Summer 1974 -
Joan Dougerty and husband Anthony inherit an old San Francisco mansion from Joan’s recently deceased grandmother. Shortly after moving in, she discovers a bricked-up fireplace in the basement den, and asks the estate's handyman, Mr. Bartlett, about it. He tells Joan when her grandfather died 40 years earlier, grandmother had him seal it up, and that it is better to leave it the way it is. After he leaves, Joan uses some of Mr. Bartlett’s tools to try removing the bricks. She is unable to budge the bricks, but is able to pry open a small side door that Mr. Bartlett had said was used for removing ashes from the fireplace. Inside is not a fireplace at all, but a large, dark, deep, forgotten sub-basement. As Joan leaves the den, small whispering voices are heard coming from behind the fireplace, calling her name, and proclaiming “Give thansk, she set us free".
Joan soon begins to feel unsettled in the house. One night while sleeping, she is woken up by voices whispering her name as a headset mysteriously falls off her bedside cabinet. However, Anthony dismisses her concerns and believes she is suffering from insomnia related nervous tension. The next evening, while alone in the house, Joan feels a sharp tug at the hem of her dress as she walks downstairs. She manages to free herself and sees something scuttling away behind a curtain, which she suspects is a small animal. Soon afterwards, she hears voices whispering "We want you" coming from behind the fireplace in the basement den. When husband Anthony returns home, he doubts her story but makes sure the fireplace is bolted securely shut to reassure her.
The following day, Anthony goes to Nashville on business and Joan arranges to go and stay with her friend Maya.
Before Joan can leave, the creatures attempt to trip her down a flight of stairs with a phone cord, but they accidentally cause the demise of the telephone repairman instead. Joan confronts the creatures and asks them what they want. It is revealed they want her spirit, as whoever frees them (as Joan did by opening the fireplace) must become one of them! Joan calls her husband and shares what happened, but Anthony feels was traumatized and is delusional.
Returning early from his trip, Anthony remains unconvinced about the creatures in the house. He leaves to speak with their handyman regarding the history of the house and is shocked by the truth about the bricked up fireplace and Joan's grandfather.
That evening, Joan's doctor prescribes sedatives while her friend Maya stays with her. While Joan tries to stay awake after the creatures put the sedatives into her coffee, the electricity is cut by the creatures and Maya is locked outside by them while checking on the circuit breaker box. Sedated, Joan staggers downstairs and the small creatures trip her onto the floor in the dark.
As she is semi-conscious, they slowly drag her into the basement den and down into the unsealed fireplace before Anthony and Maya can reach her. Joan is never seen again. After a time has passed, we hear the creatures whispering to each other, “Give thansk, one of us, one of us, she is one of us... give thansk”
Summer 2014 -
40 years later...
A product support specialist searches the basement of a San Francisco call center for a desk lamp.
He is readying a workstation for a colleague flying in from Nashville. Suddenly he feels a quick tug at his pant leg. Jerking his foot, he turns and sees something scuttling away into a dark corner. He suspects its a small animal and thinks “Darn, we’ve got rats”. Finding the desklamp, he turns and leaves the basement. Soon, small whispering voices fill the basement, calling his name...
to be contd.