Check the House

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: House of Ghosts

A short thrilling story about an introverted stock trader who slips away from his own reality.

Submitted: August 24, 2018

A A A | A A A

Submitted: August 24, 2018






Marcus grew up with many fears. For all his life, he resisted many of life’s opportunities and avoided any events that would hint at danger. This was both a gift and a disadvantage, where his many fears prevented him from any risk. Although he lived a boring life, he calmed himself by reading, which further led to his interest of stock trading.

From the comfort of his small apartment, he would read trading strategies, investment techniques, and watch videos relating to trading stocks. He would never make a trade unless he was absolutely sure it would make a profit. Due to the high amount of preparation before each trade, he started making a suitable income at a young age, but due to his fears, hardly anyone knew. He was afraid that someone would come for his wealth, or even worse, his life in order to acquire his wealth. He was afraid of being in the spotlight for any awards, and thus didn’t respond to any invitations to ceremonies or events.

Everything that Marcus did was on his computer. With his wealth, he was able to almost never leave his apartment. He would have personal deliverymen but they would never actually come inside of his apartment. However, the more and more wealth that Marcus received, gave a tendency to spend it.

From Marcus’ previous apartment, which was on the bottom floor containing a lot of foot traffic in the halls, he eventually upgraded to a top floor apartment. On this floor there were no neighbors above him which shook the ceiling. However, there was a family living below him and he’d hear children playing and laughing from time to time.

He first invested in a camera monitoring system, one that could show an active camera feed to all rooms of his apartment. There was a camera for the living room, kitchen, bedroom, and even the bathroom. The only place inside of his apartment that didn’t have a camera was his walk-in closet, but Marcus thought that if there was one place that was safe, it was his closet.

The cameras were recording at all times, and after waking up each morning, he would meticulously check all of the recordings from the night before. His fears always led up to nothing, and each morning held a sigh of relief after he would get done checking them. After checking his cameras, he would get pizza delivered or some other type of delivery food, eat, and then get back to work with managing his stock portfolio.

There wouldn’t be a story here unless something went wrong. For Marcus, his calculations and methods of trading were getting dated. They didn’t quite seem to work as well as they used to, no matter how much he would prepare before each trade. He was losing money and even though Marcus never accepted any events for investment presentations, he definitely noticed not getting them any longer.

It kept getting worse. The children in the apartment below were making more and more noise each day. Sometimes randomly screaming and sometimes stomping around, dependent on the time. This happened at almost all hours of the day. It was never a problem until it starting happening at night, which made Marcus think that the parents were just leaving the kids home alone.

With a diminishing budget, Marcus had to start cutting back on his delivery services, his power consumption for his cameras, and even selling some of his old trading materials he had written. This caused a rush of fear for Marcus, where leaving his apartment was a literal nightmare. He decided to only run his cameras when he left the apartment. He could no longer afford to run them overnight and every night. Also, selling his materials also made him a more present person in the world. More and more people would come to his door asking for advice or just soliciting in general.

He was losing touch with his money management and a sense of reality. He would just stare at his camera feed for his home instead of participating in trades and listening to the kids below him. Even though everything was just fine, with a lack of interaction with others and an absent mindset, there was nothing there to convince him that nothing is out to get him, whether or not it was true.

On the next Monday Market Open, is when it really came down. He had nowhere to go when it came to his profits, income, trades, options, or anything else. He was already one month behind on his rent, and sure enough, just two days later the apartment manager was at his door serving him a 3 day notice. Marcus opened the door just an inch to receive it. It said that a payment must be made within the next 3 days or the eviction process would begin. Also, it had to be made with a money order, so no safe online payments could be made.

Marcus decided under extenuating circumstances that he would sell all of his cameras in order to make the payment. Instead of having many cameras, he would just have one handheld camera, one that recorded via motion, heat signatures, and many other features.

He went down to his local pawn shop, traded the cameras, acquired a money order, and submitted the payment to his apartment manager. When he arrived back into his apartment, he realized that for all the time he had been gone, there was no camera recording his absence. Thinking there was someone inside of his apartment (even though there were no signs of a break in) he grabbed a large knife from his kitchen drawer. He slowly walked from the kitchen, to the living room looking under the couch and recliner, to his bedroom where he looked underneath his bed. From there he went to his bathroom, where he had no shower curtain (too afraid there would be someone hiding behind them so he never invested in one). He even lifted up the toilet seat to check, of course, there was nothing as usual.

From there he finally went to his closet. As usual, there were his clothes hanging with his socks in drawers at the bottom. However, Marcus noticed that the shirts were ever so slightly swaying back and forth.

Suddenly there was hard slam coming from the top of the closet. Marcus jumped and looked straight up to find spackle falling downward into his eyes. What Marcus didn’t notice from before, was an attic door up top of the closet. Since Marcus had a top floor unit, his apartment came with one. The string for pulling down the door was missing, so even if Marcus wanted to look (he didn’t) there would be no possible way for him to do so.

He immediately left the closet and shut the door behind him. He grabbed his cell phone and dialed emergency services. All while this was happening, he could hear someone in the attic walking around. He barely spoke any words and waited just outside of his apartment for someone to arrive.

When they finally came, they searched the entire apartment, including the attic. Nobody was to be found and there weren’t even any footprints upstairs. This wasn’t a relief for Marcus, as he was sure he saw his shirts moving. He was sure he heard the slam from the attic door. He was sure that he heard footsteps. He was absolutely sure of all of this, he still had spackle from when the ceiling shook.

The emergency personnel left his apartment and told him to give them another call if anything else happens. Marcus then asked the personnel if they could go question the neighbors below him, to maybe see if they heard anything. The personnel called the front office to make sure this was allowed. They went to the downstairs apartment but nobody would answer. Under normal circumstances, the personnel would’ve just left, but Marcus insisted on asking them and even hinted that they might be leaving children here for long hours unattended. The personnel called the front office, told them what was going on, and an office staff member met them at the apartment with the keys.

Once the neighboring apartment was unlocked, the emergency personnel, the office staff member, and Marcus stepped inside. The apartment was completely empty. No furniture, no television, no beds, nothing. Still, they searched the entire apartment, checking the bedroom, bathroom, and closets for anything. At this point they thought that Marcus might be lying or just going crazy, so they just tried to wrap things up. They left the neighboring apartment and locked the door behind them.

Marcus said his goodbyes and then went back into his apartment. He spent time cleaning up after the people who had just searched his apartment, because they had to move furniture to really find if someone was there or if there were any signs of break in.

Marcus thought to himself that he know he heard a family downstairs. He decided to look back at his old recordings and show the staff, this way they would at least be able to hear the sounds. After looking for a few hours, he couldn’t find one single clip of sound of the family downstairs.

That night Marcus climbed into his bed. He kept his single camera on his lap, but didn’t turn it on due to saving battery life and saving memory space for if anything actually happened. However, after a short amount of time, he started hearing the footsteps in the attic once more. He mistakenly had left his phone in the other room before climbing into bed, otherwise he would’ve called the emergency services immediately. Since it was pitch black in his room, Marcus decided to turn on his camera and use a mixture of the night vision filter and heat signature filter to get a good look into the attic. What he saw was an assortment of wires running along his attic, a few boxes, but noting out of the ordinary. There were no heat signatures coming from the ceiling or the attic.

When Marcus turned to put the camera back on the nightstand, he saw a small heat signature behind the door to his closet. It was just a straight vertical line, about 6ft high. He stood up out of bed and approached the closet slowly. He grabbed the door handle and swung the door open. There was nothing there, just like the time he searched earlier that afternoon.

He heard his front door shut. He moved the camera to the front door. There was a heat signature on the other side of the front door. It looked to be a man about 7ft tall, much taller than Marcus. Marcus went to the door, looked through the peephole, and saw no one standing there. Marcus thought to himself that if anyone was in here, they probably ran out while they could. But why was there still a heat signature on the other side of the door?

Marcus turned around to head back to his bedroom. He checked his camera as he walked and saw something peculiar. Marcus was shook. He saw a heat signature underneath his bed, it looked to be three small children laying on their backs. The heat signatures were fading, but the moment before they faded the heads of the children turned to look towards the living room.

Marcus couldn’t move. He couldn’t exit his apartment because the tall heat signature was still there, he couldn’t go into his bedroom because of whatever might be waiting for him there. This was something he couldn’t imagine. He was only worrying about whether or not somebody would rob him, nothing like this.

Then Marcus remembered that he left his cell phone on the stand next to the front door. He looked down to grab it, but it wasn’t there. He tried to remember any other location where he might’ve left it. Then he heard his own phone ring, he was in luck, because that just made it easier for him to locate it.

When Marcus searched around the living room he still couldn’t find it despite it ringing repeatedly. After about the third phone call, it sounded like somebody picked up the phone. He looked with his camera again and found that the man outside of the apartment was now holding a cell phone to his ear.

Sorry, but Marcus...isn’t alive, can I...take a message?

Marcus panicked. He ran back into his kitchen and grabbed a knife. He stood in the corner of his kitchen. Watching through the camera, he saw the children get out from the underside of his bed. He heard the attic door open from in his closet and he finally saw his front door open to show the shadow of the man in the doorway. Marcus watched as the heat signatures moved toward his location. From this point, Marcus slid down to where he was sitting on the floor and desperately watched as the camera’s battery trickled down to 0%.



© Copyright 2019 Timothy Smith. All rights reserved.

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