Russell Square

When I moved into the flat on Russell Square I thought I had it made. And that was just this morning. I was paying only 300 quid a month and had three bedrooms. It seemed to me that the landlord must be senile to offer such a deal, but if that was the case, why not take it.

Why not indeed.

Within two hours of moving my stuff, I heard all sorts of reasons. I also met more neighbours than I had met in my entire 33 years on the planet. As I was carrying the last load up the stairs a young boy walked up and gave a tug on my jacket.

"Excuse me, are you moving in there?" He asked.

"Yes, I am." I replied.

"Why would you do that? He asked.

"Well I needed a bigger place." I said. "Now, I've got to take this stuff upstairs, but if you'd like to keep talking you can come on up."

"Oh no." He said. "I couldn't do that. I'll wait for you to come back down."

"O.K., I'll see you later then." So I went back up and started putting things away. Every now and again I would glance out the window and see the boy sitting on the curb across the street. Sometimes he would be talking to others and when he did he would point up at my window. Finally I became curious, so I went back out to talk to him.

"What is your name?" I asked.

"Oh, my name is Nigel, and this if my friend John. He lives next door." He replied.

"Well Hello Nigel, Hello John. My name is Walter. Now tell me, why couldn't you come in earlier, did your mum tell you not to go into strange people's flats?"

"No, it's not so much that." He said. "That place is haunted. The last person to live there was Old Mrs. St. John. That's where she died."

"But people die all the time. You said she was old. There's nothing wrong with that." I said.

Just then a young woman came walking up to contribute her thoughts.

"If she had just been old, it wouldn't have been so strange." She said. "But she was over 400 years old. Maybe even older."

"400!" I said. " What are you saying, was she some kind of vampire?"

"Even worse." Yelled someone else.

A crowd started to form and everyone had something to share.

"She was a witch"

"An evil witch."

"She had big sharp pointy teeth, and she never rode the tube. She rode a broom."

"She used to eat the children. That's why there are mostly grown-ups in this neighbourhood."

"I heard she killed Princess Diana. It was an order from the coven in Paris."

"So if she was a powerful evil old witch, then how could she die?" I asked.

"That's the scariest part. She was so powerful, a regular person couldn't have killed her. It was the craft that did it. She made a mistake."

"A big mistake."

"She called up a demon."

"It was an evil demon. He was five meters tall and breathed fire."

"It was Satan himself. He was threatened by her power and decided to stop her."

"I heard it was an angel putting a stop to the evil."

"There were huge thunderclouds over her house. And lightning all around."

"No one went outside, but we knew something horrible was happening." When I looked out I could see her windows glowing bright green."

"It was like radiation. Evil mutant radiation."

"The next morning there was a smell. Like death."

"Worse than death"

"Worse than death and old fish and sewage and sulpher all mixed up together."

"It was sort of like catfood."

"Someone called the authorities."

"When they came she was dead. So they took her away."

"There wasn't even a body. Just ashes."

"Like she spontaneously combusted."

"But she didn't."

"Alright, now even if all of this really happened. Why should I worry. She is gone. I should be fine."

"Oh no."

"It's dangerous."

"The demon is still there. He wants to make sure she doesn't come back to life."

"He'll eat you."

"He'll pull out your fingernails and make you eat peas."

"He'll turn you into a shrubbery."

Overwhelmed by the ridiculousness of it all, I snuck away. There were so many people gathered that they didn't even notice. A shrubbery indeed. What should I be, perhaps a poinsetta; the pointy leaves could protect me from demons. I went upstairs and decided to sit down and read. But my mind kept wandering. What was that noise in the kitchen? It sounded like breathing. Probably just a draft. Or that flash. Did the lights just flash out for a second. No it could only be my imagination. Or could it? Do demons exist? This is ridiculous. My old place was cozy, kind of quaint really. I didn't need to move. Why am I here?