30 day challenge! Day One

I have decided to give this a try. It is: 30 Days of Inspiration, Ideas to Energize Your Story Writing
by Creative Writing Now www.creative-writing-now.com

I will try to post these so I can’t skip days 🙂  These will be rough drafts since the exercise is to write, not polish.

Day 1: Your character moves into a new apartment. On the surface, the place seemed ideal, but his/her first night there, your character discovers a terrible problem with the place that he/she didn’t take into account…

“Everything is going to be just fine.” Shelby stopped moving boxes and wiped her sleeve across her brow. It was unseasonably hot for October. The afternoon sun came through the curtain less windows of her living room, sparking dust motes into sudden life. “I can do this.”

She had been telling herself that all day. Her new apartment was not a bad place, the walls were the standard flat white, the floors scuffed warm wood. There was a certain charm to it that she was certain would have made her happy under different circumstances, but not right now. This was the only place she could find that she could afford on such short notice. She looked around her. The beat up sofa was from the salvation army, its dull rust color and sagging springs made her think of a dilapidated car. She had only a handful of boxes and a card table in addition to the upholstered nightmare. Luckily the landlord had a mattress and bed frame he said she could use.

Everything else had been lost in the fire. It wasn’t even her fire. Her idiot neighbor, Jerod, had passed out drunk again with food on the stove. He should have learned by now, but his roommate, the shy little Evan had not been home to catch the fire before it grew out of control. Shelby had been awakened by the sirens outside her window and a fireman literally beating her door down. Between the water and the smoke she had lost nearly everything, even the few things she had kept after her mother died.

No sense in sulking she reminded herself and tore open the first box. Most things had been donated by coworkers or strangers reading about her loss on Facebook or some other site. She didn’t have any friends in this town. Shelby had never been very good at making friends and the few that she did have lived in other states or even countries.

The box contained plates, cups, and even a pitcher for juice or tea. This had to be a sign to take a break she decided. She would make tea and look out from her little balcony. She did not like the way her footsteps echoed in the mostly empty room as she went into the tiny kitchen. There was plenty of light, more than enough to show the cracked and stained tile on the counters and floors. Shelby guessed they had once been white but were more of a gray color now. The tap rattled and chugged ominously before spitting out some discolored water into the dusty sink. How long had this place been empty? It was a pretty good find, a small apartment above the garage of two story house, not too far from work and not too close to the neighborhoods where you had to wonder if bars were a good investment for your windows. The couple that owned the place had seemed pleasant enough, simple, plain folks. She hoped they would not be the nosy pushy type of landlord.

The water finally ran clear and she filled the jug. She really was not a fan of instant tea, but with nothing unpacked, she had broken down a bought a bottle the little market on the corner. Instant tea was better than no tea, she reasoned. The powder smelled sharp and astringent, like fake lemon and dust, making her nose wrinkle as she sprinkled it into the water. Maybe instead of taking a break, she should be looking for a pot to boil water to make proper tea.

She poured some into a little red plastic cup and put the pitcher into the refrigerator that hummed in the corner. The inside felt a little bit tepid, but it was possible the landlord had only just plugged it in today. She would tell herself that anyway, not wanting to have to start off her stay asking for a new fridge.

A soft shuffling of feet and a cough behind her made Shelby jump, almost spilled her drink. “Hello?” she called, looking around nervously. She had not heard the door open or anyone on the slightly wobbly steps leading up to the little place. “Hello? She tried again, but no one answered. Was a window open? Was she hearing something from the main house, or maybe out in the alley? She took a couple of hesitant steps toward the narrow hall. The bedroom and bathroom were both on the left, the right side being the shared wall with the landlord’s house.

She had not really been in the bedroom yet, it was possible they were trying to air it out and forgot to shut the window. Her hand was on the cold metal knob of the door, but she didn’t open it yet. She could not explain the knot of fear that suddenly crept up into her throat from her chest.

“Childish,” she scolded herself. “What are you scared of at 3 in the afternoon on a Tuesday in the middle of the middelest class town in middle America?” She asked herself. She turned the knob, heard the click of the latch and the squeak of the hinge as she pushed the door into the room.

Bright sunlight flooded the space. It was empty except for the iron framed bed with the slightly stained mattress. Shelby stepped inside, felling a sudden chill despite the warm day. The cheerful bright room did not feel right. She looked at the empty closet, door open ready for her to fill when she got more clothes. This room had dusty blinds left open to show the trees and alley. This was the most un-sinister thing she could imagine.

She quickly checked the windows. They were firmly shut. Both were so old and had been painted so many times she actually wondered if they could be opened. She looked at the ceiling. it showed signs of having been repaired recently. She hoped that wasn’t a sign of leaks.

“Silly.” Shelby decided she was feeling nervous just because of the new place. She turned from the windows and grabbed the edge of the closet door. She intended to just swing it shut and go find the box that had bed clothes and towels in it. She would feel better after a bath and a nap. Just as her fingers touched the battered old door the coughing sound came from behind her again. This time it was louder.

Panic she slammed the door and spun around, placing her back to it wildly searching the room for the source of the noise. It was empty as before. But now she clearly heard a scratching and squeaking sound. It was rhythmic and ominous.

Something in the back of her mind told her not to turn around. Told her not to look in the mirror she felt on the now closed door behind her. She had never been good at listening to that voice. Slowly, still trying to look everywhere at once she turned her head, from the corner of her eye she saw movement.

Heart stuttering she looked back into the room so fast she felt dizzy. The creaking noise was getting louder and the coughing had become more of a gasping. There was still nothing in the room, so what had she seen moving in the mirror?

She turned and looked. She immediately wished she had not. The creaking was from the rope. The rope that looped around the neck of a livid faced man who struggled and coughed.



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