"The Apartment" drabbles by Drew Martyn

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Enoch DeStiy's Story 2: Of Love And Leavings

The Apartment #56

At age 20 Enoch married a victim of his love spell - Quartz, moonstone, apple seeds, caught in a red cloth at full moon.
He didn't love her, it was just an experiment, but he went along with her dream.
Years later, when his wife no longer served any purpose, he summoned Adramalech and all its minions. His three sons had left home by then, relieved to be free of him, so they were no hindrance; but she was.
Adramalech duly obliged; the bitch disappeared, the police were dumbfounded. Adramalech's minions returned with Adramalech to the occult plane. All, bar one.

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Enoch DeStiy's Story 1: Of Magick And Luck

The Apartment #55

Enoch had friends when he was younger. Good friends who tried to steer him away from his bizarre occultism. They'd all been intrigued by magic at first, but none had been chosen, not like Enoch. So when he immersed himself in Satanism, they quickly drifted away from him.
He's unlucky to be around, they said.
Luck don' come into it, whispered Enoch, thinking back to when he was eighteen and becoming an Adept. Neither Good nor Evil. Simply: a utiliser of arcane forces.

He was The One. His name decreed it.

Nominal determinism or anagrammatical prophesy?

Enoch DeStiy.
Chosen Deity.

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Tisha's Story 2: Protection And Advice

The Apartment #54

Tisha knew the dead protected her.
Like when her boyfriend persuaded her to screw his friend so he could watch. Eventually, she did - until she found out the man wasn't her boyfriend's friend, just some man who'd paid him for the pleasure.
On the night she dumped him, her then ex-boyfriend was run over and killed by a lorry.
Tisha knew that would happen. Her grandmother had told her in a dream. She'd also admitted to Tisha that she had "earned many moneys on her back - and it wasn't at all a bad life if you were pretty enough."

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Tisha's Story 1: Family Ties

The Apartment #53

Tisha Lopez believed firmly in life after death. Ancestors were as much family as her mother or her grandmother would be if they still lived. They still looked out for her, and she them- and all her own long dead family: simply because she couldn't see them doesn't mean they weren't there, guiding and protecting.
Her South American background probably accounted for her beliefs, she once told a friend. In her culture there was little difference between the living and the dead - on the one hand some were terrifying and could hurt you, and on the other were the dead.

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Tracey's Story 2: Brief Expectation

The Apartment #52

Two years to the day, on their wedding anniversary, Tracey told Rick and Timmy the wonderful news that she was pregnant. Rick and Timmy danced around the room, Timmy giggling hysterically as his Daddy spun him around. Later, Timmy wondered if sharing Mammy and Daddy was such a great idea.

That was over a year ago. Since then a lot had happened, and they'd moved into this new place and Mammy stayed home with Timmy all the time.
This new home was such a fun place for him and Mammy to play together.
Timmy and his friends saw to that.

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Tracey's Story 1: Their Big Day

The Apartment #51

The priest booked to marry Rick and Tracey suffered an asthma attack on their big day. Tracey called it a feeble excuse: Timmy was a year old and didn't the Church frown on such things?
Timmy had a tantrum. Rick shrugged. A different priest performed the ceremony, the wedding breakfast turned into an almighty piss up and they and their friends partied hard.
The honeymoon was fun, the homecoming tainted slightly by the news that the priest who'd married them had died unexpectedly.
So now no one need listen to feeble excuses anymore.
Timmy and his friends saw to that.

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Daniel Ryland's Story 2: The Perception Of Gods

The Apartment #50

The bomb exploded, blew doors off hinges and chunks of four sappers into furthest parts of the temple. Wasn't one of us not spattered with their blood, or worse.
We eradicated the area that night: repeated it next morning, cleansing once more. Finished, we returned to the temple and brutally defiled everything in there, including their blind and stupid gods. In bestial rage we desecrated their holy place - and their gods, in turn, turned their backs on us.
We had forgotten that for every god there is a devil. And their perceptive and intelligent gods no longer held them back.

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Daniel Ryland's Story 1: Clearing Up

The Apartment #49

We were clearing up after the initial onslaught took out all the villages in Qorquan Valley. They hadn't left us much to do - the odd sniper, an old martyr who blew himself up before we could do it and a bunch of kids with stones.

At the end of the valley, an ancient temple built up against a steep sided cliff-face. Full of gold: small artifacts, icons. All we could do not to pocket some. But... we showed due Respect.
We were soldiers, not thieves. Professional men. Duties. Obligations. Standards. Correct behaviour.
Bivvied down for the night.
Job done.

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Maya Reimnitz's Story 2: Passing

The Apartment #48

Every word her grandmother gasped into the air between them fell into the abyss of Maya's forlorn hopelessness. Images of the Nazi death camp confused with images of her grandmother's death: a closing of eyes, an end of breathing. And before it, the silence of fear, and after it the silence of a brutality known second hand; a depravity born when hate and intellect come together.
Maya Reimnitz begged her grandmother not to die, not leave her, lonely and alone.
In answer, the soul of the older woman passed with love, like hope rekindled, into the soul of the younger.

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Maya Reimnitz's Story 1: Bobeshi

The Apartment #47

"I wasn't good looking," Maya Reimnitz's grandmother told Maya when Maya was fifteen. "So I passed mostly unnoticed."
Maya saw her grandmother's eyes fill.
"I spent twenty years wishing I was pretty," the old woman went on, her frail hands clutching at Maya's arm. "Then, I thanked God I wasn't."
Maya wanted to cry out, "Stop Bobeshi, I don't want to know!" because she already did know what was coming, or could guess at it at least, and that was just as horrific. But her grandmother was on her deathbed and Maya would not upset her by refusing to listen.

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Storytime

The Apartment #46

"In a way, Mr Meredith. But whatever lurks here isn't tied to this building."
Harry Danes looked from one incredulous face to another. He couldn't help it.
He giggled. Then coughed to cover it up.
"Something exists here. But whatever it is has been bought in. One of you has invited something into this apartment block.
He stood in silence as clouds parted and a shaft of light haloed his glinting head.
"We must look at each of you, at your pasts, to identify which one of you has invited the uninvited into this place.
"Let us share your stories."

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Sarcasm and Disbelief

The Apartment #45

Daniel Ryland looked directly at Harry Danes.

The genuine sorrow showing in Danes' eyes surprised him. He hadn't expected an ex-fighter to show such open emotion. For a fighter, control was everything, and this character seemed to lack in control what he made up for in bulk.
"You agree this place is possessed, Mr Danes?" he asked.
"A possessed building?" Rick interrupted, "Really, Mr Danes?" His sarcasm and disbelief were thinly veiled.

Around the room, the others looked anywhere but at Mr Danes, as if looking away from Harry Danes would somehow prevent him telling them an awful truth.

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Compassion and Conclusions

The Apartment #44

"I've listened to what everyone's said," Harry Danes spoke quietly as he walked to the window and leaned on the windowsill. His back to everyone, he spoke to his reflection, or perhaps to the world outside.
"But nothing you've told me has altered my original opinion."
He turned around to face the group.
"It's tragic. Truly, truly tragic, those two deaths."
His eyes filled and his cheeks reddened, his fingers sought his handkerchief, which he held unused near his face. "That poor man. That poor, poor woman."
He sighed.
"You're almost right Mr Ryland. This is a case of possession."

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The Act

The Apartment #43

The only absentee at this gathering in Ryland's apartment was Tracey, who was looking after Timmy.
Without warning, and to everyone's surprise, Harry Danes rose and looked at each of them individually. They sat in silence, feeling slightly perplexed and more than slightly uncomfortable under the psychic's gaze.
Without his smile, Harry Danes looked hard. He may be short and podgy now, thought Ryland, but he's been fit, been a fighter. And he remains strong.
Danes caught Ryland's appraising look.
"I used to be a boxer," he explained, before turning to Rick. "And no, Mr Meredith, it's not an act."

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A First Meeting

The Apartment #42

Harry Danes, grinning as always, clapped his hands together and bought his fingers to his lips. The grin faded, replaced by a look of profound studious introspection.
"If this is an act," whispered Rick to Maya, "It's a good one."
Silence. One or two shuffled or stretched numbing limbs, Maya looked at Rick, Rick shrugged. Tisha sniffed. Everyone, apart from the introspective Mr Danes, it seemed, waited.
Finally, Harry Danes looked up.
Stared knowingly into the faces staring expectantly at him.
And sneezed.
"Oh gawd! Excuse me!" he chuckled.
No one said "Bless you" and outside the sky darkened noticeably.

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Appraising Harry Danes. Oh, And Covers.

The Apartment #41

Danes grinned inanely while Ryland, hands clasped behind his back, itemised point by point everything that had happened in the apartment block. Danes frequently nodded, sometimes looked thoughtful, but not once did the smile disappear.
Never judge a book by its cover, Ryland thought. Yet a quick glance at any cover will tell you whether it belongs in a library or on a sewer.
"Mr Ryland," Harry Danes said, suddenly standing up. "I would like to meet everyone here. Together. In this room. Could you arrange a meeting? Tomorrow evening? Yes? Haha, most excellent."
And he left without another word.

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Introducing Harry Danes, Psychic Cleanser

The Apartment #40

Ryland expected... different.
He expected gravity, solemnity, someone exuding power and control. Because if you couldn't wield power in this world, what chance have you in the next?
But the man sitting in Ryland's apartment - Harry Danes, Psychic Cleanser - was, well, different.
Short, almost bald, overweight and red-cheeked, he dabbed at the sweat on his neck with a white handkerchief and chuckled self-consciously.
This rosy-cheeked joviality seemed to Ryland to be out of place with the seriousness of the situation.
"I rushed," Danes giggled, "I detest being late," he explained. "Much like the spirits I deal with."

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Intermission 4: The Sounds Of Old Buildings

The Apartment #39

You sit and stare. You, alone.
This auditorium is empty. Pale yellow Exit signs squint, weak and debilitated, into the glutinous blackness.
The Safety Curtain droops silently above an empty stage.
There is no movement here. No mouse, no insect. No ghost. Should some invisible hand shine a torch into this vast black extinction, not even dust would be seen moving. This stillness is complete: it is thorough and eternal; it is everything and everywhere. Above all, this stillness is sentient.
It knows you are there.
And those creaks - listen! - are not the sounds of an old building's timbers settling.

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Decision

The Apartment #38

"I repeat: this building is possessed!"
To emphasise his point, Daniel Ryland smacked his hand on the table.
Enoch, staring intently at his tightly clasped hands, nodded.
Ricky stood up and stretched - this conversation was going nowhere. "So what do we do? Exorcise the place?"
He said it as a joke: exorcisms were just superstitions taken too far, surely?
Ryland rose to face Ricky. "Exactly!" he said.
Ricky sat down.
There seemed silent agreement.
Tisha wanted to speak up, argue, but somehow... she couldn't. Maya saw her struggle, and understood.
"I'll arrange it," Daniel Ryland said, "Leave it to me."

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The Silence Of Maya Reimnitz

The Apartment #37

Maya Reimnitz sat quietly while the others talked.
They were gathered in Rylands apartment. Maya, Ryland and Tisha sat one side of Ryland's table. Opposite them, Enoch, Ricky - Tracey was upstairs with Timmy - and that weird girl from Apartment 6 who so rarely spoke.
No one knew what was wrong in the apartment. But something was. Ryland, natural leader, called the meeting.
Maya felt odd, dissociated and unreal: all this could be a dream.
Or the start of a nightmare.
Six people in a small room, the sounds, smells, proximity, all threaten to uncover hidden memories.
Oh to wake up!