Congratulations mortal, you’ve made it. I am Morgma the Mauler, harvester of souls, and lord of your local apartment rentals. No doubt you have come prepared to wage battle and earn a fantastic living space. I can tell by your puny and crumpled slacks that you have been sleeping on a friend’s couch. Or perhaps you recently moved to this city expecting a quaint studio with vaulted ceilings and exposed brick walls. Well, be forewarned, it is your foolhardy hope that gives me power!

Morgma has trained long and hard for this battle. While you were but a babe, Morgma was squatting oak trees and growing muscular high-pressure sales tactics. While you were stoned in college, Morgma was slipping impossible apartment standards into your afternoon Friends and Sex in the City marathons. Yes! Morgma was once an aspiring set designer and possesses a devious minor in art history!

Are you ready? Do you feel agile, mortal? For apartments under Morgma’s rule move quickly. Rentals you saw posted merely an hour prior may disappear like ships in a squall. Morgma demands you be ready to sign a three-year lease without giving a second thought to the substance oozing from the oven. Morgma also demands that you arrive with a briefcase of cash and a tupperware of your dignity. Do you have your social security number and childhood memories? For Morgma demands these as well.

Each skull that festoons my iron gorget represents a soul that I have conquered. This one is Becky, who now sits dead-eyed in a lightless studio with lazy plumbing. This one is Tucker. He wakes in a cold sweat each dawn on the southern end of Penn Ave. Your wide-eyed terror pleases me, child, for he lives even south of the strip malls. HA! Yes! Practically past the Applebee’s!

I am Morgma the Mauler, and this is my wrath!!

Your rental battle begins now. I challenge you to navigate this cluttered Craigslist labyrinth. Can you organize the twenty-seven tabs you opened? You had better, for it is only the beginning! Do not be distracted by the exclamation points and flippant capitalization. Do not dare ignore the “sub-patio level” snare in this description — for it spells your doom!

Your skills are weak, mortal. Morgma has not yet summoned his noisy neighbors or false promise that the unit will be professionally cleaned! Can you fight on? Will you drive across town for another showing? This time prepare to surrender your very soul and also your quarters, for Morgma has only installed one shared washer/dryer for forty units! And the cost is $4 per load!! This is Morgma’s fury!!

Morgma can see your strength fading. Are you willing to settle for this disfigured studio with a carpet the color of weak tea? In your moment of defeat Morgma demands more — you must pay an application fee! Even to compromise, you must pay me three months’ rent and your ability to taste ice cream. Morgma demands your complete surrender, a signature, and initials next to paragraph three.

This battle was fun, mortal, but by the signed 32-page contract in my scarred grasp, Morgma has defeated you.

Your tears amuse me. Do not dwell on your friend Tara who inexplicably landed a rent-controlled corner unit. Only a lucky handful can slip by Morgma. Now your soul belongs to me. For I am Morgma the Mauler, and you are my lessee!