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Alberto Nujas scrambles out of bed, quickly glancing at the clock. It’s two thirty-two in the morning, but when you gotta go, you gotta go. Alberto closes the bathroom door and locks it before doing his business. Even though he’s a 29-year-old bachelor, old habits die hard.
Alberto finishes his business and is about to flush when he feels a strange pang of fear. There’s no reason he should be scared, this is his house, all the doors and windows are locked, he’s utterly alone…there’s no REASON, he tells himself.
He looks slowly to the bathroom door, securely battened down against…well, against nothing, really. Shrugging, he reaches towards the handle when he hears something that makes him stay his hand. A kind of creak. The house settling. The wind blowing against the door. A tree branch rubbing against the side of his house.
Alberto comes to his senses, realizing that he’s been standing with his hand on the toilet handle for five minutes or so. Slowly he withdraws his hand and joins it with its sibling, absentmindedly writhing the two together like lovers. He listens again, but all he can hear is his own heartbeat. Not a breath of wind. He runs to the window, but of course it’s black as pitch.
Alberto groans inwardly at himself, and grabs the toilet handle. “If I’m going to do it, then I’ll just do it, and damn the torpedoes,” he mutters. Flush goes the toilet and Alberto braces himself for…something, but the house remains silent, apprehensive. Alberto laughs aloud to himself at his foolishness.
And hears the noise again.
Alberto’s laugh stops dead, but his mouth still hangs open in surprise. His eyes widen. “Did that sound come from the hallway?” he asks himself. “The acoustics in this house are shit. I can’t tell. God. God. Probably not. That’s stupid. Stupid stupid stupid.” He walks to the door and leans his ear against it. The sound of his own breathing? Or…
“It’s my own breathing. Obviously. I mean, the house is all locked up. I’m alone in here. No way in, right? It was just me.
Alberto withdraws his ear. The toilet is still gurgling as it always does after a flush. “Since nothing is wrong, I’ll wash my hands,” he thinks. “Yep, just wash my hands and head on back to bed.” His hands shake as he reaches for the faucets. But before his hands can complete their mission, he hears the faint creak again. Unlike the other incidents, however, this creak is accompanied by the door handle to the bathroom moving. Maybe. Since the handle is a shiny bronze sphere, it’s really quite hard to see it moving. It probably isn’t.
Alberto locks his eyes on the door handle. Almost imperceptibly, it moves.
Alberto freezes, staring. Yeah, it’s moving. “The door in the wood is warping. Hell, stranger things have happened,” whispers Alberto. However, the water still isn’t running. Alberto’s hands have the faucets in a death-grip. If it had a throat, it’d be strangling. Stupid thought. Shakes his head. Turns on the water. And he hears
Hours later. Alberto wakes up. The water’s still running. Hell of a water bill I’m racking up. The window. Still dark. No watch. Don’t know the time. Can’t wait it out. Stands up. Falls. Stands up again. Door shut, handle stationary. Just like normal. Shit, I’m shaking. I’m just cold. The creak again, louder than ever. Right outside the door. And the…other sound. No doubt now. Walks. Hand on the doorknob. I’m going back to bed and sleeping and while I’m asleep I’ll dream of that girlIkissedinhighschooltheonew
“STOP!” Alberto screams. “I HEARD THE HOUSE SETTLING AND GOT A BIT NERVOUS. NOW I AM GOING TO BED.”
His shout echoes through the house, fading away. The house eats it.
Alberto turns the doorknob and turns it. Not too slow, not too fast. The lock clicks open at the exact same volume that it always clicks. He opens the door.
A month later, the police investigate a report from the water company claiming that the resident of 13 Pentwater Avenue hasn’t paid his water bill and isn’t answering the phone or the doors. All they find is the bathroom door hanging wide open and the bathroom sink overflowing.
Credit To: Devin Marcus