“Well, I think I have neighbors,” I explain as we climb the stairs of my apartment building. “I haven’t seen anyone below nor above me yet, though.”
CREAK CREAK. The steps moan under our weight.
My friends stop behind me as I continue up the staircase, stopping at my door.
“No one lives…?” Wayne asks. I shake my head.
“So far it doesn’t seem like it.”
“But someone else has to live here,” Susan says.
“Yea well…,” I shrug my shoulders and we enter my apartment. “Ain’t heard anything.”
* * *
I yawn and stretch, climbing into bed. I lay in place running a checklist of errands for tomorrow. Then a low rumble draws my attention. I stare at the ceiling, focusing on the sound figuring out what it is and where it’s coming rom. I roll over and check my phone. It’s 11:30pm.
“You hear that?” Wayne asks.
He stands in my door frame wearing a blue-and-grey striped onesie.
“Aren’t you cute,” I reply “yea I hear it.”
“Isn’t that some kinda noise violation?” Susan asks from behind Wayne.
“Yea, I guess. We’re not gonna be those people are we?” I ask. “Guess I do have at least one neighb-.”
-ON YOU, the music suddenly drowns out my voice, “’cuz you’re mine.”
“Ok, you gotta say something, Russ, blaring their music like that at this time,” Susan says.
“Fine,” I relent and hesitate to throw my jeans on.
“Wait, I’ll come, too,” Wayne says.
“I can handle this…,” I start.
“Just curious. Wanna get a look, s’all I’m doing.”
“I’ll go too, don’t want to be alone,” Susan says. Wayne and I look at her, eyebrows rise on our faces. “I mean alone in not knowing who these people are, obviously.”
“Well, don’t stand near the door, I don’t wanna intimidate the person,” I explain as we put our shoes and leave.
“Where’s the light?” Wayne asks.
I run my hand on the wall next to my door and jump at a loud ringing sound.
“Found my doorbell,” I breath heavily. “Come on, there’s enough moonlight to see anyway.”
I begin to climb the stairs, my friends follow.
I JUST CAN’T STAND IT, the music blares.
CREAK CREAK, the stairs moan under our weight as we ascend the stairs.
THE WAY YOU ALWAYS PUT ME DOWN. I approach the door and raise my fist.
SQUEAK. The door opens slowly revealing a dark interior.
I PUT A SPELL ON YOU.
I look at my friends then entire slowly.
“Hello?” I call, sticking my head in, pushing the door open fully. “I live downstairs,” I enter.
Crossing the threshold, I flip on a light switch which, like downstairs, yields no light. I announce myself again but only music responds.
BECAUSE YOU’RE MINE!
The squeak of a door grows loud until –
I turn around and run to the door.
“Russ?” Wayne and Susan shout.
I turn the doorknob but can’t open the door.
“Uh, it’s…locked…? How the hell?” I say.
“Wait, you hear that Russ?” Wayne asks.
I stop jiggling the door and listen. Silence. All I hear is my breathing but…
“I’ll be back,” I say.
Turning my back on the door, I walk down the quiet, dark hallway slowly.
“I don’t mean to be rude and walk in,” I explain to the apartment, walking past a closed door to my right. I approach what I assume is the main room. “So I’m here only beca-,” I stop in the room.
Looking around countless times as I stand there scrunching my eyebrows together.
“But…guys!” I yell to my friends behind me.
I survey the room with my hands. Waving them here and there searching desperately for what might be hidden from me. I didn’t run into anything, feel anything, and – most importantly – see anything. Well nothing except for…
“Answer, damnit, Russ,” Susan’s voice calls me out of my reverie.
“It’s..empty. Almost completely. No chairs, couches, speakers, no nothing,” I explain. “Nothing but…,” I say quietly as I walk to the center of the room to a box.
The size of a shoebox, wrapped in bright red paper and has a neat purple felt ribbon on top. Attached to the bow is a small note with writing on it.