Saturday 25 June 2016

Needed: One Silver Bullet by Elizabeth Graham

The heat and intensity of the sharp needles of water were washing away the tedium of travel, relaxing my neck and shoulders from the tensions of the day and the sharp words which had passed between us. Rafe had stormed out of the cottage as soon as we'd unpacked the groceries and lit the log burner. “I'll go next door and let them know we've arrived. I don't know how long I'll be" and he'd set off with his long loping stride down the grass towards our nearest neighbours. Fortunately there was a full moon bathing the garden and laneway because he'd forgotten to lift the heavy torch that we usually relied on for night forays into the deep French countryside. “Lock the door and take the key,” I'd called. In summer the front door was rarely closed, far less locked, but in the late autumn darkness the cottage's isolation had a less certain appeal.

The shower room was small and windowless, gaining light from the hallway through the glass brick portion of the wall and needing a fan which ran noisily when one switched on the light from outside the door. The rhythmic sounds, the enfolding warmth and the pleasure of finally today being alone had begun to restore my normal sense of perspective. Perhaps after all this week would help us make a fresh start. I fervently hoped so. Of late I had become more than a little wary of his unpredictable moodiness and sometimes cruelly barbed tongue.

Reluctantly I paused the shower, reaching for the towel and at that precise moment heard the distinctive scrape of the swollen front door on the old kitchen tiles. “End of peace and quiet. At least I'm clean,” I thought with an internal sigh just as the sudden clatter of one of the old French kitchen chairs falling over was followed by the impression that something large and heavy was being dragged across the floor. “What on earth has he brought back from next door?" I frowned. Huddling the towel around me and mopping the damp hair from my eyes I laid my hand on the door knob, whether to lock it or to open it and look out I will never be certain.

There wasn't time for either. A fearful howl of rage bellowed out just as the hall light was extinguished. Out of the sudden blackness, not even an arm's length away, a torch flicked on, playing on a distorted elongated face, a cavernous fanged mouth pressed to the glass brick wall. A second later a thud on the bathroom switch plunged my steam filled haven and its occupant into silent darkness and terror.

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