The Neighbour

The Neighbour by Chris Barraclough, Humour/Mystery, 2,000 words

After a traumatic confrontation with a mugger, the nameless protagonist finds himself suffering from agoraphobia. Unable to leave his apartment, and tormented by a noisy neighbour, he soon discovers that his possessions are going missing...


1. Cliff Fucking Richard


He’s doing it again, the bastard. Playing Cliff Fucking Richard at two in the fucking morning. If the lack of sleep doesn't drive me mad, then Summer Holiday for the hundredth time sure as shit will. But, of course, it’s too late for that – I’m already nuts. Not that it would be politically correct to use a word such as ‘nuts’ any more. It’s a mental disability, that’s what it is. Head trauma. Fucking brain fairies sprinkling pixie dust about my cranium.

I grip my pillow and slide it out from beneath my head, before pressing it as hard as I can into my face. Death would be a welcome relief. I’ve never met my neighbour, but already I despise them more than anyone else I’ve ever despised. I honestly thought my mum was the only person in the world who still listened to this junk, but even she's outdone in her love for Cliff by whatever thing has moved in next door. Those grating tones seep through my paint-streaked walls at all hours of the day and night, and there’s no escape. Trapped in a shit-hole flat with Cliff Richard and all manner of pop wank blasting continuously; if I was dead, this would be my own personal version of hell. If you’re wondering why I don’t just walk out the door, the answer is acute agoraphobia. I haven’t stuck a foot outside the flat since a run-in I had with a mugger last month, just down the street. I’d had a couple with the regulars in the local, a much-needed catch-up laced with whiskey, before leaving at 10pm to grab an early night. The cold was fierce, I remember. My cheeks stung beneath my hood and my fingers were numb, even buried deep inside my pockets.


I did that drunken shuffle down a narrow alleyway, the smell of piss burning my nostrils. Maybe because I was wankered, maybe because I was in a hurry – whatever the reason, I never heard the bastard creeping up behind me. I didn’t know he was there until he called out, “here.” I staggered and swung around and caught a flash, then my jaw was agony and I was crumpled up on the floor, the freezing concrete burning my cheek.

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