Contributor: Matt Shaner

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The apartment building is three floors, a converted house next to a river. The storm started the day before and now the four of us sit in my living room. Rain still hammers the windows. I’ve spread four candles in the corners with the remaining light coming from a pair of cigarettes. We lost power two hours ago. The smoke hangs in the room since I can’t open the windows. Lightening punctuates our sentences.
“This is shit,” the girl says. She’s just out of college, blonde, wearing a sweatshirt and shorts. “I’m losing sleep.” Her apartment is flooded.
“Sleep? This is like a movie. I wonder if the foundation will hold.”
“Oh stop.” This is the couple below me. They are elderly and made their way to my place long before the sky darkened. I fed them dinner before we lost power and the water is now nearing their windows. He is a war veteran, retired from factory work and she was a nurse. They have family in California. He smokes despite her objections.
“More drinks? Anyone need anything?” I ask. I’ve started on the whiskey and attempted to get the others to join. The girl takes a beer and the old couple sticks with water. No one answers my question. The building shakes. Suddenly I think the guy’s concern about the foundation is valid. A spotlight crosses the ceiling. The girl gets up and runs to the window.
“It’s a boat.” She starts to hit the glass.
“They’ll never hear you,” the old guy says.
“Shut up.” She keeps hitting. I can barely make out the motor against the wind and rain. She strikes harder and I picture the boat getting closer. She starts to yell. “Hey. Hey, help us!” She sinks to the floor.
“See,” the old guy says. His wife is asleep.
“Fuck you.” She leans her head back against the sill. The house shakes again.
“Listen, we’re probably here for a while. We should just relax.” I say this and can see the words take shape into the humidity. The room is a jungle. The girl takes off her sweatshirt and a t shirt under to reveal a black sports bra. Her skin shines in the candle light. Her hair hangs in wet strands on her face. She shuts her eyes.
I down the rest of the Beam in my glass and attempt to sleep. It seems to be the theme of the moment. Sleep pulls at my senses. The air could be cut and served for dinner. I dream I can hear the water, dream of jumping out the window and enjoying the cold waves. I see the girl getting up, walking to me and stripping off the rest of her clothes. We kiss. She pushes me on the couch and forces herself on my body. We exist together in the moment. I hope she doesn’t see my arousal. Just before falling under, I realize I’ve never spoken to these people in my life.
A scream cuts through the room.
Wind blows the candles out. The moon is the only light. Rain soaks the carpet.
“Who opened the window?” I try to take inventory. I stand and reach for the old couple. They are on the couch. That leaves one person. No way.
I go towards the window, raising my arm to block the rain, soaking my clothes.
The river is alive, pushing against the house. Her skin looks gray in the night and her arms fight the current. I shut the window and sit down, not lighting the candles.
The house shakes again and the floor shifts, boards crack, stone gives way.
The couch starts to slide.

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I am a writer outside of Reading, PA with twenty short story publications online and in print included one selected for anthology by Fantastic Horror. My novel The Reserve and novella Life After Death are available through amazon.com and Eternal Press. I am currently a student in Fairfield University's MFA program.
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