Saturday, April 3, 2010

Chosen By She

Rebecca Besser
The vent in the downstairs hallway always made me uncomfortable. Maybe it was the story that the old man had told me, or maybe it was a sense of self preservation that comes with instinct. I really don’t know. I just always gave it a wide berth, walking on the other side of the hall. That night was no different. I automatically veered for the far side of the hallway, but someone was coming the other way and I stepped to the side, unknowingly coming close to the dreaded vent. I jumped back as something icy grazed my ankle. It felt like frozen fingers reaching out to grab me. I swore I heard a disappointed sigh come from the vent. Quickly I stepped back to the far side of the hall. I glanced back at the vent as I rushed up the few stairs to the landing in front of the elevators. Nothing was behind me. As I rode up to the fifth floor I convinced myself that nothing had happened, that it was all in my head. That night I had nightmares. They swirled through me in realistic detail. I woke many times in a cold sweat, expecting Her to be standing at the foot of my bed. She was never there, but I still felt like She was watching me. The next morning, I made my way down to 2B. I had to talk to Old Man Withers. I needed to hear the story again. I thought if I listen to his deep voice tell the tale my brain would be able to rationalize what was real and what was my imagination. Knocking on the door I waited for Withers to answer. It usually took him awhile. He was in his nineties and didn’t move very fast. Today he must have been close to the door. I only had to bang on it once before it was pulled open by a stooped over old man. “Ah, hey,” Withers said in his deep raspy voice. “I had a feeling you would stop by today.” “Really?” I asked, stepping inside. “What gave you that feeling?” “She visited me last night,” Wither replied. “Came to me in a dream.” A chill went right through me. My throat clenched and I had difficulty swallowing. “She?” I asked. “Yes, She. The unfortunately young woman who was murdered.” I laughed nervously. “That’s crazy.” “Crazy it may be,” Wither said as he shuffled to his old recliner. “But, true it is.” I sat on the couch. “Actually, I had some dreams last night too.” Withers nodded. “I wondered about that. She kept laughing and saying your name.” I leaned forward, bracing my elbows on my knees. “I guess I just need to hear the story again. To rationalize things.” Old Man Withers laughed. “You can’t rationalize away the truth. The poor woman died here. Nothing anyone can do about that.” “Just tell me the story again,” I begged. “Please.” Withers sighed and closed his eyes. “All right. It was a long time ago, when I was still young. There was a beautiful young woman that lived on the first floor. Every man who lived here asked Her out, but She always said no. One day a man moved in with Her. We don’t know where he came from, but he made us all uncomfortable. He only ever wore black.” I sat back and watched Withers as he talked. “It wasn’t long before we didn’t see Her around anymore. If anyone asked the strange man where She was, he would say he was working the night shift and slept during the day. What was strange though, was the smell that came from the apartment. Like something had died and was wasting away. We didn’t know until weeks later that it was exactly that. The man had killed Her, chopped Her into pieces, and stuffed Her into the vents of the apartment. “They discovered Her after he was found by the police and arrested for an outstanding warrant. It was said he had gotten into some trouble being involved in the occult. “They found strange symbols burned into the poor woman’s skin. No one ever figured out what they meant.” “But why is She here now?” I asked. Withers opened his eyes and looked at me. “Some say She is looking for help. Other say She is looking for a man to love her. Regardless, I stay away from the vent in the hall ever since I almost got dragged in by freezing cold hands that I couldn’t see. I still have the claw marks on my legs.” Withers pulled up his pant leg to reveal scars on his calf. “If I were you, I’d think about moving. Since She has chosen you.” I swallowed hard. “Chosen me?” “She said in my dream that you were the one.” “The one for what?” I asked anxiously. “She didn’t say,” he said with a yawn. “Do you need to know anything else? It’s my nap time.” “No,” I said, and headed for the door. “Have a nice nap.” I let myself out and went upstairs to my apartment. There was a chill in the air as I went inside. Closing the door behind me, I glanced into the hall mirror. She was there. Staring at me. She was beautiful. I was entranced by her big blue eyes. She smiled sweetly and beckoned for me to come closer. Without thinking I stepped closer to the mirror. Before I knew what was happening I felt icy fingers wrap around my throat, strangling me. She yanked me forward. My head slammed into the mirror, shattering it. A sheering pain emitted from my right temple. Everything went black. When I woke up, She was holding my head in her lap, smiling down at me. “Will you love me?” She asked. I smiled back. “Yes.” Together we haunt this apartment building. But now we share our peace and love with the residence. For eternity.


Aubrie said...

I like this story! The end surprised me and made me smile. :)

R said...

Thanks. I had fun with this one!