You’re a student even after you finish your education, living isn’t cheap and you aim to get by with as little expenses as possible. So I found myself two new roommates, Joshua and Chris, and we rented an old apartment in a poorer part of the city. It was on the third floor of the building, it had a room for each of us, plus a living room, a kitchen, and a bathroom. A nice addition was that it had a small balcony, though there wasn’t much of a view from it as a very tall and broad oak tree was situated in front of it.
Thing went well for the first few weeks, the living conditions were good, the job wasn’t horrid and the payment was decent. There was even a non-working holiday which gave us a prolonged weekend and I decided to head back home and spend those days with my family. Or at least I thought I will. On Sunday I got a call from Chris, who wanted to make sure I heard the news from him — Joshua was dead. There is no right way for delivering news as those, especially if you’re going to say it was a suicide, as this appeared to the case.
I couldn’t sleep that night. Who could, in a similar situation? I may not have known him that long, but he had never shown any signs of being unhappy or that he had trouble. As earliest as I could in the morning I went back to the apartment. Chris was there, but he looked even worse than me, his face was as pale as marble and he had a troubled look. That could not be solely from lack of sleep. Unfortunately, I was correct in my assumption. He thought the police are passing it off as a suicide but to him it looked like a murder.
He was the one who found the crime scene. He went to get food, and upon his return he found Joshua in the yard, body broken in a thousand pieces and blood splattered everywhere. After calling the police, even though panicking he spent a few moments examining the place. There was blood where the body was lying, that would have been expected, but there it also everywhere nearby on the ground and even some on the building. He thought it didn’t look like the body was dragged around either, it looked like it was thrown around. Chris wasn’t pale because of lack of sleep; he was pale because of what he had witnessed.
At first I thought the shock had done its job and he was exaggerating the details unintentionally. But I went outside and there was blood on the side of the building. The ground looked clear, whatever the cops did overnight they must have cleared that somehow, but the side of the building still showed evidence from the crime. That’s not the worst part, after turning around I noticed blood on another place — the huge old oak tree. Someone clearly attempted to clean it off, but between the barks the red color was still running. It was a horrid sight that forces your mind to imagine what happened here. I was failing at that but it didn’t help with feeling bad.
As I was getting back to the apartment I noticed someone leaving. Chris explained it was a neighbor from the top floor; we had never seen him before because he avoided walking around and preferred staying closed in. Apparently he offered Chris his condolences and told him that he too had experienced something similar, his wife died two years back and the case was also closed as a suicide. Not only that, but over the last two years the man had learned that several tenants had died in the same manner since the building was constructed, and there were other killings near the buildings — in all of those the cases were closed off as suicides or were never truly resolved.
We were enraged, but that rage was engulfed with fear. We didn’t know what exactly had happened or why for that matter, but we did know it was no suicide and it seemed clear the authorities are ignoring it or avoiding it. It may need digging deeper, it may need a lot of effort and courage if we ever feel capable of following up on what happened. One thing was clear to both of us, we could not be spending a day more in this place where each look outside the window would remind us of what had happened to Joshua. We packed our bags that same day and went out to look for a new place.
As I was walking away from the building I threw one last glance at it. The huge oak tree stood out among all things, now all red and creepy. At that moment, in that specific light, it seemed like the blood had formed a face on it. A face with a grotesque and maniacal red smile on it.