The Apartment. Short Story.

Danny looked at the body, he didn’t know when she had done it, only that it was sometime during the night. She didn’t cry out, didn’t make any noise at all. She was thin, but not overly so. His stomach grumbled sullenly. He looked away from her body. Could he do it?

Danny didn’t know how long they’d been trapped in the apartment for. Time was meaningless in this place. Outside it was always dark, daylight did not exist. Danny had been on his way to a house warming party, when he knocked the door was open and he stepped inside to find himself here. It took him a few seconds to register that something was wrong, music was coming from the kitchen so, assuming he was early he called out and moved towards it. The kitchen was empty of people, a small radio sitting on the counter was playing music. He called out again as he went back into the sitting room, but still there was no sign of anyone. A moment later the front door opened and a woman stepped in. She looked at him for a second, “Hi, I’m Danny, I’m friends with Dom?”
“Angela. Where is everyone?”
“I don’t know, there was no one else here, maybe he popped out to get a few bits before the party?”
“What? I’m running late, the party was supposed to start an hour ago.”
“No, it was supposed to start at seven.”
“Yeah, and it’s eight.”
“I just got here like two minutes ago, your phone must have the wrong time or something.”
Angela pulled out her phone, “No, look, see it says eight.”
Danny grabbed his phone from his pocket, “Mine says a few minutes after seven. Hang on, I’m going to ring Dom and see where he is.”
Angela nodded.

“Shit. I’ve no signal.”
“Me neither.”

They both tried the front door, but it was locked. The windows too, though they could clearly see that there was nothing but darkness on the other side. It seemed to have a weight to it, like it was pressing in on them. They searched the entire apartment and found very little food, though they did find a few joints worth of pot and a tablet of what they agreed was probably ecstasy. The water was still running, all the taps and the toilet worked fine. The radio was turned off after they realised it was playing the same three songs on a loop.

After a few hours Danny was able to pry the door open, there was nothing but darkness on the other side. He stared at it, he didn’t know for how long, before Angela yelled “It’s coming in!” Danny jumped, the trance he was in had broken. Angela was right, the blackness in the doorframe seemed to be sagging inwards, flowing slowly like tar. He slammed the door, it took him a second to get it closed properly, as he pushed it felt like he was trying to move a great weight.

They sat on the couch, smoking a joint. It wasn’t helping, but it wasn’t making things worse. At some point they both passed out, when they woke they checked their phones to find that the clocks still said the same thing.

It was after this that Angela started slipping mentally. She would spend hours pacing. The food was gone after what Danny guessed to be the second day. The hunger pains started soon after. He tried to start friendly conversation with her, but she wouldn’t have it, questions were met with silence or a scowl. Once or twice she would scream and rant at him until she tired herself out.

It was on what he guessed to be the fifth day that she killed herself. Danny had passed out at some point, sleep never came naturally, or peacefully, one moment you were conscious, the next you were waking up. She had used a razor she had found in the bathroom, the cuts were deep, he knew he wouldn’t have been able to save her. Her body lay there and his stomach grumbled. He knew it was wrong and he wasn’t that desperate, but how long would he be here? Time didn’t seem to work right, would she rot?

Three days later and his question was answered. He had taken to making marks on the wall every time he woke up, it helped make sense of time passing. Angela’s body was still where it was, the blood had dried but that was as far as decomposition went. She still smelled of the strawberry body wash from the bathroom. He knew that time was definitely passing. He used the songs on the radio to work out roughly how many hours were going by. In a way it was a relief. She would be there for him, when and if he needed her. For now though, now he waited.

He was getting weaker by the minute. He felt light headed and found it hard to concentrate on things. He knew it would have to be soon, but still he couldn’t bring himself to do it. He had moved the knife beside her body. He didn’t know how he would do it, or where the best place to start would be, but he feared that he would be too weak to make it to the knives before he finally decided to do it.

The smell of her filled the apartment and his stomach growled wildly. He barely waited until it was cooked before he wolfed it down, going back for seconds and thirds. He had stopped counting the days, what did it matter? He was never getting out of here, he realised where he was, he was in hell. Angela had found her own way out, but he wasn’t ready for that yet. The windows were sealed shut and he was afraid of breaking the glass, should the blackness start to fill the apartment again.

There was nothing left of her but bones, he had eaten it all, scraping every last bit from her, even the marrow was gone. He knew that was it, there was no more food. Nothing was left. If he was right, and this really was hell maybe he wouldn’t die, he would just be stuck here, perpetually starving. Most of his days passed by quickly, he would spend them sitting, staring at nothing. There was no point in trying to fight it, no point in trying to escape, one way or another he was going to spend the rest of his life in this damn apartment and he had accepted that.

The noose had been made a day or two before, he had tied it around the rod in the wardrobe and spent the next while just staring at it while he sat on the bed. It would be easy, he was quite weak now anyway. All he had to do was slip it over his head and relax and after a few minutes it would all be over. Could he do it? He had thought Angela was a coward before but now he realised it was him that was the coward. He couldn’t face death, he was willing to do the unspeakable to avoid it, but now there was nothing left. No escape, no hope and he still couldn’t bring himself to slip the noose around his neck.

The cord was surprisingly rough against his skin, it had been taken from a bathrobe, he expected it to be soft. He took a deep breath, his final one. He exhaled slowly until there was nothing left in his lungs, then he left himself fall forward. The noose tightened, he couldn’t breathe. His hands scrabbled at the noose, trying to find the knot, he couldn’t stand again, his legs were too weak. His fingers felt too big, too clumsy and the knot was too small. Darkness clouded his vision, bright spots of red and green bloomed into life.

He woke up one the ground, coughing and spluttering. After catching his breath he turned and looked at the wardrobe, at some point the pole had broken free. He started to laugh, his voice hoarse, his throat throbbing. He couldn’t stop the laughter as it bubbled up. He struggled to his feet and stumbled into the living room, the bones were where he had left them. He grabbed the knife and ran it along his wrists. He felt pressure but no pain. He looked down, his skin was unblemished. The knife clattered to the ground as the laughter turned to sobs. Angela had found the way to escape and something had closed it behind her.

The door was locked, but the windows weren’t shatterproof. The darkness oozed in, it was cold against his skin, but that was strangely comforting. He could feel it, freezing him, destroying his body. There was no pain, where ever the darkness touched him there was nothing. It flowed over his eyes and everything went black.
Danny opened his eyes and coughed, his throat was raw and sore, he was lying on the ground. He turned, he was in the bedroom, in the wardrobe the pole was lying sideway, the noose was still around his neck. He started screaming, the noise tearing itself from his body, he could taste the blood, thick in his throat. Only silence answered him.

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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