Basement 51


© Copyright 2015 by Douglas Noble
All rights reserved. This story or any portion thereof
may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever
without the express written permission of the author.


An elderly man, living by himself in a rural California community, is given a spaceship by aliens who are living on the far side of the moon. He is taken to the moon in it where he is revitalized and informed their days are numbered and that they are entrusting him with all of their knowledge which he is to ration to the people of earth, but only for good purposes. Once back on earth he starts to recruit, with the permission of the aliens, several friends who will soon become old looking, but internally revitalized to their youth, super-heroes.

This wasn’t the first time Russ had been awakened by what appeared to be a flash of light through his bedroom window. Over the past several months it had happened maybe a dozen times, but this time it was brighter and lasted longer.

Each time before he had gotten up, put on his robe and slippers, grabbed a flashlight and his revolver and cautiously had gone outside to see if he could find the source of the light.

It didn’t come from a neighbors’ house because he had no neighbors within sight and the rotating beacon at the small, local airport no longer lit the sky as the trees around his property had grown quite high.

Most of the other times he had put it off to a reflection from his small pond, caused by something disturbing the surface of the water and creating waves that reflected the moonlight momentarily. But, this time it seemed to be different as he thought he caught a glimpse of something shiny disappearing behind his barn.

Cautiously he walked towards the barn, flashlight and revolver pointing the way, but there was nothing: nothing shiny that was crawling, running or even waving in the moonlight.

He began to think he was going crazy, but then, when it first started he had talked with a friend who was a psychologist.The psychologist had told him it was probably his imagination, but recommended he contact his doctor to see if there was something medical that could cause him to see flashes.

Russell Clarksten lived by himself in a small house in a very rural part of northern California. Now in his mid 70s he had been divorced for many years but had two children who lived within a day’s drive of him.

He had been born in the last years of the Great Depression and grew up reading about rockets as they developed from weapons of war into vehicles to explore space.

Like most young boys of that era, he devoured science fiction books and magazines and dreamed that one day he might travel to the moon or other planets and discover new life forms, perhaps even intelligent, human-like life. All of these thoughts were bolstered by the endless Flash Gordon serials that were on television most of Saturday and the many movies depicting future space travel that began to appear in the theaters in the early 1950s.

He had been on several trips to supposed UFO landing sites and attended lectures by persons claiming to have been abducted by aliens. On these occasions he met new people who he discovered were mostly a bit over the edge from his thinking and also discovered that many of his longtime friends were beginning to shy away from him.

In his late 20s he had thought he might be a candidate for astronaut school. He had the aptitude, but that was about it. They were looking for experienced pilots who could handle the force of several times gravity and rebound immediately. He wasn’t sure about that, however, now, nearly 50 years later, he realized that possibility was no longer his at all. But, that didn’t stop his imagination nor his belief that perhaps nothing is impossible.

As he returned to his bedroom, he noticed the pad on the night stand that he kept so that he could write down thoughts that came to him during the night.

Several times he had written down a series of numbers that he thought came from a friend who had passed on and were the winning numbers in the state lottery. But they never were. Once he scribbled a series of three numbers on the pad that came to him in his sleep not once, not twice but three times. These numbers, it turned out, were not an exotic formula for time travel, but from the deepest part of his mind the combination to the lock on the barn that he had long ago cut off because he had forgotten the numbers. But there were also some interesting markings – neither numbers nor letters – that he copied from a magazine story on someone who had supposedly visited and alien spacecraft and seen them on it. He wasn’t sure why he copied them down, other than they were just interesting.

He climbed into bed and turned out the light.

Just as he drifted off, a shiny image appeared in his window. Startled, he immediately sat up and saw the dim outline of a human-like object apparently looking back at him, although it had no real features where he thought a face should have been.
Without even bothering with his robe and slippers he grabbed his flashlight and raced out into the darkness, but nothing was there, nor did he find anything like footprints near his window.

As he returned to his darkened house he noticed through the cracks around the basement door that the light was on. He didn’t remember having gone into his basement recently to retrieve a bottle of wine from his modest collection, and, without thinking about it again, flicked the switch by the door, turning off the basement light.

Although sleep did not come to him easily because of everything that happened that night, he finally drifted off only awaking when his clock radio went off the next morning.

As he walked by the basement door on his way into the kitchen to start some coffee, he again noticed light shining through the cracks around the door. He thought to himself, Didn’t I turn that out last night?

Thinking that maybe he had just forgotten to do it or the switch was broken, he flicked the switch off, opening the door a bit to see that the light was actually off, and proceeded on into the kitchen.

After taking his morning vitamins and enjoying a cup of coffee and half a bagel, he walked back towards his bedroom to put on clothes for his morning walk, which he took with some neighbors. As he passed the basement door, he saw the basement light was again on. This is insane, he thought. Why is this light coming on by itself?

He grabbed the switch and firmly turned it off. The light went off and then, almost immediately, came on again. He flicked the switch on and off several more times, but the light just kept coming on by itself.

It must be a broken switch or the mice have been eating at the insulation on the wires, came to mind, but even that didn’t really make sense.
Afraid that something might catch fire, he called the friends he walked with and told them he had to fix an electrical problem and would not meet them at the regular time.

He didn’t tell them about what had been going on during the night. In fact, other than his psychologist friend, he had told no one else about any of the things that had been going on for the past few months. Some things, he thought, are really better left unsaid.