Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six
Today is a Good Day. It’s a Saturday, and I have no intention of leaving my apartment. On days like these I like to curl up on my sofa with a cup of tea and a good book, and pretend that the whole world outside my apartment has ceased to exist, never existed at all, in fact. Not only does my apartment building* not exist, but the world beyond it as well. No reason to ever leave my apartment and nowhere go even if there was. My apartment floats in a void, or is embedded in solid rock, or is lodged in a crevasse at the bottom of a sterile, bottomless sea.
Those images in the windows and noises from beyond my living space? Hallucinations, all of them, my mind trying to make sense of nothing.
Some noises, though, you just can’t ignore.
A woman’s scream; a loud, raucous squawk; a wet crunch; pounding feet getting louder, someone running towards my apartment.
I just react, too terrified to think about anything other than how much I want this to not be happening. I rip my door open as the footsteps get close, and grab hold of a green sweater. The sweater-wearer yelps as I pull her into my apartment, and then I slam my door shut. I lock it, instinctively, though Bob doesn’t know how to use doorknobs, except as something shiny to peck at.
Me and Bob’s would-be lunch stare at each other, panting and shaking. I don’t recognize her. She must be the new tenant. She’s my age, with shoulder-length brown hair. The rips in her jeans appear to be a fashion statement rather than a Bob casualty, but there is a smear of blood on the sleeve of her sweater.
“Are you okay?” I say.
“That thing ate–” she doubles over, trying to catch her breath.
She stands up again. “My chicken. I threw the chicken at it, and now it’s gone.”
“I was going to make a roast chicken. You know, as a special house-warming thing. I don’t know what to do now.”
“You could get another one.”
“In this economy?”
“Meatloaf? With fancy ketchup.”
“If it was homemade, maybe with heirloom tomatoes or something.”
“Oh. Yeah, I guess I could do that.”
The new tenant and I stop nervously blathering and stare at each other for a bit longer.
“I’m Ashley,” I say.
“Christine,” she says.
“You want some Near-Death Experience Oreos?”
A short laugh escapes her mouth. “Is that a new flavor?”
I’m about to say they taste like adrenaline and soiled underwear, but I clamp my mouth shut just in time and giggle instead.
The hollow clacking of Bob’s beak sounds outside my apartment, followed by a weird low rumble.
“It can’t get in, can it?” says Christine.
“Nah,” I say. “If he could, we’d all be dead already.”
“You’ve lived here a while, haven’t you?” she says.
My smile is a little tight as I beckon her down my hallway. “Come on, the Oreos are over here.”
She glances back at my door, and then follows me.
“You keep them in your closet?” she says as I emerge with the well-over-half-eaten box.
“Don’t ask,” I say.
We munch on the Oreos, and get crumbs all over my bed, but I don’t mind. It’s nice not being treated like a weirdo by an outsider for once. I’m sure she’ll start looking for another apartment as soon as we can safely get her to her current one, but I’ll enjoy this while it lasts.
“I guess you got a lot more than you bargained for,” I say.
“I’ll say…although, kind of not. But yes.”
“I’ve been looking for a place like this for ages. I mean, not to live in, but to study, kind of. I’m what you might call a paranormal investigator.”
I pop the last bite of my Oreo into my mouth and chew it slowly, trying to come up with something appropriate to say. Bob isn’t a zoo animal or a tourist attraction. He’s the nightmare that’s plagued my whole life. What does this lady think she’s doing?
*Obviously, Bob does not exist either. In fact, the entire concept of Bob does not exist, so I don’t even know what I’m talking about.