Satan in the Basement

fireyno“He was standing right there.” The little boy stayed on the stairs and refused to step into the basement proper.

“Where I am now?” His father pointed down.


“What did he look like, Dennis?” John Trinkle followed his son’s quick feet back up to the kitchen.

Dennis sat in front of his cereal and tucked his knees under his chin. He wrapped his arms around his legs. “He was made out of fire, with a face like a bull. He had horns.” The father poured himself a mug of coffee and sat beside his son, rather than across from the child where his plate of toast lay untouched. “Daddy, he said he’s coming back for me. He said he’s going to take me to hell.”

The man ran his finger across his son’s temple. “Other than that, what do you remember about the last couple of days?”

“Not much. My hospital bed. The doctor who told me what a seizure was. Drinking the white stuff.”

The father grimaced as he sipped his coffee. “That stuff let them see inside your head. They showed your Mom and me the picture. You have something called a tumor growing in your brain. It’s pushing on parts of you and causing the seizures. It’s making you see and hear things that aren’t really there. You need surgery to have it removed.”

“But Daddy, what if it’s not? What if Satan was really there?”

The father stroked his son’s temple once more. “That’s why your mother’s gone right now. We’re putting a lock on the basement today.”

“Thanks, Dad.” Dennis leaned into his father. “Do I have cancer?”

His father slid an arm around his son’s shoulders. “Yes, son. You do.”

“Will I survive?”

“Where did you learn a word like that?”

“From Satan. He said I wouldn’t.”

“Lord, I hope he’s wrong.”

They sat  at the table like that together, watching the back door, waiting for Dennis’ mother to get back from the hardware store.


Happy New Year folks! The Jester is back. This is my entry for this week’s Trifecta Writing challenge. It’s creative nonfiction, for the record. Dennis and Kristi Trinkle, thank you so much for your hospitality these last few days. It’s been wonderful to see you, and we can’t wait for Chattanooga. Dennis, we’re glad that neither Satan nor the brain cancer managed to kill you. Although hell would surely have been richer, it would have been a tremendous loss to the world.

Note: In context, it might seem I have used the second definition of survive. However, I would argue that the second and third definitions are actually very close in nature, and I would say that this is about this kid’s resiliency as much as his physical survival.

About jesterqueen:
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.


Satan in the Basement — 11 Comments

  1. I read this after writing a feature for the trifecta contest. Mine was a light hearted joke, This was a kick in the gut. I almost took my feature down after seeing what other writers were up to.
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    • Don’t delete yours!! The fun of Trifecta is seeing how differently a single prompt can strike everybody. Don’t feel “out of tune” because you went a different direction. Rather, feel that you’ve got something unique. I LOVE the weeks when I’m a little out of synch with other posts. I feel like mine stands out then more than when I’m IN tune. I am happy in tune, too, mind. Just saying don’t feel bad because you did something other!!!

  2. Welcome back! <3

    This is a great piece, and I would agree the second and third definitions are very close.

  3. I love that here both Satan and cancer exist on equal footing which when looking at the scale of evil is quite true. Creepy and earnest. Really nicely done.
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  4. I hope the boy does survive. Cancer is Satan, especially in a child — and yet I find it even more heartwrenching that father and son are talking about it as though discussing a flu. Great restraint on this work.
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