get my answer. I’d tried calling out, crying, screaming, begging – none of which brought any additional information to my eyes or ears. The room remained dark and silent.
That was, until a blinding light illuminated the darkness. The light seemed to come from everywhere at once, and I screamed in fear as well as pain. My eyes, dilated all the way from the hours in darkness, recoiled at the white flash and I dropped to my knees. It took a few moments for me to be able to squint, and when I did I threw myself back in true fear.
There was a staircase about twenty feet in front of me. The room was indeed empty, but I now saw that the staircase led to a doorway. Standing in that doorway was a man, and I will never forget that face. It was pale; white, cold, and expressionless. His black hair was slicked straight back, and his eyes were a deep shade of green. He wore a dark coat, under which a green polo was tucked into a tattered pair of jeans. This was undoubtedly the man who had grabbed me off of the street.
Once he’d seen that I’d seen him, he began to walk down the stairs toward me. His eyes never left me, and he took each stair individually – pausing for a second before taking the next one – clearly drawing out the tension of the moment. After about thirty seconds, he reached the bottom of the staircase. Now that he was closer, I could see that his skin was more than just pale. It was positively paper-like in color. I recalled seeing a documentary about severe diabetics before the advent of modern medicine, who’d spend their short lives in bed as they were sensitive to the sun’s harsh glare, and their skin would take on a pallor such as this man bore.
He drew closer to me. With each step, the boots he wore would make a heavy clunk on the wooden planks, and a shiver would run through me. I kicked me heels against the floor and pushed myself back, almost immediately reverting to a child far younger than my years as the fear of this man coursed through me. My back struck the brick wall behind me and a whimper escaped my lips.
“Hush, child. I’m not going to hurt you.” The man said, but there was malice in his voice and I didn’t believe him. His eyes looked like the eyes of someone who enjoyed hurting people.
“Who are you?” was all I could manage, and it came out as a very undignified squeak.
“I’m your new owner”, the man replied, taking another step forward and smiling.
“No! Let me out of here!” I cried, tears running down my cheeks and spilling off of my face. I felt one make its way under my shirt and run down my chest – that warm rivulet sticking out to me for some reason, even as I stared into this man’s horrible eyes.
“I’m not going to do that” the man said, and even before he lunged at me I knew that he’d finished talking.
He was on top of me before I knew what was happening, pinning me to the floor easily with his weight. The fear inside me became primal and I tried to kick at him, but he parried my blows easily. He put one arm across my chest and used his legs to stop me from kicking any further, and actually laughed at my struggles. The man raised his other hand to me, and I could see that his pinkie’s finger nail was long. Long, and sharp.
The man drew the nail across my throat. Just a nick, but I could feel that it was deep. Blood welled out, and as I screamed, the man lowered his head to my neck and licked it off of me.
While that first night was horrible, it had nothing on what was to come. I would only see the man every couple of days, and only very briefly. When he next came down the stairs, I screamed and pushed myself flat against the wall, anticipating another attack. However, all he did was push a large bowl of what appeared to be oatmeal out toward me. When I didn’t step forward to take it, he set it on the floor and backed away. Before turning and going up the stairs, he spoke one brief sentence.
“Don’t eat it all at once, it’s all you’ll be getting for a couple of days.”
I didn’t touch the oatmeal at all for what must have been the better part of a day. My mind convinced me that it was drugged, and as soon as I ate it I’d wake up with him on top of me, cutting me and licking up the blood once again. But eventually my hunger grew too strong, and I cautiously ate from the bowl.
Though I still think of that gruel mostly as oatmeal, it most likely wasn’t. It had the same texture and consistency, but it was somehow even blander than plain oatmeal, and was more runny than oatmeal is supposed to be. I ate a few handfuls before pushing the bowl away in disgust. It wasn’t long, however, before I returned to the bowl. Over the course of a few hours, I’d licked it clean.
True to his word, the man did not return for another day. By then I was starving again, and since the room was barren, I’d soiled an area of floor off to the left of my chain’s place on the rear wall, as far away as I could get. I then withdrew to the opposite limit of my chain in disgust and embarrassment.
The man returned an indistinguishable amount of time later, and replaced the bowl I’d basically polished clean with another full one. He glanced at the mess I’d made and tittered in admonishment.
“We’ll have to get you a bucket for that, won’t we?” He said, and left. Again true to his word, the man brought a large bucket into the basement a couple hours later, instructing me to use it for my waste. Afraid of what he’d do if I didn’t abide, I used the bucket.
It was somewhere around two weeks before he attacked me again.
That second attack came while I was sleeping, belly full of oatmeal and face soaking wet from tears. I still hadn’t stopped crying – I cried so much in those first days. I cried for myself, as well as for my family, who likely was searching for me. I cried for my friends as well as for my future – having already decided that the man intended to keep me for as long as he could. But I also cried from fear. Fear of that first night, when the man had straddled me and cut me. And when I could cry no more, I slept.
I awoke to the sound of the door at the top of the stairs opening, and jumped to my feet when I saw that the man was already halfway down the stairs. He didn’t have a bowl in his hands, and it wasn’t my normal feeding time anyway. I knew then. I knew what was going to happen, and I screamed. He didn’t smile or laugh at me. He just lunged at me. It was just as before.
This became my life. The man would feed me a heaping bowl of oatmeal – gruel – every two days, and then every two weeks he would attack me, cutting me open and licking up the blood which flowed from my wound. The fear within me would well up as I knew the time was approaching, and after it happened I felt a sense of relief, knowing that he would not do it again for another two weeks.
The passage of time seemed to accelerate, while still seeming to draw on forever when I was actually experiencing it. I took to sleeping as much as I could, since my waking hours were consumed either with eating, using my bucket, or waiting for the man to begin his next assault on my body.
I knew in my head that he was sick. He had to be a sick, twisted man to chain up a young boy in his basement. But the lack of sexual perversion somehow scared me even more. Rather than the type of kidnapper we’d been warned of in schools, this man seemed to think he was a vampire or something. He wasn’t interested in me in any way other than keeping me alive until he would next consume my blood. I knew that, and it only made the experience worse. So I slept as much as I could.
Eventually even the attacks stopped registering to me. I spent months at a time in a near catatonic state, realizing that it was easier simply to lie there and let it happen than to fight him. He seemed to realize that I’d come to this conclusion, and after a while he wouldn’t lunge at me in the same way. Instead, he’d merely approach me, take what he needed, and leave.
I never heard any sounds coming from the house above me. That struck me as odd – adults were always having people over and doing things in their houses. I didn’t even hear the sounds of a television.
The lights were kept on at all times. They were blindingly white florescent bulbs mounted high up in the basement’s ceiling, and they bathed my little world in a constant glow. Because of this eternal light and silence other than the sounds of my chain clinking and dragging on the floor as I shuffled from one side of my domain to the other, I began to lose the line between my waking and sleeping hours. Dreams seemed to be real, and reality seemed to be a dream.
I still don’t know how many of the conversations I eventually came to have with the man were real, but after what must have been years in that basement, he finally began to respond when I would hurl questions at him. These questions came mostly from my delirium – vomited out subconsciously as he stood before me. One exchange in particular stands out in my mind. He’d just finished taking blood from my throat, and before he left, I spoke. When he heard my question, he stopped at the base of the stairs and turned around before answering me.
“Why don’t you just use a needle and take a bunch out at once, then you could leave me alone” I said, halfway mumbling.
“Because then it wouldn’t be fresh, and fresh is how I like it” the man said. I remember him tilting his head slightly, almost confused as to why he’d bothered answering.
“You’re not a fucking vampire, you know that right?” I said, a chuckle in my voice. Just before this incident I’d had a vivid dream about him cutting me just a little too deeply, causing me to bleed out on the floor. The thought hadn’t been completely terrible.
“You’re right, of course. We’re not vampires. We’re far better than that.” the man said, no humor in his voice whatsoever. He turned and walked back up the stairs.
My escape was not something I planned much in advance. It happened quickly; almost before I even knew what I was doing, and was not the carefully orchestrated master plan you were probably hoping for. Years had passed since that first night, and I’d grown significantly. The manacle on my ankle, which had been pretty tight before, had now become so tight that my foot was beginning to turn purple. The man saw it as he brought me my meal, and commented that he’d need to adjust it. After he’d left, the full impact of what he’d said registered to my only half-awake mind.
I suddenly came alive, really alive, and was more attentive than I’d been in a long time. He was going to take it off of me. He’d left to get what he needed to adjust the manacle on my foot, meaning that he was going to take it off of me. I’d have a single chance, right then.
I ate my oatmeal quickly, wanting to build as much strength as I could muster.
The man returned a couple of hours later, and I’d already laid down on the ground. I acted as if I was in my normal state – somewhere between reality and the dreamworld – letting him do whatever it was he wanted to do. I kept my eyes closed as I heard his boots plod down the stairs and then across the wooden planks.
“Stay just like that. I’m going to fix your shackle, and then I’ll take blood.” his voice was very near. I could tell that he was standing above me. Without another word, he crouched and I felt his hands on my foot. It tingled, having gone somewhat numb due to lack of circulation. I heard keys being rustled, and then felt the manacle click open. I almost shuddered in disbelief; that metal ring had been on my ankle for years.
The fright came over me again then, knowing that I had mere moments to act. I almost froze, as I had that night so long ago. I almost couldn’t do it. But then I remembered where I was; what I’d become, and how many times I’d wished he would just kill me. I knew that it was far more likely he’d easily overpower me, but I had to take the chance.
I snapped my eyes open and kicked as hard as I could with my other foot. The blow connected with the side of his head, and he reeled back as a cry escaped his lips. I jumped up and nearly fell down again, my foot becoming hyper-sensitive as blood rushed back into it. But I saw that he’d set the new manacle down on the ground next to where I’d been laying. I stooped and grabbed it up, jumping on the man before he could regain his senses. I held the ring in my hand tightly, and I brought it down on his forehead with all my might.
The skin split and blood poured down across his face. He cried out, but I brought it down again. And again. I beat the ring into the man’s skull as hard as I could, pulping his face into a mess of ragged flesh and exposed bone. He shuddered and went still.
Tears streamed down my face, and I threw the ring down. I sat on the man’s chest, my own heaving as I tried to catch my breath. Finally I stood, looking down at the man’s body. He was unrecognizable. I screamed at his body; rage still flowing through me. After some time, I realized that I had to go. I had to get out of that basement. I moved away from the man’s limp form, and began to walk toward the stairs.
Just as I mounted the first step, I heard a sudden movement from behind me. Whirling, I turned to see that the man was not dead. He had turned over, and was dragging his body across the floor toward me. His face, still a mess of gore, was turned up toward me. He bellowed, blood flecking out from his lips. I stared in horror as he used his arms to pull himself across those wooden planks, leaving a trail of red ooze in his wake. I stumbled backward, falling on the stairs and pushing myself up.
The man pushed himself up, and to my true terror I could see that as the blood streamed down from his face, his wounds were beginning to heal. The gashes I’d made on his forehead, cheeks, jaw, and skull were slowly stitching themselves together, closing and sealing themselves. Already those piercing, deep green eyes were clear again, and he stared at me. The man tried to regain his feet, stumbled, and fell again. I managed to get myself up several more steps, scooting up on my butt as I tried to get away while simultaneously shocked into disbelief at what I saw before me.
Agonizingly slowly, the man did manage to get to his feet. He looked at me, and while his face was still torn and bloody, it was nowhere near as bad as it had been when I’d finished with him. It was the first step he took toward me which finally got me to my senses. I screamed, got to my feet, and ran up the stairs as fast as I could. He threw himself after me, falling against the stairs and pulling himself upward. Horrible growls and screams came from him, getting clearer and more human sounding with each breath. Finally I reached the top of the staircase, and hurled myself through the door. I slammed it shut, and when I saw that there were two deadbolts, I rammed both into the locked position.
I stood there for a moment, staring at the other side of the door. Though I was terrified of the horror within, I was still dumbfounded at finally being out of that basement. I was snapped out of my reverie when a loud thud came from the other side of the door, shaking it in its frame. He was there, separated from me by mere inches of wood, and was pounding his fists against the frame. I turned and ran.
It took me a while to find my way out of the house, and those moments were some of the worst I experienced throughout the entire ordeal. He pounded and pounded on the door, screaming incoherently the whole time. As I finally came to the front of the house and threw the door open, I heard the splintering of wood and knew that he’d managed to get through at last. I ran outside and to my great shock, it was daytime. I hadn’t seen the outdoors – let alone sunshine – in what must have been a decade. Knowing that the man must have been making his way through the house, though, I managed to keep my head about me and hobbled down the driveway. My foot was really beginning to hurt at this point – it had spent weeks without proper circulation, and I was no longer capable of a full run.
The sounds of the man’s horrible, furious anger suddenly became clear, and I turned to see him coming through the front doorway. His wounds were now completely gone, and his eyes were positively burning with fury. His face had taken on strange features – the bones of his brow becoming more pronounced and the bridge of his nose having widened and elongated. He looked like a wild animal. I screamed again, my throat becoming ragged, and quickened my step, but I knew that I didn’t have the strength to escape him. He would catch me and pull me back inside.
For some reason, though, he stopped at the end of the porch. He stood there, seething with rage, but would come no further. His face was in shadow, but I still remember those green eyes staring at me as his chest heaved.
I got away. I hobbled, step by agonizing step, and made my way away from the man’s house. It was in a remote area, with no other buildings anywhere nearby, and it took me more than an hour to make it to the main road. I collapsed several times, and even resorted to dragging myself along the ground more than once. At long last I made it to the end of the man’s long dirt driveway, however, and began to walk down the highway. After another few hours, a SUV pulled up alongside me. I was delirious with exhaustion, and I only have the faintest memory of collapsing into the officer’s arms.
For the second time in my life, I awoke in a place I’d never been, in the presence of a man I’d never seen. I will admit to screaming in terror when I saw him, my mind immediately thinking I was back in the basement, but when that panic faded I saw that the man was a doctor, and that I was laying in a hospital bed. The doctor explained that I’d been found on the side of the road, stumbling, on the verge of collapse.
I panicked again when I realized that I was restrained in the bed, but the doctor explained that I’d been strapped there for my own safety, as I’d been raving and throwing myself about in my delirium, screaming about monsters.
It’s been about a year since my escape. I spent weeks going over my story with police, reporters, and eventually psychiatrists. While the investigating officers did find the house, along with the basement and chain as I’d described it, they never found the man. In fact, they found no trace of him at all. There wasn’t even furniture in the house. It was completely empty.
Though they have tried to convince me that the last part of my ordeal – the man’s sudden resurrection and the healing of his wounds – was just a psychotic break brought on by the stress I endured, I don’t believe it. I know what I saw, and I know what happened. He’s still out there, but that’s not what terrifies me most. What keeps me up at night is what he said in response being told he wasn’t a vampire.
“You’re right, of course. We’re not vampires. We’re far better than that.”
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