Friday, August 28, 2015

THE APARTMENT UPSTAIRS

When I first moved into my forever home, I was excited. In ten years, I had moved around six times. I was glad when that moving truck finally drove away. And I was relieved when all the painting and repairs, the putting away and cleaning up, and the final d├ęcor touch-ups were done. All I had to do now was live my life, take care of my family, and maintain my home. Sitting on the sofa with a big cup of herbal tea that night while my partner and child slept in their new motel-grade beds was the most relaxing night I had experienced in a while. I was so content.

After a few sips of my tea, I picked up the remote and browsed through Netflix. I tuned into Dexter and tucked my legs up under me. I finished my tea when the show’s credits flashed on the screen. I still wasn’t sleepy, so I decided to watch another episode. At 2 am I began to yawn. I was just about to get up when I heard a door slam, then yelling. A lamp or something was knocked to the floor and I heard a woman scream, and then nothing. I turned off the TV and listened; still nothing. I decided that it was just my sleepy brain playing tricks on me, so I just went to bed.

The next day I told my family what I thought I had heard from the apartment upstairs. They laughed at me. I laughed at me. I went on with my day and found myself with Dexter again later that night. And later that night, around 2 am, I heard the door slam, then yelling. Something was knocked over and a woman screamed. Then silence again.

At the breakfast table I told my family what I had heard and this time they took me seriously. It was a Friday night so my partner and I stayed up, watching Dexter. At around 2 am I turned off the TV. About a minute after there was a door slam and yelling. The sound of something smashed to the floor then a woman screamed. My partner looked at me uneasily. We kept listening for almost an hour, but after the scream, all was silent. We went to bed wondering and questioning what was going on. From what we heard, it sounded like someone might have gotten hurt. It seemed like something out of the ordinary was definitely going on. The next night we heard the same thing again. Silence after a woman’s scream.

The next morning, my husband saw the Super about so he questioned him about the apartment upstairs. Apparently, the unit was vacant, and had been vacant for months. The people who were living there, a man and woman, had just up and left. The rent had not been paid and when the unit was finally opened, the place was so dusty that it must have been abandoned for a while. The unit was cleared and everything was thrown out. The tenants who had rented the place were untraceable. Head office was unable to find them through the credit reporting agencies or anywhere on the internet. They had just disappeared. And the unit had been renovated and ready for new tenants.

My husband relayed the information to me and it didn’t make any sense. How can they just disappear? Wasn’t there a background check done when they filled out the application to rent? So who’s been into the apartment? Squatters? How come the people who lived here before us never heard anything?

The next day I heard footsteps upstairs. So, being the curious person that I am, I decided to go on up and see. The door was ajar and the Super was talking to a man in a suit. I turned to go, but the man called out to me. I turned to him and he invited me in. He introduced himself, shook my hand, and then asked me a few questions: How long have you lived here? Who do you live with? Have you heard any strange noises coming from the unit?

I told him about the noises that I had heard every night since moving in. He said nothing, only stared at me, well, through me was more like it. He asked a few more questions and then thanked me and I went back to my unit. Later, the Super knocked at my door. He told me that the man was a detective from Mexico who was following a lead regarding a missing woman. Her family had not heard from her in six months. His lead led him to the apartment upstairs. The detective had shown him a picture of the woman, but he did not recognize her. He could not remember what they looked like. We talked about the noises I had heard and so we decided to be detectives ourselves and stake out the place. He told me that the person who had rented the place before me worked the night shift, which was probably why he didn’t report any noises; he wasn’t home at the time.

At 1:50 am I was standing on the balcony with the Super. All was quiet. I checked my watch: 2am. We watched and waited. A door slammed, but there was no movement in the apartment. An invisible man started to yell, but we could not understand what was being said, it wasn’t English. We heard a sound like something smashing. We looked at each other and there was nothing to be seen, only heard. We looked back inside. A small, but bright flash suddenly appeared and was gone in an instant. Did you see that? Yah, did you? Minutes later we went into the apartment. There was a weird feeling in the air, like being near a lighting storm. It smelled like morning after a rainstorm. We discussed the situation and the Super decided to call the detective. He had been staying at the Monte Carlo Inn not far away and came within minutes. He could still smell the faint aroma when he walked in. He made the sign of the cross and mumbled something inaudible.

The next day the local Police investigated the apartment upstairs. The newly renovated unit was practically torn apart. It was hard to find, but after lifting up the floor boards they found traces of blood. It turned out to be a match to the missing woman. I could not get many details, but the Super filled me in on what he had heard.

Later that night, we were playing cards at the table. The apartment upstairs had become a very busy place. People were coming and going from early morning to suppertime. All had been quiet for a bit, up until midnight when a stampede of footsteps once again came from the upstairs. More Police we thought, but then there was a steady hum, like prayer. Even though my husband had work in the morning, he stayed up. It was 2 am and we waited for the noises, but only a steady hum of voices coming from the apartment. We finally went to bed, drowning out the voices by turning on a fan.

The next night I waited up again to listen, but heard nothing. A few minutes later, a strange thing happened. I turned off the TV and went to get up, but someone had turned off the hall light; it was dark. I stumbled and lost my footing, knocking over a vase of flowers. When I got up, a shadow or something appeared and was coming toward me. My eyes had adjusted to the darkness and I found my way to the hallway and quickly turned on the light. I turned to look, but there was nothing there. Every hair on my body stood on end. I went to the kitchen and turned on the kitchen lights. There was nothing there but the broken vase. I cleaned it up and went to bed. The bathroom light stayed on.

A few days later when I saw the Super again he asked me if I had heard any more noises. I said I hadn’t been up late in a few nights. My insomnia had passed. He told me that the family of the woman had flown in and had a ceremony similar to a funeral in the apartment. They had hoped to put her spirit at rest. The Police assumed that she had been murdered. A few months later the detective had called the Super to let him know that the man had been caught and had made a full confession.

When insomnia hit me again the following month, I did not hear voices and I was glad, but a strange smell came to my nose. Or maybe it was just my imagination.