When I moved in to the new flat, I couldn’t have been happier. It was everything I wanted and more, at a fraction of the price I intended to pay. The letting agent had been particularly enthusiastic, showing me around every inch of the ground floor apartment. He led me through the front door and into the bedroom, through to the lavish kitchen area and into the living room. It was an older-style flat, converted from a house a few decades ago. I’d asked the agent who lived upstairs but he shook his head and continued showing me around: “Check out this bathroom! Fully marble floors!”
To be honest I was just as enthusiastic, buying everything he said and drinking in my new flat. I’d only been away from my parents home for a couple of months and had spent time in a dingy bedsit while I saved for this baby. A few days later I’d moved in, bringing boxes full of possessions with me that sat unopened while I got acquainted with the place. By that, I mean I sat in my underwear and watched TV for a few days. Every night, just before I turned off the TV and headed to bed, I’d hear raised voices from the flat above me. It must have been a couple, I guessed, because one voice was deep and the other quite airy and light, like a female talking. I couldn’t complain really, other than when I was heading to bed, I never heard them.
I’d found a job in the city, so I was out during the day. On the bus home I’d be excited just to spend a night in the flat, planning all the lazing I was going to do that night. For the first couple of weeks, everyday would be the same. I’d head home, put my key in the door and then leave my worries at the entrance. This flat was mine, my safe place.
Each night, I’d hear the couple above me arguing. At least, I think it was arguing. The man would always sound more irate than her. I’d knock the volume down on my T.V and try to listen, but every time I did their voices dropped quieter. I figured they knew I was trying to listen it. Plus, I wasn’t too annoyed. Everytime I turned off the T.V, they shut up and I could sleep.
Then the dreams started. I call them dreams, because I’m not sure nightmare is the right word. I’d lie in bed, staring up at the ceiling and wondering what the mysterious couple above me was doing. They’d been arguing, and now they were so quiet they must be tip-toeing around to avoid me hearing them. I’d fall asleep, settling into an uneasy state where I dreamt of a couple. The man was tall, imposingly so. His face was always obscured by blackness, a shadow I couldn’t shift. She was almost like an angel, so tiny and petite with platinum blonde hair. Tears stained her face. She would look at me, fixing me with a desperate look and pleading: “Help me.”
I always awoke facing the ceiling.
It was strange, then, that I found myself lingering outside my front door when I left or returned from work. The door to their flat was right next to mine, but it looked old and the handle was rusty. I’d stick around outside, waiting to see a hint of movement or perhaps catch one of them leaving or entering the house. They never did.
The dreams continued. Worsened. I’d fall asleep and see her face, desperate and afraid. “Help me!” She’d shriek. The man behind her would come closer, wrapping his gargantuan arms around her tight. She’s cry and wail, kicking to be free. “Help me!” She’d scream again. The man’s face, shrouded by the darkness, would slowly appear. His eyes burned fire red, staring at me.
I woke up sweating, staring at my ceiling. My T.V was off, but I could hear them arguing still.
Quiet, almost imperceptibly so, I heard a girl’s voice: “Help me…” it said.
That was the end of that. I couldn’t take the curiosity or the nightmares anymore. I found myself calling my letting agent the following night, phone trembling in my hand. The voice on the other end was a far cry from the cheerful one I’d been treated to when I first let the flat.
“Hello?” It said.
“John, it’s me Chris. Listen, I need to know who lives in the flat above me. They argue every night and I’m concerned about a girl I hear. I think she might be in trouble.”
“Chris…” The voice on the phone was shaky, as though he was choking. “Are you alright?” He asked.
“I’m fine. I’m concerned, is all.”
“No, it’s not that. Just…Are you sure you’re hearing people talking? Sure it’s not the TV?”
“Nobody lives there.”
My heart dropped like a stone. I felt chills run right down my spine. I couldn’t say anything.
“Chris? You still there? Yeah, no-one lives there. The flat above has been empty since 1990. I didn’t want you to know, it puts tenants off.”
“It’s a bit late for that now!” I growled. Over the sound of the telephone, I could hear a scratching sound coming from my bedroom. Almost like a pair of scissors scraping against a wall.
I cupped my hand to my ear, so that all I could hear was my letting agents voice, grave and severe all at once.
“It’s been abandoned ever since a girl was raped and killed. We’ve never been able to let it out after that.”
I felt fear and disgust rising in equal measure. The scraping was getting louder and louder. My T.V was off, but I could hear the voices again. The man sounded furious, urgent, demonic.
“Call the police. Call someone.” I said, my heart pounding. The scraping was impossible to ignore now, like it was going to break down my bedroom door. Against all my better instincts, I hung up the phone.
That’s when I heard it. Clear as day.
“Help me!” She pleaded.
The voice came from my bedroom. Despite the fear, despite the tingles in the back of my neck, I ran to the door. I felt like I had to protect that innocent voice. I knew the monster behind her.
I burst into my bedroom, terror reaching breaking point.
As soon as the door opened, I saw her.
There she was, innocent, teary-eyed with beautiful long blonde hair and tear-stained eyes. Her dress was ripped at the waist, exposing a tiny bit of porcelain flesh. Her begging eyes looked straight at me.
“H-help.” She uttered. I was frozen in place, lost in my fear. Slowly, against my own will, my eyes dragged towards the ceiling. I gasped aloud, horror flooding me.
There, a crack had formed. No, not just a crack. A rent. A hole.
Above the desperate, beautiful girl a gaping maw in the ceiling had been torn.
I stared through it, wishing this was a dream. Knowing it wasn’t.
I looked up at the hole to the flat above and I let out a silent scream.
All I could see were those glowing red eyes. Burning like fire.
“Help me,” she said again.
Written by Craig Thomas Boyle