Neighbour From Hell. Short Story.

So today is the day I register for college classes. I’ve been up since 6 A.M. as they don’t tell you when the system opens. It opened at about 7.30 A.M. So I was lucky in that regard. However, it took me a good 3-3.5 hours to register because the damn system was so slow and kept kicking me off, I’m lucky though, there are still people trying to register to classes and people who haven’t even been able to get into the system.
It really is insanely ridiculous, they knew that there would be a lot of people trying to register, surely something could have been done, especially as it is the same EVERY year. Every year is really slow and has the same problems. Its pure laziness on their part that they don’t do something to speed it up.
OK, rant over!
I went up the north yesterday with my parents, it was fun but quiet tiring, went into Waterstones and bought a few books, some more of the disc world novels and The Wasp Factory. Apparently it is a weird book, at least according to the woman in the bookshop and my dad (it turns out he has the book somewhere. That is the problem with us being big book buyers, it gets to the point where you don’t really know what you have anymore and just hope for the best. It’s even worse when they republish old books with new covers and blurbs.) I was quite tired after it too, yay for steroids! I felt like a cranky toddler, I didn’t want to walk and I was tired and hungry and I just wanted to sit in the car and go home. I didn’t complain or anything because we were close to the car at that point anyway and it was just a matter of getting there which we would have to do anyway. Oh well, at least I seem to be avoiding the worst of the steroid side effects. like acne and moon face and fatty deposits on the back of your neck and a hump and so on and so forth.
Anyway, on with the show!


Neighbour From Hell

There were cracks lining the walls, ever so tiny, barely perceptible, but they were there. The house was old so of course, some dilapidation is to be expected, when they bought the house they knew that. Everything was a simple fix, both of them knew enough to know that, but neither had noticed the cracks. They were so tiny, so insignificant, at least, they would be, if not for their numbers.

They were growing too, ever so slightly. The paint that was smooth and clean a month ago, now too had tiny fissures running through it. The house was shifting, however imperceptivity.

Apart from the cracks, the house was perfectly ordinary and quite beautiful. It was a two story Georgian, with one unusual feature, a tower, raised a story higher than the house itself. It’s walls were covered in windows allowing a full panoramic view of the surrounding area, this turret more than anything else convinced them to buy the house. The view was spectacular, lush rolling hills on one side and the low squat city on the other, each half slowly bleeding into the other.

The house had a large garden that was overgrown, but all the more attractive for it, bright flowers ran riot as trees created secret places in which to explore. They were going to get it tamed soon, clear away some of the excess and great a large flat patch of grass. They planned to add a deck that would wrap around the back of the house and perhaps, in time, they would add a meandering path and at the end of it, a gazebo. The land was large and cheap for what it was. There was even a well hidden somewhere in the garden. They were assured that it extended above the ground and was covered with an iron lid so there was no danger of falling into it. Large walls surrounded the garden and wrought iron gates protected the entrance, though they were seldom closed. Outside the house two lights stood either side of the door, like beacons, directing lonely and worn travellers towards the house. Inside the ceilings were high and vaulted, the floors old, worn wood stained a deep, golden brown from years of use. The windows were all large, allowing plenty of light to flood the house, which had a bright and airy feel but despite the light streaming in the windows, sometimes it felt darker, gloomier. Neither noticed when this happened, not really. They turned on some lights or just thought it was cloudy out, they never gave it a second thought, not really.

They were in the house for almost 5 months when they finally noticed the thin cracks, which covered the walls, and after getting a surveyor in, they were assured it was nothing to worry about, and perhaps, the quality of the paint was not the best, so, convinced it was fine, they simply covered the cracks in more paint and once covered, they were forgotten about. But still they were there. Elongating, widening, growing ever bigger. The house groaned and creaked, as all houses do, but the groans were becoming longer, the creaks louder but it was gradual, so slow you would barely notice.

They never noticed how clumsy they were in the new house, knives seemed to slip with unerring frequency, splinters were common, as were stubbed toes and all manner of cuts and bruises but these too were dismissed and forgotten so easily.
They used the front room for storage, they told themselves it was because it was easy, easy to access and easy to place things in, the room was large, spacious, plenty of room for all their junk and really, there was nothing unusual about it. They could have used the attic, but carrying it up the flights of stairs, then battling with the heat and dust that seemed to attack them every time they entered was just too much hassle, at least, for now. Maybe when they were done decorating, or things that wouldn’t be used that often.
They didn’t use the basement. When they first moved in they had planned to turn it into a workspace and perhaps, in time, a play room for the children they hoped to have, but these plans never materialised. It was cold in the basement, unusually so, but it was a dry cold, they could have stored anything without fear of mould of mildew. When they toured the house, it was suggested they could build a small pantry in the basement to store things and at the time it seemed like a wonderful, quaint idea. They could build a small pantry at one end of the basement and the rest could be heated with radiators, they could put down some carpet, some walls, all that would help warm the vast space. Something seemed to keep them away, a general feeling of unease which both felt and without the other noticing both slowed their trips downstairs until eventually, neither ventured into its dark depths.

It was exactly a year since they had bought the house when it happened. Both had been sleeping uneasily, bad dreams, tossing and turning. They were tired and bickered with one another incessantly, each trying to goad the other, to what neither knew, but still they fought. On the anniversary of their purchase it was warm, humid and muggy and neither could sleep. The sheets clung to their bodies as they moved about, trying to get comfortable, trying to stay cool. The windows were all open and the breeze tugged at the curtains, but even the wind was warm that night. Sweat beaded on their bodies, soaking into the bedding it seemed like the night was endless and at two in the morning, both suddenly had the same idea, the basement. It was so cool down there, they could go down for a bit and when they no longer felt like they were suffocating, they could come back upstairs, or, if it came to it, they could sleep down there. Armed with their idea and their pillows, they marched downstairs.

The lights that had been installed in the basement lit everything, dispelling shadows, both winced at the sudden brightness and squinting went downstairs. It was still pretty clean, despite neither of them dusting, the few things they had carried downstairs still stood in their original position and they gratefully flopped onto the old couch they intended to bring to the dump. It was as cold as they had anticipated, their skin breaking out in goose bumps and they luxuriated in the delicious cool. Even though it was slightly dusty neither cared, both were just glad to be cool again. They relaxed, sinking deeper into the couch before finally dozing off.

As they slept the cracks grew wider, flakes of plaster drifting down from the ceiling and sticking to their damp skin. They were awoken by a loud crack, both startled out of their sleep. No longer warm, they shivered in the cold, trying to figure out what the noise was. The deep rumbling grew so slowly they didn’t notice it until the ground started to shake. They stood, both wanting to leave the basement, if the house collapsed, they would be buried beneath tons of rubble. As they stood, the rumbling increased to a deep roar and they were flung backwards onto the couch.

Water appeared to be welling in the cracks in the floor, bubbling upwards, spreading outwards, they clung to each other as the basement began to flood. Above them they could hear crashes and bangs as furniture fell and plates smashed. Though wide awake neither were able to stand, every time they tried it was as though the earth foresaw their movement and the shaking adjusted to throw them backwards. Thick slabs of concrete began to rise, pushed up with the dirt as something burrowed its way faster through the earth, climbing to the surface. It had been almost ten years since its last meal and it was hungry.

As it burst through the surface the sound of breaking concrete drowned out their screams, it looked at them for a moment, a long tendril reaching out, stroking them, tasting them. It grinned. They looked upon the creature, a deep twisting thing never meant to be seen by man. As their minds unravelled the creature moved toward them.

Either side of the house the neighbours were woken by the dull rumblings from next door. It was a shame really, they were such a nice couple, they even brought around cookies when they moved in, always gave their next door neighbours extras when they baked. Still, it was better for everyone. The creature only fed once every ten years or so, it kept them safe from harm. They were all lucky and very successful, they couldn’t deny the creature its food when it had been so good to them and it would never paint the house in gaudy colours or let trees overgrow their boundaries. Really, the creature was the perfect neighbour.

About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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2 Responses to Neighbour From Hell. Short Story.

  1. Wayne E. says:

    Wow! Great ending! I didn’t see IT coming. A very H.P. Lovecraft-like story–and I love Lovecraft! You should consider submitting a short story to the Bo’s Cafe Life Fiction Contest. Visit and click on the link on the right.

  2. Thanks for the comparison! I’m glad you enjoyed it, I’ll have a look that site soon, I have a fairly strict posting schedule on the blog and I don’t know if I’d be able to enter a short story competition too, but I’ll definitely check it out.

    Thanks again,

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