Chapter 9:

The Basement

The Gallery

I stepped on the ladders, and started lowering myself down under the trapdoor, the place reeked of oil, it made me feel nauseous a little.

I held my breath, and continued climbing down the ladders, after a while, I looked and saw that I was about to reach the end of the ladders.

It seemed like I was really close to the floor of this place, and I was about to jump down.

But before I do, I shined the light down at the floor to see what was down there.

The wall and the ladders seemed to end there.

My surroundings were pitch black, so I couldn't see what was happening around me at all, but as I shined my light down to the floor, I couldn't see the floor at all.

What I saw was something much more disturbing.

I saw a glass dome, a very familiar one too, because it looked identical to the glass dome on the top floor of the mansion.

The glass dome was partially shattered, there was an opening for me to go through, but do I really want to go in there though?

My arms and legs were started to get tired and were about to give out, and I still didn't know what to do, so I just held on to the rope and hopped down through the dome.

But right before I could make it through, I could feel the rope being tucked on.

At first, I thought it was Mori, but all of a sudden somebody started pulling me out of the basement.

They pulled me out of the trapdoor, and they kept pulling me upward.

As I was about to hit the ceiling, it shattered open.

Mori and I got pulled up to the upper floor, then the upper floor ceiling broke open once again, and they pulled us up more and more, until we reached the floor before the top floor.

We got pulled along the corridor at great speed, turned multiple corners, until we made it to the dining room.

Victoria and Hanako were there.

"It's time for lunch!" Hanako said.

Mori had a bowl of dog food ready for him, and everyone sat down at their chairs, everyone aside from me.

Th... They must have known what they were doing...

What was under there?

That glass dome that was supposed to be at the top floor, why was it all the way down there?

"Is everything alright? Daisuke?" Victoria asked me.

She pretended like nothing happened?

"No... I'm fine." I answered, and sat down at the chair as well.

I decided to not confront them just yet. If I do so, they'll probably just going to ignore it and dance around it like they always do.

I must investigate this on my own, without the help of Mori, or anyone else.

Or could this be a coincidence?

Could they genuinely didn't know that I found the trapdoor?

Everyone is eating their food in silence right now, normally, they would've asked what I came across by now.

But the fact that they didn't say anything meant that there was something in there that they didn't want me to see.

I must go back there somehow...

Maybe I could try to sneak out at night? Let's just hope that Mori wouldn't notice me.

"Oh, Yeah! I almost forgot." Victoria said, as she finished her meal and got up.

She grabbed the Gallery painting, and her paintbrush, then she started painting something.

Suddenly, the floor split open, my bag, my painting, and the backpack that I got from the spider all levitated up here.

"Here's your stuff." Victoria said to me.

"Why would you do that?" I asked, "Don't you want me to find the oil monster for you?"

"You've been exploring that floor for a while now," She answered, "And you found nothing, it's time to explore somewhere else."

"Is it that bad down there?" I decided to confront her straight away.

Because even if I sneak out at night, they would have caught me and pulled me right back either way.

"Down where?" Hanako asked, "Did you find anything weird?"

"Don’t pretend like you don't know!!" I yelled at them, "I'll ask again. What was under the trapdoor?"

I was upset that I essentially didn't know anything about this place, and was forced to risk my life exploring it.

I ended up raising my voice a little.

The room filled with awkward silence for a bit.

"I'm trying to protect you, kid." Victoria said, "You don't want to know what's down there."

"I think I do..." I said back, "What do you have to hide? Why is there a glass dome down there?"

"As I said, you don't want to know." Victoria replied, "It's none of your business."

"Just continue exploring the lower floors, and find the source of the maids and the butlers for me, and I'll send you home. That is what we agreed on, remember?"

"But the oil monster jumped into the trapdoor." I said, "So clearly, these oil monsters must have something to do with whatever was down there."

"No, it's not!" She said, "The basement has nothing to do with the oil monsters."

"How would you know?" I asked, "You told me that you barely visit the lower floors."

"You want to see what's down there that badly?" She asked back.

"Yes..." I responded, "Yes, I do."

"I guess you're not the one after all." She sighed. "Goodbye forever, Daisuke."

She picked the Gallery painting and her paintbrush back up. I knew exactly what was about to come, so I rushed to collect my stuff that was lying on the floor.

I was in a hurry that I didn't actually know what I managed to collect, but the next thing I know, the floor was splitting open under me, and I was about to fall down.

I grabbed as much stuff as I could, before falling down the mansion, floors and ceilings were shattering before me and restored behind me.

My fall started to slow down as I was approaching the floor with the trapdoor, and eventually, I came to a complete stop, before I started to float toward the direction of the trapdoor.

My speed started to increase once again. I turned multiple corners before I arrived at the trapdoor, and fall to the floor.

What should I do next?

Are there other ways to get home?

I sat down on the floor and took a moment to calm down a little, after that, I checked inside of my bag to see what I managed to collect back at the dining room.

As I was rummaging through my bag, I heard a familiar voice calling me.

"Oh? You're back now?" The voice said to me.

I turned to the sound of the voice and found the spider that gave me the backpack earlier.

"Hello! We meet again!" The spider said. "Wanna see my new home?"

"I... I rather not." I replied.

"Don't be scared!" it said, "As I said, as long as Axel is with you, I won't eat you!"

The spider smirked. It definitely knew that Mori wasn't with me anymore.

I started to pack up my bag and was ready to run.

"Are you coming or not?" The spider asked again. "Why are you not saying anything?"

"No! Go away!" I shouted at the spider, then I open the trapdoor and grabbed on to the rope that I previously tied to the ladders.

I lowered myself down to the basement as fast as I could and jumped through the hole in the glass dome.

I successfully landed in the basement, and immediately looked up to the trapdoor.

The spider was throwing a tantrum up there, but I couldn't quite hear what it was saying.

I almost got eaten by that spider.

The spider eventually left, under here, it was too dark for me to see anything, so I rummaged through my bag once again, and found a handheld flashlight.

I turned the flashlight on and began to look around.

I was shocked to find that my surroundings were exactly the same as the top floor of the mansion, next to me was a spiral staircase, and I was surrounded by endless corridors.

The only difference is that, while the mansion above looked clean and maintained, this place looked rundown. The place was extremely dirty, and it’s full of black oil everywhere, almost flooding the floor.

What is this place?

Why is the basement looked like an exact replica of the upper floors?

And why was Victoria trying to hide it from me so much?

So many questions once again, with no answer at all.

I guess the only way to find out would be to explore this place.

But before I do so, I turned my backpack upside down, and pour out everything that I have onto the floor. I want to see everything that I had left.

What I found was a rope, a paintbrush, some oil paints, I couldn’t tell what colors they were, because it was too dark, even with the flashlight.

There was also the rock pick that I found in the backpack earlier, but that’s about it.

I put everything back into my backpack and started exploring the basement.

I walked down the corridor, while anticipating the oil monsters to attack me.

The source of the oil monsters that Victoria mentioned.

It should be down here, right?

This place was dark, and cold. The eerie atmosphere I felt down here was infinitely worse when compared to the Pine Forest.

It reeked of oil too, this is the absolute worst place to be.

But I won’t give up.

I’ve managed to survive for this long now. I won’t let it all go to waste.

After a long while of walking, I realized that this corridor most likely led to nowhere.

I walk in the general direction of where the living room was supposed to be, but I found nothing. Only this same hallway, over and over again.

I then started to walk back to the spiral staircase. It seemed as though I have to go downstairs if I want to actually come across something.

Walking back, and undoing my progress was such a letdown, couple with the fact that the environment of the basement is basically a haunted house. It really ate up my hopes and motivation to survive.

I eventually made it back to where I started and looked up to see that the trapdoor was still wide open.

It didn’t seem like I would find my way home down here it all. At some point, I would have to go back up and confront Victoria again.

I already lost count of how many times I thought about doing that since I came here, but it seemed like the most sensible thing to do.

But there was no way for me to climb back out of the basement, I’m stuck here for now, so I guess the only place to go is further down.

I took a short break, then I started to ascend the spiral staircase.

The oil on the steps was wetter and fresher, this meant that there would absolutely be the oil monsters downstairs, it also meant that the top floor of the basement should be relatively safe.

While descending the stairs, I took the rock pick out of my backpack, just in case something or someone tries to attack me.

Descending these stairs took much longer compared to the stairs in the mansion above, because the floor was wet and slippery. I have to be careful as I didn’t have access to the Garden anymore.

Things are becoming more and more disturbing and unsettling as I got closer to the lower floor, every once in a while. I would hear strange screaming that clearly wasn’t made by humans.

At that moment, the story about Hanako drawing weird animals came to my mind.

Maybe this is the place that they hide those animals?

Maybe this place is like a normal basement? Where people would store their memories and valuables in here, and it was just too embarrassing that Victoria and Hanako didn’t want me to see.

I tried to stay as optimistic as possible, but the fear still got a hold of me, as I got closer and closer.

Eventually, I reached the lower floor.