Tales From The Parkland
OLD STORIES, NEW STORIES, FREE STORIES
UNDERNEATH THE STAIRS
Copyright 2021 by Ronald McGillvray
“You’re full of it,” Tommy said to Kevin.
“No, I’m telling you, there’s something under there,” Kevin replied.
The two boys stood in Kevin’s basement peering into the darkness behind the stairs that led up to the family room.
“I don’t see anything,” Tommy said. “Give me the hockey card.”
“And you promise you won’t hassle me anymore?” Kevin asked.
“That’s what I said, didn’t I?”
Kevin walked to the shelves on other side of the basement. He moved aside the ugly painting of a crow that his mother had painted and opened a shoebox that contained his prized hockey card collection. He hesitantly took out the card Tommy wanted and walked back to where he waited.
“Here,” he said, holding out the card.
Tommy looked at the card and smiled. He reached his pudgy hand out and grabbed it. “What’s behind there anyway?” Tommy asked, looking back at the stairs.
“Just an unfinished storage area,” Kevin said. “My dad said the builder tried to stick it to him by adding it in without asking.”
“What did your dad do?”
“He told the guy he wasn’t going to pay for it and that he could just fill it in for all he cared. It would’ve cost too much so the builder just left it unfinished and sealed it up.”
“So, there’s no way to get in there?”
“Nope. The only way in or out is if you squeeze through the spaces between the steps.”
“Then how did it get in there?”
“That’s the mystery.”
“Anyone else ever see it?”
“Nope, just me.”
“What’s it look like?”
Kevin shrugged. “Can’t tell, it’s too dark back there.”
“Then how do you know there’s something even back there?”
“It tried to grab me once when I was going upstairs,” Kevin explained, the scene still fresh in his mind. “That’s why I always run up. Sometimes though I can see the whites of its eyes looking at me from under there.”
“Well I don’t see anything and this is stupid. I’m going home.”
“Suit yourself. Just remember to run.”
“Whatever,” Tommy said, as he turned toward the stairs.
Kevin watched as Tommy waddled slowly up the stairs. He turned once, smiling at Kevin as if to show how stupid he thought the whole thing was. When Tommy reached the top step, Kevin drew a deep breath and sighed. Maybe it’s not always under there, he thought.
Instead of going through the door, Tommy started back down the stairs, doing a lame victory dance. He waved the hockey card in the air, taunting Kevin. He made it the entire way to the bottom without incident.
“So much for your scary monster,” he laughed. He turned and stomped back up the stairs.
Kevin felt dumb and wondered if the thing under the stairs had moved on. Suddenly, he saw glimmering eyes behind the stairs.
Tommy stopped halfway up the stairs, turned towards Kevin and gave him the finger. “You better have your lunch money ready tomorrow.”
Kevin felt stupid, realizing he’d been tricked. “But you said…”
Two grisly hands popped out from behind the stairs and latched onto Tommy’s ankles. The look of surprise on his face would have been funny if it wasn’t for the situation. The hands yanked the boy’s ankles back toward the darkness and Tommy fell forward, smashing his face against the bottom step.
Kevin saw blood spurt from Tommy’s face.
Tommy, dazed, lifted his head and looked up at Kevin, blood streaming down his face. His blank look caused Kevin to panic.
“Kick,” Kevin yelled.
Suddenly, Tommy came alive. He thrashed about and tried desperately to hold onto one of the steps.
As his midsection slipped deeper into the darkness it suddenly became wedged. Kevin watched the rolls of fat bunch up tightly between the stairs.
Kevin heard the steps begin to creak under the pressure.
Tommy slowly lifted his bloodied face.
Kevin saw the fear in his eyes.
“Mommy,” Tommy cried, just before his torso exploded in a gory mess and disappeared between the steps into the darkness.
Kevin heard the sickening sounds of gnashing teeth and meat being stripped from the bones. A sudden wave of nausea and panic swept through him as he dashed for the stairs. He stopped dead when he saw the greedy eyes staring at him.
“Well?” Kevin asked.
His hockey card flew out from behind the stairs and landed at his feet. Kevin picked it up and put it back into his shoebox. He slowly walked back to the stairs. “Thanks,” he said.
Kevin waited until he heard Tommy’s body being dragged deeper into the darkness. He sprinted up the stairs and closed the door behind him.
LOOK, I HAVE AN IDEA - HOW I WRITE
When people find out that you write there’s usually two reactions. One is of boredom because they don’t read and couldn’t care less that you write. The other is of interest which in turn leads to an assortment of questions, the main one being where do you get your ideas.
I pondered this for quite a while and there isn’t a really good answer because I get my ideas from almost anywhere. It did however make me look at my own writing process and how I get my ideas down onto paper.
First off, I should mention upfront that everyone has their own style and just because this works for me it might not work for you. If you want to read a great book on writing you should pick up Stephen King’s book, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.”
As much as I loved the book, I am unable to just sit down and freestyle my way through a story. So, here’s how I do it.
I get an idea. I could be watching a movie or a TV show and a specific scene will play out that makes me ask myself, what if this or that were to happen? (Warning – this is a great way to ruin the show or movie you’re watching.) Or I could be simply looking out of my upstairs window to check the weather outside and think, what if something or someone strange was in the middle of my yard just staring up at me.
I write down my idea. I keep a collection of all my ideas. If I’m not currently working on a story (which is rare) I’ll start to work on the new idea.
I flesh out my idea. I take that idea and flesh it out on paper. I write it point form, one line at a time as the story plays out in my mind. I don’t go into a lot of detail, just bullet points that move the story along, and give me a basic outline.
I write the story. Once the story is fleshed out, I sit down in front of my MacBook and start to write it out. I fill in the details as I write, basically using the outline as a blueprint. For novellas or novels, I do the same thing except I only flesh out one chapter at a time. I never outline an entire book but that doesn’t mean you can’t.
I rewrite. After I’ve completed my project, I go over it again and rewrite things that need changing.
I have my editor look it over. After I’ve completed my first rewrite, I hand it over to my editor. If you don’t have an editor, have someone you trust look over it for feedback and hopefully for some pointers on where you might have made grammatical or spelling mistakes. There are also good software products out there like Grammarly and Hemingway Editor that you can run your story through. The most important point to take away here to get some feedback on your work.
I do a second rewrite. After I’ve received my story back from my editor, I look at their comments and make the necessary changes. I’ll also make any personal changes that I deem warranted.
I have my editor take a second look. Once I’ve completed my second rewrite, I give it back to my editor for another look. This also gives me a chance to walk away from the story so that I’m not constantly tinkering with it. This way when I get it back it’ll be fresher in my head when I go through it.
I read my story out loud. When I get my story back, I’ll read it out loud to myself so I can hear how it sounds. Sometimes things read out loud come across much different then it does inside your head. I’ll jot down any necessary changes as I read through it and then apply the changes.
I do one more read through and put it down. I’ll read through it one more time and put it down. Sometimes after I’ve gone through it, I’ll give it back to my editor for a final read.
I move on to my next story. After I’ve put my finished story down, because basically I’m tired of reading it, I’ll start a new story.
I do one last read through. After some time has passed, I’ll pick up my story and give it one last read through. Hopefully with fresh eyes. I’ll make any last-minute changes.
I send it off to get published. How many times you rewrite your story is up to you but once you’re done it’s time to set it free. You can submit it to publications or you can self-publish or you can even paper your bathroom walls with it. No matter what, you’ve accomplished something and should be proud.
USELESS FACTS ABOUT ME
Favorite Snack – Popcorn and Root beer
Favorite Band – The Who
Favorite Movie – Night of the Living Dead
Favorite Book – I Am Legend
Favorite Drink (Liquor) – Black Russian
Favorite Beer – Alexander Keith’s
Favorite Football Team – Buffalo Bills
Favorite Basketball Team – Boston Celtics
Favorite Soccer Team – Bayern Munich
Favorite Hockey Team – Montreal Canadians
Favorite Baseball Team – Toronto Blue Jays
Favorite Video Game – World of Tanks (Loved Resident Evil)
Favorite TV Shows – The X-Files, Seinfeld and The Walking Dead
Favorite Board Game – Chess
Favorite Historical Place to Visit – Gettysburg
Favorite City to Visit – Montreal
I eat exactly six pieces of broccoli with Italian dressing drizzled on them, along with one piece of whole wheat sourdough bread topped with spicy hummus every day
I eat Greek blueberry yogurt mixed with ground flax seeds and soaked chia seeds every day
My single serving of trail mix consists of exactly 15 almonds, 7 cashews, 5 walnuts, 10 peanuts and 20 blueberries
I read signs out loud when I pass them – many people find this annoying
Favorite Food – Smoked Ribs, Nachos or a Clubhouse Sandwich
Favorite Food and Drink Growing Up – Grilled Cheese and Lemonade
First Car – Ford Mustang
Favorite Dessert – Pecan Pie
Scariest Movie – Towering Inferno (it gave me nightmares for weeks)
Favorite Exercise – Walking, but I jog 5km regularly, do weights 3 times a week and aerobics when I don’t feel like jogging. I also do planks daily
Star Trek or Star Wars – Star Trek, no question