Kinsey glanced at the clock in her kitchen again. Nolan was running a lot later than she had expected. The lasagna would reheat well at least. She hoped that Nolan’s emergency wouldn’t ruin his appetite. A late night for a homicide detective usually involved something unpleasant.
With the thoughts of what she had seen going through her head, Kinsey knew she needed answers, so she headed to the hallway and stopped outside the basement door.
She hated it down in the damp, dark basement, which was why she hadn’t really explored much of it in the past. It wasn’t the type of room you’d want to hang out in for any extended amount of time, and other than going down to check the outside door and do a bit of laundry, she hadn’t bothered with it.
That was why what she had seen in Chandler’s garage surprised her. Inside what she had assumed was a closet was an opening in the floor, much like the basement access in her house. But she hadn’t realized her basement went the full length of her house.
Seeing the dim light was still on below, she got her phone and turned on the flashlight, hoping it would give enough brightness to explore the darker corners of the room.
Knowing the basement extended that far made her curious to see what was there. Was there access to the other side? Was there a connecting door between the two spaces? And if so, was there exterior access from the yard on that side?
She hesitated to go down and pulled up the pictures that she had taken of Quinn’s art. There was one in particular that she had taken a look at before that she wanted to find.
Quinn had been obsessed with the house. So much so that there were several depictions of it throughout her collection. Kinsey found one of the colorful floor plans, which had been done in a very artistic way. It not only showed what was on Quinn’s mind at the time but that she hadn’t wanted to make that obvious.
Kinsey found the photo of it. The drawing of the floor plan was remarkably accurate. Each square representing each room had its own colorful pattern. Some were plaid and striped. One had hearts and clouds, and there was one with different-sized polka dots. Kinsey didn’t know if they had any meaning, but it seemed to represent a fairly happy home.
In the space that represented the basement, there were flowers drawn, but Kinsey noted it was divided into two sections. “You knew,” she said. “You knew it was two rooms.”
Quinn had been a curious kid to realize, but had she figured out there was another side or not? Was it just a question she had? A guess? Surely, if she had spent any time in the garage with him, she might have seen it too.
Kinsey thought of Chandler’s mood, finding her in the garage. He hadn’t been happy that she had even walked inside, and that seemed a bit irrational. It wasn’t as if she was going to bother anything. She had no knowledge of the tools there when it came to using them. And what did it matter if she knew his garage had basement access? Unless there was something he was trying to hide. Unless there was some reason he didn’t want her to know about it, which definitely seemed like the case.
Kinsey looked up from the phone into the darkness of the basement and then looked back at her phone.
The drawing indicated that Quinn had at least seen the entrance to know it existed to include the space in her drawing. The entire area beside her basement that extended under the garage was filled in with a black background and about twenty white question marks making its pattern. Was that because she had questions about what was down there as well? Had she tried to check it out only to be confronted by Chandler?
“You didn’t know what was down there either,” she said, wondering if Quinn had ever figured it out since drawing the picture.
She wondered if that was the reason Quinn had come into her house that night. “Were you still looking for answers?” She couldn’t help but wonder if that had something to do with her disappearance.
She looked down into the basement and took a deep breath. Hopefully, there wouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary, and all her curious questions would be satisfied.
When she reached the bottom, she looked to the right, already knowing that in the space to the left was her washing machine and dryer and the counter and sink. There wasn’t anything exciting about that.
But the darkness in the rest of the space gave her an uneasy feeling.
She walked into the room and went all the way to the wall where there was stuff piled up. Old boxes of junk, things that someone else left behind, perhaps? She reached for the wall and flattened her palm against it. It was like any wall, solid and strong, but there was something different about it, alright. Kinsey looked at the wall it connected with. It was dark and dingy and so obviously original to the rest of the house. But not the dividing wall. Kinsey walked the length of it, looking for a door. But there wasn’t one.
The wall not only looked new, but it gave Chandler an entire half of the basement, if not more. More of it, from what it looked like.
That was a lot of room for Chandler to use. He had the upstairs apartment, the entire garage, and now more than half of the basement? What did he need all of that space for anyway?
She looked back through the photos on her phone and noticed the drawing of the girl in the pipe. It gave her chills down her spine, and the little hairs stuck up on her neck.
Quinn had said the screams were real. Did she think it had something to do with the basement? Were the sounds coming from the other side?
And what about all the portraits she did of Chandler? Was that really a crush? Or did she see him in a different way? She was obsessed with him. Was this the real reason why? Was there something more going on? Was that why she was so leery to share the truth?
“You’re in danger. You should do yourself a favor and leave.”
Kinsey recalled the girl’s words. Did this have something to do with what she had said? Was it really a warning? Maybe she was telling the truth. Maybe she had to make sure she could trust Kinsey first. Quinn may have thought if she confided anything to Kinsey, she might share it with Chandler.
Kinsey was starting to grow cold, so she headed for the stairs, but something stopped her, drawing her attention. She hated the fact that the door down below put her on edge. She had checked it before, only to find it was locked, but maybe it was best to check it again.
Kinsey took a deep breath and let it out. “You’re being ridiculous,” she told herself as she walked over to check it. “You just have to rattle the knob, easy peasy, and go back upstairs.”
But when Kinsey turned the knob, the resistance she expected gave way, and the knob turned. Her heart raced as she quickly pulled it closed. She locked the door and turned to run up the stairs, not looking back.
When she reached the top, she shut the door and locked it, gasping for her breath.
“I didn’t leave it that way,” she whispered. “Would Chandler have done that?”
More importantly, why would he? Did he do it on purpose? Was it a way for him to get back inside?
She had given him access to her home. He had even changed her locks. She thought back to the lock situation. Chandler was supposed to change those locks long before he did. And she had trusted him to not only do the job but to give her every key. But what if he kept one? What if he could come and go from her place anytime he wanted?
She thought of the leak and how she hadn’t been having any problems, and out of the blue, it all started. Then there was the rat. That rat seemed to have just appeared in the sink, stinking up her house out of the blue.
Had it been put there? And more importantly, why?
She remembered Chandler’s first warnings of the place and how he had told her it was haunted, and she should leave. Had he been trying to scare her away then? Was that why the pipes were noisy? Was that something he did to instill fear? But what of the screams?
Kinsey felt another cold chill. Just what kind of man was she living next door to?
She wondered if whatever was going on was bad enough for Quinn to notice. Had it been bad enough for her to look into? Had she been just as obsessed with what was happening there?
And did Chandler know it?
Kinsey could feel herself being pulled back in by Quinn. She had told herself that she had to give up on the girl, but the curious feelings were stronger than ever.
She wanted to know what Chandler had been up to. What was so secret about his stupid basement? Maybe she was overreacting to what she saw. If Chandler had acted normal about it, she wouldn’t even bother. She would have assumed that it was any other divided basement and no big deal. But he had been upset about her being there. He had been unreasonably upset, in fact.
Kinsey knew one thing for sure. She was going to find out what was going on.
She walked down the hallway in time to see headlights shining across her wall. Someone had just pulled into her driveway, and with any luck, it was Nolan and not Ruby and Cash again.
She had been happy to hear that there was a chance she might get her old job back, but she wasn’t holding her breath about it either.
Kinsey looked out the window, seeing Nolan headed up the walk to the side door, and let out a sigh of relief. At least she wouldn’t have to spend the night there alone.