It was late Monday night when Briony returned home. She had spent Friday and the weekend at her parents before making up her hours at work. Pulling along the side the house, she turned off the car’s engine and looked over. The lights she had left on were still on and to anyone passing by the place looked occupied.
Briony gathered her things and the Chinese takeaway she had brought. Getting out, she was sure to lock the car before making her way boldly up to the front door. Dismissing all thoughts, she unlocked and opened the door.
There were letters and a small parcel waiting for her. She stepped over them, closed the door and went into the living room. Beside from looking slightly rummaged in, the room was clean. Briony placed her stuff on the coffee table and went back to pick up the mail. She checked the front door was locked then went into the kitchen, shuffling through the letters as she went.
Turning on the light, she had to place everything down to grab a plate, cutlery and a coke from the fridge. She checked the back door and looked out. The garden lay in darkness and she couldn’t see anything. Pushing her thoughts away again, she picked everything up and went back into the living room. There, she turned on the TV and ate her food.
After, curled up on the sofa, she opened the letters and the parcel. There as a bill, a bank statement, a reminder about her car insurance and claim for a prize draw she had never entered. Scrunching that up, she tossed it in the takeaway bag and grabbed the parcel. A thin book slide out and she looked at the title; How To Get Anywhere With Your Life; A Self Help Book For Those Stuck In A Rut.
Flipping it over, she read the back then flicked through the pages. A blur of words flashed by and a small breezy fluttered her face. Briony yawned and closed the book. Turning off the TV, she sorted stuff out then went upstairs with her bags, the book and letters. Slowly, opening her bedroom door, she poked her head in before entering.
The light showed the normality of the unmade made bed, wardrobe, desk, chest of drawers and bedside tables. She closed the door with her foot and dumped everything on the floor next to the desk. Moving the curtains, she looked down at her car and street. Everything was quiet and still. She opened the window a little and got ready for bed.
Getting under the duvet and blankets, she turned off the main light then turned it back on again. Glancing around, she wondered if she could sleep with it on. Laughing at herself, she turned it off again and put the lamp on instead. Settling down, she felt herself drifting off as soon as her head hit the pillow.
Something disturbed Briony’s pleasant dream.
Coming too, she lay still and kept her eyes shut. Her ears prickled at a rasping sound like a blanket being rubbed across another. She felt the bed dip slightly as if someone was sitting on the other edge. Her breath caught, panic wheeled in her mind and desperately she squeezed her eyes shut.
It’s nothing, nothing. You’re just dreaming and if not it’s the bed bouncing back after you rolled over or something. There’s nothing there…Briony’s inner voice rambled.
Moving her head ever so slightly, she opened her eyes and glanced over. There was nothing, but the top comforter on the other side of the bed.
Easing herself up and blinking away the soft lamp light, she reached out a hand and touched the edge of the purple silk. A drift of coldness brushed her fingers. She tugged the comforter slowly, sliding it back towards her. The thing fell off all the time, it was nothing to worry about.
Settling back, she let go of a deep breath and looked up at the ceiling. She listened, but heard nothing unusual. Shutting her eyes, she tried to recall the dream, but it was long gone. Sleep crept over, but just as she was on the cusp, a scratching sound broke the silence.
Briony shot up, clutching the duvet to her chest. Footsteps in the hall had her eyes shooting to the door. What seemed like long nails clawed along the wall and the soft squeaking of picture frames being moved trailed after it.
Frozen in bed, Briony could only stare as her bedroom door cracked open. The wood screamed as it was pushed all the way and something seemed to be manifesting from the dark hallway.
Briony tasted blood. She sucked her lip, eyes never leaving the shadow figure that was forming in the doorway. She could make him out more clearly now. He was tall with long legs and arms, his body was stick thin, so were his shoulders and he had a large round head. Red eyes stared at her and there was an oval shaped mouth underneath them.
Briony swallowed, somehow unfroze herself and reached up for the main light switch. Clicking it on, she prepared to be blinded, but it didn’t come on. She flicked the switch up and down a few times, but nothing happened.
Letting her hand drop, she reached for her phone, refusing to take her eyes off the solidifying figure. Her fingers tapped the top of the bedside table and came back empty. Her phone was in her handbag, beside the desk. Too far away.
Doing a few glancing between the shadow figure and her handbag, Briony decided she could make it. Throwing back the bedding, she darted out and flung herself across the floor. She seized her handbag, but before she could put her hand in she felt icy fingers grabbing her.
Briony looked. Long black fingers were wrapped around the top of her hand and curling underneath, whilst a wide black hand lay across her wrist. She followed the arm upwards and towards the pitch black face and huge red glowing eyes.
Screams ripped out of her throat.
To Be Continued…