I live in an old house, circa 1920. It has one of those basements that is only accessible by going outside, and opening up the doors on the ground, and descending several stone steps…like the old storm cellar in The Wizard of Oz. So I call it my Dorothy Basement. Not only is it awkward to get to, but it makes the needle on the Creep-O-Meter go way off the charts.
It is dark until you can reach in and hit the light switch. While you are navigating the steep, narrow steps, you have to swat your way through hundreds of cobwebs, and duck your head to avoid them. (And just what are cobwebs, anyway, and how do they form? Are there little cobs creeping around, weaving their sticky strings into a huge human trap?) It has a cement floor, for the most part, but there are old stones along the walls, some of which are crumbling. It gives you the impression it might once have been a great place to hold a hostage for torture, chained to the stone wall. There are often dead mice on the floor, and spiders lurking here and there. I’m sure the mice died of fright, and the spiders are just waiting to consume their remains after their little hearts give out. It has just about everything I’m scared of, so I only go down there out of necessity.
Twice a year, I go down to the basement in order to switch out the storm and screen doors for my front porch, which are stored down there. In November and May I have to go down there to turn on and off the frost run. And on occasion, I trip a circuit breaker and have to go down to the breaker box to flip the switch. I try to change the furnace filters when I’m already going down there for one of these other reasons, so as not to rack up a lot of extra trips.
It creates a terrible dilemma when you consider its intended use is to seek shelter in a storm. If there were a tornado bearing down on little Pine River, I’d be hard pressed to gather up the cats and dog and get them all outside, and down into that basement. (Yes, I love my pets enough that I wouldn’t go without them.) And I’d have to close the doors (which is no easy task) after depositing each animal, so they didn’t run back out, which I’m sure they’d do out of fear of that creepy basement. And then, even if we all made it down there before the twister hit, we’d be spending what might be our last moments in the most creepy place imaginable! No, thanks! I’d rather sit out on the front porch and watch the twister come for me.