I know most people like to think about haunted houses in the fall. But if you want really scary, go someplace super hot. Picture yourself in a city. You’ve been tramping around all day and the last place on your list is a third floor walk-up. As you approach the building, you are sad to see a window unit AC in what must be the master bedroom. The two apartments below the vacant one both have the same unit. You can see the puddle of condensation in the sand under the trio of noisy and inadequate machines. The building doesn’t have grass. It has sand on either side. No parking, either. But you’ve come all this way.
The door looks like it is supposed to be closed but it is open. You can see that it probably shuts easily in the winter, but heat has warped the wood. There are scratches all over the door jamb – it must shut hard in the summer. You’ll have to remember to pull it tight if you take the place. No telling who could get in after you if you don’t. The hallway smells like all city walk-up apartment halls: musty and filled with the stale aroma of food from a country you can’t identify. The door on the first floor has a welcome mat with a cat sitting on it. Great. Add cat to the smell parade.
It is beastly hot in the stairwell. You start to hope the landlord isn’t there because your shirt is stuck to you and NOT in the sexy way. At the second floor you notice another welcome mat with another cat. Hmm. Maybe it’s a thing. It is getting hotter in the hallway but on this floor the smell is less food and more musty. Like the heat was baking the dust out off the walls.
On the third floor the smell is a lot heavier and as you turn onto the landing from the stairs, you are out of breath. You start to calculate how much you will save by cancelling your gym membership. The heat is ridiculous. It has to be 100 up here. This might not be practical. There’s a sign on the door that says “come in.” No mat. You wonder if it’s the housewarming gift when you move in. Then you wonder where the super is. You look at the listing on your phone. Open house from 11 to 4. You look at your watch and it’s 12:00. High noon. As hot as it gets. Ugh. You go to open the door and see more scratches. Weird.
You open the door and… the place is beautiful. Open. Spacious. Everything you could want. You see a cable hookup in the wall and cheer silently to yourself. You can smell the building smells but you can also smell Lysol on top of it. They want to make a good impression.
You call out hello and hear a cat meow. Well, that’s what you get for not pulling the door shut. With all the baking sunbeams in this room, any cat would want to be there. You consider blackout curtains. The super calls from the back. Must be the master bedroom. Good – at least it should be cooler in there. His voice is strange. Foreign. Hard to place. You walk through the gorgeous kitchen and past the bathroom. The second bedroom is on the right. The master is on the left and the door is closed. You push it open and see the super.
He’s about six feet tall. Checked shirt, work pants, work shoes. Looks just like a super. Except he’s a cat. Or half a cat. His head is a cat with a person body. You start to turn around to get away and you trip over a bundle. Something wrapped in plastic. You begin to notice how cold it is in the master bedroom. The super reaches out and for a crazy moment you think he is going to help you. You lean on the bundle to push yourself up and you feel your hand fit snugly into the hand of the person in the plastic and you start to scream. The super’s hand gets closer. It’s a human hand. And then the claws come out.
The last thing you wonder is if the super is going to go out into the living room and warm up in the sunbeams.