or, Everyone in My Building is Dead, and There Are Men in Suits Outside My Door
So, a week ago I came home from a long day of work and just wanted to get inside my apartment, kick off my shoes, strip to my boxers, and eat and sleep. I live on the eighth floor out of fourteen, but that’s not really important.
My neighbor from across the hallway was just leaving her apartment as I approached my door. I’d seen her plenty of times, but we’ve barely talked and have said nothing more than “hi” to one another when passing each other. But when she saw me, she smiled and said, “Hey, how’s it going?”
I gave a short response, not expecting an actual conversation and also just wanting to get inside and be left alone. But instead she walked up to me and introduced herself. Let’s call her Hannah (but I’m sure that even if I gave you her real name, you wouldn’t find anything about her online. Not even a Facebook profile or anything).
I gave her my name and proceeded to unlock my door (my universal sign of ‘leave me alone’) but she persisted on having a conversation with me. It wasn’t even a ‘getting to know me’ conversation, but more like a survey:
“Do you watch TV?”
No, I don’t. I’m not one of those snobs who thinks I’m better off without TV. I just don’t. There’s nothing on cable that interests me. I have Netflix and Hulu, and the news is the Internet.
“Do you have a TV?”
“Have you been watching the local station lately? Channel 6?”
I’ve seen programming on Channel 6 before. It’s nothing more than just poor quality talk shows that probably nobody watches except old people or those who want something playing in the background while they do something else. Nothing special. “No,” I said. “Why?”
“You should just watch it. They’ve been broadcasting this new show all day and I am hooked.”
She didn’t say anything else. Instead, she just stared at me with wide, green eyes and a smile that very slowly stretched across her face.
I waited for her to say something else, but she just stood there, literally six inches away from my face. That’s when I noticed how close she was to me. She actually managed to get right in my face without me even noticing.
“What is it?”
“Just watch it,” she said. She didn’t even blink, and the smile remained the same.
My door was unlocked; I stepped inside to allow some space between us. In an almost sarcastic tone, I said, “Yeah. Okay. Nice meeting you.” And then I shut the door.
I felt uneasy. Nauseous. A quick chill went down my spine and I had the urge to look through the peephole. Yep, she was still standing there, looking at the door with those wide, green eyes and a big, toothy smile. Actually, she was looking through the door. She was looking at me. Her eyes stared straight through the peephole into mine. And very slowly she turned and walked away.
I did my usual routine of kicking off my shoes, stripping down to my skivvies and grabbing last night’s leftovers as I sat on the couch and turned on the TV to get to Netflix (I have one of those cool Visio TVs with different apps such as Netflix and Amazon and stuff). Curiosity got the best of me though. I decided to check out Channel 6 real quick before going about my routine.
That’s it. Static.
I watched for a good minute or two. The station must’ve gotten knocked out or disconnected. Thanks, Hannah, this is really interesting.
That night as I was getting ready for bed, all was quiet in my apartment when I suddenly heard a loud BANG. It rumbled throughout my apartment, and my glass of water that I had by my bed even vibrated like in Jurassic Park. Whatever caused the noise shook the whole building, but afterward it was completely silent. I looked out my window to see if maybe it was a small explosion or a crash or something, but the night was still; the city was asleep.
The next day as I was leaving for work, I once again ran into Hannah on my way out. She opened her door just as I opened mine and her face lit up when she saw me. She had that smile and those wide eyes again.
“Did you watch it?” She asked.
“Yeah, but I got nothing but static. I think the station was down.”
“No, that’s the program!” She said excitedly. “Wasn’t it great? I can’t wait to watch it again tonight.”
At this point, I was severely confused and also running late for work. “I gotta go,” I said as I walked down the hallway. She followed behind me.
“Are you going to watch it tonight?”
I snuck a look behind me and saw that she was following extremely close behind me. I quickened my pace and she fell behind a bit but continued to follow. “Probably not,” I said, sneaking a peek over my shoulder every so often. I reached the elevator and called for it. She stood next to me and never took her eyes off of me. I’m not normally one for confrontation but she was beginning to bother me rather badly. I was about to say something when the doors opened. I walked inside and pressed the lobby button. As I turned to face the doors, I noticed that Hannah never got inside the elevator. She stood there staring at me as the doors closed.
That evening, I didn’t see Hannah when I got home from work, thank God. This was why I don’t become friends with my neighbors, or anybody in the apartment buildings I’ve lived in. You never know what kind of weirdos you’d be living next to and I honestly felt safer living around strangers than freaks that I personally knew.
I brought up Netflix and prepared to watch another movie, but the Channel 6 station buzzed in my mind and I felt compelled to change it to that channel and see if they were actually broadcasting something instead of just static like Hannah told me.
I turned to the channel and was brought to a bright screen of static and the loud hissing noise that accompanied it. I stared at the screen for no longer than a minute or two, just like last time. I was waiting for something to start playing, but it was the same scattered noise. I grabbed my remote to change it back to Netflix when I thought I saw something flash across the screen, but I dismissed it almost immediately. It’s TV static. If you look at it long enough, you’ll see something.
I was just finishing watching Netflix when I heard the same loud BANG again. I stared up above me, thinking it was my upstairs neighbor, and I actually said out loud, “What the fuck” but was quickly cut off by yet another loud BANG, which again seemed like it shook the entire building. Not knowing what to do, I walked into my kitchen/living room area and looked around like a confused animal. The chandelier light above my kitchen table rocked side to side slightly. I heard doors outside my apartment shut quietly, and I heard my upstairs neighbor slowly walk from their door, across the apartment and into their living room. After that, it was completely silent.
The next day was my day off. I called up the apartment leasing office and told them about the past two nights with the loud banging noises. They seemed just as confused as I was but I told them there was really no other way I could explain it. They told me that if it continued happening to record it on video and show it to them, but other than that, there was really nothing they could do. That made me wonder if it happened at a certain time of night and decided to see if it would happen again that night.
After the phone call, I went throughout my day of doing nothing like I always do on my days off. I tried reading a book, but was distracted by a slight buzzing in my head that just wouldn’t leave no matter how hard I tried to make it go away. The buzzing sounded a bit similar to TV static, and made me think of Channel 6. The moment I thought of it, the buzzing faded away, and I felt the urge to turn on the TV to Channel 6.
Nothing had changed since the first two times I’d tried watching it. This time, I actually put in more time and effort of watching it. I had nothing better to do, but this time I was genuinely curious about why exactly there was nothing but static.
Like I had mentioned earlier, if you stare at TV static long enough, you’ll start seeing things. It’s all a part of the mind. I think it’s called, like, pareidolia or something. Basically it’s when you see faces or images in abstract imagery. Anyway, that’s what started happening. I could feel myself getting nauseous again and my vision started to blur a bit. I wanted to look away from the TV screen, but I couldn’t. That’s when I started seeing the flashes. They looked like numbers. I couldn’t really make them out since they flashed so quickly. The hissing noise started to get to me so I muted the TV, but I could still hear a faint buzzing. I thought it was feedback in my hearing, but it sounded distant, like it was coming from something else. Somewhere else.
I shut off the TV and sat on my couch. I must’ve dozed off because when I woke up, it was dark out. I looked at my kitchen clock. 11:59 PM. I sat up and noticed that my TV was on, playing the same static. I didn’t even remember turning my TV back on, but the hiss of the static started giving me a headache. I turned the TV off, and at that exact moment, I heard it again.
My heart jumped out of my chest and I looked at the clock. It was midnight.
I stood up. My walls rumbled, the pictures that hung from them shook. I ran to my window to see if I could see anything outside that could possibly be making the noise, but it was too dark and there wasn’t much movement outside.
There was that third one, on the third night that I’d been hearing those noises when they started. It clicked almost immediately.
I ran over to the door to go out in the hall and see if anyone else heard it. I was sure they did, but when I reached the door, I stopped and listened. Doors shut quietly on the other side of mine. I looked through the peephole at Hannah’s door. I saw just a glimpse of her as she slipped into her dark apartment, and her door was the last to click shut.
I woke up extra early the next morning, quickly got dressed for work and hastily left my apartment and knocked on Hannah’s door. She opened it, dressed and ready for the day, her green eyes still wide, her smile still big.
“Did you hear that banging last night?” I immediately asked. She didn’t even flinch at, what I considered, my strange question.
“What was it, do you know?”
I waited for her to say more, but she didn’t. She just stared and smiled.
“Well, what was it?”
“Have you watched Channel 6 yet?”
Her question caught me off guard a bit and I stuttered as I tried to repeat my question. She just stared at me. Those wide green eyes and toothy smile. I grew nauseous once again. My headache started to return. I turned and left for work.
The entire day I felt sick and my headache never went away, no matter what I did to appease it all. I decided to leave work early and go home and rest. On my way home, I thought I saw static playing on the TVs at the coffee shop down the street from me.
I tried to take a nap but the persistent buzzing in my head kept me awake. I managed to get to sleep, and when I woke up, it was dark out. I looked at the clock. 11:59. I grabbed my cellphone and turned on the video camera and pressed record and waited. Midnight struck.
Four times, and the building shook harder than the last three nights. The next day I called in sick for work and emailed the video to the leasing office. From that day on, I still haven’t heard back from them. I’ve been trying to call but I continue to get a busy tone.
The nights grew worse. I started to lose sleep, and came the fifth night came five more bangs. I noticed myself watching Channel 6 a lot more, and I started seeing more images flash across the static. Numbers. They seemed like some kind of countdown. The first time I noticed the numbers they were at the number six. I haven’t seen anything else flash across the screen except these numbers.
Last night (night six) while watching the static, I saw that the number was down to one.
I unplugged my TV. The hissing noise from Channel 6’s static made my head feel like it was splitting open. I ran to the toilet and dry heaved until I almost passed out. The bathroom started to spin and my vision slowly started to blur. The buzzing faded into my head until it was the only thing I could hear. I shouted for help but I couldn’t even hear myself scream. I crawled out of the bathroom and saw that my TV was on even though I unplugged it. Channel 6 was broadcasting its static. The buzzing grew louder but this time it felt like it was coming from everywhere. I grabbed my phone to call the police, but I heard only TV static on the other line.
I looked at the time on my phone. 11:58. I managed to gather enough strength to pull myself up to my feet. I could feel my stomach twist and turn, and my mouth watered with saliva as the urge to vomit peaked. My head felt like it was getting pulled apart. I stumbled to my front door as if I was drunk and unlocked it. I threw myself into the hallway and collapsed to the floor. I for sure thought I was going to die.
That’s when every door in the hallway opened simultaneously. Everybody in each apartment stepped outside into the hallway: men, women, children, elderly people, everyone. Even Hannah stepped out of her apartment at the same moment as everyone else. They all had a large grin on their face, their eyes wide as if they were surprised or excited.
Slowly, they all turned and shut their doors. They stared at their doors quietly, standing as still as statues. I tried calling for Hannah to help me, but the buzzing sound muted my voice. I was convinced that even she couldn’t hear me. I attempted to call the police again, but was too delirious to even unlock my phone. I looked at the time. 11:59 switched to 12:00 midnight.
The buzzing in my head—or wherever it was coming from—immediately disappeared without a trace. I looked up.
What the fuck.
Everybody, at the same time—
—smashing their heads against the doors—
—the walls, harder and harder and HARDER AND HARDER
And that made six.
I stared in disbelief at what I just saw.
“What the fuck is happening?!” I screamed. Slowly, everybody turned and stared at me. Stared at me with those wide, excited eyes. Stared at me with those grins that stretched past their mouths, their teeth seemed to have grown in size. Everyone looked almost cartoonish. Some people even had blood trickling from their foreheads.
And they just stared.
Like cattle in a factory, they all turned simultaneously to face their doors again, opened them, and walked inside their apartments. The hallway echoed with the clicks of the doors closing, and I was left in silence, sitting in my own piss that I involuntarily released out of fear and confusion.
I didn’t sleep last night. I couldn’t. All I could think about was what I had seen in the hallway. All I could think about was Channel 6. All I could think about was that fucking static. I even put my ear up against each of my neighboring walls, and from each wall I could hear static on the other side. Or, at least I think I could.
It’s now today. The seventh day. I wasn’t prepared for what the seventh day would bring me.
I wanted to get out of my apartment building. I’m in no shape to go into work, so I decided to go for a walk and clear my thoughts, or attempt to. As I opened my door, it was as if I pushed a button to open everyone else’s door. Everyone, including myself, stepped out of their apartment at the same time. We all shut our doors at the same time. Everyone stood in front of their door and stared across the hallway, stared off into the distance past across the hallway. Big smiles. Big eyes.
I stood there for what seemed like hours watching everyone. I slipped in my earbuds to listen to music, but when I pressed play, I heard nothing but static and ripped my earbuds out of my ears.
I mustered up the courage to walk down the hallway toward the elevator. I took a quick peek behind me. Every single person in the hallway followed, Hannah at the front of the line. I could feel her breathing down my neck, that’s how close she was behind me. I picked up my pace and so did they. My heart was racing and I nearly tripped over myself as I turned the corner to the elevator. I pressed the DOWN button and the doors opened immediately and I stepped inside and turned around. Everyone crowded in front of the elevator but nobody got inside. Somehow I managed to find words to speak. “Are you going down?”
“No. We’re going up.” Someone said.
“To the top floor?” I asked.
“Higher,” Hannah said with her big, proud grin.
The doors closed.
I walked through the apartment building lobby, out of the apartment building doors, and didn’t manage to get more than thirty feet from the building when I heard a woman nearby exclaim, “Oh my God!”
I looked at her then looked at where she was looking.
Up. The top of the building. Hundreds of people on the roof standing at the edge.
They were all holding hands, and in one swift movement they walked over the edge. They didn’t jump, they just…fell.
It was a graceful scene as they all fell without care. Nobody flailed or thrashed in fear or at an attempt to grab on to something. It was as if they were waiting to be caught in the hands of God like a net. And then it was over. Hundreds of lives, gone in an instant. Men. Women. Children. People of all ages, hitting the ground in unison. Their bones sounded like the crack of a baseball bat as it hits the ball, louder than I’ve ever heard before.
The woman screamed. I can’t even remember if I reacted, but I was in definite shock. I ran to the bodies surrounding the building, but I knew they were all dead. Nobody could survive a fourteen-story fall. The first body I saw was Hannah’s. Her green eyes were still wide in excitement, her smile still bigger than ever.
Now I’m in my apartment. Everyone in my building is dead, and there are men in suits outside my door. The headache is worse than ever, and I’ve already vomited six times today. I have Channel 6 playing in the background despite the hiss of the static, and I have blood trickling down my face from when I banged my head against my bathroom mirror. Banging my head against something seems to help the headaches and nausea go away. I hit my head against the mirror enough to crack it, and there were multiple reflections of me. Me and my wide eyes and big smile.