A few months ago, I moved into a new
apartment building, into a cozy little place on the seventh floor. To call it a
weird place would be a vast understatement, to say the least, and to try and
start describing all the odd things that go on and all of the offbeat tenants
that live in it would take several posts. To try and offer some sort of
evidence or proof that all of the stuff happening in this building is real would
take even longer, so I’m hoping that you fine readers will give me the
benefit of the doubt here, at least for a little bit. That being said, I’m
going to try and begin with story that’s a bit less… Complicated than the
rest, to give you some perspective on my current living situation.
To start off, let me say that I like
cereal. And by “I like cereal”, I mean that I love cereal.
Some people might find it a bit strange, but I really have a passion for
collecting boxes of all of the different cereal brands and variants and
sampling any kind that I can get my hands on. Some people collect model trains
or baseball cards. I collect cereal boxes. Simple, really.
I do make sure to try and have a
balanced diet that consists of more than just cereal, mind
you, but I still probably eat far more of the stuff than most other people do;
that being said, I also do try to make most of my daily cereal meals come from
the relatively more “healthy” brands, like Wheaties or Fiber One or
whatever. Either way, I’ve always had at least one cupboard filled, wall to wall,
with different boxes of cereal. On that same note, my fridge always has at
least two cartons of milk – skim, for reference, just to help a bit further in
terms of all of the previously mentioned health stuff.
Now, I don’t actively keep
meticulous track of my cereal stock, but loving the stuff as much as I do, it
just sort of comes naturally to me. Which is why when I went to pour myself a
bowl of shredded wheat on one morning the other week, I instantly knew
that there was less in the box than there was the last time I used it. And not
just a little bit less, but a lot less. More than
just one bowl that I may have had in the middle of the night without realizing
it; this was at least two or three bowls worth of missing shredded wheat,
just gone, and with no immediate reason as to why it should be.
There wasn’t any signs of spillage, no signs of the box being torn, nothing.
The cereal had just vanished.
I’m sorry. I know this sounds
ridiculous. Here I am, writing a post about how some of my shredded
wheat has gone missing. But I want to make sure you understand: Nobody
else lives in my apartment. I don’t have room mates, I don’t have a
significant other, I don’t even have pets. Whenever I leave, I make sure to
lock the door. Whenever I get back in, I lock the door. My windows are locked
unless I need to open them for a breeze, and they’re locked again once they’re
closed. There hadn’t been any obvious signs of entry other than myself coming
and going every day, and I made sure to check for scratches on my lock or other
that narrowed my missing shredded wheat mystery down to a few possibilities:
I had entered some sort of
hysterical cereal fugue state where I ate three bowls of shredded wheat and
then completely forgot about it.
Something or someone was entering
and leaving my apartment in some way I couldn’t tell and was eating my cereal.
Something or someone was staying in
my apartment that I didn’t know about and was eating my cereal.
than just being fine with my cereal mysteriously vanishing, I decided to do
some investigating to see which one of these was the fact of the matter.
had bought some night vision cameras within the first few weeks of moving in to
my new apartment for a different set of reasons, but I decided to use them here
to figure out what was happening to my gosh darn cereal.
set one up in each of three different locations:
My bedroom, monitoring myself to
make sure I wasn’t sleep-eating cereal or something like that.
My living room, where the entrance
to my apartment is, to see if anything was coming in through there. I had
intended to leave it up when I was out the next day, but that wouldn’t be
necessary soon enough.
My kitchen, with the camera’s frame
with a full view of the cupboard where my cereal is kept.
of these cameras also had view of various windows, so they also covered those
as potential entrances to my apartment in addition to their primary purpose.
I woke up the next day, and before I headed out, I reviewed the footage in the
cameras to see if anything showed up during the night.
some tossing and turning in bed, I hadn’t moved during the night, and none of
the doors and windows leading into my apartment had shown any signs of
But something had
shown up on the kitchen camera. It was a little bit less than a foot long, had
a dark, brownish coloration, and skittered along as it climbed down out of one
cupboard in my kitchen, and up into the cereal cupboard, where it stayed for a
while, presumably eating my shredded wheat.
I almost cracked up for a moment, as
I realized that the past few months of living in this place had caused me to
start believing that any weird occurrence here must have had
some sort of overly-complicated, weird explanation behind it, so much so that I
never even considered the most obvious, rational, natural explanation. Occam’s
Razor and all that, yeah? The camera didn’t have great night
vision quality, and it wasn’t focused enough to make out a lot of the features,
but something resembling a wave of relief and embarrassment washed over me was
I decided: It was a rat! Of course it was a rat! The apartment I was living in
wasn’t exactly a modern luxury penthouse complex in the richest part of town,
so a rat or two made sense. I wasn’t about to throw that big of a fuss over it,
since it only seemed to be one, and I’m sure maintenance could take care of it
without a hassle.
way, I decided to check out my cupboards for myself before contacting
maintenance, bringing a shoe with me for good measure. Sure enough, my shredded
wheat was nearly empty this morning, but I couldn’t find any sign of the rat.
… I couldn’t find any sign
of the rat.
thought it was strange. There wasn’t any poop. Rats usually leave droppings
behind, right? There wasn’t any sign of wood being chewed, or of any other
noticeable damage to the cupboards. The only evidence that this… Rat even
existed was my camera footage and the conspicuous absence of shredded wheat in
my cereal box.
tried not to think about it. I had already decided that this time the strange
thing going on was a rat – just a rat, only a rat, and nothing but a rat, and I
wasn’t about to be shaken from that just because I couldn’t find any feces in
my cupboard. Maybe it was just a very considerate, hygienic rat? Those exist, right?
way, I decided to get it taken care of before I left for the day, so I called
maintenance up to help me out with the situation.
call him “maintenance” makes him sound a lot more professional than
he actually is. “Janitor” is a closer term, given the way that he
seems to be well past any legal retirement age and the way that he constantly
chain smokes no matter where or when you see him – at the very least, he makes
sure not to get ash all over your place whenever he comes in, though the smell
does linger a bit. Regardless of his tendency to crack jokes and call everyone
“kid” and whack them on the back with far more strength than his
elderly appearance would suggest, he did his job and he did it well and I never
had any complaints with him, so I knew he was going to be able to take care of
this perfectly fine, as well.
explained what had been going on to him, and showed him the video footage. As
he saw the image of the rat skittering into my cereal cupboard, something like
realization crossed his face, and he just smiled as he held his hand-rolled
cigarette between his lips.
No problem, kid. I’ll get this sorted out right now. Won’t be no more of your
cereal gettin’ eating without yer permission any longer, don’t you worry.”
breathed a sigh of relief. The janitor seemed to know how to take care of any
problem that arose in apartments, so I assumed that pest infestations fell
followed him into the kitchen, where he took a look around for a few, long
seconds, before he went up to one of my cupboards and snapped his fingers in
front of it. Some kind of old-timey way to call rats out…? “Alright, ya
lil’ bugger! Get on out here and apologize to this kid right this second!”
chuckled nervously a bit. The janitor, much like everybody else in this
building, was a bit eccentric, so I didn’t think too much of the fact that he
was talking to a rat like this…
cupboard door started to squeak as it opened. Nothing appeared from the small
crack that had been made for several seconds as I could feel my heart rate
begin to pick up and my breathing quicken. My eyes darted to the janitor, then
back to the crack, then back to the janitor. It was just a rat, right? Just a
rat? Hey, janitor, you’re not doing anything suspicious, right? Just a rat?
little less than a foot long with a brown coloration started to almost
sheepishly poke itself out from inside of my cupboard door.
No, it was most certainly not a
one thing, it didn’t have any hair. Or a nose. Or eyes. Or a mouth. How did it
eat, without a mouth? This was the thing eating my shredded wheat, right? It
didn’t have legs, or arms, or feet, or hands.
Actually, it was a
hand. I stared at it, waiting for whatever was attached to the hand to come
along from behind, but… This little, clearly dead hand just dropped out of my
cupboard and down onto my kitchen counter. As the janitor laughed, I rushed
forward to throw open the door it had just slunk out of, determined to
find whatever else was in there. Was this just the tenants having a prank at my
expense again? I swear on my life if they’re trying to make a fool of me again
just because I’m the newbie.
that was when I heard a scratching noise coming from my kitchen counter. My
eyes moved from scanning through the cupboard down to where it was coming from,
and I saw… The hand. It had clearly been cut off just below the wrist, and
preserved and mummified so that the flesh hadn’t really begun to decay. And
it… Was moving. By itself.
My body swiveled back to the
janitor, to make sure he didn’t have some sort of remote control in his hands
or something. He just smiled at me with his wide, jovial, janitor smile.
“Don’t worry, kid! It’s just Handsy!” ‘Handsy’? Was this some kind
of fucking joke?
didn’t have the presence of mind to say anything in response, so I just looked
back down at the hand. It looked… Apologetic. It didn’t have eyes, but I
could still tell that it was, somehow, looking at me, and I could tell from the
way that it… Bent its fingers, I suppose, that it wasn’t intending to cause
me any immediate harm. I suppose the fact that it hadn’t strangled me in my
sleep and stole the rest of my cereal was a good enough indicator at that.
stood there for a moment to try and regain my composure, when the janitor spoke
up again: “Alright now, Handsy, like I said, say sorry to the kid, for
eating the cereal!” The hand… “Looked” up at me, formed a fist
with its thumb on top, and started moving it around in a clockwise, circular
motion. I stared at it for a few moments, unsure of its intentions, before
looking back to the janitor.
“Ah, ya don’t know sign language, kid?
Handsy’s saying ‘Sorry.’ to you in it!” My eyes moved back down to the
hand. It was now giving me a thumbs-up.
A mummified hand that had been
living in the cupboards of my apartment and presumably eating my shredded wheat
without any obvious signs of a mouth on its “body” was giving me a
think I’ve got an old ASL book down in my office, I can bring it up here next time
I’m around, if ya’d like, kid! It can’t speak all of it, since it’s only one
hand, but it can still do a lot!”
still wasn’t really in a state to answer meaningfully, so I just kind of
bobbled my head a bit and said something along the lines of: “Yeah. Sure.
Cool. Thanks.” And other one word affirmations.
janitor started making his way out of my kitchen, leaving the… Two of us by
our… Selves, with a parting banter of: “You two make nice now, ya hear?
And I don’t wanna learn ’bout you eatin’ anythin’ you ain’t supposed to be,
okay, Handsy?” There it was, again, that sheepish, apologetic stance, that
was somehow expressed through a singular, independently mobile, mummified hand.
And there I was, still aghast and confused as to how this was supposed to be
some sort of normal circumstance in the eyes of the janitor.
it “looked” back up at me, it seemed to stop for a few moments,
considering how to continue our… “Conversation”, of sorts. It
formed a fist again, and began thrusting it back and forth in my direction. At
first, I thought it was some kind of aggressive action, and considered for a
moment where my most sharp kitchen utensils were. The janitor might think that
it’s just some innocent, friendly, mummified hand, but if it was trying to attack
me, then I would defend myself, all else be damned. Then, after I saw it a few
more times, I realized what it was:
was trying to fist-bump me.
looked at it for several long, agonizing seconds, before I formed a first with
my own hand, and matched Handsy’s fist-bump with a defeated sigh. The hand, for
its part, did that thing where it “explodes” after the bump, before
“jumping” up and down excitedly on my kitchen counter.
pour a bowl of shredded wheat for Handsy every morning now, whenever I wake up.
I’ve tried other cereals, but it seems to only like shredded wheat. The one
time I tried to give it frosted wheat, it became very upset at me, smacked the
bowl to the floor, and refused to talk to me for the rest of the day, sulking
in a corner of one of the cupboards. It always drags its bowl, with
supernatural dexterity and strength, up into a cupboard with it, where it eats
out of my view before returning with a singularly clean bowl devoid of even the
slightest crumb of cereal left. I assume it doesn’t want me to learn how it
eats without a mouth. I’m fairly certain that I don’t want to know how it does
so, either, so we’ve come to something of an understanding.
On another note, I’m picking up ASL