I do what most people in this situation would do: I freeze.
Why? Because I have time to think.
This situation is beyond surreal. Sure, living in a city of millions might mean that I could, theoretically, become part of a crime scene. But having not one but three of my neighbors suddenly turn feral and come for me?
Come on. What are the odds?
Then I realize what’s going on. If my throat wasn’t so tight, I’d laugh!
This must be some kind of prank. Not to make fun of me but some weird challenge. #ScareYourNeighbors or some shit. My, Kelly really went all out on the make-up front. I don’t understand how she got Mrs. Ortega to play along. Maybe her grandkids talked her into this. If that’s the case, I’ll likely get “assaulted” by them next, after I “get away” from the two of them.
Under different circumstances, I’d be inclined to play along if properly bribed beforehand—what Insta or YouTube video is ever real, anyway?—but not tonight. That phone call from Mason really freaked me out.
I raise my hands in mock defeat. “Guys, can we maybe not do this right now? I’m really not in the mood.”
Both women stare at me as if I’m carrying a large bucket from KFC.
The nasty voice at the back of my mind supplies, actually, they are staring at me as I am that KFC bucket.
As if on cue, the door rattles with an impact from the other side—Mario if I’m not mistaken.
Suddenly weary if all this, I wrench the door open, finding him hulking outside. “Very funny,” I tell him. “Come on, get in before you have to wipe fake blood off the entire hallway.” That reminds me of him careening into my apartment. “And you will clean up your mess in my home.”
Apparently not impressed, he roars in my face. Or at least he’s pretending to. What actually come out sounds more like a dry cough.
I roll my eyes at his antic, then step aside dutifully, holding the door for him.
I’m not quite out of the way yet when Kelly comes flying past me as she launches herself at her fuck buddy.
“Really, you guys? Is that absolutely necess—” I start to say. Just then, Kelly tears a chunk out of his neck—or appears to. They really went all out of the special effects stuff. “Ew!” I enthuse when she rears up, bloody flesh in her teeth. Blood is spurting from the vein she “nicked” which creates quite the mess all over Mario, Kelly, the door, and the floor of the hallway.
I get a nose full of metallic scent. Wow. I didn’t know they scented fake blood. I also have no idea where on Mario’s naked body they are hiding the blood bag.
I’m still staring—a little impressed, mostly grossed out—as Mrs. Ortega comes hurtling past me, joining Kelly in where she continues savaging Mario’s shuddering body. Wow. She’s definitely in great shape for someone her age.
Now this is getting a little graphic. And a little much.
Soon, Mario stops twitching, and a new wave of stench joins the existing odors.
Really, they are overdoing it. Massively.
As I watch the two women continue to tear chunks out of Mario’s body, I start to get a really bad feeling about this. This is looking less and less like a choreographed stunt and more like a prank gone horribly wrong. Wrong as in “Florida Man” headlines wrong. I know that Kelly doesn’t say no to a joint once in a while, but Mario won’t even touch supplements that aren’t from a verified source, and I have serious issues picturing Mrs. Ortega suddenly turning into a meth head.
Glancing away from the carnage, I hit redial on my phone. Serves them right if this really is a prank and they get into trouble when the real cops show up.
This time, the call won’t even connect. As a matter of fact, there’s not even a single dial tone.
Staging a really elaborate prank that even involves the nice lady down the hallway? Maybe. But I sure as hell know that none of these amateurs could hack into my phone.
This is not good. So not good.
As if she heard my thoughts, Kelly looks up, blood dripping over her chin, what looks like a string of muscle or cartilage caught in her teeth.
Those red-black eyes are creepy as fuck.
That’s not all. Now I can make out spindly black lines spreading from the outside corners of her eyes, but also from the chew marks she has on her shoulder.
I’m pretty sure I would have noticed them, had they been there before. And no, that’s not runny mascara.
As I watch, a single black tear starts oozing out of her left eye, slowly trailing down into the blood splattered across her cheek. She doesn’t blink, even though the harsh light of my phone must blind her. Up close, I can see that her pupils don’t contract. They are wide open, which must give her a splitting headache. I know there are drugs that can keep the eye muscles from contracting, but this looks like something else entirely
Nope, nope, nope.
I’m so fucking out of here!
Since the doorway is blocked—and blocked for good, as it seems—I start backing away deeper into the apartment. Kelly watches me but doesn’t pursue. She does lick her lips, though, and when her tongue touches on the gore stuck in her pearly-whites, she sucks on it until it comes loose.
I’m in the den now, which is a veritable war zone. Furniture is trashed—including Kelly’s priced computer and her phone, the display so badly splintered that I can see it even in the near dark.
It’s that detail that makes me grow cold. Whatever else she’d do, but her phone is sacred to her. Kelly can’t even watch stress-test reviews of other phones because she insists that gives her physical pain.
There’s something horribly wrong going on here, and it’s about time that I leave.
I reach the window—thankfully open—just as Kelly is about to turn back to… whatever the fuck she was doing.
There’s movement from my left, where her bedroom is.
There should not be anything moving in there!
My heart slams into my throat as I whip around and squeeze myself through the window, climbing out onto the fire escape.
A second later, something slams against the inside. All I can make out is a hairy arm—decidedly male—and a bloody grimace that once was a face. It disappears the next moment. With horror I watch as the stranger’s body gets torn away and dragged to the floor, Kelly’s teeth sinking into one fleshy cheek.
My mind is a screaming mess but my body starts moving on its own, propelling me up the fire escape stairs into the upper level.
Thank fuck Mario left the window open, or else I’d be one sorry not-intentional cat burglar.
I more fall than clamber into the apartment. As soon as I’m through, I pull the window shut, making sure to latch it properly. I’m panting so hard that it takes me over a minute to calm down enough to listen and make sure that I’m all alone in the messy, dark room.