I woke to the sound of the third floorboard from the bed groaning its displeasure for being distrubed before first light. Deep in winter, it would remain surly till well past 9:00. A whiff of iron, terror, and sweat crinkled my nose. I threw the deflated feather pillow I had been drooling on over my eyes in protest.
“Morning, Wendi.” came my grunted salutation.
The frame of the bunk groaned trying to support the weight of my flatmate while light the color of laundry rinse water seeped through the curtains. It appeared to be a little before 7:00.
“Eventful night? I never thought there was much to do in this town on a Tuesday.”
My only response was the sound of the awl picking dinner's gristle from rows of teeth. Movement from the foot of the bed above caught the corner of my eye as I glimpsed toes no manicurist could ever charge enough to make sandal ready.
“Plucky as ever. Don’t ever change, you mythical creature you.”
Her wordless belch in reply snatched the lingering tendrils of sleep like a slave’s manticle, propelling me through empty space towards the door. Air the temperature of Mengele's empathy assaulted my naked form, and I cursed. Nerves alive and sleep’s sand gritty in my eyes, I whirled around in time to see the covers of the top bunk sliding to rest, obscuring all but the last tufts of tousled hair. The sound they made was part sickly viscous like blankets through warm tapioca, part tearing. The mattress was precariously bowed above where my sleeping form had just been resting.
“Next time I ask for a wake up call from the front desk, I’ll remember to be more specific.”
As I turned, still looking back, I stumbled over a man’s shoe, with an ankle and bloodied athletic sock stubbornly protruding from it. Before breakfast, and here I was staring at shock white bone, still congealing clots, and the spoils of last night’s festivities. Morbidly, I thought, this poor schlub would have the worst walk of shame imaginable.
“God dammit Wendy! Leave your snacks in the kitchen. We’ll get bugs in here again! Pretty sure the last excuse for the maggots in the den I gave the landlord is reason enough to have us evicted!”
No answer. I hurled the shoe at my best approximation of her head and stomped off to the bathroom to bleach my sinuses and run the tenement’s hot water heater dry. Only on the internet would a Wendigo answer my ad for a roommate. Only in my world would that seem perfectly reasonable.