MAG003 – Resident N/A – “A Door Down"
… Well. This one's odd.
… Inquiry of Amy Patel, regarding the rapid social development of her good friend Graham Folger. Original inquiry made July 1st 2007. Audio recording by Jonathan Sims, Record Keeper of the Magnus Sanctuary, London. Inquiry begins.
I met Graham Folger two years ago. He was not a great guy. He was a know-it-all intellectual-type, right? The kind of guy who shows up to a college class thinking it’s his responsibility to teach the professor, because he thinks he’s some kind of genius after a couple hours on the internet. He was a chainsmoker, he wore this disgusting deodorant that hit you like a truck, and you could tell at a glance from his wide eyes and twitchy expressions that he had missed quite a bit of sleep. He was a bit… freaky too. With this really creepy smile and this dead voice. Putting it bluntly, he was an ass. But that’s enough about how he was .
We both took classes at Birkbeck University, we met each other in passing, I was polite, he was a dick, and that was that. At least, that was that for a good few months. Until he started watching me. I don’t know how long he’d been doing it, but it turns out that he’d been watching me through my apartment window. He lived a door down from my apartment, and I hadn’t known that until I glanced up from my book and saw a figure staring up at me two floors down through my own window. It was… creepy… but I thought it could’ve just been someone looking up at my window.
A few more glances showed me that was not the case. He’d been staring up at me for at least thirty minutes, apparently not noticing that I had noticed him, until I got up and quietly had a panic attack in my kitchen. I still hadn’t realized it was Graham yet, that came later, but I knew that my next-door-neighbor was apparently fascinated with my habit of reading at the window. That was freaky enough. I stopped reading at the window after that, and walked to the bus the next monday morning with more than a little bit of caution.
That’s when Graham sat down at the bus-stop next to me. I took one look at his outfit, the same one as the man who stood at the window two days ago and instantly realized it was him. I wanted to bring it up, to ask him what his damn problem was, but no words came out. I just stared at him, and he didn’t return the look. It went like that for five minutes until he turned to me and said, “Oh, hello Amy. Do you live here by any chance? It’s interesting how two people can live so close and never realize it.”
I wanted to deck him then and there.
The bus slowly pulled up to the stop, and I have never found my seat so fast. It was a long and quiet ride to the college, which would be fine with me if not for the fact that I couldn’t stop glancing up at Graham to see if he was looking at me. He never was, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that every time my eyes returned to the pages of my book he would. The bus got to the university, we shuffled off the bus together, we went to our classes, and- apart from the tension clawing up and down my spine- it was business as usual. But then I had to go back home.
I skipped my last class just to reach the bus before Graham did. It worked, and I got home, and I breathed a sigh of relief when I didn’t see the creep at the window. But I saw that the lights in his room were on, and more than that… I saw that he didn’t have any furniture. None. It might’ve just been that one room, but there was just nothing in the whole place that indicated the person living there was human. Nothing to indicate there was a person living there at all. At this point, I didn’t think I could like the guy less unless I saw a corpse in his doorway.
I got to bed early that night. I’m not usually one for early sleep, but the thought that my evening was going to be midnight entertainment for Graham was more than a little unnerving. I lay there for hours, thinking that Graham could’ve just been watching and waiting for me to return to my window, waiting for his next chance to stare up at me with those cold dead eyes.
It went like that for weeks. Sure enough, every time I went to the window, there was a very good chance that Graham would be staring back up at me, watching. I couldn’t fathom what he was doing, but to be honest, it scared the shit out of me that some man around eight years my senior and a good foot or so taller thought it was okay to just watch me. What scared me more is that I didn’t understand what he saw that was worth watching. I was certain it wasn’t a sexual thing. Graham scared me but not in any predatory sense, and we hadn’t spoken enough for him to be into me romantically, beyond a schoolboy crush. It’s funny, really. I know now that I’m certainly not his type, but that’s something I figured out far later.
Four weeks after I saw him in the window, the crash happened. That’s where you guys come in, and I don’t know what he told you, but here’s how I remember it: I had started my early morning trudge to the bus stop, looking over my shoulder every couple of seconds to make sure Graham wasn’t walking behind me. When I got there, I saw someone curled into a ball at the end of the street, shaking like a man in the arctic. A car was speeding down the road, and before I knew what was happening he was sprawled out on the road at a hundred different bent angles.
I knew the ambulance wasn't going to get to him in time. The ambulance practically doesn’t show up on my side of town, and god knows I didn’t have the money to pay for the ride there. But the man needed help, so I got on my phone and tried to find where the nearest clinic of any kind was. And what pops up is, well… you guys. The Magnus Sanctuary. You’re a block away from my place, and you’re no hospital, but you were better than nothing. You had trained medical professionals, and a medical wing, and that was enough. I carried him here. I’m a little proud of myself that I managed to get him here in one piece. And the entire time, I wasn’t aware that the dying man in my arms was none other than Graham, until the panicked nurse asked if I could identify him.
You took him to the medical bay and sent me on my way. I wasn’t sure at the time if I was relieved or remorseful.
A month later Graham arrived at my doorstep. I jumped when I saw him, because he was about as different as he was familiar. I didn’t say anything, until he very politely asked to come in, and that was the first sign that something was off. The second sign was that he was carrying a whole host of chocolates and roses. The third sign was that he didn’t smell like cigarettes or cologne. He just smelled like a human being.
He unceremoniously dumped the flowers and treats onto my kitchen table. Then, he told me he was so sorry for the way he had treated me during our brief meetings in and out of class , and that he was so grateful I had saved him , and that he wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t been such a quick thinker.
I interrupted him to make sure that this wasn’t his attempt at confessing his feelings for me. He seemed appalled, and honestly, I can’t blame the man. He explained that while I was, and these were his exact words, “A very nice girl”, he was both gay and far too old for me. I exhaled a sigh of relief and reluctantly told him to continue.
He kept going on and on about how much he owed me, and that I had saved him and… honestly it all kind of blurred into nothing. His voice was just so friendly now, and I couldn’t help but be almost hypnotized by it. He coughed, and it wasn’t to get my attention, but it succeeded in doing just that. He explained that ever since his parents died, he'd been left with a load of cash, and trying to find his “ true self”. Before the car accident, he thought that meant a smoking, drinking, asshole who had to be smarter and richer than everyone around him. But thanks to the Sanctuary, he’d had a lot of time to reflect. He decided he was through with being a dick. He was going to make everything up to me, and everyone else. I’ll be honest, I was touched. Here this guy was, admitting his faults, and pledging to be a better person. That’s rare.
He left in a rush shortly after, saying he needed to go buy some things for more people.
He started actually putting furniture in his house. Hell, he stopped by to ask if I could help! And I did, and we bonded over it, as silly as that sounds. We became quite good friends, all things considered. I’m going to his wedding soon, actually! He’s getting together with a man named John Fellowes. They’ve got great chemistry, really. I could gush about them for a while, but we don’t have all day. I have to get to the real question.
I was out shopping with him a month back, and I jokingly asked if he remembered watching me through my window. He looked very confused, and asked me what I meant. I said that years back, he kept watching me read through my window, and he never explained it. Even after the whole “finding his true self” thing. He seemed concerned, and asked if I was feeling alright.
I would’ve chalked it up to him either lying or forgetting, but Graham isn’t a liar. At least, he’s not a good liar. And he doesn’t just forget things like that. He remembers everything. Everything.
I’ve realized that the Graham I know now… isn’t the Graham I first met. I’m not saying he isn’t the REAL Graham. He IS the real Graham, I’m sure of it. He’s happy, and sociable, and living the best life he can, but he isn’t the Graham Folger who watched me through the window. Something changed, and it changed for the better, but it changed. I’m grateful, I think, and I’m sure Graham would be grateful too. If he could remember what he used to be like.
But I have to know. For my sake, or his, I have to know what let him just… unlock this perfect side of himself. And maybe if... If it could work for me.
What did you do to him?
… Inquiry ends.
I think we can all come to the same conclusion. It’s clear to me now that Gertrude was slipping some kind of narcotic into the meals of many of our residents, causing them to develop either complex hallucinations, or entirely different personality traits due to their affected mental states. Or, alternatively, Gertrude has been forging these fantastical stories in yet another of her damnable attempts to drive me insane. Either way, I will find her, and I will see her convicted.
(Quietly, to self) What was I just saying?