Curiosity killed these cats

Laura and Ann had found the top floor apartment after begging the university administration to help them out. It wasn’t their fault that their first landlord had made promises he couldn’t keep. Neither of them could believe their apartment had been condemned before they’d even laid down a suitcase.

This new place, a property owned by the university, wasn’t what they had envisioned, it was better! They had the entire top floor of an old house, two-and-a-half bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen-living room, and a little balcony out the back. With just a two-minute walk to classes, and a pub next door, they had lucked out.

The house had some interesting characteristics, like the sealed door facing the street, closed off likely to protect tenants from plummeting to the sidewalk below. In the hallway beside the bathroom, there was a doorframe, but no door.  It seemed odd, but Laura and Ann paid little attention to the wall until one December night when they were procrastinating and realized that when they knocked on the wall in the doorframe it made a hollow sound. 

What was behind the wall? 

Ann made a small hole in the drywall and fed in some Christmas lights. Through the hole, they could see that it was a large space, but that was it. They needed to know what was beyond the doorframe and drywall.  Of course, being students, they didn’t have a flashlight or tools, so they connected all of their extension cords to a lamp to light the way, and kicked down the drywall. 

Beyond the drywall was a set of stairs leading up!  How hadn’t they noticed another level to their two-story apartment?  The stairs were covered in an inch of dust, but coming down the stairs were a set of terrifying boot prints.  Whose were they? When had these boots come down the stairs? Should they go up the stairs? What would they encounter? 

Holding hands (and the lamp attached to multiple extension cords), the two of them ventured up the stairs. 

The smell was stale and thick.  At the top of the stairs to the right there was a small room with a boarded-up window.  The room was covered in children’s wallpaper that looked like it was from the 1950’s.  Cartoon images of hockey players and baseball players were peeling off of the walls and stained from old age.  More peculiar was what they found on the ceiling. In what seemed to be random formation were maybe a dozen little pieces of paper that had been folded up and nailed there. 

Laura reached up and pulled one down.  The rusty nail came loose without much effort. When she unfolded the paper, there was nothing there. The mystery of this space was starting to intensify.

They decided to venture out of the first room and now to the left.  This was a large room.  It was green in colour, with wood flooring, and short walls along the sides due to the slant of the roof. At the far end of the room, there was another boarded up window. Below it, and mounted on the wall, was an old, black, rotary telephone. They were instantly drawn to the phone, and made their way across the room. Ann picked up the receiver…there was a strong dial tone. The phone was still connected! 

Looking up at the ceiling, there were no papers to be found, but when they shone the lamp around the room, they noticed a piece of paper on the floor and when Laura bent to pick it up, she realized that it was a cheque.  The cheque was for $100.00 and it was signed by: The Young Anne Bradley

What happened up here? It was such an ominous energy, and they hurriedly went back down the wooden stairs to the safety of their apartment below. Wanting to hide the damage they had caused and to cover the gaping hole in the doorframe, they gathered all of the cereal boxes they had, opened them up, stapled them together to make a large board, and then stapled that to the remaining drywall in the doorframe.  

Later, as Ann worked on a term paper in the tiny office across from the doorframe, she had a feeling that made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. She turned to face the cereal boxes which appeared to be breathing. The draft from the abandoned apartment above was causing their makeshift wall move in and out, in and out, in and out. She couldn’t stand it, it was far too creepy so she ripped them down and tacked a blanket up. 

She went back to writing her term paper, when the phone rang. On the second ring, she heard the rotary phone ringing upstairs and her skin crawled. It was connected to their line!  

As soon as Laura got home, Ann demonstrated this odd new twist.  After the second ring when dialing their number, it would begin ringing upstairs!  Too freaky. 

They left the apartment to go home for Christmas holiday, and didn’t think too much about it. When they returned to the apartment, they went about their student life as usual until they checked the mail. There was an envelope with no return address. Opening it together, they found a Far Side comic inside. The drawing was of a bunch of dead cats and the caption read:

…Yes, curiosity killed these cats.

Gary Larson

Inspired by Sunday Confessionals: Encounter

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