There was a man who lived alone. He has long passed his youth, and could remember a time or two when he’d been brave. But time had passed, and he’d grown older. Now, he was ready for a quiet life, for days spent in his comfortable home, with no concerns except which book he might read, or which bottle of wine to open.
That was before the food started to disappear.
He noticed it first one morning when he went to make his breakfast. He opened the door of his refrigerator and saw the items had been disturbed. When he looked closer, he saw that food was missing.
He thought it odd, but wasn’t afraid. Before he went to sleep that night he locked his doors, and took one more accounting of his refrigerator, just to be sure. He awoke at an early hour, just as the sun was tempted to rise, and went downstairs. He made some coffee, and walked to the refrigerator for some cream.
The shelves were half empty.
You’re not alone. What an irrational thought. The doors were locked, he’d checked immediately after his discovery. There was only one possibility. Someone was sneaking in at night and stealing from him.
He went out and purchased strong locks, latches for his windows, and hired a man to install everything just right. He checked every room, the crawl space, under the bed. There was no one. He felt safe until the next morning when the food disappeared again.
His resolve hardened. The man made a trip to the nearest electronics store and purchased a security camera system, one that could be monitored using his cell phone. It was about noon the next day, while he was at work in his downtown office, that he decided to try out his new cameras. He hit the app on his phone and the screen opened on his kitchen, and a figure moving within it.
The man called the police. Someone had broken into his house. They had somehow done it without leaving any trace of their entry. Officers rushed to his house and moved cautiously toward the front door. The first one tried the knob, and found the door locked. They surrounded the house, and finally broke down the door and stormed inside. They went room to room searching, but they found no one. The search expanded to the grounds around the house, and then to the neighboring houses. But none of his neighbors had seen anything, and there was no evidence of a break in.
The old man confirmed to the police that he had locked every door before leaving for work. He showed them where he’d placed the cameras, and told them that for a week he’d noticed that food was missing from his refrigerator. That’s when the officer saw it, at the end of the hall. A cabinet door was slightly open.
The officer stepped cautiously toward it, and drew his weapon. He placed his fingers on the corner of the door, took in a breath, and threw the door open.
She didn’t scream. She just stayed curled, her knees up to her chin in that compressed space high off the floor. Her clothes were dirty and tattered, and the smell that traveled on the air rushing from the door was sour, an intensely human smell. They pulled her down from the closet, the thief who had lived in the man’s house undetected, watching him, hearing him sleep, sharing his house and his food for an entire year.
The man had locked himself into the house with a woman he didn’t know, who lived in his closet.
True story: read it here.