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I write short-stories and this is in sync with the type of themes I've used.

I know the story, and thought I'd read it a long time ago, but several google searches and search engines come up empty.

I do write short stories, and think maybe I made this one up in my head, but it seems almost too perfectly creepy, even for me. Maybe it will ring a bell with one of you folks.

Here's the plot:

The story is about a man in an apartment building who listens to his neighbor come and go; once in the morning when the neighbor left for work, and once in the evening when he returned. All he ever heard was the neighbor's door opening and closing twice. Nothing else, not a movement, not a peep, no toilet flushing, not a TV, nothing.

One day, the man's curiosity got the best of him. After he heard the man come home, he went and listened at his door. Nothing. He knocked. Nothing. Again, he knocked a little louder. Nothing. He peeped through the keyhole. He couldn't see anything moving inside, so he tried the door knob. The door opened, and he looked in. No one was there. The place was completely empty. No neighbor, no furniture, no nothing, except for a bed in the middle of the living room.

The man looked around, looked in closets, looked in drawers. Nothing. He looked at the bed again. Then he looked under the bed. There was a medium-sized flat box laying there. He pulled it out and stared at it for awhile. Finally he opened the box.

Inside was his neighbor, neatly folded and pressed, all ready for work the next day. The man carefully put the lid back on the box, put the box back under the bed and left the apartment as he had found it, closing the door behind him.

That's it. Does anyone recognize it?

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    How long ago do you think you might have read this?
    – DavidW
    May 25 at 21:05
  • 2
    Don't forget that you can accept an answer by clicking on the checkmark by the voting buttons, as per the tour.
    – FuzzyBoots
    May 26 at 12:13
  • I thank everybody for taking the time to try and locate the story. Unfortunately, Sturgeon's "The Other Celia" isn't even close. There are no peeping Toms, angry coworkers, shabby hotels or aliens refreshing themselves with second skins, etc. in the story I was hunting. Most importantly, the man in my story never actually sees the occupant of the silent room. He only hears nothing, and that's what piques his curiosity. But I thank you all anyway. I'm going to presume it is a story I made up in my head a long time ago.
    – red slider
    May 28 at 22:17
  • ps: I tried to offer how I begin the story in a way that covers the possibility that I heard or read it somewhere before, but it was a little to long for the comment limit, so you'll just have to imagine that I did.
    – red slider
    May 28 at 22:25

1 Answer 1

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This is Theodore Sturgeon's "The Other Celia"

You've described it quite thoroughly! The protagonist is a bit more of a peeper than you remember, though. He drilled a hole in the floor/ceiling to watch her, and was able to see when she "changed her skin".

She comes home, connects her head to the skin from the box, and flows into it, leaving her old skin flat and empty. Then she puts the old skin in the box.

Also, the protagonist takes the skin at the end, and it ends poorly for Celia.

It's a great story! I'm gonna go re-read it now. You can read it at the Galaxy Magazine section of the Luminist Archives. March 1957.

The story was offered up as an (IMHO correct) answer to this old question, but not accepted:

Death of a skin changer: what short story is this?

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    When I read that story I found the protagonist more interesting and creepier than Sturgeon's silly monster.
    – user14111
    May 25 at 21:36
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    @user14111 Poor Celia's hardly a monster! Just a being from...somewhere else, getting through the days. May 25 at 21:43
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    There are days I'd love to be able to change my skin to a fresh one.. I imagine it'd be like getting into a freshly laundered bed, all crisp and fresh feeling. May 26 at 8:24
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    @A.I.Breveleri Well of course. Gotta put the lotion on it first too! Nothing worse than the raspy sensation of putting on an unwashed and unlotioned skin. May 26 at 11:54
  • 1
    @Ruadhan2300 It rubs the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again. May 26 at 13:33

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