This is the second half of the story Third Door on the Left. If you are just joining us or maybe want a refresher, you can find the beginning of this story at the link below.
Third Apartment on the Left
The door opened. Not a fast open, not like someone was hiding behind it. It simply opened. Todd expected to hear a creak like in a haunted mansion. No one was there and there was no sound.
In fact the room wasn’t even that odd looking. No smoke, no fog, no darkness. The room was actually lit up with the soft glow from a lamp near the couch opposite the door. The couch though looked familiar. Todd didn’t dwell on the normal look of the room as he stepped inside. There was a familiar look and feel to the place but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. And then he saw the takeout box sitting on the edge of the couch. The same box he had been eating from earlier. Well, not quite the same. The lettering down the side of the box was backwards. In fact, the entire room was backwards. His apartment but backwards from what it should be.
He scanned the room and sure enough, everything was in the right place, except backwards. Todd walked through the apartment, marveling at the oddity of it all as he explored. The details matched his apartment perfectly. But no one was inside except him.
Strange that no one would be home in an unlocked apartment. And the owner left his dinner at the couch. He sat down next to the take out box and looked for the remote to the tv. On the surface of his mind he felt strange sitting down in a strangers apartment but at the same time the place had a look and feel that worked comfortably with how he saw it all. Even as he sat down and grabbed the remote the room seemed to shift and spin and he grew more comfortable with the placement of everything around him.
He fought it at first, but the tv worked against him. The show that came on was a bit different. The cameras made it a point to show the back sides of the actors. This happened on every show he flipped through on the channels. It didn’t take too long for him to feel the need to leave the room, leave the apartment. The couch was comfortable though. The pull of its softness weighed him down. It took great effort for him to push himself off the couch and he found himself wanting to return to the seat even before he stood straight.
Getting to the front door was another matter entirely. On the surface there was nothing to see holding him back, nothing to note that he would not be able to reach the door back into the outside world. But it was there. Cold tendrils of comfort latched onto his limbs the spectral force dug into his flesh and his clothes. It took so much effort just to step a few feet at a time. And there was little he could do about it other than fight his way forward through the crazy shadows trying to force him down.
In the end he made it back to the door, tendrils of shadow snapped back and away from him as he found a way to push through it all. But the door back out into the main hall of the apartment complex, well that was a different story. The handle had disappeared. The space where it might exist on the door had become smooth and clean. There wasn’t even a hole like a handle had been there in the door. He had no way to open it, not from this side of the door.
The apartment pulled ahead with its need to catch him and bring him back to the couch. Todd fought and pulled against the force that drew him back to the couch. Panting, his chest heaving, he reached the doorway again. And again there was no knob for him to turn to open it. He found himself trapped in the room and he couldn’t think of a way out of the place.
He avoided the couch and walked to the bedroom doorway. The bedroom looked much the same as the rest of the apartment he had seen, his apartment but in reverse. There was one thing in the bedroom that he expected to see there, the window. Sure enough the window hid behind the venetian blinds he had hung up but never opened. The problem though, he was on the third floor with no fire escape. The side of the building offered little purchase for a climb down to the ground. In his case it would have been a fall to the ground.
His next thought, the balcony. Why he hadn’t thought of it first he didn’t know. If he could make his way to the balcony he could drop down to the apartment below his. Of course, there were no door handles on this side of the sliding glass door.
He grabbed the lamp from the end table and heaved its weight against the glass of the door. The lamp crashed through the window, shards of glass exploded out and away. Careful to avoid cutting himself he used the lamp to break away any more of the glass that would be in his way. He wasn’t sure why but he sucked in his breath as he stepped through the frame and on to the balcony. Darkness, a darkness more than night surrounded the entirety of the balcony. He was met with cold and unfeeling when he reached his arm out into it. There were no other balconies to climb to that he could see from here. He was alone, totally alone.
The darkness surrounding the balcony crept further onto the balcony as he stood there, staring into its expanse. But he noticed something more. It rose and receded a bit like it breathed, like it was alive. “Hello?” Todd called out into the darkness. His call fell back onto the balcony, the words unable to penetrate the darkness that surrounded him. The balcony was a small peninsula of light, slowly sinking into the ocean of darkness around him.
With a shudder across his spine he slipped back into the apartment before the darkness swallowed him with the balcony around him. Todd stepped into the center of the room and scanned around him. He had few options left. The only ways out seemed to have fallen away, been swallowed in impossibility.
There was little else he could do, so he went back to the couch and sat. He moved the box of Chinese food away, placed it on an end table and he leaned back into the couch. He felt nothing as his body slipped into the trance of comfort and peace. All thoughts of escaping the couch itself disappeared, faded from his mind. All he wanted, all he needed was sleep and the couch was such the perfect place for it.
Shiana climbed the last set of stairs to the third floor of the building. It had been such a horrible day at work. She worked at a local diner, Clara’s, serving five days a week to help pay for school. It didn’t help when Todd kept knocking on her door last night, woke her up at two am babbling stupid questions. She never really liked him much to begin with, but two am, there has to be a limit to how much of a person you can take.
What was it he had asked her again? Did she see it? See what? He was such a moron… She furrowed her brow as she noticed something strange at the end of the hallway, a third door on the left. How was that possible? She hadn’t heard any construction recently. The thought of it defied all reason. She skipped over her own apartment to go and investigate. Three knocks, just three and the door opened for her.
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