Love Thy Neighbour
The moving van backed up into the driveway of the old house. Evan Costello was once again looking around. The moment he had seen the house, he knew he would love it. It was a sunny day as he decided to help the guys move his stuff in. All the boxes were stacked against the wall near the door and the furniture was placed in the appropriate rooms. He definitely felt more comfortable living here now that it actually felt like home. The moving guys thanked him for his effort as they got in and drove off. His dog came bounding up the stairs and ran toward him.
Hey Lacey! How are you doin'? He laughed as the dog jumped up and started licking him.
While unpacking some of his stuff, the doorbell rang and he opened the door. There standing was a person holding a wrapped up gift.
"Hi," he smiled.
"Hello," Evan said.
My name is Gregory Creighton. You don't mind if I come in do you?
"No, not really." Gregory smiled again as he stepped into the house. Evan looked at the gift a little confused.
Gregory noticing this says "this, it's just a house-warming present is all." He laid it on a stack of boxes before following Evan into the living room.
So your the new neighbor huh?
Yeah, Evan replied.
"Where'd you live before?" Greg asked.
I mean which city?
"That's in Texas," Greg said.
Oh right, I meant to say San Diego.
Woof! Woof-woof! Bark!
"Oh, you have a dog? What's his name?" Greg asked.
Oh, so it's a she?
"No, it is a he," Evan said.
Oh. What do you do?
"I said, what do you do for a living?" Greg asked.
"I work at an electronics store, and you?" Evan asked back.
Oh, I'm a doctor, but how did you buy this house? I mean working at a store doesn't exactly have a high income you know.
I got it from an old friend so I'm actually renting it out from her.
"Oh, cool," Greg said.
The conversation lasted hours and finally Gregory said "see ya" before walking out the door. Evan had completely forgot about the gift Greg had given him and was left overnight as Evan slept. When he woke up, a foul odor permeated the house. He got up and looked for the source of the stink. It got stronger as he got downstairs and it became almost overwhelming as he got closer to the front door, near where the present was. That was the source. He put a clothespin on his nose and opened it up and inside was mush, almost unrecognizable as a fruit basket. Even if he couldn't smell it, he could still taste it and he just had to get out of the house. He walked over to his neighbor's house and angrily banged on the door.
"Who are you?" a man asked when the door was opened.
"He lives downstairs," the man said. "But who are you?" the man called as Evan stomped his way down the steps and banged on his door.
Creighton looked tired as he opened the door and said "Yeah?"
"You gave me rotten fruit!" Evan yelled at him.
No I didn't.
Yes you did!
No, it was fresh when I gave it to you.
Yeah? Well it's rotten now.
"Throw it out then," Greg suggested as he closed the door.
"Sure," Evan muttered, "I will."
He flung it over the fence and into their backyard before going to work. When he got back he saw that a window had been smashed. It looked like his house had been broken into. He quietly unlocked the door and slowly opened it. It made a creaking sound as he closed it. "Oh wait," he thought, "Lacey would still be barking at them if they were still here." Then he noticed a bright blue box with a note that read - Sorry for the rotten fruit. Here's a fresh batch. From Your Neighbor. He opened it and indeed the fruit was fresh. Thinking that Greg broke into his house just to leave this, he confronted him.
Evan knocked on the door and Greg opened it up. "Yes?" he asked.
Why did you break into my house?!
Why didn't you just leave it on the doorstep?
"What in the world are you talking about?" Greg asked.
You broke through the window just to give me more fruit!
"That is absolutely stupid," Greg replied. "I would, like you said, lay it on the doorstep."
But the note suggests you did it, especially since your the only one who gave me fruit in the first place.
Even so, I didn't do it. I'd suggest you ask around, see if anybody saw anything.
Evan snorted and said "I'm keeping an eye on you Creighton".
So he asked everyone in his immediate vicinity about it but they all said the same thing: "No, we didn't see anything at the time." So, he went back home and ate some fruit before going to bed. He dreamed that everything in the house was floating and moving randomly; tilting, rolling, or just moving. He woke up the next morning to Lacey's barking and found that all the stacks had been knocked over; some boxes had also been opened. Many of his belongings had been broken. He was enraged.
He didn't bother Greg this time, he decided to file a complaint right away. They never came and he got a call that there was nobody living by that name there at that moment.
"Well, who is living there then?" he asked.
"Nicholas Ryder and his wife," they replied.
Evan hung up the phone confused and angry. Before going to work, Evan knocked on Nick's door.
"Yes? Oh. You." Nick looked amused.
"Does... does anybody live down there?" Evan asked.
No. Would you like to come in?
No, I've got to go to work.
"Okay then, see you." Nick replied. The door closed as Evan walked off the front step.
After work, Evan went to the library and immediately asked where he could find the town archives. He specified that he wanted to know about the street he lived on. The librarian gave him some documents and he started looking through them. He discovered that Gregory had died back in 1994. He started to wonder if he had been talking to a ghost. He also discovered that there used to be more houses in the area until they were torn down to put up a shopping mall. He found many other interesting facts and inconsistencies as well.
He of course couldn't take the documents home with him so when it was time to go, day had turned to night and he arrived home or so he thought. He found that the key wouldn't fit the lock on the door and trying this a few times he decided to step back for a second. The door didn't look like his door nor did he recognize the rest of the house. Confused, he muttered "where is my house?" repeatedly to himself. He went next door and knocked on it waiting for someone to come. Impatient, he knocked louder. Still no one was coming. He couldn't wait any longer and he opened the door. Inside, he found the mess he neglected to clean up and he realized that this was his house. "Where did the other house come from?" he questioned. "Didn't I used to live on the corner? Who lives there?" he wondered. Too tired to answer these questions he collapsed on the couch. He was unaware of someone watching him under the nearest streetlight, casually observing his every movement, despite the dog's incessant growling and barking.
He woke up and remembered that he forgot to park his car in his own driveway. He went out to get it but it was gone. Someone had stolen it! He went inside to call the police but he saw that it had been broken, the receiver had been snapped in half. "I've had more than enough of this" he thought and rushed down to his neighbor's basement where "Greg" supposedly lived, turned the knob, and was surprised when he opened it. He looked inside and all he saw was a large storage space; just piles and piles of stuff. There was no indication of anyone living there.
"What the hell is going on?" he yelled.
"Hello?" Evan heard Nick upstairs as Evan was about to go through the door. "Hello?" Nick called again as he came over the stairs and stared at Evan. "You're that guy who keeps talking to himself" he said. "Now you know no one lives down here."
Someone stole my car!
Really? You should talk to the landlord about that.
Where do they live?!
"At the other end of the street," Nick said.
So Evan walked down to the other end and knocked on Mrs. Chordis' door. She opened it and and said "Yeah?"
Hi, my name is Evan Costello and-
I know who you are. What do you want?
Someone stole my car and I don't know what to do and my home phone's broken.
"I'll see what I can do," she said. He waited and a moment later she came back. "I called the police, they'll be coming soon." He was about to say bye when she slammed the door in his face.
"God, what a bitch," he thought as he walked down the steps.
He walked down the street and he noticed people were coming out of their houses. They stood on their front porches and started staring at him. Evan looked around nervously, they all seemed to be coming out. He started walking faster as their expressions followed him down the street. This was unnerving him, he started running. All had the same face: cold, blank, observational and they stood like statues with the street appearing to be endless. Just when he was about to stop from exhaustion, his house came into view. He rushed inside, slammed the door behind him and slumped against it. Lacey came over and lied down next to him, trying to comfort him.
"What the hell was that all about?" he said to himself. "Holy crap!" He was still trying to catch his breath when he heard a knock on his door. The dog moved somewhere else as he opened it and outside stood a man.
"Who are you?" Evan asked.
Lieutenant Wilson. Someone said that your car was stolen?
Describe the vehicle please.
It's a red BMW M4 with license plate HSS 147.
I dunno, I... I think it was a 2004 model, I think.
"Okay, just fill out this form." A little while later he completes it and gives it back to Wilson who says "don't worry, you'll get your car back and don't forget to inform your insurance company." before closing the door.
"But I don't have a phone" Evan called out to the lieutenant but it was too late, he was already gone. "I'm not going back out there" Evan thought to himself. He was afraid of what might happen if he went back out there.
After a while Evan stopped hiding and decided to go out and find a phone. He snuck out and quickly turned the corner. He went out to find the nearest pay phone but he forgot to take some quarters and went quickly back to the house to get some. When he got there he found the door was open. He went inside and he heard footsteps. He went into the kitchen and grabbed a paper towel holder. He snuck around the house trying to find the intruder when he jumped out at Evan and stabbed him. Evan, in a simultaneous act struck the man in the head with the base part of the holder. Evan took a look at the body and saw that it was Nicholas. He pulled out the knife and tried to stem the bleeding as he went around looking for something to cover the wound. "Where's Lacey?" he thought. "That dog should be trying to help me."
He went back into the living room to find that Nick had disappeared. He finally got his quarters and ran out and around the corner. He nearly went over. He stepped back and looked down. Everything just...ended. It was an infinite abyss; nothing but black beyond. He turned around and ran. He ran down the street as everyone came out of their houses, past the porches and onto the street. They started walking toward him and he started sprinting. He went onto the trail and ran as fast as he could, they followed. Evan soon encountered the blackness again and he stopped. He was tired and out of breath. They soon caught up.
Evan caught his breath and turned around. He was face to face with the mob who surrounded him on all sides. He was trapped. Someone stepped out of the crowd. It was Greg!
"You should be dead!" Evan yelled.
"Obviously I'm not," Greg replied.
But the files... they...they said you were!
This version, yes.
What does that mean?
"You haven't figured it out yet? Well let me tell you. We are travelers, explorers of the inside and between, the one and the many. I led my life on a parallel version of Earth, until I encountered others. Through a test of will, my life began anew and I finally knew what true freedom was. I want you to experience the same."
Suddenly Greg started walking towards Evan and Evan tried to start walking backwards. He looked back and saw that there was no room. He looked at Greg and in desperation tried to reason with him.
"I'm sorry Evan," Greg calmly said. "But I have to do this." Evan was still defiant until hey brought out Lacey. Evan hugged the dog. "He is leaving with us" Greg said.
"No!" Evan cried. "No, he won't!" the dog licked him on the ear and he caressed the fur for a while thinking of all the good things he did with the dog since he got him as a puppy.
"Fine, I'll do it," Evan said resigning himself to his fate before being pushed off the edge.
Pauline liked her new house. It was big enough to be comfortable but not big enough to look empty. The house looked old and weathered outside, the veneer was peeling off, so was some of the wallpaper inside. There were water stains on the floor and ceiling and there was faulty wiring, but nothing some renovation couldn't take care of. Her husband would be getting home soon and he is a history fanatic. He will want to know everything and anything about the house.
She sat down and watched TV for a while. Flicking from channel to channel she heard knocking at the door. She opened it fully expecting her husband to be there. Instead, there was a tall, young man with reddish hair and emerald, green eyes.
"Who are you?" she asked.
My name is Evan Costello. I'm sorry if I startled you but I wanted to meet my new neighbors.
"Oh, well come in." He stepped in and was offered some coffee. He accepted and soon they started talking. 15 minutes later, her husband came home and she introduced him to Evan. They continued to talk for hours in which Gregory Creighton watched from across the street with focused intensity and as the house changed in subtle ways, he smiled. He smiled wide.