Affordable Housing

Althea crept from the family crypt just before sunrise, dressed in business casual, she carried a briefcase and lunchbag. She wore tennis shoes with her skirt and blouse, and slipped through a gap in the fence to catch the bus to work.

On the bus, she relaxed. Affordable apartments were getting harder and harder to find, and one day, after she'd gone to the crypt to check on its upkeep, it dawned on her that it was larger than her current apartment, and she already owned it, sort of.

At the end of the day, she went to the mall, to hang out, avoid security guards and eat dinner. Once it was dark, she'd slip through the fence, sneak to the crypt and slide in. She'd managed to slip some solar panels on the roof of the crypt, wiring them to a makeshift outlet inside, so she could charge her phone and have a very dim lamp. She mostly read on her phone anyway. She watched TV on her phone, as well, under her blankets with earbuds so as not to give herself away with sound. A couple mornings a week, she'd go to her gym to shower. Other nights, she'd sponge bath in the cemetery's fountain.

Once full dark fell, she bussed out to the cemetery, and slipped through the fence. Tired, so tired, she staggered to her crypt. Just before she made the door, someone grabbed her by the arm, and jerked her off to the side. She opened her mouth to scream, and a hand shoved garlic bulbs into it, shoving her to the ground. Spitting out garlic, she tried to scramble back, staring up at the figure in the balaclava.

As she stared up in horror at the wooden stake descending toward her, a piece of the night detached itself, and grabbed the figure, snapping its neck with an audible crack.

"You ok?"

Althea looked up at the pale face of the young man in front of her. He looked young. So young, but he'd taken out her assailant. She nodded.

"I'm Thomas. Hi. I saw you'd moved in, but I didn't want to frighten you." He smiled, closed lipped. "I should, um, get rid of this guy before there's questions. You gonna be ok?"

"Yeah." Althea nodded.

"Great. Just, I want to let you know, I'll look out for you. It's kind of nice to have someone around, you know." He smiled, again close-lipped, and swirled into a black mist, taking the dead man with him.

Althea got up, dusted herself off, and slipped inside the crypt.

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