Thursday, July 14, 2011

For Rent

She was on the couch when we found her.

The house had a long history of occupation by unstable women. Dorothy was the latest tenant and, from what I knew, very few of the house's former occupants turned up dead in the living room. My parents certainly hadn't found any stiffs since turning the place into a rental property.

A few days prior, one of the neighbors contacted my mother regarding strange behavior on Dorothy's part. Allegedly, she had been silently wandering between lawns every night for a week or so, so the neighbor decided to do the logical thing and call the landlords.

My mother registered the complaint out of courtesy and relayed the information to my father, who filed it away with the rest of the things he couldn't care less about. Three days later, the neighbor rang again to inform my mother that whatever she said had worked; Dorothy hadn't been seen outside since.

My parents were naturally concerned, but still not enough to actually bother investigating. Since I was home for the weekend, I was dispatched to the scene. Reminiscing briefly about my days in the neighborhood, I got out of the car and walked up to the door.

Knock knock knock.

As I waited for a response, I noticed that the house itself seemed, not dead. Dormant. I knocked again and waited before trying the doorbell and waiting again. I contemplated talking to the neighbors, but decided against it.

Finally, I took the set of keys my mother gave me and unlocked the door. I was barely inside when I noticed the smell. It was vaguely metallic, like iron, with a hint of what could have been ammonia. Undeterred, I pushed the door open and immediately realized why Dorothy didn't get up to let me in.

She was strewn out on the couch wearing a sweat suit, her head hanging off the side so that it hovered above a dry pile of vomit. Urine stained the white fabric and her forearms were posed almost unnaturally, as if she wanted to exhibit the jagged, vertical slashes on either wrist.

Dried blood was caked along her arms and dark trails of it led from the couch into the next room with a few thin, haphazard lines which made me imagine that she was swinging her arms. The coffee table had been kicked askew, knocking over an empty handle of vodka and two bottles of hydrocodone.

She couldn't have been dead for more than thirty-six hours.

As could be expected, I was a little taken aback by the grim scene. However, a morbid curiosity told me to stick around.

Opposite the mess was the television. It was on, the screen showing "No Signal". On a shelf under the TV set, she had a VCR; it was old and predated the VHS/DVD combo thing. Something compelled me to press the eject button and, with an unhealthy-sounding whir, the machine spit out a VHS tape: "Silence of the Lambs".


Following the strings of blood on the carpet, I proceeded into the next room. It was empty save for a setup for her computer. It was tremendously outdated - a bulky, khaki-colored monitor perched on a very plain wooden desk, with an equally cumbersome keyboard flecked with blood.

I noticed there was no chair in the room but, in spite of this, there were indents in the carpet. One appeared as a white square in a circle of brownish-red, suggesting that her wrist was against the chair leg as she sat.

It was clear that she died via overdose, but why she'd been walking around so much after such grievous self-injury was lost on me...and I had a good amount of experience with suicide and self-destruction.

Sparser paths of dark stains on the carpet led down the miniscule hallway into a spare bedroom. Curiously, there was a separate unpleasant stench in the room.

I pulled the top of my shirt over my nose and glanced around. Nothing. Well, nothing except for a tiny cage. It was the kind one would use to take cats or small dogs to the vet. There was some newspaper around the cage, but no sign of whatever animal it held. As I turned to leave, there was a sudden scratching from the closet. I took a moment to recover from my miniature heart attack and stepped over, tentatively sliding the closet door open.

A small dog - a dachshund - was cowering in the corner. The opposite corner contained a pile of dachshund shit. Immediately the little dog ran from the closet and into the cage. After about a minute spent trying to coax it out, I'd had about enough of that house. I strode back down the hallway to the living room, trying my hardest not to look at Dorothy, and headed out the front.

I phoned the proper authorities and told them about the grisly scene inside, the dog included.

A week later my mother contacted me at college, telling me to come home again for the weekend so that I could help her and my brother remove the blood-stained, shit-streaked carpet. During the process, I made a few off-hand remarks about the nature of the situation. I mentioned the dog in the closet, the missing chair, and Silence of the Lambs. My brother thought it was a little weird, but my mother remained stoic until the job was finished.

That following week, I returned to the house of my own accord to walk around and try to remember any specific events from when my family lived there. Unfortunately, though, even with my photographic memory, it was difficult to dredge up things that happened when I was two years old.

Certain rooms did trigger certain memories, though. I remembered being in first grade, playing with some toys as my mother showed the place to a potential tenant. I shuddered, realizing I had been in the same exact spot of Dorothy's missing chair, but another thought soon popped into my head.

I remembered who moved in after that: an absentminded French woman named Marie. Who the hell was renting before her, though, and why did they leave?

Unable to assemble a timeline in my head, I was reabsorbed into my memory. I had been playing primarily with X-Men action figures, imagining some story involving a giant spider, when Ice Man's arm broke off at the elbow.

It was upsetting.

Walking through to the kitchen, I found myself nineteen years gone, listening to my mother speak on the phone with someone: a lawyer.

My dog at the time had bitten a neighbor. It was strange, as I remembered him being very warm and affectionate. Any display of violence was out of character. As I brought myself back to the present, something troubling dawned on me: I had no memories of the dog from that time period. Every memory took place at my current residence.

Immediately, I connected the dog's behavior to his location.

Come to think of it, I had a cat then, too. He was old, possibly fifteen when I was born, but even as he got older he was a fighter. He was fearless. However, at the new house... My father once related a story of a sudden thudding noise that scared the cat out of the house for an entire three days.

I cleared my head of the Stephen King-style sentient house theories and left the kitchen. A walk down the hallway failed to summon any memories, but I nonetheless progressed toward the bedrooms.

At the threshold of the room where I found the dachshund, my mind glitched.

Any knowledge that remained of the house's floor plan had fled my mind and the layout suddenly seemed very labyrinthine. Most unsettling of all, I no longer had any memories of living there, only a hazy sense of familiarity like the fragments of some distant dream.

The space past the door frame was dizzying to the point of vertigo. I looked back down the hallway, the way I came. It had changed in the same outlandish manner as the room before me and as I gazed past opened doors leading to the kitchen, I felt as if I was looking over the side of a building, judging the distance between me and the ground.

Move. Walk. Just lift one foot and put it in front of the other. Focusing on the top of my shoe, I raised my right foot from the ground. With some effort, I took a step forward, bringing me through the threshold and into the room in front of me.

Just as startlingly as it changed, the environment shifted back to normal. I was still staring at my feet and noticed a dark stain on the wood of the floor, previously hidden by the suicide-soiled carpet. It was relatively small, but its presence was annoying. That, and it could have signified a mold problem.

My eyes were fixed on the spot for a second as I imagined my mother bitching to me about mold in the wood. Soon enough, though, I noticed another blemish on the hardwood...then another. I finally brought my head up, my vision following the stains. They formed a line with a distinctive pattern: the pattern of footsteps.

I tracked the source of the dark blots to the private bathroom, which was notably adjacent to the sliding closet where Dorothy had apparently stashed her dog. With no door-stopper, the wood ended abruptly, jarringly, into the tiled floor of the bathroom. Sure enough, there was a splotch a few inches onto the tile.

When I caught sight of it, my hand involuntarily shot to my mouth and I took a step backward.

My suspicions had been confirmed: the stains were actually footprints. An infant's footprints. Tiny soles with baby toes. The ball and heel of certain prints were inconsistent, fading inward as they proceeded. I supposed it would make sense if the child was tracking in some kind of liquid.

Disturbingly, the prints continued forward into the shower, circled around one side of the tub, then finally stopped as they led directly into the drain.

I knelt down and scraped at one of them with my fingernail, but the mark might as well have been burned into the surface. I reached toward the faucet to turn the ater on. The pipes coughed and sputtered like a dying automobile, paused for a second, and began unsystematically spitting rusty water. Predictably, the water did nothing. I turned the faucet back to the off position. This time it made a sickly gurgling noise. After another short delay, the murky spray stopped.

As I watched the liquid form into little whirlpools around the drain, I had a vision of myself in the same spot, perhaps twenty years prior when I was an infant. With so many other mysteries accumulating, I was unwilling to dismiss this as a coincidence. I pulled myself away from the tub and cleared out from the bathroom. A quick walk into the other bedroom produced nothing interesting, meaning there was only one place I hadn't revisited: the basement.

Before I had both feet back in the hallway, my determination to investigate the basement was cut short. Something was wrong. The old house didn't have a basement, did it?

This house had no answers. Only questions upon questions.

Finally, I gave in and returned to my family's current residence to see if my mother could provide any insight. As it happened, her knowledge of the house's history was rudimentary at best, but she had a mental record of every tenant since my family had moved, including the reasons they'd left.

My first thought was to ask about the woman who was renting right before Marie. The answer left me somewhat shaken. The woman's name was Mary-Anne and she lived there for about a year, up until the accidental death of her infant daughter. My mother was able to speak to Mary-Anne briefly after it happened, but Mary-Anne was almost catatonic and continually repeating "She had just taken her first steps."

According to the police, the daughter drowned in the bathtub.

My second question was in regards to Dorothy and my mother informed me that there was an update on the case. Very shortly before her estimated time of death, Dorothy had sent an email to her parents, apologizing for what she was about to do. It went on to explain that she secretly had an abortion and was wracked with guilt to the point where she was having hallucinations of a baby girl giggling and playing in one of the bedrooms.

After finally hearing this, there were only two major things that continued to bug me:

1. I still had no idea where Dorothy's chair had gone.

2. I could faintly remember taking a bath in the old house, probably about six years before Mary-Anne moved in. There were already footprints in the bathtub.


  1. "She couldn't have been dead for more than thirty-six hours."

    "It was clear that she died via overdose."

    " photographic memory."

    A forensic pathologist with a photographic memory? Someone get this kid a TV show.

  2. I should really avoid reading stories like this before taking showers. Nice detail xD I loved it.

  3. I'm a bit confused.....can someone explain?

  4. The ending...I don't get it. What am I missing?

    Aside from that I enjoyed the story fairly well.

  5. Xeo, it seems as though the toddler who died was haunting the house. Dorothy seems to have killed herself out of guilt due to thinking the ghost appeared due to her abortion.

  6. but tempest, what about the part where she said she saw footsteps like that before when she was a kid, you think the writer was that kid or there was a dead toddler before like one that lead the other one to his death, like that?

  7. The story was told from a 1st person perspective so I'd say it was a case of the narrator seeing the footsteps when they were young. I assumed Marie moved out before the narrator saw the footsteps.

  8. I understand that Dorothy killed herself due to the guilt of the abortion, in thinking she was hallucinating, seeing and hearing the toddler's ghost. I get that part, and I thought it was a pretty cool idea.

    But the part with the narrator mentioning having seen the footsteps as a child is what threw everything off for me.

    Of course it could easily be as Tempest said, that Marie moved out before the narrator saw the footsteps as a child. But the time line, according to the story anyway doesn't make a lot of sense if that were the case.

    Either way, the story was pretty decent.

  9. I'm also very confused by this story .The narrator lived in the house before all the mentioned renters. Including the one who's baby drowned after taking her first steps (presumably to the tub or potentially led there by her mother).Yet he claimed they saw the ghostly foot steps leading there when they were little.So the ideal of the drowned baby being the one that haunted Dorthy to suicide(not to mention the timeline) makes no since.Second i agree with the "narrator" what the hell did happen to that chair?Or more precisely what chair? Cause unless I'm missing something there was no mention of a missing chair in there crime scene walk through of the house.It just suddenly became a plot point in his recap to his mom, but there was no prior mention of a out place or missing chair.


    sorry, couldn't resist :P

    and @hobotiup, there WAS a mention of a missing chair, he described it when he discovered the body

    'I noticed there was no chair in the room but, in spite of this, there were indents in the carpet. One appeared as a white square in a circle of brownish-red, suggesting that her wrist was against the chair leg as she sat.'

  11. It's easy

    1. The narrator was the dead baby..ummm the narrator mom had her baby drown in the bathtub, waited 6 years for the perfect moment. She switched the her 6 year old dead baby with the current tenant. Or whatever, atleast my point #2 makes sense.

    2. The chair was used for the abortion

  12. Maybe the footsteps are a link to something paranormal, since he said that the footsteps went directly down the drain in the bath, ergo, something dragged the baby down and drowned it? And seeing the footprints, he wonders why it didn't get him?

  13. i dont understand why the narrator remembers the nonexistant basement or why he cares so much about the chair

  14. Maybe this will clear up confusion, whether the original writer had this in mind or not. Legends and tales that focus around a dead child often have a repeated motif, in which the ghostly child will lure other children to their deaths.
    The narrator was a baby living in the house before Mary-Anne moved in, and her baby drowned. It is quite possible that a child had drowned in that house before then, and led Mary-Annes' baby to her death.

  15. This is a wonderful opinion. The things mentioned are unanimous and needs to be appreciated by everyone.
    Odessa apartments rent

  16. He was possessed at a young age end of story

    :P seriously a chair is what hes concern about =,=

  17. The chair was probably of concern because why the hell was it missing from the scene of a supposed suicide?
    And I think sanguinewoods is probably right about the footprints' prior presence suggesting that a child died there before even the narrator moved into the house, attempted to drown the narrator as a baby but failed, then succeeded at drowning Mary-Anne's kid. Maybe. I dunno.
    And while the first comment is amusing, I don't think you need to be a forensic pathologist to notice that someone hasn't been dead for more than a couple days, nor to deduce the cause of death as OD when there are two empty bottles of painkillers next to an empty bottle of vodka, in front of a pool of vomit.
    I have no idea about that nonexistent basement though.

  18. 3/10 - Had a good start, got very messy with the timeline, and left much to be desired.

  19. "A small dog - a dachshund - was cowering in the corner. The opposite corner contained a pile of dachshund shit" I couldn't read any further than this, Really sloppy imo, Author probably used alot of words he didnt know the meaning to until he googled them. The Main character is like a faggot version of sherlock holmes or some shit? "Ooh, a dead body on the couch, I better explore this house". Yeah, Ok.

  20. Required Tools A patch kit (a few different patch sizes, carbon road framessandpaper or a metal scraper, and a tube of glue), a set of tire levers, and an air pump.
    Inspect Tire
    With the wheel removed from your bike, inspect the outer ICAbike01 surface of the tire to make sure there are no sharp objects like a thumb-tack or thorn stuck in the tread.
    Remove Tir
    Remove the valve cap and fully deflate thetube by depressing the valve stem with the hooked end of your tire lever. There are two main types of valve stems, a schrader valve and a presta valve. This tutorial is based on a schrader valve, but I will be covering the different valve types in another tutorial.
    Now it’s time to remove your tire, one carbon fibre bike framesside at a time. Choose a section of tire that is away from the valve and hook one of the tire levers under the bead, directly in line with one of your spokes. Pry one side of the tire bead over the edge of the rim, and then hook the end of the tire lever to the nearest spoke. Insert another tire lever two spokes away from the first, and a third another two spokes away. Now the middle lever should fall out, and you can continue the process. When the tire is loose enough you can just run a tire lever around the rest of the rim to pull the whole side over.
    After you have removed one side of the tire, the other side should come off very easily.
    Inspect Tube
    Now remove the tube from the tire, and try to keep track of where it was positioned in relation to the tire. Inflate the tube to approximately twice its original size. This will expand the hole making it easier to find.
    Listen carefully to the entire circumference china carbon framesof the tube; you should hear a hissing sound that will indicate where the leak is. As a last resort you can submerge the tube in water and watch for bubbles, but you’ll want to avoid doing this as you’ll need the tube to be completely dry in order for the patch glue to work.
    Once you’ve found the leak, take note of whether it is on the inner or outer side of the tube.
    If the hole was on the outer side of the tube, inspect the inner surface of the tire in that spot to make sure the object that caused the puncture is not still stuck in the tire. Double check the entire inner side of the tire by running your fingers along the entire surface, feeling for obstacles along the way.
    If the hole was on the inner side of the tube, zipp 404inspect your entire rim to make sure there are no sharp burrs in the metal, and that the rim tape is properly protecting the tube from your spoke ends.
    Now that the rim and tire are clear, it’s time to patch the tube. Select an appropriate sized patch for the hole. Use the sandpaper or scraper provided in your kit to buff the surface of the tube for an area a bit larger than the patch. You need to buff the tube so that it is no longer shiny. If the molding line is running along the area where the patch is to be applied, you must sand it down completely, or it will provide an air channel. Once buffed, avoid touching that area with your fingers.
    Apply a dab of rubber cement, and then spread it into a thin coat, using your cleanest finger. Work quickly. You want a thin, smooth coat of cement; if you keep fiddling with it as it begins to dry, you’ll risk making it lumpy. The thinner the cement, the faster it will dry. It is very important to allow the cement to dry completely.
    Peel the foil from the patch and press the patch onto the tube firmly, squeezing the patch tightly onto the tube.