Crime writer and fellow blogger D.S. Nelson has once again provided a fabulous story prompt: the ‘photo you see here of Wymering Manor. Thanks very much, D.S., for the great prompt. Here’s the story that came from it. Folks, you’ll want to visit D.S Nelson’s great site, and try her Blake Heatherington mysteries. You’ll be glad you did.
The Body in the Basement
‘See that old house over there?’ Dean nudged Manny, who was sitting on the seat beside him.
Manny looked over at the house. ‘So? It’s the old Wymering house. Who cares?’
The light changed to green and Dean put his foot on the accelerator. ‘It’s haunted.’
‘What’s haunted? Your brain?’
‘The house, you idiot! It’s haunted. There’s a body buried under the basement.’
‘You’re so full of shit! There’s no body in the basement.’
The conversation continued as Dean pulled the car into the McDonald’s drive-through lane. ‘I swear there’s a body there,’ he insisted.
‘What? You’ve seen it?’ Manny looked over at his friend.
No,’ Dean admitted, ‘But I know someone who did.’
‘Whatever. Let’s just get our food.’
They got their order, and then Dean dropped Manny off. The whole way there, he kept insisting he was right about the haunted Wymering house.
‘There’s definitely a body there,’ he said, between mouthfuls of burger and fries.
‘I can’t believe you fall for that crap,’ Manny said. He grabbed one of Dean’s fries (he’d finished his own) and shook his head. ‘That’s just some stupid legend they use to scare kids.’
Dean’s eyes lit up. ‘Only one way to know for sure. Let’s go check it out.’
‘You mean go look for a body at the house?’
‘Yeah.’ Then Dean saw Manny’s facial expression. ‘What? Are you scared, you wuss?’
‘No! It’s just stupid, that’s all.’
‘Ha! You are scared!’
‘No, I’m not. You’re being an idiot. Why are you wasting your time?’
‘Let’s go over there and see. Tonight. We don’t even have to go in. Just check it out, you know?’ Dean could see Manny wavering a little. ‘Come on! We’ll put it up on Snapchat and show everybody at school.’
Manny rolled his eyes. ‘All right, all right. Just shut the hell up.’ He got out of Dean’s car and waved without turning around as Dean shouted, ‘Later!’
At ten-thirty that night, Manny quietly closed the front door of his house, and went down the three stairs to the driveway. Dean was already there, waiting for him. Manny slipped into the front passenger seat of Dean’s car.
‘Let’s do this,’ Dean said with a grin.
‘I still don’t like it.’
‘Shut up and let’s go, loser.’
Ten minutes later, they arrived at the Wymering house. The old place loomed up out of the darkness, backlit by the rising moon. Dean stopped the car, and then opened the glove box. He pulled out a flashlight and turned to Manny.
‘Let’s go,’ he said. The two boys got out of Dean’s car and walked slowly towards the house. In the dark, the upstairs windows looked like sightless eyes, and the chimney like a raised weapon. Dean wasn’t easily spooked, but the house did look eerie at this time of night. He switched on the flashlight as he and Manny approached the house.
All of a sudden, Manny froze in place. He grabbed Dean’s arm and cupped his ear with his other hand. Dean listened closely. That was definitely a noise. It was probably some stray cat hiding under the bushes next to the house. After a second or two the noise stopped. Dean shrugged and pointed towards the front door. The boys got closer, with Dean’s flashlight highlighting dead leaves and branches on either side of the path leading towards the door.
Dean got to the door first and tried the knob. It was locked. Manny hissed, ‘Let’s just go.’
‘We’re not going anywhere. Not until we find out if there’s a body in the house.’
‘No, you’re a baby! Loser!’
Dean pointed at the side of the house, and gestured for them to go around the back. Manny shook his head, but went along. Dry leaves crackled under their shoes as they went.
They had more luck at the back of the house. Dean tried the back door – unlocked. He nodded and slowly opened it. The door creaked loudly, but neither boy heard anything else. Dean let the flashlight play around the room. It looked like an old kitchen. In the far corner, he could see a set of stairs going down. He pointed towards them.
Manny shook his head again. He whispered, ‘Dude, we got in, OK? Let’s just Snapchat it real quick and then go.’ He pulled his telephone out of his pocket and started taking pictures of Dean with the stairs in the background. The light from the flashlight lit Dean’s face up just like in The Blair Witch Project.
‘Aw, hell no! Stop that shit! Wait ‘til we see if there’s a body. You coming or not?’
Dean strode to the stairs, and disappeared from Manny’s view. A second later, Manny heard a loud crash. He winced and ran towards the stairs.
‘Manny, what the hell did I tell you? Are you stupid or something? Why’d you bring this kid over?’ Robbie kicked vaguely at Dean’s body, which was sprawled about ten feet from the bottom of the basement stairs.
‘I didn’t! He brought me. He was gonna come here whether I did or not. I tried to stop him,’ Manny insisted.
‘Well, you didn’t try hard enough. Now you gotta help me get rid of him.’
‘I can’t – ”
‘You’re gonna have to. You caused the problem. You solve it. There’s a shovel in the shed outside. Bury him out in the woods behind the house. And move it. There’s not that much time before dawn.’
Manny knew better than to go against his uncle. The drugs had already made Robbie a little crazy, and now that he had his own drug business, he was even weirder. Then Manny looked down at Dean. A sick feeling twisted his stomach. This wasn’t right. There had to be a way to fix things.
On the way out to the shed, it hit Manny. He knew Dean’s Snapchat password. Give that to the cops, and nobody would know he’d turned in his uncle.