by Lori R. Lopez
There was something in the basement . . .
A girl cowered in her bed at night and listened
To a mournfully somber wail that echoed
Through the floor of her room, imprisoned.
A phantom’s moan, a grim horrid sound
Risen between floorboards like a dreadful bane.
Then too was the scratching, an insistent rasp
Of claws on cement, of something in pain.
After tossing side to side, her hair in knots,
Lacey approached the door unable to sleep
And stretched hand to knob in trepidation,
Wondering what secrets the darkness might keep.
Hinges croaked as she padded to a crude set of stairs
And peered toward a gloom denser than Midnight.
Bare feet hugged the steps, which softly groaned,
While she descended the slope filled with fright.
Swatting blind the air, breaking cobweb strands —
Fingers located a length of chain that swung
Wild in the dimness until her fingers grasped
A metal string of balls that from the lightbulb hung.
Illumination didn’t still her drumming heart;
The basement reeked fetid of ancient mold
As if the house, quite recently constructed,
Were possessed by a presence rancid and old.
The sandpaper rakes of talons grew louder
And the baying of haunted moans increased,
Drawing the child to the innermost corner
Where lay the ruins of the frantic deceased . . .
Whatever had beckoned her to its remains
By commotion and noise, an unholy din
That Lacey heard in the bedroom above
As her family slumbered like distant kin.
The floor was cracked, an uneven foundation;
Soon the urgent scrapes would breach a firm seal,
A hardened mantle poured atop the gravesite.
At its final resting place the girl did kneel . . .
To search for a resonant pulse within
The surface that harbored an active spirit
Abiding dormant a lifetime of moons,
Ere a sympathetic soul could hear it . . .
Pawing, scratching, clawing its way out —
Causing fissures to spread, a crust to crumble;
The floor to yield that barred re-entrance
To a world it had craved from a tomb so humble.
The girl placed her palm to the cold cement
And through her flesh rippled an electric surge,
From pent-up energy trapped under the lid
Of a coffer that entrenched a funereal dirge . . .
A woebegone eulogy of festered pathos,
For here lay the shards of an abandoned hound
Long ago interred, love and loyalty forsaken;
Digging out of a hole, not the other way around.
It was now a mere cache of treasured bones
That yearned for a playmate to resurrect the days
When the canine had fur and a flapping tail,
A bark ringing with glee, eyes moist with praise.
In this cellar-keep languished an essence so ripe,
The force emanated beyond Death’s curtain
To summon a companion who wished for a mutt,
And united by kismet their bond was certain . . .
Whittled down to a howl of forlorn despair,
The skeletal frame scrabbled from its cavity
To frolic in the cellar with a lonesome child —
It would be their secret, this morbid depravity.
If her parents only knew how she cherished decay,
Her new friend an assemblage of ruin and rot,
With revulsion would they haul Lacey from the pit,
Her unwholesome pet buried in some faraway plot.
~ First published in POETIC REFLECTIONS: THE QUEEN OF HATS, 2014; also, “The Halloween Gathering 2014” on SERVANTE OF DARKNESS and my horror collection ODDS AND ENDS, 2014