“It was July 1990, I was 16 and working 6 days a week. I lived at home most of the time but often hung out with a bunch of homeless squatters in East London. Seemed like fun. At 16, I didn’t know that I was lucky enough to have a home, job, and money in the bank while they did not. The house they squatted in had no gas, electricity, or water. The basement was filled with thousands of empty drink cans, literally thousands. In the corner was a single lonely chair, where some poor soul probably drank himself to death. The rest of the house was no better– missing floorboards, cracked or missing windows, mold, damp…not exactly a place to call home. The place stank.
I guess it looked a lot like the dilapidated house in the movie Fight Club, except it didn’t even have running water or electricity. The local pub doubled up as a toilet…that one also stank. The story began after a night out. It was late and I wasn’t into illegal substances, so I sat and mostly observed, while the others smoked, drank, and basically went through whatever narcotics they could find. Later, they went about heating up some canned food on a camping stove, which unfortunately doubled up as a room heater.
It got late. I was dead tired and there was no way I could do the long trek home. All I wanted to do was sleep. It really didn’t matter where, so I collapsed on an old mattress on the floor. My body was exhausted, but I couldn’t sleep because this voice in my head kept saying get out of here, again and again. I started having a terrible feeling about the place, a sort of sixth sense emotional version of dialogue. Basically, it was either my imagination or something bad was going to happen. I just wanted to sleep, I wasn’t going to listen to some stupid irrational feeling. I planned to sleep, get the bus home in the morning, shower and go to work.
But, it didn’t happen. The feeling didn’t pass, I wasn’t going to be able to sleep, so I got up and got out. I didn’t stop to say goodbye to the guys, even though they were still hanging out in the next room.
That night I ran home, had a big bowl of cereals, then crashed for the night. I never saw the squatters ever again.
The next day, a copy of the local paper was sitting on the kitchen table. I saw something and picked it up. The lead story read, ‘Squatters die in a tragic house fire.’
It happened just after I left.”