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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Ghost · #2293104
Everyone knows something's wrong with Apartment Fourteen but knowing doesn't stop evil.
Bridget lowered her head and hurried down the hall, keeping her eyes tightly pressed to the ground. Even though she couldn’t see anything but the stained linoleum beneath her worn sneakers, she could still sense the tarnished numbers of apartment fourteen watching her. Panic rose at the thought, she tried to move just a touch bit faster. Somehow, her feet tangled together.

A strangled cry escaped her as she threw up her hands and bounced off the floor. Her knees took the force of the fall. She ignored the throbbing pain as she shoved up into a kneeling position. Her light brown eyes lifted to the paint chipped door. “14” glared down on her. The once shining numbers were worn, but still imposing. They announced the residence of something evil, something hungry.

She squealed in horror and flew to her feet. Feeling the numbers still watching her, she limped as she ran down the hall. One must never linger for too long before the towering door.


When she got home from school, she stopped several feet away from the daunting apartment. The doorway stood open an inch. Only a thin crack, but it was wrong.

Apartment fourteen didn’t have any occupants. In all of Bridget’s ten years of life, she knew no one had moved in there. Yet, the apartment still carried bumps and odd scents, still had voices and furniture moving.

Management didn’t even try to rent the place out anymore though they didn’t now why. Management changed hands so many times the history of the wicked place was lost. Ms. Maggie, the oldest lady in the building, said something bad happened there but she was so old she couldn’t remember anymore.

The door never opened.

Bridget’s breath, ragged and too fast, filled her ears as she stared at that crack. Her mom was at work so she expected her to go straight home every day. But, Bridget really didn’t want to walk in front of that door. What if something waited for her to pass, something that could drag her inside forever? It mighty be better to go sit at the end of the hallway until her mom got off work.

She waited. The silence stretched into her steady, thrumming heartbeat. Nothing moved, nothing made a sound except her. Finally, when she wanted to scream just to break the silence, she worked up the courage and made a run for it.

Right as she passed the door, a strange odor hit her and made her gag. It smelled like rotten spoiled milk and bad broccoli mixed together. Her eyes burned but it didn’t slow her down.

She hated apartment fourteen.

When her mother arrived home in the evening, Bridget shared the tale. As she spoke, goosebumps rose on her arm as she mentioned the crack. Convinced something waited for her on the other side even though she hadn’t heard or seen anything, she was uncomfortable reliving it.

Her mother stared at her for a moment before saying, “I’ve told you to stay away from that place.”

“I know, Ms. Maggie’s told me the stories about something bad happening there. But I have to pass by every day,” Bridget said. “It’s not like I have a choice.”

“No baby, Ms. Maggie has a few screws loose. I don’t believe in all that mumbo jumbo, but I think there are drug dealers or something in there. I just don’t want you getting hurt.” Her mother ran a hand through her dark brown hair.

An hour later, she told Bridget to take out the trash. Bridget didn’t want to walk past the door again, but she knew better than to argue with her mom. No one sassed her mom and didn’t regret it. She tied the plastic bag off, and lugged it over her shoulder. Taking a deep breath to reassure herself, she stepped out into the hallway.

Mrs. Lumous walked her Chihuahua into her apartment, barely giving Bridget a second glance. That woman was as friendly as her ankle biting yipper. As her door closed shut with a condemning click, Bridget realized she stood all alone in the hall.

Her eyes wandered over to apartment fourteen and her heart gave an uncomfortable lurch. The rundown door stood ajar again. She braced her shoulders, tightened her fingers around the bag, and began to walk down the hall. The hall lights near the apartment dimmed and one flickered. The hair on her neck stood on end.

A familiar voice called from the apartment, “Bridget, honey, come here!”

She froze in place next to the flickering light, her eyes widening. Her mother told her that her father moved to another state two years ago.

Yet, his voice called again, “Bridget, are you coming?”

With more confidence than she really felt, she said, “You’re not my dad. You’re something evil!”

A dark chuckle floated from the apartment, filling the air around her until she thought her ears might explode. Gripping the plastic tightly so it didn’t drop, she ran past the open door. She half expected it to fly open when she zipped by.

Thankfully, it didn’t, but she couldn’t get that voice out of her head. Terrified of what else the apartment might try, she dragged her feet from the dumpster. Maybe she could just sleep in the alley and avoid going back in the hallway altogether.

Once in the hallway, her pace slowed even further. Mr. Lumous charged in after her, always in a hurry to get somewhere. The crotchety old man almost stepped on her heels in his race to get home. His sour face turned down at her, giving her a great perspective of the long hairs sticking out of his nostrils.

He bumped into her when she slowed down near the now-shut door. “Sorry,” she mumbled.

Grumbling something about little girls being in the way, he shoved between her and the wall so he could get around her. Although his attitude screamed rude, Bridget was graceful for the maneuver as it allowed her to slip by the door with him between her and it.

She glanced over her shoulder at the still closed entry and felt a cold chill. It was watching her back.

When she stepped into her living room, her mother moved about in the kitchen, prepping dinner. Her mouth opened but promptly shut. She wanted to tell her mom about her father’s voice. Convinced drug dealers made a den in the abandoned apartment, her mother would dismiss her concerns. Though Bridget knew better, she would never be able to convince her mother otherwise.

Nightmares haunted her sleep, waking her several times in the night soaked in sweat. Something bad lurked in that apartment, something very bad. When her alarm chirped in the morning, she woke up worn down and exhausted.

Her mother, as usual, already left for work, leaving her to fend for herself. After breakfast, she double-checked and triple-checked that she secured her homework folder in her bag. The assignment was due today and Bridget never forgot her homework. It was one of the reasons why she was on the honor roll. Checking once more just to make sure, she zipped up her backpack and headed out for school.

The door clicked shut behind her. The hallway stretched empty before her.

Her body locked up tight again.

Apartment fourteen, so quiet and inactive when adults pushed their way around her, stood open once more. She couldn’t bring herself to move, terrified of what it would do now. It recognized it couldn’t convince her with her father’s voice so what other tricks would it play?

After several deep breaths and trying to swallow her fear, she decided to bolt. If she ran fast enough, it wouldn’t be able to try anything. Right in front of the door, her feet tangled again. She fell with a heavy thud, snapping the strap on her backpack. The zipper, not quite shut all the way, opened and spilled the contents of the bag across the hall.

With a raspy noise, her homework slid beneath the open door, lost in the darkness beyond.

“No!” Tears clung to her eyelashes as she pushed herself to her hands and knees.

Her eyes strained into the dark, trying to make out the location of her folder. Mrs. Wright, her teacher, was a stickler for homework and would dock her a lot of points if she didn’t bring it in. She couldn’t leave the folder in there.

Collecting her other items, she zipped up her backpack and slid it onto her back again. Though now it hung at a weird angle cause of the broken strap. She rose to her feet and took a step towards the door. The brass numbers glared down at her, daring her to cross the threshold. Panic made her dizzy but she shook it off. Bridget would dart in long enough to grab her folder and then she’d be out just as fast.

Trying to ignore the shakiness in her legs, she pushed the door open all the way. Her eyes ached trying to pick out anything in the darkness within. She glanced over her shoulder at the empty hallway, praying for one of her neighbors, even the grouchy Lumoses, but no one came to her rescue. Her lower lip quivered but she refused to cry.

She stepped in.

The fluorescence from the hallway barely illuminated a few feet into the shadows. Her folder didn’t show up in the small lit triangle. It must be deeper in the apartment. Maybe she should go get a flashlight, but she knew the door would shut her out if she did, and then what?

She dropped to her hands and knees, feeling around the floor for her folder. Suddenly the door slammed shut, stealing the little light the open entrance offered.


Elyse arrived from work, thumbing nervously through the never ending stream of bills she found in her mailbox. Her light brown eyes flicked over at apartment fourteen, registering only the strange obsession her daughter had with it, before she moved on.

She stepped into her home and dropped the stack of past due envelopes on the coffee table. A heavy sigh escaped her. This wasn’t the life she wanted for her and Bridget, but Nathan hadn’t given her much choice.

“Hey Bridget, want to go catch a movie at the dollar theater?” she called out. Technically, it wasn’t the most responsible way of dealing with the money problems, but she needed a break. It felt like too long since she enjoyed some fun time with her munchkin.

Silence answered her.

Sometimes, Bridget came home from school and napped. Elyse walked back to her bedroom and nudged the door open. Bridget’s bed sat untouched from this morning, everything in her room in place as usual. Her heart leaped into overdrive as she stared at the perfectly made comforter. A sense of doom blanketed her mind.

“Bridget!” she screamed, jumping over to the open bathroom. As feared, her daughter was not there.

Panic chased her out of the apartment and into the hallway. She already had her cell phone out of her pocket and opened it. A wave of guilt swallowed her as she stared at the touchpad. If only she could afford a phone for Bridget, too. Maybe she would have already called and let her mother know what was going on.

When she glanced up, her feet skidded to a stop. Her gaze landed on a fluffy pen sticking halfway out from underneath a door. She bent down and picked up the familiar tool. It was Bridget’s favorite pen.

Her vision swam for a moment and she put a hand against the wall to steady herself. When it cleared, she focused on the brass “14” in front of her. Her knuckles rapped against the chipped paint, three times, but there was no answer. Overcome with hysteria, she began pounding and kicking the door, sobbing for Bridget.

When no one responded, she returned to her cell phone and punched in 9-1-1. As she shared her concerns with the operator, she sprinted down the hallway and to the main office. The manager agreed to unlock the apartment so she could verify no one lived there.

With the police on their way, they returned to the fated door. The manager unlocked the door and shone his flashlight into the dark.

Elyse fumbled for a light switch, but he said, “We don’t pay for electricity since no one lives here.”

The small circle of weak, yellow light pointed out a backpack tucked behind a shabby couch. She leaped on it, a scream building within her.
Bridget was not in the apartment.


Several weeks after Bridget’s disappearance, she ran into Ms. Maggie. The frail old woman stopped her with a thin hand on her shoulder.

“I heard your sweet, little girl went missing,” she said. Elyse’s eyes blurred with tears, she nodded. Ms. Maggie continued, “I told her to stay away from that apartment. It’s a bad place. I remember why.”

“Apartment fourteen?” Elyse asked.

Ms. Maggie nodded, and said, “The man that used to live there, he tried to get my sister and I to come with him when we were little. We knew better. Something was wrong with him. Wouldn’t go near the place. Turned out he was killing kids.”

“What happened to him?” she asked.

Ms. Maggie’s voice dropped a few notes, “He killed himself. Left a note that he couldn’t leave the little ones alone, not even in death. I bet he took her.”

“But you said he’s dead,” Elyse whispered.

Ms. Maggie nodded and shuffled off, humming quietly to herself. Elyse turned her gaze back to apartment fourteen.

The locked door loomed over the hallway, waiting for the right moment to open once more. Always empty but forever occupied.
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