Cellar Door by Carmilla Voiez.
A grin spread across my face and I wrapped the blankets around my body, cosy now, warmed by the knowledge that they weren’t going to make a fool out of me. They had messed with the wrong girl. Well they could stay down there tonight and I’d decide in the morning whether to let them out.
While my night was disturbed by the occasional knocking and clamouring my self-satisfaction comforted me and I slept remarkably well.
I took my time packing my luggage and luxuriating in a hot bath, before I descended to the kitchen. I searched Carl’s room and found the keys to the Land Rover on a Welsh Dresser. I filled the car with the things I needed and tucked the keys into my pocket before filling the kettle for coffee. As I sat at the small table, cradling the warm cup, I thought about what to do next.
There was no sound from beyond the cellar door and it was firmly bolted on this side. There was no sign of Yolanda and I became more convinced that brother and sister were waiting on the other side of the door for me. I made some toast, partly because I was hungry and partly because the smell might drive them to speak to me, beg me to let them out. I sated my hunger, but not my curiosity.
I could just drive away. I could return to college. Finish my studies and pretend that none of this had happened. That’s what the voices in my head advised. But things were never that simple, were they? Surely at some point Carl and Yolanda would escape the cellar and come after me. Unless they were dead. Even if they were, eventually someone would find their bodies. Someone would know I had come to the cabin with them and left alone. If Carl and Yolanda didn’t find me then someone else would.
I could open the door and let them out. Pretend that I had been so scared I hadn’t known what to do. That was at least partly true. If they were hurt then they would have learned a valuable lesson. If they laughed then at least the worst of it would be over. The joke had backfired anyway. They should be more humiliated than me by this point.
Or I could open the door and find nobody there. What would I do then? How could I sleep at night? How could I leave? How could I stay?
I realised after my third coffee that there was no perfect ending to this story. Whatever I did now would haunt me. My anger last night had blinded me, but now the weight of responsibility crushed both my schadenfreude and anxiety into a solid mass the size of a golf ball that clogged my arteries and blocked my windpipe. I walked across to the door. With my shaking fingertips against the bolt I called out.
‘Carl, Yolanda, is anyone there?’
I pressed my ear against the wood. I heard hissing, but it could have been an echo of my blood.
I retrieved my mobile phone from the car, even though I knew there would be no signal. I wasn’t wrong. If it had worked I could have phoned Yolanda, the police, or my mum, but it didn’t and I felt more alone than ever. I pulled the keys from my pocket and toyed with the idea of leaving. There must be a signal a few miles away. I could stop there and decide what to do. I closed my eyes and saw Yolanda bleeding out on the cellar floor, her dead brother curled up beside her. No! That wasn’t right. I was the victim here, not them. If they were hurt it was their fault. I climbed into the car and put the keys in the ignition. I just sat there, on the drivers seat, watching the key chain swing beside the steering column. Listening to it tap, tap, tap as it bounced against the dashboard. Tap, tap, tap, “let us in”.
Sighing, I climbed out of the jeep and headed back to the cabin. I grabbed a knife from the drawer, just in case. In case of what? I had no idea. I reached up to pull back the bolt, and discovered it wasn’t locked. Had I pulled it back earlier? I didn’t think so. But I must have. It was painful to swallow. The golf ball felt heavy in my chest. I reached for the door knob and heard a car engine roar into life.
Relief lifted my cheeks and the golf ball cleared. Someone was coming. Someone who could save me. Help me clear up this mess. I ran out onto the porch, just in time to watch the blue Land Rover drive away.
‘Shit! Shit! Shit!’
I ran after it. My heart pounding. ‘Wait!’
My thighs were on fire and my ankles juddered each time my foot hit the soft ground to propel me forward, but the car was further and further ahead until it was lost among trees.
I hobbled back to the cabin, having no other place to go. I wanted to open the cellar door but I was too afraid. The room was spinning. I held onto walls for support and made my way to the bed-settee in Carl’s room. The air still smelled of him. I rested my head on the calico arm rest and closed my eyes.