My previous prompt (The Egg) seemed to be something people enjoyed, and I always intended to do more. But life got in the way and I got caught up in various things last year, then started doing more for the now named Divination Hollow, and got more books to review. But I am currently caught up with reviews, and figured I’d try another prompt.
This time, it’s lifted from the Horror section of the website. For anyone interested, I’ve used this website for both this and my previous prompt. If you tackle anything on there, do let me know. I’d love to read it. This is an unedited story, typed straight into WordPress, so I do hope you enjoy it.
Prompt: Your main character is home alone, just like most nights. This time, however, a new neighbor pays them a visit. And it wasn’t for the last time
The bathroom tap dripped, dripped, dripped. She stretched her legs out on the sofa, positioning the PS3 controller more comfortably, and tried to ignore the sound of water pinging against the sink. The tap had never been right, no matter how often her dad had tried to fix it. And now he never would, and she had to come to terms with that. Still, the sound never failed to make her think of that stupid story her cousin told her when they were kids.
Her cousin loved those sort of stories, and even more, she loved telling them to Alma, leaning forward and dropping her voice and shrieking at the right moments. Alma never slept afterwards.
She tried to push the words away from her mind.
Humans can lick, too.
Well, she had no dog to lick her hand and bring her comfort. And if something did lick it, or any part of her, without her consent, she knew enough self-defence to react, anyway.
Without a doubt, she would easily knock out a full-grown man, if she caught her throw just right.
She rotated her ankle, keeping her gaze fixed on the screen. So what if the tap dripped, so what if the branches scratched at her window, so what if there were strange, unrecognisable sounds outside the house when she was there all by herself.
The only problem was, she really couldn’t identify the particular strange sounds, just beyond the branches. She put the controller down, inhaled deeply – one, two, three. Exhaled slowly. One, two, three, four, five. She got to her feet, and was halfway turned towards the bathroom when she stopped.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
She shook her head, trying to rid herself of the stupid story.
The door banged, and she screamed, and spun, catching her foot on the bottom of her oversized PJ bottoms. She tumbled down, wincing as her arse smacked into the floor. The knock came again, and she rubbed at her forehead, wondering if she had perhaps ordered food and forgotten.
It wouldn’t be the first time.
She scrambled to her feet, then to the door, peeking through the peephole to see a gangly, nervous looking white man – no, boy – scruffing his feet against the porch. He looked around, as if checking who was around, before turning back to the door. Acne marked his cheek, and he looked exhausted, large bags under his green eyes.
She tried to place him, to work out if she knew him, and where from, but nothing came to mind. She chewed her bottom lip, as he shifted on the step, then leaned forward, as if he could see through the door to her.
“Alice?” he said. “You there?”
He knew her name. Chills ran down her spine, and her hand hovered over the doorknob. If he’d been friendly, why not say who he was? Why he was there?
He tilted his head. “Alice, if you’re listening, I just wanted to introduce myself. I’m from down the road. My aunt is your neighbour – Cassandra. You know her, right?”
She did, though the other woman didn’t seem old enough to have an adult nephew. But it did happen, she supposed. And most people looking at her wouldn’t think she was old enough to live on her own, but she was, and she did, and…
“What’s your name?” she said through the door, and part of her mind screamed at her, telling her she should have kept quiet and not given even a hint that she was there. “You know mine, so what’s yours?”
“Maddox, Alice,” he said, his voice strangely calm. “Maddix Hattersley.” He grinned, and it was disarming, and her hand gripped the lock under the door, ready to twist it to allow him entry. “You don’t have to let me in. I just popped over, like I said, to introduce myself. I…my aunt said there was only really one person around here near my age, and she thought you’d like to meet me. That was all.” Another one of those smiles that took her by surprise.
Along with the way her pulse raced, studying him.
“I’ll go now. Next time, I’ll bring gifts, promise!”
She opened her mouth to say something, finding she didn’t actually want him to leave, like the moment he stepped off the porch, he’d disappear, a wisp of smoke caught in the air. And she didn’t want him to disappear. She wanted him to come inside.
“No, Alice, you don’t,” she muttered. For, after all, he was still a stranger. He was still a man. And she’d heard all the stories. Knew what happened when you opened the door to strange, handsome men.
But he hadn’t been handsome, had he? And he’d seemed more boy than man. Hadn’t he? She rubbed her forehead, trying to focus on what he had looked like. All her mind conjured up were those words – handsome man. And the kind of face she usually dreamed about.
As she headed back into the living room, she reminded herself how vulnerable she was, how it wasn’t good to have random strange men know she lived alone. She checked the living room windows, attempting to open them repeatedly before reassuring herself they were locked. Once that was done, she went through the rest of the house, then back to the front door, double checking the latch.
Something didn’t sit right with her. Something made her feel uneasy, the ground tilting beneath her feet. She had never felt unsafe in her own home, but now the thoughts wouldn’t leave her alone. Now she struggled to pinpoint what each sound was, and a soft voice in her head reminded her how much easier it would be, how much safer she would feel, if there was a man here, too.
She groaned, rubbing her head. Those thoughts were not her own. She was happy here, safe. Nothing dangerous ever happened in the small town, and besides, she had plenty of neighbours who watched out for her, who were willing to help if she ever needed it, just like she helped them. Mrs Connors, next door, often popped round with fresh cakes, and Alice helped her with her shopping. Poppy and Fred, across the road, often asked her to walk or watch their dog, a happy, bouncy Collie mix called Harpy, a name which did not, in the slightest, suit her. And in return, they occasionally invited her over for dinner, or Fred did odd jobs around her house, some she could do herself but let him do instead, even if it was just so she and Poppy could have a hot drink and catch up in the kitchen.
She steadied her hand, aware of a shadow moving, catching sight of it through the window. She pursed her lips, stepped back, and closed her eyes, the world around her swaying. Exhaling slowly, she tried to think, her hand reaching into her pocket for her mobile. Who would be awake now? Who might come over to help her?
She opened her eyes, and found herself on the sofa, the strange hazy light of sunset outside. Alice rubbed her head, grabbed her phone and checked it, taking note of the PS3 controller on her lap, Skyrim’s pause screen on the TV.
She’d lost a whole day.
A bit longer than I intended, but I hope you liked it, and I’ll try and get part 2 up ASAP.