It started with some water in the basement. It happens in a temperate climate. But, unable to figure out exactly where the leak was coming from, I was forced to delve more in depth into the nooks and crannies of the basement. The dull gray walls provided little information, just multiple spider webs, both old and new.

Finally, down toward an end of the basement I rarely go, behind the boiler, there was a little puddle around what looked like a trap door. Hidden under old molding sawdust, it was difficult to see. I searched through the muck and found a little finger hole and opened the door. An explosion of drain flies erupted like some old plague of myth. After being momentarily overtaken by the demonic swarm, I saw a passageway under the trap door that was completely dark. After retrieving a flashlight from upstairs, I approached the passageway. Old, decaying webs hung from the sides and ceiling of the passageway. I walked down the rickety wooded stairs, and noticed the small break in the foundation as I headed under. There was the leak.

The floor seemed to be damp dirt with a simple track of 2x4s laid down across it. I made my way carefully across the uneven path. There was a deeper kind of rot smell, far more than just mold. I began to get the impression I was heading slightly downhill. Eventually, the pathway opened up into a large room. At first, there just seemed to be lumpy mounds of earth surrounding the same wooden pathway as before.

As I scanned the flashlight over the mounds, I began to notice harder angles just underneath the mounds of dirt. Some white flashes were visible underneath the brown. In the corner were also a trio of stereotypical treasure chests. Or perhaps they were just living room décor hope chests. Either way, I stumbled over the dirt mounds toward the chests. Unlocked, they opened easily, revealing mounds of cloth. Disappointed, I began to pick through the cloth, until I unwrapped a pile of what looked like old dollars. No expert, I took a pile of them to look up later.

However, as I was about to leave, the flashlight shone on one of those white glimmers in the dirt again. Kneeling down for a closer look, I pulled at it, and the skeletal remains of a human hand came out of the dirt. Once removed, it fell apart into various bones as I dropped it back onto the Earth. Also dropping the old money, I ran as quickly as I could over the wooden path, back up the stairs, and slammed the old trap door shut. On the walls were dozens of the drain flies that had escaped.

Well, at least I know where the leak is, I thought, determined to try to think of nothing else that I’d found down there ever again.