It’s been a long, long time since I last wrote about Nigel, the International Man of Mystery Next Door, so for the benefit of any new readers, a little bit of background…
Nigel is – or was – our neighbour. Our houses are semi-detached, so we share – or shared – a wall with him. Nigel bought his house about six months after we bought ours, and within about an hour of moving in, he was out there, mowing and weeding and pruning the already immaculate garden. Seriously, he couldn’t even have had time to unpack. “Wow,” we thought, “Dude’s going to totally put us to shame with all this obsessive gardening!”
But we were wrong about that. Because, just a few short months later, Nigel left. And never returned.
OK, that’s not totally true. Nigel DID return to the house next door, but only for minutes at a time, and almost always under cover of darkness. According to this very blog (Which will probably one day become important evidence about… something), the last known sighting of the International Man of Mystery was on February 23rd, 2007. ALMOST THREE YEARS AGO! On that night, he entered the house (“To leave food for the prisoners!” I speculated), banged about a bit (“Probably bricking up bodies in the wall!”) and then left, just a few minutes later. That was the first we’d seen of him in well over a year, and we haven’t seen him since. It works out pretty well for us, to be honest, because other than the fact that his garden now resembles a small jungle, at least we don’t have any neighbours. Well, other than the dead bodies I am periodically convinced he has hidden in there.
The house is still fully furnished (which means that someone is still paying council tax on it). It has not been repossessed, so either the mortgage is being paid, or Nigel owns it outright – which, of course, begs the question: why buy a house you have no intention of living in, renting out, or even maintaining properly? If it was bought as an investment, why go to the trouble of furnishing it, spending a few weeks obsessively tending the garden, and then not bother to even visit it for years, during which the property will surely be losing value due to lack of maintenance? Mail is still delivered for Nigel, although after we stopped accepting parcels addressed to him (circa 2006), it has tailed off significantly. No one ever visits the house for maintenance purposes – or not that we’ve seen, anyway. It’s not like we actually have lives, though, so I’m pretty sure we’d have noticed if someone had been in. It is a mystery.
1. Nigel works for MI5, and the house next door is a “safe house”. We will only find out about this when it is one day blown sky-high, probably with us inside.
2. Nigel is a an arch-villain, involved in some nefarious goings-on, which we will only find out about one day when the house floods and someone is forced to enter it, only to find DEAD BODIES BRICKED UP INSIDE THE WALLS. And then Terry and I will be on the news, as those dumb-ass neighbours who say, “No, we had no idea he was a serial killer! He always seemed like such a nice, quiet man!”
3. That’s pretty much all I got, to be honest. Your suggestions are welcomed, though…
Anyway, because we haven’t seen or heard from Nigel in such a long time, Terry and I had more or less forgotten about him.
UNTIL LAST WEEK.
Last week I was working in the office, and Terry was downstairs watching TV, or something, when I suddenly became aware of this… noise. I thought it was Rubin’s paws on the wood floors, at first. In fact, I’d keep looking round, expecting to see him there, and then realising that Rubin wasn’t even in the room with me: he was downstairs begging for food from Terry, and probably waiting for the right moment to pee on the washing machine.
Then I realised that the sounds were coming from….
* drum roll *
INSIDE THE WALLS.
As creepy as this was, I… more or less forgot about it. I was listening to music through my headphones at the time, and I pretty much managed to convince myself that what I was hearing was either something in the background of the track I was listening to, or was maybe just the radiator cooling down, or heating up or something.
Yeah, I’d be a rubbish detective. This is probably why Scooby Doo never called me back that time.
Anyway. A few nights later, it happened again. This time both Terry and I heard it. We’d just gone to bed, when we started to hear a scratching/shuffling noise IN THE ROOM WITH US.
Well, this time I naturally freaked the hell out.
Terry didn’t. He got up, had a look round, and determined that the noise was coming from the attic, or inside the walls of the house.
“Oh, yeah,” I said. “I totally meant to tell you: someone is living in our attic! I heard them a few nights ago!”
The noises continued for a few minutes, and have been heard several times since, although always in the dead of night.
1. Bats in the belfry, dude!
2. Rats. In the attic.
3. Or possibly squirrels. I really hope it’s squirrels, because, you know, they’re cuter than bats/rats.
(No offence to any bats or rats reading this, by the way.)
1. A vampire
2. NIGEL, International Man of Mystery Next Door
Well, Terry made the trip into the attic last weekend, in a bid to try to find out what, exactly, we were dealing with. His verdict? “Something that chews things, particularly bags of clothes.” Uh-huh. This would SEEM to rule out the possibility of our unwelcome guest being Nigel, IMOMND himself (although you never really know, do you?), but given that we can’t find any access points on OUR property, it does make us wonder if the general state of neglect of the house next door means that it’s now teaming with vermin, dead bodies and the like, which have managed to find their way into OUR property via the attic space.
Either way, we’re calling the council to ask them to come and take a look. If that fails, I’m calling the Famous Five.