Genre: Thriller

 

Stretching Callis slowly rises from sleep.

‘Damn this bed’s comfortable’.  She looks around knowing there are a dozen things she can do to finish moving in, but the road’s calling.  Dressed in her running gear, she blitzes a power smoothie and gets moving.

Within minutes the only focus is her and the road, just the way she likes it.  Thump-thump. Thump-thump, its mesmerizing. She has a good run and heads home.

A quick shower later and Callis is starving.  She puts on water for eggs and slices 2 whole-wheat toast. She stops dead… weren’t there 6 eggs? Why would there only be 5 now? Callis always has 2 eggs.  She looks around in confusion.

‘Hmmmm…. Did I break one and forget?’ She hurries on with breakfast but can’t shake the feeling that something’s off.

Callis loves her job at the gallery. The smell of paint, wealth and good coffee assaults her senses, it’s amazing. Her day flies past as usual in a blur of colors and laughter.  She stops off at the fresh market, her and Tony are having supper at her place tonight. He doesn’t know it, but he is going to be unpacking boxes.

Armed with fresh strawberries, thick cream, beef steaks and mushrooms for sauce, Callis gets home and hits the kitchen, completely forgetting about the missing egg.  Tony knocks but the music’s too loud. Callis cooks to music and he let’s himself in.  He admires her swaying ass for a bit, smiling.

‘Ah if only that did it for me.’ He laughs out loud and Callis hears him.

‘Hey, what do you think?’ she smiles a greeting and waves her arm around showing him the apartment.  A low whistle and she knows he likes it.

‘It was a steal. The last tenant absconded in the middle of the night and they were desperate to get some money in before the end of the month.’ Callis chats while chopping away and Tony looks through making appropriate noises.

‘What time did you get home that you could shower and make food?’ he smiles.

‘No, I haven’t, I showered this morning and I’ve been busy cooking since I got home.’

Tony looks confused ‘seems like someone just had a shower, I can smell the heat and soap.’

‘I hope I don’t have a leak’ Callis puts down the knife and goes to the bathroom.  It DOES smell like someone just got out of the shower. It’s wet and there is condensation on the window. Puzzled, Callis returns to the kitchen.  She soon forgets about the shower when her stomach reminds her that all she had for lunch was an apple.

‘Don’t just stand there looking gorgeous, pour wine then unpack something’ she demands.  Tony rolls his eyes, finds two long stemmed wine glasses and fills them up. He checks to see which box has the least contents deciding on one for the lounge.  He starts picking stuff out and placing vases, knick-knacks and ashtrays all around the small lounge. It immediately seems cozier and he stands back to sip his wine and admire his handiwork.

‘You have a good eye’ Callis points with the knife and a smile.

‘Dinner’s ready.’  They sit at the nook enjoying rare steaks and rich mushroom sauce. The large kitchen window faces onto the garden and the setting sun throws pretty shadows at the shrubs. A light breeze tickles the leaves and stirs up those that have dropped.  Its picture perfect.

‘Jeez girl, how come no-one has snapped you up if you cook like this?’ Tony smacks his lips and finishes his steak in record time.

Callis belches heartily and laughs ‘that’s why’.  Tony looks horrified then belches back at her.

‘Let’s sit in the lounge, I need to undo my pants. Unless it makes you feel uncomfortable?’ Callis gives Tony a lecherous grin.

‘Girl, your whole vagina could hang out and I wouldn’t even notice.’ Giggles Tony.

They end off with a small bowl of strawberries between them and Tony heads off home, both are tired and need to sleep off the meal.  Callis clears everything away and puts the last few strawberries and mushrooms sauce in the fridge, showers and is asleep as her head hits the pillow.

Something wakes her. Its 2h37am and Callis barely manages to open an eye. She hears a noise and is instantly awake.

Is there someone in the apartment?

She evens her breathing to listen and hears another noise, just a scrape really. Callis quietly gets up, feeling around frantically for her hockey stick. Its that or a shoe!

Pulling open the door a crack, seeing nothing. Hears nothing more. She waits for what seems to be forever, nothing.  She looks through the apartment but sees nothing out of place and heads back to bed. It takes her long to get back to sleep.

The next morning, she can’t face a run having tossed and turned since she was woken.  Yogurt and fruit for work, her favorite.

Opening the fridge Callis gasps. There are only 2 strawberries left. ‘Its impossible, there was a whole bowl of maybe 4? 5? She can’t remember but knows there were more.

‘Am I sleep-eating? Is there such a thing?’ Callis is confused but knows that its odd and battles to shake the strange feeling in her stomach. She calls Tony on her break.

‘What’s up C?’ Tony is so chirpy he raises her spirits immediately.

‘I think I’m sleep-eating.’

What?’

‘Some strawberries were missing out of the bowl I put in the fridge. We didn’t finish them all and this morning there were only 2 left.’

‘This is serious’ Tony sounds concerned.  ‘If you keep this up girl, you’ll get fat and we can’t be friends.’  Callis bursts out laughing.

‘Be serious, it’s a problem.’

‘I know what to do, I will stop by your place on the way home.’

Callis is painted onto the couch when Tony stops in.

‘What…?’ he starts unpacking figs, feta cheese and Dimply chocolate.

‘Tony, I hate all of those. And figs make me fart’ Callis pulls a face.

‘EXACTLY. If you sleep-eat, this should deter you.’ Callis smiles but isn’t convinced, as Tony opens all the goodies and puts them in front in the fridge.

‘Just give it a shot. Now pour me a Chenin which I will drink super-quickly, I’m meeting a new date.’ They laugh and all too soon Tony is gone.

Callis is too tired to cook so eats a bowl of cereal and falls asleep early.

The next morning, she is super-energetic and stretches after a great night’s sleep. She grabs a smoothie from the fridge and heads out on a run. The early morning air is so fresh, flowers are everywhere and Callis loves summer.

She gets home, showers and knows she must get moving or be late. Opening the fridge, she stops, her mouth forming an “o”. The feta and chocolate have both been nibbled at.

‘How…’ Callis thinks about it, she didn’t feel flatulent and she was convinced he hadn’t gotten up in the night. Puzzled she packs her lunch and leaves.

A chill ran down her spine, what if someone is getting into the apartment? The thought reeled around her head all day, terrifying her.  It would explain the shower, food going missing, strange noises… Her heart pounded, surely not.

Going home after work, Callis is super aware of everything. The old tenant’s name’s still on the apartment listing and Callis stops.  Deanne Hunner – that’s an unusual name. Callis hurries into her apartment and searches online for her.  Within minutes, she has her number and calls.

‘Hello?’

‘Hi is that Deanne Hunner?’

‘Yes, who is this?’

‘My name is Callis, I’ve rented the apartment in Brooks Ave…’ she hears a gasp.

‘Do you live alone?’

‘Yes’.

‘Move, move immediately, don’t even stay there tonight.’  Calles’s blood turns to ice at Deanne’s next words.

‘There is someone else in that apartment.  I don’t know who, I don’t know how, but I KNOW there is someone else living there. Please believe me.’

‘I do.’ Callis whispers, moving so that her backs to the wall.  Her pale face looks around, there’s nothing out of the ordinary and they finished their chat.  Throwing some clothes into a bag, Callis leaves the apartment and goes straight to Tony’s.

Shaking she relays the story while Tony listens. Silently he stands and pours her a shot of something.  She takes a large gulp and chokes on good whisky.

‘Don’t waste it’ he sounds indignant ‘that’s 5-year-old…’

‘I don’t care!’ Callis shouts bursting into tears.  ‘I can’t move I don’t have money for another apartment, I want to stay there.’

‘Ok, I get it, just calm down.  You know I hate it when you cry.’ Giving her a hug Tony makes a call.  Within 45 minutes they have a nanny-cam and a valium each. Hiding it in a bag, they go back to Cali’s, making sure to be noisy so that they don’t surprise the intruder.  Tony sets it up in living room at an angle that showed the whole room, including the front door and carefully checks that it’s working.  They leave, still chatting and pretending that there is nothing wrong.

They rushed to Tony’s and he makes supper while she kept an eye on her phone.

‘Its so weird seeing my place like this.’

‘Hey, don’t sound so sad girl, we will get these bastards’ Callis looks shocked ‘or visitors.  Could be raccoons.’ He smiles and gives her a hug.

‘Tony this is delicious’ Callis said spooning silky chicken pasta into her mouth. She’s starving having not eaten much during the day and the food lifts her spirits.  They chat away, slowly relaxing.

‘I’m not sure if it’s the food, wine, medicine or company but I feel much better. Thank you.’

A movement on the screen catches their attention and they both freeze, staring.  Just above Callis’s grocery cupboard is a vent. Neither it was a cause for concern.  The grate slowly moves to the side and a women’s head appears, ratty blonde hair hangs down and her raccoon eyes slowly ensure no-one is around.  Clambering down she lands cat-like on the floor immediately heading into the bedroom possibly to check that Callis isn’t asleep.

What seems like ages later, she emerges rubbing her hair in a towel.

‘What the hell…’ Callis is horrified. ‘She must be using my shampoo! And worse my sponge’.  The woman comes out, her t-shirt over her shoulder wearing and old shirt of Callis’s.

‘What! She’s wearing my clothes.’

‘Well, THAT shirt you should have donated to someone you don’t like.’ Tony smiled.  ‘Relax, we now know who your intruder is and can do something about it.’

They watch her head to the fridge, take a long drink direct from the milk carton and helps herself to some food.

‘What a cheek.’ Callis gasps not believing her eyes.

They’ve seen enough.  Callis phones they police.  They send out 2 detectives to investigate and it takes them only a few minutes to locate the woman in the adjoining unit.  She admits to having been raiding Callis’s apartment for years while several tenants came and went.  Callis’s relief that she had been caught was evident.

Later at the corner coffee shop, Tony buys Callis a sweet, milky coffee.

‘Why do you always feed and water me Tony?’ she smiles, grateful for her friends caring nature.

‘I’m trying to make you fat so that you don’t get a boyfriend and stop being friends with me.’ Callis smiles realizing that there is some truth in the statement.

‘Never!’ Callis hugs him knowing that they will always be friends.

That night Callis slept like a baby and when she awoke, all her food was still in the fridge.

 

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