Growing in the Basement

There was something strange about the Tenant in the basement.  Ms. Burrows had thought so ever since he’d answered her Craigslist ad and signed the lease.

When Ms. Burrows first met him to show off the basement, she couldn’t quite place his scent.  It was like a sick mix of fresh soil, sulfur, and skunk was burnt into his too-big wool sweaters and ratty brown hair, pulled tight into a bun.  She’d lived in her quaint little house in her quaint little neighborhood for a not-so-quaint fifty-something years, and bringing this young rag-tag ruffian into her home (or at least a part of it) made her a bit uneasy.  But, with no other offers and her costs of living going up and up after her husband’s passing, the space was his.

“Thanks, dude,” the Tenant had said to her.  They’d shaken hands, his clear-cut fingernails somehow managing to hide dirt beneath them, and the Tenant rushed around the house to the exterior basement door, hidden from street view by a few hedges.  Ms. Burrows had looked down at her hand and headed toward her own front door, resolving to wash the hand thoroughly.

Now, however, after three months of the Tenant living beneath her humble home, her suspicions had reached a peak.  There was always some type of sound coming through her floorboards (banging, whirring, and sometimes even opera), a faint purple glow that never faded escaped along the edges of the Tenant’s stark white door, he could never quite remember exactly how much the rent was each month, and the putrid smell persisted whenever she ran into the man.

Read the rest of this piece (and other great work) published in The Lab Review!

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