By R.D. Steadie
It started a few weeks ago with some creepy guy peeping on me while I was doing my laundry.
There’s a storage room door in the laundry room where I live that had always been locked since I moved in a few years ago. I had never seen it open. Then, late one night (I work the late shift so I’m always doing laundry in the early morning hours) I noticed that the door was slightly ajar. I didn’t think anything of it and continued to wash my clothes. After loading the dryer, I glanced at the storage room and thought I saw someone peeping through the sliver of open door. I did a double-take, and the face was gone. There was something familiar about the face and what I could see of their yellow and orange clothes. I shook my head and laughed at my pareidolia.
Later, as I was leaving the laundry room, it smelt like someone was eating fast food. You know the smell: grease and seared meat. I know it well from my youth working in a shit-hole fast food restaurant. That smell always brings back shitty memories and makes me sick.
I quickly forgot the incident until I was back in the laundry room a few days later and the storage room door was ajar again. I didn’t want to feed into my fear, so I avoided looking at the door. I went about my business and became engrossed in doing my laundry when I absentmindedly looked at the storage room. I jumped to see the sliver of an eye staring at me. I stared back to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing.
The storage room was dark. The sliver of face was lit by the yellow, flickering fluorescent lights of the laundry room. Whoever it was, was male, over six feet tall, and wearing what looked like the uniform from some vaguely familiar fast food restaurant. The smell of fast food was overpowering. I looked away so that he wouldn’t think I was challenging him. Yes, I’m a coward.
This became the new normal every time I went to the laundry room. I asked some of the other tenants if they’d had a similar experience, but they hadn’t. They all thought it was creepy and said that they would keep an eye out for anything unusual. It became too much for me, so I went to a laundromat down the street to avoid seeing the peeper.
Everything was quiet for a couple of days, but then the peeper showed up at that laundromat. He would peep in through a small opening in the door to the back alley and I would smell the same overpowering smell of fast food. But then he whispered to me in the creepiest voice I had ever heard. It sounded like he smoked ten packs a day, drank way too much whiskey, and screamed himself hoarse. I couldn’t understand a word. I once worked up the courage to ask him to speak louder and he only stared.
Then the peeper showed up in my apartment. At first, I thought I was just seeing things. I would catch a glimpse of him in almost every room if the door was left slightly open but when I looked closer it was a trick of the light. I was becoming paranoid. But all that changed one night when I was half asleep and stumbling my way to the bathroom. I flicked on the hallway light and jumped when I saw the peeper staring out a small gap in the bathroom door.
I yelled, “Get the fuck out of my house or I’m calling the police.”
He didn’t move, but he whispered something unintelligible in his creepy voice. The smell of fast food was sickening. I was fed up and didn’t break my stare as I approached the bathroom door. He just stared at me, whispering his garbled whispers. I decided that I was going to kick the door as hard as I could so that it would slam in his stupid face and I did just that; however, and to my surprise, the door swung open with such force that the doorknob knocked a hole in the wall. The bathroom was empty. That’s when I realized that the peeper was a ghost. My stomach dropped. Why the fuck was a ghost haunting me? I don’t even believe in ghosts.
A few days later I met Maria. I hadn’t seen Maria since we worked together at the sleazy fast food joint. We hugged and exchanged the usual pleasantries. Then she asked if I remembered Pete.
I fucking hated Pete. He was the biggest piece-of-shit human being I had ever met in my life. He was a bully, racist, sexist, borderline klepto, and certifiable psychopath or sociopath or some type of dangerous path. We all worked together, in our ridiculous yellow and orange uniforms, at Burger Burgermeister where “Everyone was the mayor of burger town.” I also hated that place, but I was young and needed a job.
Pete was there to steal anything that wasn’t nailed down; what am I talking about? He would steal shit that was wrapped in chains, welded, and bolted to the ground. He would also take great pleasure in forcing my face inches from the deep fryers, giving me swirlies in shit-stained toilets, and endlessly pinching my nipples and punching me in the groin, so much so that I had to go to Emergency for a ruptured testicle. But I wasn’t his only victim; we all took turns: Pete would use ethnic slurs instead of given names if you didn’t look white to him, and he would sexually harass and assault female employees. Management would laugh or turn a blind eye (we were the dregs of society to them). Fight back? Pete was well over six feet and built like a tank. Me? I’m five-foot-nothing and built like a broom. A new immigrant from Mexico tried to fight back and I never saw so much blood. It was horrible. Fuck I hated Pete.
I ratted Pete out. I don’t know if you got the whole picture yet, but Pete liked to steal. Management at Burger Burgermeister was not the most observant group of people, so they didn’t notice when most items Pete took went missing. However, they did notice when the daily take didn’t balance and then there would be hell to pay. That’s when I saw my chance.
I hid in the storage room with my video camera — this was long before phones that could take video — peeped through the door and waited for Pete to be Pete. It didn’t take long. I recorded him taking a good-sized wad of cash from the till and stuffing it into his back pocket. After seeing the video, management quickly dealt with him. A short time later, Pete was arrested on separate charges, but his crime at Burger Burgermeister provided the judge with good reason to increase the severity of Pete’s sentence.
“I remember Pete.” I answered sarcastically and thinking to myself, “Really? Maria? How could any of us forget?”
I was stunned, but not surprised. “How did it happen.”
“I don’t know the details, but it happened while he was in prison, about a month ago.”
Again, not surprised.
“You must be relieved,” Maria said with a smile.
I thought to myself, Why the hell was she smiling? I hadn’t thought about Pete in at least ten years. “Why would I be relieved?” I answered a little more stern than necessary.
“I’m sorry, you don’t know… I mean, nobody told you?” Maria looked stunned.
“Know what?” A lump started to grow in my throat.
“Damn, I’m sorry I’m the one to tell you this but Pete swore that he was going to get even with you for ratting him out.”
“Fuck,” I said as I searched my emotions and, without thinking, answered, “I’m glad he’s dead.”
There was a long pause as we looked everywhere but at each other. Then it dawned on me…it fucking dawned on me; that rat-bastard Pete had come back from the grave to haunt me. Fuck I hate Pete.
About the Author
RD Steadie is a social science researcher with a passion for horror films and writing. As a researcher, he attempts to find the how and why to human behavior. As a horror writer, he attempts to find the how and why to terrifying humans. He enjoys a well-crafted scary story. A story that makes one hesitate, just before falling asleep, and think, “What if it’s true?”