Apt. 13 by Ella Bagglioni & Lauren Dias

“Here’s the details,” he says, presenting a yellowed piece of paper in his hand. Eve takes it, scanning the contents of the page. The deal seems way too good to be true. 

“And you’re sure that this is the rent? You’re not gonna bump it up or something, right?” Eve grins nervously, hugging the documents to her chest.  The landlord runs a hand through his greasy brown hair, his other playing with the flannel resting on his frame. 

“Nope, it’s exactly as promised.” 

Eve glances at the rusted brass number thirteen, glimmering on the brown door that awaits her, fidgeting with the key in her hand. The cold metal bites into her palm as she nods. 

“Alright, if that’s all, I need to go speak with the other tenants,” he mutters, his beady eyes scanning Eve’s figure. She thanks him, waiting for him to leave before she sticks the key in the door and twists the knob. She tries to ignore the crusted grease that coats her hand as she releases it. Somehow, she’d managed to snag an apartment right around the corner from her university. It was extremely difficult to find affordable housing in this area of Pennsylvania, so she was a bit hesitant to seal the deal. 

The air in the apartment stands still, carrying a putrid and bitter odor that invades Eve’s nostrils. Dark, rigid veins thread through the pale walls, spurting black powder with every slight vibration. Those weren’t in the pictures online. Eve flinches as the door to the bedroom creaks loudly, whining as if it had a life of its own. The windows are caked in dust, accompanied by spiders nesting in their edges. Eve huffs as she scans the apartment, already imagining all the cleaning and redecorating that she’ll have to do. 

All of her boxes are still waiting for her downstairs, but after getting only five hours of sleep last night, Eve needs a breather. Pulling out her phone, she decides to call for help. Shaking her head, Eve hangs up and waits for her brother, Josh, to arrive. She meets him outside and they take turns carrying flimsy cardboard boxes up the stairs. The building is too old to have an elevator. 

Once everything is brought up to the apartment, she gives Josh a quick tour, amused by his reactions to the cracks, cobwebs, and rancid smell. After she sees him out, Eve heads back to her bedroom. It’s dim and haggard, but nothing a fresh coat of paint can’t fix. She rips into one of her many boxes and begins to pile clothing onto her unmade bed. As she shifts her weight to grab the next box, the floorboards groan heavily and the ventilation pulsates louder.  

As Eve pulls open the closet door, the smell of mothballs and wood rot overpower the room. She coughs and examines the shadowed space in front of her. Something in the corner catches her eye. 

An antique mirror leans against the wall, polished and shiny, a stark contrast to the collection of items in the apartment. 

Eve feels the mirror’s weight as she cradles it in her arms and heads to the living room. Its golden frame is adorned with swirls and elegant molding, and her reflection is blurred in its worn surface. She contemplates which of the walls it would look best on, hoping its presence would give the room some much needed life.

Wrapping her fingers tightly around the mirror’s edges, Eve extends her arms towards one of the walls, hovering the mirror over where she wants to place it. Before Eve even processes it, the mirror slides out of her grasp and shatters on the floor. “Fuck!” Eve yells, backing away from the glass shards littering the floor. Warm, sticky liquid oozes from her heel. 

“Shut it!” A voice bellows, followed by thumping on the ceiling beneath her. Eve holds her head in her hands. “Sorry,” she exhales, squeezing her eyes shut. Her moment of frustration is short-lived as foreign wind swirls in her apartment, followed by deadly silence. None of the windows are open, but the room is suddenly occupied by a ghostly chill. Eve slowly peels her hands from her face and screams. 

“What are you apologizing for?” It asks deeply. Eve limps out of the living room, bare feet skidding on the wooden floor as she locks herself in the bedroom. An invisible force wraps itself around Eve’s waist, begging her to return. Eve grimaces as she faceplants on her bedroom door and hears It speak again. “I think you should come back to the living room,” It rasps. The chills return, raising every hair on the back of Eve’s neck. Gripping the doorknob, she twists and pulls the door open to a sliver, peering in the gap. 

“Who are you and why are you in my apartment?!” Eve exclaims, grabbing the nearest weapon, which just so happened to be a plastic hanger resting on her dresser.  “It’s cute that you think that flimsy piece of plastic is gonna do anything to me,” It chuckles. “Come to the living room, I won’t hurt you.” Eve widens her eyes and chucks the hanger across her room, grabbing for her vase instead. Her left foot smears crimson on the floor with every cautious step she takes. 

The translucent figure of a girl hovers above the mirror’s remnants. Eve’s eyes scan her body, lingering on a glowing thread that seemingly links her with this creature. 

“Ghost…there’s a fucking ghost in my apartment.” Eve mumbles, glaring at the floating, wispy creature.  “My name is Mallory, and this is my apartment,” she drawls.