|Note: This story is a part of a larger series of short stories and flash fiction. You can find these stories on the Oubliette home page.|
Irene suddenly found herself awake. She was unsure of what happened but it sounded like someone shouted profanity in her ears. She laid in her bed and listened. One of her tenants left the television on but she could make out a couple people talking. While she normally could hear conversations in the apartment below her bedroom, she could not make out any of the words. She rolled over so that she could see her clock. It was a little after 3:00. When the back door slammed shut, it was time to spy on them.
She walked down the stairs, through the dining room, and into the kitchen. An old wooden door separated the apartment from the rest of the house. Years had passed since she last opened that door; the last time was when her mother in law, who passed away over ten years ago, stayed in the apartment. She did not know if she could open it again if she tried. However, it was a good place to stand when she wanted to know what her tenants were doing.
Just as she settled next to the door, someone turned the television and lights off in the apartment. She waited but nothing else happened however, a strange smell came from the apartment. She scowled as she realized what it was. She warned the boys about smoking weed in her apartment and what would happen if it happened again.
She sighed as she remembered that the confusing contraption that her son called a phone was still upstairs. She wished that he did not convince her of getting rid of her old phone that dutifully hung in her kitchen for decades. She did not understand how parents these days could snoop on their kids to make sure they stayed out of trouble like she did when she raised hers.
As she made her way to the stairs, she smelled something else foul. It reminded her of rotten eggs. She stood next to a full trash can and it had been sitting for a couple days. It was most likely the source of what offended her. She sighed deeply; she could not just let it continue to stink up her house. She turned the light on and walked to the sink under which she stored the trash bags.
She turned around after obtaining a clean bag and stopped. In the middle of the room, there was a thick black wire lying on the floor. It was one of those wires that came with her phone to charge it. She did not remember seeing it there before now. She walked over to it and as she leaned over to pick it up, the lights flickered and went off to a loud snapping noise next to the fridge.
Irene rolled her eyes. She has been having problems with that circuit breaker for the kitchen. Thankfully, she knew that it happened instead of having a fridge full of spoiling food surprise her. As she stood in the middle of the kitchen and her eyes adjusted to the dark again, the floorboards in the living room creaked as if someone was in there. She walked through the entryway and into the living room and looked. The room was dark but there was nobody in there.
When she turned to go back into the kitchen, her feet caught on something in the dark. She did not react fast enough and fell hard to the floor. When she landed, something in her back popped and pain shot through her body. She gritted her teeth as she struggled to move but the pain was so intense all she could do was futilely roll over.
As she rested, the floorboards creaked again but this time it sounded like claws scraped on the kitchen floor. She raised her head to get a better view of the kitchen. She did not immediately notice anything but shadows shifted and the smell became worse.
Her eyes widened and her mouth opened as she watched the shadows collect into a dark figure wearing a wide brimmed hat standing above her. It looked down at her with red fiery eyes that gave her a sense of dread. Its deformed hands and feet ended in long spindly talons. The only other feature she saw was the outline of a beard. It did not move or say anything.
Before she could scream, the wire wrapped itself around her neck and like a snake, it began to constrict.