Covering my nose to protect it from any smell that might be lingering, I enter my apartment; Gerard in tow. The two windows along the far wall have been closed and a sticky note placed on each one saying “KEEP SHUT!” Like the pissy letter the building manager left stuck to my front door wasn’t clear enough.
Gerard looks around my sad little room, “Well at least we won’t have to worry about fitting your belongings in the car.” The sparse furniture was included with the rental, so really all that I own can be fit into two rolling suitcases. Looking at the small pile of my things, I realize how pitiful it is. I’m twenty-six and this is all I have in the world. A couple bags of clothes, some bathroom crap, and a dead fern. Sad indeed.
On the bright side, I’m moving into a beautiful home; rent free. I’m not sure if Gerard knows that fact or not but I’m going to think of it as retribution. Maybe I could save up to buy some furniture of my own. Luckily, my lease ran out eight months ago and I was just paying month to month. Cleaning is a quick sweep and wipe down, I generally keep things tidy, so I could count on getting the deposit back.
I run to the car after turning in my key to the manager and filling out paperwork. Gerard has waited patiently for half an hour. I feel bad for taking so much of his time but I also didn’t want to do all that on my own.
“Thank you for helping me so much Gerard.” I say as I drop into his little black car .
“No thanks are necessary Pennelope. It’s my fault you needed to move. So..let’s go home.” I nod and smile. I haven’t had a roommate for years, mostly just because they kept robbing me and skipping out on the rent. Living with Gerard would have its own pitfalls. Monsters and Slayers and such.
“I wanted to let you know that I’ve arranged for a meeting with the Blood Soul tribal leader. See if we can’t straighten this whole thing out. It’s set for this Saturday night.” He pats my shoulder and returns his hand to the steering wheel to turn into his garage.
I blow out a deep breath, “I want to be there, I want to face that asshole. See what he really looks like.”
The engine quits and he looks at me with a serious expression, “That would not be wise. If they decided to attack me, I couldn’t protect us both. There will be many Blood Souls there. Best just leave it to me.” He gets out of the car and walks over to check his mailbox. End of discussion.
I smirk, snort and get out to retrieve my bags from the car. “Who does he think I am, a fifties housewife?!” I stomp up to the guest room “Best leave it to me!” I mock in a deep tone. I shut the door for some privacy while unpacking. Gerard is overdue for a harsh lesson on twenty-first century women.
Judging by the clattering downstairs, Gerard is in the kitchen. I hear him yell up to me, “So what’s for dinner tonight?”. I am flabbergasted. Did that chauvinistic pig really just expect me to cook. I don’t mind cooking, but I don’t like being told I’m making a meal. I fly down the wood staircase and burst into the kitchen; ready for war. “You think I’m gonna…” I freeze because he’s looking through a pile of takeout menus strewn across the table. Every restaurant in a fifty mile radius must have a menu here. He looks up, surprised by my loud entrance. “Your going to what?” he asks, confused.
“Nothing,… uh, so you eat out a lot huh? ” I sit at the table and pick through the pile.
He shrugs and shows me a menu from the Pizza Kingdom on the other side of town. “This place is really good. They make XXXKing pizzas.” I place my hand over the menu. “I eat pizza at least five times a week, no thanks.” Gerard laughs, “I forgot, sorry. How do you like Italian?”
I gather the menus and shove every one back into the open drawer they came from.
“How does homemade spaghetti sound. You know, as a roommate celebratory meal. Lets go, you pay for the ingredients, I’ll cook.”
He grabs his keys, “Deal!”
I love how fast Gerard eats the meal I prepared. His savory “Mm’s” and multiple requests for more are the best compliments. I need to prepare a larger batch next time. The dishes are a mutual effort and we finish quickly.
I say good night and go into my room. It’s really a beautifully decorated room. A queen sleigh bed, with a sunny floral quilt that begs me to roll up in it and sleep until noon. I even have a vanity desk to set my assorted lotions and make-up on. Very fancy. My favorite piece of furniture in the room by far, is the overstuffed blue lounger next to the window. I can already imagine afternoons reading in the sunlight, wrapped in a fluffy blanket. Simply heaven.
No time for reading now though, I have to be to work by six a.m. I visit the bathroom quickly, careful not to have an awkward run in with Gerard. Then I cuddle into my new, soft bed.
Being in a new house, my brain is extra sensitive to the sounds that happen while I sleep. A floorboard creeks outside my door. “Gerard, is that you?” I whisper. No answer. “Gerard!” I whisper louder. I get out of my bed and retrieve the taser from my purse. I stand at my door, hold my breath and listen for any other noises. There’s nothing, so I get back in bed. The second I lie down, I have to pee. I throw back the covers and sneak to the bathroom.
On my way back, I carefully tiptoe over the creaky boards. Silently, a hand wraps around my throat, picks me up off the ground and a cloth is placed over my face. Other than a few scuffles against the wood floors, I’m unable to make a noise to alert Gerard. I feel myself being pulled into darkness, floating along.
I don’t want to be conscious right now. My throat is on fire with each breath and my head is spinning. The stench is very possibly what is making me dizzy. I pull my mean-bunny shirt up to shield my nose. It helps a lot. “Water?” I croak. I don’t know who will come or even if someone will. I couldn’t tell even if someone was sitting right beside me; it’s so dark. Or I’m blind. I close my eyes so that they won’t continue to try to find light. It helps with the spinning also. I’m free to move, but I’m afraid to. I try to say it louder, “Water!..ahh” I cry from the hot clawing pain in my throat.
The rotten smell gets noticeably stronger and I feel cold fingers place a plastic water bottle in my hands. I drink small sips, that sting as I swallow but I feel like I can speak again.
“Where am I?”, I ask with a whisper.
“Below” Is his answer. The same voice from that night. “And now your mine…”
More to come……