Friday, September 15, 2017

The Horror of the Beeping Basement

For months I've cowered in my house, afraid. Shaking and shivering like latter-day Elvis. Beneath me, in the basement, unspeakable horrors await. Horrors too awful to mention. (But I'm going to anyway.)

My basement beeps.
Several months ago, when it first started, I rolled my eyes, told my wife, "Stupid sump pump's acting up again." Wasn't the first time. Get this...when the sump pump runs a while, doing what sump pumps are supposed to do, it beeps a warning sound. Really dumb manufacturing flaw. So I head downstairs, cursing, then unplug the two cords (why two?) and take out the battery. Sure, the basement might flood, but at least it won't beep.

The sound stops! Huzzah! Problem solved, I head back upstairs. I sit, relieved. I know what I'm--


"Great Caesar's ghost!"

I jump out of my recliner. Rush downstairs like that father in A Christmas Carol. As I tumble down the steps, the noise stops. Mid-beep. Taunting me.

I say (because I'm in the haunted basement and it helps to hear my voice, any voice), "Huh, that's weird. Just a fluke, though. Pretty sure I resolved the issue. It won't beep again."

Upstairs I settle once again into my recliner. Relaxing. Basking in the peaceful meditative--


"Jumpin' Jehoshaphat!"

It's not the sump pump. Clueless, I get tough. I decide to ride out the storm, figuring the infernal sound will tire after a while. It does.

Until three in the morning.

"Sweet Christmas!"

The shrill, incessant beep wakes me. Every 45 seconds, Swedish clockwork. Pillows over my head don't help. Copious amounts of alcohol just intensify it, transform it into a nail-driving drill.

Sleep deprived, the next morning I head back into the dungeon. Determined. Angry. Half crazy.

Seven steps down, the beeping stops. As usual. Making it impossible to track the source.

"Why me? Why have you forsaken meeeeeee?" I cry to the cobwebs. I forget I'm too tall for the hobbit-made basement, stand straight in my drama.


"Ow! Dammit!"

I unplug everything that's plugged in. Wipe my bleeding head, sigh, pat myself on the back for a job well done. Upstairs, I snuggle back into my posterior-conformed recliner to write and...


"Holy mother of pearl!"

I'm back on the hunt. I check high, I drop low. It's a dirty, gross job, but the heinous beeping source will be found! I pull out the tubs of my daughter's childhood toys, denude all the Furbies and other automated varmints of their batteries. Anything that's suspect, anything of a battery-driven nature, I gather in a box to take upstairs where I can keep an eye on it.

For I will solve this exasperating mystery, I will!
Beeeeep! Beepity-beep-beeep!

"Cheese and crackers on Matlock's grave!"

Down again I go, down, down, down. Farther than before, down into the depths of hell itself. I tear everything apart, look in every box, poke every water-damaged cranny, knock things over, pick them up, and do it again. The narrator in Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart has nothing on me. Except I haven't killed anyone. Not yet. But the skeevy sales kid banging away on the doorbell comes close to being my first murder victim.


"Jimmy Hoffa's pantaloons!"

Internet trolls aren't any help.

"Hmm. Do you have any enemies?" someone asks.

"No," I write. "Well, there's my high school bully and that dumb neighbor who won't talk to me for whatever reason and my grade-school friend who I kinda dumped because he wasn't giving me the hallway cred I sought but I--"

"Someone's planted a bomb in your basement."


"Shoehorn of the devil!"

I race downstairs. The sound stops again. A demon with a vicious sense of humor. 

I cover every square inch of Hades. On my knees, I crawl. On chairs, I teeter. I'm covered in grime and cobwebs and great heaping dollops of defeat.

Until...until... Celestial trumpets poot!

There! Something I've never seen before! A weird device hidden by the light-bulb screwed into it! I undo it. Smoke detector. Figures. I take it upstairs. Set it next to my wife's mail like a trophy, a savage beast I finally bagged after a lengthy hunt.

Satisfied, exhausted, I retire.

Yet, I still hear beeps. Phantom beeps. Beeps in the night that wake me up, a faint ghost of a beep, a reminder of hauntings past. But it's not my imagination gone wild, it's...

Beeeeeeeeep, dammit, beeeeeeep!

"Bea Arthur's bunions!"

Drowsy, woozy-eyed, I concede defeat to my wife. "I give up. It's still beeping." A sudden teensy-tiny ray of hope strikes me, though. "Wait...what'd you do with the smoke detector?"

"Threw it away. In the kitchen trash."

Like a bag lady, I go scrounging. Past chicken bones and other unmentionable detritus. There it is. Beeping!

I take it to the garage, toss it in the bin.


Like a cockroach, the device can survive even nuclear Armageddon. I roll the bin out to the street. Let the neighborhood deal with it. Finally--finally!--silence.

But I know it's still out there... Waiting...lurking...laughing...beeping...

For more obsessive behavior over ghostly hoo-hah, click here to read!


  1. You always make me laugh, Stuart. Love your blog posts. If you want to come and post on my blog again, just let me know. :)

  2. Yup. We've had the same demon in our basement.