A Short Story by Michael Stewart
Copyright – Michael Stewart ©
It was the bathroom door that woke me up. Now, even for me, a closing bathroom door isn’t particularly scary, but it is when it’s in the dead of night and especially when you live alone! I lay there in the pitch-blackness of my little bedroom, holding my breath and listening to the thump of the blood pumping in my ears. It seemed as if I lay there forever, unmoving, listening intently to the silence. I was just at the point of accepting I must have dreamt the whole thing and was thinking about rolling over to go back to sleep when I heard the shower turn on.
It’s funny how fear strikes you. I guess you’re never quite sure how you’re going to react until you’re really scared? I don’t mind admitting I was terrified! My stomach was doing somersaults and managing to tie itself in knots, all at the same time. I started running all the scenarios through in my mind; did I invite someone back last night? Had I forgotten someone was staying? If so I don’t know where, I’ve only got one small bedroom and I was in it! Anyway, I knew I was definitely home alone last night.
In my still only partially awake state I got up to investigate. In hindsight, I probably should have stayed in bed. I switched on the bedside lamp and slipped my feet into my furry pink slippers. You don’t want your feet to get cold do you – even when you’re dealing with an axe wielding homicidal maniac who’s in your apartment having a shower in the middle of the night?
My Dad said he didn’t want his little girl to go away to Uni and my Mum didn’t like the thought of me living alone in my little flat. I probably should have listened to at least one of them.
I walked carefully to the bedroom door and opened it as quietly as I could. Stepping into the dark hallway, the bathroom door was immediately on my right. It was closed. I could hear the shower running and I could distinctly hear someone humming. It might have been a female hum, but I couldn’t be a hundred percent sure sure of that.
Should I knock on the door and ask whoever it was what the bloody hell they thought they were doing? We Brits are just strange aren’t we? Someone breaks into your home to take a shower and politeness still dictates we knock on the door first. Realising that would be a bad move if it were in fact a knife-wielding rapist, I decided to turn left and slip into the kitchen to call for help instead. Lifting my phone as quietly as possible I dialed 999 for the first time in my life. The number wasn’t recognised. That’s not possible I thought to myself. I tried again and again, all with the same result. In desperation I called Sam who lives only a few minutes away, and still the number wasn’t recognised. It was then I heard the shower being turned off. I had to do something now, and quickly!
Grabbing the biggest knife from the kitchen holder that I could find, I decided to make for the front door. Unfortunately that was on the other side of the bathroom door so I knew I had to be quick. I stepped back through into the hallway again and was just about to scurry past the bathroom door when it opened. I raised the knife, trying to look as scary as I could in my fluffy pink and white onesy and stood fixed to the spot, not moving, not breathing. No one came out.
I’ve no idea how long I stood there, not daring to move or breathe. It seemed an eternity. Finally I took a few tentative steps forward and peered into the bathroom. It was empty. How can I be sure it was empty? Believe me when I say my bathroom is small, even Harry Potter’s Dobby would scrape his elbows whilst toweling himself dry. There was nowhere to hide. The towel on the floor was wet though and so was the shower. I hadn’t been dreaming! Going mad perhaps, but certainly not dreaming – unless this was a new kind of wet dream?
I spent the next two minutes checking through my entire flat, ensuring the front door was still locked and all the windows closed. Finally, satisfied that everything was secure and there was no sign of anyone lurking about I went back into the kitchen and lifted up the phone again. I dialed 999 and this time it rang OK. When the automated voice asked which service I required I bottled-out and hung up. I wasn’t sure if they’d be able to send out an emergency psychiatrist anyway in the middle of the night. I was starting to think that was what I was needing.
After making sure every light in the apartment was on, and carefully placing the knife under my pillow, I went back to bed. Still questioning myself as to whether I’d dreamt the whole thing or not, I finally drifted back off to sleep.
The alarm woke me with a start. Uuugh, 06.00 am; I remembered I had an early start. What a night. I dragged myself into the kitchen, flicked on the kettle and then went into the bathroom where the damp towel was still on the floor. All the memories of last night came flooding back. I picked the towel up and threw it in the laundry basket, cringing more at the thought of touching the used towel than the thought of having an uninvited stranger in my flat in the middle of the night (probably another profoundly British trait?). I crammed myself into the shower and stood there for at least ten minutes letting the hot water cascade over my head. Finally, feeling slightly more refreshed I stepped out of the shower and grabbed a fresh towel off the rail.
Standing in front of the mirror I started to towel myself dry … and then stopped! The towel in my hands I’d never seen before. It was a tartan affair in deep reds and greens; not something I’d ever have bought, not my taste at all. Holding my breath I looked away from the mirror, down at the towel in my hands, pink! Definitely pink! My shade of pink, the one I bought. I looked back in the mirror, red and green tartan. Not only that, but the other towel on the rail behind me in the reflection was also a matching red and green tartan. I turned around to look behind me and yes, the one hanging there was pink. Looking back into the mirror I looked more closely around the bathroom. Everything else was as it should be, just not the towels, oh and the toilet paper; that was plain white when it should have been pink. What was happening? Was I going mad? My only thought was to get out of the bathroom. It’s fair to say I was scared, very scared.
In a daze I wrapped the towel around my shoulders, opened the bathroom door and stepped out into the hallway. I don’t really know what caught my eye but I immediately knew someone was there with me in the hallway. With a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach, I turned slowly. The first obvious thing I saw was the large knife; the rest took my mind several minutes to fully accept. The person standing there wielding the knife was wearing a fluffy pink onesy…it was me!