He rose from his chair and walked towards the couch. There was no point about keep sitting at the table. The cat paced back and forth while looking at him. He sat on the edge with his back straight and lit a cigarette. He thought of the girl, the one who was looking at him through the entrance during his dream. Then he thought of the other, the one on the bus, the flesh and blood one, the one who gave him so much love in so little time with that simple but intense look. Were they the same girl? Neither did he know at the time or by then. And after the dream he had often wondered whether she would be just a product of his desires and his fragile mental situation, but whatever she was, the girl in the dream began to grow more real inside his mind since then, even if he did not know how much she would the morning after his first dream.
(read the first part of this tale here)
The next afternoon, after his lessons, he took the same bus willing to spend his second afternoon studying in his aunt´s apartment. While standing on the bus he remembered his dream, and began to peek between the faces of the other passengers to see if the beautiful brunette dark-eyed girl who had got off at the same stop that day was back there. But he did not see her. Since that day, every single time he got on the bus he did the same, but always with the same result. Somehow disappointed, he turned his head to look, seeing nothing really, the streets through the windows, but at that moment, while wielding in his ramblings, he was surprised to be aware that, since the moment he had had that strange dream, he had not had any more thoughts about his problems.
When he reached the block and saw the tree some images from his dream came back to his head again, but that afternoon the sun shone in all its glory and the atmosphere was different, so he felt no uneasiness. He entered the doorway and went up the three stories to quickly get to the dark landing, but there, suddenly, he heard a faint sound right behind him. At first he turned startled, peering into the shadows. It was the first time he clearly felt that feeling on the landing. There was a strange, tense atmosphere he had only intuited for a few seconds the first day. Now it was clear that someone was stalking him from somewhere, but there was no one, he saw nothing, and could only hear the constant howling of the wind through the corridors of the building. Meanwhile, the door of the opposite apartment seemed to give back his own astonishment from its peephole. There was anybody on the other side? For a moment he imagined himself being seen through the peephole, his eyes wide open, with a tense and bewildered face, screening the shadows. Then he tried to imagine who could be on the other side, looking through the peephole, who or what was behind the door. He began to approach … and the same noise happened again.
He looked down. The beautiful cat he met the other day had her head shyly peeked above the steps of the staircase. Her eyes were fixed on him with interest. He was relieved, and called her as she came gentle to his pets. He decided that, whatever happened, this time he would let her in. He wanted to enjoy her company. So after entering and serving her both some water and a few biscuits he found lost in the bottom of a cupboard, he laid on the couch with the cat in his lap to silently meditate about his own issues. Despite all those things that were beginning to distract him still he felt bad, and whenever he relaxed he could not help but falling in thoughts plagued with bad memories and a disturbing anxiety. After a while he woke up, leaving behind the sleeping curled cat, sat in front of the board and began studying his notes. He studied until dark, lit the lamp and continued, but the more he wanted to concentrate the more he wandered again, until he found himself fantasizing. That is how he spent the time that afternoon, bored and lost in his own affairs.
Suddenly the cat, already awake, quietly having got closer to him, suddenly jumped and landed on the table among his notes. That made him squirm startled, but when he looked up his heart suddenly stopped, because he found himself facing the face of the girl of his dream, the same girl he dreamed of, who was staring at him from the other side of the window. Her white skin surrounded by a black and shiny-as-a-raven hair seemed to glow, and her huge piercing dark eyes were devouring him, eagerly, lit in an indecipherable expression of disturbing thrill and excitement, almost close to pure alarm. After a second, which seemed to last an hour, the face faded, and the window glass reflected only his stunned face and, behind, the night and the streets, with the looming tree in the middle, and nothing else.
That same night, when it was time to go bed, back home, he still could see that face in the dark. He had left the apartment shortly after, shocked. The cat had followed him and had remained impassive watching him through the windows at the entrance. When he had walked a few steps and turned to see her he thought he had seen for a second, at her side in the shadows, the girl’s face, looking earnestly again, not knowing whether he had re-evoked her from his own imagination. But how could he know what it was? How could he know since then? He had seen her once already. Why not twice? And how many more? Would it happen to him again? Endless fears raced through his head. Was he going mad or it had been just a bad move from his over-excited imagination? But above all that was her expression, that indescribably disturbing and eager expression of morbid frenzy that beautiful but disturbing face was looking at him, which did not let him sleep till it was morning.
Now, sitting on the couch while consuming his cigarette with paused puffs he thought about her. He recalled that face that had terrified him so much that night. If he had known what was about to happen next he would not have been afraid of her face, but then, that night, went bed scared, and rightly so. Even now, remembering that haggard expression, he still felt shivering, despite what he was about to witness later. But even then, sitting on the couch, and after all that had happened, he was still experiencing the same fears. Had he really gone crazy? Was it all a matter of his imagination? Would everything that happened that come next ever happened if he had decided not to return to that floor anymore?
Then the supernatural began. The next day he returned to the apartment despite the experiences of the previous day. His mood was strange. That face had scared him, but it was the same girl he had seen in his dream, the young girl of intense and deep look. Even in that vision, and despite her morbid expression, it was obvious that she was an incredibly beautiful being. And she looked so much like that angelic girl who looked at him so tenderly on the bus… Strange thoughts boiled in his mind about her: her alleged nature could not be evil, he said, and if he was about to see her again, he did not know why, he was sure he would experience a different reaction. Also, in case all that was just his fantasy then why should he worry? Was not his life uncomfortable enough? Lets go with the fantasies, he thought, for he preferred them to his sad reality. If it turned out that place exerted a pernicious suggestion on his brain there would be always time to decide not to go back there. So far he would go, at least for another day.
And so, once again, after crossing the dark bowels of the building he felt the strange sensation when he was on the landing. Again there was something there, an unusually oppressive aura that seemed to emanate from the apartment next door. But the cat soon appeared down the stairs, dispelling that atmosphere, and when the two were comfortably settled into the apartment everything was fine. That evening had bought food expressly for both of them and they ate together. Then they laid on the couch, as usual, and in the midst of the prevailing peace and quiet and after a night almost without sleep, he finally surrounded to Morpheus, and this time both of them, cat and man, dozed together on that sofa.
Then he had his second dream, more a delirium than a dream: He was lying on that sofa, already awake, thinking up, and believing everything was real. The cat was lying at his feet. Suddenly he heard a door opening, the apartment door, the cat sat up and ran to hide in a corner, and he incorporated trying to look into the hall. Then he petrified, for he saw the girl from his dream appear in the doorway, crossing the threshold and entering the room. Far from having a frightening expression, as in the previous occasion, her face radiated sweetness and calm. Her piercing eyes were huge and looked kind, and her perfect mouth smiled deliciously revealing a row of small and harmless white teeth. Her hair, dark and bright as the plumage of a raven, fell full length looped on her delicate shoulders. She wore a long, silky black dress that waved and whispered while she was walking on the floor of the lounge, from which folds a delicate, beautiful and sensual figure could be guessed. She walked over to the couch and stood there looking at him with an incredibly sincere tenderness. But suddenly, just as he was feeling wonder and joy, he began to choke. Suddenly he could not breathe, did not know why, but choked. He began to struggle desperately. Then the girl’s face changed, and was filled with a deep sadness. Tears came to her eyes and began to mourn, and while she held his hand she began to say softly: <Be quiet, relax>. But he was suffocating, he was about to faint. And she, heartbroken and shed tears, released his hand, and while looking at him for a last time she ran away toward the door. Then he woke up.
He had slept face down and was suffocating himself against the couch. He woke up quickly, gasping for air in the middle of the dark room. It was already night and he had not lit any light. He breathed deeply just to realize with alarm that he was really struggling for catching his breath. Not only was the agitation, he had been a long time without breathing. He looked around in the shadows. No sign of the girl, obviously. However, a convulsion ran through his body when he saw a couple of sparkling eyes looking at him from the other side of the room, shining in the dark. He almost collapsed before realizing those were the eyes of the cat, who was quietly approaching him. He switched on a light, let her come closer and already with his feline on his arms and seeing everything clearly he could relax.
He drained the remains of his cigarette and then hit it on the ashtray he had placed at the foot of the couch. The cat did not seem to enjoy the smell, and she walked away to look around another room. After having had that second dream it was much more understandable, he thought now, that he had returned to the apartment again and again. Since then, and until that day, day after day and night after night, the everyday reality of his life hopelessly faded away to be replaced by this monomania in which she, the girl of his dreams, was the undisputed protagonist.
The days were gone as he started visiting the apartment every afternoon. He usually arrived by bus right after his lessons, still on daylight. He entered the building leaving behind the aberrant tree always guarding in the middle of the street, crossed the sinister corridors of the building and waited in the disturbing hallway for his cat to come. Every day it became more and more difficult to wait there because the atmosphere became increasingly oppressive, and he started feeling it as the prelude to a formless fatality. Besides, he always felt the lurking feeling that someone was eagerly looking at him from the other side of the door. But the cat always arrived and they ended up entering into the apartment. Then he spent the whole day there. He barely studied, most of the time he just brooded over things. Then he departed to his home at dawn, and the cat used to see him off from the dark entrance as he walked away.
The hours he spent there began to be plagued by strange events at an increasingly frenetic pace. One afternoon he was sure something was going to happen again. And so it was. Once he tried to focus on his notes the girl’s face appeared on the windows not once but several times, always looking at him with sweetness and mischief, as clearly as the first time. At first he was frightened, wondering again whether he was going nuts, whether he could really see that face or it was all his imagination. But he decided it was probably mere chimeras, since he was always distracted while trying to study on that table, and since that dream his fantasies often had both the face and the voice of the girl on his dream, so in the end he finished not giving too much importance to it and accepting it as something normal. Since then it just kept happening.
A different afternoon, while studying by strolling around the room, he suddenly felt a stinging in his leg, and while leaning against the wall to scratch it suddenly noticed a muffled rumour of movements on the other side of the wall, from the apartment next door. Someone was moving from one place to another barefoot, making little noises and giving careful and nimble steps. Sometimes the steps moved away from the wall, sometimes they approached. It was the first time he noticed a presence from the other side of the wall. He had never seen or heard any neighbour in that building, and not only that, but it was the apartment next door, the apartment with the door from which he always thought he noticed someone looking at him. The same experience took place several times, the steps clearly seemed to him those of a young woman, and that woman quickly took the form of beautiful young woman with deep dark eyes and black hair in his imagination… He spent hours listening absorbed, while imaging her moving around, with the face and figure of the girl of his dream.
One evening he noticed something amazing: he had come to feel that presence across so clearly it seemed as if he was somehow connected to it, as he sensed it moving before even hearing her footsteps. What is more, he was surprised when he realized that, whoever it was, it was unmistakably playing with him. The small steps approached the wall in a sprint. He did the same without worrying about not making noise. Then on the other side, whenever whoever sensed his presence, vague tapping could be heard on the wall, as if someone drummed with her fingers rhythmically, and after a while the steps sounded again as they walked away. In this strange game he was entertained for hours, unable to contain himself.
He began to feel an enormous desire to knock that door, to reach out and ring the bell, but shame and the unnatural enmity that door exhaled stopped him. Besides, that was only fooling around, and who was on the other side actually? How could he suddenly get there? Did he expect it to be the girl of his fantasies? What did it matter anyways? If indeed he chose to go he would go later if those games continued.
And they continued. Furthermore, he could finally hear the voice of someone from the other side. Indeed those were only stifled laughter, young woman delicious and playful laughter, escaping from whoever was on the other side, playing with him, but only by hearing them he recalled the voice he had heard in his dream, her voice, the voice of the girl with deep eyes, telling him “be quiet, relax” as he was suffocating.
While all this was happening the cat paced back and forth across the apartment at her ease, sometimes drinking water, sometimes dozing, sometimes playing with him or asking for food.
His old problems seemed to shrink as the apartment absorbed everything. He himself began to behave like some lunatic convalescing from an unhealthy obsession. The change wrought within him was clear: he was increasingly preoccupied and taciturn, increasingly restless, and constantly prisoner of a strange agitation. There was no aunt, there was no family, and there were no university or exams, or indifference, even friends. There was only one apartment with a disturbing landing; a black cat and an angelic ghost visiting him sometimes when the real world and the dream mingled. And someone playing with him on the other side of the wall, and if she was not, at least in his mind she was the very same girl who appeared on his dreams.
He occasionally reflected gripped by a deep fear. The questions about his own sanity were not new of him, but in the midst of those events were temporarily silenced. However, in brief flashes of clairvoyance they raised with all their rawness. It was obvious that those events had begun to overrun him. This was not regaining control of his own life, as he proposed himself in those previous days of erratic and disturbing apathy. It was like a constant reverie. Had he really gone mad? Was he obsessed? Everything could well be due to the girl on the bus. The human mind, especially when need to get some incentive to bear some burden, often uses mysterious ways and twisted paths. Was he dominated by some strange mental illness? Had he really seen and heard what he thought he had seen and heard? And if so, if indeed all that could possibly be “real”, then the most disturbing question of all was: what was all that and who was she? What was going on in that apartment, who was on the other side of the wall?
But those questions, rational questions, were immediately relegated to the background of his mind. Her angelic face kept appearing from time to time, reflected on the windows or floating in the air. He kept dreaming about her, short dreams; only single images, not as before. They spoke, whispering things he could not recall, but her voice stayed in his head. And those romps, beatings, runs and giggles across the wall continued, so most of the time he simply let himself to be carried along, intoxicated by that absurd and magical nonsense, happily nonetheless.
(read the third part of this tale here)
(lee este relato en español aquí)