The ancient door creaked open and from the darkness she caught of a whiff of something like old apples. Anna pulled the string, but the stairwell remained dark. “Bulb’s dead,” the man said.
“Who’s there?” Anna called out tentatively.
“The man who owns the house you just broke in to.”
“I’m your new neighbour, I just wanted to say hi.”
“Well, if you need light, there’s a torch at the top of the stairs.”
She ran up the steps and looked for a torch. Not even seeing a sconce, she was confused, and called down “I don’t see a torch. And aren’t those a fire hazard?”
She heard a sigh waft up from the dark, before he said, “A flashlight. Not a literal torch.” She saw the flashlight on the step and picked it up, clicking it on as she walked back down. Shining it around, the small circle of light revealed a dirt floor and a series of shelves with potatoes, squash, zucchini, and various other root vegetables. One entire wall was filled with apples. There was a man there, standing at the bench holding a large knife, a half-sliced apple in his hand. He squinted toward the woman, then turned back to his work.
“What is this?” she asked.
“My root cellar. Where I keep my roots.”
“What’s with all the apples?”
“I don’t like apples.”
“Then why have so many?”
“To kill them.” He turned toward her again, his eyes wide as he stabbed the knife in to the remains of the apple. A crazed smile spread across his face as she turned and ran up the stairs and out of the house, taking the fruit basket she had brought with her.