My bleary eyes struggled to open. Jesus. How long had I been sleeping for? I felt like i’d just awoken from a month long coma. God, my head hurt. The dull pounding in my temples was as rhythmic as the ticking clock on the wall. I couldn’t remember falling asleep, or what time it was, or even what day it was. The one thing I was sure of was how awful I was feeling and how much my parched throat ached for a drink. There was a bottle of water next to the sofa I had fallen asleep on. I took a sip and almost gagged. I didn’t know water could taste so stale. I closed my heavy eyelids and tried to recover my foggy mind. I remembered feeling ill, and as I opened my eyes again I saw the various bottles of medication strewn beside me. It was getting dark and my apartment was eerily quiet, the usual hum of the fridge was silenced. Odd. I forced my weary body to sit and turned on the lamp switch on the side table, but was not welcomed by light. Had I forgotten to pay the power bill? I couldnt remember. When was the last time I paid it? When was the last time I did anything for that matter? God why did I feel so hazy? I became aware of my cellphone digging into me. I must have fallen asleep on it, I could feel the deep groove it had made on my thigh. Typically, it was dead. Thank god I had a battery powered charger somewhere in my bedroom. I groaned at the thought of having to get up and fetch it. The enticing idea of sleep was too strong, I gave in and fell back into peaceful black.
I woke again. My mind felt no clearer and my body no less heavy, but at least I was more aware of my surroundings. I decided I needed to fight back the urge to fall back asleep and try piece together my hazy mind. Ok, let’s start with the basics. Name, Kate Midwell. Age, 24. Pisces, single, works from home as a writer for an online news journal. Well, that was me in a nutshell. But why could I not remember how long I’ve been asleep for? How did I get this ill? What’s wrong with me? It was all so unclear. My thoughts flicked back to the idea of work. Did my boss Julian know of my illness? Surely.. However I suppose the perk of working from home was I didn’t need to keep to a schedule. I must be extremely behind on my writing though, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to care. No point even trying to work in this current state anyway, i’d have to wait until I was feeling well again. What was wrong with me? I looked around for the medication bottles I remembered seeing when I last awoke, to get an idea of my medical condition. Strangely, they weren’t there. Had I tidied up? My apartment definitely looked cleaner. I must have woken up earlier I suppose. My brain hurt thinking about it too much. I gave into sleep once again.
I was awoken by voices this time. They filtered into my subconscious mind and slowly pulled me out of my sleep. By the time I registered I was awake the voices were fading away, as if they were outside my apartment walking down the corridor. I swear it sounded like they were definitely inside my apartment, but that was surely crazy.. I’m too disoriented, I can’t be thinking straight. However I couldn’t ignore the uneasy feeling it gave me though. I picked up my phone, and remembering it was dead, decided it was time to venture into my bedroom to get my battery powered charger. As I stood I immediately fell back down, the dizziness was overwhelming. I haven’t stood up in a long time, my body ached from the unfamiliar movement. I took it slowly this time, and almost fell down again from shock of my surroundings. My apartment was spotless. It had always been bare, but it looked even more empty than usual, and it was so unusually clean. What happened? I must have gone on some half-asleep cleaning rampage? How strange! Everything was strange at the moment though. I must be more ill than I thought. Proceeding to the bedroom, I felt nervous to go in. The bed was made (a rare sight) and the floor was vacuumed. I half smiled, impressed with the cleaning skills of my half-conscious self. Remembering my charger lived under my bed, I pulled it out, relieved that it was where I left it last. I eagerly plugged in my phone, anxious to get back in touch with the outside world.
I tried calling my boss and best friend Julian as soon as it turned on but I had no credit left. The internet was my next try but no luck. I must have missed my internet payment as well, goddamnit! Today’s date read 11th of April 2014. But I couldn’t remember any date before this! Had it been days, weeks, months?! The last text messages and missed calls were from Julian, from the 3rd and 4th of April, the chain of texts all begging me to contact him. My call logs showed my last outgoing call on the 1st. Poor Julian, I hope I had emailed him letting him know of my sickness. I just wish I could remember. I needed to remember. Why couldn’t I remember?
I must have fallen asleep as I woke again on my familiar spot on the sofa. There was voices again, louder this time, coming from the hallway leading to my apartment’s front door. Someone was here, someone was in my home!
“Julian?” I desperately yelled as best as I could despite my hoarse voice.
“Julian!” The voices were still there, muffled, but not responding to my shouts. Why couldn’t they hear! I stood up clumsily and stumbled heavily to the hall just as I heard the front door open and close and the voices waft away. I reached the front door, tears pricking in my ears, a panicked lump in my throat. I pulled the door handle just as blackness enclosed me.
My eyes snapped open. Oh no. I was back on the sofa. How on earth was I back on this dreaded sofa! I strained to cling onto my faded memory, the voices, the hallway, the door and… and.. nothing? I must have collapsed, too exhausted to make it out the front door and pursue the invaders. For the first time my overwhelming feeling of weariness was rivaled with my desperate fright. I rose abruptly and paced my apartment. Something was different, I could feel it. People had been in here, their presence still lingered. The sense of emptiness in the apartment was unbearable. Where was everything? The furniture belonging to the apartment was here but.. Where was everything else?! Where was the feeling that this apartment belonged to me?! I rushed into my bedroom and collapsed with horror as I opened my wardrobe. Gone. All gone. My clothes, my shoes, my jewellery, my perfumes, my letters, my cds, my everything.. Gone. Stolen! It had been stolen! The voices in my apartment! They had broken into my home and STOLE all my possessions, who on earth could do something so invasive! I had never felt such dread before. I wanted to vomit out of panic and confusion but my empty stomach could only produce dry retching. I mustn’t have eaten in a long time. What was happening! I needed to call the police, I needed to talk to someone, anyone! I needed to get out of here! But I had an unsettling feeling in my stomach that my empty wardrobe wasn’t the end. I flung the bathroom cabinet open and was greeted by cruel nothing. Kitchen pantry- nothing. Even the half used shampoos in my shower- gone. What sick people would ransack someone’s home of everything they had. Fear turned to rage as I ripped open every drawer, cupboard and pantry to find something left. But they had taken it all. I couldn’t calm my fumbling hands as I dialed 911.
“You’ve reached 911, please state your emergency.”
“I’ve been ROBBED, they’ve taken everything, you must help, you must get here, they were in my apartment and they’ve stolen everything!” I choked out through angry tears.
There was no response.
“PLEASE, come help me, everything is stolen!”
“Hello? This is 911, please state your emergency”
“Hello? HELLO? Please for gods sake I need the police my apartment-”
With horror and trembling hands I stared at my phone screen, the ‘call ended’ mocking me, taunting me.
I had to get out of here. I had to get out, I needed to leave and get help. I half ran, half staggered to the hallway panting frantically, confusion and fear rising dramatically.
As I firmly gripped the front door handle and pulled it with such force and determination, cold blackness winded me and I was gone.
No. Please no. Please not again. My heart sunk out of my chest and tears welled and spilled almost immediately. I was here. On the wretched sofa. I had awoke on the sofa. Why did this keep happening, what was wrong with me?! I refused to open my eyes for about half an hour while I struggled to comprehend what the hell was going on. The only thing that jerked them open was the sound of voices coming from the bedroom, behind the closed door. They were here. The horrendous home invaders had returned. I stalked up to the closed door, unsure of my plan of attack. As my hand curled around the door knob, I paused to overhear their conversation.
“What side of the room shall we put the bed on?”
“Underneath the window might be a bit cold, if we put it there we could fit the chest of drawers beside it.”
“Yeah. We need to get the rest of the boxes out of the car too remember!”
“Sure later on, I want to unpack the wardrobe first.”
My breath had caught in my throat and came out in small ragged gasps. My hand slowly unclenched the door knob and I prepared myself to scan my surroundings. My eyes registered the various boxes and unfamiliar belongings, but my brain couldn’t. I began screaming and banging on the door but their calm discussion continued, uninterrupted by my desperate shouts. What on earth is going on, what the hell is happening?! Why have these people moved into my apartment, it couldn’t be possible, I still lived here, this is my home! I’m still here, I’M STILL HERE!
My desperate and muddled thoughts were interrupted by more dialogue coming from the bedroom.
“It’s great how we got this apartment so cheap though isn’t it! The price is crazy considering the mid-city location.”
“Yeah I suppose having the previous tenant die in here brings the price down a bit.”
What? Who was the previous tenant? The people before me had moved country? What were they talking about? Who were they talking? What the hell is going on?
“Yeah, she was young too, only 24. Overdosed on medicine. Sad really. Lived alone.”