Odd Prompts: Let the Air In

As I’m typing this, I have a kitten patting and biting at the screen. He’s hunting the ‘bugs’ of the black letters and cursor as they dance across the screen. Here’s hoping I don’t have more typos than the usual, but… well, kitten! 


James closed the door firmly after the letting agent, and then rubbed his hands together, chortling. 

“Eugh.” Nella wrinkled her nose. “I can’t say I approve of the cleaning…” 

“Nevermind that.” The irrepressible Brit interrupted. “Time to see what’s in your tunnel.” 

“I didn’t bring anything to move the door.” She untied the kerchief and straightened up, dropping her old woman guise. “It was pretty stuck, not sure even two of us will budge it.” 

“Oh, no, I planned ahead.” He hiked one trouser leg, revealing a gaudy argyle sock, and a black iron bar. He freed it from his low boot, then shook his leg high in a comical hopping movement. The crowbar fell out onto the stone floor with a loud clank. 

Nella eyed it, then gave into the desire to laugh. James grinned at her, his hands on his hips. Finally, she was able to get words out, “That will do it, if anything will. Here, and I thought you were just being very stiff-upper-lip while you escorted your old gran.” 

“That, too.” He bent and picked it up, giving it a twirl. The room was tall enough to allow him space for a bit of a baton toss. He took advantage of it. “Now, let’s get crackin’”

Nella led the way down the still-sandy stairs and into the basement, her torch in hand. The upper rooms had rudimentary wiring, but there was no concession to modernity down here. She pointed with the light, as she reached the bottom of the steps. 

“Oh, I say.” The little boy was at the forefront today with James. He sprang forward, running his hands over the hewn walls. “You really wouldn’t know it was there, would you?” 

She pointed the light at the floor. “There were shelves or something here.” Faint marks and scuffs in the dirty floor showed the pegs of leg marks, and then scuffs where it had been dragged away. Whatever it had been, it was long gone. The basement was entirely empty of anything but dust and spiders. 

“Mind putting the light…” She followed his gesture, and watched as he first pulled with his long, pale fingers. The doorway came open a little, no further than she’d managed it. “Hm.” He pulled a penlight out of his own pocket and used it to take a very close look at the inner hinge of the door. “Loads of rust.” 

“We could come back with oil.” Nella pointed out. “We have the place for six months, and obviously no one is coming in from that tunnel without making a ruckus.” 

“True. But the curiosity will kill me, and you wouldn’t want my death on your hands, would you darling Nella?” He grinned, a flash of white teeth in the bad lighting. “I could whack the hinges a bit, but that will make your ruckus, all right. Perhaps…” He inserted the bar between the gap at the top of the door, closer to the hinges than the opening, and used his weight to slowly lever it open further. There was a groan of protest from the hinges.

“Oof.” He dropped down from his tiptoes, panting. “Not quite, eh?” 

“It’s more open. I can shine my light through to see what’s on the other side?” Nella offered. 

“Not a good idea, my gel. What would you think if a ray of sunshine suddenly poured out of your storage closet?” James did something to his own light. When he switched it back on, the white light had changed to blood red. 

“Oh, like that’s more reassuring.” Nella retorted. “You’ve opened the gates of hell in some poor woman’s wine cellar.” 

He laughed, then shook his head. “You think there might be wine down here?” 

She snorted. “It’s Malta. Of course there’s wine. It would be stranger if there weren’t.” 

“Righty-ho, then. Off to find a cask of Amontillado.” He thrust his arm through the doorway, then wriggled his head and shoulder through. 


I was prompted this week by ‘Nother Mike with “When we opened the door to the storage closet in the basement, a ray of sunshine lanced out into the darkness…” and I took liberties with his prompt to fit my existing story better. 

I prompted Fiona Grey with “We’ve begun to find some pottery.” 

You can read all of the prompt responses, or take part in the challenge yourself, over at More Odds Than Ends. See you there!