Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit. This is insane. I can’t do this.
Thank God for Russian vodka and California weed. I still don’t think I can do this, but at least now I don’t care as much. So, I figured my best course of action would be to check out my neighbor’s apartment first. Baby steps, right? I have the key. Mrs. Olmstead is a nice old lady, but she has the habit of locking herself out and prefers not to go all the way downstairs to get a spare from the super if she doesn’t have to; he does his job pretty well, but he’s a prick.
So I take Mrs. Olmstead’s key and step out into the hallway. It was strange; I stood in the middle of the hallway for a minute just listening. There isn’t always a lot of noise from the neighbors, but you always got a sense that they were there. But now the building feels abandoned. It’s like everyone in the building decided to just up and move out at the same time. And the longer I stood there, the more empty it felt. But then I started giving myself the creeps, so I stepped over to Mrs. Olmstead’s door and knocked. I didn’t expect her to answer. Old people tend to be more susceptible to the flu. I knocked one more time and when nobody came to the door, I used the key.
As I pushed the door open, I realized that the reason the building felt empty was because everyone in it was probably dead. That meant that I was going to find Mrs. Olmstead’s body somewhere in the apartment. She would have probably died at least three days ago and her corpse, along with everyone else’s in the building, was decomposing and should start stinking up the building pretty soon. I edged into the apartment and took a whiff. There was something unpleasant in the air, but it didn’t seem too bad yet. I called out her name and immediately regretted it because if an answer came, I was probably going to scream like a little girl and piss myself.
Mrs. Olmstead’s apartment was laid out the exact opposite of mine and I started heading towards the bedroom. It was getting dimmer as I moved down the hallway, and I wished I had brought a flashlight. The smell, I could tell now that it was shit, was also getting a bit stronger. The door to the master bedroom was closed, and I stood outside of it for a minute trying to build up the nerve to open it. I’ve been to funerals, and have seen dead bodies before, but I have never found one before. I’ve also never seen one that hadn’t already been prepared for a funeral.
When I grabbed the doorknob and began to turn it, I thought I heard something move behind the door. The hair on the back of my neck stood up and I had to look over my shoulder to make sure nothing was sneaking up behind me. I don’t think I’ve done that since I was a kid, but all I wanted to do in that moment was run out of there and lock myself in my own apartment. I told myself I was being silly, turned the knob and pushed the door open.
I’m pretty sure my heart stopped, literally. It was like it gave one big thud, slammed against my breastbone, and then stopped. Mrs. Olmstead has these white, gauzy curtains that let in some light, so the room wasn’t completely dark, but neither was it fully illuminated. I took in several things all at the same time: the smell of shit was much stronger, the bed was messed up but empty, and there was a figure standing in front of one of the windows, backlit so that I couldn’t tell who it was. About three seconds later my heart started beating again, but it was hammering so hard I could hear it pounding in my ears.
So I said, probably louder than I needed to, “Mrs. Olmstead, is that you?” The figure started to move, but with my heart pounding in my ears I couldn’t hear if she responded. So I tried again, “Mrs. Olmstead? Are you okay?” The figure took two shaky steps around the bed and paused for a second. Then it made a noise. It sounded like something between a moan and a growl. And then it charged at me.
I’m pretty sure I screamed; I’d like to say it was a yell, but it was really too highly pitched to be called anything other than a scream. I still had my hand on the doorknob so I yanked the door closed. Whoever it was slammed into the door. I never got a good enough look at the face to say it was Mrs. Olmstead, and I’ve never seen her move that fast. I held the door shut as whoever it was started pounding and scratching at the other side. I’m not sure how long I stood there holding on to the doorknob, but after a while I realized that whoever was in there wasn’t trying to pull the door open. I took a deep breath, let go of the doorknob and hauled ass for the front door.
I was sure that as soon as I let go of the doorknob, the person would rip the bedroom door open and jump onto my back. But I made it to the front door, pulled it shut behind me and practically dove into my own apartment. I slammed my front door, locked it, and then ran into my bedroom, shutting and locking that door as well. I probably spent about four hours hiding in my bedroom closet, waiting for that person to break into my apartment and kill me. But it never happened. I got too hungry to stay holed up in the closet any longer and finally ventured out to the kitchen. I’m still always hungry.
I can only assume that that person is still across the hall in Mrs. Olmstead’s apartment. I have no idea what I’m going to do about it. But at the moment I’m too drunk and stoned to care. God, I don’t think I can do this.