Everything was ready for the ritual. Now to bring the mortals. This was his favorite time of year!
Thursday, October the thirtieth Becky stopped by the local grocery store to pick up yet another free apartment guide. To her surprise there were none left. She searched around in disbelief, because she had never, ever seen them low on apartment guides. In fact, they often had so many extra that they would use them to prop the large glass doors open in the summer and in the winter, they would leave them spilling all over the floor to soak up the water from the snow.
“Arrgh,” she exclaimed as she turned to leave. “Well, I guess I’ll try again next week- not like I was going to find anything anyway,” she muttered sullenly to herself.
She pushed open the glass doors of the old store and ran headlong into a thin greasy man with long stringy hair. He looked like he hadn’t slept in weeks. The man stared at Becky hungrily for a moment with his blood shot eyes, but said nothing as he pushed past her.
“Well excuse me to you too,” Becky returned with the wave of one particular finger on her right hand.
She was about to leave in a huff when a brown package on the floor caught her eye.
“Hey moron- you dropped something,” she muttered to herself as she stooped down to pick up and examine it more closely.
To her surprise and delight she realized that it was this week’s apartment guide. Though most of the front cover was missing there was no mistaking the familiar listings. She quickly hid the guide in her pocket like a precious piece of gold and ran back to her mother’s place to examine it.
As usual she went through page after page of disappointment and was about to give up when an ad at the very bottom of page sixty-six caught her eye: ‘Studio apartment, $666.66 a month utilities included, needs a little fixing up, contact Natas in the rental office at 666 Lleh street’. After doing a double take Becky’s face beamed in delight. She had finally found an apartment that she could afford. She went to sleep that night on the couch hugging the apartment guide.
The next morning, she awoke early and caught a bus to Lleh Street to visit Mr. Natas. The building on Lleh Street was not in particularly bad shape. In fact, it had just been painted on the inside. Becky had half expected it to be a rundown mess for $666.66 a month. She followed the signs inside to the renting office and rang the bell on the counter to summon Mr. Natas. He appeared magically from a little room off the back office where he had apparently been eating and watching TV- there were orange Cheeto crumbs on his shirt. He was a fat little man, balding on the top, and dressed all in black. His skin was horribly greasy as though he had not showered in weeks.
“Hullo,” he exclaimed shooting forth more orange crumbs and a little shower of Vodka.
“Hi..I..I’m interested in the apartment for rent,” piped up Becky.
“Oh, number thirteen-the studio, yeah, you wanna see it?”
“Definitely,” replied Becky.
“You sure? I only take serious renters up there.”
“Oh, I’m serious all right. I definitely want to see it.”
“All right,” he said, grabbing a gold key in his chubby hand. “Follow me.”
Becky and Mr. Natas climbed endless flights of stairs and finally arrived at the little studio apartment at the end of the hall, number thirteen.
“Here it is’” called out the fat little man as he unlocked the door.
Becky stepped inside and found a quaint little studio apartment with a tiny half kitchen. The window was almost completely blacked out from dirt and grime and the paint was peeling near the top of the wall. There were weird reddish splatters everywhere and the tub was stained a bizarre reddish brown, but other than that the apartment was in good shape.
Poor Becky, if she had only taken a few extra seconds to examine the linen closet in case there were roaches. There weren’t any, by the way, but if she had taken the time to look, she wouldn’t have stuck around to haggle the rent. You see Becky was clever as well as stubborn and she knew after weeks of finding apartments for seven hundred dollars and up that a price of six hundred and sixty-six dollars and sixty-six cents was either a typo or a desperate attempt to get rid of something… undesirable.
“What’s the deal,” asked Becky?
“What’s that,” asked the fat man?
“What’s the deal with this apartment? I mean why are you letting it go for so cheap,” asked Becky. “Are there roaches, termites, bad neighbors, rusty water...was somebody killed here?”
Mr. Natas moved closer to the door and lowered his voice.
“Well, as a matter of fact, someone was murdered here.”
“Who was it,” asked Becky, wide eyed and suddenly frightened.
“YOU,” yelled Mr. Natas as he slammed the door and locked it behind him.
He could hear Becky’s screams as he hastily descended the stairs.
“Funny,” he chuckled to himself as he returned to his food and drink, “they never question the blood stains in the bathtub and they never find the axe murderer in the linen closet…until it’s too late. Too bad they never figure me out either,” giggled Mr. Natas as he settled back down at his desk, took a swig of Vodka, and made another mark in his black ledger. “Only three hundred more souls till quitting time,” he muttered to his friend with the thin greasy long hair who had just returned, blood soaked from number thirteen.
His friend made no reply, he never did.
Not ten minutes later the bell rang out again and Mr. Natas retired his bottle to go see to another potential customer.
“Hullo,” he said, “can I help you?”
“Why yes,” said Angie, “I’m interested in the apartment for rent.”
“Oh, number thirteen-the studio, yeah, you wanna see it,” said Mr. Natas as he reached for his gold key.
“Yes, definitely,” replied Angie.
“You sure, cuz I only take serious renters up there.”
“Oh I’m quite serious, I’d really love to see it.”
“Okay, follow me ....”