The Tenant

February 24, 2011
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John Smith walked up the porch steps of a small home on the streets of suburban New York City. It wasn’t a particularly eye-popping house; in fact it was rather dull and run down. Sickly green moss grew on its edges in a spiderlike fashion, and rain from the previous night trickled off of the rusty gutter.

John held a crumpled piece of paper in his hand, an advertisement for room and board. The ramshackle old house John stared at wasn’t much, but at least it was a place to stay.
John rang the doorbell, and it was unlocked by a middle-aged man, probably in his fifties. His tattered clothes were surpassed only by the shock of his spindly black hair, which had flecks of gray that spiked up like a porcupine.

John held up the sheet of paper after several seconds of surprise, due to the man’s ghoulish appearance. “I-I, um I saw the ad you put out. That you were looking for a tenant.”

“Ah, yes,” replied the man, revealing teeth that were either yellow or missing. “Please, do come in.”

The inside of the house seemed more pleasant, with a soft rug on the carpet and a fireplace burning.

The man turned towards John after shutting the door. “You can take your bag upsta- oh, how rude of me. I’m Samuel Sunder. And you are?”

“John Smith, pleased to meet you.” The two shook hands, but afterwards John found a splotch of red on his palm, resembling blood.

“Odd,” he said.

“What?” asked Sunder.

“Red on my hand. I wonder how-“

“Hm, that is strange,” said Sunder, cutting him off. “Well, I suppose I had better get dinner ready. Don’t bother going out, you can eat here. Your room is right upstairs, and do make yourself at home.”

John thanked his new landlord and went on his way upstairs. His room was as quaintly decorated as the rest of the house, but one thing stuck out: a bloody knife on the mantel.

John picked up the knife and headed downstairs, wondering what the meaning of it was. Sunder had a shocked look on his face when John came downstairs with the bloody knife in hand.

“You must’ve needed this for dinner preparations,” mentioned John. “But it has the same shade of red on it that got on my hand earlier.”

“Now how could I have left that upstairs?” asked Sunder rhetorically. “I get all my meat from the butcher; it’s right down the street, just a few blocks away. Much less expensive than the supermarkets, you know. As you can see it causes preparation to be a bit more tedious, so I must apologize to have shocked you with such a… gory artifact.”

Sunder washed off the knife in the sink, and told John that dinner would be ready shortly. Eventually, it was, and the two sat down at the table. In between bites of steak, John asked, “So, have any hobbies?”

“Just one,” replied Sunder, “But it’s rather personal.”

“It’s not taxidermy, is it?” chuckled John.

“Oh, no, I never did care for taxidermy.”

“Too messy?”

Sunder grinned, exposing his gnarled yellow teeth. “Not messy enough.”

For a moment, John was puzzled, but the feeling passed. “Well, that’s good. Where I come from, we frown on animal cruelty. Cruelty of any kind, really.”

“And where might that be?”

“Oh, it’s not really important. You’ve probably never even heard of it, anyway.”

Eventually, dinner was over. Both John and Sunder retired to their rooms. But when John opened one of his drawers, he was absolutely dumbfounded by what he saw.

It was a human head, decapitated and still gushing blood at the neck.

John could barely move, but realized that he had to when he saw Sunder behind him, holding the same knife in his hand from earlier that evening. “YOU WERE NEVER MEANT TO SEE THIS!” he screamed. “HOW COULD I HAVE BEEN SUCH A FOOL, LEAVING IT THERE!” Sunder lunged the blade at John, and a struggle ensued as John held his arm back with considerable strength. He dashed around the room, missing the second swipe of Sunder’s knife as he crashed through the window and fell onto the ground.

In spite of the fall, John picked himself up and ran far away from Sunder’s house. How could humans be capable of such evil? He thought. On Planet Jevnon, everyone lives in peace! How could things be so drastically different on Earth?

John continued running for miles, just to certain he was safe from the murderous onslaught of Samuel Sunder. His observation of Earth was quickly over, returning to his home planet of Jevnon in extreme gratitude of the peace it lived in.

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