The Hatch

In my backyard, we have a koi pond. It’s been kind of a never-ending project of mine and my wife’s, something we’ve put a lot of time, effort, and money into in the 3 years we’ve lived in our house. A few weeks ago, we decided to extend it some, and I finally got started on what needed to be done to do that last week. I started digging. After about 3 hours I’d dug a good amount of the area I needed to out, and was about 4 feet down in this particular spot when I hit something. Whatever it was, it was metal.

I continued digging, looking for an edge of whatever this was, and I found it. I followed the edge around as I kept digging, and it turned out to be a square with a handle on top, and two hinges on one side. I pulled up on the handle, but I couldn’t get it open. I figured it was a chest or case of some kind, so I dug around the sides of it, but no matter how far I dug, it just kept going. I finally came to the conclusion that it was a hatch of some sort, perhaps a bomb shelter. When we bought the house, there had been no mention of a bomb shelter there, nor had there ever been mention of it in the history of the house.

I dug an area around the hatch so I could more easily get to the top. After a few hours, a night of sleep, and a few more hours the next day of blowtorches, drills, and hammers, I finally got the hatch open.

As soon as I pulled the door off, I was was hit with a wave of foul odor. The smell was stale and putrid, and was like a mixture of rotten eggs, spoiled milk, and a group of dead skunks. After taking a moment to catch my breath, I finally was able to hold it while I looked inside. There was a ladder that led downwards probably about 20 feet, and I could just barely make a out a floor with the sunlight provided. I went to my garage and got a dust mask, hoping it would at least mask the smell some, and grabbed a flashlight.

I began my descent down the ladder while my wife stayed up top, curiously observing. The smell only worsened the further down I got, and the mask was doing next to nothing to offset it. I stopped several times on the way down, warding off the urge to vomit. Finally, I think I just got used to it enough to not gag with every breath I took. I made it to the bottom, and there was a small corridor to the left, past which was a large room.

Just as I had suspected, it looked like a fallout shelter. There were two rows of shelving units that once held non-perishable foods, almost all of which were gone. I found a light switch on the wall next to me, which I turned on. To my surprise, three rows of fluorescent lights lit up, allowing me to see the entire area. The room was large, likely taking up nearly 2/3rds of the square footage under my basement. There was a single twin bed with a nightstand next to it, on which was a handheld radio (I can’t imagine it working that far underground). There was a rug on the floor, on top of which was a small desk.On the desk were multiple books, numerous notepads, and various other belongings. In one of the corner of the room was a bucket that was clearly used for relieving one’s self, as evidenced by the crusted over shit on the sides and the various yellow stains. How the contents of the bucket were removed from the hatch, I have no clue.

There was a makeshift hanging rod attached to one of the walls, on which was a very, very old looking suit, and resting on top of it was a military helmet. I collected the loose contents of the shelter (the books, notepads, radio, helmet, etc.) and placed them in a box that I found near the food racks. One odd thing I noticed is that there were no remnants from food products that were consumed. This place had obviously been used, as the bed was unkempt and the “toilet” had been utilized, but there was no area where trash was kept. I didn’t think too much of it.

I hadn’t yet looked at what the notepads contained, but when I did finally take a look, I was thoroughly creeped out. All they said, for hundreds of pages, were the words *”PLEASE LET ME OUT”*. Nothing else, just those words written in different sizes over countless pages. Next, I did some research on the helmet. It was a standard issue United States Army helmet used during World War II. I don’t understand what a US soldier would be doing in a fallout shelter in the midwest during the second World War. The next thing I found to be strange was that while most of the books were from the same period the helmet was from, two of them were printed in the late 2000’s, and the radio was a model that was produced in 1999.

Completely baffled, I returned to the shelter. I again descended the ladder. I decided to do a thorough inspection of the place, my hope being to gain any kind of insight as to who had been down there. I looked at the remaining food on the shelves, and all of it seemed to be from the World War II era. I looked for hidden doors, but found nothing; the walls were all perfectly solid, without a flaw to note. I sat down in the chair at the desk and opened the drawers, but found nothing. I examined the desk for anything that may have been etched into it, but the wood was next to flawless. It was only when I backed the chair up over the rug and took a step back that I realized the floor beneath me was hollow. I yelled up to my wife that I had found something.

I moved the chair to the side, and pushed the desk off of the rug. Then, I slid the rug in the opposite direction of the desk, which revealed a trap door, which was being held closed with a Masterlock that sat in a divot cut into the metal floor, so as to keep the floor flush. I used a hammer and chisel and after a short time I dismantled the padlock. I opened the hatch-within-the-hatch and fell back after getting a glimpse of its contents.

Beneath the trapdoor was the source of the smell. It was a decomposing body. One that looked as if it had only been there for a week or two. The area was *just* big enough to fit this man, who was positioned in a way I didn’t presume possible for a human. The only way I can describe him as is “folded up”. I immediately called up to my wife to call 911 and got out of the hatch.

The man was wearing clothes from the World War II era. In his pocket was a military ID, showing that he was born in 1921. Another pocket contained a Motorola Razr cellphone from 2007. His sidearm was a pistol that was produced in 1979. I found out later that the name on the military ID wasn’t registered in any armed forces databases, and his social security number wasn’t one that was distributed by the United States. Nobody by his name was ever reported missing in the history of the country.

It was determined by investigators that the ground above the hatch door had remained untouched for decades, and it was confirmed that the door was in fact the only means of entering and exiting the shelter. The questions are obvious: Who was this man? How did he have technology from the future? How long was he in the shelter for? When did he die? Where did all the shit and piss and garbage go? How was he only a week or two decomposed?

The strangest question, to me, however, is who locked him under that trapdoor and moved the rug and desk back over it?

 

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