It was time to finish what she started. A quick furtive glance at the Sunflower Clock showed the hands hadn’t moved, and were stuck at 11:11, undoubtedly due to the batteries being dead for years. Shelby couldn’t help but smile as she realized that the long frozen hands had to be within minutes of accuracy; reflecting the current morning time.

Shelby immediately began descending the staircase, moving as graceful as a ballerina across a waxed stage. She chose each step carefully as not to make a trace of sound. Having lived in Gabriel’s home for several years, Shelby knew the house very well. Without understanding why, she had committed to memory each and every creak, squeak, and peep the old staircase would offer. The stairs were the only area in the house that still had carpet, everything else had been torn out several years ago, almost immediately after she moved into her boyfriend’s home. Gabriel had promised to install new carpet throughout the basement, but four years later, still nothing but dusty white concrete, and she was now thankful for his lack of motivation.

Pausing cautiously on the last step, completely silent and nearly invisible, she waited, straining each of her senses to the limit. The basement seemed unnaturally cold for June, and for a moment Shelby thought that she could see her breath hovering in the darkness. Triggered by the unclean environment, unanswered questions began to take shape in her mind.

Thoughts such as, “who are these people and why did they want her to remain here?” Most importantly, “how…did they manage it?”

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