My grandmothers basement is filled with jewels of novels that I've never read, so one night after my weekly visit, I strolled down into the dark and seldom visited basement, past the old boxes and forgotten memories to retrieve one such book that might hold my imagination.
While reaching for a book that looked particularly mysterious and gruesome, I saw something that caught my eye, nearly hidden in a dark corner. An old guitar case that belonged to Uncle Jeff. Mere curiosity forced me to gather the case but the weight of the case took me by surprise. It was much heavier than I would have suspected... From what I could remember about Jeff, he always played acoustic guitars, but this was way too heavy for an acoustic guitar.
As the nearest light was a good fifteen feet away, I lugged the case over to the naked light bulb hanging from the ceiling. Under the glare of the bare bulb, I examined the case. The faux leather case had definitely seen much better days, and a few of the stickers were faded into obscurity, wile others were torn or scratched beyond recognition.
The clasps on the case were showing signs of rust, and a look at the hinges revealed much the same with the hinges on the opposite side. For some reason, there was a tightness in my chest that made it difficult to breathe - at the time, I didn't know if it was from fear, excitement or something else. Reaching out, my hands trembled as I touched the clasp, trying to open it.
I didn't know what to expect - perhaps a heavenly chorus, or shafts of light shooting forth from the case. In some part of my mind, I wouldn't have been surprised if a ton of flesh eating beetles had surged forth and picked my bones clean in thirty seconds.
What I wasn't expecting was the clasp to be stuck.
Exhaling sharply, my head swam while I contemplated the fact that nothing had happened. Trying the clasp again, the metal still refused to move.
Anticipation quickly devolved into frustration as I tried to pry the clasp apart with my fingers, and then with my keys. Unable to budge the rusted metal, I stood up, feeling my legs protest with the sudden strain on them.
Casting about the room, I caught a glimpse of a screwdriver on top of a stack of magazines. Stepping over some unidentified trash on the floor, I grabbed the flashlight, and crouched back down to work on the clasp again.
After several minutes of cussing and scrabbling at the lock, I managed to get the metal apart. With my breath catching in my throat, I slowly lifted the lid, visions of souls whipping out and melting my face, much like a Nazi glimpsing the ark of the covenant.
The only thing that wafted out was a stale, dusty smell that set me off on a vicious sneezing fit. After getting myself under control, I looked at the inside of the case, finally getting a look at the prize inside the case.
Inside was the most bizarre looking musical instrument I had ever seen. It looked like equal parts guitar and bagpipes with some possible dulcimer and kazoo influences. Now normally, I would have just started laughing, but something told me that this device was serious business. For some reason, I felt the need to say something, and in the emptiness of the basement, I uttered "And between you and me, something amazing happened... and now I can talk to animals! It's really cool, but totally secret. And you know what? Life's never been the same."