For the past couple of weeks now I’ve been noticing a few odd things in my apartment. It started off with food mysteriously disappearing from my refrigerator and pantry while I’d be away at work. I didn’t think much of it at the time, since every now and then I’d lose track of my daily eating habits due to my busy schedule, so I simply brushed it off. Eventually it didn’t stop there. Almost every night I could’ve sworn I could hear shuffling sounds coming from within the walls, and sometimes when I got home late from work I’d find both my computer and TV turned on, even when I distinctly remembered turning them off before I left. Strangely, the TV would always be tuned to the local news, and my computer’s search history would show several results for nearby takeout restaurants. Needless to say, it was freaking me out.
The building I lived in had tight security, with officers frequently patrolling the area, and it was located in the part of the city where crime was pretty scarce. Considering that I’ve given a couple of my friends copies of my apartment key to make sure that I wouldn’t misplace them (which I so often do), I thought perhaps that one of them was trying to mess with me. I was eager to get to the bottom of this, so I asked if either of them were the culprit; however, they both blatantly denied it. This, of course, put me on edge, so I asked my landlord to check the security footage on my floor for any suspicious activity. He immediately began searching through two weeks of recorded footage, looking for any unfamiliar faces entering my apartment. He finished his investigation the following week, and said that he’s found nothing out of the ordinary.
“There’s nothing to worry about,” he assured me. “It’s probably all in your head, man.” At the time I was considering the possibility that maybe he was right. Being a domestic abuse lawyer, I’ve had to deal with a lot of stressful cases and work overwhelmingly long hours. Perhaps the numerous caffeine fueled nights and constant headaches were starting to get to me.
On one particular snowy day I was coming down with a nasty cold, and had to call in sick for the next few days. Despite having to reluctantly waste some of my days off on such a gloomy occasion, I was still glad to be temporarily free from my hectic obligations. It was around 7:30, and I was getting really tired. I had finally made it near my apartment on the 6th floor. I just got back from picking up some remedies at Walmart, and was anticipating a nice long night of peace and relaxation.
Just as I stood in front the door I immediately heard a faint shuffling in the distances. My eyes scanned the hallway for any signs of life. Nothing. Suddenly I could hear footsteps quickly creaking on a wooden surface. After listening in closely I made a chilling realization of where these footsteps were coming from. Inside my apartment. This couldn’t have been one of my friends, as I had recently changed the lock on my door due to all the strange things that’ve been happening. A sudden chill went up my spine, because I knew right then and there that an intruder had somehow broken in. At that moment I felt really uneasy. I wanted to run downstairs and call for help, but I knew if I left the hallway at this point the intruder would definitely make a break for it. Being the naïve young man that I was I was determined to go inside, grab my gun, and try to apprehend whoever was inside.
Taking in a deep breath, I slowly unlocked the door and creaked it halfway open. I was instantly hit with a powerful, ghastly odor that made me want to puke. It smelled like something had been decaying in there for quite some time. Ignoring it, I cautiously proceeded to the kitchen to grab the gun I kept hidden in the top drawer. I grabbed it and opened the lights. To my surprise, the first thing I noticed were several pizza boxes and takeout bags scattered across the ceramic tiles. This struck me as rather odd, because I knew I didn’t order any takeout that day.
I also noticed that there were food-covered footprints leading directly into the living room. Someone was definitely in here, and it looked like they were in a hurry to remain hidden from me. I slowly made my way into the Living room with my gun at the ready. The footprints lead right next to the boarded up wall that was stationed on the other side of the room. There were a couple half of broken planks in the middle of it that I haven’t gotten around to fixing yet.
Very carefully, I walked towards the wall for a closer inspection. My heart was beating with every inch I took. I stopped walking around a few feet away from it, and began closely examining it. I couldn’t make out anything inside, so I moved my head in even closer to search for any signs of life. Again, nothing was completely visible, as it was pitch dark inside, so this time I pulled out my phone, put it in the wall, and turned the screen on. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I saw two amber red eyes staring directly at me. My heart dropped like a rock. I quickly stumbled backwards, trying to keep my balance. A sudden rush of adrenaline swiftly filled my entire body. I quickly spoke in the most intimidating voice I could muster up.
“If you don’t get the fuck out from there right now I swear I’ll blow your fucking brains out!” I exclaimed. Silence subsequently followed. I was half expecting some demented lunatic to rush out from there and attack me out of nowhere, so I prepared myself for an epic battle. “Didn’t you fucking hear me!? I’m not messing arou-” before I could finish my sentence I was interrupted by a faint sobbing coming from within wall. The intruder took in a deep breath, and spoke in a soft tone.
“Please don’t hurt me, I’m really sorry about what I’ve done!” the intruder replied. The voice sounded like it belonged to a frightened little girl, around the age of 13. This really wasn’t the dramatic response I was expecting. I lowered my gun, as the tension in the room quickly shifted to that of confusion.
“Jesus kid, you nearly scared me half to death,” I said. “Who are you? And what exactly are you doing in there?” No response. It seemed like my initial reaction shook her up a bit. “It’s okay, you can tell me. I promise I won’t hurt you.” I slowly backed away from the wall to assure her that I wasn’t a threat. “See?” After a brief moment of silence she replied once more.
“My name’s Maple,” she said in a jittery voice. “I didn’t mean to cause trouble, I only wanted to get away from my mean parents.”
“Maple?” I paused for a minute, trying to recollect where I’ve heard that name before. Then it hit me. Maple was the little girl that went missing in the area several weeks ago. The media reported that she allegedly ran away from home after her parents had physically abused her last Christmas. She must’ve slipped in my apartment when I forgot to lock the door that day. At that moment I felt genuinely sympathetic, mostly because I’ve dealt with quite a few runaways in my line of work. Poor thing must’ve been scared to death. I guess when I ran out of food she decided to break into my neighbor’s apartment and help herself to their leftovers. She probably dropped all of it on the floor and made a break for it once she heard me come up to the door. I remembered at this point that there was a police car parked right outside of the building. I figured that I should first try to comfort her before calling the cops over.
“It’s okay sweetie, everything’s going to be alright,” I assured her. “Just please, come out so I can make sure you’re okay.”
She suddenly stopped sobbing and became quiet. Dead silence filled the room, as I anxiously awaited a response. She was almost starting to freak me out. After about a minute passed she finally said something.
“Okay, but could you first put the gun on the floor and come closer, I need help getting out.” Her voice sounded slightly deeper this time. The sudden shift in tension kind of threw me off at first. I wanted to comply with her demands, but I had this strange, eerie feeling deep inside that something was off. At the time I couldn’t make out what it was though. Giving in to my paranoia, I thought it was best if I just left her there while I went to go get help.
“Oh, um… actually. Just wait here Maple. I’ll be back soon with the…”
“Wait, don’t go!” she interrupted in a surprisingly loud and desperate plea. The sudden outburst made my whole body flinch. “You can’t leave me here! My ankle, it hurts really badly. I think I twisted it when I slipped on the floor. I don’t think I can get out on my own. You have to get me out of here right now! This place is really creeping me out.”
I hesitated for a moment. Believe me, I wanted nothing more than to help her out, but there was something about her tone that made me feel like she wasn’t completely telling the truth. My intuition’s usually pretty good at judging whether or not someone was lying, so I was inclined to follow my gut feeling.
“I’ll only be a couple minutes. Hang in there, kiddo. I promise I won’t be long.”
I quickly ran out my apartment before she could say another word. After a brief elevator ride down I sped across the hall, out the spinning doors, and into the freezing weather. To my relief, I found a slightly chubby officer talking to his slim partner right across the street from me. I ran towards them, eager to tell them everything that went down. Before I could make it halfway there, however, I froze. My heart sank, as I remembered something that will forever send a chill down my spine. I couldn’t believe I didn’t realize this until now. That couldn’t have been the same missing girl, because last night she was found murdered a couple blocks away. Her lifeless body was discovered stuffed inside the wall of a vacant apartment. It was all over the news this morning. Struck in awe, I was left nervously wondering who the hell was hiding in my walls this entire time.
I wasted no time as I rushed to the police and frantically told them everything like a nervous wreck. At first they thought it all sounded a bit sketchy, but after I persisted for a few minutes they were finally persuaded to follow me and take a look. Without catching my breath I ran back to my apartment with the officers following closely behind. When we made it to my living room I showed them where the intruder was hiding. The chubby officer told me to step back, as they both drew out there guns and pointed them at the wall.
“This is the police! I want you to get out from there right this instant and put your hands on the ground!” The officer’s demands were met with silence. “You have five seconds to comply or else I’m dragging you out!” Still nothing. The slim officer nodded, cueing his partner to go in. His partner pulled out a flashlight and slowly walked towards the wall with his gun still drawn out. I anxiously watched as he made his way to the wall and put his head inside. He began thoroughly searching both sides.
“Did you find anything?” the slim officer asked.
“Nope, it’s all clear,” he replied. “But I can tell someone’s been hiding in…” Before he could finish his sentence he paused. He puts his head in deeper for a closer inspection. “Hold up, I think I see something!” Judging by the surprise in his voice I had a feeling that he was about to discover something really disturbing. I could feel it in my bones.
“What is it?” His partner called out. The chubby officer took his head out of the wall and looked at his partner with a shocked expression.
“I think… I think I can see a couple of bodies inside!” Those words made my entire world turn upside down. I almost couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
“Are you sure about that?” the slim officer asked.
“Ye… yeah! I’m sure of it!” he exclaimed. “My god, I’ve never seen anything like this in my entire life! These bodies, they look so… mutilated. Just what the hell happened in here?”
The unsettling thought that I had just stood feet away from human corpses made my stomach turn. The powerful stench of decaying flesh made me want to puke my guts out. I knew right then and there that whoever had been hiding in my walls this whole time was definitely not a little girl. “Help me break down this wall, one of them could still be alive!”
The slim officer put his gun back in his holster and walked towards the wall. I watched from about fifteen feet away as they both started breaking down the old planks one by one. They quickly teared off three rows of them with ease while blood started pouring out in excessive amounts. Suddenly, out of nowhere, several lifeless, dismembered bodies fell right off the wall and onto the floor. My eyes grew wide with shock. Most of their flesh looked like it was violently bitten off, and their mutilated faces were completely unrecognizable. The disturbing thought of the immense pain these victims must have suffered through was simply too much to take in.
Upon taking a closer look at the type of clothes they had on I made a chilling realization of who they were. They were all food deliverers from several nearby restaurants. I could barely make out the restaurant logos on their violently shredded and blood soaked shirts. I wanted to look away from the gruesome sight, but there was something above the bodies that had caught my eye. It looked like there was something written in blood on the inside of the wall. At first I couldn’t make out what it said through the darkness of the room, so I slowly walked closer to read it more clearly. My entire body shook to its very core the instant I realized what it said.
“You’re lucky you didn’t do what I asked.”