Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2311572-The-Flat-Mate
by Sumojo
Rated: 13+ · Fiction · Dark · #2311572
Be careful who you share your living quarters with.
Word count: 2003


Written for
Tales Shown, Not Told Discussion Forum  (18+)
A short story contest with a focus on showing, not telling.
#2295490 by Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
Prompt: Character

The lights of Piccadilly Circus were familiar, even though I’d never before visited London. Having lived all my life in the North of England I’d seen the iconic advertising hoardings numerous times, but in movies and on TV. Being there, seeing it with my own eyes, I was somewhat mesmerised by the scene.

“Excuse me.” Someone murmured as I was jostled out of the way. Streams of people pushed past, reminding me of salmon, intent of making their way back home to where they were spawned.

I’d better make a move. I’m already late.

I checked the underground map again, I needed to find the right line to take me to Docklands, I’d be living there for a year, sharing a flat with a guy called Alan. I hadn’t yet met him, but he’d sounded friendly enough on the phone.


“Good evening, Michael, come on in, you’re late, I was expecting you a while ago.”

A tall swarthy man, sporting a perfectly trimmed beard, opened the green front door with a flourish, He must have been standing there waiting for me to knock.

“Sorry Al, I’ve never been to London before, just had to get my bearings.” I said, shaking his hand.

“The name’s Alan, not Al.” He said, his eyes not quite meeting mine.

“Sure, okay. Call me Mike.” I stepped inside, carrying my suitcase.

“I’d prefer to call you Michael, if you don’t mind.”

I glanced around the immaculate sitting room; it seemed as if there was nothing out of place.

Mmm, a neat freak.

“I’ll show you your room.” Alan said.

I followed him through the lounge room, past the kitchen and into a bedroom.

“This will be your room.” He stood aside to let me enter.

The room contained a single bed, already neatly made, the bed linen freshly ironed, without a single crease. Other than the bed there was a bedside table with a lamp and an alarm clock. The room was sparse, but I thought I could soon make it my own. Maybe a few posters on the wall, a television and a bookshelf.

Just as I was imagining my improvements, Alan said.” I’d prefer it if you didn’t clutter the room with any more furniture.” It was as if he could read my mind.

“Sure Al, no worries.”

“Alan.” He said.

I dropped my suitcase on the bed and prepared to follow my new flat mate out of the room, when he returned and removed the case, placing it on the floor.

I said nothing.

“I’ll show you the bathroom. Follow me.”

I had been expecting the rest of the flat to be pristine and so wasn’t surprised to see the bathroom tiles gleaming and piles of freshly laundered towels stacked on a rack above the bath.

“We’ll need to stick to a strict timetable as to bathroom use. My last flat mate was unfortunately unable to grasp the fact that to live in harmony, rules need to be in place and adhered to. Do you agree?” He glanced quickly in my direction, although as yet he hadn’t looked at me directly.

“Hmm, yes, I can see that a bit of give and take would make life easier.” I answered.

“No. It takes more than that. I have put the bathroom and the kitchen rosters on the notice board.” I followed him into the kitchen. “Alright, Michael?” He looked at me to see if I was agreeing with him.

“Call me Mike.” I said.

“As I was saying, everything is on the roster. Check your times to use the bathroom and the kitchen.” He gave a smug look, which already I wanted to wipe off his face.

He opened the immaculately clean fridge; everything was labelled with his name and contents.

“I’ll make you a cup of tea, shall I? You must be tired. In future you must label all your food. I’ll lend you my labeller if you like?”

I shook my head to decline the offer. “That won’t be necessary, but thanks.” I wanted to say I always carry my own labeller where ever I go, but didn’t think he’d get the sarcasm. “And don’t worry about the tea, mate, I’m really tired, I’m off to bed.”

In my dream I was standing in Piccadilly Circus. A gigantic billboard advertising a lavish musical currently playing in the West End, suddenly came alive. The leading lady stepped out of the billboard; she was naked…

“What the hell?” The light was suddenly switched on in my room. I squinted at the clock on the bedside table, it was five am.

“Come on, Michael. Rise and shine.” Alan stood looking at me. He was wearing shorts, tee shirt and sneakers. His skinny white legs next to my bed were all I could see when I rolled over to face him.

“Piss off, Al!” I shouted.

“Come on Michael, time for a run, it’s going to be a beautiful sunrise.”
He kept insisting I join him on a run and refused to leave my room. I finally climbed out of bed and headed for the shower. “Five minute shower, Michael, remember. No longer.”

I slammed the bathroom door in his face. Soon I stood under the steaming hot water and tried to calm down. I heard the knocking on the door after I’d exceeded my allotted shower time and gave a grin. I sang on the top of my voice to drown out the squeals of outrage.as Alan shouted, “Michael, get out of the shower. Now!”

When I eventually stepped out of the bathroom, a towel wrapped around my waist, my flat mate was standing waiting in my bedroom.

“You know, Michael, the person I shared with last was also unappreciative of my system. I do hope you will come to see reason. I like really you.” He spoke as if he was talking to a child.

“Sure, Al, er, Alan. Can I get dressed in private?”

He left the room quietly and I locked the door behind him. I felt as if I’d been threatened.

Alan left for his run alone, saying that he hoped tomorrow I would join him, when I’d settled in a bit.


Within several days I knew I’d made a big mistake and felt an urgent need to leave the flat as soon as possible. Alan was definitely crazy. The food I bought he’d quickly labelled with my name and the date of purchase. Alan even hung my clothes up whilst I was out, placing them in order of size and colour. Labels had been stuck on everything in my room, including my transistor radio. The man was paranoid.

I started to wonder about his last flatmate and how long he’d lasted before Alan’s behaviour drove him to leave? I was feeling very unsettled, something was telling me to clear out while he was away at work, and having made the decision to leave, I reached up to get my bag from the top shelf of the wardrobe. “Shit!” I exclaimed as the case fell on my head. Along with the case, a note fluttered down on to the carpet. GET OUT WHILE YOU STILL CAN. The note read.

I stood there for a minute or two, turning the scrap of paper over and over. What the …? Who could have written this, and why? I quickly proceeded to shove my meagre belongings in the bag, grabbed my coat, glanced around the room to check I had everything and started to leave.

“Going somewhere? “ My tormentor stood there in the doorway. His voice sounded weird, different. Deeper..

“Look, Alan, let’s face it, this is not working out, mate.” I was scared now. “What happened to your last housemate? Did he leave this note?” I waved the scrap of paper under his nose. “What the hell’s going on?”

“Ah, Peter was a lovely boy, he lived here for nearly a year, until he got the wrong idea about me.” His voice sounded normal again.

“And what idea might that be? That you’re a control freak?”

“I admit I like things to be a certain way, but that wasn’t the reason the dear boy left.” He put his arm around my shoulder. I stiffened. “I was hoping that you and I could be friends, like Peter and I were.”

“Nah, I think it’s better if I just go, mate. I’m a bit of a slob, I’ll drive you crazy.”


I’d agreed to stay another night and think about it, but the next day I packed my things and left. I’d found a new flat in a different district; a place which I didn’t have to share.

Although life was much better without being under the watchful eye of Alan, I couldn’t get that note out of my mind; GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN. What could it have meant and who had written it? These questions haunted me day and night. Did something bad happen to Peter? Had Alan killed him? Should I go to the police with my suspicions? I felt as if I were going crazy. It was as if something or someone was poking my conscience, urging me to investigate. Yet I had nothing but a gut feeling about Alan, and as for the note there could be a reason for it being on the highest shelf in my room. But for what reason, I couldn’t think.

I decided to go back to see Alan, just to convince myself I was being paranoid. I was beginning to think he hadn’t been as bad or weird as I’d first thought. If I paid him a visit surely that would settle my thoughts.


I knocked on the door and as before it was opened immediately, as if Alan was a spider lying in wait for a fly to walk into his trap.

“Michael, what a surprise!” The door opened wide. Alan stood there, smiling. I’d never seen him smile before and it was disconcerting. Even so, his smile made me shiver and caused a feeling of cold water trickling down my spine.

“Alan.” I said, unsure of what to say. Then I just came out with it. “Sorry to disturb you, but that note I found. It’s been bothering me.”

His cold blue eyes bored into mine and then gave a short laugh before he spoke. “Ahh, I see. You’ve come to check if I have a poor unsuspecting victim tied up and held captive. Mine to do with what I wish?” His laugh was contemptuous.

I gave a nervous smile. “Well, you never know these days, mate?” I attempted a chilled vibe. What I really wanted to say was, Shit. Yes, actually I do. You freak.

“Sit down, Michael.” He pointed to a chair in the kitchen, “I’ll make us both some tea.”

I wanted to refuse but I needed to dispel the feeling that something was really off. I sat on the hard kitchen chair and watched him get two cups from the cupboard. “Just tell me about the note and then I’ll leave you in peace.”

Alan turned around from pouring boiling water into a white china teapot. His eyes seemed to have changed colour from their previous icy-cold blue, to almost black. I squeezed my eyes closed before opening them again, I thought I must be mistaken, but then was sure he’d grown taller and wider. More muscular. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up.

He sighed a deep sigh, as if he was sorry to have to tell me some bad news. He took a big breath before he spoke. “He tried to warn you, Michael.” His voice seemed deeper, harsher.

“Who did? “

“Alan Jeckyl.” He turned to look right at me. “Let me introduce myself.” He held out a large hand to shake mine. “My name is Mr Hyde.”

I stood up to leave, this was all getting too weird for my liking.

“Going somewhere, Michael? I don’t think so.”


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