The Mastin Twins - Chapter 10 - The Basement
Chapter 10 - The Basement
All through dinner that night Jimmy's parents chattered away on various topics. His dad explained what the main characters in his book were doing, his mom talked about organizing a picnic for the weekend. After awhile Jimmy got the feeling they were trying to distract him from the Mastin mystery. He tried hard to listen but his mind kept returning to the old Mastin house and the discovery that Floyd and William were his cousins.
"There was a nice little hill just south of Elk Bow right next to the Chelt River that looked like a good place for a picnic. Do you think the Fahey's would like to come too Jimmy?"
The sound of his name startled Jimmy back from his thoughts. "Umm, what? Oh, sorry mom, I guess I wasn't listening."
"Don't you think the little hill just south of town would be a great place for a picnic?", she repeated.
Jimmy tried to remember the hill she was talking about but couldn't. "Yeah, that would be a nice spot. Are we going to invite Robert and Kathleen?"
"I thought we could invite the whole Fahey family".
Supper was finally over. Jimmy cleared the table and loaded the dishwasher while his mom scoured the pans she'd used. They were interrupted by Jimmy's father.
"Hey guys", he called from the living room. "Check out this sunset!"
The rain had finally stopped and they three of them went outside and stood in the driveway admiring the view. The whole western sky was lit up in multiple shades of red, purple, orange, and yellow. The trees next to the driveway poked up stark and black against the colored background of the sky. The whole vista was reflected in the puddles in the driveway, left by the storm.
"I think this calls for a picture"
Jimmy's mom disappeared into the house and returned with a camera. She took several photos and they stood there admiring the view until it was quite dark before going back inside.
"How about some popcorn?"
Barbara didn't need to ask twice and soon the sound of popping kernels came from the kitchen. Mr. Vaskelis was back in his writing room and the clacking of typewriter keys sounded a counterpoint to the popping corn. They took a bowl in to him before heading to the living room to pick up their books. They alternately nibbled and read until bedtime. After the dream he'd had last night Jimmy wasn't really very anxious to go to sleep but he finally settled into bed and drifted off.
Again he awoke. This time when he looked at the clock on his dresser the electricity was working and it read 2:34 in the morning. The air in his room was oppressive and hot and he was filling was a feeling of forboding, certainly something was wrong. He looked at the window and stifled a yelp of surprise, outside in the moonlight stood the Mastin twins peering in at him! He watched while they slowly moved their hand, beckoning, clearly motioning for him to follow them. He rose from the bed and went to the window, they were now near the back corner of the house. Jimmy was frightened, he wanted to go back to bed and ignore the ghostly twins but something was forcing him, dragging him against his will. As though in a trance he pulled pants and shirt over his pajamas, put on his old tennis shoes and slowly headed for the kitchen and the back-door, moving like a zombie. "Stop" he told himself, but he couldn't. Whatever was controlling him pulled him through the kitchen and out the back-door. The twins stood waiting at the beginning of the trail leading over the ridge, when he appeared they turned and disappeared between the trees. Jimmy's throat was dry. "This is crazy!" he thought and tried to yell but no sound came. He was pulled along, still against his will, unable to stop. He followed the young Mastins up the trail then down into the orchard on the other side. The full moon high overhead was bright and Jimmy could see the queer shadows made by the decrepit trees. Once past the orchard the twins lead him around the old house and stood outside the hole where its back door had been, again waiting for Jimmy to catch up. They floated through the opening and into the kitchen with Jimmy following slowly behind. "Have they turned me into a zombie?" he thought. He stepped up into the old house looking nervously around, something was very wrong there. A moment later he realized, "The house isn't wrecked inside! The wallpaper looks new, the kitchen table and chairs stood neatly with a tablecloth and placemats set out. The sink and counter were spotlessly clean. There was none of the destruction and ruin that Jimmy remembered. The twins were standing in the far corner looking a the floor. Jimmy saw in a detached way they were looking at a square door in the floor.
Then his ghostly guides moved from their corner and through the open door into the dining room. "They must be giving me a tour of the house, but why?" thought Jimmy following them into the dining room, out the hall, and finally into a bedroom. The twins stopped and stood motionless looking at him.
"Are you my cousins?" Jimmy finally managed to ask.
In answer Floyd and William winked at him and giggled before vanishing.
"Hey wait!", yelled Jimmy.
There was no answer but a familiar scratching noise seeming to come from beneath the floor boards. It started quietly but swiftly grew louder. The floor shook bit then abruptly the scratching and the shaking stopped altogether.
"Whew", thought Jimmy. "I was afraid last nights dream was going to happen again..."
No sooner was this thought in his mind when a frantic pounding came from beneath his feet. Once again the floor began to shake violently, Jimmy lost his balance and was flung onto the bed. The shaking and pounding intensified until cracks began to appear in the floor. Jimmy cowered on the bed with his eyes closed moaning. Why had the twins done this to him? There was a final splintering crash then everything was still again.
Jimmy's dad was shaking him. "Wake up Jimmy", he commanded.
Jimmy blinked open his eyes. "Dad! What are you doing here?"
Then he realized he wasn't in the Mastin house at all. He was still in his own bedroom. His mom stood by the door looking alarmed.
"You were dreaming again son."
He looked around and slowly calmed down. When his breathing was back to normal he told his parents about the dream. They listened carefully and he could tell that they weren't happy. His mom leaned over looking intently at him.
"Jimmy, you're wearing clothes and shoes in bed! How did your sneakers get so muddy? They were clean when you went to bed..."
The three Vaskelises looked at each other. Jimmy could feel his stomach tieing itself into knots, was it really just a dream or had something really crazy happened to him, something he couldn't possibly explain? For the second evening in a row Jimmy finished the night in his parents bed but it wasn't until much later that any of them fell asleep.
Jimmy was the first to wake up the next morning. He looked first at the room, noting with relief that he was still in his parents bedroom, then at the clock which showed 11:41, and carefully crawled out of bed making sure not to disturb his parents who were still asleep. He went to his room and looked uncomfortably at the mud encrusted sneakers before pulling on jeans and a t-shirt. Gathering up the dirty sneakers he headed for the back door and sat down on the steps outside and began picking the mud off. While he was still working when Kathleen and Robert showed up.
"Hey, guess who called us?"
Without waiting for an answer Kathleen went on.
"Angus McGee says he tracked down Elizabeth Horne. He's got a phone number for her!"
"Who's she?" Jimmy wanted to know.
"Don't you remember? She was one of the kids of the Horne family, you know, the people who lived in the Mastin house for a while."
"Oh", said Jimmy.
Robert looked Jimmy up and down noting the circles under his eyes. "Anything wrong?" he enquired.
Jimmy told them about last nights dream and showed them the pile of dried mud he'd already picked off his sneakers. Robert and Kathleen looked back and forth between the dried mud, the sneakers, and Jimmy. Obviously they didn't know what to think.
"That's really weird. Are you sure you're not making this up?"
"I wish I was. These nightmares aren't my idea of fun, especially not this last one."
"Angus said he tried calling you this morning but nobody answered. I guess you were all still asleep. He wants to know if we'd be interested in meeting him at the Historical Society today and giving Elizabeth Horne a call."
Jimmy looked doubtful. "I don't think my parents want me to have anything more with the Mastins and I'm thinking that's such a bad idea!"
In the end Kathleen and Robert talked him into going. He left a note on the kitchen table for his parents, fetched his bike from the shed and soon the three kids were riding down Lakefront Drive toward Elk Bow. While they rode they discussed Jimmy's dreams.
"I think that Floyd and William were trying to tell you something", said Robert.
"Something like they want to scare me to death like they did to Phillip Stroud?", replied Jimmy.
"No, like maybe it's their way of asking for help."
"Then why don't they just ask?"
"Maybe there's something that prevents them from talking..."
"What about the trap door you saw in the dream. I don't remember seeing any trap doors in the kitchen when we were there."
"Maybe there's something down there they want you to see."
"Maybe there's a monster down there that's been trying to break through the floor and eat me or something", muttered Jimmy.
They left their bikes leaning against the outside of the Historical Society and went inside. Angus was nowhere in sight but the chiming of the bells on the door brought him out of the back room.
"Hello kids, glad to see you." Then looking at Jimmy, "My goodness, you don't look very well. Are you sick?"
"No, I've just had some really rotten dreams the last couple of nights. I'll be fine."
"Can we call Elizabeth Horne?" asked Robert.
Angus looked at Jimmy again, "Ok, just a minute while I fetch the number."
He disappeared into the back room for a moment then sat down behind the desk, peered at a slip of paper and dialed. The phone had a speaker on it and Angus switched it on so they could all hear. There were a few tense moments while the phone rang before it was picked up.
A woman's voice said, "Hello?"
Angus spoke, "Hello, may I speak to Elizabeth Horne please?"
"This is she."
"My name is Angus McGee. I'm the head of the Historical Society in Elk Bow and I was hoping you might have a few minutes to talk to me?"
"Ok, what would you like to talk about?"
Angus nodded, "Are you the from the Horne family that bought the Mastin farm here in Elk Bow back in 1942?"
There was a long hesitation. Jimmy thought Elizabeth Horne was going to hang up but she didn't.
"Yes...", she sounded reluctant to admit it.
"I heard you folks didn't stay there very long before you moved out. Is that true?"
There was another pause. "Listen, we had good reasons for moving out and I really don't care to discuss them. Good-bye."
"Just a minute", shouted Jimmy before she could hang up. "The Mastins were my relatives and we're trying to find out what happened to them. If you could help at all I'd really appreciate it."
There was a long pause before Elizabeth said, "We moved out because we all started having terrible nightmares. I remember in particular a dream where there was a terrible scratching on the floor then a booming noise and the whole house shook like something was in the basement trying to come through the floor. Other times someone seemed to be playing the piano but when we looked in the parlor nobody was there and sometimes we heard giggling coming from empty rooms. We stuck it out for a while but finally it was too much for us! I believe that house was haunted and that's why we left. I guess now you think I'm pretty much nuts?"
Jimmy sat very solemnly while the other three eyed him, finally he said in a low voice, "I don't think you're crazy. I've seen the ghosts of Floyd and William Mastin and I've had the same dream you mentioned."
A sigh came from the phone. "All these years I've been afraid to tell anyone what happened in the house because I thought we must have been crazy or hallucinating or something like that. I'm sorry you're having the nightmares but I'm also glad because it means I'm not nuts!"
Angus stepped in. "Is there any other information you could give us that might help? Any other dreams? Anything at all?"
The phone was silent while Elizabeth thought. "Well, it's probably nothing but it always seemed to us that the root cellar was unnaturally cold, even for winter time. I remember being afraid to go down there. I don't know what I expected to find though, dead bodies maybe? Sorry, I guess that wasn't much help."
While Angus was assuring her she'd been a big help and saying good-bye Jimmy looked thoughtful. Dead bodies in the cellar? Maybe that explained the thing trying to break through the floor in his dream. It was just the Mastins trying to escape. It also explained why the twins had shown him the trap door in the kitchen floor. They must want him to find their bodies so they could be properly buried. Maybe if he did his awful dreams would stop...
Angus hung up. "Well that's pretty interesting wasn't it. Sounds like you weren't the only one to have weird dreams about that house Jimmy. Not sure that I want to believe the place is haunted though."
Jimmy stood up. "Thanks Angus, we appreciate your tracking Elizabeth down but we've got to be going now." He motioned at the Faheys for them to follow him, they looked confused but followed him out onto the street.
"Go where?" they asked after the door closed behind them.
"We've got to go look in the cellar of the Mastin house. I'm sure that's where Martha and the twins must be buried. Don't you see how it ties all these dreams together?"
Kathleen and Robert thought it over for moment then nodded their agreement.
Angus stuck his head out the door, "Where in tarnation are you kids off to in such a hurry?"
"There's some stuff we need to check out", said Jimmy lamely.
Angus looked suspicious. "You're not planning on going out to the Mastin house are you?"
Jimmy didn't like to lie, but this situation seemed to call for it. "Of course not, our folks told us not to go around there anymore."
Angus didn't look one-hundred percent convinced. "Well ok, you kids take it easy", he said before he retreated back inside.
"You know, our folks are going to ground us for the rest of our lives if they find out we've gone out to the Mastin house after they told us not to. Why don't we just tell the Sheriff to look in the basement out there and let him find the bodies?" asked Kathy.
"Three reasons: One, he didn't find anything the last two times he searched the place, two, they're my relatives, and three, I'm the one with the dreams. I think Floyd and William want me to be the one to find them. If they wanted the Sheriff's help they'd have haunted him.", Jimmy looked defiant and stubborn.
"Ok, ok, no need to be so touchy. I'll go with you."
"Me too", said Robert.
Jimmy set a fast pace riding quickly around the lake. They stopped at the Fahey house only long enough to grab a couple of powerful flashlights. Luckily both Fahey adults were both in the garage and didn't see them. The tree limb that had blown down in the storm still blocked Lakefront Drive beyond the Vaskelis driveway and they had to carry their bikes around it before continuing. Again Jimmy was in front setting a fast pace, by the time the top of Rock Point was reached the kids we panting and covered with sweat but from there it was mostly downhill. They coasted along and soon were riding between the stone walls of the Mastin driveway. They left their bikes at the gate and proceeded on foot.
Jimmy led the way to the hole in the rear wall where the back door had once been. He stepped inside and flipped on his flashlight. Kathleen and Robert hesitated then stepped in next to him. Jimmy looked around then pointed at the pile of garbage where the kitchen table had collapsed and lay on the floor.
"It was there", he said.
They all pitched in moving the small mountain of junk out of the way.
"No wonder the Sheriff didn't find anything in the basement. He probably didn't even know there is a basement."
Robert smirked. Finally the rubbish was cleared away. Sure enough the outline of a door was revealed! Robert tried to pull it open but it seemed to be stuck. Jimmy and Kathy leaned down to help him and heaving together they were barely able to move it. Jimmy counted one - two - three and they heaved again, with a shriek of rusted hinges the door opened and flopped over onto the floor with a crash. Through the hole at their feet a flight of stone steps led down into darkness. Robert and Jimmy pointed their flashlights down the steps but saw nothing interesting. The kids gulped. Did they really want to go down there? Jimmy was the first to find his courage.
"We came this far. Might as well go all the way" he mumbled taking the first step, then the next.
At the bottom he looked around, heart pounding. The basement walls were made from rock, probably the same kind as the walls around the orchard. There were a few pillars holding up the beams and joists above. The floor was dirt and there was no sign of bodies or graves. While he looked around the Faheys came down and stood huddled beside him.
A shaft of light coming through the trap door helped illuminate the basement and after a minute their eyes adjusted to the dimness and they could see.
"Well, what do we do now?" asked Robert shining his flashlight around, stopping when it revealed something in the far corner. "What's that?"
The others looked then crossed the floor. It turned out to be an old shovel, laying in the dirt. Robert picked it up and examined it before passing it to his sister.
"It's got dirt on it but it doesn't look very recent."
Jimmy looked up then froze. Standing not ten feet from them were shimmering images of Floyd and William Mastin. He nudged Kathleen and Robert who were still busy with the shovel. They looked at him and he pointed. Their faces went pale when they saw the twins.
Jimmy managed to get his voice working first. "We want to help", he said. "Are you buried here? Can you show us?"
The twins nodded and floated slowly over to a bin that had once held potatoes. They stopped there and pointed.
"We should dig here?"
The ghosts seemed to nod their heads and the three kids looked inside the bin. There wasn't much left of whatever had once been in it. Robert took the shovel and began to dig while Jimmy and Kathy held the flashlights. Luckily the floor was soft and he made good progress. The twins watched impassively then slowly faded out. Robert dug for a few minutes then passed the shovel to Jimmy. Jimmy dug then it was Kathy's turn. They'd been digging for a little more than half an hour and had excavated a small pit about three feet wide and nearly four feet deep when the shovel made a crunching noise. Jimmy who was digging stopped and leaned down to scrape the dirt away with his hands.
"Pass me the flashlight", he said to Kathleen.
He got down on his hands and knees and struggled with something then stood up holding a long slender white object in his left hand. It was a bone and looked human, maybe an arm bone. The two Faheys had barely glimpsed it then a resounding crash reverberated through the basement and the cellar went dark except for the beams of their flash lights. Something on the stairs was blocking out the light coming through the trap door!
Chapter 8 The Mastin Twins Chapter 10
The Mastin Twins - Copyright © 1996 by Charlie Comstock
Permission is granted for personal reading. All other rights reserved.