She was there in the mirror, a headless image. There was something very eerie about seeing herself without a face, or in fact a head. She admired her body, perfectly proportioned in every way, the tight black evening dress hugged her figure highlighting every curve. She was happy with the new outfit and she knew that Brian would be happy with it too, well a least he would be if he’d hurry up back from work. If he didn’t get here soon then they were going to be late.
She stepped back from the mirror to take in the sight of her whole outfit. She could now see her shoes and her long blonde hair neatly tied up in a bun. Seeing her face again made her feel a whole lot better. She didn’t know what it was but seeing her headless body had sent shivers down her spine. For a moment there was almost a premonition to it.
Karen walked over to the window to draw the curtains. Outside was dark, black, and slightly oppressing. The house was out in the forest and devoid of all the streetlights that polluted to night sky. Usually, the clarity of the stars and the moon would provide enough ambient light to be able to see round the garden but tonight the moon was notably absent and the stars were barred by a thick evening mist.
As she pulled the curtain she noticed something move in the reflection generated by the inside light against the windowpane. She turned to face the stairway from through the door to the bedroom but obviously nothing was there.
She sat back down in front of the mirror and started adjusting her makeup for the third time.
A door slammed shut downstairs making her jump slightly. Ah, Brian’s home, she thought. “Hi honey, I’m upstairs. What took you? You left work ages ago.”
There was no reply. She stopped looking at the door as if expecting to see Brian arrive in the doorway. He didn’t. She headed for the landing passing the bathroom door on route. Just as she arrived at the top of the stairs the bathroom door slammed shut. She turned quickly to look in the direction of the noise, considered the door for a moment then made her way over to the door and slowly opened it. The draft escaping the room was quite overpowering as it blew passed her. She felt the cold air as it brushed her face slightly ruffling her nice neat hair.
Flicking the light on, she quickly looked around the room. The delicate and decorative curtains, fluttered through the gaping open window. Odd, she thought, I’m sure that window was shut when I was having a shower. She slowly walked to the window and started pulling it to. The wind was getting up and the autumnal leaf fall was starting to be thrown around outside. A sudden gust grabbed the window yanking it from her hand throwing it against the wall, leaves rushed through the window covering her face and hair if slimy wet horse chestnut foliage.
As she pulled the window shut and wiped away the leaves, she again noticed a reflection from the corner of her eye. She turned quickly, but yet again there was nothing there.
She rushed for the door turning off the light as she left the bathroom. At the top of the stairs she stopped for a moment and looked around her as if expecting to find something out of the ordinary. Her heart rate was starting to increase and her breathing became slightly laboured. She took a deep breath and slowly made her way down the stairs constantly look around herself.
This is silly, she thought. There is nothing going on here, it’s just a storm starting to get up.
“That’s right.” Came a slow, quite, and deep voice.
Karen stopped immediately and once more looked round herself. “Who’s there?” Not really expecting an answer. There wasn’t going to be anyone there to reply. She was just imaging things.
A tap on the stair window behind her punctuated the silence. She froze, unwilling to immediately look there. The tapping continued becoming more rhythmic but jazz style erratic. Her eyes turned and she allowed her head to follow until she looked straight at the round window fixed centrally on the wall of the stairwell. She noticed the end of a branch from the beach tree outside tapping in time with the sound, against the glass pain in time with the sound.
She slightly relaxed. I told Brian to sought those branches out. Where has he got to?
Karen headed for the lounge picking the cordless phone off the sofa as she walked pass. She pressed the little green button in order to make and outside connection. The phone was dead. “Damned battery!” She said out loud.
She left the lounge and entered the kitchen through the adjoining door at the back of the room, walked over to the work top and picked up the standard phone from it’s hanger on the wall. At least I have this… her thoughts were stopped half sentence as she realised that this phone too was out. “Damned phone company!” she spoke aloud again. “One bit of bad weather and the lines go down quicker than Divine Brown. The electric will be off next.”
She waited for a moment while trying to remember where she’d left her mobile then headed off to the laundry room in the basement. As she walked down a set of stairs, there was a sudden thud and a shrieking laugh. Karen leapt down the stairs and almost through herself across the room to her mobile phone nestled snugly on the top of the towels on the washing machine – no signal. “Shit!”
Something brushed past her. She looked down expecting to find the cat purring and weaving itself in and out of her legs, but Rufus was no where to be seen. At that moment there was a rustle in the cardboard boxes in the corner of the room. Karen walked hesitantly over calling Rufus’s name as she got closer to the boxes. Kneeling down she moved the boxes away from the wall, her heart pounded as she removed each box a placed it behind her.
Rufus lay cowered up against the wall as if trying to find the furthest point of the room in which to hide. She felt the strange ecstasy of her body relaxing as her heart skipped a beat. That momentary feeling of nothing ness pulsing through her body.
Karen put out her hand to stroke the cat. “Come on Rufus, it’s okay. Nothing is going to happen to you.”
The cat hissed and leapt at her, his claws striking down hard on her face before fleeing up the stairs. Karen, shrieked in pain throwing her hands to stinging in her cheek. The claw had just missed her eyes but had cut her face open from almost top to bottom. The wound wasn’t deep but a slight trickle of blood bubbled to the surface.
She heard footsteps behind her and she saw shadows spinning round all the walls around her. She frantically turned… there was nothing there… the lights went out.