Lucy was in the lower basement. Mrs. Jones wanted her to check it for water, and had called her a third time to remind her that night.
She found the small wooden door, made out of old barn wood, right where Mrs. Jones told her it would be, in the back wall behind a pile of old apple crates. She used the old rusty key to open the door and headed down into the dark with her flashlight. At the bottom of the steps a large steel door appeared before her, rusty around the edges, also just as Mrs. Jones described.
On the other side of the door, Lucy walked out onto a high cement platform, overlooking the rest of the lower basement. She had gone down and down steps, but emerged in an expansive high ceilinged room, a basement and not a basement all at the same time.
When she first walked out onto the platform, the smell of the damp and the mold hit her hard in the face, made her cry out. White, puffy mold covered the lower floor below, the walls, the ceiling, and some old pink insulation someone had started applying long ago. Her first thought was of the stench of the mold and nothing else. Her arm rose to her face to cover her mouth and nose, but not before she let out an “Ugh!” in the half light created by the moon pouring in through the high windows.
She couldn’t even see a way to get down from the high block of a platform she stood on to the rest of the open basement below, and was thinking about how she was going to have to build stairs, when she saw it, something looking very large and reptilian in the corner to her left, down below the platform she stood on. Reptilian looking at first, but as she blinked in the half light, she changed her mind; it had to be a big pile of orange, rusted metal, or large pipe and smaller tubing somehow all twisted around itself in knots. Maybe melted together somehow…
But then she thought she saw scales.
And then a part of it separated itself and skittered across the wall, coming for her fast.
It was then that she looked around and realized how much of the basement reminded her of an enormous reptile tank or fish tank – or snake tank – like they kept at the zoo.
But it was already too late for her to run.