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16:51

Ajar

It had been a long day and the sun had already set. A wave of tiredness came over me and I decided it was time to go to bed for the night. I called for Jeannie and she happily followed me.
 I went up the wooden stairs and reached the top floor. The burnt orange tiles were cold under my feet and echoed under Jeannie’s paws. Quickly, I scurried across the small gallery towards the door that separated the hallway from the gallery, and from there to the door that separated my apartment from the hallways and rest of the old house. I opened it and gestured Jeannie inside, who immediately sought out her cushion by the bed for the night. As I entered, she was already settled.
 I felt the familiar, soft carpet of the tiny front room under my feet. The wooden door creaked shut behind me, the darkness of the hallway gazing through its dim window.
 I turned the key in the hole. I tried the door handle—the door was locked. I always tried the door handle, just to be sure that the door was really locked. It was a very big, very old house. It had many locks and many doors, but somehow it always felt safer to lock the door closest to you at night.
 After I brushed my teeth, I entered the large bedroom and settled into the bed. The bed was enclosed by three walls, creating a small cove. Next to it was the door that separated the bedroom from the front room. I made sure to close this door as well.
 I wrapped myself into the sheets and turned off the light. The house seemed still awake, its old scars creaking and crackling every once in a while. Having been used to the sounds of its past, I soon fell fast asleep.

The next morning, I woke frightfully early from the sound of my alarm. The sun had not quite risen yet, its first rays were only just climbing the horizon. Having also awoken, Jeannie jumped from her cushion and looked at me with expectation in her eyes. She was no doubt feeling the need to go outside. Groggily, I peeled myself out of bed and opened the door to the front room. I switched on the light, but it was still dull and murky in the dim morning. As I entered the front room, it took me a few seconds to realise that something was not quite right. A shiver ran through my spine and my heart skipped a beat as my chest constricted in fear. The darkness of the hallway was peering in; the door to it was unlocked and ajar.

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Schweinderl