A neighbor becomes more involved then he wants to be.
|"Damn it, Glenda! How many times do I have to tell you?" David's voice resonated through the wall.
I didn't have to look at the clock to know it was just after six. He yelled at her around the same time every night. It had been that way since they moved in six weeks ago. The strange thing was, I never once heard Glenda yell back. Hell, I didn't even know she was real until the night I heard her cry. I thought my new neighbor was just some crazy, overworked, man with a drinking problem. I suppose that description might still hold water, but I digress. I had listened for the door to slam. When I was certain David had gone to the bar, as he routinely did, I left my apartment and knocked on their door. I wasn't sure how I could help, but I wanted to. When she didn't answer I tried talking to her through the door.
"Glenda? My name is Harold Wicky. I live next door to you."
She didn't answer.
"If you need help, please, you can talk to me."
She remained silent so I went back to my apartment and hoped she was okay.
I felt foolish not trying to do more, but what could I do? It wasn't like I could break into the house. This wasn't a comic book and I sure as hell wasn't a super hero. I told myself that at least I had tried, and if she ever decided she needed help, then she would know I was available. I even made an anonymous call to the police once, but by the time they had arrived David had already left, and Glenda still refused to open the door. I imagined the police would burst into the house, find a weakened, silently crying woman, and help her escape. But apparently you needed just-cause to enter a person's home without their permission, and an anonymous call just didn't cut it.
"You stupid Bitch," David roared now, before a thud shook our shared wall.
Oh no, I thought, staring at it. I half expected the wall to crack open and spit my helpless neighbor onto my living room floor. Instead everything remained still and quiet. I listened, straining to hear anything from the other side. I almost wished Glenda would start crying. I'd even settle for David yelling again, but I heard nothing. I stood up from my chair and walked to the wall. Was I imagining it or was there a bulge at the bottom? I gently ran my hand over the flat of the wall toward the bump when I heard their front door slam. David was leaving. I darted to the door. I could get a description of what he was wearing, call the police, and explain what I heard. I could even show them the lump in my wall. But when I peered through the peep hole I was startled back by the bloodshot green eye staring back at me. I stumbled over my leather ottoman and hit my head on the edge of the couch. I felt pain, dizziness, and then everything went black.
When I opened my eyes again everything was still black. Night had slipped in. I rolled onto my stomach and pushed myself up onto my knees. The back of my head was throbbing, but I was afraid to reach back and touch it. Maybe it would be wet, bleeding from when I'd fallen. Then I remembered the bloodshot eye in the peep hole. I turned to look at the door, too fast, and my head swam. I closed my eyes and waited for it to pass. When it finally did, I pushed up on to my feet, slower this time, and walked to the door. It was still latched shut and for that I was thankful. I swallowed over a lump in my throat and forced myself to look through the peep hole again. I saw the dark red carpet and yellowing wall that served as a back drop to anyone who cared to visit me. The hall was empty as far as I could see and I was thankful for that too.
How long had I been out? Had he tried to get in here while I was unconcious? I started toward the phone with a shaking hand, ready to call the police, but then I stopped. They wouldn't be able to do anything without any evidence. I looked toward the wall. The bump probably wouldn't be worth the call, if it even existed. It didn't look like it was there anymore. I took in a deep breath and made a decision. I had to go next door.
I went into the kitchen to find the biggest, sharpest knife I had and headed for my front door. A voice in my head was screaming at me to put the knife down, pick up the phone and call the police anyway. Maybe the bump in the wall would be enough, it insisted.
"It won't be," I said outloud as I stepped out into the hall.
My imagination had gotten ahead of me again, and I was relieved to see there was no bloody foot prints leading from their door to mine. As a matter of fact, with the exception of the memory of the bloodshot eye, there was no evidence anyone had been in the hall. I took the six steps from my door to theirs and said a silent prayer. It was ridiculous really, since I hadn't set foot in a church since I was eight. I gripped the knob of their door and was disappointed when it turned easily.
I reluctantly pushed open the door and stepped over the threshold. You shouldn't be in here, the voice in my head warned me. I ignored it and stepped in further. The smell that hit my nose, warned me of the same. Beneath the stench of stale smoke, the kind that stained your clothes third hand, was something even more rank. It was close to the smell of trash that had missed the Monday morning pick up three weeks in a row, but worse. I had to cover my nose and mouth to keep from gagging on it. It got stronger with each step I took. I was surprised I'd never smelled it before. Smells like this weren't held captive long by walls and doors. The smell was so distracting I almost missed the noise coming from the bedroom. It was garbled, like someone trying to talk underwater, but louder.
"Hello," I said and immediately regretted it.
I heard a low growl in response.
Did they have a dog? I had never heard it.
I took a cautious step backward.
"Glenda," I heard myself whisper before a scream pierced the quiet of the room. It was me.
Upon my retreat, I noticed, what I thought was, a wet suit, crumpled at the base of the kitchen wall. A second look revealed that it was not a suit, but a person that had been ripped open like a cocoon. I felt the urge to gag. Covering my mouth, I turned and saw Glenda standing in the bedroom doorway.
She was painted in red and it dripped to the floor. Her lips were pulled back over her teeth like an angry dog. Bits of black and red matter stained her teeth. I realized, the closer she got, the foul stench I had been smelling was coming off her. I couldn't hold it any longer. I bent at the waist and everything I ate that day exploded onto my neighbors lineolium.
My knees felt weak and I dropped to the floor. I prayed, I think. The terror I felt was just too great for anything to be clear. The smell grew stronger as she leaned toward me. I wanted to puke again, but somehow I kept it down. I felt something wet and firm touch the underneath of my chin and pull it upward. I squeezed my eyes shut.
"I didn't see anything. I don't know anything. Please, please just let me go," I begged.
She didn't move. She didn't let go. She didn't attack. She did nothing, but hold my face toward hers. Reluctantly I opened my eyes and almost passed out again as I stared into her bloodshot green eyes. My chest began to expand, like a deep breath in that just kept going and going. It burned until I finally did pass out. The police showed up sometime after that. I don't remember if I called them, or if it was another concerned neighbor, because everything was a blur.
Now, I was sitting in my living room, a blanket wrapped around my shoulders, while police came and went. They asked me questions that I heard myself answer, but don't remember commanding of myself. I heard bits and pieces of conversations they had among each other. David's remains... the note on the door... the weird books on possesion... The cops seemed to be chalking it up to occult obsession.
The note on the door was what stuck out. They had been talking about my door. I hadn't seen it, not when I left my apartment and not when the police brought me back to it. What was the note? What did it say? I wanted to ask these questions but apparently I still had no control over what I was doing. It wasn't until the police were starting to pack up that I ever found out.
"Are you sure you don't want to stay somewhere else tonight, Mr Wicky?" The detective asked as his fellow officers packed up their belongings.
I felt myself shake my head no.
"Sir, I really think--"
"I said no." My voice was hard, then, more tamely, I said, "I have no where else to go."
The detective looked me over then nodded. "I left my card on the coffee table. If you need anything, please call me. You've been through something very traumatic tonight sir."
I didn't reply.
The detective sighed and turned toward the door. The door that was opened away from me. I wanted to read what was on the door.
"One last question, Mr Wicky," The detective had stopped at the door and turned to look at me. "Do you know what this means?" He pushed the door open for me and I saw, written in a dry rusty color, the words:
YOU CAN HELP
I shook my head no, and this time it's what I wanted to do. I had no idea what that meant, and I didn't want to. Not anymore.
The detective nodded once more and headed out into the hall closing the door behind himself.
I was so terrified I thought I'd be stuck on the couch forever, but I stood up easily. I walked into the kitchen, poured myself some milk, and downed it without a break. I didn't bother to rinse the glass when I left the kitchen and headed for the bathroom. I felt strange, like I was having an out of body experience. I turned on the light switch and walked to the sink. I wanted nothing more than to go to sleep and forget this ever happened. I felt weak, disturbed, and like I was running on auto pilot. I bent over the sink and ran cold water over my face. It did nothing, in fact it barely felt cold. I stood up straight again and stared at my reflection in awe. In place of my usually dark browns sat a pair of wild green eyes. I tried to scream, but my mouth formed a smile instead. I was Glenda's escape.