I recently moved into a new apartment and, having very little money, had to settle for the only habitable place in a row of almost derelict buildings. The street was all but abandoned, but I'm pretty sure there were squatters two doors down. My building was the only one not boarded up and, compared to the others, it had potential. There was no electricity when I moved in, no curtains, and no carpets, but at least the water was running. It was a particularly tough time in my life (which I won't go into) and I was grateful for a fresh start. I could really make a go of it here once I got some furniture in.
The first night, I decided to sleep there, even without a mattress and only a few candles to find my way around, although I could have probably found the bathroom by smell alone. After setting up camp in what I suppose was the living room, I tucked into a gourmet meal consisting of cold beans and dry crackers, promising myself that once the sun came up, things would seem more homely and I could start unpacking.
After exploring the shelves and cupboards for treasure, and finding only a handful of those plastic curtain pegs and a shoebox full of old rent-books (presumably left behind by the landlord), I decided to perch myself in a corner and use my jacket as a makeshift bed. Trying to sleep, hunched over, with nothing to look at but a bare, pitch-black window wasn't easy, and the thought of what must be lurking out there on the old industrial estate kept my attention firmly on that window the entire night. Needless to say, I didn't sleep much and decided to look around some more.
I found a box of old, sepia photos in the fireplace, each with six people standing at the same window, mouths open, and a pale shape in the reflection that I couldn't quite make out. I decided to take my mind off of it, since these old photos give me the creeps anyway.
By the second night, I was starting to feel more comfortable in the old place, and although most of my stuff was still in boxes, and I still had no furniture, carpets, or curtains, the daylight had given me the chance to explore properly and I spent most of my time planning how it would eventually look. I'd even nailed an old blanket over that window to keep any prying eyes out, and to stop my imagination running wild.
By candlelight, I occupied myself by reading the feint scrawlings in the old rent-books I found, since it was the only form of entertainment available, but what I found was quite interesting: dating back around five years, were six books in total, one for each tenant, and in every one, just a single entry. Rent and bond was paid for one month, then nothing but blank pages. Something wasn't right. All six previous tenants stayed only a month or less.
Feeling somewhat creeped out, I decided to take a piss before my last candle disappeared completely, and made my way across the hall to that awful bathroom, watching my shadow keenly dance along the peeling walls ahead of me, until we met again at a heavy wooden door. I covered my mouth and walked in. The stench was so thick I could taste it and as I unzipped my pants, the last candle went out.
Now, to this day, I'm not sure where I pissed exactly, but I can tell you it was the fastest piss I'd ever taken; not only was I in pitch darkness, but I could only hold my breath for so long. I ran out of there as fast as I could...but where was I running to? The realization came that I had no candles left and, with it, a thick blackness enveloped the walls and the one flickering glow of the apartment had abandoned me.
The hollow creak of the floorboards began to sound like whispers, and the peeling damp on every surface felt alive to the touch as I blindly ran my hand along the wall. Feeling a familiar bump, I pushed open the living room door and made my way carefully towards the window. Maybe a streetlight or a passing car would light the room, if I could just remove the blanket I'd nailed up earlier...
That window, which had made me so uncomfortable, was now my only hope for light. Reaching my hand through the darkness to pull the blanket away, I felt only a cold pane of glass. The blanket was gone and, as my eyes adjusted, I saw it: on the other side of the bare, black window there was something pale and silent, its mouth open, waiting for my next move.