Deserted Suburbia, Part 3

The old man was gone.

I jumped to my feet an examined the floor, fearing that the old man had been startled and fallen to injure himself, but he was not sprawled on the ground. I had not heard a sound during the darkness, and had serious doubts that he could move so quickly and quietly past me in such a short time span. Then I heard a creaking of the ceiling directly above me.

“Hello?” I called as I fumbled my way through the dark hallway. I found a light switch at the base of the stairs. “Hello Mister?” I called again, feeling foolish that I never even asked his name.

I ascended the steps, the groaning stairs beneath me anything but reassuring.

At the top of the flight was a small landing with a blue rug and an unlit lamp sitting atop a side-table. I clicked the switch on and illuminated the hallway. I saw three doors before me: two closed and one cracked open to my left. The light from the hall cast a long shadow into the opening and a strange shape came into view.

Slowly I approached and pushed open the door, bringing to light the object on the floor.

It was the body of the old man, still, decomposing, and clearly dead for some time. I gasped in shock as I tried to arrive at a logical explanation, the favorite gears of my mind spinning without gaining any traction. Then I saw it—the evidence, in no way reassuring to a rational mind, but still providing me with an understanding of when and how he had met his fate.

It was a woven-leather belt wrapped tightly around his neck.