By Chef cryofr0zen
//Original Title “If you break into houses for a living, be careful of what may break out with you.” Changed for brevity.
It was supposed to be an easy job. Walk in, grab anything that looked like it could sell, walk out.
I guess you could say I’m a sort of “repo” man. Clients call me up, give me the address and what they want, and if the item is in satisfactory condition when I give it back to them, they fork over the cash. Most of the time I can pilfer anything else I take a fancy to, but sometimes people want a discreet job. Grab whatever shit they want, leave anything else. Those jobs I charge a lot more, and this was one of them.
6:00 AM, walked into the rendezvous point, a small Starbucks joint tucked away in a street corner. Fifteen minutes later, the client walks in. Old guy, balding, a sort of dead look in his grey-blue eyes. He had bags under his eyes like he hadn’t slept in quite a while. Probably why I was in a Starbucks and not down an alleyway like usual.
“So, the job?” I asked. He awkwardly sat down.
“Straight to business, then?” he raised his eyebrows. “Most hustlers flaunt a bit beforehand. Get the clients riled up.”
He’s done this before then. Shit. No room for haggling. “I’m not here to show off my junk. This is work, not the strip club.”
He laughed. Sounded like the guy had fifteen different assortments of cancer. “Right, then. The job’s an apartment in the city. Shady place. It’s called the Yorker Brewery.”
“The apartment number?”
“You’ll be looking out for apartment B5. Third floor. He’s the only one currently occupying the building, aside from the landlord. The others, they moved out due to noise complaints.”
“And what am I looking for?”
“A little black gem. I think the guy keeps it in his hallway somewhere. Don’t bring it back to me, though. I don’t have a use for it nor do I want it, you can keep it if you like. I just need it out of his little shithole.” He took a pause, breathed heavily, and exploded into a series of coughs.
I took a day to scout the place out and find a way to get in. I drove around until I found the place. It was the ugliest thing I had ever seen in my life. The outside wall was covered in graffiti and the sign was barely legible.
I could tell without getting out of the car that I wouldn’t be able to go in from the front door. There was no way I was walking up the stairs without the landlord confronting me.
A man walked out of the building. He wore a navy blue hoodie and sweatpants and walked stiffly, as if he were dying from terminal illness or something.
I got out of the car and walked around the building. At the back was a rusty metal fire escape that ran down the back of the building like a decaying spinal cord. There was my way in. I could climb up the stairs, climb in through the window and ransack the place. Only problem was I didn’t know which room was which.
Climbing up the stairs to the third floor, I peered in through the first window. I could faintly see through the dirt-caked glass the letters “B1” in faded copper on the back of the front door. Going horizontally, I was able to find B5. My way in was covered. All I had to do now was break in tomorrow night.
My break-in kit was fairly minimal. Black outfit with a black hoodie, a burlap sack I found to transport the goods, a couple of lock-picks and a baseball bat for protection. Most of you are probably calling me a scumbag and a subspecies of homo erectus, but it was either stealing shit from people or the homeless shelter.
I was back at the Yorker Brewery again. I climbed up the staircase, avoiding the steps that I remembered buckled and creaked under my weight. I reached the window and fit my fingers under the tiny crack. I was going to try to bust the lock open. Usually worked with windows like these. I pushed with all my strength and nearly fell inside. The muppet left his window unlocked.
I ducked in through the window and found myself in his living room. It was empty except for a sofa and a CRT television. My eyes widened and I took out my baseball bat as I saw a figure in the corner, hidden by the shadows. We stared at each other for a minute. I then realized that it was just a mannequin, turned to face the window I entered. It was made of a shiny plastic and completely black. What do you need a mannequin in your living room for?
To my right was a hallway with two doors on either side. At the end of the hallway was a squat little night-stand and on top, out in the open, was the gem. “Little” was an understatement. This thing was almost as big as my fist. Bent low, I progressed through the hallway. I reached one door and put my ear to it. Nothing. Did the same with the next one. The owner was in there, snoring and coughing loudly in his sleep.
In another five minutes I was ducking out of the window with the gem in my sack. Even though it was bigger than I had expected, it still weighed more than it let on. It would be going somewhere safe in my house till I could find a buyer.
Next morning, I was back at the Starbucks. The old man walked inside and handed me the cash and sat down with me to talk about the job.
“Everything went well?” he asked.
“Yeah, man. Walked in, walked out. Took the gem with me.” I replied.
“Good, good. Where’d you find it?” The guy looked at me dead in the eye. He looked healthier, as if he was getting more sleep than before.
“Guy left it out in the open, right in the hallway, exactly like you said. He even left the a window open. You wouldn’t believe it.”
He chuckled. He got up and laid his hand on my shoulder. “Well, thanks son. You did me a mighty favour. Take care of yourself, alright?”
I walked out of the Starbucks with more than thousand dollars in my pocket as well as the gem back at my place. The guy even bought me coffee, and I finished the last of it as I got back into the car.
The next night, I got into bed and turned the light off. I was in a trance-like state for about fifteen minutes before I was jolted awake by a shrill, continuous beep. Like the aftermath of an explosion right beside your ear. I looked around my bedroom for the source, but I climbed back into bed empty-handed and tried to sleep, which I managed at 1:00 AM. The next few nights, the noise increased steadily in volume, until on the third night I could identify it. It sounded like a young girl screaming. Just screaming. Forever.
It got worse from then. Every night the sound would be there, looming over me, sending stabs of pain into my head. On the tenth night, the sound was so loud it sounded like it was coming from right beside my ear. I turned over to look. Ten seconds later I was locking my room from the outside.
It was the mannequin from the apartment. It had been stooping over me, peering into my eyes. There was a huge, gaping depression where its mouth should have been. The next five minutes I stood outside my room, hyperventilating. The thing, still screaming, had began to thump violently on my door, so hard that it rattled in its hinges. I didn’t know what to do. I buried my face in my hands until I remembered the gem. I dashed downstairs into the basement to get to my vault, entered the code and snatched the gem and then, half naked, ran outside and into my car. The thing had stopped thumping, and sounded much closer. It had gotten out.
I drove like the wind, crossing red lights and charging down one-way streets the wrong way till I got to the river. I parked close to the edge, took one final look at the fist-sized gem in my hand and chucked it out the window and didn’t drive away until I heard the splash. When I got back to my house, the thing was gone, and the bedroom door has been thrown clean off its hinges.
The last three nights have been utter bliss; three full nights of rest. This morning, I woke up feeling elated. I got up into a sitting position and froze. At the foot of my bed, arms outstretched and mouth wide open, making no sound, was the mannequin. At my feet lay the black gem.
I’ve tried to break it. I’ve tried to lose it in different places. I even drove across three states to get rid of it. Nothing works, it just delays it. It appears the only way to get rid of it is to have someone take it.
Please, if anything looks too good to be true, be cautious. Especially if it’s breaking into someone’s house. Because you never know what may break out with you.
i need to sleep