☰ Satanic Shrine In The Basement

 (A Have Tools, Will Travel Story)


Hey guys, it’s Connor again.
It’s been a while since I’ve recounted a Have Tools, Will Travel horror. Things have been busy and tough. 

My girlfriend, Erin, broke her leg playing soccer and was stuck at home healing up. I took an evening job at a local supermarket to pick up the slack from her not being well enough to go to her job. 
It gets worse. 

While she was trying to let her leg healed from the nasty break, she got some kind of weird ass infection. Erin got sick and just keeled right off the couch. I came back into the living room with her cup of tea and found her on the floor.
I was horrified.
I rushed her to the hospital. 
That was four days ago. 
She’s been in a coma ever since. 

The doctors say she is expected to wake up soon, so everyday I go to the hospital and sit with her for about an hour between jobs. 
Two days ago, I lost my second job at the grocery store.

No call no show, from the night she got sick. Calling in to work had been the last thing on my mind, and when I tried to explain, they didn’t care. All they cared about was the shift I didn’t show up for.

That figures. 
The way my luck has been going, nothing would shock me.
Well, almost nothing. 

I was clocking out yesterday at HTWT, when Maria, the secretary, pulled me to the side and said she had a leak in her basement.
“Connor, would you mind popping by and fixing it?” her brown eyes were unsure. “I hate to ask you, but…”

“Sure, but why not just put in a work order?”
“Well, if it’s going to cost me a few hundred bucks, I’d rather you keep the money.” She touched my shoulder with a chubby manicured hand. “To be honest, I think I’ve got quite a mess.”

“Oh,” I nodded. “Well, in that case, I’d love to help. What time do you want me to come by?”

“Seven, maybe? I need time to get home and clear the area you’ll be working in.” She handed me her address on a piece of paper.
“Sure thing Miss Maria. I’ll be there at seven.”

She waved me off. “Posh, just call me Maria.” She started to turn away, back to her desk to get her coat, but then said something else. It was almost a whisper. “Connor, don’t tell Sam, okay?”

I thought that request was a little strange.
“Why not?”
“It’s a long story. I’ll explain it tonight.”
I nodded again. “Okay, Maria. Whatever you say.” I tried to offer her a smile, but I knew she could tell I was distracted.

Of course I said yes. Maria was good people, I’d known her for over five years, but I’d never actually been to her house. 

After work, I popped by the hospital and checked on my girl. She was still sleeping peacefully. At least, she looked peaceful, but who knows what her dreams might’ve really been about. I ran my hands through her hair and kissed her forehead, told her I loved her. 

Seven o’clock rolled around and found me pulling up into Maria’s driveway. 
She lived alone and wasn’t married. 
No kids and no boyfriend that I knew of. 
No family to be weird around. 
It seemed like it’d be a simple in and out. I’d have to check and see the severity of the leak, then figure out the best way to fix it up. 
I knocked on her door and she answered after a few seconds. 

“Connor! Come in!” 
I did and immediately noticed her carpet was a dark red color that made me feel dizzy when I looked down.

I set my tool bag in her entry way, and looked around. It was a large split-level home. Open entry way that led into the living room. To the left was her kitchen and to the right, a hallway. I could see the basement door from just a few steps into the house.

“Would you like something to drink?” she asked me.
“No thanks, I don’t want to take up any more of your time than I need to.”
“So they let you go at the market, huh?”
“Yup.” I nodded.
“I sure am sorry. You've had quite a bit of bad luck lately haven't you?”
“Yes ma’am.”

She wet her lips and motioned to the basement door. “Let’s see if we can’t turn that around for you.”

I wasn’t sure what she meant by that, but at the time, I assumed she was speaking about me getting paid to fix her leak. She led the way to the door in the hallway and I followed her down a set of newer looking stairs. The light coming from the basement gave off an eerie reddish glow.

Maria reached the bottom of the stairs and turned around before I could see the rest of the basement.

She held up her hand. “Now, Connor, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea, but it’s important to me to help you out. I think working for Have Tools, Will Travel has pushed some bad mojo on you.”

I frowned, and tried to look around her. I desperately wanted to know why the area behind her was reddish colored. It hurt my eyes and unnerved me.

“Mojo?” I finally caught on to what she was speaking about and brushed past her into the basement. 

There, sat a Satanic shrine.

Dog skulls, cat skulls, weird bones, black candles. It was complete with a wall tapestry behind the alter that featured a five pointed star. The ‘four horned goat’ they call it.

“What is this place?” I stuttered. Panic started to crawl up my spine and into my throat. “You worship the Devil, Maria? What the hell is this?”

Her hands flew up, trying to calm me down, but that probably wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. 

“This is where I work magic. And yes, I serve the Dark Lord, but you don’t understand…” she paused, and I waited to hear what she had to say. She looked surprised that I hadn’t interrupted her. “Ever since you and Sam found that kid in the garage, stuck in the cement, I’ve known I needed to do something. To help in some way.”

“Becoming a Devil worshiper is probably not the right way to help anyone, Maria. What the hell were you thinking?”
“I’m thinking you've been cursed and I’m trying to help.”
I ran a hand through my hair. “Wait, has all this crazy shit at work been happening because of you? Because you're down here playing footsie with Satan?”

She shook her head vehemently. “No, of course not! Because of my sacrifice, my friends and family will be spared.” She started to cry. “I’m trying to help! To do what’s right. Something is on you Connor. On. You. Don’t you get what that means? You're not safe. Your girlfriend is not safe. Sam isn’t safe.”

“What did you plan to do tonight? Get me down here and do a spell? Remove my bad luck?”
She shook her head ‘yes’ and sniffled.

“I should have told you at work. I should have found a way to tell your earlier. I’m so sorry Connor, I just want everybody to be okay. You know as well as I do that things are happening. Changing. You've seen things melt with your own eyes. You've seen another world hidden just underneath someone’s farmhouse. Houses that eat people. Footprints leading nowhere, up the side of a house. This is the end.”

I cringed when she said that.

“Let me help you. This is the only way I can help you.”
I sighed heavily.

“Maria, I think you've lost touch with reality.” I should have tried to be more understanding. To be a better friend, but I was angry. I turned on the heel of my boot and marched back upstairs. I’d only taken two steps when she told me the love of my life was going to die.

“Erin. She won’t live through the coma unless you do this. A nasty infection she’s got, and it’s only going to get worse.”
“How could you know that?”
“He told me. Sometimes He speaks to me. Sometimes I see things.”
I turned to face her again.
“What things?” 
“Like how this planet is going to look when He’s done with it. Or what happens when we die. Or how we die.”

I took one step towards her.

“It’s simple. To save her life, all you need to do is place one drop of your blood on the alter. Let Him know you are a friend of mine.”
Did she really think I might be that stupid? Did Maria really think that I’d be dumb enough to leave a drop of my blood on a Satanic shrine in hopes that He’d have mercy on me? On Erin?

On the other hand, was I willing to risk losing Erin if I didn’t do something that might save her? 

Short answer: No.
That’s what it all came down to.
Could I live with myself if I lost Erin?
I nodded at Maria. “I’ll keep what you've said in mind.”
I turned back towards the exit. Back up the stairs and away from  that horrid red light Maria’s basement was washed in.

“And Connor?”
“Yea?” I said it without turning around. 
“Don’t tell Sam.”
I left Maria’s house and didn’t look back. 
I told myself I was doing the right thing.

The drive home was eerie. I felt like shadows were watching me through the darkness. I was probably right. 

If I hadn’t seen all of the things I’d seen working at HTWT, then I might be more inclined to think that Maria was just crazy, but now I had doubts.

A million of them.

I stopped by Erin’s and my apartment. Grabbed her favorite soap and her perfume and went to the hospital. 

The halls were a little darker than normal because it was nighttime. A kind nurse with bright blue eyes told me that there had been no change in Erin’s condition. 

When I got to her room, I drew some hot water from the sink and wiped down her arms and her face. I know they gave her sponge baths here everyday, but I wanted her to smell the way she liked to smell. Erin would want that.

I told her how much I loved her and spritzed a tiny dab of perfume on her wrists, kissed the tips of her fingers and read from her favorite book for about an hour before heading home. 

I slept fitfully that night. Cursing myself for needing to sleep in a real bed. For leaving her in the hospital by herself.

The next morning I was back at the hospital before work and Erin looked worse.
Much worse. 

She was sweating profusely and her dark brown hair was stuck to the side of her face.

I asked the nurse with the kind eyes (who was still on duty) what was going on. 

“Infection.” She said with a sad smile. “We have her on the highest grade of antibiotics, but it’s not helping as much as we’d hoped.”
“How is it not helping? I don’t understand?”

“Neither do we.” She hooked Erin’s chart to the foot of her hospital bed and looked me in the eye. “It may be time for you to consider what she would want. Her fever is so high, soon, brain damage will be a real issue. If that happens, she may never wake up again.” 
My head fell into my hands.

Right then, in that moment, I decided to go back to Maria’s. 
It all just ‘clicked’. 
I knew I wouldn’t survive losing Erin. As long as I had Erin, what did I need with my soul? 

I shot out of the hospital and raced back to Maria’s. 
I arrived just as she was pulling out of her driveway to leave for work. I stumbled out of my truck after I blocked her in. Waved for her to get out of the car.

“What in the…”
“Maria, I need to do it. I need you to help Erin. Will you still help her? Please, she’s getting worse.”
“Yes, yes, come inside.” 
She got out of her car and half jogged to her front door, keys in hand. I left my truck running with the driver’s side door wide open. I didn’t care about anything other than saving Erin.

We raced down to the basement, the red light coming from above the shrine made me feel dizzy. Maria stood in front of her homemade alter and said a few strange words.

The red light glowed brighter.

My eyes twitched and I felt like I might have a seizure.
She handed me her anthame, motioned for me to cut my finger with it.

I did and let the blood drop on the shrine.
She squeezed my shoulder and smiled as the red light waned. 

“Everything is going to be okay now, Connor, you’ll see.”
Somehow, I doubted that, but at the time, I was willing to take what I could get.
I couldn’t find my voice until we were back outside.

“When will I start to notice a change for the better in Erin?”
Maria shrugged. “She may already be awake now.”

My eyes widened and I found myself hoping again.
I asked Maria to tell Sam I’d be a little late. She smiled and told me not to worry.
I raced back to the hospital.
To Erin. 

When I got there, she was devouring her second cup of orange jello. 

I’m not gonna lie, I cried a little and hugged her for a long time when I saw she was awake. Asked her to marry me that very instant.

She said yes.
She’s been getting better ever since. 
Her leg healed faster than normal as soon as the inflection started to go away. I kept Maria’s secret, not only from Erin, (she would've skewered me if she’d known what I’d done), but from Sam too.

Sam would never understand. 
To be honest, I really don’t understand. 
I know that I gave something to the Dark Lord that day in Maria’s basement; something I’d most likely have to pay for later, but I’m okay with that.
When the time comes, I’ll pay what’s owed. 
Of that, I’m sure.
I’ll pay my dues whether I want to or not.
I just hope nothing comes to collect anytime soon.

- Connor

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My novel, Trigram, is in the works, but in the meantime, I'll probably be working on short stories such as the ones on Wicked Shorts. (Wink)

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