Alan Deering signed the papers and took possession of the keys to his new luxury sports car. He raced home through highway traffic, changing lanes, and narrowly missing other cars as he put his new car to the test. Eventually he found himself surrounded by lights and sirens as he headed for an off-ramp.
Next thing Alan knew, he had parked his new car in his reserved space in the basement garage of his new condo. He stepped into the building’s rear freight elevator and pushed the button for the twelfth floor. The elevator rumbled to life, creaking and swaying slightly as it rose up the shaft. It lurched to a sudden stop, threw open its doors, and ejected its passenger when it reached its destination.
Alan stumbled for a minute before regaining his footing then stepped up to the lock on his back door. The door swung open after he tapped his smart watch against the lock panel. He stepped inside his four-bedroom apartment and heard the door close and lock behind him. Feeling exhausted from the exhilaration of the chase, he decided to catch some sleep.
Alan was rudely awakened by his alarm clock’s loud beep. He felt a shock from the clock when he went to silence it. He wandered into the bathroom to relieve himself and took a look in the mirror. Something about his reflection looked off, but all he could think about was how hungry he felt. He wandered down the long hallway to his kitchen and removed a thick porterhouse steak from the refrigerator. After heating up a cast iron skillet, he dropped the steak into it and seared both sides.
At the dinner table, he sat down with his steak and a bottle of red wine. After pouring out a glass of wine, he dug into the steak. Despite the nearly burnt to a crisp interior, the steak ran with blood. Alan was too hungry to care about the undercooked interior and continued to carve away at the steak until only the bone remained on the plate. After emptying his glass, he grabbed the wine bottle by the neck and wandered over to his couch to play the latest version of Grand Theft Auto. Between the bottle of wine and the rush of the game, he soon fell into a deep sleep.
Alan awakened to a loud echoing drip. He checked the bathroom sink first, then the shower in his private bath. He then inspected the faucets in the rest of the bathrooms in the condo. They were all firmly shut. He wandered into the kitchen and checked the faucet. Then he checked under the sink for a possible leak. Everything checked out dry. He noticed that the sound of the drip was louder when he stood against the common wall.
Alan took a cleaver from his knife block and hacked at the wall. Behind the drywall was a thin layer of concrete. It took a considerable effort for him to break through the firewall. A final hack at the wall broke through the drywall on the other side. A steady stream of blood flowed from it at first. A flood of blood poured into his apartment as the wall between the two units broke. Alan stood in the rising sea of blood until his nightmare was rudely interrupted by the loud beeping of his alarm clock.
Alan awoke covered in sweat and stumbled into the kitchen to make coffee. He listened to the reassuring gurgle of the automatic drip coffeemaker. Taking a few eggs and some cheese out of the refrigerator, he made an omelet for breakfast. He took both the omelet and a mug of coffee into his home office.
Alan booted up his office equipment, listening to the reassuring beeps the printer made as it prepared itself for use. He opened up his emails and sent the important ones to the printer while deleting the spam. He opened up a spreadsheet that had been sent from work. He spent the morning hours analyzing the data and writing a report. It wasn’t until he broke for lunch that he heard the drip again. A slow steady drip that seemed to come from nowhere in particular.
After lunch, Alan cleaned up the dishes in the sink. He checked to make sure that the kitchen faucet was completely closed, then checked beneath the sink. There was no evidence of a leaky pipe. He then inspected the bathroom sinks once more. Again, he found no evidence of a leaky pipe or a dripping tap.
Being alone in his condo made Alan acutely aware of noises. As he wandered about the condo, he noticed that the drip was drowned out in certain areas. He could hear the rush of air through the ventilation shafts as the building’s climate control serviced his condo. Near the exit doors, he could hear the sounds of the elevators as they travelled from floor to floor. The cheerful beep of the front elevator signaling its arrival was somehow comforting. He wondered if his neighbor, or neighbors, could hear the constant drip.
The drip haunted him during the day and invaded his dreams at night. He had inspected every faucet and pipe in his condo and found nothing. When Alan searched again for the source of the drip, he noticed that the sound was loudest near the outside of the building. He drew open the drapes covering the French doors that led out to his balcony. The drip became louder.
Alan went to the French doors and swung them open. The cacophony of sound overwhelmed his ears. The light blinded his eyes. He closed his eyes trying to make sense of the noise – a loud whoosh, a quiet beep, and the continual drip, drip, drip that had worn on his nerves. When he finally opened his eyes again, Alan realized that he hadn’t made it home that night.