I have a weird roommate.
One may say that we all eventually go through that mentally taxing and slightly disturbing experience as we make our meandering way through that overgrown and treacherous jungle known as puberty on our way to glorious, humourless adulthood. Sooner or later, we all seem to end up with the weird roommate. The one everybody talks about when he or she has left the room.
I have a weird roommate.
Not in the sense of oh-he's-allergic-to-the-wallpaper, oh-she-doesn't-think-my-Pekinese-is-cute, oh-since-they-moved-in-my-whole-back-room-mysteriously-smells-like-bong kind of way.
It was more of a hide-under-the-couch-until-she's-gone-back-to-the-mothership deal.
Last month, I put an ad in the paper.
Room to let.
My town's a small town, so I didn't expect many people to be interested. Everyone else had their own places and their own problems. I was used to getting looked over for some place fancier, more up-market. Story of my personal life, too.
It was about ten o'clock on Monday. I was just starting to wind down from a strong case of Mondayitis when someone banged on the door. I sighed. Great.
My puppy whimpered something and ran into the bathroom as I went to answer the insistent knocking. Door-to-door salesmen were certainly getting more innovative lately. Get 'em while they're weak.
On my doorstep stood a woman, drenched to the bone, hair plastered flat to her skull. I looked past her into the darkness. The moon shone over the building estate opposite, the park, the mall. There was not a hint of cloud. I decided there and then I didn't want to know what she was trailing all over my stoop.
But I couldn't help picking up a faint whiff of toilet, and was heard pressed not to think about it.
"Can I help you?" I said politely. Curse my mother and all her schooling in etiquette when I was young and impressionable.
Wordlessly, she handed me yesterday's paper.
My ad was circled in red pen.
Then she spoke. She asked how soon she could move in.
I attempted to object. It was the middle of the night, or close enough, I pointed out weakly. I don't know you. I don't know what you're like. How about you come back tomorrow morning? When I'm lucid?
I could tell by her face that the idea wasn't particularly appealing to her. Maybe she was a runaway, or a fugitive, or a murderer, or a circus freak…
I mentally slapped myself.
"Come back tomorrow." I said.
That was when she reached into her jacket and pulled out a wad of notes, before thrusting them at me.
I just stood there, gaping like a fish. I was holding enough money for three months in advance. The most money I had seen since my grandfather passed away. Finally, my mental faculties engaged my brain, and from there, my mouth.
"Do you want to have a look around?" I stammered.
She assured me it was fine. I showed her to the spare room, where she dumped her bag in the corner and collapsed on the bed.
She asked me if I would mind terribly closing the door on my way out.
And that was when the weirdness truly began.
I first began to notice when it was her day to cook. The food was edible enough, sure, but way, way too much salt. In everything. I ended up drinking all the milk left in the fridge just to wash the salt crust from the inside of my mouth.
She said she didn't know what I was being a baby about.
From that day forth, there were no more cooking days for her.
Then there were the hours. We'd always miss each other by a couple of inches. I'd come home from work to find she had already left, and be about to leave again when she finally clawed her way back into civilization, looking, more often than not, like she'd gone eight rounds with an extremely pissed-off bear.
I asked her if she was a park ranger. She didn't laugh in my face, but she got close.
As bizarre as it sounded, things seemed to be out of sync around her.
I didn't like that. It was starting to put me out of sync too.
One day I got home early. The house was locked up, and as soon as I opened the door, I could tell that my roommate had already left. I was beginning to wonder whether the woman slept or not.
Maybe she existed purely on willpower and water.
Lots and lots of salt.
But still, I reasoned, there were plenty of reasons why she was, in fact, the perfect roommate. Several of my friends had already insisted in outlining a few of the finer points to me, and I had to reluctantly agree with their consensus.
We were never in the same room long enough to start having those long, awkward pauses while we both desperately thought of something to say. (Which was a gift from God, truly.)
And she was polite to the max. (Although at times you could tell by the glimmer in her eyes that she would have loved to kick your ass the moment you stepped out of line.) She was tidy with it, too. Even if it was my turn for laundry day, she'd insist on doing it herself. (In case I left something in my pockets, she'd say.)
None of those horrific, 'getting-to-know-each-other' moments. (Another small mercy.)
And full possession of the remote. That was definitely an advantage.
But still, I couldn't help but remember that one time our respective days overlapped.
I'd walked into the living room, my living room, only to find the floor covered with paper, newspaper clippings, official looking documents, notes, documented archaeological finds, and obituaries.
Lots of obituaries.
My roommate came back just that instant, and I managed to hold her unwavering gaze for about a minute before I hightailed it and got the hell out of there.
I never asked her about it. Never even mentioned it.
Yeah, I'm a coward. Would you have done anything else?
I turned on the TV. Someone was blowing up something and someone else was in full panic mode while Martha Stewart made apple turnover. I had three hours to kill.
Go to the bar.
Wash the car.
Vacuum the house.
I walked up the hallway to my bedroom, thinking I would get a head start on that environmental report, and stopped in front of the door to the spare room. Like I was drawn there by a magnet. Hell, why not take a peek? It was still my room, right?
Curiosity wormed its way into my stomach, and I felt a little woozy. Like Pandora about to open the box and let out the Seven Deadly Sins, I felt excited and sick at the same time as my hand closed on the handle to the door.
I practically deflated when I saw the room.
Once again, it was shockingly neat. Not a book out of place. Then I began to feel really bad. If I had been right, perhaps doing what I just did would have been justified.
But I was wrong.
I turned and was about to close the door again behind me, before I stopped again. I thought about it. Really, how was I to tell when something was wrong or not? I had never done this sort of thing before, so what was I supposed to be looking out for? As I stepped over the threshold, my shoe crunched against something.
Great. More salt.
By this time I was almost certain that my roommate had some weird compulsive disorder. That could be her only explanation for the cleanliness and the salt.
Always with the damn salt.
I sat on the bed, and something sharp poked me in the backside.
I really didn't want to look, but I knew I had to. Rucking up the blankets and the thin mattress, I hoped that it'd be something innocent. Something silly, that I could laugh about later.
No such luck.
It was a hunting knife, serrated and sharp and about six inches long. My dad used to have one when him and his brother used to go out hunting in the woods. I held the blankets and just stared, willing those dark red stains to be ketchup.
I had never before wanted so badly to be proven wrong.
There was a knock on the door, and I jumped about a foot in the air.
"This is the police."
Oh God, oh God, oh God…
Feeling numb, I slammed the mattress back down and swept aside the salt with my foot. "Coming!" I said, even though I would have liked to hide under the blankets until they went away.
There were two of them at the door, one big and burly and a weedy kid that looked like he was fresh from college. "I'm Detective Roger Hutch, and this is my partner Morris Gamble. Have you seen this woman, ma'am?" I was asked, before being presented with a copy of a photograph.
It was my weird roommate.
"Never seen her before." I said, willing them not to notice me start to hyperventilate.
"Are you sure, ma'am? Is there anyone else in the house?"
"I'm by myself."
"Thank you for your help, ma'am."
And I closed the door on their retreating backs. I felt like puking.
What did I let into my house?
And that was when I saw the cash on the phone table. There was a card sitting on top, held in place with a rubber band. My brow furrowed and I went over to take a look. I reached out my hand and almost fell over.
I was holding ten grand.
Finally I managed to wrench my gaze away from the money and look down at the slip of card. In neat, yet carefully nondescript handwriting, there was a small message.
Compensation for services rendered.
I don't know where she is now, and I don't know whether I'll ever see her again. If I do, it will be too soon.
I never saw those cops again. Old Mrs Hennessey had seen them both coming up the street, but even though I assumed it was a house-to-house search, she swore blind that my place was the only one on the block that they checked out. And nothing happened on my block without Mrs Hennessey finding out somehow.
Later, I called the station.
Roger Hutch and Morris Gamble didn't exist. I knew that this was all tied to the woman somehow.
And I hoped that they wouldn't get her.
My weird roommate.
Author's Note: So instead of coming out with another chapter of Hellbound or Fear No Evil like I should be doing, I've done a oneshot. A shameless self-insertion.
The roommate could be Jo Harvelle, Bela, Ruby, Meg Masters, or someone else entirely.
I don't own Supernatural or anything associated.