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I Must Have Gone Mad During Quarantine



Estimated reading time — 11 minutes


I give up.

This is my eighth day in quarantine. More like solitary confinement, because I have lost track of time and I live alone in a bachelor apartment. I am stuck ordering groceries online, getting food delivery—even succumbed to having my brother deliver some wine for me to get me through the loneliness. I have tested negative for COVID, which is a good thing; however, due to Public Health guidelines, I must still isolate for another 7 days. It is getting harder every minute.
I recently moved into this apartment and it is cheap if you ask me. However, I was informed that the previous tenant took her own life in this apartment and it is well-known in the city. I guess that is what quarantine does to you. But unfortunately, during this time, it is the only rent I can afford. In a typical bachelor apartment, you have a bed, a desk, a kitchen, a bathroom with a shower, and maybe a dining table. No room for anything else. I like to think of it as a bed-to-door situation, as I can hear everything in the hallway—and, really, whoever is in the hallway can hear everything I am doing and saying. There is a door that leads to the stairwell and my door to the apartment happens to be next to it. Whenever someone steps into the hallway, I can hear it. I’ve gotten accustomed to it as there is nothing much else to do besides ignore it. If someone has loud feet, I can hear it—and, rarely, I’ll hear my neighbours.

I recently got my buzzer code for the door set up on my phone. I am new to this apartment, so the property managers just reused the same number from the previous tenant. This apartment is nice but small. It was not meant to be lived in 24 hours a day. I even recently saw some cockroaches and had to immediately get it fumigated. I am paranoid about poisoning myself daily, but the company assured me that the chemicals they use are not lethal to humans. What a relief.
My friends check in on me through Facetime and messenger. It feels warm and comforting to catch up with them. I feel envious when they are out enjoying their nights or going on socially distant dates (or not-so-socially-distant dates, in some cases). For me, I am lucky to get through a movie without feeling antsy.

Lately, I have been hearing a man scream outside the bus stop outside every morning at 5:30 am. I informed my property manager; she said that she has not heard any complaints about this man yet and that I should contact the police. I’ve peeked out my window facing the bus stop to see what this man is yelling about—but it seems to be gibberish. I cannot understand what he is yelling about but some nights I just want to yell at him to shut the fuck up. But I do not want to put myself in a situation that could be harmful to me. My buzz code to my apartment is displayed on the door outside, after all, including my apartment number. My apartment could be easily found when following the signs inside the building. The thing I worry about the most is what could happen if someone let this deranged man inside the building? He waits for the bus that comes at 6:05 am. And then he does not return until the next night.
Another cockroach walks across my keyboard.
I immediately squash it with a tissue. That is the fifth one in two days. I look around my apartment and look for any other signs of an infestation. Nothing.
Where are these cockroaches coming from? I call the property manager and she explains that it is not the building, but the areas surrounding it. I don’t believe her. But cockroaches are interesting that way. You cannot run from them. No matter where you go, they are there. And if you do not see them, they are still there living in your drainage pipes. The idea of it sickens me. At least the apartment was sprayed with chemicals to reduce it. However, the property manager also said that you cannot smell the chemical they used. I wonder if they even sprayed the apartment at all.
Am I being lied to?

My phone starts ringing. It’s the delivery man saying my food is here; I tell him to buzz up as I cannot leave my apartment. My phone starts ringing, and I dial 9 to buzz him inside of the building. I hear him coming up the stairs. I’m eager, as I’m getting hungry and that pad thai is calling my name.
I hear the door from the stairwell creak open, and then a knock on my door.
Knock.
Knock.
“Delivery from Food-Go! I’ll just leave it at the door for you.”
I let the delivery man know I am coming, and I can hear him placing my food at the door. The stairwell door creaks open and I hear him walking down the stairs back to the exterior door.
I open my door and grab my food—but then I’m hit by a foul stench. Almost as if something has died in the hallway. There are a couple of cockroaches walking across the wall in the hallway. Disgusted, I close the door and start unwrapping the plastic bag that my food is in.

I open the pad thai boxes and immediately cockroaches start pouring out of it, crawling all over my hands. I jump up, disgusted—and now there is a sea of cockroaches gathering around my feet and climbing up my legs. I swat them off one by one. This apartment is tiny so there is no way for me to run from them.
Knock.
Knock.
Is someone at my door while I am handling these cockroaches? I yell, “Give me a minute” and squash another few cockroaches. The rest, suddenly, stop crawling toward my feet. Instead, they crawl towards the bathtub and go down the drain. In unison. Almost as if they were instructed to.
Knock.
Knock.
Someone is still at my door? I didn’t hear any voices behind the door—not even my neighbours asking if I am okay. I check the peephole to see in the hallway who it is. I see nothing.
I open the door to peek out. I look down and see the delivery man lying in front of my door with his hand extended towards my doormat. Cockroaches were crawling all over his body, going inside of his mouth and nose. I immediately close the door and call the police. Could the man at the bus stop have done this?
I’m thinking about what I just saw—and it wasn’t just the cockroaches. Minutes ago I heard the delivery man walk in and drop off my food. Just now, he looked like he had been dead in the hallway for years.
I open the door to see him again.
The body is not there.

It is day nine now, and I feel like I am going stir crazy. Ever since I moved in here, I feel like I am always here. Since the pandemic began, I have had to isolate myself so much. I thought about joining those conspiracy groups that think COVID is a hoax just to pass the time, but I know that is unlike me to do that. I just find it so difficult to be here alone in this apartment. Even after the ordeal with the delivery man. Oh, and to just let you know, neither the property manager nor the police investigated it. They assumed I was having a nightmare. Since there was no explanation for why the body suddenly disappeared.
According to Public Health, it can take up to 14 days for this virus to show symptoms. I am sort of a hypochondriac, so I tend to overthink any symptoms I have. I have had a tickle in my throat for a couple of days now. But I drink a lot of hot tea to burn it. It is cold season anyway, and being alone in this bachelor has made me sicker than usual.
It is funny, though, that when I looked at this apartment online, it had great reviews. It said that the property manager takes care of the tenants and is available practically 24/7. It is true, the property manager set up my buzz number at 6 am and answers my calls any hours of the day. We even made jokes on the phone about the fumigation chemicals. Especially about how I shouldn’t “lick the floors.” I sometimes wonder if I should, so I can see what would happen.
The tickle in my throat is acting up again. I cough. I immediately google if that is a sign of COVID-19. The internet says it is a symptom, so I become more paranoid. Does that mean I have to stay in this apartment for even longer?
I cough.
I encountered someone positive for COVID-19 nine days ago and that is why I am isolating. But to me, if I tested negative, why do I have to keep isolating? I am not one to distrust public health guidelines, I know as it could be a false-negative, but I feel fine besides the tickle in my throat.
I cough.
I try drinking some water. It feels like I have a lump in my throat, so I think this might help.

I start choking on my water—I guess it went down the wrong tube. After another profuse coughing fit, I start to breathe normally again.
I lower my face on my desk and hit my chest to see if that will change my coughing.
A cockroach falls out of my mouth and lands on my desk.
Knock.
Knock.

It is day ten now, and the days keep flying by. I again lost track of what day it is. I seem to be repeating the same thing over and over. But I do not remember what happened the day before. I started writing this on day nine of my quarantine, but what happened to the first eight days? When I read the previous entries here, I am in disbelief. After all, I swear I started having nightmares and cabin fever around this time. But the days are becoming the same.
I have not seen a cockroach yet today.
I have not heard my neighbours walk in the hallway for a while. Some days I feel like I am the only person who lives in this apartment building.
A dog barks from across the hall.
How exciting that there is a furry friend that lives in this hallway. This is the first time I’ve heard the dog bark, so I assume that it just moved in. I am okay with it. It is from way down the hall, so I barely hear it.
I hear the door open from down the hall. I am assuming that the dog and its owner are about to go for a nice walk. I am jealous that they can leave. I am starting to miss the outdoors. I walk to my door and check the peephole to see if I can spot the furry friend. I hear the dog move closer to the stairwell door—and then I don’t hear anything else. Not even the owner. How did the stairwell door open? Where did they go?
I hear growling.
Knock.
Knock.
I hear loud barking noises at my door—and, suddenly, vicious scratching. I stay back from the door and the scratching and barking keep going. It’s as if the dog is trying to break inside. I immediately yell “FUCK OFF OR I AM CALLING THE POLICE.”
Suddenly it stopped.
I almost feel like it must have been some kind of prank or something—obviously, it can’t have been a genuine threat, since I would have been torn apart by this apparently savage dog by now.
I feel like it was to make sure that I was still inside this apartment.

I do not know what to feel anymore.

It is day fourteen. The day I can break my quarantine. I call all my friends to tell them they can see me now. I have no other symptoms and I feel better than I have these last two weeks. I do not seem to remember them. I did not even write it in this word document. I understand what it feels like to be a prisoner during this time. When other people have to isolate, they usually have a partner or roommate to talk to in the meantime to get through it. Unless they are positive for COVID-19—in that case, I hope they are isolated from their partners.
Knock.
Knock.
Strange. I have not heard the knocking in a long time. I do not even remember the last time I heard it.
Knock.
Knock.

Who is here?

I have to write this down before I forget again. I found a note. It was crumbled and found in the back of the heater. I was so bored I decided to a deep clean under the heater vents to get rid of all of the dust I can. I will write out what it says:

Day Thirteen of Quarantine,
I am repeating the same day over and over. I am being watched. There is a knock on the door every day. I am writing this to you whoever lives in this apartment after me.
Knock.
Knock.
You made a mistake.
I know that this place was affordable. But this place is cursed. The previous tenant before me was into Satanic shit. The people around you are not experiencing what you are. The property manager has no idea. Your friends have no idea.
If you look very closely, you will see the outline of a summoning circle before the front door. They didn’t clean it properly.
There is a delivery guy that will come and knock. Don’t open the door. He has been dead for years. He was brutally murdered by the guy who was into Satanic shit. He was trapped.
I am in a trap.
You are in a trap.
And it won’t let you leave.
If you try to call for help, you will be forced into questioning your reality and what you saw. The only hope is the man at the bus stop. He sees what you are seeing but there is nothing he can do to stop it.

I am sorry, there is no way out.

I give up…

I hear the man at the bus stop yelling.
How is it 5:30 am? Did I sleep? Did I wake up suddenly for no reason? I peek at the window facing the bus stop and there we are…making eye contact. He looks terrified. I assume he is high off something as he doesn’t look well. Is he sick?
He motions for my attention. He puts his right arm up to his forehead. Then to his chest. Then to his left shoulder and then to his right.
Did he just say a prayer? What does the holy father have to do with this? I immediately roll my eyes and back away. He starts yelling again and he is looking at me from the bus stop. He looks then at my front door and he becomes scared. I am sure he comes every morning to yell gibberish, but it seems he is reciting something now. I see a cross hanging from his neck.

He is yelling,

“HE IS HERE! HE IS HERE!”

I immediately back away from the window. He is warning me. He is blessing me. He knows I have been here the whole time. What did he see at the front door of the building?
Knock.
Knock.
“Delivery from Food-Go! I’ll just leave it at the door for you.”
What do you mean? I did not order anything. It is 5:40 am. I check the clock. It is 8 pm. It is like I have seen this before. This is the exact moment I found the delivery man dead outside of my front door. I look at the passages I typed here.

I do not remember the man at the bus stop. I am on day two of quarantining? Wait, I do not even remember quarantining for this long. How long have I been here?
Knock.
Knock.
I get up from my desk and walk towards the door.
Knock.
Knock.
But this time it was louder. Who did I buzz into my apartment last night? Was it the delivery man or was it something else?
This night keeps repeating itself.
I open the door, and nothing is there. The delivery man was not at my front door. I look in the hallway and nothing is there.
I close the door.
It is happening again. These nights that feel like nightmares. Nightmares that are happening in the day. I open the door, and nothing is there. It keeps happening day after day. This is probably the reason I am not remembering anything. Nothing is happening when I open my door.
Nothing is happening.
The man outside the window is yelling again. He is yelling for me. I walk towards the window to see him. The man at the bus stop is walking towards the front door. He looks at the buzz code list for each apartment. He dials and makes eye contact with me. My phone starts ringing. He looks scared at this point. I answer.
“Hello?”
Knock.
Knock.
I buzz him in. I hear running from up the stairs towards the stairwell door. His footsteps are getting loud. The stairwell door opens.
Knock.
Knock.
Knock.
Knock.
I open the door. No one is there. The man is yelling outside by the bus stop. I leave my door open and check the window.
Who did I just let into the building?
I look behind me. I see a figure. A demonic figure I have never seen before. It was tall and almost human-like. But it was a rotting corpse standing in my doorway. It had white eyes and a mouth with rotting teeth. Cockroaches were climbing out of his mouth while it stood there smiling at me. I was frozen with fear.

This is what is knocking on my door every night.
This is what is making me question my reality.
It backs away from the doorway and my door slams shut.
I latch on to the handle and try opening it. And it will not let me. It’s like the door is glued shut.
This thing is not letting me leave. I do not think I will ever leave.
What was that thing? Could this explain why the man at the bus stop was trying to warn me? Could this explain what happened to the previous tenant? What ever happened to the delivery guy? Did he ever make it out?

Was the man at the bus stop playing tricks on me?

Day one of quarantine and I am looking forward to the next 14 days off. I must follow the public health guidelines to keep myself and others safe!
However, I do not remember writing these other entries? Interesting. I have always tried to write short stories, but I never felt like they were good enough to publish. This time, I must have been creative. I need something to pass the time after all.
Well, let us see how long I will last before I go stir crazy in this bachelor apartment. Did I mention I have cockroaches? I just ordered my food online and it should be here any minute. I just got my buzz code set up and the property managers just reused them from the previous tenant. They say that the previous tenant took her life in this apartment. Very sad. I keep finding her hair in the drain that I keep meaning to clean out. But these cockroaches keep coming out of the damn drains!
I wonder why the previous tenant took her life. But out of respect, I tried not to ask more questions.

I wondered what happened to her.
Knock.
Knock.

It is happening again…

Credit : austinnf

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