500 Word Short Story
Under the House
Scott A. Gese

500 Word Short Story

He had to crawl under the house.

He didn't want to. He wasn't looking forward to it, but there was no other choice. He had to do it.

What sort of creatures lurked in the damp dark corners. Snakes? Rats? Big black spiders? Good God! Ever since he was a young boy he had been afraid of places like this. His over-active imagination had always got the best of him. He slept with a night light on. The closet door to his bedroom was always shut tight and he never let an arm or a leg hang off the bed lest some creature from beneath should grab him and pull him under.

He had inherited the house from his father who had himself inherited it back in the 1920's. It had never been updated. Joel had recently taken on the task of redoing the kitchen. Replacing the old metal kitchen cabinets was a top priority.

The work was progressing right along. All but one of the cabinets had been removed and as Joel struggled to remove the final one he noticed something he hadn't seen before. The back of the cabinet was loose and he could slide it to the side. When he did, it revealed a small opening in the wall. It was an old hidey-hole. He was surprised his father had never found it.

Inside was a scrap of yellowed paper and a Morgan silver dollar dated 1903. A cryptic note was crudely written on the scrap. It read... In the belly of the beast. Southwest corner three feet down. One coin and a note to...more coins? A buried treasure? Joel's mind began to race...until it hit him. The belly of the beast might mean under the house.


It was Saturday morning. Joel sat in front of the crawl hole that lead under the house. He was wearing a pair of old coveralls. A small shovel and a flashlight were by his side. He had read the note a thousand times and his conclusion was always the same. The belly of the beast must mean under the house. He tried to get his mind to come up with another explanation but it always came back to this.

The Southwest corner, of course it was the furthest from the entry.

He had to find the courage to do the impossible. No way was he going to trust someone else to do this for him. If there was treasure to be found, he would be the one to find it. It's time to face my fear, he thought. There's nothing under the house that can hurt me. If I'm going to do this, now's the time.

Joel took a deep breath, turned on the flashlight and did what he thought he would never do. He crawled under the house.

That evening as Joel's friends met for drinks one of them remarked. “Has anyone seen Joel? He was suppose to meet us here. I called his house but there's no answer.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

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