The layout to my Japanese apartment is a bit unusual.
It's actually two, formerly neighboring apartments, with the wall in the middle torn down to make one "big" apartment. "Big" is a relative term considering that most urban Japanese apartments are basically one long, narrow room with a loft (if you're lucky).
That makes the two halves of my apartment nearly identical. I have two front doors, two kitchenettes (one was converted to a small "closet"), and two bathrooms. We don't use one of the front doors, it's practically rusted closed, and we don't use the second bathroom because it smells like stagnant water. That corner of our apartment is basically where my cat goes to barf.
But one night, when we came home from a night of karaoke (I'm the of MASTER of 4 Non Blondes' "What's Up?") the extra bathroom door, in the dark, "barf-alley" entryway was open. The accordion-style door was partially ajar, and the whole apartment smelled like Swamp Thing's butt.
We never open that stinky bathroom door. I've only opened it twice to toss an air freshener in there. How did it get opened?
Of course, my mind immediately went to HOME INVASION. I played it cool, but all I could think about was all the stories I'd read online about folks unwittingly sharing their home with secret, hidden roommate, who came out at night to eat their food. EAT THEIR FOOD.
Though my husband shrugged it off, and figured an earthquake did it (?), I lay in bed that night wondering when a shadowy, gangly-armed human-creature would crawl out of the bathroom to eat my gummy bears. EAT MY GUMMY BEARS.
I was woken up in the middle of the night to a scratching sound. Nails on cheap plastic accordion-style bathroom door.
Shit. This was it. I was going to meet our secret roommate. I wondered if Amy Poehler's Yes Please would make a suitable weapon.
The rattling and scratching continued and I heard the creaky door slide open, then the light patter of footsteps and a thunk.
In the dark, I grabbed my hardcover book-weapon, and crept into the entryway. The door was cracked open.
Then I heard the yowl echoing from the depths.
Of course it was my cat.
Obsessed with bathrooms and "off-limits" places, my moderately senile, unnaturally strong cat had figured out how to open the door to the extra bathroom and had made it her swampy clubhouse.
I'm sure you all saw that coming from a mile away. I probably would have too, if I didn't have a sick obsession with secret humans hiding in homes. (Did you read the Creepy Corner reader roundup?)
Yes, the odds of a random person taking up residence in your home are slim to none, but it's stories like this recent one from New Jersey that make me want to check every inch of my apartment every time I come home.
Jason Hubbard lived under a bed in Margaret Adamcewicz' house for three days before being discovered. The bedroom formerly belonged to Adamcewicz' daughter, who Hubbard dated five years prior.
What might be worse than someone secretly living under your bed? Your ex secretly living under your bed.
Apparently, Hubbard snuck into the Adamcewicz house when Margaret took out the trash one night. In his three days under the bed, Hubbard only drank water and used an outlet to charge his four cell phones.
When he was discovered, he was arrested and charged with burglary and theft of services. Because four cell phones.
Adamcewicz told the press, "He didn't say why he came back. He just picked our house to hide out in. He didn't have a home to live in...I haven't heard from him in five years. I wasn't scared, I was just angry."
I admit that the situation Hubbard was in was sad, and he may be suffering from a mental illness, but she wasn't scared? Margaret Adamcewicz is made of stronger stuff than I am.
Of course, reading about this incident in New Jersey I can't help but be reminded of other cases where people unknowingly lived with intruders. (Seriously, how often does this happen?)
So for those of you still too good to check your closets, crawlspaces, attics, basements, holes in walls, pantries, and under the bed when you come home at night, here are a couple incidents to keep you company tonight.
At Least She Was Tidy
In 2008, a 58 year-old man in the town of Kasuya, Japan believed he was the victim of regular burglaries.
Over the course of several months, the man would come home to his house to find food missing, despite all the doors and windows remaining locked. Unable to figure out how an intruder was gaining entry, he installed closed circuit cameras that would send video to his cell phone.
One day, while the man was out he saw footage of an intruder moving about his home. He immediately called the police, but when they arrived they found nothing. The doors and windows were still locked up, and there was nobody in the house.
The police commenced searching the house, and upon opening up a tiny closet shelf, they found a woman "nervously curled up on her side." The woman had been living in the man's closet for about a year, carefully coming and going from the closet when the man wasn't home. In order to remain undetected, she stayed very "neat and clean" and even took regular showers in his bathroom so that her odor would not alert the man of her presence.
According to police, the woman had been secretly sleeping in a few houses in the area.
What is It With Ex-Boyfriends?
There were weird things happening in Tracy's (last name withheld) home.
Hearing strange noises and seeing nails fall from her bedroom ceiling, the South Carolina nurse knew something was wrong. Despite her kids telling her she was "crazy," Tracy finally called her nephew to come and check the attic one night at 2:30am.
She told ABCnews.com, "I kept hearing a bumpin ', thumpin' noise. It was either something or somebody was in the attic. I know the sounds of my home."
When her grown sons and nephew entered the attic, they found Tracy's ex-boyfriend from 12 years ago living amongst the family's old coats.
"They found a man. He had packed all the old coats and jackets into the heating unit and was sleeping in the heating unit," Tracy told the press.
Tracy's ex-boyfriend had been living in the attic for a several days after being released from a 90-day prison sentence for stealing her truck. Several fast food cups were found in the attic containing urine and feces. And if that wasn't bad enough, Tracy's ex had "rigged the ceiling vents so he could look down at Tracy in her bedroom."
And while authorities are unsure how the man gained entrance to the house, a creepy detail is that the attic can only be reached via an interior hallway "that connects her children's bedrooms." So he just walked right in, and scuttled up to the attic.
Once the man was discovered, he ran out of the house, and at the time of press (September 2012) he had not been caught. I am currently unable to find any updates on this case. Just to be on the safe side, double check the locks on your doors South Carolinians.
It's stories like the ones above that send my mind reeling. I admit there is a sad quality to how these people's lives play out — some simply trying to survive, some seeming to suffer from psychological issues. But as much as I want to try and see the desperation in such bizarre actions, I would be hard pressed to offer sympathy if I were to find myself a victim of such a violation.
OK, maybe the Japanese woman, while creepy, isn't nearly as bad as Hubbard and Tracy's intruder. She was relatively considerate about the whole home invasion thing.
Regardless, when it comes to scary things in the Creepy Corner, I think I'd rather have a poltergeist tromping around my attic rather than the "ghost" of boyfriend's past.