And these aren’t cute little human dragonflies with flower petals for clothes and sweet smiles. I don’t know about you guys, but when I think of fairies, I’m picturing something like Tinkerbell (yeah, I know, she’s technically a pixie, sue me).
That is not the shit my roommate is fucking with.
I noticed she was weird when I moved in. She was advertising for a roommate on Craigslist and she said she’d need someone who was… open-minded. Who was alright with strange people coming and going at all hours. Who wouldn’t ask questions about things that didn’t involve them. And who would be okay with sharing a bathroom.
Yeah, okay, not ideal. But I didn’t need ideal, I needed livable. And honestly? I didn’t really give a shit what she did in her spare time. Hell, she could have been cooking meth in her room, as long as she didn’t get me involved in her drug deals, I wouldn’t have given a shit.
Turns out she wasn’t dealing drugs. Unless she was sharing marijuana with her deadbeat friends or something. Instead, she was into the occult. Supernatural stuff. Conspiracy theories. She believes in anything and everything. She’s convinced she’s seen bigfoot. She was abducted by aliens when she was ten years old. She doesn’t get vaccines because the government is using them to control people’s minds. That kind of stuff.
Is it terrible for me to say that I kind of like her? I mean, let’s make no mistake here, she’s fucked in the head. But she’s actually a really good roommate. Pays her bills on time, cleans up after herself, asks me before having her weird gatherings and rituals and shit. Whenever she buys groceries she grabs my favorite candybar for me. And at least she’s interesting. I’d rather sit and talk to her for an hour than listen to Nancy from work describe her latest MLM adventures.
And before you argue with me, Stella - that’s the name my roommate chose for herself, I guess - doesn’t vote, so it’s not like her weird ass opinions and beliefs hurt anyone else. (She told me once she thinks that if you enter a voting booth, the government will put you to sleep, embed your skin with a mind-reading chip, and release you back into society and you won’t have any memory of what happened. And that it happened to her mom and that’s why her mom believes in evolution. Right…)
Anyway. So life with Stella wasn’t terrible. We got along okay for the most part. And we managed to live together for six months before her weirdness started getting a little… too close for comfort.
What do I mean by that? Well, one morning I woke up to mold growing in a ring in our living room.
Seriously, it was a huge ass ring. Our living room is actually pretty sizeable, especially since Stella doesn’t believe in furniture so it’s practically empty except for her weird candles everywhere. It never bothered me, since I don’t use the common spaces much anyway. But mold growing in my apartment was definitely not okay.
“Stella, what the hell is this?” I asked.
Stella was sitting at the edge of it, a mountain of books next to her. I saw a few titles straight away: Myths of the Fae Folk, Faeries and Other Creatures, The Magical Arts. In her hands was a book on botany, which was extremely peculiar in the moment, but not so much in hindsight.
“It’s a fairy ring. At least, it will be,” she said, a small frown on her petite lips as she poured over her book.
I bit back the urge to scream. “I don’t know what a fairy ring is, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t belong in our fucking living room. If you don’t get it out of here, so help me God…”
Stella sighed and put her book down. “I thought you’d say that,” she said, reaching into the black messenger backpack at her side and pulling out a slightly crumpled envelope. She always had that bag on her, and I often saw her pull out any number of weird things from it. So you can understand that I was a little hesitant to take the envelope from her.
But I did, and I opened it, and immediately my frayed nerves were soothed. Five hundred dollars in cash will do that to a person.
“For the inconvenience,” she said, going back to her book without a second glance at me. “And if we get in trouble with the landlord, I’ll pay for any damages.”
I knew our landlord wouldn’t bother coming around and checking - he didn’t give a shit what anyone did in those apartments, anyway - so I was more than happy to let it slide. As long as that shit didn’t start growing in my room.
I did wonder where she got all that money, though. Stella was never short on cash, even though she didn’t have a job, at least not that I could tell. Oh, well - never look a gift horse in the mouth. I shrugged my shoulders and let it go.
That night before I went to bed, I googled “fairy rings.” I only read for about five minutes before I got bored and gave up on it. Do you know how much has been written about these things? Too fucking much. Anyway, I figured out two very important things. First, many cultures believe that fairy rings are caused by fairies or pixies dancing in a circle. Second, mortals absolutely should not fuck with them.
Now, I wasn’t worried. Not only did I not believe in fairies, but I was also pretty sure you couldn’t just grow your own fairy ring. I figured that Stella would lose interest in it after a few weeks, like she always did with her random obsessions, and then she’d get rid of it and life would continue as normal.
Before that had a chance to happen, however, the fairy ring grew.
After a few days, it had sprouted mushrooms. I shit you not, literal mushrooms were growing in my living room. Stella seemed overjoyed with this arrangement. I was pretty grossed out because our room was starting to smell. Damp and musty and just gross. I really wanted to yank up that carpet and scrub all that nasty crap away, but I focused on the $500 I was getting for being cooperative and tried to will away my annoyance.
Stella’s excitement grew over the next few days until it spilled over into the few conversations we had.
“It’s almost ready! They’ll be here soon, I can feel it,” she said one night when we were having a beer. She was sitting in the middle of the circle while I stayed far outside it. Not out of superstition, but because I wasn’t going near that nasty thing.
“Are you sure that’s how it works?” I asked. My skepticism must have been obvious, because her response was just on this side of indignant.
“I’ve done my research, Janice. It’s like that movie, what was it? ‘If you build it, they will come.’ Just like that. I’ve made the ring, they won’t be able to resist dancing on it. That’s just how it works.”
I wasn’t convinced, but… aw, hell, why not. It’s not real anyway, so who cares how she thinks it works? “So, what happens afterwards?”
She looked confused. “After what?”
“After the fairies show up,” I said. “What happens? Do you… talk to them? Trap them? Ask them to grant you a wish? What?”
She stared at me in utter bewilderment for a second, and then burst out laughing. “God, Janice, you’re so funny sometimes,” she said.
I chose not to press the point. Instead, I finished my beer and went to bed.
Things played out about how I expected over the next week or so. Stella was obsessed with her fairy ring, I cycled between ignoring it and indulging her. Eventually, her interest started to wane and she began to turn her attention to other things. I noticed a few books on the Jersey Devil appearing around the apartment, so I figured that’s what would plague my life next. I felt like I was living in some sort of sitcom.
And then, three weeks ago, something different happened.
I woke up around four in the morning, my sleep disturbed by a strange blue glow coming from under my door. I stumbled out of bed, rubbing the sleep from my eyes as I went in search of the light source.
As soon as I entered the living room, I was almost blinded by the blue light assaulting my eyes. I swore to myself as I shielded my face, trying to let my eyes adjust. Eventually, they did and I was able to take in the terrible sight that awaited me.
Stella. Naked. Dancing on the fairy ring.
Her body twisted and jerked, almost like she was being pulled along. She stumbled but didn’t fall, going round and round so quickly it made me dizzy. I started to walk towards her, confused and somewhat unsettled. Was she on acid or something? I almost just went back to my room and pretended I hadn’t seen anything.
But then the blood caught my attention.
It oozed from small cuts all over her body. A ring of blood was crusted around her wrists. Slashes across her abdomen resulted in red rivulets tracing paths down her legs.
Finally, I saw her face. Her eyes were fixed on me, and a shudder worked its way down my spine. Her face was twisted in agony, her mouth a grimace, her eyes red with tears. Snot was running out of her nose. She was heaving for breath, and I was sure, so sure I saw her scream.
Except… there was no sound.
Nothing at all. I couldn’t hear the sound of cars passing by on the road outside, the sound of her feet on the carpet, the sound of her breathing. It was like I was trapped in a vacuum.
But, then again, I didn’t really need to hear what she was screaming. I could read it on her lips like the words had been printed there.
Help me help me help me help me…
My body responded to her silent plea and I lunged at her, hand outstretched, intent on wrenching her from the circle.
But just then… she disappeared. Vanished in front of my eyes as though she’d never been there. I tripped and fell to my knees, just outside the ring of glowing blue mushrooms that dotted the floor.
Slowly, before my eyes, the glow faded to nothing until I was alone in the dark. Just me, the silence, and the knowledge that Stella was not coming back.
I called the police, of course. That’s what you do, right? I’ve never been in a situation quite like that before. I knew I couldn’t tell them what I saw. So I just told them that when I woke up, she was gone, and that was rare for her. That I was worried something had happened.
They declared her missing. I steered clear of the living room. I wanted to get out of there as fast as humanly possible, so I booked a hotel room until I managed to find another place. I didn’t give a shit about breaking the lease or forfeiting the security deposit on the apartment. I just wanted out.
I got a place pretty quickly - a real dump of a studio apartment, but it’s affordable - and built up my courage to go back to our apartment, to pack up my few things and go.
When I opened the door… God, no matter how long I live, I’ll never forget this. When I opened the door, she was there. Lying there, in the middle of the fairy ring. The cuts had deepened into permanent grooves in her body. She was thinner than before, as though someone had sucked the flesh out of her, tightened her skin until it was tough and leathery. In fact, she almost looked like she’d been… mummified. Her eyes were gone. Her teeth were gone. Her mouth was still gaping open, still screaming for someone (me) to help her.
And as I stared at the body, I swear to God I heard a faint giggle coming from somewhere in the apartment.
I think I’m done with roommates for a while.