What Lurks Below

When my kids were little they used to refer to the basement at my in-laws house as the ‘under-the-neath’ which I always thought was amusing. It doesn’t have a standalone meaning but it definitely should.

I have a great fear of basements unless they’re ones you can walk out of. The basement at my in-laws was accessible by a narrow staircase only. My ex shut me down there once and turned out the light from the top of the stairs. I was paralysed with fright, screaming and crying. I could hear him upstairs laughing his head off. The last laugh was on him when the neighbors called the Police. They were not amused in the least and read him the riot act.

Naturally it was my fault because I can’t take a joke.

Since then, I’ve never gone into another basement or attic. As above, so below.

We’ve had basements in our last two houses. I never set foot in either. I wouldn’t even look on viewing the houses. ‘im indoors can have a malicious sense of humor and threatened jokingly to shut me down there once. I would literally divorce him if he ever did.

We don’t have a basement in this house. My neighbors have said I’m to run to theirs if I hear a tornado warning but I couldn’t. Unless you’ve ever been so afraid you can’t breathe just thinking about something, I guess that won’t make sense to you. I have walk in closets. I’d ride it out in one of those.

I wonder what it is that makes us so afraid of what lies beneath? Ancient Mariners feared sea serpents and giant squid. There are many tales of the Loch Ness monster and similar beings. Giant fish, mermaids, La Llorona…. Jaws.

There are many documented tales of terrors lurking below the waves. There’s nothing really above them that holds the same dread. It’s the ‘below’ aspect that intimidates. Is it fear of hell perhaps?

Then there are trolls hiding below bridges in fairy tales too. There’s the clown in the drain in IT. What is it about things below the surface that inspires such mortal dread? It has to be more than the ‘unknown’. Darkness in your living room isn’t nearly as petrifying.

I really think it must be Hell. Dante’s Inferno. The grave even. I’d like to know what others think because the only way to conquer fear is to understand it and to reason it away. What do you think? How does the ‘below’ aspect feed your fears or does it?

This post was created in response to the prompt: Below from Discover Prompts

49 thoughts on “What Lurks Below

  1. I totally get your fear. It is debilitating when one has undergone such an experience as yours.
    I have fear of heights. I wouldn’t want to stand on a ledge or on the edge of a terrace.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I have no bad experience of basements, or cellars as they are called here in the UK. I know your basements from what I have gathered are much bigger than our cellars, so whether my fear would be different with a basement, compared to a cellar I don’t know. But I don’t like cellars.
    I have been in an attic, but only because it was accessible via a staircase and it had a window. I like attics based on that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My mother in laws house was in Nottinghamshire. I’m from the UK originally. Her basement was pretty big – about the same size as the floor plan of the house. From what ‘im indoors says, both basements were about one room in size. They didn’t span the entire ground floor. Our house in Poughkeepsie had a walk out basement. From the front it looked like a two storey but it was three at the back. That didn’t feel basement-y at all, in fact I loved that level! I could go out a door, french windows or up stairs so it wasn’t a ‘trap’

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for telling me more about your basements. I am in the Nottinghamshire area. I live in Mansfield.
        Cellars I have known were really more and pokey. But the largest that I actually had myself one time, just was as big as one room and unfortunately, I had to go down there, as that’s where my main water valve was, to turn off if ever a leak. The steps were steep too. So another fear on top of the cellar fear. I went down a fair bit to try and get over my fear. But my feelings are still the same when it comes to cellars.
        When I moved from that house, to another, I made sure there was no cellar and I shall always make sure of that, if I ever move from where I am now, back to a house.

        I bet a basement with a door and windows feels homely.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It is nice. I had a house in Tunbridge Wells – my first house! That looked like a two up, two down but it had a basement and a small garden at the back too. I loved that little house. It was like a tardis, much bigger than it looked.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. No basements in SoCal…🤷🏼‍♀️ In my wild teen years we used to explore the storm drains… big concrete pipes under the roads and underground. I’ve never had a fear of heights, dark, being underground, small spaces… hmmm… I can’t think of any phobia type fears I’ve had.

    I’m glad the police were called on your ex! They should have arrested him for False Imprisonment!🤬🤬🤬

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I get the being so terrified you cant breathe or are afraid to breathe. I wouldnt go near a basement, we dont have them in our houses in ireland, no tornados here, I wonder why american houses have them? Is it due to the tornados? I’ve always wondered about it. Xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s a lot of basements/cellars in England too. Kitchens in all our London homes were in the basement. Here they were used for food storage, ordinary storage, shelter, just part of the house design. My dad lives in Galway and the houses there always struck me for no basements after growing up in London (My mum was from Galway)
      I think there’s no basements there due to Radon in part. It would be a death trap

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve been here since the end of 2011. Almost nine years. It’s funny, it feels both longer and shorter. I love it here but I like coming back to see my dad. Hopefully I can see him in September

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hopefully. Fingers crossed. I was meant to be going to Colorado in May to visit a friend but I had to cancel due to this coronavirus, I hope to go either in September or October or else for Saint Patrick’s Day next year 🌸🌸🤩

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Mum’s house has a basement, but it is pretty much a second floor to the house with really high small windows. My bedroom was down there and I was all by myself. Now, the basement in this Oregon house is a totally different ball of dirt. It is dark, with a dirt floor in most of it, it has bugs and smells dank. I could probably manage being in there in the dark for a while. If you shut me up in the tiny room that is down there, I’d probably lose it. I’m not fond of being closed in (odd, cuz I used to read in a closet under the stairs as a kid behind all the old coats with a flash!) I do not like high places. Elevators with a glass side terrify me. I have gone up on two different high places to see if I could, I did it, and never have again. God made me short for a reason.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m not a believer in hell, so that wouldn’t be why I might get creeped out by the below. I used to not like swimming in lakes where you couldn’t see through the water. I don’t care much for confined spaces. Once upon a time, I hated the idea of going into crawl spaces under homes, but after doing it many times (I had a temp job that required it), I pretty much got over it. I won’t tell you what I found in some of them!

    So, my summary is that we fear the unknown, and dark places provide obscurity and hence unknowns. Experience (if not intended to frighten you) can make the fear fade.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t mind underground, what is under the ocean and its mysterious floor. Although, as a child I used to do that running jump to bed because I didn’t want something to grab me from under it.

    The thought of being buried alive is also pretty fucking terrifying.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That terrifies me too. I saw a film when I was far too young about a girl who was kidnapped out of her bed and kept underground in a coffin – I wouldn’t sleep in my bed for months. I slept on the floor of the wardrobe, hiding

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Mm, can see how your fear would have begun after a prank’ like you experienced … although am not even sure if prank is the right term sadly.

    Was trying to think of my fears and whilst l have many which might be considered judicial, as to long standing the only one l can think of that caused me great angst was l was terrified of having my throat cut – so much so that l had a neck brace crafted and wore the neck belt for a full year.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s horrible. I’m sorry you lived through times that inspired that fear. Enclosed spaces is really my only undoable thing – well that and anesthesia. I need rotator cuff surgery but I’m putting up with pain and limited movement because anesthesia terrifies my socks off

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes l can imahine why .. a lot of people don’t like that, myself included – the loss of control and the uncertainty is enough to worry anyone, combine that with a fear then it’s a nightmare.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. under-the-neath sounds like a place in world from Stranger Things …please don’t tell me you haven’t watched it
    Otherwise would have to start explaining about the upside-down world and the Acrobat the flea below hey see it fits in with the prompt

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I don’t think I’ve ever been afraid of going below, but I’ve been afraid of going up anywhere that’s high. I couldn’t even go into a room that had a lock on the door because I was fucking petrified that I would somehow get locked in and couldn’t get out, so I really relate to your fear of the basements in that regard.

    Liked by 2 people

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