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The Apartment Up the Stairs...

Scared Homeless (2000.09.30)

I’m writing this from work and I’ve got nowhere else to go. The police think I’m crazy and won’t have anything to do with me. I’m scared out of my mind... and out of my apartment. I’ll explain. Maybe somebody won’t find me crazy.

After the incident earlier this week (where I came home and saw an intruder (a girl) disappear from inside my apartment), work has lightened up. I’ve been able to get home earlier and get more sleep. The police stopped watching over my apartment the evening after I called them. Since nothing else happened they attributed what I saw to my fatigue and mental-weariness. And I began to believe them. The rest of this week I’ve been feeling more rested and clear minded. Nothing weird or unusual happened the rest of this week. Until tonight.

Friday became a rush, late night workday. Saturday became an all-day workday. I got home late tonight and very exhausted. As I wearily climbed the stairs to my apartment, I could hear that old man downstairs laughing so loudly again. When I got to my door, I saw a light shinning through the space between the door and the floor. Fear didn’t overtake me, rage did. Weird stuff was happening to me again. Somebody was trying to mess with my head and it pissed me off.

I quickly opened the door to my apartment and rushed inside to see that the TV was on and that nobody was around. I turned off the TV and rushed into the bathroom hoping to catch somebody. Deep in my heart the fear of my death filled me with tension, but that tension only made me more angry. I ran into the bathroom and threw the shower curtain open, ripping part of it from the curtain rings. Nobody was there.

I turned around, into the bedroom, went into the closet, but there was nobody else in my apartment. I heard the old man laughing still. As I walked back into the living room I realized that I left the door open. That’s when the thought occurred to me: what is he laughing at? I know he usually laughs at Jeopardy!—I’ve heard the theme music while he was laughing many times before—but Jeopardy! should have been on at that hour of the night. Curious I went downstairs, and down the hall, following his laughter. It was very dark in the hallway and the only light filling it was coming from his apartment, with his door open and flooding the hallway with that TV glow. Slowly I walked up to his doorway and peered my head around to see. What I saw gave me chills down my spine. There he was, a skinny old man with wrinkly and liverspotted skin. He was sitting in a recliner watching Jeopardy! on TV. His hair was white and only a thin patch on his shinny head. I couldn’t see his eyes as they were buried in dark cavernous sockets. Every bone stood out in his skinny, fragile hands and arms. He sat in that recliner, in a dingy old robe, laughing (with just a few teeth in his mouth) hysterically at Jeopardy!.

It was when I looked closer that I got the chills. It looked like there were little lights blinking in the side of his nearly bald head. Coming from his nose wasn’t the normal oxygen tube, but what looked like wires leading to a box on the table next to him. This box—metal and rectangular, almost like an old stereo—had lights blinking on it also... almost like they were synchronized with the ones blinking on his head. Staring longer I could also see that the liverspots on his skin were slowly moving, like they were something crawling over him. I was staring at him so intently that what happened next scared me so suddenly that I thought my heart stopped. For no reason at all he suddenly stopped laughing, turned his head to look me directly in they eye, and said “Don’t let them get you too Billy!” As if nothing happened he turned back to the TV and continued laughing. How did he know my name? How did he know I was there? And what did he mean about them getting me?!?

I didn’t even think about anything after that. I ran (no, flew) back up the stairs and into my apartment, throwing an bolting the door closed. For the longest time I stood there, motionless, frightened, listening as best I could. If I could still hear his faint laughing through the door, then it meant that he was still sitting there and not coming after me. I don’t know how much time had passed, but I was beginning to grow tired of just standing in my living room, watching the door. Maybe a few minutes more and then I heard him stop laughing. That grabbed my attention and I began to listen even more carefully. It was so quiet. I could hear every creak from my hair growing to what sounded like bugs crawling behind the walls. When there was a knock on my door it startled me so much that I actually jumped (and probably screamed). But nothing else happened. There was just that simple two beat knock on my door and then dead silence again.

I don’t know how long I waited there. I waited until I could stand no more and then I grabbed a chair, sat, and waited some more. Eventually I was growing so weary. I might have even fallen asleep for a little while. I figured it had been long enough. I went to my door. I peered through the eye hole. Seeing nothing I began to slowing and quietly open the door. When I saw no one there I opened it all the way. No one in the hallway, but on the floor there was a box.

It looked more like a birthday present. Pink wrapping paper with a frilly, white lace ribbon up the four sides and tied in a bow on the top. I don’t know what I was thinking. I wished I had just closed the door and locked it, maybe even climbed out the window and down the fire escape. But I didn’t. I picked up the package and brought it inside.

After closing the door I set it down on the counter between my kitchen and living room. Slowly I pealed open the bow and allowed the ribbon to drop. There was no seal (just the ribbon) and so I simply took the two flaps on top and opened them. There were two more smaller flaps perpendicular to the previous ones, and so I grabbed these and opened them also. With the box opened I looked inside and saw a brain. A real brain. It looked moist and had splotches of blood on it and the inside of the box. Worst of all it looked human (like what you see in Biology text books showing what the human brain looked like). Seeing this I was instantly startled back. I backed as far away from it and just stood there, shivering with my arms around myself. I felt like I was going to cry I was so scared. Who the hell delivered a brain to my door.

I thought of the old man below. I grabbed my keys and left my apartment (locking the door behind me, I didn’t want anyone else going in there with more weird things while I was downstairs). My nerves were strung so tight as I went down those stairs. I felt like I would jump at anything... and it felt like everything was waiting to attack me at any moment. I went down the hall to his doorway and looked inside. Yes, I did throw up at what I saw. I don’t like throwing up, but I couldn’t stop myself. The old man was lying out of his recliner, on the floor, with the top quarter of his head missing (looked like it was cut clean off), and lying in a pool of blood. From the angle he was lying I could see that his skull was empty.

After I was done throwing up I ran out of the building and came back to work as fast as I could. I washed up a little in the bathrooms and then called the police. They wouldn’t believe me. They told me to get more rest, don’t work so hard, and to see a therapist.

And so now I’m here, at work. I’m going to sleep here tonight. There’s no way I’m going back home. The floors aren’t that hard, and I’ve got my coat as a blanket. I’ve got to work tomorrow anyway, but there’s no way I’m going back home.

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