A dragging sound woke her, and when she heard the front door open and close she ran down the stairs. The house was silent. The appliances sat in their places, still and waiting. The televisions through the house were black and staring. She moved through the house like a ghost. Her feet barely made a sound, and left foggy prints on the glossy floorboards.
The sound of her own breathing filled her ears as she crept quietly through the kitchen, which glared brightly white and disconcerted her. She ducked quickly into the basement staircase.
“Momma?” she called in a tiny voice. Her little hand slid down the banister and she took one step after another, deliberately. The step under her advancing foot gave a mournful creak and she jerked it back. The noise seemed to jar the silence all around her and shake her abruptly out of its lull.
“Momma!” she demanded. Her voice echoed off the concrete walls and sounded high and tinny. She felt very small. She stepped down onto the creaky step and crouched low, peeking into the basement. The half of the floor that she could see was normal, reflecting the light of the bare overhead bulb familiarly. Almost cheerfully. She cautiously descended another step.
“Daddy?” she called in a much softer, wavering voice.
As she stepped down once more, a heavy, metallic smell met her nose. Her mouth filled nervously with saliva. She swallowed and jumped down the remaining few steps, letting her eyes sweep around the basement. It seemed deserted. A full laundry basket sat expectantly in front of the washing machine. She walked closer to it, and her eyes slid over the floor. She noticed a few small specks on the concrete and frowned. She stuck her thumb in her mouth, a long forgotten comfort. Her bulging blue eyes followed the specks as they grew in density and approached the corner.
When she saw the mangled mass slumped there in the corner, her mind spun blankly. She had no context for what she was seeing, the mush of white and red, and sprigs of whiskery hairs. There was a splatter like paint, bright red, across the wall, growing especially thick and viscous in the shadowy corner.
She stumbled closer, blinking, her brain still whirring without catching, without recognition. Then, suddenly, her eyes focused on familiar curves and began to sort out what she was studying. Screaming filled the basement, and when they found her there, she was still screaming, her eyes wide and staring, claw marks down her face.