Chapter 2

Her footsteps echoed on the marble floor as Cyndi made her way to the elevators. Some squeaking sound was heard somewhere down the hall behind her. She turned around and made a quick inspection of her surroundings before resuming to the elevators. She waited, her nerves somewhat on the edge. It wasn’t like she didn’t know what stories others were conjuring up about this building to scare residents. She had remembered her replies to some of the neighbors that she liked the tranquility this place provided. The placid atmosphere was all she needed to relax after a day at work, especially after dealing with her boss. Yet, after those endless nights of nightmares, she was on her last nerves. Her patience was running low. She was glad she told Claudia off today. All she needed was another round of Claudia’s analysis to heighten her nightmare to another notch.

“Let it go,” She mumbled to herself as she rode in the elevator cart.

The old-fashioned cart was vibrating especially loud this afternoon. Or was she tuning into it more than necessary today? Her paranoia only lasted a few more seconds because the cart soon stopped and she was let off at her own level. She hurried out of it and continued down to her apartment at the end of the hall. The fluorescent light flooded down on her, casting shadows accompanied by her footsteps echoing loudly, making it even worse. She reached for her key rings, which she had tossed into her bag after departing from her car. Fidgeting with all the contents inside and struggling to balance her grocery bags, the bags finally gave way. She left it on the ground while searching for the keys, wondering why it took so much effort to locate those keys today. It was second nature to her since yesterday.

“You need help?” An eerily familiar voice asked, breaking through the silence–aside from the constant rustling sound from her bag.

She turned to face the other party and found herself face-to-face with a familiar silhouette. And she just stared, not knowing what to say or what in the world the person just asked before.

“Do you need help, Miss?” The other person asked again, offering her a friendly smile.

Attempting to break away from her trance and regaining her composure, she cleared her throat loudly. Then she shook her head, giving that person a sharp glare before returning to wrestle with her bag. Instead of leaving, the other person chose to step forward and retrieve her grocery bags from the floor. He even went through the efforts of placing the correct spilled contents back into each bag.

“I don’t need your help,” She said, annoyed–her expression and attitude far from being grateful.

The other person just shrugged, still holding onto her grocery bags and waiting for her to open the door. She ignored him and returned to retrieving her keys, finally succeeding. While she was at it, she pinched herself on the arm just to make sure she wasn’t dreaming before placing the key into the keyhole. The other person was truly puzzled about her behavior yet did not dare to question her sanity. Indeed, he was out of her way after she opened the door and reached for her bags, not even uttering words of gratitude. As far as curiosity would allow her, she dropped her grocery bags by the door and locked up, going extra slow to see where the other person was heading toward when she realized he was entering the apartment next to her. She was at the end of the hall, sandwiched in the middle looking out toward two rows of apartments that spread until where the elevators were. Then there was another set of apartments spreading until the end of the other hallway. She made sure not to look like she was spying as she mulled some matters in her mind, wondering why she didn’t notice that he was her neighbor after living there for a period of time already. And the fact that she knew who he was the moment she laid eyes on him made it even more puzzling. Because how could she when they just met today? But his familiar voice vibrated throughout her mind as she made her way into the kitchen to settle her grocery contents. This time, replacing those helpful, kind words with: Game’s over.

© Monday, August 1st, 2011

Posted: Wednesday, May 30th, 2012