October 13th
by paris adkins

Knock knock knock knock knock. The rapping on the door was so soft that Natalie thought it might not be a person, just a trick of the mind or filler noise floating in off the street. Her apartment was, after all, street level. A lot of noise came in. She waited a moment, tense, to see if the knocking would continue. It didn’t. She relaxed.

Good, she thought. I don’t have to get out of bed.

Natalie had been so happy to get her own studio apartment and finally have some space to herself. Sure, she had to pick up extra shifts at work to cover the difference in rent. Sure, some days she didn’t see another living soul, content to lie in bed and watch Parks and Rec for the fourth time. Sure, it was tough to have visitors in such a cramped space. But it was worth it just to have some quiet.

She lay in bed, idly letting Instagram stories scroll, only paying attention when one had been posted by an enemy or a crush, letting her brain just go blank for a while.

Knock knock knock knock knock knock knock. The knocking was louder now. Natalie wondered who it could be. She hadn’t ordered anything, and she didn’t have any problems with her apartment, so it was probably one of her neighbors. Maybe her mail had been delivered to the wrong apartment. She decided not to get up. If it was so important, whoever it was would call her.

Good, she thought. I’m not getting out of bed.

Natalie had stayed in all weekend. She’d been a little sick and needed some time to rest her tired body. She’d watched some movies in bed, slept a lot, played The Sims. She was finally feeling better, but her body still felt lethargic. She could see the street through the window in her room. She thought that it must be late, the dim yellow light of the street lamp barely illuminating the sidewalk.

She turned her attention to her TV. The screen was greyed out. It read “Are you still watching?”, with yes or no buttons. Natalie guessed she should put something else on, but she didn’t know what. She felt like she’d already watched everything.

SLAM. It came from the window. All of a sudden, a face peered in. Natalie saw it contort into a hideous form, eyes bulging and mouth dropping open. It let out an ear-splitting scream. Natalie had nowhere to hide. She was paralyzed with fear. There was nowhere to run. Natalie tried to get up, but she couldn’t move. Her limbs wouldn’t budge from the bed even as she willed her body to do something, anything.

All of a sudden, the face was gone from the window. Natalie relaxed for a moment; perhaps she was having a nightmare from all the NyQuil she’d taken that weekend. Then SLAM, SLAM, SLAM as the door broke open and a woman rushed into the apartment. Natalie tried to move, to get up, to grab something to protect herself, but her body wouldn’t budge. The woman came closer and closer to Natalie, and Natalie realized the woman lived down the hall, in Apartment 1C, but she looked different than normal. Wrong. Natalie hated her body for not moving, for not even allowing her to scream. She wanted so badly to run, but she couldn’t. She just lay there. The woman came right up to the bed, with her bulging eyes and a grotesque grimace, and put a hand on Natalie’s neck. The woman shuddered, and grabbed something from her pocket with her other hand, but Natalie couldn’t see what it was. Natalie prayed for this to end, for her limbs to release, for anything.

Finally, the woman spoke. “Hello? 911? I smelled something weird, so I checked, and- I think my neighbor is dead.”

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