The rain lashed on for hours; the constant patter on the glass sounding like guns blazing in the distance. Steve Dreyfus had always been a reserved man; he never did like company. Though he felt like he could use some today.
He’d made a quiet home for himself just outside the city, off the interstate. He preferred living alone now; he’d given up life in the big city, with all that traffic, crazy routines, and nosy neighbors. He was now retired and loving every moment of it.
Right until now. He felt like a prisoner trapped inside a well furnished prison cell. He tried to take a nap, but the thunder booming outside wouldn’t let him nod off. He’d try to catch a few winks, and then wake up in a flash as soon as the clouds roared.
“Thank God I’m indoors”, Steve thought to himself, as he got up to make himself a cup of hot chocolate. He hated getting wet, and he didn’t like the wheezing and a runny nose that usually followed. He was bored out of his wits; there was nothing to do at home since he was holed in and the power was out since afternoon. The old rustic clock on the far wall showed six, but it didn’t make any difference to him. Time had come to a standstill for all he knew. It was dark out throughout the day, and now it began to get even darker.
Steve was about to take a sip of his chocolate when the doorbell rang.
“Who the heck is crazy enough to be outside in such horrible weather?” Steve cursed, curious to know who could be bothering him when he knew there was no one who lived close by. He shouted lazily, “coming”, and hobbled to answer the door.
Hands trembling, partly with age and partly because he didn’t know whom to expect, he turned the knob on the latch that fastened the door. Slowly, he pulled the door towards himself to look at whoever was calling on him at this late hour.
To his surprise, a beautiful young woman was standing at his door. He wouldn’t have guessed who it was in a million years. He placed her to be in her late twenties, with short brown hair and a fair complexion. Her eyes were blue, heavily accented with eye liner; which now created a black mess as the droplets of precipitation trickled down her face. She had full lips like the ones you’d find on a sultry actress. Her ears were small but clearly jutting out, and she had a long neck, making her look taller than she actually was. She wasn’t wearing any jewellery. As expected, she was soaking wet. He surveyed her for a moment, hoping that she would explain herself without him needing to ask.
“May I come in?” the woman asked politely, “my car broke down on the interstate and it would be great if you’d let me stay indoors while the rain subsides.” Steve mulled over the request for a second, and relented. He opened the door to let the woman in. As she walked in, he studied the tattoo on her neck. It looked like some sort of weird bar code, something you’d find on a grocery item bought at the supermarket. Kids these days, they’d go to any lengths to look “cool”. She wore a beige trench coat that covered her up fully, except for her neck and head. The coat was tattered and torn in places, as if it had ripped on some sort of barbed fencing. He couldn’t make out her build from under the coat, but judged that she was taller than him. She wore ragged black army boots that added to her height; very much out-of-place for someone with such a pretty face. He figured he’d let her get cleaned up, wait for the rain to subside, and then send her away. And then maybe he’d catch some sleep.
Steve never liked visitors. He couldn’t manage conversation, especially with women, that’s why he never married. He was sharp though; always paying attention to the little details. With age his eyesight grew weaker, but his senses were still good. This woman gave him a bad feeling he just couldn’t shake off.
“The bathroom’s this way”, Steve pointed to a door, “if you’d like to freshen up”. She looked at him, her eyes trying to convey her gratitude; her lips curled up in an awkward smile. Apparently she wasn’t good at conversation either. The woman walked through the door and locked it behind her. Steve took in a deep breath.
He looked out the window; the rain still lashing on the sill, trying to enter through the small opening between the hinges. He took his place on the couch, picking up a magazine he’d read before. It was something that he could pretend to read if the woman came back after doing her business; anything was better than making conversation with a strange woman.
It felt like five minutes when the power came back on. What a relief! He fished for the remote and turned on the TV. He pressed a few buttons to tune into the news; he was curious to know what was going on outside. He flipped on a few channels, trying to browse around but found nothing that would catch his eye. That was until he flipped to channel 7.
Steve froze. He saw a face, a face he’d seen mere five minutes ago. The black lining on her eyes intact; deep blue eyes on a clear face. The headline read, “Escaped from the state penitentiary, wanted for 3 murders”. He stared into those menacing eyes, and turned ever so slightly as he heard a door click, only to find the same look staring back at him from across the room. He now found certain madness in her eyes, and she found raw terror in his. His jaw dropped; he couldn’t speak a word. He only conveyed how he felt by wetting his pants. She opened her now untied trench coat to pull out a compact hand gun. Silent but deadly. He knew what was going to happen, but felt his body slump in bitter surrender. She aimed the gun directly at his forehead and pulled the trigger. The last thing he remembered was a loud click followed by flash of light. Then darkness.
The jolt pulled Steve out of his drowsy stupor. He immediately checked his head for any signs of blood or bullet holes, but found none. He heaved a huge sigh of relief; his idle mind was playing tricks on him. He was sweating, his heart clearly racing from his worst nightmare. The power now came on, and he felt slightly at ease, feeling more alive than ever. He would be all right, he just knew it. He turned on his TV, half hoping only to see news of an odd fallen tree or a waterlogged suburb. Instead, every channel he clicked on, he saw those eyes, looking back at him again. His head felt lighter, and his sight began getting darker. He tried to control his fear, reminding himself that it was only a dream.
But dreams don’t knock. He could now hear a pounding on his door. His fear had him in a tight grip, and finally got the better of him. In a moment, he passed out.
The man standing outside the door didn’t know what was going on. He kept thinking to himself, “What a lousy day to sell insurance”.