Martha and David were a little hesitant to go downstairs for breakfast. They had been sent to their respective rooms the night before after their parents had gotten into an argument. They had fallen asleep to the sounds of their parents yelling, so they were expecting to go down to a tense and quiet breakfast. Their plan was to 1. eat quickly, 2. Go play outside.
When they got to the dining room, their father was sitting at the table with his coffee and newspaper. It smelled of bacon, and toast. Mother was nowhere to be seen.
"Have a seat kids." Their father said, "breakfast is almost ready." Martha and David did as they were told and sat in their usual spots around the table.
"Good morning, children!" Martha and David's mom came swiftly through the kitchen door and into the dining room, a hefty plate of breakfast in hand. She had her hair done, a face of makeup, and a new house dress on. She kissed their dad on the forehead, and places the big plate in front of him.
"Do you kids want juice or milk with your breakfast this morning?" She asked, tousling David's hair. David and Martha looked at each other, Mother never let them have juice with breakfast, it had too much sugar, they were only allowed watered down juice with lunch.
"Juice!" they exclaimed, expecting a tiny watered down glass to come with their breakfast. However, what came were 2 large glasses of orange juice, which after an initial taste test, didn't prove to be watered down. Shortly after, their mother came in with their breakfast plates. She then took her seat at the other end of the table.
"Are you having breakfast?" Martha asked.
"I already ate. But I thought I'd join you for a few minutes before I ran my errands today. She smiled an oddly large smile. It made Martha uncomfortable. David looked over at their father, who was engrossed in his breakfast. He caught Martha's gaze. Something was up. Although the mood in the air wasn't tense, they continued with their plan of eating fast and getting out of there.
"What are you kids up to today?" Their dad asked.
"We're going to be outside. We might meet up with some of the neighborhood kids for a game of baseball."
"Okay. I'll be working in the basement today, I'd like to not be disturbed." He didn't look at them when he said this. He kept his nose in the newspaper. They agreed and walked outside.
"It's like our mom has been replaced with a robot." Martha said.
"Yeah, it's super weird." David said. "Maybe-" He was interrupted by some banging coming from the house. "What was that?"
"Probably dad working in the basement." Martha said. David was off running back towards the house. By the time Martha caught up with him, he was belly down peeking through a window into the basement. "What are you doing?" Martha asked.
"Seeing what dad is working on. When was the last time you heard of him working in the basement?"
"Well, he does have that big toolbox and workbench. He must do something in there from time to time."
"Look!" David said, pulling Martha down onto the dirt next to him. "Where's he going?" Martha peered through the window. The workbench had been shoved over, revealing a hole in the floor.
"Where does that go?"
"We have to check it out."
They watched their father climb back out, and shove the workbench back over the hole. He was covered in sweat and dirt. They heard a car start, and a honk. They went to the driveway. It was their mom. She was waving them over.
"I'm heading to the pharmacy, but then I was going to pick up a couple of pints of ice cream from the store, do you have any suggestions?" Martha and David looked at each other, they hadn't had ice cream since David's birthday 6 weeks ago. It was only allowed on special occasions. They said that whatever she picked out would be fine. She smiled that big eerie smile again.
"My vote is for Rocky Road." Their father said, startling both David and Martha. They hadn't even heard him walk over.
"That's always been your favorite." Their mom said, with a wink. She rolled up the window and drove off. Martha and David had never seen their father eat anything other than strawberry ice cream.
"I'm going to jump in the shower" He said, and walked back into the house. David and Martha waited a few beats before going inside. They heard the shower running and took that as their cue to go to the basement. They shoved the workbench to the side,
exposing the hole in the ground.
"It's not just a hole." David said, motioning at the ladder leading downward. "You go first." Martha rolled her eyes, but as the older sibling, she went ahead and went down, slowly into the dark.
"What's down there? Do you see anything?" David asked. He didn't get an answer, "Martha?" After the second time, he just decided to go down and see for himself. He hopped off the ladder, skipping the last few rungs. Turning around, he saw Martha, standing like she was a deer in headlights.
"Are you okay?" He asked. Martha didn't say anything, but instead just pointed to the other side of the makeshift room. He turned to look. Curled on the dirt floor, sweaty, bloodied and covered in dirt, was their mother.
"Get out." Was all she could say.