You wake up Monday, 05:30, in your apartment. First day of work as a caretaker. In a huge Soviet era flat. Instructions await in your little office, or the "boss" calls for further directions once in a while. You mob floors, repaint a wall, fix the elevator or bring packages to one of the many addresses inside the building.
Occasionally you clean up litter. But… who’s littering? Days are passing, but you never ever saw someone in that gigantic flat. No voices, no persons. The boss won’t show up either, and kind of dodges your concerned questions about the inhabitants. Or for example… where the exit door is. Clearly something isn’t natural about this place. At your spare time, when no one is looking, you explore the doors where you shouldn’t be…
Is that all? Yes, I'm afraid every other detail will be a spoiler. I can give a few more clues though:
- No base floor
- No roof
- No exit
- No boss, though he seems to know every step you take
- No inhabitants
- Strange humanoid creatures on the other hand...
- Want to get out, but how?
- What is wrong and what is right?
Day 7, Sunday 05:01 AM
Didn't forget to turn off the alarm, but I woke up anyway. Normally I would feel relieved and turn around with a little smile. “Just a mistake, it's weekend", that wonderful feeling. But I stood up and left bed. Sleeping here doesn't feel comfortable. There is no light in the bedroom, it's warm, moist, oppressive. Even after a week the whole apartment still feels strange. Not hostile, but certainly not like home either.
Weekend, Sunday, my day off. Maybe some relaxation will break the tension. Not that my new job has been hard on me though. Mopping some floors, painting a wall, replacing a light bulb, locking the hall doors at 23:00. Or delivering post. As a caretaker of this building, I make long days, but there is no pressure. So far I haven't seen a chief or boss anywhere. Only a few instruction letters and a couple of calls from the... boss. Don't know his name really.
Thinking about it, I haven't seen a single soul the entire week at all. No co-workers, no residents. No elevators going up or down. No one looking in his mailbox, no one going to work. Nobody. The apartment at the right from me seems to be uninhabited. And the apartment on the left... well there is none. There is no door where it's supposed to be.
Now maybe my floor just isn't really occupied. I haven't been at the lower floors yet. There should be a few shops and small restaurants there. Yet, strange enough I smell, see and even hear traces of life. No matter how many times I clean up, there is new litter every day. In my own hall, the "old woman" painting has been replaced with a windmill. And even my own mailbox gets filled by... some one. But more than that, I can hear them. Television shows behind locked doors, gramophone music, whistling kettles, creaking pipes, footsteps. Ironically, all the silence makes you hear the smallest details, giving a whole new world of noise.
Yes I could use some distraction before I start seeing things. A walk in the park maybe. If there is one nearby. Didn't have a proper look from my balcony yet, but I can't see the streets. Too dark and too much fog this autumn. To be honest, I have no idea how high I really am. The stairway shows a number '1' at my floor, but two floors lower it's number '12' again. All I can see from here are the upper-floors and rooftops of other apartment blocks. And come to think of it, I haven't seen much of living there either. As I write, I'm looking right now through the kitchen window. The only lights that shine in that building across are the cheap corridor chandeliers...
Then again, it's Sunday 05:12 right now.
For some reason, I can't recall how this flat -number '22'- looks from the outside. It feels as I've been working here all my life really... But judging from the interior, my guess is that the building looks pretty much the same as the other gray concrete monsters around here, except that it's a lot taller. Don't know the exact height, neither when this block was built. Probably somewhere in the late fifties. Although some parts here look a lot older already. But that just might be deferred maintenance as well.
Just like other buildings, it has a few elevators, a stairhouse, and endless corridors. Dark, old, corridors with countless doors. Closed, unnumbered anonymous doors, telling nothing about who might live there. The wallpaper and paintwork can be peeled off just by looking at it. Bugs found their way in the little holes and gaps. Some ceilings were left unfinished, revealing the rusty beating pipes and electric wires above them. Not uncommon either, the building has a couple of shared facilities here and there. Such as a laundry, or showers and toilets for the apartments that aren't connected to the water.
The same goes for the apartment interiors. We all share the same collections of furniture, thin mattress beds and kitchen sets. Some bright plastic utilities, flower curtains and small cheap decorations to add a little bit happiness to the otherwise depressing, pre-fabricated rooms. The apartments just do what they have to do: provide shelter and warmth for the cold winters.
Though I must say there are some impressive halls and wall paintings scattered around the building. Ones you would find in a church, or stately building. Who would have made them? I can't imagine they were part of the original design for a building like this.
When thinking about it, I noticed more and more uncommon details. For one thing, many of the windows are barricaded or just not there. It's hard to get a glimpse on the world outside here. Another thing that strikes me is the unusual floor lay-out. You would expect the elevators, central stairs and main corridors to connect all the apartments in a logical manner. But from what I have seen so far, not a single floor looked the same. Elevators aren't working or only bring you at a few locations. Stairs just stop at some point, and the hallways are mangled like a maze. Clearly the architect didn't follow his study here, where simplicity and efficiency are basic construction fundaments.
My work brings me at places where a normal person wouldn't or shouldn't come. Such as maintenance area's or ducts. With such 'privileges', one would think I could dream this building by now. But I feel there is a whole other world behind the locked doors, service ladders and twisted hidden shafts. In fact, in combination with the absence of anything alive except the crawling bugs so far, I'm feeling... claustrophobic. Scared actually.
I asked for a map, a layout of the building. But apparently, there is none. Again the Boss didn't really answer my request. Just a vague reply. Words like "The doors will lead your way, or block your way where you are not supposed to come.". Guess I'll have to make a map and notes myself on a piece of paper. Before I get lost some day.