Those bizarre, horrifying scratching noises weren’t normal.
She first heard them behind the linen closet wall just two weeks after she and her husband Johnny moved into third-story apartment. This was also right after the strange encounter with the hysterical woman.
She didn’t know which was more frightening – the loud scratch-scratch-scrape sounds that traveled from one end of the closet to the other, or the 40-something petite Asian woman who grabbed her arm and screamed at her hysterically to “leave this place because that creature lives there!” Melissa still recalled how desperate and fearful the woman’s eyes appeared, even as her husband and brother pulled her back into their SUV and drove off. The apartment management staff assured Melissa and Johnny that nothing was wrong with the apartment. The woman’s hysterics made Melissa’s blood run ice cold.
But still, the loud noises terrified her. They came at night, late night and would stop in five minute intervals. Often the scratches started up when she moved, but ceased when she stood still to listen, as if whatever caused the scratching knew she was there and played a game with her. She talked to Johnny about it, although he made light of it as he took off for yet another business trip. She also mentioned it to the apartment complex resident services, but staff couldn’t send anyone out until the following morning.
So once more Melissa had to listen to the scratch-scratch-scrape that traveled through the wall.
One night, the scraping sounded more intense, more angry, as it entered the hallway somewhere near the top. She stood now, still wrapped in a towel, having just taken a shower after a hard workout at the gym and a long day at work. The noise moved upward, toward the ceiling, then stopped. She stared and held her breath, not sure if it, whatever it was, knew if she was there, or if this was coincidence. This sounded larger than a rat or a squirrel. That’s what she knew. True, apartment complex was crawling brown and black ones when they moved in, although lately she hadn’t seen any, and she knew there were no rats in the area. But yes, this thing was larger – way larger. Maybe a cat? A dog? Why would a dog be up there. Maybe a small child? She once saw little kids running down the hall and older kids trying open the gated door to the roof. But that’s just it, the roof access door was gated shut. There couldn’t be children up there.
Was was this thing? How she hated that her husband had taken a job that sent him on business trips up and down the California coast.
Melissa prayed to Jesus that it wasn’t anything serious, and she quickly switched on the TV to drown out the noise. Maybe by the next day, when the resident services staff checked out the noise she’d find out.
Unfortunately, they moved her appointment to the following day. Great. She, of course learned about this at work when her cell phone went off.
“We’re sorry, but we’ve had a lot of calls,” the services team member told her. “Lots of stopped-up disposals, plumbing problems, and the like. We’ll have to get to your problem tomorrow.”
“Has anything like this been reported before?”
“Well we’ll be here in the afternoon. Do we have permission to enter?”
“Has anything like this been reported?” she repeated.
“It’s not my place to say,” the team member said. Great, she thought. Thanks for the vague answer. “Do we have permission to enter?”
“Yes,” Melissa told him, although she decided right then she would do some work from home so she could be there to talk to them.
She told her husband Johnny, who brushed it off as her being overly panicked. True. Melissa tended to overreact to things, like the time she thought freaked out about the car breaking down, fearing it was an alternator or fan belt. Turned out all she needed was a jump-start. Or the time she thought Johnny held bitterness at her after a recent argument and she assumed he didn’t love her. Turned out he was having a bad day related to work. Yeah her overreaction was a cursed gift.
“You find something wrong with everything,” he’d tell her at times. “When my mom makes a comment you overreact, when we have a small argument you overreact, like it’s the end of the world. Now you’re thinking something’s bad lurking in the wall.”
“No I’m not,” she said. “Have you heard this thing? When are you coming home?”
“Not til Friday, unfortunately. They’re still having problems setting up the IT infrastructure. Come on, you’ll be fine.”
“The noise is getting worse, it’s not just in one area anymore, and it’s even happening more at night for long periods of time,” she told him. “It’s like scraping and scarping and I thought I heard a little grunting, and I think whatever it is, knows I’m there. It’s almost like a game. And, I have talked to another woman who lives on the same floor and she said she heard it too, that it was loud.”
“Mel, stop. You’re overreacting. It’s not a rat, or a dog, or a child, and it’s not some ‘creature’ like that woman was screaming about. Stop overreacting.”
Melissa sighed and switched the subject. After a few minutes she ended the call. Later that night, when she went to sleep she could hear the scratching again and it faded. But in the middle of the night she was dreaming, of her husband and the time she was a little and the snarling pit bull chased after her, and —
The noise jolted her straight up. Now she surveyed the dark room, wondering if that had been part of her dream, or if it had been real. And then she heard it, loudly –
Right above her head. She peered up, trembling.
and then it moved to her left, toward the corner of the bedroom. Melissa jumped out of bed, hitting the floor with her feet. When she did the noise stopped.
What? It knew she was there?
And then the noise started again, this time, a quick scampering noise, to the other side of the room
Melissa gasped, clutching her chest in fear. Her heart pounded and she felt a little shaky. What was that thing. Now she darted over to the wall, just below the ceiling where the sound came from and pressed her ear against the wall.
BUMP! BUMP! BUMP!
She jumped back, yelping. It was almost as if it knew she was there and purposely slammed the wall.
Melissa hit the wall with her fist, twice.
She jumped back again. No, not neighbor getting mad at her for making noise. That didn’t sound like any animal she was familiar with.
Add then a flurry of scrapes and grunts ripped through the wall as the thing, whatever it, raced across the ceiling and out of the hall, followed by a loud “Creak!”
“Eeeek!” she shrieked. Someone banged the wall from downstairs. Now that was a neighbor. It was 2 in the morning.
“Quit making all those scraping and bumping noises!” the neighbor boomed through the wall.
“It isn’t me!” she yelled back. She no longer got a response. Now Melissa stood, rooted in fear, as the noise suddenly stopped. She looked up at the ceiling and that’s when she saw it.
A crack. One jagged and zig zag, stretching across the far end of the ceiling, along the path where the thing had run. It hadn’t been there before, but there it was, fresh and somewhat spit. pieces of ceiling lay on the carpet by her feet.
That thing almost crashed its way through.
It had wanted to crash through.
The next day Melissa worked from home to talk with the service technician. He was a cyncial,older slightly chubby man in blue overalls and an iPhone sticking on his belt. He slipped on white cotton footies around his workboots (to not track dirt in the house) and brought in a tool box. She explained everything to him, and even showed him the newly-formed crack. He told her there wasn’t much he could do in terms of getting someone in there, but that he could bring someone in to look over head in an hour. That was fine. he came back just as he said he did, with another guy – a skinny Latino who loved to talk. While they checked around the Latino asked, “Hey did you know you have an attic?”
“I do?” she thought apartments didn’t have attics.
“You do, It’s more of a small crawlspace, no more than two or three feet, but yes, you definitely have one. A lot of the apartments here have these – “
“Mario -” chubby man seemed annoyed.
“Look, you could store things up here if you wanted – “he stopped abruptly and motioned for her to come over. The crawlspace was just above the hallway linen closet, where she originally heard the noise. He had a step stool and had her stand on it so she could peek her head up into the crawl space. Inside there was a smell of must and some sulfur and the wonderful look of old papers and cobwebs. To the far end of the tiny crawl space there was a hole. It had to be about a foot long and a foot wide, with jagged edges, but it was a hole into.
“Where does that go?” she asked, ducking down.
The Latino looked up, was that worry on his face? she couldn’t tell. “It could go into the rest of the apartment, there are smaller openings along the walls of these apartments, so if there’s a passage it could go there. Not all of them, you may noticed how thin the walls are in terms of next door neighbors, but there is enough crawlspace between the ceilings of the floors and on the sides that there are openings for animals to get in….” he paused and looked down.
Chubby man piped up “Yeah, sometimes squirrels get in, although we’ve sealed off the outside from the roof down to ensure no squirrels get in, and we don’t have problems with rats. “
“Well, there’s enough space for larger animals to get in there, like -“
“Mario, please. Mrs. Connors, I don’t know what it is, just a squirrel.”
“Don, there hasn’t been a lot of squirrels around here lately. You know that.”
“Yeah, I noticed that too,” Melissa said.
“This was a squirrel,” Don said flatly.
“A squirrel? OK how big was it — it put a crack in the bedroom.”
“Did you say a crack?” the Latino guy asked. He hadn’t seen it, but now he walked into the bedroom.
“Mrs. Connors, I don’t think this is nothing to be alarmed about. This squirrel has made his home in there, but he’ll come out.”
“Can’t you get it out?”
“Most likely he won’t come back.”
“But it’s been making those scarping noise almost every night, and it’s getting worse. Can’t you call call pest control or something? Or set traps?”
“That’s something you need to do as the tenant. We don’t have the tools for that. Now I wont be able to return to fix the crack onto Friday, but you won’t be charged for that.””
“Great,” Melissa grumbled. “You’re suppose to be resident services.”
“I’m sorry that’s all I can do.”
She sighed and returned to her computer laptop as the guys closed the crawlspace. she watched as they checked to see everything was in order and left the apartment. So she was back to square one, and with little help from them. Maybe she should just drink some tea to calm down.
When she went into the kitchen she heard two men outside her apartment, mumbling.
Well, it sounded like a harsh mumbling — maybe arguing.
The voices were familiar — it was the service technicians.
“She needs to know.”
“Knock it off Mario -“
“You can’t just keep quiet about that. It’s happened before.”
“Don’t you bring up that crazy lady-“
“She wasn’t crazy man. She saw it.”
“Knock it off. We need to go to our next appointment.”
She told Johnny about it that night. He loved to call her every night, and he did just that. Of course he agreed with Don the technician.
“See, I told you it was nothing. Just a squirrel.”
“This is not a squirrel Johnny! The other guy doesn’t think so. He said it’s happened before. And this thing made a crack!”
“You bang around loud and hard enough, even if you’re a squirrel. Come on Mel, you’re doing this again. Stop overreacting.”
That night the scraping returned.
This time it traveled back and forth from the bedroom to the hallway, and it continued for a solid hour. Melissa couldn’t sleep, but sat up, terrified. This was not good!
What if this thing broke through the —
She jumped up, realizing that noise wasn’t her own.
It came from above, from the creature. it has shrieked, a half high-pitched, low guttural scream.
She heard pop open in the direction of the hallway linen closet.
The crawl space?
What if the creature breaks through the crawl space?
That’s it. She wasn’t sleeping in her at all. Melissa grabbed her blanket, her car keys, and went down into the parking lot to sleep in her car.
She woke up early the next morning to muffled frantic voices.
Oh, she felt cramped and she had to get to work, but who was the grief-stricken old lady 100 feet from her, with the two maintenance workers and an apartment security officer?
Melissa got up and walked over.
“You need to find who did this -” the old lady protested, tears in her eyes. She pointed to the small white heap on the ground. It was a white sheet covering something.
“Ma’am, we don’t know what did this.”
“Not what who!”
“What happened?” Melissa asked.
“It’s nothing to be concern-“
‘My beloved Fifi is dead!” the elderly lady exclaimed. “Her blood’s been drained dry! This has been happening to the pets all over this complex!”
“It’s true, people’s cats have been found dead, and dogs, and they don’t help us! There could be a coyote around here and no one’s helping!”
“You need to calm down,” the technician told her. He turned to Melissa. “We’ll take care of this.”
So they were still being vague, huh? Great. Terrific. In frustration Melissa returned to her apartment to get ready for work.
And when she got there, she was mortified.
There were pieces of toilet paper scattered down the hall and into the living room. The pantry looked like it had been invaded, with cereal boxes tipped over, spilled contents on the floor. The closet door was opened, with pieces of wood splintered off around the edges. At the top of the linen closet the door to the crawlspace was opened.
The animal had been in her apartment.
A few hours later Melissa tracked down Mario on the apartment complex premises. Mario was working by the pool when she caught him. She told him quickly, and quietly that she overhead them talking outside her door the other day and that she wanted to know what was going on.
Mario looked down and motioned for her to follow him. she did, around the corner to the side of the community recreation building.
He looked at her and leaned forward. “They don’t like these issues to get out of hand. They don’t want to loose tenants, but they don’t want to believe that something is terribly wrong, and I don’t know why that is,” he paused. “All I know is they keep getting complaints about it.”
He looked around and leaned in further. “The creature. The thing in your place. It’s real. You’re not imagining it.”
She looked at him. “Whatever it is, it got into my apartment. Do you understand?” she hugged herself. “It’s in my apartment, and it knows I’m there. I know this isn’t a rat or a squirrel.”
Mario nodded and looked at her seriously.
“No, it isn’t. An Asian lady lived in your building. She knew it wasn’t a squirrel either. Animals have disappeared from this apartment for a while, and like Mrs. Henderson’s Fifi, they’ve had their blood drained. It happens every three or so months. That’s how it eats, in cycles – “
“What is it.”
At first he didn’t answer.
“Mario, tell me what is it?”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” he said.
“Try me,” she said. “What is the animal?’
Mario looked around again and then at her. “Chupacabra.”
“Chupacabra,” he repeated.
“What’s that? A dog?”
“No, not a dog. It’s of….the unknown. Unknown animal.”
She stared at him and shook her head, chuckling. “You know what, this isn’t funny. I don’t like being treated like I’m an idiot.”
“No, miss, I mean it. No one knows what kind of animal it is, look on the Internet. My uncle owned a ranch in Guatemala, and often we visited when I was a child. Sometimes some of his chickens went missing. One time, his horse was found dead. It wasn’t a coyote, it was the chupacabra. My uncle saw it, briefly, but he saw it, and here, that lady saw it, ” he looked around. “No one working here wants people to know some unknown animal is here. It’s bad for business. It is a family-owned apartment complex. They own several of these around the country, and it’s bad if people know.” He looked down. “The chupacabra is supposed to be legend. Few people, like my uncle and that lady have seen it, although there have been reported sightings of it on the news. All that is known is it sucks the blood out of animals.
That made Melissa shiver. “It lives on blood?”
“Yes, like a vampire.”
“Could….could it go after humans?” she thought of how the creature seemed to taunt her willingly with its noises.
“My uncle’s horse was nearly drained of blood. I think that if it’s hungry enough, it may try to go after bigger animals, maybe even…..” he dropped his voice to a whisper. “Maybe even humans.”
Melissa hugged herself more, but shook her head more. “No…that can’t be.”
“I saw that crack, that is scary. You said the thing is in your apartment?”
Melissa explained what she found.
“Be careful, lady. Be careful. Maybe it’s best you don’t come back. Wait until it gets hungry and moves along somewhere else.”
Melissa heard him, but she still didn’t want to believe this.
Chupacabra. She never heard of this. She thought of this as she went to the gym and then to Starbucks with her laptop, all in an attempt to stay out of the apartment.
She did some research of her own. Chupacabra meant “goat sucker” in Spanish. There had been sightings of this creature in the southwestern part of the United states, and even in other parts of the world. It was described as one having a thirst for livestock, which were found stripped of hair, or blood and with fang bite marks. some videos were posted, ones believed to have captured the creature, although these looked more like dogs. Maybe it’s body resembled a dog. Or maybe a cross between wolverine and hernia with ferocious teeth. No one knew. Some speculated the chupacabra were extra terrestrial. She some how sensed that this wasn’t the case. She did more searches and learned that it came out at night, that some thought the creature was maybe 3 or 4 feet tall at most and on four legs, but could run on two. She found one story where one person claimed to have been chased by it. Other stories indicated that authorities were skeptical of its existence. What creature drained blood like a vampire? Yet this one did.
She was still at Starbucks when Johnny called. It was Thursday late night and cafe place was getting ready to close. She knew she had to leave, but she couldn’t bare going back to the apartment again. She thought of telling him about what Mario told her but she wondered if he’d just think she was overreacting.
And before she could say anything, Johnny began talking fast, telling her to e-mail something that was job related.
“If you look in the file on top of the computer desk, you’ll see a series of numbers -there a set of old codes to the previous system. we haven’t been able to get it up and running without dismantling the old one. We need those numbers.”
Did she have to go back there. She asked if there was any way they could retrieve those codes another way.
“We haven’t been able to reach the old IT crew. I’ve left messages, e-mails, but no answer. You have to get his or else I’m not going to be able to come home tomorrow. Come on, Mel, I really want to come home tomorrow.”
“I can’t go back there, Johnny.”
“Because that thing is there -“
“Come on, I need this.”
“I can’t. That thing is there – “
“What?” Johnny interrupted, frustrated. “Look, I’m really getting tired of this drama. I love you but this is ridiculous! This is my job I’m talking about. I need you to e-mail those codes!”
Reluctantly, she returned to the apartment. It was cold in here, and she smelled that mustiness-sulfur that was in the crawl space –was that the creature? Had it been in here again?
“You can’t come tonight?” she spoke in the phone.
“I wish I could ,but we have to get this infrastructure up,”: she could hear other guys in the background talking about computer issues. “Can you give me the codes.”
She found the file Johnny was talking about, right where he said it would be. As she did she heard violent scratching in the walls.
“Melissa? the codes? Can you e-mail them?’
she sat down at the computer, opened up her e-mail and typed in the information to e-mail him. Just do it quick and you can get out of here. She pressed the send button and the e-mail went through and she –
It didn’t sound like that was in the wall. it sounded like that was in the room down the hall.
“Johnny – ” she began, her voice quivering.
“I got it,” Johnny said, elated. “Yes, we’re in business. These codes will work.Thank you so much – “
“Johnny it’s in here.”
“What’s in there?”
She stood up, still holding her cell phone.
“Melissa, are you still there?”
“Melissa” Johnny sounded scared now. “Melissa, what’s going on?”
It scampered across the floor.
She yelped, jumped up and headed for the door –
and that’s when she thought she saw something, something knee high, but blurry, running quickly across the front door, quick and scampering into the kitchen.-
She heard the sounds of pots and pans falling out of the cupboards –
Melissa jumped away and ran into the living room, her heart pounding once more.
“Melissa what was that?” Johnny was still on the other end. She clutched her phone tightly.
Now she clasped a hand over her mouth. She had only turned on the living room light, but all else was dark, including the kitchen and the foyer in front of the living room. all she knew was that it was in the kitchen, and the kitchen was right by the front door.
“Call, the police,” she whispered in a horse, shaky voice. “It’s in here.”
“What’s in there?” Johnny began, now sounding slightly scared himself. “Melissa, are you OK?”
“It’s in the apartment…it’s in the apartment – ” she whispered, her voice trembling.
No response. Melissa looked at the cell phone.
Oh no! The phone had dropped the call!
She dialed his number. It automatically went to voicemail. Darn it!
She dialed 911 now, not sure what else to do. Please let this call go through. Please!
What if it attacked her if she made a run for the door? She could hear it now, scraping and grunting as it rummaged through the cupboards and snarling angrily. It knew she was there. It knew –
“911 what’s your emergency.”
She got through!
“There’s something in my apartment, and I think…it may try to kill me.” she recited the address quickly as she inched toward the front door. ‘”Please hurry!”
“Is it a man, miss? do you see him?….”
“It’s…” she inched closer now. BANG, CLATTER!
Melissa stood by the wall, the one bordering the kitchen to the foyer of the apartment, the front door right in front of her.
It’s voice sounded hideous, high-pitched and low guttural moaning all at once. It sounded like it was a good three feet tall. And it sounded like it was by the wall on the other side, listening for her, waiting for her, hissing for her.
It knew she was there.
it waited for her to move. Why didn’t it just pop out from around the corner? Why was it just waiting there for her to make the move? She remained frozen.
“Miss? Miss? are you OK?”
Yes, she sensed it waited for her to move – to move before it moved — to attack her? She heard it growling now, not like a dog, but something else, more sinister, more horrifying.
It’s sounded inhuman.
Make a break for the door. Just make a break for it.
She stared at it, knowing very well she had a few second to be successful in reaching it.
“Miss? are you there? Are you safe.”
She raised the phone to her ear and spoke low.
“Please come” she whispered;. “it’s going to attack me. It’s waiting.”
“What’s about to attack you?’
She said nothing more, but prepared herself for a sprint.
She counted backwards from three, ready to dash to the door and fling the door open.
“Miss, are you there?”
And she made a dash for it.
It charged after her swiftly.
She screamed, grabbing the doorknob and yanking the door open and letting in light from the hallway –
Something yanked her feet out from underneath her and she suddenly slammed against the door, her hand slipping from the knob – she crashed to the floor, and the phone flew out of her hand.
Melissa screamed again.
“Miss?! Miss!” the dispatcher cried through the receiving line. “Miss -w -“
and somethign sharp pierced her leg, yanking her back.
Panich seized her now and she frantically grabbed the door frame, as the thing the creature, the chupacabra, whatever you call it, pounced on her legs and buttocks, slamming her down, weight, strangely heavy.
And then its claws sank into her skin as it ran up her back toward the back of her head and neck.
She flung around, trying to throw it off of her, and that’s when she saw it.
The creature. It’s red eyes, it’s sharp teeth, this fur less, ugly looking part-dog, part-rat, part-gargoyle snarling creature with sharp teeth and a look of hideous hunger as it yanked her back.
She released a blood curdling, bone chilling scream that vibrated apartment walls. It’s the last noise she made before the creature jammed it’s teeth into the back of her neck.
And then everything went black.
In that stream of consciousness, there is a sense of dream, like floating on a boat or in a waterless blue ocean, the sun fuzzy yellow and inviting. Maybe you hear someone calling your name, the voices, someone call your name. That’s what she heard, her name, Melissa, Melissa, over again. A man’s voice, a woman’s voice, and shapes, she saw shapes, fuzzy and out of focus, with light. Light? Was she dead? Maybe she was on her way to meet Jesus. Or was this person wearing a stethoscope? The muffling became clear, more clear,
and then she heard it
Melissa tried to scream and sat up, flailing her arms.
Oh the pain! Pain ripping through her arms and strangely, her stomach, and no sound came out. Why did no sound come out?
But the scratching, she heard it no! It was back. She tried to scream again, no sound came out. She moved frantically.
“Hold her, hold her!” someone shouted. A nurse to her left. she pushed Melissa down. “Stop, stop, calm down. You’re going to hurt yourself. Just calm down.”
Full focus now. Melissa realizes two things, she was in the hospital and her body, from her neck right down to her stomach and legs, hurt like heck. She looked down at her legs and arms, covered in bandages. Her neck was in a brace, one used to cover wounds, and tubes stuck in her arms. one of them, dripping blood.
“Just lay still, You have some serious stitches in your neck and arms, and you don’t want to rip these out.” A doctor to her right. Melissa looked at him.
“What happened?” she tried to say, but no sound came out. Now she looked at him in fear.
“It’s OK,” the doctor said. “You’re in a lot of pain because we had to give you precautionary shots for rabies and typhus, and you can’t speak because your larynx was cut, but it will heal in time.” He paused. “You’re very lucky to make it. The injury to your neck was pretty bad. there were deep cuts into the tissue, You’re lucky your arteries are still in tact in the neck. That would have been fatal. As it is you lost a pint of blood. We had to give you a transfusion…” he looked up and over. ‘Look who’s here.”
She looked to her left and saw a man standing by the nurse, his face crestfallen and full of worry.
He came up to her, stroking her dark hair.
“Oh baby, baby, I didn’t -“
Anger suddenly seized her and she began hitting him, tears falling. Doctor pulled her down again.
“Melissa, stop! Nurse, check to make sure the stitches are in tact.”
The nurse checked her bandages. “They’re still good.”
Johnny began to cry. “I’m sorry baby, I’m sorry.” he took her hand and she grabbed his arms now, wanting to hug him. He put his head on her chest and wrapped his arms around her, albeit tentatively. “I should have listen to you. I should have listen to you, please forgive me.”
She couldn’t stay angry at him, she hugged him and he did her, as much as they could with her laying in the hospital. He held her tentatively as he apologized over again about his disbelief in her. Even though she could make no noise, she let the tears fall like a river. Johnny held her. After a few minutes they broke apart.
“You’re going to be OK,” Johnny whispered. “I’ll make sure of it.”
“Mrs. Connors, do you remember anything at all?”
“These injuries, are definitely characteristic of an animal, but I don’t know what kind. I mean, maybe it was a dog. That’s why we had to take precautions and give you those shots. ” he paused. “When I say you lost blood, I don’t mean you were bleeding heavily I mean…. I mean – “he looked at Johnny and the nurse. “You were missing blood. Like it attempted to drain you of it.”
“They said …” Johnny began. “They said tenants rushed over when they hear you scream. They found you on the floor,…. ” he paused. “I should have never accused you of overreacting – “
The doctor patted Johnny’s shoulder. “Melissa. Did you see what attacked you?”
“What was it? What was it exactly?”
She gestured for a pen and paper. The doctor had one handy and gave one to her.
She wrote, “chupacabra.”
Everyone looked at the note and the nurse gasped.
She wrote this two more times with fierceness. Johnny and the doctor stared at her, shocked.
Then she wrote –
“I won’t go back to apartment. Don’t make me go back.” More tears came when she wrote this and underlined this.
“No of course not. Never We won’t. We’re moving, OK? Never. I will listen to you. I don’t know what a chupacabra is, but we’re not going back, and I”m going to have a serious showdown with the management -“
“I know what that is,” the nurse piped up. She looked at Melissa now with wide eyes. “But we were told it was legend.”
“What was legend?”
“The chupacabra. It’s supposed to be a fierce creature that drains the blood of animals. Papa told me about it,” she turned to Melissa “You actually saw one? You saw this?”
Of course the apartment management denied such a creature, even when Johnny angrily told them what happened to his wife and presented evidence – remnants of the crack ceiling, pictures of her injuries, and the like. Mario, unfortunately was fired, for unrelated reasons, management said, but Johnny and Melissa had their suspicions. They figured he was fired because he dared to talk about something that management wanted to push under the rug. But how long could management hid the fact that residents’ pets had disappeared and that tenants had been complaining about scratches and noises behind their walls for sometime now — maybe two or three eyes, and that the apartment building Johnny and Melissa had moved into had had a quick turnover rate. Families had come and gone quickly, just as they had, just as the Asian lady and her husband had. He learned of this later.
The best management did was return the couples’ security deposit and first month’s rent, which allowed them to find another apartment quickly. It wasn’t as gorgeous as this one, but it was a quaint two bedroom that they both liked. Melissa, still couldn’t talk much — although she could whisper now, but she suffered nightmares about the creature, something Johnny had to calm her from at night. He stopped being so ornery about her concerns, and insisted on getting a position that allowed him to stay home more. He didn’t want anything else happening to her with him gone. She would return to work eventually once she regained her strength.
Johnny took charge in getting movers to come in. He and family members packed up everything. Melissa never set foot in the apartment again.
On the day they collected their deposit and first months rent, Melissa sat in the car in the leasing parking lot. It was there she overheard a couple talking about the excitement of moving in, and she deduced they were about to move into her apartment. By now everything had been refurnished so that it looked as if nothing had happened. But Melissa knew, and so she tried to talk to them, even though she didn’t have her voice fully back yet. She gestured toward the young black woman and her white husband, a young couple full of life and newly married. She tried to write it out – “Find another apartment. Bad thing, chupacabra live there.” The young woman looked at her strangely, but before she could ask anything, Johnny came and led Melissa back to their car gently. She had taken the Asian woman’s shoes.
The apartment complex management sent a notice saying they were spraying for rodents and that the problem had been eliminated.
Mario received severance pay.
Inside the walls of the apartment, the chupacabra lived, ready to sleep before it’s next period of feasting on animals and any unsuspecting human.
And within the apartment, the new tenants – the young woman and her husband – happily arranged furniture spoke excitedly about their future here. It was quite a steal, this apartment. Who knew what surprises awaited them?