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May 13, 2013 | by  | in Features |
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Our Year with Karyn

A proudly polished 1999 Honda Accord pulls up outside a Mount Cook address, and Karyn, a rental-property manager, emerges. She is here to show a prospective group of students around a flat. Despite it being the dead of winter, Karyn arrives in a blouse that exposes her entire chest to the elements. This is possibly because she isn’t human and can’t feel anything.

She presents the group with her business card. Along with her contact information, the card features what is allegedly her picture. In life, Karyn’s face is perfectly unremarkable, but in this instance she has employed the liberal application of Photoshop and buffed her face so intensely that there isn’t much left. What is left is a grotesque visage: a fleshy blob, featureless but for two tiny, distrustful eyes and a thin grey line in lieu of a mouth. In another epoch this card will be found by our ancestors and feared as a hellish depiction of a heathen idol.

The house itself is maudlin, but the students will take whatever they can.

“You are students?” she asks, as if she is quietly certain that they have lied about this and that they are actually an apocalyptic suicide cult looking for a reasonably priced place to finish it all off in.

“Yes. I see that there’s no fridge,” one says.

Karyn considers her response to this question for a while.

“No parties.”

Never mind that parties are completely unrelated to the matter at hand. Her eyes, which are inky wells that speak of unimaginable horror, tell a different story; a story where Youths are here to bring about the End Of Days. Youths shall employ as their eschatological tools the Bottle of $9.99 Wine and Blu-tack On The Walls. They shall ruin the curtains and other amenities with their Ecstasy Cigarettes and their Marijuana Injection Tablets. They do nothing but engage in group masturbation and go on the dole. But more than anything, Youths will destroy the world with Parties. The Party is the most grievous of sins. The Youths will Party while the world burns. The Youths are not to be trusted.

Karyn, however, has averted this crisis. As far as she is concerned this is something on par with the AIDS crisis. She has formulated a party-alternative.

“You can,” she says, smiling beatifically, “have a friend over.”

Karyn means exactly what she says. One person in the house at a time. Her suggestion, it emerges, is that if the tenants of the property really want to go crazy and make a night of it they should invite people over for fifteen-minute intervals and have them rotate in and out of the house over the course of an evening.

Despite this, the students become the new tenants of the house and are pleased with their new flat. They’re pleased to have any flat. What’s more, they believe that their interactions with Karyn have been brought to a close.

They are mistaken in this assumption. One does not merely rent property from Karyn. Karyn does not exist independently of the property she supervises. Karyn becomes part of your life. Karyn is life.

An email, completely unsolicited, arrives in the dead of night.

Subject: trust

Message: I am sorry but i am not happyt o have boyfriends staying in house. not for me to say if you have a boyfriend byut you are    very young It is not okay what if other flatmate want to haveFRIEND OVER???? then it will be unfair on everyone and house friendships will collapse and i am not going to let htat happen because i am a LAND PROPERTY MANAGER and I have REPONSIBILITYES TO LANDLORDS O??? please respect thi yours Karyn hope house is OKAY

The tenants fret over Karyn’s increasingly erratic behaviour. Is she drunk? Is she drunk all the time? They try to assure her that boyfriends are rarely in residence at the house. Karyn remains worryingly silent. Then, a week later, Karyn sends out a call of war.

Subject: <No subject>
Message: .lies

The tenants begin to fear that Karyn is going to storm the house with her clipboard in scenes reminiscent of the peasant horde storming the Bastille during the French Revolution. They desperately try to quell Karyn’s fears digitally and by phone. The response is like a lone
trumpet announcing battle.

Subject: !L IEs
Message: LIES!!!!!

The occupants of the house are now terrified. What if Karyn is surveying the property? Has she tapped the phone lines? Is she going through the rubbish?

But the threat, it would appear, is enough. Karyn does not reappear.

Somewhere, she bides her time. She will strike when the time is right.

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