Maybe it’s bedbugs, maybe it’s -

Submitted into Contest #96 in response to: Start your story in an empty guest room.... view prompt

19 comments

Crime Horror Speculative

The room is empty of life, as far as the observer is concerned. 

Though such an assessment would be willfully ignorant of the veritable metropolis of insect life beneath the bed. They are unaware of their long accepted voyeur, as they luxuriate among themselves hidden from the light. 

The observer watches on thinking, ‘I should really deal with what’s under the bed.’ 

But this is all the observer could really think at that moment, as they didn’t know where they were.


They woke alone a little while before, on the bed above the sheets, in those moments they knew they’d forgotten something. Looking around the unfamiliar room, they couldn’t imagine what.

All they knew is that they’d never been there before. The room was tiny, as while the bed was small, the room itself was crowded out by it. Even the window was too small, and far too high to share the sun with the room.


Claustrophobic.


No wonder there were things under the bed. They hadn’t gotten there by themselves, and they were left to wonder, ‘who would leave you like that?’ 

They’d gotten a bed, they were a guest here weren’t they? They wondered why they stayed in the room, given its size, scarcely more than the bed and the door frame.


Maybe they’d been polite before forgetting where they were.


So they would pace shortly around the bed, leaning on the doorframe every so often, when the room seemed too small. It was already, but they didn’t need it to shrink in their mind’s eye. Other times when even the unending days felt long, they’d hop on the bed, and try to look out of the window. There was never anything outside, but it was a small reprieve from the monotonous room.


It wasn’t fair to say there wasn’t anything, the sky changed everyday of course.


They wonder who invited them into the room, and why they hadn’t bothered to feed them. Though they hadn’t been hungry for a while. There was a time however long after they first woke, that they found themselves only looking out the window, the room finally too small even for their mind.

It was good for them, as the sky would change even if the room didn’t.


But nothing else did really, they knew there was something beneath the bed. But they wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.


So they watched the sky change instead, and leaned on the door frame, sometimes they’d lay on the bed, and look at the ceiling. They heard buzzing beneath the floorboards, beneath the bed. Maybe it was bees down there.


They didn’t like that.


They stayed like that listening to the faint buzzing of the bugs, watching the window light flash across the wall. Time turned unending as the heat died, and the bees followed into the cold slumber of autumn, into that deep blue. They marveled at their comfort to spite the draft the season was known for, They felt nothing. But it would get colder anyway.


That wasn’t nothing in the tiny imperfect room.


The sky wasn’t the only thing that changed, as they watched the snowfall outside. The sky glinting white from the snow fallen and unseen. 


A stranger found the room, as it was cold and winter forced many into need. They weren’t expecting to share the cramped room with anyone, but it was hard to refuse company. Impossible really. They were bored without the bees, and really, they could share the bed.


It wasn’t as if they slept anymore.


The Stranger did find rest on the bed, at least a moment, before thinking twice about the sheets. Maybe, that’s what happened before their little nap. That made sense. They listened to their new roommate, instead of the bees, who’d died off months before. 


Their roommate made some of the same movements, as they had before, keeping wakeful for whatever odd reason. They weren’t the same really.


Their roommate seemed to feel anything for one.


They were almost jealous. Even if being cold was about the worst thing they can remember. Their roommate was disturbed by the bed. Maybe it was too lumpy. They didn’t like to be inhospitable, but it was one of the many things they couldn’t change. Like not being able to leave.


Agoraphobia?


Their Roommate was worried, not for them, that would mean feeling their presence. Knowing them. They weren’t knowable for whatever reason. Their roommate smelled something, on their fifth day together, and couldn’t look away in good conscience.


Now, in a guest room without bees or strangers they laid out on the floor. And looked beneath the bed.


Nothing.


They were left behind again, in an empty room.


Alone.


With nothing to do.


They listened for the Bees again, as the sky went from grey to blue.


Buzzing turned to clicks, but it didn’t matter to them.


The sky was beautiful though.


But then they had visitors, investigators, looking through the house, they didn’t have the wherewithal to welcome or help. 


So they stayed in the corner, and watched.


As the dogs barked.


By the looks of it they’d found a body beneath the bed.

Beneath the floorboards.

The investigators had taken the bed out of the room, saving space for their collective presence. They wondered why they didn’t take them out also. Weren’t they a bother?


Alethophobia.


One took pictures baring as much room as possible, for where the bed once was. The body was untouched by people.


Save it’s killer.


The body was dessicated and bug-eaten, curled up like it was sleeping. They wondered who it was, that they’d been trapped just above for so long. Once the photos were taken, a bag was thrown in, all they could look to see was the bag being zipped up.


The mass was moved from the pit beneath the floor.


Just like that the body was taken, and the room was evacuated.


The room was empty again, as far as they were concerned.


June 05, 2021 01:22

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19 comments

Kirt . K
11:02 Aug 31, 2021

Hi there! Your stories are really had a great job ...I really love it ...and thank you for your comment on my story! Ofc if you are interested u may follow me on IG too - realhikirtkk !!!

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Kathleen `Woods
12:26 Aug 31, 2021

Thanks for reading! I'll be sure to bother you more on future works.

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Kirt . K
03:30 Sep 01, 2021

HAHAHA sure, Thank You! Stay safe.

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Angela Guthrie
22:44 Jun 09, 2021

This story will probably win. Darn it!😁

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Francis Daisy
13:28 Jun 09, 2021

Suspenseful! I love how even your paragraphs grew shorter, then your sentences grew more terse to build the tension toward the end of your story. Well done!

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R. B. Leyland
06:52 Jun 09, 2021

It took me a while to pin down who 'they' was, I had a slight inkling but was nicely confirmed after. Liked how the pace increased at the end and brought it all to a good close - the ghost staying after the flies left was a great way to end. Well done!

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Kathleen `Woods
09:16 Jun 09, 2021

Thanks! I was kinda avoiding outright saying it in text. This was a pretty flashy idea on my part.

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R. B. Leyland
09:25 Jun 09, 2021

Yeah it was a good read! :)

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Zahra Naazir
01:07 Jun 09, 2021

I really liked all the 'unknown' parts in this story. How the truth was eventually revealed. The imagery was on point too and the loneliness 'they' felt was portrayed well. Awesome job!

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Kathleen `Woods
03:24 Jun 09, 2021

thanks! I was kinda screeching when I got past the thousand word mark, so I'm glad it was good for the effort.

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Kendall Defoe
15:21 Jun 05, 2021

Yikes!

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Kathleen `Woods
21:49 Jun 05, 2021

the bees aren't bees. if it helps.

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Kendall Defoe
16:43 Jun 06, 2021

I figured it out. That 'Yikes!' was for a slight Stephen-King flashback I felt with your work...

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Kathleen `Woods
22:37 Jun 06, 2021

yeah, I was hoping the ghost abandoned by flies thing wouldn't be too weird.

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Jessica Chaos
14:14 Jun 05, 2021

I think the uncertainty helped create suspense. I agree it was a lil confusing on who "they" were at times, but I think the ambiguity might have been on purpose to leave you wondering/confused and thus tense. May be necessary to edit and clarify which "they" you are speaking of at any given time, but also think it's important to not overly clarify either "they"s specific identity except for from eachother. I also think that the pacing on this story was nicely done.

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Kathleen `Woods
20:40 Jun 05, 2021

I was going with the feelings a ghost would have about their body under the floorboards, and I was having an easier time with the ghost as kinda genderless.

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Ruth Smith
13:26 Jun 05, 2021

Very interesting story. I was a little confused about the parts where the new person came in and how that person was able to leave until I realized the first person was the dead person discovered in the end. Very good! I do think referring everyone as "they" doesn't help. At one point I got confused about who you were referring to, the first person or the newcomer. I found an error. In the paragraph "So they watched the sky change instead, and leaned on the door frame, sometimes they’d lay on the bed, and look at the sealing. They hear...

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Kathleen `Woods
21:47 Jun 05, 2021

I'll edit: sealing = ceiling, bit. I was trying for the gender neutral feel for the ghost, and a role orientation for everything else. I might not have noticed any mistakes there given the crunch.

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Ruth Smith
13:40 Jun 06, 2021

Sometimes it helps to refer to the individual as something other than a pronoun, I will write things like "the first occupant" or the "newcomer" or "the individual who was there longest". It might get a little wordy, but its more clear than they when you try to keep both as gender neutral.

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