by Justin Swartz
Something's living in our
I've come to this conclusion
because nobody in our family has ever gone down there. The basement door locks
from the inside, and once when I tried to turn the knob, it clicked and these
humongous feet pounded up the basement steps. I ran to my room, closed and
locked the door, and armed myself with my Nerf dart gun. The next thing that
came through my door, whether it be vampire, werewolf, or Bigfoot, was dead
Turns out the next
"thing" was Mom, inquiring as to why I had pelted her forehead with
foam darts. I told her about my experience with whatever lived in our basement
and how it never seemed to come out.
"Oh," she said,
sounding surprised. "That's your brother."
My brother? Since when did I
have a brother? Where had Mom been hiding this revelation at, and why was my
brother locked in the basement, out of sight and out of mind? This would
require further investigation, along with the acquisition of some new darts.
The next day I trekked to the
basement steps, silent as a ninja, and twisted the knob on the basement door.
To my surprise, it opened, and below me was a dark pit, the ultimate styngian
death trap known as the basement steps.
I lifted my Nerf gun and fired a
dart into the blackness.
I never heard it land.
The black hole at the bottom of
the steps had swallowed it. Frightened for my life, I slammed the basement door
shut and put all of my weight against it. The giant feet were assaulting the
steps, each one creaking under each foot's mighty weight, until they reached
the top. The door bucked against my back and threw me to the floor, and before
the giant could do me bodily harm, I raced to my room and closed and locked the
I'd only gotten a partial
glimpse of the giant that lived in the basement, but now I was convinced that
he was not my brother. He was big, at least the size of an eighteen-wheeler; he
was tall, about the height of the Empire State Building; and he was hairy,
Was that it? Was the giant that
lived downstairs the mythical, elusive ape man known around the world as
Bigfoot? Was Bigfoot my brother?
I couldn't sleep that night
after Mom tucked me in. Did Bigfoot really live in our basement? If he was my
brother, how were we related? And if we were related, why wasn't I big, tall,
and hairy like him?
The next day I ventured to the
basement steps once more, Nerf gun in hand and extra ammo strapped to my belt.
I studied the various signs on the basement door. One of them read "The
Otaku Lives Here." Another one read "Baka on Board." A third one
read "This Is The Mole Hole--Enter At Your Own Risk." I wondered if
breaking into the basement was such a good idea with all of these warning signs
posted on the door, but the last thing I wanted to be called was a chicken, so
I turned the knob and let the unlocked door swing open.
The basement steps were black as
pitch as I took them one at a time, doing my silent ninja thing, until I
reached the bottom. I let my eyes adjust to the darkness, and soon I could see
a door to my right that led to what looked like a separate room inside the
basement. Was this where Bigfoot lived? Was he holding my brother captive
inside? I had to know!
I walked to the door and turned
its knob. The door opened a little too easily, and I entered Bigfoot's
residence with caution. The only light came from the blue glow of the
television, which was playing some kind of giant robot cartoon. Fast food
sandwich wrappers, Chinese takeout boxes, empty soda cans, and wadded-up
tissues littered the floor of Bigfoot's living room. A couch to my left had
dirty clothes draped all over it. A makeshift kitchen to my right was smothered
with moldy dishes and drinking glasses. And for the grand finale, Bigfoot's
smelly sneakers were hanging from a blade of the ceiling fan overhead.
Wait a minute. Bigfoot didn't
wear sneakers. Bigfoot didn't wear clothes. And Bigfoot didn't eat off dishes.
What was going on here?
The floor creaked under my feet.
The whole room shook, like in an earthquake, as the giant stepped into the
living room from the adjoining bedroom. His eyes, like burning, smoking coals,
fell to me, and I did the only thing that came to mind.
I let the giant have it with all
six darts in my Nerf gun.
Unfortunately, this didn't faze
the giant, for he plucked each of the darts off of his body and threw them on
the floor. Then he growled at me, roared his rage, and spoke the words that
today still haunt me to my very soul.
"You're gonna get it now,
I'll admit to being chicken
right about then. Silent ninja skills don't amount to crap when a giant comes
after you. I dumped the Nerf gun and sprinted up the basement steps, the giant
eating up the ground as he tore after me, yelling incoherently in his fury.
When I reached the basement door, Mom was standing in my way, holding a much
larger Nerf gun that was aimed at the giant.
"Oh, good!" she said.
"You two are just in time for dinner. Care to join me?"
I stepped into the kitchen and
saw the table completely laid out for dinner. The giant paused behind me,
grunted curiously, and took a seat across from Mom. Mom kept her Nerf gun at
her side as we ate, with my eyes on the giant, and Mom's eyes on me. She smiled
whenever I glanced her way, and she asked the giant questions like "Is it
good?" and "How was your day?" and also "Did you clean your
apartment?" The giant made guttural responses to each question, and I
couldn't tell if they stood for yes or no. As soon as the giant was finished
with his cheeseburger casserole, he stood from the table, growled at me, and
returned to his basement dwelling, locking the door in the process.
I asked Mom who the giant was
that lived in the basement and why he had joined us for dinner.
"Silly," Mom said with
a smile. "That's your brother. He's too old to live upstairs with us, so I
gave him the downstairs apartment in the basement."
I asked Mom what the giant did
down there all day.
"What all guys his age
do," she answered. "Watch anime, play video games, update his
Facebook status, read comic books...you know, the usual."
It didn't sound all that
different from what I did all day, but I didn't tell Mom that. I didn't tell
Mom much of anything, especially when she was still carrying that humongous
Nerf gun around.
"Besides, it's only for the
summer," Mom said as she rose from the table. "When college starts up
again, he'll be off to the dorm, and he can make a mess out of their
Mom cleaned dishes while I
finished my dinner and went to my room. So the giant living downstairs in the
basement was my brother? I still didn't believe it. How could I have a brother
who spent all of his time in the dark and didn't clean up after himself?
I went to bed that night a
little nervous and a little wary of what the giant might do now that I knew the
layout of his secret dwelling and his true identity. As I reached for my Nerf
gun, just to have it handy, I realized it wasn't there, and remembered where I
had left it: in the giant's living room, downstairs in the basement. He had it
now, along with a full complement of darts, and my thoughts turned to the
gruesome possibilities of the revenge he would exact on me now that he was
armed and dangerous.
As a precaution, I climbed out
of bed and went to lock my bedroom door. When my fingers brushed the lock, the
door blew open and the giant stormed inside, aiming my Nerf gun at my head.
"It's time for some
revenge, dweeb!" the giant growled at me.
And I screamed...
Justin Swartz grew up near
Pittsburgh, and now resides in south central Pennsylvania. He has been
published in Gary Lovisi's "Hardboiled" and the e-zines Yellow Mama
& Dead Guns Press. You can read more of Justin's work here: