That damn dog was barking again. James sat alone in his apartment trying to watch TV, but that damn dog wouldn’t shut up. “Who keeps a dog in their apartment anyway if all it’s going to do is bark at every creek from someone walking by outside of the door,” James thought.
James tries to turn the TV up, but it’s no use. The dog just barks and barks and barks. Frustrated, James grabs the baseball bat that he leaves on his coffee table for just these occasions, and stands to bang on the ceiling of his apartment. The dog ignores the banging and gets louder. James jabs the bat harder into the ceiling causing drywall dust to land in his face.
“Shit!” James drops the bat and starts to rub his eyes. With one eye closed, he looks back up at the ceiling, “Shut up, you damn dog!” He goes to rub his eyes again. Then the dog stops for a moment. James looks up curious. A wimpier, then a thud. The dog is silent.
“Guess the owner finally decided to get after his own dog.” James takes a seat with a sigh. Footsteps cross the room upstairs before falling silent again.
James tries to finally relax, but a sense of unease keeps bothering him. He shifts on the couch, crossing his right leg over his left. Then his left leg over his right. Then both feet back on the floor. His knee starts to shake as he sits a while, not really paying attention to the television.
Bang, bang, bang! James jumps at the sound of his own door. “What the hell?” He just stares at the door confused. Bang, bang, bang! James shakes his head and walks over toward the door.
“Dude, I’m sorry for the pounding, but you don’t have to be aggressive with my door.” James looks through the grimy peephole. No one is there. He steps back and thinks a moment.
“Hello?” No response. James creeks the door open, but doesn’t see anyone in the hallway. “Okay…” James closes the door and locks it. He starts to return to the couch when the banging at the door starts again.
James walks back to grab the baseball bat. He returns to check the peephole once more. Still no one there, James opens the door and steps out into the hall. “Hello?” James looks up and down the empty hallway. The light above him starts to flicker. “Ah, screw this.” James goes back inside and closes the door.
He sets the bat down next to the door and starts to walk away. Bang, bang, bang! James whirls around and grabs the bat. He looks into the peephole and sees someone standing outside. “Stop messing with me man!” James swings the door open and holds up the bat to intimidate. He blinks at the site of… no one. James steps into the hallway again, but finds that it is empty.
The same light flickers above James. James steps back inside and slowly closes the door. He looks through the peephole. The hallway is empty. James sighs, “Am I losing my mind?” Just before he steps away from the peephole, a shape with over stretched limbs walks by the door. James Jumps back, “Jesus!”
He steps away from the door and just stares at it. He closes his eyes tight and then reopens them, shaking his head to wake up. “You’re seeing things.” He slaps his own cheek. “Okay, you’re not crazy, you’re just seeing things. Maybe I ate something funny. Maybe…” He doesn’t have time to finish the thought before the door knocks again, gentler this time.
James clears his throat and raises the bat at the ready. “I’ve called the cops man! I’d advise you clear out of here!” The door falls silent. James inches forward feeling like the door could burst open at any moment. Faint scratching can be heard at the door now. “I’m not joking! You’re in for a world of hurt!”
James looks through the peephole. the grime on it makes the hallway look like it is full of fog. He mutters to himself under his breath, “Come on, where are you?” James grabs the door knob, ready to swing the door open. The figure crawls into view along the opposite wall like a spider. James doesn’t hesitate. He pulls the door open and starts to swing at the air like a mad man.
The bat crashes into the drywall across from his apartment. He looks right and left. Instead of finding an empty hallway, he finds one bathed in darkness as all the lights except the one above him are out. His apartment door swings shut, giving James a jolt.
James pulls the bat from the wall and hurries over toward the door to find it locked. “Shit!” James looks around. Something scratches at the door from inside his apartment. “What the hell?” The scratching turns to knocking. “Hey, get out of my place!” James jiggles at the door knob as he attempts to look through his own peephole. All he can see is darkness on the other side.
The knocking turns to banging. James stands back and kicks the door. “Open the door you son of a bitch!” James starts to wale on the door with the bat. Splinters from the bat and the door fly everywhere. “Open the damn door!”
James realizes that the banging has stopped. He steps back to catch his breath. Something crackles from within the darkness of the distant hallway. James turns to look into the darkness. The crackling moves like old joints followed by a hissing and a clicking. James steps back in fear.
“Hello?” The clicking increases and the crackling gets faster. “Who’s there?” Drip, drop! The sound of thick saliva hits the floor. James looks down at the edge of the darkness to see a pool of oddly textured red drool forming on the ground. The figure emerges from the darkness. James is trapped in a state of shock and horror at the site of what now stands before him. A murmur, then an uncontrollable scream.
Inside James’ apartment everything is quite. The TV still plays faintly as static comes in and out. The door opens and Sarah walks in with her black purse strapped over her shoulder. The hallway behind her is empty. The door, untouched. “James?” Sarah looks around to find that the apartment is empty. “Hu, must be out.” She walks forward into the apartment and sets her purse down. Grabbing the remote, she turns off the TV and takes a seat on the couch with a fresh book that she pulls out of her bag.
As she reads, the apartment falls silent. Through the peephole, something is busy devouring James.