Prompt 118

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The long-lost roommate.

Alex sat sipping his coffee at the breakfast bar when it suddenly dawned on him. The apartment was unusually quiet. In fact… it had been for a few days now. At least once a week he was woken up by Tupperware falling on the floor or doors slamming shut when his roommate, Ben, came home wasted in the middle of the night. At least twice a week he wanted to buy earplugs to drown out the sounds of Ben and Ben’s girlfriend making too much noise in the bedroom. At least three times a week he wanted to move back in with his parents.

This week he had slept a full eight hours each night. This week he had been able to enjoy his coffee and morning HGTV programs in peace. This week he had not called home once.

Where was Ben?

Alex checked Facebook Messenger and saw that Ben had not been active for more than a week. The last time they texted one another was a week-and-a-half ago when Ben made him buy more toilet paper because he was “shitting his brains out,” and then Alex had only seen Ben’s hand reach out of the bathroom for a new roll.

Alex opened Google and typed in “Benjamin Hudson.”

The first search result was not any of Ben’s social media profiles, nor was it another man with the same name. The first search result was Ben’s mugshot with the caption “Ex-boyfriend charged in murder of student teacher.”

Alex stared at his phone’s screen in disbelief.

“Murder?”

He set his phone down for a second, took a deep breath, and looked at it again. That was definitely Ben’s face staring back at him but with cold, unfamiliar eyes. Alex clicked on the article and read the story.

Apparently Ben’s ex, Lori, had been sending Ben harassing and even threatening messages about his current girlfriend, Beth. Lori also somehow got a hold of Beth’s number and was sending her worse messages and stalking her at work. Basically, Lori was crazy and Ben felt the need to end things. Permanently.

Alex pocketed his phone and slowly pushed his chair away from the bar. He picked up his backpack from the floor, made sure he had everything, and left for work. When he was done he was going to call the super, get out of the lease regardless of the cost, and move back home. He was not going to stay in the apartment he had shared with a murderer. Yes, Ben was behind bars and would be for some time, but Alex knew he would no longer feel safe there. He could not, not when someone so normal–albeit an inconsiderate roommate–could do something so terrible.

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