LJ Idol Exhibit B | week two | 500 words
"You'd be breaking your lease," Travis said. "The fine for that is huge. It'll cost you."
"I don’t care!" Ben Harkness was almost nearly stuttering. "I'm not staying in that apartment another day!"
Travis sighed and pulled Ben's rental agreement out of the file cabinet. He'd have to clean the apartment and put an ad in the newspaper, then do the background checks and interviews for prospective tenants. He'd been through this for 1436 just two months ago, and it wore him out.
They might as well just close the whole top floor. Nobody stayed in those apartments for long.
It was cold again. Nights were the worst—the chill grew stronger with each passing hour until it went right to the bone. But it was four o'clock in the afternoon now, and even the storm clouds outside couldn't account for the bitter sting in the air.
Sometimes, Nina thought she heard screaming. She'd run up and down the hallways and even check out the window, but no one else seemed to notice anything wrong. The sobs and moans coming through the walls were almost as bad.
Fifteen months later, Nina left apartment 1438. She'd already lasted longer than most.
Changing elevator buttons and apartment numbers to turn the thirteenth floor into the fourteenth was just plain stupid. Calling it something else didn't change what it was.
Ernie renumbered the doors (the ghosts of the threes loomed behind the fours, obvious as hell). Apartment 1337 was responsible for the whole project, but the new address didn't 'take'. The door rattled like a living thing under Ernie's hammer, and the 'four' fell off again and again.
Empty for decades, the apartment still gave Ernie the willies. When the door bucked against his steadying hand, Ernie bolted, leaving all his tools behind.
A knife, he has a knife, whyever did I let him bring me here?
Mother always said a girl oughtn't talk to strangers, no matter how respectable they might seem. Oh, how could I have thought this terrible man and his fancy car were anything but trouble?
My mouth is stopped up with a handkerchief and I'm tied to a chair, but I try my hardest to scream. I hear noises next door—if I could only draw someone's attention, they might help me. Oh hurry, please hurry—he has a knife! Whyever did I let him bring me here?
She was naught but a whore, and I gave her the fate such creatures deserve. The night was nearly too black to see, but my blade found its mark. Her wretched body tempts no man now.
Still, her release from punishment was far too quick. My own building (with its dark rear entrance and no other top-floor tenants) might allow me to administer a more leisurely justice.
These new flapper girls, with their painted faces, are loose as any strumpet on the street. They shall learn the price of lost virtue in a few sorry hours under my merciless hands.
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