Thump….thump….thump…….it’s been four nights since this slow, lazy deliberate thump has started, it carries on for what seems like hours. The noise is muffled but once awoken by it, it is hard to ignore the muffled sound as Ian can verify since the 27th February. It appeared out of nowhere at 3:13am every morning since Friday. Ian passed it off as perhaps a new antisocial tenant in his building, like he needed another one, if he wasn't so afraid of confrontation he would explore the origins like anyone with disturbed sleep, but every night the noise returned and every night he placed his pillow over his face and willed it to stop and for it to be the last night his slumber would be interrupted.

As the week progressed and the noise continued, thump…….thump…..thump…, Ian’s temper rose; his bravery grew, brought on by lack of sleep, it caused Ian to do something out of his comfort zone. On his return from work on Thursday evening he went along his floor to his neighbours to see if they were similarly disturbed by this thumping. One neighbour after the next opened the door to Ian and confirmed that they have not heard any noise and made their respective excuses to close the door and finish their conversation with this nervous little man they saw occasionally in the hallway.

Again that night at 3:13am, thump….thump….thump….thump….thump, Ian wasn't disturbed this time as he was already awake, his interaction with his neighbours made him feel inadequate, he knew what they thought of him, some weirdo that keeps to himself, who averts his gaze to avoid any passing pleasantries, who doesn't have a social life, who never has visitors, Ian knew what they thought of him as this is what his colleagues think of him….thump……thump….thump. ‘They don’t know me, why do they all judge me’, thump…..thump…..thump….thump.

The weekend came and went, the thumping continued, each night continuing for a little bit longer than the previous, gradually creeping into what should be a new day. Ian was beginning to take action, he had ventured to his apartment door to look out the spy hole on Monday night when the thumping started but could see nothing. On Tuesday he ventured into the corridor, and paced up and down but the thumping neither grew louder or quieter as he moved. He assumed that its origins were on another floor.

Ian repeated last week’s exercise of visiting his neighbours, only this time on the floor above and below his apartment, again he got the same response, a brief look of confusion followed by an apologetic tone, almost a condescending tone from Ian’s point of view, and the abrupt end to the conversation and the close of the door, he was sure he could hear the sigh of relief from his neighbour from the other side.

Again the thumping started at 3:13am, again Ian was awake, but this night was different the thumping was louder, much louder. Ian being the physically inferior specimen he is, grabbed the bat he kept beside his front door, and entered the corridor.

He paced up and down his floor, again the noise was louder than previous nights but it didn't grow any louder or quieter with his movements. He descended to the floor below and paced those corridors until he was sure the thumping was not here. He went to the third floor and again there was no change to the volume of the thump….thump.…thump…..thump….thump…..thump. Ian reluctantly gave up and returned to his apartment. The thumping continued until he left the building that morning, his lack of sleep was getting to him. The normally mild mannered and quiet individual, was abrupt with his colleagues and made a young intern cry when her fumbling incompetence agitated him, he watched his colleagues throughout the morning whispering and stealing glances in his direction, a feeling of almost claustrophobia enveloped him, he had to get out of the office.

Ian returned to his apartment building early afternoon, as soon as he entered the lobby the thumping began. It was incredibly loud, THUMP…THUMP…THUMP…THUMP, the pace of the thump seems to have quickened. Ian ran up the stairs, feeling his legs burn, and into the safety of his apartment but there was no escape from the thumping. THUMP….THUMP….THUMP…THUMP,  Ian grabbed his bat again and went into the corridor, he went from floor to floor in a desperate attempt to find the source of this noise that he felt was twisting his mind. Again he could not find the source.

The thumping continued all day and night, louder and louder, he didn’t even think about going to work on Friday as he sat cross legged on his living room floor, the time approaching 7am, the bat resting across his knees. A thought raced to the front of his mind, and in an instant he was in the kitchen holding a kitchen knife. Slowly at first he eased the pointed tip into his ear, until pain numbed the sound, he repeated on the other side but as soon as the pain subsided, the thumping returned, louder it grew…THUMP..THUMP..THUMP..THUMP..THUMP..THUMP.

He ran screaming into the corridor, still in his clothes from yesterday, blood dripping from either side of his head onto what was his formerly immaculate white shirt. A neighbour came out to be greeted by this shocking sight and attempted to calm Ian down but as soon as a hand of comfort was placed on his shoulder, Ian lashed out wildly with the knife he still held in his hand. One swing was all that was needed as Ian caught the poor old lady from 2c across the throat. More neighbours raced to the scene, Ian swung wildly doing enough to cause his neighbours to retreat, but Ian could still see them judging him with labels like ‘weirdo’, ‘maniac’, it was them that was doing this to him. Ian pursued his neighbours slashing wildly as they attempted in vain to defend themselves. Eventually the noise of people died down, and replaced by that familiar…THUMP..THUMP..THUMP..THUMP..THUMP..THUMP. 

Ian now unblinking, walked towards the lift and on his arrival the doors opened. Mrs Peterson, from 1b had come up, she was instantly greeted by the sight of Ian in his now red shirt, knife in hand, in the background she could make out the distorted lumps of some of her former neighbours and another lying partially in a doorway. Before she could lift a finger in protest, Ian brought the knife up into her stomach, and then down on her back when she doubled over. He entered the lift staring blankly forward until something grabbed his attention, in the lift mirror he could see a large pulsating vein on the side of his forehead, which danced to a particular rhythm he recognised..THUMP..THUMP..THUMP.