To be fair, they had warned me the apartment was haunted.
It was the third or fourth building I’d looked at, and the only one that was realistically in my price range. It was older, and nothing inside had been refurbished, but it offered a little more space than the others. I figured I could deal with tiny cabinets and creaky stairs if it meant I didn’t have to donate half my closet to the church.
“Now I know the walls aren’t in the best shape,” offered Jan the building manager as she walked me through the living space, “and the molding definitely needs some work, I’ll admit. But it adds character, you know? Plus, it has a ton of natural lighting.”
She waved her hand like a regular Vana White, gesturing to the large windows on the opposite wall, which offered a fantastic view of the next building’s brickwork. There was probably only about five feet between them.
“Absolutely,” I agreed with a smile. “And what did you say the heating situation was like?”
“Oh, well uh…we have a baseboard heating system, which is…at the moment—I guess it really depends on the lodger, you know? Some folks like it warm, some folks like it cold, so we get different opinions on the situation all the time. But if it ever became a problem, I’d be more than happy to take a look at it.”
“You do your own heating?”
The woman’s face blanched, and she brushed past me.
“Just wait until you see the kitchenette. The cabinets are a little on the worn-side, but this has a lot more counter space than you’ll see in most apartments at this rate.”
The tour hurried on to the rest of the apartment. It was adequate, I guess. The bedroom had a large crack in the wall, but more floor space than others I’d seen. The shelving in the linen closet was lined with some awful, peeling paper, but I was too surprised by the presence of an extra closet to care. And the bathroom was grimy at best, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t solve in an afternoon with some bleach and a toothbrush. I was hoped so, anyway.
“Well thank you so much for showing me around,” I said tepidly, as we headed back to the main room. “I really appreciate it.”
“Oh no problem at all, not at all,” she said. She slapped my arm lightly. “Although, erm…there is one other thing that—well, technically I do have to tell you.”
I immediately steeled myself for the worst. The price of the building was nice, and most of the problems I could live with. Even a history of mice I could probably live with. But if she was about to drop the c word I was out. Roaches were where I drew the line.
The building manager ruffled her shoulders, raising her eyes to the ceiling as she prepared her words.
“A couple years back, we did experience a certain…incident with one of our tenants.”
“What kind of incident?” I asked, crossing my arms.
“Well, the mortality kind.” She giggled, as if that might soften the blow. “Nothing messy—thank the Lord. Just some poor girl, late twenties. The police said it was self-induced, but of course we didn’t find that out for a few weeks. It had already been a few days when they found her.”
“Found her?” I asked. “You mean she…?”
“Killed herself, yes. Technically. But as I said, it was years ago, and the entire apartment has been redone since.”
I raised a skeptical eyebrow. “I thought you said this building hadn’t been refurbished.”
“Oh, refurbished—no. But it has been sanitized and inspected several times since the incident. More than ten! I could even get you a report on that if you’d like.”
“Er—that’s fine.” Ignoring the instinct to cut my losses and hit the pavement again, I cleared my throat. “More than ten inspections? Isn’t that a little excessive?”
In an instant, Jan the Building Manager was clearly full of regret.
“Obviously, our tenant satisfaction is a serious priority. We thought that being thorough…”
“Totally, but—ten? For something that happened years ago?”
She hesitated, and I noticed her eyes trail back to the ceiling.
“We’ve had the occasional complaint about…odd, little things in this particular space.”
“What kind of little things?”
“Just your average old building complaints—drafts, faulty electricity, sounds from the pipes. But with this kind of history, people let it get into their heads, you can understand. All these silly jokes about ghosts and spirits or whatever the PC term is these days.”
I blinked at her.
“Sorry, you’re trying to tell me that this apartment is haunted?”
“Of course not,” Jan the Building Manager laughed, her voice an octave higher. “I’m simply trying to give you some contextual information. I’d rather you get the facts from me than a bunch of whispers from other tenants. And the fact of the matter is that this apartment has been inspected top to bottom repeatedly, and there is nothing about it that couldn’t be fixed with a little TLC.”
That was a bold claim. Jan the Building Manager watched me like a skittish cat, her hands gripping her clipboard with knuckles whiter than the bathroom grout. I stared back, incredulous.
I’d never been particularly superstitious. Bad horror movies aside, I didn’t find the idea of a ghost confined to one apartment all that terrifying. Still, finding out that someone has died exactly where you’re standing is a bit of a reality check. So maybe I was a little shook. But I wasn’t sure what was more shocking—the fact that some poor girl had killed herself, or the fact that so many people had left the apartment because they were convinced her ghost was still raiding the fridge at night.
As I was struggling with that concept, the silence seemed to push Jan the Building Manager to her breaking point.
“Listen, I know that this kind of information can come as a shock. And you’re certainly not the first person to have their reservations about moving into a building with such a long list of complaints—paranormal or otherwise. So I’m going to talk to the realtors, and maybe we can negotiate something a little more enticing, hm?”
She released her clipboard, clicking her pen furiously as she crossed out something on the page. A scribbled note, a final tap, and then she turned the paper toward me once more.
My eyes widened. That was a very nice rent number.
An opportunity was presenting itself, and I wish I could say I just reached out and seized it. But if we’re being honest, it’s more like the opportunity reached out, grabbed my arm, and wrapped my hand around its throat, begging.
“Alright,” said Jan the Building Manager, taking my stunned silence for more supernatural reluctance. She nodded, scribbling again. “How about this?”
Well, I wasn’t stupid. Ghosts weren’t real, and my income was pretty limited. The apartment could have been a shithole and I would have taken it for a price like that. Maybe Jan’s desperation should have tipped me off that I was getting into something of a wild situation. Then again, I was also pretty desperate to not be living at home with my parents.
I smiled, and Jan the Building Manager lit up like a holiday light show. She was off in an instant, rambling about the different paperwork and building amenities and how quickly she’d be able to get me a copy of my key. She dragged me back to the hall, and I glanced behind me at the room one more time.
Ghosts, ha. Stupid.
To Be Continued. Possibly.