Amanda looked up from the sink as someone knocked at her door. It had been a lazy summer afternoon, and she had just finished cleaning up her lunch dishes when the unexpected visitor arrived. She quickly wiped her hands on a towel and answered the door.
“Hi. You don’t know me very well, but can I use your phone? Mine’s broken.”
It was her elderly neighbor from across the street. Amanda had never talked to him before now, but she always made it a point to wave at him whenever their paths crossed. She smiled and handed him her cell phone.
“Of course! Is everything ok?”
A pained look crossed his tan face.
“No mam, it’s not ok. There’s people in my house that don’t need to be there, and I need them gone.”
Before she could ask more questions, Amanda’s neighbor had already called the sheriff’s department.
“Hello, this is Frank Holden. I live at three-forty-five West Everwood, and I need someone to come get these people outta my house.”
Amanda couldn’t hear what the officer was saying, but she was able to piece it together from Mr. Holden’s accounts.
“No, sir. They were dropped here by mistake, but I don’t know by whom. They have hospital bracelets on with their info on it, but when I called the hospital listed, the line was out of service. Can you send someone to take them back?”
After a few minutes, Mr. Holden said “thank you” and handed the phone back to Amanda, whose curiosity was through the roof.
“Are they able to help?”
“He’s going to ask his supervisor, but they can’t do much without knowing where these people came from.”
He ran a hand through his silvery hair as he looked across the road at his house. Amanda could tell that he was worried, so she did what any good neighbor would do.
“Is there anything I can do to help?”
Mr. Holden looked somewhat relieved, but he shook his head.
“I don’t think so unless you want to call the hospital again. No one answered when I tried, but my phone is broken. You might get a connection.”
“Sure, we can give it a try. What’s the number?”
“I…I don’t remember. But it’s on their bracelets. Let me run over and get it for you.”
“Well, what if I came with you? Maybe I can ask them some questions and figure out where they came from.”
Mr. Holden shrugged. “You can try, but they don’t talk much.”
Amanda locked her house and followed Mr. Holden across the street.
“Forgive the mess. I’m trying to tidy up, but it’s hard to clean with so many people in my way.”
Amanda stepped through the door and immediately became aware of the stench that permeated the room. Body odor, old garbage, rotting food, and something indescribable entered her nose and made her gag, and she discretely held her breath as Mr. Holden wandered to an armchair and rummaged through a pile of old laundry.
“This one likes to be warm and quiet, so I did my best to cover him up. Give me a moment to uncover his bracelet…”
Every hair on Amanda’s body stood on end as Mr. Holden uncovered a withered arm and held it up. A yellowed medical bracelet hung from the desiccated wrist, and Amanda could barely make out the hospital logo. A cold chill washed over her as she recognized it, and Amanda slowly backed into the door and tried to find the knob without drawing attention. Mr. Holden seemed oblivious as he chattered away.
“He’s the most troublesome of the lot. The other three have better manners, but this one complains about everything. That’s why he’s out here instead of in the bedroom with the others. He wouldn’t leave them alone.”
Amanda’s fear increased when he mentioned the others, and she did not doubt that there were three other bodies in the bedroom. She had to escape before she became body number five.
“Mr. Holden, I know which hospital they came from, but I can’t see the number. I’m going to run home and look it up for you, ok?”
Mr. Holden covered the wrist back up and smiled at her.
“I’d appreciate that. I need to check on the others, but come back when you hear something, ok?”
Amanda nodded. “I will.”
Mr. Holden wandered down the hall as Amanda opened the door and bolted across the street. Once inside her own house, she locked every door and window and called 911.
“Nine one one, what’s your emergency?”
“My neighbor has bodies in his house. Like, actual dead bodies. I saw one with my own eyes, but he claims to have at least three more.”
“Ok, and do you know the victims?”
“No, but the one I saw had a bracelet from Harris Morgue.”
“Ok, and what’s the address?”
“My neighbor is Frank Holden, and he lives at three-forty-five West Everwood.”
“Ok, mam. Stay inside, and I’ll have somebody out there momentarily.”
Amanda hung up and peeked through the curtains as she waited for the cops to arrive. About thirty minutes later, two deputies and an ambulance pulled into the driveway. Amanda watched as they loaded up four body bags into the ambulance before Mr. Holden was taken away by one of the deputies. She never saw him again.
The next day, a familiar face popped up on Amanda’s news app. She clicked the link and read the headline.
“Area man steals bodies from local morgue.”
“Frank Holden, 65, was taken into custody after authorities found several decomposing bodies hidden throughout his house. Further investigation determined that these bodies came from Harris Morgue, where Mr. Holden had been employed as a janitor before the building was demolished to make way for the new bypass. The bodies are being identified and will be given back to their families for burial.”
Amanda saved the article and planned to find a print copy for her wall. She still couldn’t believe how quickly everything had unfolded, and she’ll never forget the fear she felt when Mr. Holden uncovered the arm. Grabbing her phone, she dialed a familiar number and waited until a woman’s voice came over the line.
“Hey mom, don’t freak out, but you’ll never believe what happened to me yesterday….”
This story was inspired by true events. I had an encounter with my neighbor that left me shaken, and I knew I had to use it somehow. To read about the actual event, check out my Twitter Thread.
Your writing prompt for today is to take something that you’ve experienced and use the bones to create a work of fiction.
This is my interpretation. What’s yours?