He signed the paper, where it said Stuart Heller, and his friend gave him the keys to the house.
“You made a good choice, bro. Never would have moved if this job opportunity didn’t come up,” he said to Stuart.
“I know, that, I’ve fallen in love with the backyard the first time I came around. Take care on the road. We’ll keep in touch,” Stuart said, then they shook hands. His friend was already at the door, touching the doorframe sentimentally, then he turned back like he forgot something.
“Speaking about the backyard. There’s a rumor, that there is some old project buried under there. Never had the time to take a look, but you should check it out, maybe you find some buried treasure,” he laughed and stepped out of the house.
Stuart already moved his stuff to his new house, they arranged everything beforehand, the only thing left was signing the papers. He got lucky with this buy, he knew that, and he was grateful to his friend. He took a chair outside to the backyard and opened a beer. The sun was slowly setting behind the mountains. The dying rays painted the foliage red. The great birch, the various bushes next to the fence all their leaves looked like they were covered in blood. Even the ground seemed to bleed, and it became painfully obvious to Stuart, that the lawn needed to be replanted. “What the hell,” he thought, “At least I can dig around for that project he was talking about without ruining it the lawn.”
He finished his beer and went inside to get ready to sleep. The next day, after getting home from work, he put on his work clothes and started digging. He had no idea what he was looking for or where to look for it. The evening came again, and he had no luck at all. This routine went on for a week or so. His backyard was spotted with holes of different sizes, wounds on the body of Gaia. He managed to find some old coins and an ancient chocolate wrapper, but he realized that he needed a plan if he really wanted to find something and not just ruin his whole backyard. It came to him as the first thought one day, he woke up: “County records.” After work, he decided to go take a look at them. Sure, enough he found a file, but it looked like several pages were missing from it. Plans were included and that was exactly the thing he had needed. From the jungle of lines, he couldn’t make it what the building was supposed to be, but it looked complicated to navigate. He made a copy and went home.
The next day was Saturday, so he didn’t have work. He got up early, and with the plans in his hand, he started to look around his yard. Soon he figured out that it was no wonder he couldn’t find anything. The whole thing was located ten meters underground, and he just scratched the surface. The only thing that he could reach with a shovel was the entrance, which was right under his pavement.
“Fuck it,” he said to himself as he went to get the sledgehammer from the tool shed.
Locating the entrance was the hardest thing, he realized, after breaking the concrete, and digging for fifteen minutes, his shovel hit a hard surface. It sounded like it was steel. Thick steel. Stuart cleared the area around the hatch and took a good look at it. He was even more excited than before, what he found promised adventure. Too much of his surprise there was no lock on the metal plate. So, he used a pickaxe and brute force to pry it open. The stench of rotting concrete, rust, and mold hit him right in the face. But what really shocked him were the stairs that lead down. There was more rust than metal and it seemed like a suicide mission to go down them. “This won’t stop me,” Stuart thought and got in his car to drive to the hardware store.
He had an idea. He would buy some wood and recreate each and every step on the stair replacing them one by one as he headed down. Once home he called his workplace and arranged for a vacation for the next week, he thought that the stair would lead down a good ten to fifteen meters, by Friday he wanted to reach the end. It was tedious work, he started early every morning and worked until there was light. And by Friday he did reach the last step. He didn’t need to replace that as he was capable of climbing up and down without it, but he wanted to make sure everything was perfect. He prepared with a headlamp, some string, so he wouldn’t lose his way back, and water.
Finally, he was standing in front of a grand iron door. It opened rather easily; he was surprised by this. The smell that came was much the same that hit him when he opened the hatch. A long winding corridor lay in front of him, with doors opening on each side. He tried the doors but most of them he couldn’t get open, the others led to rooms with bunk beds, and one to a room which he thought to be a shower. He really did find the string he brought useful as he was not sure how many turns, he has taken. The place was huge, it extended far beyond his backyard. An iron door, much like the one he entered through stood in the way of his further exploration. He gave it a good pull, hoping it would open easily and it did.
The floor was covered in something. Long strands covered with fine dust. He was kind of disgusted and unsure that he wanted to wade through whatever it was, but he was excited to discover as much of what he presumed to be a bomb shelter as he could. He noticed something in the middle of it all, so he headed that way. Suddenly the thing in the middle moved, and he heard the clinking of chains. His headlamp illuminated a severely malnourished figure, with chains black as tar restraining his arms and legs. He had no clothes on and was covered with bite marks. It turned out that the strands were from his hair and beard that were so overgrown that they filled the room. As he sat up, a swarm of rats escaped from the spot and went back to their nests which they made from his hair and beard.
“What the fuck?” Stuart exclaimed, and his heart skipped a beat.
“Help me,” the man begged with a faint voice.
Stuart rushed over to him, but an invisible wall of terror stopped him just before he reached him.
“Who are you? Why are you here?” he asked.
“I’ll tell you everything. Just let me out of here,” he replied.
“How long have you been here? Do you want some water?”
“Just release me from my chains. Please. I’ll tell you everything.”
It was obvious he was not used to talking, he must have been here for a long time. Stuart remembered that he didn’t find any documents about this place after 1961, it must have been covered up around that time. How the hell was this man alive? He offered his hand to Stuart and looked at him with very pale blue eyes. Those eyes were like spears and pierced him right to his core. He felt obligated to comply, so he leaned down to take a look at the shackles and the black chains. There was nothing he could do; they were very well made and sturdy. He felt the man’s breath on his neck, and he turned to tell him he needed tools. Their noses almost touched he was that close. Stuart looked him in the eyes again, and what he saw was thirst, stronger than any thirst that could be quenched by water. The man’s mouth was hanging open before he suddenly closed it again. Were those fangs he just saw? He was reminded of the invisible wall he had broke when he leaned down to help the man and took a few steps back. What was he doing? Obviously, there was something going on here. He just found a man in a bomb shelter that was covered in dirt for fifty years, his hair and beard are so long that they fill a room, and Stuart wants to set him free, for no other reason than that he asked?
“I need tools. I cannot do it otherwise,” he finally said.
“You don’t need tools. Come here!” The words were an assault against Stuart’s will. Those were definitely fangs in his mouth.
It was very hard like he was under some kind of spell, but Stuart turned and ran like hell, following the thread. He could still hear the maddening screams and the clinking of chains when he shut the hatch. The urge to help him completely disappeared as the cool evening air cleared his head.
Stuart was sitting in his backyard sipping a nice cold beer while looking at the lush green grass. He completely renovated the pavement as well. A memory from a year ago passed in front of the eyes of his mind. A man with fangs, and thirst in his eyes screaming. He shook his head, trying to forget it. “Some things are better left buried,” he thought to himself as he took another sip.