Let me start by apologizing to Sven Olafson, my one and only reader. Sorry Sven, I’ve been busy and distracted, and distressed and unable to write for a bit. I apologize and I’m working on it. Sven, you’ve been many things to my over the years and I apologize for how I’ve treated you.
Hey, At least I didn’t murder you like my Last imaginary friend!! Ask Herman what that was like, he got beheaded by Pirates and left on my pillow. I slept in his imaginary blood for weeks. It was very distressing.
But I digress. ( when i’m done I will Egress. Hopefully though I will not regress, because I didn’t like that guy)
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, My Second Fucking Book should be god damn fucking done by now! But it isn’t. I need a proof reader and to finish the last story. The last story is fun little tale called APT 3C. It’s about a Witch who wants to eat a little boy. Just for fun I thought i’d share the opening with you guy. (Sven. Sven Olafson my only fan).
I hope you enjoy and If life doesn’t get in the way, it proably will, I will have book two out in the summer and then I can start working on my next book. After this i’m going to take a break on short stories and try to write something a little longer.
Wish me luck.
In the mean time, I hope you Like Apt 3C.
A short Story by Joseph L Zbiegien.
School was David’s favorite part of the day. He wasn’t a particularly good student, and he didn’t have a lot of friends. He hated his teacher and the food in the lunch room was subpar at best. He sucked at Gym and was all thumbs when it came to art. Recess was okay, but he didn’t really like going outside all that much. He was more of an indoor kid.
Library was nice, time to sit back and read and be by himself. All the other kids were still reading kids books, but he was taking a step up. He had just finished reading Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein and was a quarter of the way into Bram Stokers Dracula. He loved Frankenstein, but honestly was a little bored with Dracula. The writing style just wasn’t sticking for him. Instead of a story, it was just a string of notes and journals.
But at least it kept his mind off the Witch that was trying to kill him.
Or at least, he assumed he she was trying to kill him, he thought to himself as water seeped into the torn seams of his left shoe while he hurried across the road towards the old red brick apartment building he lived in with his parents and sister. It was a five-story building, they lived on the third floor. Apartment 3C, its windows facing the street and the row of identical dead tenement housing they called home. His building was a red brick square box that sat in a row of identical red brick square boxes all in various states of disrepair.
This one was different though, because this one was his. Not only did it have all his things in it, but it also had his mother, his father, and most importantly, his sister, all of which had promised at one time or another to keep him safe.
Most importantly, it didn’t have a Witch. She lived across the street.
And she wanted to eat him. Because that’s what Witches did in every story he ever read about a witch. They tricked little boys and girls with houses made of candy, or poisonous apples, or they pretended to be kind and beautiful like his mom. What ever it took to get the little kid to drop his guard, so they can throw them in the oven and eat them.
When they first moved in, their had been lots of people in the buildings. But that was years back, before he started school. Then the people started leaving and the witch showed him. His dad said the plant left, what ever that was, and when it left it took all the other kids he used to play with, with it. Left behind were only people like his parents who either didn’t know no better or didn’t have any other options.
The once proud apartments fell kicking and screaming into the gutters taking the people with it. Now danger and trouble hid around every corner. Dangers David could feel every time he closed his eyes.
Dangers Like that Witch.
Supposedly, if you went in the bathroom in the back of the apartment and stood on the edge of the toilet and craned your neck to the left, and if it wasn’t to cloudy of a day and the smog index was low enough, you could almost fool yourself into thinking you could see the city they lived in the shadow of. David was only eight, he wasn’t tall enough to see the city yet, but his sister Cyndi told him he could, so he chose to believe her. She said lots of things that weren’t true, but sometimes she was sincere.
Besides, his mom and dad said they saw it too, and they lied to him way less than Cyndi did.
Dodging pot holes and the pounding rain drops, he hurried across the single lane, one-way street with parking on both sides, and jumped up onto the uneven side walk. He tried to run, but his left shoe kept squishing and sliding thanks to all the water that had gathered inside it during the long walk back from school. He was hurrying just in case, just in case she was their again…
Watching him from the darkness.
As he jumped up into the air before splashing down into the puddle, he launched a quick look over his shoulder towards the dark alley across the street. That was usually were she hid. Just out of view in the darkness between the buildings. She watched him from a broken yellow and green lawn chair she had found in the rubbish. She sat just far enough back that you wouldn’t notice her if you weren’t paying attention.
David was always paying attention.
Even though she was the one who told him about her Cyndi said she wasn’t real. She said she was a play ground story that the kids used to scare each other. Like the goat sucker or the mothman, or those melon headed kids he read about from Ohio. She said they were all fake and there wasn’t a Witch hiding in the darkness across the street from their apartment waiting until he was alone, so it could eat him.
He didn’t believe her. She never saw her. She never saw her yellow eyes watching from the darkness. He had seen the Witch. He saw the Witch almost every day. He could feel those yellow eyes dripping off his skin.
He didn’t know who she was, and honestly, he didn’t even know for sure that she was a witch, but he strongly suspected it. Especially after Cyndi told her that one of the Witches from Salem fled here after the trials, again, assuming Cyndi wasn’t lying. She had to tell the truth sometimes, didn’t she?
He saw her almost every day, the little old lady with the crusty grey hair and the crazy scar that seemed to cover half her face. It started just under her hair line and ran down over her right eye before turning drastically towards her nose. Her right nostril was gone, and her lips were split. It disappeared about half way between her chin and her mouth.
Sometimes, at night when he was trying to sleep, he could see that scar floating in the darkness.
He tried to tell Cyndi how scared he was of her, but she wouldn’t listen. Instead she made fun of him and laughed at him for it. “You’re a cute kid, but you aren’t abduction cute.” He wasn’t sure though, his mother always told him he was pretty damn cute.
The last two blocks of his walk home from school was always the hardest. Stella’s dad worked nights, and always met the kids at the school right around last bell. He walked the lot of them home, every few blocks, every few feet, another kid would disappear down a side street, or into the maw of what ever building they called home.
But Stella lived two blocks back. So, once she disappeared into her house with her dad, it was just him, all by himself… Except for the little old lady watching him from the darkness between the two empty buildings.
Except for the Witch.
It was easier last year when he was in the same school as Cyndi. But she switched schools and was now with the older kids. Her school was farther out, so not only did she come home an hour later, she got to take the bus home. He was supposed to spend the hour by himself doing his homework, but instead he usually stood at the front window watching for Cyndi to come down the street, or his parents to come home early. He hated being alone, the building was so dark, and the hallway was so long… Sometimes he thought the shadows moved.
And sometimes, when he was alone and could taste the darkness… He could hear her moving, in that closet at the end of the hallway… The one right next to the bathroom.
When his mother was home it was a linen closet, the place where she kept the towels and sheets. She had a lot more towels and sheets then they would ever need. When she wasn’t around though, he was pretty sure the closet at the end of the hall turned into something else. He was pretty sure that if he opened it up at night, or when he was alone it would be empty, empty except for a crack in the back wall the shape of that scar…
And if he stood in the doorway long enough, eventually the crack would begin to open, and she’d be their… Waiting for him. Waiting to eat him.
Ghost and Magic doors and Witches were only in books. He reminded himself as he walked down the street, the rain slowly soaking its way into his back pack smudging the B- spelling test he was brining home to show his parents and putting permeant stains in his copy of Dracula from the library.
Witches weren’t real, Cyndi told him so. But you know what is real? He wanted to tell her. He wanted to yell that Psychotic old ladies who hung around alley ways and hurt little kids were real. He read the news, he knew what could happen to him, and despite Cyndi’s protest, he was pretty sure he was indeed abduction cute.
He paused. His feet grinding to a halt as the rain pounded into him. One more step. One more step and he’d be able to see the edge of her chair, and maybe the edge of her leg, or her hand on the arm rest. One more step and he’d be able to see her.
He took a deep breath and balled his hands into fists and stepping out with his left leg took one tentative step forward. Somehow, his body relaxed and tensed all at the same time. Her chair was their, but it was on it’s side. It had blown over, meaning she wasn’t in it.
He took another step, and a second, and a third.
Her chair was empty, rocking gently in the wind. He leaned forward and let his eyes drift down the alleyway. Nothing but the puddles and an empty chair.
Surging forward, he hurried to the brown metal door of the apartment building, being mindful that his waterlogged left shoe didn’t fall off. Not seeing her was almost worse then seeing her. She could be anywhere. She could be in one of the apartments watching him. She could be on the street behind him. She could be….
As his fingers brushed the cold steel handle of the brown corrugated metal door, he realized she could even be on the other side of the door. Waiting for him. Waiting in the darkness to eat him. She got into the apartment before. She could do it again.
Taking a deep breath, he forced himself to stop. He could see the scar floating at the edge of his vision. He clamped his eyes tight and wished it all away as he tightened the grip on the handle. One last look, he allowed himself one last look back towards her hiding space as he started to pull the heavy metal door open.
Still empty. He could still see the empty seat waving slightly side to side as the rain and wind pushed it, battering it about.
The door used to have a lock and a buzzer so only certain people could get in. That was long gone though, someone had pried it open leaving nothing but a bent plate and empty socket. He leaned forward and peered into the hallway through the socket that once held the lock. He expected to see her yellow eye looking back at him, but he didn’t. It was clear.
As soon as the heavy metal door was opening, he slipped through it as quick as he could, being careful to not catch his foot in it. The door was heavy and sometimes it came flying closed so quickly you didn’t have time to move your foot and it would slam shut so hard you’d think your ankle was broken.
As a matter of fact, Ms. Smith up on two, actually did break her ankle in it a year or two ago, but David didn’t remember that. It was just a vague threat hovering in the back of his mind. He tried not to think of Ms. Smith that hard. He wasn’t convinced that she and the Witch weren’t the same people.
When the door closed he shook it a couple of times, trying to latch it, even though he knew it wouldn’t latch, even though he knew the mechanisms were gone. Finally, he gave up and stood on his tippy toes, so he could look out the window in the door and check on the old lady’s hiding space one last time.
It was her cursed smile he saw first, ragged, dragged across her pale skin like an open wound. Blackened teeth poking through out between the cracked and bloody lips.
Somehow, he managed to stifle a scream. The Witch. She was standing at the edge of the rain-soaked street her twisted hand pointing towards him and an evil glee slinking across her mangled face. It took everything he had not to scream and run.
That twisted right hand began to undulate as she gestured towards him. He could hear her fingers popping and cracking in the back of his mind as it moved in a dark parody of a wave. She was calling to him. She wanted him to join her.
“Come out and play with me,” He imagined her voice in the back of his head and started to cry, just a little.
That same, plain white dress she always wore fluttered in the breeze and seemed to resist the rain falling around it. The dress was tattered and stained with dirt… and darker things. Her arms were rail thin and bags of skin hung off them. Her eyes were set too far back in her head, making it impossible to tell her true eye color, but a yellow glow oozed from the darkness. The nose was like a razor, jutting out of the center of her face, surrounded by cheek bones that looked like you could use them to cut paper.
And that scar… All puckered and blackened, oozing with dark red puss. That scar that pierced the darkness and etched itself into the back of David’s mind, oozing sickness into his subconscious as he slept.
When he failed to come to her, she slowly started to shamble towards him, calling his name in a voice filtered through molasses and grit. “David… David…”
And for a moment, he wanted to go. For a moment he wanted to see what she wanted so badly that it almost hurt. Her fingers seemed so long and thin, and despite the knobs and twists, they moved so fluidly, drawing him forward, pulling at his body. Drawing him out of the safety of the apartment building. A blank stare came over his face and he began to sway slightly from side to side. His fingers reached down and started push the door open. As the crack of light appeared in the door jam, a gust of wind hit his face and broke the old witches magic spell.
Letting the door slam shut he turned and sprinted up the steps two at a time, his heart racing. As he rounded the second-floor steps and started to run towards the third, Ms. Smiths door whizzed open and she leaned out.
“Slow down!” She angrily yelled with such force it almost knocked him over. “No running, the play ground’s around back!”
It wasn’t, and she knew it. The play ground had been torn down a year and a half ago to discourage teenagers from hanging around and doing teenager things. A good three quarters of being an adult was worrying about teenagers and what they might be doing when your back is turned.
“Sorry,” He coughed out as he forced himself to slow down. He turned away, so she couldn’t see the tears. Was she coming? Was the Witch at the door? He could feel her in the darkness around him. “Go back inside Mrs. Smith, I’ll be Good. I promise.”
“You better.” She literally spat the words on the ground between them. “I’m going to have a talk with your parents when they get home. Maybe call in the state and see why an eight-year-old is home alone so much!”
He could barely hear himself over the beating of his own heart. He forced himself to take the steps one at a time until he heard Ms. Smith’s door close. Once it latched, he hurried again, albeit much softer and quieter.
When he reached his door, he half expected it wouldn’t open, or that she’d be on the other side, but she wasn’t, and the door opened easy. He locked it behind him and thought about putting the chain on it but decide against it. If he chained it, Cyndi wouldn’t be able to get in. Cyndi would save him. She always did.
Cyndi was his hero, and the strongest person he knew.
Tossing his book bag to the side by the door, being careful not to make too noise, just in case something really was hiding in the darkness, he hurried over to the window. He should be able to see her from the living room window.
The apartment was shaped like an L. You walked into the apartment through the kitchen, and to the right was a small closet that hid away a broken washer drier unit and the fuse box. It wasn’t a big room, especially with the units only table sitting smack dab in the center of. Directly ahead was the living room. To the extreme right a long hallway leading past his parent’s bedroom, the room he shared with his sister, and finally the bathroom at the end.
Sometimes, At the end of the hallway sat the linen closet, watching him from the darkness. Sometimes it was something else. Sometimes it was a doorway to somewhere else.
He was sure of it.
Standing at the living room window, looking out into the world, the hallway with the sometimes closet was directly behind him. All that darkness lurking beyond never failed to make him nervous. Outside the window, a row of apartments that looked exactly like his glared back at him from the other side of the road. They were all empty and within a year and a half would be demolished to start construction on an upscale housing project, but no one knew that yet.
At least no one who lived there knew it yet.
His eyes followed the flat, dirty red surface to the sidewalk and the road beneath it. The rain was finally beginning to slow. She had been standing to the left of the building, at the entrance to alleyway that ran between the apartments. He expected to see her, looking up at him, still waiving him forward, but he didn’t. She was gone. Instead of calming him, it had the exact opposite effect, he began to panic. Had she followed him in? His eyes searched the outside as he pushed up against the window.
The glass strained under the pressure he was putting on it.
She was gone, she was nowhere… That meant the Witch could be anywhere!
His heart raced as he climbed up onto the back of the couch, fully leaning on the window. She had to be out their she had to be… Just as he relaxed and went to turn away from the window, he saw her. She was standing in the building across the street. She was on the third floor, in the third apartment looking out the living room window. A hallway in the darkness behind her, with an empty closet in the back.
Something told him that closet wasn’t always a closet either.
Her eyes were wide, and she leaned forward against the window, mimicking him, the palm of her hands as flat as she could make it against the glass. Her lips peeled back from her face as she attempted to smile at him. The image finally made the tears flow for real.
Turning away, she began to move through the apartment, slowly, almost floating. The door in the darkness behind her shuddered as it began to creek open. Even though he couldn’t see it, he was pretty sure there was a crack in the back wall the exact dimensions of her scar.
She moved deliberately down the hallway and disappeared into the darkness of the closet. At an impossibly slow place, the door swung back closed behind her, he was sure he heard it latch even though it was an apartment away and across the street.
He wanted to scream, he wanted to just let it all go, but he couldn’t. Before he had time to react, her arms came flying out of the darkness behind him and seemed to wrap themselves around him like a snake. She shoved the middle two fingers of her left hand down his throat to keep him from screaming as she clamped her other hand tight around his neck.
For just a moment, she paused just long enough for her tongue to slip from between her lips and lick the side of his face. She was tasting him, she was tasting his fear.
Her arms yanked him backwards, dragging him across the floor, the heals of his shoes bouncing along the floor boards. The darkness of the hallway closed in around them as the bedrooms flashed by. He tried to reach out for the door handle but couldn’t. Instead She kept pulling him backwards, he heard the hinges of the closet door squeak open in the darkness behind him.
They slammed backwards, against the back of the closet as the door the slammed shut in front of them, blocking out the light. He wanted to scream, but she wouldn’t let him.
Trapped in the darkness, the last thing he felt before passing out was the witches cold breath on the nape of his neck.
To Be Continued….. In My Book. That you will buy. Because I am awesome and you want to support me.