It was the old man. I could hear him moving around in the walls. But, no, I know that’s not possible. There’s dead, then there’s dead, and that old coot was deader than a doornail. But what was making the noise? What was responsible for the blood?
The first cold day of December was upon us when I killed the old bastard. It wasn’t for profit, or revenge. I did it because I hated him. He lived on the top floor of our building, and I lived on the floor below. To think, a carpet could have saved his life.
John, the old man, was an early riser. And the very first thing he did every morning was put on his shoes and walk across his apartment. He wore those shiny, leather shoes with hard soles that only film noir detectives and old people wear. Every morning, four a.m. that old man would wake me up. When I’m not acting as the super for the building, I work second shift, three to eleven. Two stinking jobs just to make rent on a terrible apartment and feed myself.
It wasn’t just me that hated him. I talked to other people in the building. I asked Joseph, the guy that lives with his mother on the first floor, “What do you think about this jerk living on Six? Real bastard right?”
He agreed. So did the three Chinese kids living on two and the mechanic on three, and of course the Patels that lived below me. When I pressed them, they all agreed with me that he was no good. So, it was like I was doing the whole building a favor really.
The only thing I ever wanted was a good night’s sleep, yet old Johnny boy couldn’t let me have even that. There were six apartments in the building. The Patels who lived below me, claimed that when I walked they could hear it too, but it wasn’t that loud. They were probably lying too. It didn’t matter, I was going to have some peace and quiet no matter what it took.
I planned it for months, meticulously. I studied his every movement, keeping a detailed log of where he was in his apartment at any given time, thanks to those loud shoes it was all too easy. The weekends were the best time to study him. I could stay in my place all day charting him. I knew when he went to the bathroom, when he ate his meals, when he fed his cat, everything about him.
The most important thing I learned about him was when he went to bed. Saturday’s he checked in especially early. What type of human garbage goes to sleep at six pm? Well, it would be the last insult of his I would suffer.
The building was old and decrepit, each step on the stairs leading up to his apartment creaked loudly. I was certain he would hear it, I couldn’t believe the other tenants weren’t yelling up at me to keep it down. But no, all was still, no one came out to investigate and when I pressed my ear to the old man’s door there was no sound from within.
Because I was the super I had keys to every apartment. Getting in was no problem. I left my shoes in my apartment, I’m no idiot I know just how loud the floors can be. When I opened the door a black streak shot between my legs and I froze in panic. Turning, I saw that it was only the stupid cat. I ignored it and went about my work. The apartment reeked of old man, garbage and cat piss.
He was asleep in bed, a dingy old mattress, yellow sheets filthy pillows. He was sunken into the middle of the mattress, only the glowing green of the alarm clock illuminated his waxy skin. I was patient, but even my patience had its limits. I opened my pocket knife and drew it slowly, lovingly over his pale, wrinkled throat. The sheets weren’t yellow after that!
But that was the easy part, I always knew it would be. The hard part, the part where everyone messes up is getting rid of the body. But I had the best plan ever for that. You see, they catch you when you move the body, when you let it get away from you, put it out into the world. They find it and use their forensic tricks to trace it back to you. They weren’t ever going to find the old man.
I retrieved the supplies from the basement. Some drywall, plaster, a hammer, a hand saw, some nails, paint and plastic sheeting. The first step was demolition, but it had to be done quietly. No one knew better than me how well sound traveled in the building. I made a small hole and used the saw to cut away a large section of drywall.
The old man was so frail and weak his body easily fit between the studs, even after I wrapped him tight in the plastic. It took me a few hours to affix the new drywall, but once it was done and the paint applied, no one would ever be able to tell there had been a disturbance. As I left, I realized in my excitement I left the door open and almost laughed at how stupid I’d been. No harm, no foul though, I hadn’t been caught so there was nothing to fear.
Or so I thought.
The next night I was awoke by the sound of scratching in the wall next to my bed. I thought it was rats, we’ve had them a few times, but this was louder. I listened as a minute passed, then five, then an hour, but no there was only a single scratch. My clock radio said four am.
I awoke the next morning, feeling apprehensive. The scratching was surely in my imagination. But when I went downstairs I noticed the Patel’s door was slightly ajar. I knocked but there was no answer. I pushed it open and was horrified with what I saw. In the middle of the room were the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Patel, their throats cut open.
This was no good. If someone found this murder scene, they would certainly discover what happened to the old man. I did the only thing I could do, I sealed them in the walls just as I had the old man. It took longer to clean up, this murder was so much more gruesome. The Patels had struggled and their blood was all over the apartment.
That night the scratching again, exactly four am. This time there was no mistaking it. A scratching in the wall, right next to my head, right next to where I sleep. It lasted longer, two or three scratches, some muffled noise like movement behind the wall. Was this the old man getting his revenge? The Patels? This went on, every night the scratching would get longer and louder, more insistent and desperate. This, with the added stress of the deaths was driving me mad.
In the coming days other tenants went missing or were murdered. I found the Chinese students on the fourth day, disposed of them as I had the others. Joseph and his mother, I never saw again, but I noticed that one section of his wall was freshly painted. The mechanic must have called the police the night before he was killed, because shortly after cleaning up that mess, they knocked on my door.
Two men in their late thirties, dressed in uniforms and looking aloof greeted me. One was very fat, so much so that his giant belly spilled over the top of his police belt. The other was average, unremarkable even but for his bright red hair.
I asked them what I could do for them. I was the super, I had the keys, the cops wanted to look around. We started at the bottom floor. The police, looked around, mostly disinterested. Seeing that everything seemed to be in order they left the apartment satisfied. They asked where the tenant was and I told them he worked during the day.
The second floor was searched with equal lack of interest, as was the third and the forth. We passed my apartment on the fifth floor on our way to John’s “penthouse.” The cops asked me to wait in living room while they looked around.
The bed was stripped. That’s what tipped them off that something was amiss. They asked me to come into the bedroom. It was set up just like mine, with the bed against the outside wall (the very same I’d enclosed the old man in) and a dresser on the near wall.
The red haired cop pointed to the bed and asked me why it was stripped. I told him I didn’t know. He asked when I’d last seen the resident who lived in the apartement. I said, “A week or so ago. But that’s normal, he’s an old man that doesn’t come out much,” which was true.
“What about the other tenants?” red hair asked.
There was a light scratching in the wall. I very nearly panicked but instead answered quickly to cover up the sound. “I haven’t seen any of them recently either.”
The cops shared a look. Something I said had been wrong. “He meant, have any of them seen John?” the fat one asked.
Damn! I thought. Now they know something is amiss. I paused to think and the damned scratching started again, louder now, so loud it sounded like a slab of marble being dragged over concrete. “No, I wouldn’t know,” I said louder. “How could I know what they saw or didn’t see?”
“Calm down sir,” the red haired cop commanded. Still the scratching went on, endlessly, maddeningly. What demon force could have caused it? Not the old man, no surely not him. He was so cold and stiff when I shoved him into the wall there was no way he could have been alive.
“I am calm!” I shouted. Then a different noise, a yowling inhuman noise. And I knew.
“Sir, if you don’t settle down we’ll arrest you for disturbing the peace.”
“It’s the cat,” I whispered, barely even realizing I’d said anything aloud. “The monster is in there with him!”
Here I lost my control and kicked the wall in, furious with the furry devil. I tore through the drywall, yanking out pieces and casting them aside, exposing the plastic bound old man until finally I saw the creature. Before I could destroy it I was taken into custody.
Charged with all the crimes, even those committed by the demonic cat in the wall, I had no choice. I told the court everything, I told them that it wasn’t me that killed the Patels or the mechanic. I would never hurt them, any of them, it was the old man and his cat. They were the villains that tortured me, that killed the others. I had to stop him, and his cat got its revenge. Still, even in my cell, even behind the concrete walls and cinder blocks I can hear the cat scratching.
Credit To – LanaLamb