As I walked nervously to the stairs, my sleeve brushed along the rusted bars of her cage and to my absolute horror, she awoke.
A frail voice resonated from the stagnant corner - that ancient, fetid prison that had laid untouched for over a decade and kept us safe from the inumaginable hate within.
As her words began to form, interjected by that awful wheezing, a cold sweat crept through my body. I should not have come through here. I should have stayed upstairs.
"Daddy, please! Let me out...just for a minute," her voice was almost human.
Choking back the tears, I resolved to ignore her; this was night my daughter. "Don't turn on the lights," I told myself, and walked away.
As the voice got louder, the cage began to rattle, banging and scraping, deepening that familiar indent in the wall. "How could you do this, Papa?"
She had never called me "Papa" when she was alive. I lit a cigarette with trembling hands and made my way up the steps.
Turning the basement door handle, I paused for a moment as the room fell silent and then heard something I'd never heard before.....
...the sound of the cage opening.