|Fantasticoe -- Fall 2011
They Told You So
by Kirsten Nelson
My best friends, Shannon, Eric, and I had been living in the converted old-hotel-to-apartment in the small-ish college town of Albon, Washington for thirty days during our junior year of college. We had joked around after moving into the twelfth floor of the Valley View apartments together - "Our lives are going to be the next hit sitcom on TV!" It's the kind of lifestyle you expect when you start sharing an apartment with a gay nursing major, a geeky computer science major, and a rather eccentric art major.
On the thirty-first day of living in the apartment on the twelfth floor, I woke up thinking it would be a normal day: Go to my classes at Riverview College, work my normal 4-8 PM shift at Wendy’s, then go home, finish my homework and go to sleep. Simple as that, right? Wrong.
When I woke up, Shannon had already left for an early morning Biology lab at school. Eric didn’t have classes that day, and he had gotten home only a few hours ago from a night shift working as a CNA at a nursing home nearby. I wasn’t prepared at all for what I would see that morning.
“DANIELLA!” I heard Eric yell from his bedroom. I rolled my eyes and sighed at my desk where I was trying to work on a term paper, got up, and walked casually to Eric’s room to see what he was trying to blame me for.
“Eric, I-” I was going to tell him that I hadn’t been in his room to mess anything up – gay men can be very particular about their space – but I didn’t get the chance to tell him that when I walked into the room.
Eric was pointing at one of the walls in the bedroom. All of the posters he had hung shortly after we moved in had been scratched at and torn. It looked as though an animal with sharp claws had taken to the posters. All of the picture frames he had placed near his bed had fallen and the glass had shattered, scattered all over the floor.
“Do you think someone broke in?” I asked.
“No,” Eric said. “Nothing missing. I’ve been here since I got off work last night. Everything was normal when I got home. I woke up a little bit ago to go to the bathroom, but when I got back to the room, I saw this. Daniella, what’s going on?”
"I don't know...I...I really don't know, Eric."
A few days went by. The three of us went out, worked, visited out neighbors every once in a while - normal things. It was a little unnerving to think about the incident with Eric's posters, though. Had someone actually broken into our apartment? If so, who would break in without at least trying to take some of our possessions?
Eric’s posters being clawed at weren’t the only weird things about our new “humble abode.” Although the building we were living in was brand-new, we could hear what seemed to be mice scratching at the fiberglass insulation in the walls. It kept all of us awake at absurd hours of the night, hours that we could have spent sleeping in order to be awake for classes the next morning.
Shannon’s alarm clock would go off every Wednesday morning at precisely 1:23 AM. Shannon, being the geek she was, thought that it was funny at first that her clock went off at 1:23. However, she reassured Eric and I that she wasn’t stupid enough to set her alarm clock for such an early time. The funny thing about it was that whenever it went off, it played reggae music. Shannon hated reggae.
About the third day after it started happening, I sluggishly walked to Shannon's room at precisely 1:24 in the morning to talk to her about the alarm clock. Eric had beaten me there by less than a minute.
"Okay, seriously, Daniella, you know I don't listen to reggae. I hate Bob Marley. Why would I have my alarm set for 1:23 AM when A, I don't have to be up NEARLY that early for ANY of my classes; and B, Why in God's name would I set it to reggae music!? I hate that shit!"
"Shannon, calm down," Eric said, cutting me off from what I was about to say. "I'm sure there's a logical explanation for all of this. There has to be."
"But-" I tried to squeeze a reply in, but Eric kept cutting me off.
"But nothing, Daniella. The clock's probably got some faulty wiring. It's not a huge deal. You two freak out over such trivial things, you know that?"
"Maybe it's not all that trivial, Eric," I said. "Maybe there's something in this place that is intentionally screwing with us."
"Like what? Is some poltergeist out to get us or something? I don't know about you two, but I'm not exactly one to believe in that sort of stuff."
"Eric, there's so many stories out there that it's hard not to believe in the supernatural," Shannon said. "Maybe you just don't believe because you haven't had some sort of other-worldly experience."
I tried to formulate a response to Eric's skepticism, but my thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door. I walked out to our living room and unlocked our door. To my surprise, our elderly neighbor, Mr. Slate was standing in front of me.
"I'm so sorry, Mr. Slate. We're going to do something about the noise, I promise."
"I know, kiddo," he said in his raspy, aged voice. "I'm just worried that Mildred is getting less sleep. It's not bothering me any, but you know how she's been lately..." Mildred Slate had been diagnosed with cancer two weeks prior, and my roommates and I did everything we could to not disturb her.
"I know, and I am so, so sorry. We'll get rid of the alarm clock, I promise. Have a good night, Mr. Slate."
The next morning, we got rid of the clock. Eric thought we were pathetic for believing that there could be some supernatural presence in our apartment. Shannon and I, though, didn't take any of the happenings in our apartment lightly. We talked to our neighbors, the Slates, the Johnsons, and whoever else we could get a hold of in our building. They hadn't had any strange experiences in the building. One man, Aaron Peters, said he thought that his laundry had been moved from the washer to the dryer by itself, but the truth was that I moved it so I could get my own laundry done.
The strangest part of living in the unit came along one night when Shannon was in the shower. I heard her scream as if she’d just witnessed some horrific crime. I ran to the bathroom, not caring if I was about to see one of my roommates naked. Thank God, she had a towel wrapped around her, though. “Are you alright?” I asked, trying to be calm. The shower was still running, fogging up the mirror above our sink.
“Look…look at the…” she stammered. She didn’t need to say anything else, because what she was trying to describe had already caught my eye. I looked at the walls, dumbstruck. Out of random spots along each of the four walls in our cramped bathroom, a strange crimson substance was leaking ever-so-slowly. I took a step closer to the nearest wall and ran a finger along it, wiping some of whatever the liquid running down it was. I sniffed my index finger after I ran it along the wall.
“Blood,” I said, looking at Shannon. She cringed and walked out of the bathroom without saying another word. “I wish Eric was here,” I said to myself, still gawking at the bathroom walls. “That’d go to show him that there might actually be something trying to screw with us.”
After that night, Shannon had decided to take on a little extra homework. She Googled everything she could about the coordinates of the land we were on, what the history of the small college town was, if there were any strange, unexplained deaths in the history of the town, you name it. Shannon brought Eric and I in when she had found what she was looking for in her research.
“You guys need to read this,” she called to us from her bedroom.
“Read what?” Eric and I asked simultaneously.
I sauntered into her room alongside Eric, tired from the long day I’d had. Shannon motioned for us to look at whatever it was that was on her computer screen.
“In 1906, the Hotel Luxor opened its doors in Albon, Washington, near Seattle. Three years later, the hotel closed its doors due to the number of tragic events that had occurred over the period of time that the hotel operated,” I read aloud. “During the three years the hotel’s doors were open to customers, a Jamaican immigrant plummeted to his death from the 12th floor balcony. A teenage boy living at the hotel with his mother was found one day, scratch marks all up and down his arms, torturing and killing cats in a ritualistic satanic manner. A wealthy aristocrat had slashed his wife into pieces one night after she was caught having an affair with a street vendor. Many more accidents had occurred within the three-year time frame the hotel was open for business. The Luxor closed down after three years due to lack of customers. No one was interested in staying at a hotel that had a history of so much violence.”
Shannon looked me in the eyes. “It’s a legitimate site. What do you think?”
“Eric,” I looked at him already knowing what he was going to stay. “you can’t tell me you’re still skeptical of all of the things that’ve been happening here. You can’t.”
“I can and I am,” he answered. “You honestly can’t believe that just because some people died here, we’re supposedly disturbing their land or whatever lame shit you’re trying to push on me.”
“Yes, I honestly believe that! How am I not supposed to? Shannon?”
Shannon was quieter than she normally was. “I think if we stay here much longer, we’re going to get even more other-worldly spirits or whatever shit there is in this place pissed off at us.”
“You can’t be serious, Shannon,” Eric said, laughing.
“We need to get the hell out of here if we don’t want our lives to get any freakier. My grades are slipping guys,” Shannon paused and sighed. “I think we need to move out before things get worse.”
Eric stood up, angry. “This is the cheapest decent place we could find in all of Albon. It’s comfortable here, and now you want to move out? What the hell is wrong with you two? There’s no such thing as ghosts! Ghosts are just things that parents invented to get their kids to go to bed at night and to make them eat their vegetables!”
“Eric-” Shannon was cut off. Eric tended to do that to people.
“No, damn it, let me talk! There are logical explanations for all of this! The scratches could have either been one of you guys screwing with me, someone breaking in, or even me sleepwalking and scratching at my poster. The alarm clock probably had some bad wiring. The supposed ‘bathroom incident’? I wasn’t here for this one, but it sounds like it could’ve either been mold or our upstairs neighbors leaving the bath running. Come on guys, grow up. We’re all in college, we know better than this. Well, at least I do.”
At this point, I became so frustrated by Eric that I stormed out of Shannon’s room and started packing my things up. I heard him soon also leave Shannon’s room and slam his bedroom door shut.
Shannon and I had packed up all of our things. Eric was still mad that we were leaving, but he at least had the decency to act like a normal human being to us. Shannon and I found a new two bedroom apartment a little farther away from school and work, but it wasn’t nearly as sketchy as Valley View.
Eric still talked to Shannon and I at school when we ran into each other during classes. One day, after realizing he hadn’t shown up for one of our classes for three days straight, I started to worry. Shannon and I called his cell phone about 40 times each, but he never picked up. We checked with the nursing home he worked at; he hadn’t been to work and hadn’t called in sick or anything. We had exhausted our resources. There was only one more place to look.
Shannon and I left for Valley View after our last classes of the day. We travelled up the long journey from the first floor to the twelfth on the dead quiet elevator. We eventually reached the twelfth floor.
The door to apartment 12C was unlocked.
“Eric,” we called, trying to figure out where he was. Shannon scouted out the living room, my old room, and the kitchen. I took charge of checking the bathroom and Eric’s room. He wasn’t in the living room, my old room, or the kitchen. He wasn’t in the bathroom.
“Oh my God!” I screamed, horrified at the sight of Eric’s lifeless body lying on the floor, covered in what was now dried blood. Shannon ran immediately to Eric’s room, but left shorty after to vomit from the gruesome sight.
Eric’s body had been slashed all over the place. One eye was hanging by a vein from his eye socket, the other was missing. Eric’s mangled body wasn’t the only thing in the room that caught my attention, though. Written on the wall in rather sloppy handwriting in what appeared to be blood were the words, “They told you so.”
Shannon came back to Eric’s room after she had emptied the contents of her stomach in the bathroom. “The walls in the bathroom are doing it again.” I pointed a shaky finger in the direction of the writing on the wall. Her eyes widened to the point of nearly letting them fall out of their sockets.
“Let’s get the hell out of here,” I said.
We called Eric’s family after we left Valley View to tell them the news. Shannon and I drove to his hometown, Seattle, for the funeral. His family cried, of course, and so did Shannon and I. After most of the crowd had left the cemetery after the burial, Shannon and I stuck around. I touched the white roses his family had put on his casket. I sighed.
“We told you so, Eric.”