In the meantime, I'm just a guy who writes about videogame theory and how the medium can achieve better cinematic emulation (while keeping its own indentity). Though, if that's too boring, you can always find something delightfully fluffy in the following:
As the spiritual successor to the king of horror, Dean Koontz, complete with his own videogame, I receive many requests from gaming websites, all asking for a piece of that Halloween magic; because they need the page hits. So, when Destructoid’s cheque was the first to clear, I set about writing this little number.
It’s a familiar tale to those who have rented an apartment in the past (not me, I’m loaded), or seen Pacific Heights.
Frank Sunderland caught his breath at the first set of stairs. Even by his own admission, he was too old to be the sole superintendent of South Ashfield Heights.
Under a flickering fluorescent beam, he reached out to the greasy wall for support. He cut a lonely soul on the stairs, all dressed in white with the hair to match. The luminous brilliance from the sickly light gave him a haunting impression.
Not that he was anywhere close to death. The building’s problems kept him ticking, rendering him a shell of a man. After a getting a second wind, he marched onwards. He had a date with a bad situation.
On the third floor, Frank stood in front of Room 302. The hallway was a dirty strip. One of the residents, Eileen Galvin, cleaned the floorboards with an old broom. She was a radiant summer in this autumn passage.
She waved, pleasantly, but inside, she was cursing Frank.
Cleaning the hallway was his job. These days, Frank shirked his menial duties. He had completely checked out, falling back on a proposed retirement excuse. It was an annual statement, and so, understandably, the residents’ sympathises were tapped out. They made complaints, and for that, Frank now stood in this very spot, doing the landlord’s dirty work.
He examined the front door, a portal to another person’s sanctuary. It lead to Henry Townshend’s little patch of privacy.
Frank knocked, and waited for a reply.
Nothing came of it.
He knocked, again. Still, not a sound was heard from beyond the white door.
“Mister Townshend?” Frank asked, loudly. “Henry, are you in there?”
It was deathly quiet. Only the faint brushing of Eileen’s broom echoed down the hallway.
“Henry? It’s Frank. Listen, the landlord told me that your rent is due. He’s asked me to pick it up for him. Also, there have been some complaints,” he paused, but there was nary a response, “Hey, Henry! Are you listening?”
Frank hated having to interact with anybody in the building. He wasn’t the social type, and all they saw was their future reflected back at them, complete with their 401K down the toilet. Nobody respected Frank. They kept their distance.
With that in mind, Frank decided to open the door. Try as he might, though, the master keys did not fit.
After a resigned exhale, Frank shouted, “Henry, I know you’re in there. Take out whatever shit you have in the lock, and open the door.”
He looked down the hallway, and saw Eileen pretending that none of this was happening. While his plain colours camouflaged into his surroundings, he must have looked like an idiot. One more call, and he would call it quits. In his heart, Frank believed he had tried.
As he knocked, for the final time, the door fired off a loud thud.
It was thunderous noise, followed by a rapid fire of smaller aftershocks.
A slightly muffled voice called out. The sharpness in voice was dulled, but intelligible. It was Henry Townshend, alright. Frank leaned in closely.
“Hello?” Henry shouted.
“Hey,” Frank volleyed back, “what’s going on in there?”
“Oh, man,” Henry continued, cutting into his caller’s delivery, “they can’t hear me. I’m like totally trapped in my own apartment. You know, like unbreakable chains on the door, from the inside. I wish someone could hear my pleas for help, and such. I’ve been stuck in here for days! You know, that’s a shame, because I had to pay the rent this week!”
Despite his desperation, Henry was about as convincing as a news reporter feigning empathy on breakfast television.
“Henry, open the door.”
“I thought you couldn’t hear me.”
“I said, ‘they can’t hear me’! By which, I mean, I’m having a one-sided conversation, right now, and it might be sheer coincidence that I’m having a conversation merely by choosing certain, oddly timed, replies,” said Henry, breaking the lie without admitting to it.
Frank rolled his eyes, “Well, anyway, you owe a month’s rent. You need to pay up, and I’m here to collect on the landlord’s behalf.”
There was that silence, again. The mental cogs, on the other side of the door, worked fast.
“Yeah, anyway, these chains are clamped on, rock solid,” Henry shouted out, pretending to tell nobody in particular.
“Listen, Henry,” Frank produced some damning evidence, “I was talking to Richard, yesterday. He said he saw you stealing all the bike locks, and chains, from the lobby. Please don’t tell me you’ve locked yourself in with that stuff.”
By this point, Eileen had brushed a path to her neighbouring room. She had given up on the pretence of being the world’s most inconspicuous housekeeper. Standing next to Frank, she shook her head in disbelief.
“Hey, have you got some beef with Townshend?” Eileen probed.
“Well, did you know that pervert bored a hole through to my bedroom?”
As they stared at each other, stuck in one tenant’s renting quagmire, Henry explained himself, “Guys, hear me out. I have to escape because we’re all targeted for a ritualistic murder spree. Yes, I found a tiny hole that leads into Eileen’s bedroom, but it’s strictly for the theme of voyeurism in this nefarious plot.”
“Oh, of course it is!” Eileen swung with a sledgehammer of sarcasm, “That all makes perfect sense, now.”
Henry continued, “I’m supposed to watch stuff happen, because, conveniently enough, I’m the last guy to die. Anyway, I’ve found another hole, a big hole, in my bathroom. You’re not going to believe this, but it leads to a completely new world. It might be the key to my escape.”
“Yeah, about that,” Frank replied, “Mike, in Room 301, said you smashed a hole through to his front room. He can see right into your bathroom. You know the rules about extensions and renovations. He wants you put your pants on in the mornings, too.”
Awkward silence resumed its service. Burst transmissions of anger and bemusement were the order of the day.
“So, yeah, anyway,” Henry continued, “I went downstairs through this hole, and found out I had to stop this ghost murderer by using his mother’s umbilical cord. I had to open up the Superintendent’s Room to get it. It was in this box, next to the TV.”
Frank had a feeling his room had been broken into the other night. His prized beef jerky had gone missing. It was one of the few remaining pleasures he had left, aside from his Burn Notice Season 1-4 DVD collection.
“Did you steal my jerky?”
“Yeah, I’ve got to stop that kid with the umbilical cord, or something. Honestly, I don’t think the writers ever thought out that plot point. That’s the thing about boss battles; they don’t really make much sense in context of previous events and motivations. You know, like, Resident Evil 5.”
Frank had heard enough. He was tired of being played like a chump.
“Fine, I tried, Henry. I really tried, you win, whatever. Keep the jerky.”
Eileen, all flustered, grabbed his arm, “Wait a second, you’re letting this go on?”
“Yeah, I’m done,” He replied. She wasn’t entirely sure if he meant with Henry or with life. Without a word, he walked away, heavy footsteps kicking up the odd fleck of dust.
Back in his room, Frank sat deep down in his comfy chair. In the cramped surroundings, all he could hear was his breathing. The phone didn’t ring anymore. His son, James, had run off with some floozy during some midlife crisis. Despite his son’s protests that his wife was dead, Frank had bumped into her, alive and angry, quite recently.
Another youngster, his own flesh and blood, had taken him for a ride. It was the story of his life.
Late at night, a deadbeat superintendent sat in a dim apartment block, at the centre of a colourless town. He watched a recent episode of Burn Notice; an episode where Michael Weston had to defuse a hostage situation with standard office supplies. It was not entirely like that one episode in Season 2. No, it really wasn’t.
Frank drifted off to sleep, away from the horror above him. On the third floor, in Room 302, there was a monster, alright. Around these parts, just like in your hometown, the locals called it, “The Tenant”.