This is an extract from the prologue of a modern gothic horror story.
Channing had made sure not to set her alarm. It was noon before she eventually staggered, scruffy-haired and naked from bed. The mirror betrayed her night of debauchery. She snarled at the reflection, revealing a row of stained teeth. Electric toothbrush required.
She stumbled, sleepily, towards the bathroom. A shower would help wash away the cobwebs, she thought. She got in, washed and got out, grabbing the bathrobe from behind the door. Steam had quickly filled the small room. The heating had carelessly been left on since the evening before, and now added to the sauna-like effect. It was stifling. Channing threw open the window, and gasped.
There he stood, looking up, watching from the park across the road. They stared at each other for the longest time, his penetrating eyes never once looking away. She drank in his mysteriously dark appearance. Something about him called to her. Animal instinct, perhaps.
A gust of wind threw the window shut and she jumped back.
“Jeez!” Channing’s hand flew to her heart. She could hear it pumping furiously.
When she opened the window again, he was gone.
Getting dressed proved to be a challenge. Her arms and legs didn’t seem to be very coordinated this morning, but eventually Channing managed to put on her most comfortable jeans and jumper, which just happened to belong to her previous boyfriend. He wouldn’t be needing them.
Time for coffee, she thought, feeling her way along the wall to the kitchen. She was too tired to think of strange men who had nothing better to do than try to freak her out. Did he know who she was? She supposed she would have to find out and take care of the matter at some point. But not before coffee. The aroma of the rich Brazilian beans hit her senses, waking her up properly. Grasping the top of the cafetiere, she plunged down into the smooth black liquid.
The clock on the living room wall ticked away softly. It was an ancient relic now, but Channing never thought of finding a replacement. It had once belonged to her mother, and she had always admired the goddess-like figure that was carved on to its face.
A book lay on the table at the window. It was old, battered and second hand. Flight of the Dragon. She sat down and began to read. An hour passed before Channing glanced up. It was still wet outside. Beads of rain trickled down the damp, steamy windows. The cup lay abandoned on the table, still half-full of thick, dark coffee. She lifted it, tried to sip and winced. They always went cold. A deep breath escaped involuntarily, as her nostrils flared. Wet pavement. The downpour had kicked up the dirt. A musty smell pervaded the air. There was something strangely appealing about it. She lit a cigarette and blew smoke out the open window. The flick of her head caught a movement in the park across the road. A sensation of static made her tingle. He was there again. Tall. Raven black hair. Long, black leather trench coat.
No scent, she thought.
He didn’t look away when he saw her glance out, just flicked his head back. That one movement. Like a command, beckoning her. She swallowed hard, placing the book down and stubbing out the cigarette. Responding, before she could stop herself, Channing nodded back.