My boyfriend and I moved into our first apartment together about a year ago. He had lived in that same building for four years with different roommates, and I swore I would never move into that complex because it was so decrepit. Everything was old and dirty and falling apart and the landlord didn’t seem to care.
When a one bedroom opened up on the floor above him, he swore it was nicer than his place and that it was a great deal. I eventually agreed without even looking at it. I’m way too easy going, or maybe just lazy. I didn’t feel like apartment hunting and you really couldn't beat the price.
We moved in and it really wasn't bad. It was freshly painted white and had a huge window in the living room looking out over trees. I was content for the most part.
The only thing that kind of made me cringe was the garage. My boyfriend is a personal trainer and when we moved into that apartment, he decided he wanted to set up some basic gym equipment in the garage to train clients and as a work out space for him and me. It was actually great because I can go down there and lift weights and do push-ups and things without anyone watching me and I only have to walk a few feet to get there.
When I went down there, I would turn the light on which is on the outside of the garage and then pull down and shut the big door. I really didn't like working out with the door open because our neighbors would always walk by and want to chat and I felt stupid doing squats facing the kitchen windows of the building next to us.
Anyway, I would shut the door so I could concentrate and get it over with. It was kind of dark in there, even with the light on and I always had a little prickling fear that someone would turn the light off while I was in there and I wouldn't be able to see anything.
Being in there, even in the dark, wouldn't have been that big of a deal, except that there was this storage space in the back of the garage. It was about ten feet long and about four feet high and it was risen off the ground about five feet. It was like one giant shelf. It looked like a wooden crate with doors. The two doors swung open and we had a bunch of junk up there; an old keyboard we never even used, suitcases, winter clothes in trash bags, etc.
There was a metal latch that should have had a padlock on it, but we never got one. So, the doors just kind of stayed open. They wouldn't stay shut without a padlock so we just left them as they were.
For some reason, and I know I sound completely paranoid, but for some reason I would always work out facing the storage space. I always got this irrational fear that someone or something was in there and if I turned my back with my headphones on, it would come out and get me.
After a few months, my schedule at work changed and I started getting home from work past six, so it was dark by the time I got down there to work out. I tried to make it work a few times but I always got more scared at night. After a few failed attempts, I started going jogging instead and just left the garage alone.
I told my boyfriend about it and he laughed and said he would clean it out and buy a padlock if it helped. I agreed we needed to throw a lot of junk out anyway so we set aside some time to clean it out.
One weekend we were finally going through it and my boyfriend had to climb inside the storage space to get our suitcases out of the back. I was boxing up my old clothes on the ground underneath the space and I heard him start cursing.
“Oh, shit. Shit. What the fuck,” he said.
“What? What’s wrong? Is it spiders?? I swear to god, you better tell me because I’m going outside.”
“Just go outside. Go outside, and call Melanie.”
Melanie was our landlord and we NEVER called her. She got really annoyed by any requests or complaints from her tenants and would try to blame any damage to the apartment on us if something broke. Eventually, we just stopped calling her and started fixing stuff on our own.
I went outside and waited for him to come out, hesitant to call her until I knew what was going on. He came out looking scared and he shut the outside garage door and put the new padlock that we bought for the storage shed on it.
“Just call her and tell her to come over here right now and that we’re calling the cops,” he said.
He started looking around nervously and grabbed me and started pulling me towards the apartment. We went inside and he locked our apartment door.
“What the hell is going on?” I said.
“There was someone living in there,” he said almost teary eyed.
“There was someone in there? What are you talking about? Right now there is someone in there? Jesus Christ!”
“No, no. I found all this stuff under our old suitcases. There’s like a sleeping bag and food and all this weird shit!”
“What? What weird shit?”
“There’s a notebook with all these drawings in it and words written all over the wall in there. Stuff about you.
“There’s drawings in there of you, and me and him I guess. He’s been watching us! Holy shit.”
At that point, all the feeling in my legs drained away and I sat down just shaking my head. The landlord came over and he explained to her what he found and she called the police. They couldn't find anyone and haven’t really done anything to find whoever was living in there.
Needless to say, we moved out of there right away and have never gone back. The landlord told us they are making all tenants lock their garages now and of course denied that she had ever seen someone coming in and out of there. She lives right next door and apparently no one made any complaints about a stranger hanging around the building.