The Right Chord

Written in response to: Write a story involving a noise complaint. ... view prompt

42 comments

Horror Thriller

(Content Warning: Blood, Murder, Violence, and Language.)




Alex slammed the enter button on his laptop and yelled, “Finished!”


He had spent the past few months working on his client’s business portfolios at Investors-R-Us and was feeling the weight of the project. The pay was good, and the benefits were better, but the stress was painfully ignorant. The long hours were a necessity that every employee acknowledged even if they disagreed with them.


You might think that working sixty days straight with no time off would drive a person insane, but Alex was a prized thoroughbred who refused to lose. He always rose to the occasion and had received multiple employee-of-the-month awards for his steadfast determination and devotion to the company.


Alex’s co-workers despised him because they believed he was hogging all the attention from management. He would roll his eyes and scoff at them because he knew he was better than everyone else. They were lazy and took breaks while he slaved away at his computer. He loathed them. 


The neatly stacked folders on Alex’s desk were ready to go to management. He looked at his assistant, Sue, who was filing her ruby-red nails, and asked, “Hey, Sue, can you take these files to management for me? It’s getting late, and I need to get home.”


Sue rolled her eyes and said, “Why can’t you do it yourself?”


Ah… the ravings of a lazy lunatic! Alex thought.


“I guess you weren’t paying attention during this morning’s meeting. Management is cracking down on overtime hours, and it’s five-thirty-five right now.” 


Sue lifted her brow and scoffed, “So…”


“I’m supposed to leave at five-thirty on the dot, and you’re here until six, so could you please take these files and deliver them for me?”


“I suppose I could,” she puffed.


“Thank you,” Alex retorted in a not-so-friendly manner. “I need to get home, so I can water my plants and enjoy a little peace and quiet.”


“Yeah, whatever,” Sue mocked. “Tell someone who gives a flying fuck!”


Alex shrugged, placed the files on Sue’s desk, and clocked out. The constant sarcasm was like an endless barrage of bullets, and his shield was slowly breaking. Working hard should always garner a little appreciation, but in reality, most people only care about themselves. If you’re not the first dog to the biscuit, you lose.


After a cab dropped Alex off at his apartment complex, he rushed into the building just in time to catch the landlord. Scotty always retired for the day at six o’clock sharp and didn’t like to be disturbed after hours.


“Hey, Scotty!” yelled Alex. “Did you take care of that noise complaint I told you about this morning?”


Scotty puckered his lips and adjusted his loose dentures. “Yeah, I had a talk with that young fella.”


“What did he say?”


“He said he’d try to keep it down. You shouldn’t be too hard on him. He’s just a musician trying to practice his craft. I don’t see what the big problem is because you’re never home anyway.”


Alex smirked. “Are you kidding me? I always come home in the evenings. It’s not my fault that I have a real day job, and the only thing I want when I get back is a little peace and quiet!”


“Okay, okay… I get it,” Scotty said, shaking his head. “Calm down, will ya? You’re gonna make my hemorrhoids worse.”


“Fine,” uttered Alex. “He did say he would stop, right?”


Scotty scrunched his lips once more, nodded, and disappeared down the hallway.


“Geez… I can’t believe this place!” 


Alex rode the elevator up to the thirteenth floor and proceeded down the narrow corridor. The sound of an electric guitar stabbed his ears like a sharp dagger.


“Yeah… that talk really helped out. Thanks a lot, Scotty!”


There were two penthouses on the thirteenth floor, and Alex lived in thirteen-B. His neighbor, Ryan, lived in thirteen-A. He was a young man in his mid-twenties and was constantly blasting his guitar to deafening levels of chaos. Oddly enough, the only complaints came from Alex. If anyone else heard the blazing inferno, they sure weren’t saying anything.


As Alex walked by thirteen-A, he closed his fist and pounded on the door. “Hey man, turn it down, will ya? I’m home now, so enough is enough!” 


The riff stopped, and the door swung open. Ryan poked his head out and said, “Oh, sorry, dude! I didn’t know your highness was back in town!” 


Ryan had long brown curly hair and a face full of peach fuzz. His eyes were painted with black mascara, which perfectly matched his fingernails. He wore a dark leather jacket with silver chains and blue denim jeans. This was the exact opposite of Alex’s gray business suit and perfectly combed blonde hair. 


“Stop being a jerk!” Alex warned. “I already filed a complaint with Scotty−”


“Yeah, I know, dude,” Ryan cut in. “Me and Scotty had a big laugh about that earlier.” 


“I can’t believe this crap!” Alex yelled.


Ryan rolled his eyes and fired, “Look, man, don’t have a brain aneurysm. I’m just trying to find the right chord! If it annoys you that much, I’ll try to keep it down.” 


Alex took a deep breath and said, “Thank you. That’s all I want.”


He gave Ryan a warm smile and walked away. When Alex entered his apartment, he took a shower and watered his plants. Everything was silent, much to his surprise, and he decided to curl in bed with a good book.


The Unfinished War was a book that chronicled the rise and fall of American politics, and Alex was only three paragraphs in when the disturbing roar of Ryan’s guitar ripped through his soul.


He dropped the book that felt like a heavy tomb and ran over to the wall. “Stop that racket, will ya!” He balled his fists and pounded. “All I want is some peace and quiet!”


The guitar riff blazed on for a moment and then grew silent. “Oh, sorry, dude! I thought you were asleep.”


Alex shook his head. “What the hell does that have to do with anything?”


Ryan yelled back, “If you’re asleep, you shouldn’t hear anything!”


“That’s fucking crazy,” Alex shouted. “Were you born on this planet?”


“I think so,” Ryan said after a moment of awkward silence. “I’m sorry, man. I’m just trying to find the right chord. I’ll keep it down!”


“Thank you!” Alex roared.


The hour was late, and Alex had given up on the idea of reading. He needed to be up earlier in the morning to give a presentation for his boss. It was the culmination of two months’ work, and everything depended on it. He put a black blindfold over his eyes, tucked himself into his fluffy green covers, and dozed off.


Alex woke up a few hours later to the sound of a wailing electric guitar. It sounded like a cat scratching on a chalkboard, so he removed his blindfold and pounded on the wall again.


“Ryan! I told you to keep it down!”


There was no answer, and the guitar riff continued to tear his eardrums apart.


“Turn it down, Ryan!”


No answer…


“Ryan!?” 


“Shit!” Alex cursed. “I swear I need a new place to live.” 


The infernal cat-scratching riff would not stop, and Alex couldn’t take it longer. He picked up his phone and dialed Scotty. The phone rang at least thirty times with no response, so that option was gone.


I could call the police, but that would piss Scotty off. If they woke him up in the middle of the night, I would never hear the end of it.


“I’ll have to confront Ryan on my own. If I want peace, it’s the only way!”


Alex stormed out of his penthouse and ran down the hallway. He banged on Ryan’s door until he answered the call.


“Oh, it’s you again,” Ryan mocked. “What do you want? Don’t you know it’s late, dude?”


Alex had reached his boiling point. Enough was enough. “Are you fucking kidding me!? I’ve been telling you, begging you, to keep that insane noise down all night, yet you won’t stop!!” 


“This is the first time I’m hearing anything about it, dude!”


Alex pushed his way through the door, squeezed his fists, and swung at Ryan. The punk rocker ducked and smashed his guitar on Alex’s head. Then there was darkness… 


When Alex opened his eyes, he saw a pile of dead bodies with scratched faces piled up in a corner. At that moment, he finally understood why no one else was complaining about the noise. They were all dead. The carpet he was lying on was wet with blood and smelled like rotting flesh. He felt the back of his head and rubbed the lump that was pulsating like a heartbeat. 


What the hell happened?


“Welcome back to the land of the living, dude!”


Ryan grabbed Alex’s hair and pulled him over to the wall where his guitar was leaning. Alex tried to fight back, but his injury was too severe. He saw four Ryan’s staring down at him, and it was no use swinging at ghosts.


“W-what happened to all these p-people,” Alex stuttered.


Ryan glared at him with a wicked smile. “Oh, don’t worry about them, dude. You got bigger problems comin’ your way!”


“H-huh?”


Ryan grabbed Alex’s face and placed it against his guitar strings. Suddenly, Alex knew how those corpses got the scratch marks. “Don’t worry, man, this won’t hurt a bit!”


Oh, no. Please, God, not like this.


Not like this!!


Screeeeech!!!


The guitar strings sliced through Alex’s flesh like a hot knife cutting through butter. Ryan stuck out his tongue and tasted the squirting blood, and laughed. When Alex’s head got to the end of the guitar strings, Ryan raised him back up to the top, slammed his skull back down, and pushed like he was grating cheese.


“Dude, can you hear that?”


Please, stop… Please, stop…


Screeeeech!!!!


Alex could no longer see anything because his eyes were sliced open. There was a cold grip on his spine, and he knew the end was near. Before darkness could claim Alex, he heard Ryan screaming.


“Do you hear that, neighbor?”


Screeeech!!!


“I finally found the right chord, dude!!”     






The End



Daniel R. Hayes   

June 02, 2022 22:22

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42 comments

Feuer Wasser
23:15 Jul 31, 2022

Oh. My. Freaking. God. I was just sitting in my chair, reading this. I was getting a little bit bored but than I got to: Alex pushed his way through the door, squeezed his fists, and swung at Ryan. The punk rocker ducked and smashed his guitar on Alex’s head. Then there was darkness… When I read that, I got a nasty grin on my face and was thinking, "ooh yeah! I knew this was gonna be good." I freaking loved the twist and literally the whole thing. The beginning had just the right amount of sorta boring but interesting enough to keep you re...

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Daniel R. Hayes
06:21 Aug 01, 2022

Wow, thank you Feuer! I'm so glad you liked this story. I think the beginning was a little boring because I don't always know where the story is going to go. Then it tends to pick up and the fun begins! Thanks again! :)

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Feuer Wasser
12:49 Aug 01, 2022

You are welcome! Thank YOU, for writing an awesome story.

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Daniel R. Hayes
15:44 Aug 01, 2022

Thank you, my friend. I look forward to reading more of your work. It's really good. I'll make sure to leave a review when I do. :)

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Feuer Wasser
17:12 Aug 01, 2022

Good to know! Not sure when ill be writing more, but I will let you know if I come out with something.

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Feuer Wasser
17:26 Aug 01, 2022

I do have a story that I wrote long before I even knew about reedsy, so I could post it in this comment thread for you to read if you want. Let me know if you want me to.

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Daniel R. Hayes
18:26 Aug 01, 2022

That's up to you, but you could always save it for a prompt later. You never know if it might be a winner! :)

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Caitlyn Kilbee
21:34 Jul 09, 2022

Stunning. Never saw the end coming and I do like to write twists into my own stories whenever I can. I love gore, watch a lot of TV programmes in that vein but I've never written that kind of stuff myself. Well done you!

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Daniel R. Hayes
22:38 Jul 09, 2022

Hi Caitlyn, thanks for those wonderful comments. I completely understand what you mean about writing horror or something scary. When I first started writing, I had all these ideas for scary stories, but I was hesitant to put the words down because of the stigma related to horror writers. So, my first stories on here were love stories... After some time I tossed that fear aside and wrote what I wanted, and now I'm getting ready to launch my first book which is a horror novel. My advice is: write what you want and don't be afraid to test s...

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H L Mc Quaid
16:49 Jul 08, 2022

Yikes! Your story lived up to the CW, and then some. Great visceral descriptions of Alex's demise. If you opt to revisit/revise, might be interesting to include a few more hints about what actually is going down in Ryan's apartment as we get closer to the climax, to dial up the tension and suspense (so the twist is still a surprise, but one that feels earned after a few intriguing clues...). Nice job. :)

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Daniel R. Hayes
19:49 Jul 08, 2022

Thank you so much, I'm glad you liked it! I like your idea about hints, and if I use this story in the future for another project, I'll keep them in mind :)

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Richard Gaines
19:21 Jun 27, 2022

Rivetting as all hell!

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Daniel R. Hayes
19:43 Jun 27, 2022

Thank you so much, I'm so glad you liked it! :)

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L.C. Schäfer
13:55 Jun 27, 2022

Did not see that ending coming! Good juxtaposition between Alex and Ryan.

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Daniel R. Hayes
17:39 Jun 27, 2022

Thank you so much! I'm glad you liked it. I love to write twist endings :)

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L.C. Schäfer
18:05 Jun 27, 2022

Ryan really gave me the heebie jeebies by the end! He's not your typical villain 😁

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Daniel R. Hayes
19:39 Jun 27, 2022

I agree. I'm always fascinated at how easily some people can just have a bad day and then just snap. I like to play around with that in some of my stories :)

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Riel Rosehill
21:36 Jun 14, 2022

Gosh, that's gruesome! And, I wasn't expecting it - I totally though if anyone's getting murdered that was going to be that poor musician, because Alex was losing it over the noise, LOL. Well done for surprising me.

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Daniel R. Hayes
06:16 Jun 16, 2022

Thanks Riel, I'm super happy that I was able to write this one because I've been busy getting ready to publish my first novel. I do read the prompts every week, and I honestly could write a story for every one of them, but I just don't have the time right now. Once I get this book out there I hope to return with more stories! Thank you so much for reading it, I really appreciate it :)

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Riel Rosehill
06:36 Jun 16, 2022

You could write a story for every prompt..? Hats off to you! I could NEVER! Have you got a date for publishing already? :)

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Daniel R. Hayes
17:58 Jun 19, 2022

Hi Riel. Yes the book will be released towards the end of July or beginning of August. It's being formatted now. :)

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Michał Przywara
20:53 Jun 09, 2022

Ha, that's a hell of a twist! The way Alex was described throughout, I was expecting him to get some sort of comeuppance. He was high strung, and clearly pissing people off left and right with his ambition and demands. But, curiously, his demands weren't entirely unreasonable. For example, his assistant that refused to assist him. And the noise complaint. Ryan came across as a pretty reasonable guy too, initially, so that gave the twist more impact. Considering he chatted with Scotty and Scotty's still very much alive, I'm wondering if m...

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Daniel R. Hayes
18:44 Jun 10, 2022

Thank you so much for those wonderful comments! That is an interesting take on whether Ryan and Scotty were working together on some bigger evil scheme. I love that idea and I didn't consider that before!! Thanks for reading this one!! :)

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Ace Quinnton
17:26 Jun 09, 2022

I feel like the punk rocker, Ryan, might've been me from a different universe. Never mess with the punks, or this'll happen to you. I find this relatable because... My father used to live in this old apartment mini neighborhood that was, I'll admit, not exactly the safest part of town. There were tons of gang bangers, and in the middle of the night, the most American experience one person can have been contemplating whether that sound was firecrackers or gunshots. Bonus if it was the Fourth of July.

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Daniel R. Hayes
18:39 Jun 10, 2022

Hi Ace, thank you so much for those wonderful comments. I'm glad the story resonated with you. I hear ya about living in the bad part of town as I have had a similar experience minus the gunshots. Thanks again for taking the time to read this! :)

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Ace Quinnton
18:43 Jun 10, 2022

No problem, mate! I really liked the twist at the end, as a fellow horror lover. I was wondering if you would like to read the current series, I'm working on here on Reedsy. It's called Seemingly Empty (parts one, two, and thee) and I want to know your opinion on it. Also critique, or encouragement if you have any for me.

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Daniel R. Hayes
18:46 Jun 10, 2022

Absolutely, I read the first part already, and I really liked it. I'll leave some comments on each story when I finish them up later tonight ;)

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Seán Mc Nicholl
23:23 Jun 06, 2022

Did not see that ending coming!! Great twist! Very easy read from start to finish! Really enjoyed this!

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Daniel R. Hayes
03:24 Jun 07, 2022

Thank you so much, Sean. I'm so glad you enjoyed this! I'm always trying to write things that might surprise and entertain my readers. :)

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19:49 Jun 03, 2022

YES on this. Totally relatable. Fun fact - these words always lead to murder: "He’s just a musician trying to practice his craft." We have a burgeoning high school TRUMPET player across the street. He is NOT getting any better, even with all the 5:00-6:00 p.m. practice sessions he has with his bedroom window open.

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Daniel R. Hayes
20:05 Jun 03, 2022

Ugh... My ears ache for you... lol :) Maybe one day he will turn the corner and get better :) I'm glad the story was relatable and just remember it could always be worse. At least that young student isn't inviting the whole band over, ha, ha, ha!!!

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08:01 Jun 03, 2022

Fun story, very creative. You described Alex's personality well and he was very relatable .. Your writing is also really clear and jumps off the page. On the plot, I'm wondering from when Ryan opens the door to Alex seeing dead bodies everywhere if there's space for some sort of twist, like Alex makes a choice that causes himself to get trapped.. or they have a random conversation about music etc. I did really like Ryan's attitude and the very different voice he had and how his thing with slicing people up with guitars is so random and unex...

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Daniel R. Hayes
16:09 Jun 03, 2022

Thank you so much, Scott. I'm so happy you liked the story. I would have liked to add some more like you said, but I didn't have time because I wrote this last minute ;) I think I feel pretty good with the end result, although it is admittedly shorter than my other works. Thanks again :)

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Keya Jadav
05:00 Jun 03, 2022

Woah, how do you even get these ideas? It's amazing (and brutal). But nonetheless, it had me gripped the whole time. I couldn't stop reading. Also, one thing I love about your stories is how you could bring them to life with brilliantly realistic dialogues. Everything was perfect and I absolutely loved it!

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Daniel R. Hayes
06:08 Jun 03, 2022

Thank you so much, Keya. So... I've been busy with the novel and getting things done to get it published, and I didn't plan on writing a story this week. I read the prompts and this story just slapped me across the face and screamed at me. I had to write it. I'm not sure where the idea came from exactly, but it was the first thing to pop in my mind when I read that prompt. It is a little bit more brutal than some of the other stories, but IDK, I guess I'm still in Mr. Macabre mode... lol :) Thank you so much for taking the time to read this ...

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Keya Jadav
06:15 Jun 03, 2022

Lol It happens to me too. You never know what will suddenly pop in your crazy head and then its too good to not write down. A lot of my stories are inspired from my dreams...crazy isn't it?

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Daniel R. Hayes
06:23 Jun 03, 2022

I love that!! I think the best writer's can pull ideas from anywhere and everywhere, and I don't think it's crazy at all. A true writer is always thinking about the next story, and you, my friend are a true talent!!!

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Keya Jadav
06:25 Jun 03, 2022

I could say the same for you :)

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Daniel R. Hayes
06:30 Jun 03, 2022

Thank You!! :)

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