It had been a very long day for George. Between lifting heavy loads and restocking at the store, he didn’t even stop to realize how much he had sweated. His job was menial, and physically taxing. It’s not that he wasn’t skilled enough to work somewhere else, but it was the only place who’d hire and pay quick, and that’s all he needed.
“A shower… a shower would be relaxing right about now,” George thought to himself.
He unlocked his apartment door and trudged through the living room. Well, if you could even call it that. However, he was grateful that he could afford an apartment, even if it was a studio. George dropped his bag on the bed and headed to the bathroom. He always thought that a pleasantly warm shower was one of the best ways to wind down after a hard day’s work. He turned on the shower, spinning the small crank all the way to the hot side.While waiting for it to warm up, he undressed. As the water heated, steam rose from the shower box and clung on to the mirror and the walls, the condensation dripping down occasionally.
George sighed deeply. He took in all he had worried about that day. He thought about all the new problems he’d have to worry about the day after. But as he walked into the shower, they suddenly weren’t there anymore. It was just him and the scalding embrace of running water around him. Certainly, George knew it was just a temporary distraction, not that it mattered to him. He simply started to scrub gently at his skin with the soap bar.
That’s when he heard it.
A small creak, barely noticeable. Almost like the sound of someone walking through his tiny cramped apartment. Now, that wouldn’t be so alarming, if it weren’t for the fact that George lived alone. He ducked his head out of the curtain almost immediately. He was trying to relax, of course, but he noticed it just enough to be startled by it. He couldn’t help himself from stepping out quickly to lock his bathroom door, wetting the floor with droplets of water as he went. But surely enough, it was just an old building, right? He got scared of the noise, but from what he knew, it could just simply be the foundation of the building creaking, as they do when they get old. Even then, a small noise wouldn’t be enough to make him get out of the shower for real. He deserved that shower, after the day he had.
As George finished scrubbing with the soap, he decided to wash his face. He knew he needed to get off all the grime and sweat from work. He started rubbing small dabs of solution on his face and forehead to help him clean. Just one small drop of the soapy solution slid down into his eye, however. He grunted in discomfort as it stung him.
“Ah, of course, I forgot to close my eyes”
George shut both his eyes now, and started to rub the soap again. He sat there with his eyes closed, vulnerable, as he finished cleaning. However, just as he was about to reach out for his towel and wipe his eyes…
It happened again.
Another thud, this time just a little louder.
“Not just louder,” George thought. “It sounded closer.”
Right outside the door of the bathroom, it sounded. George was even more startled by now. He stepped out of the shower and unlocked the door, swinging it open… and nothing. There was nothing there. It was just his mind, playing tricks on him. It had to be, right? George wasn’t crazy or anything, he was just hearing things. It’s completely normal, especially after a long day.
George closed the door. He stepped back towards the shower, feeling the slippery floor below him. He was alarmed and alert, but he decided, at the very least, to finish his shower. He carefully wet his hair with his hands, and dispensed the shampoo into his hands. He rubbed the viscous, cheap shampoo into his scalp, looking out through the shower curtain every once in a while out of silly, childish fear.
“It’s nothing,” he almost scolded at himself. “No adult would actually be afraid of that, come on.”
George built up a little courage and ducked his soapy head beneath the running shower. He scrubbed and scrubbed his hands through his hair. In hindsight, it’s funny that he was scared of this. Literally as simple as closing his eyes and washing his hair. He chuckled a bit. Then a bit more. He kept giggling about it, even as the thin sheet of water under his feet was split by something else stepping into the shower. He giggled as he realized that he forgot to lock the door again. He only stopped giggling once he opened his eyes and saw it, through his teary, stung vision. Its grimy black hair slapping through the curtains as it had stepped in, and the terrifying realization that his last sight would be the thing gangling towards him through soapy tears and running water.