Michael's Mind This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

December 16, 2010
Michael lived on the fifth floor of an apartment building downtown. He worked as a cashier at a local convenience store and so he didn't have a lot of things. That meant he could keep his apartment uncluttered and tidy, which was the way he liked it. His life had always been little more than a cycle of days, wake up, eat, work, come home, watch TV, eat, and sleep. He was happy with his simple life, because he was not fond of surprises. Things and events were always in their right places at the right times and that made him feel comfortable.           

One day, Michael was compelled to go out onto his balcony. It was spring; the temperature was just right, not too humid, in many ways a perfect day. He looked down on to the street and saw the people milling about their daily lives. It was Saturday, so he didn't need to work today. He looked across the road to the apartment building on the other side of the road. Technically, they were the “same” apartment building, they shared an office (which was in the other building), and were connected at the bottom by a tunnel which ran under the street, which was nice for paying rent on rainy days. 

Standing on the balcony opposite his was a young woman, about the same age as Michael. She had shoulder length blonde hair and was wearing a blouse and a knee length skirt. In this moment, Michael felt as though he had never seen a more attractive woman in his life. This was untrue, he knew, she was certainly pretty, but not anyone to write home about. She smiled and waved at him. Michael was unsure what to do. He went back inside. The white walls of his apartment made a nice little box and made him feel comfortable again. He closed his curtains and sat down on the couch and turned on the TV. He watched an old episode of Wheel of Fortune. The rest of his day proceeded like normal.

The next week was without incident, until the next Saturday. Michael stepped out onto the balcony again, on a whim. The girl was standing there again, smiling and waving at him. This time, he smiled and waved back. She seemed satisfied and went back into her home. Michael did the same. He watched an old episode of Jeopardy and went on with his day.

Soon, Michael had incorporated this anomaly into his cycle of days. Every Saturday he would go out on to the balcony at the same time and every time the girl would be there and every time they would smile and wave and every time he would return to his home and watch an old game show. At first, he was not fond of this change in his life but soon it became comfortable to him and if it were to go away it would give him unpleasant feelings.

One week, nearly two months after their first encounter, it was raining on Saturday. Because he was, above all, a creature of habit, Michael stepped out onto the balcony in the rain. The people in the streets scurried faster than usual and hid themselves under umbrellas and he thought about how he could spit off his balcony and no one would know. He looked across the street, to the other building. The girl wasn't there. It made sense, it was raining after all, and already Michael was uncomfortably wet. He went back inside and dried himself off and watched an old episode of The Price is Right and all was right with the world again.

Next week, when he looked across, something seemed different. The girl seemed paler than usual, and her eyes seemed sunken. They looked like black pits on her white flesh, and her mouth looked for a moment as though it were swarming with maggots. He blinked and she was back to normal, happily waving. He waved back and went inside, putting the odd incident behind him.

After that, she didn't appear for a few weeks. He would go out on the balcony every Saturday at the same time and she was never there. He worried that maybe the hours had shifted without him knowing it, so he came back an hour later, to no avail. The next week he tried an hour earlier, but there was nothing. So far as he could tell, the girl was gone. He stopped going out onto the balcony, then, and found himself sinking into a sort of depression. His routine life which had once comforted him now made him unhappy and he wished more than anything to see the girl's smiling face again. Sometimes he would imagine her, but her face would always change into the frightening image he had seen that day, so he knew he would need to see her for real to get rid of this feeling.

One week, he resolved to go over to her apartment, through the tunnel. It was novel, something new and exciting that might make him feel better. At first he was uncomfortable with the shift in routine, but the last shift he had made had made him happy, hadn't it?

He found her apartment easily, it had the same number as his. Smiling, he knocked on the door in anticipation of her smiling face. “Oh,” she would say, “I'm sorry I haven't come to the balcony, my door was broken.” He would forgive her and everything would be alright again. He noticed an odd smell coming from the apartment. She didn't seem to be home today. He decided to come back on Monday after work. Seeing her on a weekday would be a nice change of pace.

All throughout work the next day Michael was excited. He nearly miscounted the change once or twice because his mind was elsewhere. When he came home, he brushed his hair and put on one of the nicer sweaters he had. He wanted to impress her when he saw her. He walked through the tunnel again and up to her apartment. He knocked on her door again and again he noticed the odd smell. This time, he decided he would try opening the door. Maybe she couldn't hear it. 

Her apartment was messy. That disturbed him a little; he had felt that they were kindred souls after all. He felt he could get over this little problem. The odd smell was even stronger inside the apartment. He thought maybe she had neglected to take out her garbage for a little while. He walked into her living room and that's where he saw here. Dead with bits of ceramic plates stuck in her face. There were bite marks on her body and red marks and bruises on her neck. Her eyes and mouth looked the same as that day. Who could have done such a thing? He tried to control his urge to vomit and left her apartment. He would inform the police of what he had found and they would catch the person who did this, he was sure.

That night, he had a terrible dream. He heard a knock on the door, and when he opened it, the girl was there. At first she looked normal, but she quickly changed into something else. Her frightening dead face replaced her comforting living one and Michael screamed. She reached out with both arms and grabbed him around the neck and squeezed the life out of him. He struggled and wondered what he had done to deserve that, and right when he was about to lose consciousness, he woke up. He rubbed his eyes. He was unable to sleep that night and called work to say he was feeling sick and would not be able to come in for a few days. He had never taken a sick day or a vacation in his three years working there, so they were very understanding.

The next few days were some of the worst of his life. He was unable to sleep, and kept having hallucinations. He would see her face in the mirror, he would see her clawing at his window, and he would find maggots in his food. Soon he was unable to eat; everything he brought to his mouth fell apart into a pile of maggots. His apartment became messy and he kept calling in sick to his job. He would hear pounding on her window and see her rotten face screaming at him from outside. He would step onto his balcony and see her standing there, moaning and pointing. She would slam on his mirror from the inside when he tried to take a shower. She was everywhere and she was angry with him for some reason. 

His toilet had become backed up. When he tried to flush it, it overflowed with blood. He screamed and ran away but when he came back, there was just water. He called the superintendent and asked him to fix his toilet. The superintendent came promptly and fixed his toilet. He asked Michael if he had gotten involved with drugs, because he and his apartment were both a mess. Michael assured him that nothing like that was happening and he seemed satisfied. 

He decided he had to go back to work. He forced himself to sleep through the nightmares and ignore her banging when he showered. He looked her in the face as he shaved, as she screamed at him and banged on the mirror from the inside. When he was nearly done shaving, the banging got more violent. She broke the mirror and glass flew everywhere. A piece cut him. At least she was gone from his bathroom now. He walked down the hallway to his door, and saw her clawing and scratching at the window. He tried to ignore her as he dressed and went to work. 

She followed him all around town. She was even in the glasses of his manager, screaming and scratching and reaching for him. He tried to avoid looking into his manager's eyes because he was certain he would break if that kept up. 

That night he felt he had had enough. She had gotten inside his TV and was preventing him from hearing Alex Trebek. He turned off the TV and came to the window when she appeared in it, with her incessant screeching and screaming. He opened his window, as an invitation. She disappeared from the window and he felt cold. “What do you want from me?” he wanted to ask, but he could not find the breath to say anything. She swirled around his apartment, knocking over his carefully aligned things and making noise with his cupboards. He sat down on the couch. 

He closed his eyes and saw something. He saw himself, on that rainy day a few months ago, when she hadn't come to the balcony. He saw himself walk down the stairs and into the tunnel. He saw himself knock on her door, saw her open it, smiling. He saw himself grab her and shut her door, saw her slam her face down on her coffee table, her face landing right on a plate. He saw himself sinking his canine teeth into her sickly warm flesh. He felt the life leave her as he closed his fingers around her throat and squeezed. He saw himself calmly leave her apartment and close her door and forget about what had happened.

When he opened his eyes, she was standing in front of him, screaming, growling, moaning, and reaching for him. He felt her hands close around his neck. He didn't like this change to his routine. It made him uncomfortable. However, as his life left him he couldn't help but think that the changes were interesting while they lasted.


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This article has 9 comments. Post your own now!

76beholder said...
Jan. 7, 2011 at 7:50 am
Good but mines much better
76beholder said...
Dec. 23, 2010 at 1:41 pm
Good work alex
Lxschrdr replied...
Dec. 24, 2010 at 8:57 pm
Thanks that means alot to me.
76beholder replied...
Dec. 25, 2010 at 12:10 pm
Do u Know who this is
Lxschrdr replied...
Dec. 25, 2010 at 1:19 pm
Nope I don't
76beholder replied...
Dec. 25, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Buell is the name and your welcome


Lxschrdr replied...
Dec. 27, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Wow really.


76beholder replied...
Dec. 27, 2010 at 8:35 pm
Yes really
wierdo said...
Dec. 21, 2010 at 10:18 am
I am almost as cool as this story!
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