And all that lack of sleep would come back and bite me you know where the next day at work. My manager could easily notice how sleepy I was and would gladly take this opportunity to humiliate me in front of the whole office. Life was just peachy.
But then there were those rare moments when everything seemed to be calm and serene next doors and I could catch some much-needed shut-eye. Oh…how I loved those nights. And lately, things had been pretty low-key around here. It’s been almost a week that I could finally get some good sleep at night. Guess the husband came to his senses and started loving his wife. Or maybe he just up and left. Well, who cares? As long as I could live in peace, I was fine with it.
Then things got weird. Really, really weird. As I came home from work on that fateful night, I could instantly feel that something was off. To be honest, I had been getting this feeling for the past few nights. A feeling that I just couldn’t shake off. The level of silence around here was something I had never experienced in all this time. I could even hear myself breathe. Not thinking much of it, I went straight for my bed and before I knew it I was out cold.
As I jolted up on my bed, it felt like my head was about to explode. Still trying to transition to wakefulness, the weird loud banging sound on the shared wall of my bedroom felt like someone was hammering a rusted metal nail into my head.
What the hell is that sound? I asked myself.
It felt as if someone was repeatedly throwing a heavy basketball on the bedroom wall that I shared with my next-door neighbours. Are those damn kids playing ball at this ungodly hour? Goddamnit, here we go again. And I thought I could finally sleep peacefully. Yeah, right! Sitting there trying to control my fuming rage, I looked at the clock.
Why can’t these damn people just sleep? Why would anyone with even an ounce of common sense make such a horrendous sound at this time? I reckoned the husband was probably back to abusing his family. But now he was harassing me as well. And I wasn’t going to take it lying down this time. I was going to call the cops if I had to. But I was going to give him a piece of my mind. The f**ck does he think of himself?
Still, I tried to calm myself down and told myself that it will probably stop in a few minutes. I should just go back to sleep. I had work in the morning. I didn’t have time to deal with other people’s shit. The thing is, I am not really that much confrontational anyways. Being an introvert, I try to avoid people as much as I can. So there was no point in getting myself pumped up only to be cussed by the husband one more time.
That’s it. No more Mr Nice Guy! I worked my ass off all day and I deserved a good night’s sleep. And I needed to make sure that he knew this. I was going to shut him up for good this time.
And perhaps, that’s exactly where I went wrong.
Walking out of my apartment and into the damp, dimly lit, desolate corridor, I felt a chill run down my spine. Something was not right. An eerie silence prevailed all around. I stood motionless outside my door staring blankly at their apartment. With the ceiling light above my head flickering constantly, I started having second thoughts about it.
What am I going to tell them?
Is there any point in getting into an argument at this hour?
Can’t I just do this tomorrow morning?
Should I just go back to sleep?
And the sound had also stopped by now.
Renting this apartment was a bad idea.
Moving out here was a bad idea.
Breaking up with Emma was a bad idea.
What am I even doing right now?
I thought to myself.
That’s when I heard a door slam shut from inside my neighbor’s apartment. It’s them. They are still awake. I need to stop being a pushover and start standing up for myself. This can’t go on every night. As I started walking towards my neighbour’s apartment, I felt each step become heavy and slow. As if something was trying to prevent me from going there. As if something was telling me to go back to my room. I should have listened. I don’t know what came over me but I just wanted to get out of there.
I reached over to their door and knocked on it ever so gently.
I knocked again. This time a bit louder.
Still no response.
Could I blame them? It was almost 3 in the morning. As I waited there for the door to open, I felt really awkward about the whole thing. I mean I have argued with the guy before but never this late in the night. I kept wondering what I was going to say and whether I should sound humble or assertive. I stood there for what seemed like forever waiting for a response.
This is just too weird for me. No. I need to take a stand. What if I go back and the sound starts again? How many nights of this torture will I endure? I told myself.
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!
I knocked again. Louder and harder. Still nothing. Should I call them out? That’s just looking for a fight. I don’t remember exactly how long I stood there before I ran out of patience. Screw it. I’ll deal with this tomorrow. I convinced myself. Just as I was about to walk away, I heard something. But it was too faint for me to understand anything. Hesitating for a moment, I pressed my ears against the door trying to hear what was going on inside. Someone was talking behind the door. Whispering. But I couldn’t make out the words. I couldn’t even understand whether it was the man or his wife. Just low and muddled whispers.
As the doorknob started to turn all of a sudden, I quickly moved and stood back in my place. Realizing my anxiety was going wild, I took a slow deep breath. That’s when the door slowly creaked open ever so slightly. Instantly a gust of putrid warm air came out and hit my nose like a truck. The stench was unbearable, as if something had been dead inside for decades. I felt my leg sink into the floor as an indescribable sense of dread grasped me out of nowhere. As I peeked inside through the tiny gap in the door, darkness as black as death stared back at me. I felt this deep-rooted fear inside me that something worse than death was waiting for me inside. Everything inside me begged me to run back to my apartment that instant.
But for God knows what reason I stood there. I stood still with a cold feeling in my gut as I scanned the darkness inside with my rapidly moving eyes. But there was no one inside, just the stillness of pitch-black darkness. Suddenly I felt this burning shock inside me as my heart almost leapt out of my chest. It was then I noticed him peeking from the realms of the darkness that reigned over the world that existed behind that door. I was completely in the clutch of an overbearing sense of dread by now.
As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I realized it was one of the kids. Something seemed really weird right away. He hid cautiously behind the door with only a part of his face peeking out, staring at me with awkwardly wide-open eyes. The terror I felt inside me kept growing exponentially. This kid…something was terribly wrong with the way he stood…with the way he looked at me. Although I couldn’t see the rest of his body, it seemed his head tilted at a freakish angle as he kept staring at me with cold empty eyes.