Huge Problem – The HOUSE – 36


( Continuation – Read “Back Underground” first )

Then it stroke me.

I clang to the rail and just stood there in disbelief. How in the world didn’t I think of that?

“What’s wrong?” The young man was still admiring his piece of art imprinted on the chewing gum.

“We are screwed.” I never used that word before, but it just came out of my mouth.

Phillip gazed in my face, still happy about his newest accomplishment. “I don’t understand.”

I couldn’t wrap my head around of what we’ve done without taking any precautions. “I’m sure these guys, whoever they are, have cameras all over the basement and they know we are here. They will report us to the police.”

That was a surprise to my neighbor, as well. I could see him getting nervous, and he bit his lips. Then he made a sign to move forward. But I didn’t want to go upstairs. I wanted to go back.

I passed by him and rushed down the stairs to the poolroom. Maybe I was wrong and the owners didn’t have cameras. But I needed to see and prepare myself for what to expect.

If I wouldn’t have been that stressed out, I could have sworn I heard the door we’ve tried to open, hitting the wall. But because of my erratic state of mind at that moment, I couldn’t guarantee that was what happened. The door was closed.

Phillip was one step behind me.

Then my heart fell into my stomach. There were at least four cameras on the ceiling, one in each corner. How brainless was I to put us in such a mess?

All my life I stayed out of trouble. I taught my son to be a man of good character, to tell the truth, to respect other people’s property and the laws, and here I was becoming a criminal.

Our clothes were still dripping water on the floor and I was cold, so cold.

Phillip placed his hands on his hips and started pacing up and down.

“What now?”

( To be continued )


On the Other Side – The HOUSE – 33

Blue planet

CONTINUATION (Read “Shred of Light” first.)

Phillip saw the despair in my eyes and reached to my face, in a gesture of tenderness. “Sophie, I will not let you drown here. Be sure of that.”

I needed that. “Come,” he commanded and pierced with his body somewhere to the other side. I took a deep breath and said a short prayer. I followed him. Starfish and shells were attached to the blocks all the way. I fought to keep my mind calm and let myself watch the beauty under the waves. It didn’t take long until I started to swim up, to the sunlight. I could see Phillip’s legs moving under the water in front of me. Then they stopped.

I fret. The oxygen in my lungs was gone. Would now be the moment when my brain would blackout and I ‘d faint? There were a few seconds when my whole body moved chaotically to get out of there. I screamed from inside, but nobody could hear me. I struggled to move myself up pushing into the rocks on the side, when two arms reached to me.

“Adam,” I called without a sound.

“Sophie,” I heard like from a mile away, and I closed my eyes.

Shaking, I took my first breath of fresh air.

“Adam, ” I called again.

“It’s Phillip,” I heard and clang to him with both hands.

“Easy, easy,” and he helped me lean my body weight on one of the rocks. “Are you O.K.?”

I nodded my head, busy to take in more air. It was so good to hear his voice again. The imminence of unexpected death was terrifying.

I looked around. We were at the end of one of those rock constrictions built to break the waves. I couldn’t see where we were exactly, but somehow I knew we were still in Newport Beach.


-To be continued –

In the Tunnel – The HOUSE – 31


-Continuation- (Read “The Tunnel” first)

“Where does this tunnel go?” And the man walked in the channel. The ceiling was too low for him to stand and he started swimming.

“What are you doing?” I didn’t like he was leaving me behind.

“Come, we’ll get to the end of this.”

There were only two options: to follow him or go back by myself.

“Is it safe?” My questions didn’t seem to bother him.

The man stopped and waited for me. “Do you really think that we are in danger or something? I mean, to be attacked?”

That was a wild thought, “to be attacked.” I had no idea.

“Maybe it’s not out business to do this. We should call the Police,” I said.

“And say what? That we trespassed in somebody else’s house and wander around ? Come on!”

The darkness and the narrow space made my heart skip a beat. “I hope there is enough air.”

The young man took my hand. “We’ll be fine.”

In a few moments it was pitch dark, but we kept advancing. We walked on ground for a while until it changed in sand. “We are close to the beach. Maybe we are ending up in somebody’s basement.” My joke was out of place.

“I have the feeling that this tunnel is illegal,” my neighbor spoke out loud.

We were in the water for at least 5-6 minutes now. I was sure we were going toward the ocean. Walking on the street from Adam’s place to the shore would take about 3-4 minutes. Dragging ourselves through the water might take a few minutes longer. All of a sudden I felt the ocean breeze coming in. Then I felt the first waves, slowly in the beginning, and increasing its strength, as we kept moving ahead.

“Do you know how to swim?” Phillip asked.

“I think I can survive,” I assured him, but deep inside I was scared to death.


Why was I there? Wasn’t my life complicated enough not to

make it unbearable now getting into things that were not supposed to be my concern?

Unfortunately, there was no way to go back by myself.

“Phillip, we should go back,” I tried in a normal voice, but the squeal in my tone didn’t help.

-To be continued –

The Tunnel – The HOUSE -30

new water channel in Ravne Tunnel Labyrinth, April 30, 2015

FOR A MOMENT I thought the new owner was a swimming enthusiast. But then I saw something strange. At the end of the area where the pool edges shrunk into the tunnel, there was a boat.

I walked to the far end to see if I could get into the tunnel without stepping into the water. Eh, that was impossible. I took a tour around the pool on the narrow path to another door I didn’t see in the beginning. I tried to open it, but it was locked. Weird as it was, the space in front of it was wet, sign that somebody or something was there not long ago.

I knocked. “Is anybody here?”

Then I heard Phillip barging in the room. His face dropped. “What is this?” He saw me staring at him. “This is new to me, you know. Mom never put a pool under the house.”

He moved a few steps to the water. “And what is this? A connecting tunnel?”

“A connecting tunnel to what?” I asked.

Next second, the man left his sandals on the pavement and dove into the water. “I’ll check it out.”

For my amazement, the pool wasn’t deep. The water came up to Phillip’s waist. “Are you coming?” he asked waving his hand. “No, I’ll just wait here,” I said, but immediately changed my mind while speaking. It didn’t matter that I got wet since I lived next-door. I slipped into the pool and followed my neighbor to the tunnel. “We need a light,” he mumbled. “Maybe the tunnel is lighted,” I replied pretty concerned to be left behind. The man reached to the boat and searched under the two benches. He pulled out a bag. “What’s this?” he talked to himself and opened it. There was an empty glass bottle, the ones you could find in a pharmacy in the past. “Let me see,” I asked and took it from his hand. The lid was wet. I opened it and a strong smell of chloroform stung my nose.

“Gosh! You can put to sleep a horse with this smell.” Phillip didn’t bother. He looked at the two paddles on the boat’s floor. “These are pretty new.”

You could see where the engine used to be. “They don’t use an engine,” I said, and that caught Phillip’s attention. “I wonder why…” “Maybe it broke. Or maybe they don’t want to make noise,” I continued.

-to be continued-

Chlorine Odor – The HOUSE – 28


I let him get in first, even though he held the door for me for a few seconds. “You know the way,” I said. He didn’t wait for me to tell him twice and walked in the kitchen.

“This is odd. I thought the new owner was updating at least the kitchen, but they changed nothing.” The man wasn’t disappointed. He went and opened the refrigerator. “Ha! See?” He showed me one of the shelves. “The stain from the bottom of grandma’s butter container is still here. Mom kept that thing forever.”

“It looks like the new owner treasures this house with a history.” I remembered the old looking bathroom I peeked into from the small window.

The outdated kitchen painted in white, with white cabinets and wooden countertops needed a big touch. A spider dropped into the sink from the ceiling. I didn’t scream, but I let Phillip go through the kitchen drawers and walked in a large living room. An odor of chlorine lingered in the air full of dust. The room was empty. I listened. Maybe the person who used the towel in the bathroom was still there. From the hall where I was I could hear Phillip gasping at some things he found. “I thought mom got rid of this, but no. She kept it.”

There were three bedrooms down the hall, and only the master bedroom had a bathroom of its own. The second bathroom was at the end of the hallway. That was the one I saw from outside.

For my surprise, the towel wasn’t there anymore. Nothing else has changed.

Then I realized the blinds covered the window I looked in from outside.


The Side Door – The HOUSE -27


He went through his pocket and pulled up a bunch of keys. “Here it is. I’m sure mom’s old keys would work just fine.”

I followed him, biting in one of my nails. “Did your mom have a dog? A black dog?” I asked from behind. Phillip reached the front gate that was unlocked and stepped in the narrow yard. “No. Actually, we had a dog when I was little, but he passed away long ago. Why do you ask?” He jiggled the key in the keyhole. “This might take a little wile,” he continued not waiting for my answer. I was curious. “Why?”

But right that second, I heard the “click.”

“You did it,” I said ready to get in the house.

The man pushed the handle, but the door didn’t open.

“What’s wrong with it?” He leaned his shoulder into the door to force it. In vain.

“Maybe it didn’t unlock properly,” I suggested. That idea only made things worst. I heard Phillip curse. “Don’t tell me how to unlock my own door.” When he looked at me, I saw he was sorry for the burst of anger. “Forgive me, I shouldn’t take this on you.”

“It’s all right.”

I let him deal with the door and walked to the back of the house. There was a lot of old stuff and construction items pilled on top of each other, chairs, shelves, timber and I managed to make my way alongside the wall. There was a side door I’ve never seen before because of the heap of stuff. I tried it. It was locked.

Phillip was still trying to figure it out why the front door wouldn’t open, even though it was unlocked.

“Maybe something inside it’s blocking it,” I said coming closer. “Hey, listen, do you happen to have a key for the side door?”

My neighbor gave up on his project and walked by me to the door I was talking about.

“I don’t have the key, but I know where to find it.”

He stretched his arm to get his hand in the gutter on top of the door. “We kept this door locked all the time. Here is the key.”

The key was covered in rust. “It will be a miracle if this would work,” I commented. Phillip didn’t mind my words. He started whistling, as the door cracked with a sound.

“What were you saying, Sophie?”

The HOUSE – Phillip Has Some News -26-

house on 37

The moment I finished talking, I knew it wasn’t right.

“Ah, this is weird. I’m sorry.”

Phillip didn’t say a word but stood there smoking.

“It is not my business or place to ask you such thing.”

The man took a couple of steps and showed me one of the buildings down the street.

“See that house?”

I nodded my head. That was Joseph’s house, the elderly man at the window I had talked to when Phillip’s aunt was taken to the hospital.

“The owner bought that house in the ’90s with $45,000. Now it’s $2,000,000.” My neighbor turned to see my reaction. I was stunned.

He continued. “My grandfather gave my mom the house we lived in. A few years ago, my aunt bought the house I live in now and asked me to take care of it while she was in Africa. A while ago, she put my name on the house deed.”

I felt pretty embarrassed. “You don’t need to tell me all of these. I’m sorry I asked to see your mother’s house. It was so out of line.”

“C’mon, Sophie. It’s all right.” He finished his cigarette and dropped the cigarette butt on the ground. Then he stepped on it.

“Just for you to know, I sold mom’s house. The new owner had a crew for about a month to do some changes inside. But the guy never showed up after that. Did they ever change the locks? No. Do I want to go and see the improvements? Yes.” He looked at me and laughed. “Let’s go!”

I wasn’t so eager anymore to see the interior of that building since it involved trespassing. Phillip read my thoughts. “It’s not a problem. The owner asked me to keep an eye on the house. Are you coming?”