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...

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4. Depression

 

I was quite chirpy after that, even with the constant barrage of motown ‘hits’ from next door, and I whiled away my time by writing whatever came to mind on a large blank pad. My mind was an engine, churning out an endless stream of thoughts and ideas, and I liked to get as many of them down on paper as possible.

 

It took two days for another blackout to strike, right when I was jotting down my opinions on carrots (how do they make them so goddamn orange?). This time when I woke, I found that I’d slumped forward out of my chair and sprawled across the tattered carpet. A puddle of dribble had oozed across my pad, currently wedged between my face and the floor, turning my words into a bubbling lake of black ink.

 

I pushed myself up to my knees and felt my stomach drop away into nothing. More of the photographs had disappeared. Bare, yellowing stretches of dry wood gaped at me where I’d once hung cheesy shots of me and the parents on holiday. At least I think we’d been on holiday. In the end they’re just faces, beaming at the camera when ordered. Barging into the bathroom, my eyes fell on the nails - still embedded in the window frame. The glass was intact. Back in the bedroom, both the window and the door were locked up tight. I clenched my eyes shut and concentrated on every breath that entered my body, easing the air from my lungs as slowly and quietly as possible. My heart was kicking like a startled horse, and right then - at that very moment - it started. Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’ at full volume. My hand slammed back four of the five deadbolts before I faltered, collapsing against the door. I wept, drawing my fingernails down the wooden surface and peeling away thin shards of dark red paint, which stuck under the tips of my nails like specks of congealed blood. Then, when the tears had formed into a sticky second skin across my cheeks, I turned and walked back to my bed, slinking under the duvet.

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