“The Challenge”

Written By: JmanX – July 2002 ©

Night after night, he would walk down the stairs of his old dark house. Carrying a single candle with him he would descend into the basement. He had long since given up the peace and serenity of sleep.

Across the street, the neighbors would look out their windows, and see him walk from his upstairs bedroom every evening, carrying the lit candle, and go down below. They feared he’d gone mad, his clothes all a tatter, his hair wild, long, and unshaven. They would whisper and wonder, as strange noises and sounds of devilry could be heard from his basement.

The man would ritually set down the candle next to him, fitting perfectly with the melted wax place holder from previous nights past. He then sat down in an unnaturally old wooden chair, which creaked and moaned as he leaned back into it. He would look into the darkness across from him. Trying to stare down the fierce opponent he must battle against on this night.

After some time passes, he gets up and walks into the darkness. With a grunt he grabs hold of the beast of which haunts his dreams and rules his life. But his foe will not give up without a fight, and struggles against the man. Twisting and turning it wrenches free from the man’s hands. He stumbles backwards and falls back into his chair, frustrated at the incredible cunning of it.

It sits there, staring back at him, beckoning him to come forward and try again. It laughs at him and his weak strategies. The man closes his eyes, wishing to see no more of it, covering his ears to stop the torturous taunting. Finally he can take it no more and runs at it, pouncing on it and beats it with his fist, he picks it up and hurls it across the basement into the brick wall. He yells mightily, an animal roar of victory, but it soon quiets to a whimper as he sees it still there, alive and unharmed by the brunt of the man’s attacks.

The man cries out, “It can not be so!” falls to his knees, hands outstretched in the air, fists clenched tightly. He drops his face to the floor and rests on his forearms. He breathes hard and deeply, his heart giving finally giving up, an action his brain had conceded long ago. He looks up and sees it right in front of him. He reaches out with one hand and takes a hold of it. He gives one last effort to defeat it, but fails, and collapses, his last breath exhaled at the feet of the unbeatable one.

The next day comes and goes, and the neighbors come to their windows to watch the man go down once more. But this night they do not see him come down, and hear no sound from his house. They sigh in relief, hoping that the madness has ended. But they are also worried, as this has gone on for so long; they wonder why now, what has happened, what went on. The next night and day pass, and they grow worried that not all is right.

The police are called in, and they arrive at the man’s house. They knock on the door, calling out his name. But there is no answer. The two officers walk around to the back door, which is swinging open in the wind. They enter the house, hands on the hilt of their gun, calling his name. They search the house and do not see anything, but as they walk near the stairway they smell an awful smell coming from below, and they go down to investigate. The lights are off and there is a faint smell of smoke amid the putrid stench. As they reach the bottom, they find a light switch on the wall and turn on the lights, not expecting them to work. But amazingly enough, the lights come on right away, and illuminate the basement, showing the evil deed that had been done.

They recoil at the sight of the crazed looking man, lying dead on the floor. The room has been destroyed; a seemingly never used workbench and tools are overturned and broken. Several pipes, one of which was the water line, were broken, and there was mucky water pooled on one side of the room. One officer mentioned that the man must have been without water for at least a week. They decide to get a closer inspection of the man, trying to determine if there was foul play involved. They see no evident cuts or wounds, and no marks of strangulation. They think it may have been a heart attack or something of that sort.

The officers stand back up and take one last look at the man before they leave, and notice his outstretched hand. They look a few feet away from him and notice something lying in the shadows. One officer pulls out his flashlight and shines the light at it. What they see leaves them puzzled, wondering what went on, what they see is a child’s toy, an old, battered Rubix Cube, almost completely solved, with the exception of one more turn. The other officer walks over and picks it up, staring at it. He makes the last turn, completing all the sides to the same color.

The officer looks at the other and tells him, “You know, I’ve never been able to solve one of these.”


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