“…first and last month’s rent, the deposit, and I’ll even waive the credit check.”
“Why’s the rent so cheap? $500 a month? That’s… kind of insane.”
The landlord nodded towards the bedroom. “Go look in the master bath.”
Marcie wondered what the hell that meant but okay… she made her way through the amazingly spacious, freshly painted and carpeted, one-bedroom apartment.
The master bath held an ugly surprise.
Within the bathtub was a bloated corpse floating in green-tinged water lapping at the edge of the tub. Clearly, it had been there for days.
It was hard to say for certain but it appeared to be an old man with long, thin, grey hair splayed in a halo around ancient features. The eyes were closed, the mouth slack, a glimpse of tobacco yellowed teeth, greyish swollen tongue, razor stubble. Old man tits, bloated beer-gut stretched tight by internal gases, and yep… below that a penis floating there, just breaking the surface of the water.
That was enough. Marcie closed her eyes tightly, heart hammering. Reopened them… the corpse was still there, gently bobbing in its greenish soup.
“It’s mostly harmless,” the landlord whispered from behind Marcie. She jumped.
“What… what is… what–”
The landlord shook her head. “Nobody knows. It’s been here forever, never changing, never decaying. I took over the property twelve years ago and the previous owner said it’d been here when he bought the place…”
“There’s no smell.”
“Right. We think it’s a visual phenomenon of sorts,” the landlord whispered. “A kind of shared hallucination. Except… you can touch it if you want. People say it’s cold and wet to the touch, and–”
“500 bucks a month?”
It’s weird how quickly you could get used to an idea. Marcie thought rapidly… she could take showers at the gym, and so long as the uh, thing didn’t mind she could brush her teeth and use the toilet in its presence. Keeping her eyes closed, maybe.
$500 was literally a third of her housing budget. With an extra $1000 a month she could… shit, she could afford a car!
Marcie had lived with terrible roommates before. She could do this.
“I’ll take it,” she heard herself saying.
“Excellent,” the landlord said, pulling Marcie out of the bathroom gently by an elbow, steering her to the kitchen where paperwork awaited signatures.
Afterwards, Marcie received a set of keys for the apartment, the laundry rooms, the pool & rec center. They shook hands, and the landlord turned to leave. Paused in the open door, turned back to Marcie.
“Oh, one more thing… be sure to lock the bathroom door at night before you go to sleep. There’s a, a deadbolt.“
The landlord paused a moment, nodded, then closed the door behind her.