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The telephone rang. This was particularly unusual because I didn’t own a telephone. My new apartment was completely empty save for the three or four cardboard boxes I had just unloaded from my truck. I looked around to see where the incessant ringing was coming from, but before I could find it, it suddenly stopped. I assumed I was hearing things due to the nerves of the new move.
Just as I had relaxed from the tension of the unexpected call, it rang once more. This time it seemed louder somehow, more persistent. I stood in the center of my living room and closed my eyes, I determined it was coming from the wall in front of me. The wall connected to an apartment I was told had been vacant for the last three years.
The landlord couldn’t tell me why it had been empty for so long but he said any residual weirdness should wear off in a few weeks. I had initially shaken this off as a joke, but the notion that he was being serious sent an uncomfortable palpitation through my chest. I walked over to the wall and put my ear to it. The ringing came at a faster rhythm with each step I took. As I put my ear against the wall to make sure that it was where it was coming from, the ringing ceased again.
I stood there, with my ear against the wall, listening to a silent apartment on the other side. Then BANG! A huge something had bumped up against the wall and made a loud thud against the exact spot my ear was. I teetered back on my flimsy legs; my ears ringing from the shock. Once I collected myself, I took a deep, angry breath and went over to the neighboring door. Maybe the landlord was covering for a squatter or some teens had broken in. I pounded hard on the tattered wood door, forcing the brass number 12 to vibrate on its single nail. I shouted, “I don’t know what’s going on in there, but I won’t hesitate to call the police.”
The same loud bang happened again, this time on the door. I grabbed the doorknob, and to my surprise, it opened right away. With one swift movement, I shut it without looking inside. I hadn’t expected it to open so easily.
Now that nothing was keeping me from entering the room, I carefully considered my next move. I ran back to my apartment and grabbed a box cutter from the otherwise bare kitchen counter and went back. I held my weapon at attention and pushed past the fear that there would be something unexplainable on the other side.
It was a regular apartment, identical mine. It even had three or four boxes near the door where I had placed mine. I stood in disbelief, thinking I had made a fool of myself for nothing. As I turned to leave, the telephone rang once more. This time, crystal clear and definitely within the walls of the apartment I was now in.
I heard it coming from where I knew the bedroom was, on the adjoining wall of my apartment. I entered the room, and by the time I had, the ringing was so loud I had to cover my ears. It seemed to get progressively louder, so to stop it, I picked up the phone. Muscle memory brought the phone to my ear and I heard a familiar voice on the other end; it was the landlord.
“Hey there, how are you?” The voice crackled as if he were broadcasting over an old-time radio.
“I’m fine, how are you?” I asked, unsure of what was even happening.
“I’m doing well” he replied “but I was just wondering when you would be by to move in your things. You said you’d be coming by yesterday.”
“I just met with you not 5 minutes ago at the front desk” I replied.
“I don’t…” he trailed off. I was unsure whether it was the reception or he had actually finished talking. “What apartment are you in right now?” he finally said.
“12, I heard a weird noise.”
“That wasn’t me at the front desk; you need to get out, now!” The line went dead. I turned around to leave the apartment, but as I made my way through the small, dark hallway I was struck by the sensation that I was being watched or followed. I went back to the living room, checking behind me to make sure I was, in fact, alone. I saw nothing, but when I opened the door, I was suddenly in the apartment complex lobby. Staring at the front desk and the supposed landlord, I watched him wipe something red from his lips and his eyes were now fully dilated.
“Welcome sir,” he said, “how can I help you?”
Next Week’s Story: Maid Service
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