October 10, 2012

the clubhouse { - FICTION - }

My sister Alice was supposed to be watching me after Daddy told us both to stay inside while he had to go to work that Saturday. But with no begging from me, Alice let me go out to play when her boyfriend came over. In fact, she pretty much ordered me out of the house. 

I walked down the street to my friend Cheryl’s house, but nobody was home. The other friend I had who lived close by, lived across a busy street I was absolutely not allowed to cross on my own, so I started walking back toward my house, wondering what I was going to do. That’s when I remembered the clubhouse in Mr. Brown’s backyard.

Mr. Brown lived between our house and Cheryl’s house. He lived alone and had few visitors, and even though he didn’t have any young kids or grandkids, he had a couple toys that attracted my eight-year-old eyes: a cool little clubhouse and a huge tire smack center of his backyard with sand.

Slowly I walked through the gangway toward the back of his house listening for sounds that might indicate he was home. Hearing nothing coming from in the house, I crept my way past the basement entrance to the house, past the stairs leading to the back porch, past the tire and clubhouse to the garage and peeked inside. When I didn’t see his big blue car, I figured the coast was clear to play in the plastic clubhouse. So I did.

I pretended the clubhouse was my own little restaurant and I was the cook, making meals for all the patrons. When I turned from one small side of the clubhouse to give my fancy pasta dish to one of the customers, I saw Mr. Brown leering in at me through the small window as he stood on the outside.

“Whatcha got there, Sophie?”

“Some spaghetti and meatballs,” I answered smiling at the fake bowl of food in my empty hands. “Nonna’s special recipe.” I held out my hands to Mr. Brown.

Mr. Brown chuckled and told me it was nice to see me playing in the clubhouse. He asked if I wanted any Coca-Cola to go along with the spaghetti, but I declined because even though I really loved soda, I knew I’d get in trouble for taking someone’s food or drink.

“Well, I’m gonna go inside so if you need anything, lemme know.” Mr. Brown stood up from crouching and made his way up the back steps into the back porch of his house, which looked identical to mine.

It wasn’t long after when I found myself standing at the bottom of the stairs leading to the enclosed back porch of Mr. Brown’s house. It really was identical to my house: ahead of me were the painted wooden steps leading to the screen door that opened up to another heavier door with a big window. Just like at our house. To the right of the wooden stairs going into the back porch, were a deep set of concrete steps leading down into the ground where a door to the basement went almost unnoticed. I wondered if his basement was like ours—full of boxes of Mommy’s stuff she had when she was alive; the washer and dryer and clothing line strung from one cement wall to another; Daddy’s tool area we weren’t allowed inside; and the play area of the basement where bikes, holiday boxes, and old furniture all resided.

“Did you change your mind about the cola?” Mr. Brown stood at the top of the wooden stairs holding the screen door open, peering down at me.

I looked past Mr. Brown toward my house and said, “I really need to use the bathroom.”
He held the door open for me and I walked past him into the porch before waiting for him to lead the way in. When we got inside the kitchen, I knew where the bathroom was because it was like I was in my own kitchen, but I let him show me anyway: right across from the door leading into the basement. And just like at our house, his basement door had a huge bolt as if to lock out monsters that lurked in the basement.

As I closed the bathroom door, I noticed the bolt on his basement door wasn’t latched like it always was at my house, and, at that exact moment, I was super glad to be in the bathroom so my pants didn’t get soiled.
It finally dawned on me what was happening… that I was in Mr. Brown’s house. Nobody knew I was even there. All Alice did was tell me to go play, she had no idea where I was. What if Daddy came home early? What if Mr. Brown was a killer? 

It was then that I decided that I would decline the soda I so desperately wanted because I figured he just wanted to kill me. I finished peeing, washed my hands, and cupped some water in my hands to drink. When I opened the bathroom door to get out, I noticed the basement door’s bolt was now locked.
“Thanks, but Alice and my dad are probably looking for me by now,” I lied, walking into the kitchen before leaving the house all together.
Mr. Brown wasn’t there.
“Mr. Brown?”
I looked back toward the hallway leading to the rest of the house where the bathroom and entrance to the basement crossed. No Mr. Brown. I looked at the basement door and noticed the bolt was unlocked again.
I ran as fast as I could out of his house and home.


“Where the hell have you been?” asked Alice as she swung open the back door.
“I was playing in Mr. Brown’s clubhouse.”
“His what?!”
I turned my back to Alice and looked four houses down into Mr. Brown’s empty backyard.



  1. Ooh! Spooky! And weird and wonderful!

  2. I love that you created a heightened sense of alarm, almost from the beginning, as Sophie got closer and closer into the danger zone. And I'm glad Mr. Brown didn't harm her. It's so much creepier that HE JUST WASN'T THERE. Wonderful!

  3. I like it! I always wonder if things like that really happen and we do not know it.

  4. It is that moment of wondering when the axe is going to fall that catches me, especially when it doesn't.

  5. This totally spooks me b/c I feel like I was in the same situation as a kid! How many times did our imaginations carry away but not get caught!

  6. Just goes to show: Soda is bad for you. I love all the nagging endings this week!

  7. Fantastic sense of atmosphere and dread in this one. The opening and closing basement lock together with the realization that she was there without anyone's knowledge worked wonderfully to build suspense. And a lovely sense of mystery to the conclusion. Well done!

  8. I read this twice and was creeped out each time!

  9. OH WOW! That girl dodged a real bullet. Given the situation with the child in Colorado right now, this just makes me that much more afraid for my own kids. Because I can totally think of a nonsupernatural reason for the clubhouse to be gone and the guy to have been downstairs getting something when she got away.

  10. You are SO GOOD!
    There was so much tension and suspense... I loved it. It made me nervous, but I loved it.
    I have to agree with Flood that it's creepier when he just wasn't there at all! It was an unexpected and clever ending.

  11. Ooh, well done! Very creepy story!


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