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Tristan Johnson ignored the cold chill sliding down his spine. It was starting again, building in the pit of his stomach and growing until it consumed him. He walked into the room, trying to block the images appearing and disappearing around him. A ghostly young man ran through the apartment. An angry young woman threw luggage out the door, her voice echoing in the hallway as she yelled at someone he couldn’t see.
He closed his eyes. “Shut it out. It’s not real,” he muttered.
He imagined walls surrounding him. Big, thick, red bricks building up layer by layer. As each brick settled into place, the cacophony surrounding him died down to a low roar. He let out the breath he was holding and opened his eyes. No one was in the apartment with him. No echoes, no shadows. Tristan was alone.
He expected this. It always happened the first time he walked into a building. No matter how strong his shields were, the energy in every building was different. Sometimes the past barely broke through, and other times, it charged through like an elephant. This particular apartment building seemed to be somewhere in the middle.
Hidden Forest Apartments was three stories high and had a total of fifteen apartments. It sat on the edge of the small Blackwood College campus near Asheville, which meant Tristan could walk to work and to his classes.
He scratched the dark stubble on his chin as he surveyed the apartment. It had Tommy Keane, his best friend, written all over it. Standing in the doorway, the living room and dining room spread out in front of him, giving the place a spacious feel. A second-hand black couch took up most of the living space with an entertainment center across the room from it. He stepped into the room, his shoes squeaking on the wooden floors as he took in the horror movie posters surrounding him. Across the room, a large sliding glass door led out to a balcony. Tristan took in the counter that separated the kitchen from the living room. Beside that was a small hallway.
He followed the hallway and peered into the first bedroom. The bed covers were twisted into a ball and clothes covered the floor. He noticed framed record albums and the same wooden floors with a window across the room from the door.
He passed the bathroom and then made his way to the second bedroom. This one was empty with the same white walls and wooden floors. But this room had two windows, one across from the door and one to his right.
“Looks a lot better than my last place, doesn’t it?” A hand slapped Tristan on the back. He turned to see Tommy standing beside him with a huge grin on his face.
Tommy was five inches shorter than his six foor two frame. His short blond hair stuck out of the Duke baseball cap he always wore. His smile reached his hazel eyes.
“Yeah, it does. Your last place was a dump.” Tristan shuddered when he remembered the basement of the old house Tommy lived in before. He only visited there once because the house itself was a hundred years old and he couldn’t block the visions out.
“I think you’re going to like it here, man. This building isn’t as old as the last one. I think your brain will handle it better.”