This story is one of a number of stories I wrote as part of a writing experiment over on my other blog. The rules of the experiment was that I wrote a list of 20 “Starting Emotions” and 20 “Horror Sub-genres” and attempted to write a story based on the combination. This was the combo of Comfortable and Home Invasion.
The warmth enveloped me as I lowered myself into the bath, easing into the hot water. It had been a long, excruciating day in at the office. I could already feel the hot water soothing the tension in my back. This was exactly what I needed. The bathroom was lit by two large vanilla scented candles and the flickering light danced to the chill out playlist that was playing on my phone, which lay on the counter by the sink. I felt like I had escaped to a zone of pure relaxation. My phone chirped, momentarily disrupting the music, the rest of the world reminding me that it still exists, pulled me away from the relaxation zone a little bit. I resented that but let it slide. This was my time and I was in no rush to read messages from the outside world. I was much too comfortable to even consider the idea.
Soon the water began to cool, one of the candles had went out and my playlist began to loop. It was time to get out of the relaxation zone. The bath water drained in a quiet roaring slurp as I dried myself with a towel, warm from the radiator. As I dried one of my feet I heard the unexpected sound of keys turning in the front door. I almost lost my balance in my surprise. My flat mate had been away a few days and wasn’t due to be home for another two hours but I assumed that they had been allowed to leave early. I wrapped a towel around myself and peeked my head around the door. “Kate? I didn’t think you’d be home so soon.” I shouted out. There was no response but I heard a shuffling noise in the kitchen. I tried to think rational thoughts. Maybe she had her headphones in, she often listened to music when she was travelling. I quickly moved through to my bedroom to throw on some clothes before going to see Kate. I put on some jeans and an old t-shirt and I could feel the moisture soaking in from the bits I missed drying.
I flicked on the hall light as I walked through on my way to the kitchen. I flung the door open, a smile ready on my face to welcome Kate home. My smile shrank a little as there was no sign of Kate in the kitchen. I was sure that I heard her. The pile of letters I had arranged carefully on the counter top had been left undisturbed, including a couple parcels from Amazon which I was sure she’d be eager to open. Perplexed I thought she might have gone into the living room. I closed the kitchen door behind me and absent-mindedly walked a few steps down the dingy hall and into the living room. The TV was on but still no sign of Kate. The TV was on the menu for all the shows we had recorded. One of Kate’s documentaries was highlighted and ready to play. If Kate was here, why hadn’t she come to say hi first? I figured she must have gone to get something from her room or maybe I had just missed her and she had went to see me in mine. It wasn’t a big flat but it wouldn’t be the first time we had walked around without seeing each other.
As I turned back into the corridor, I noticed how dark it was, except for the sliver of street light coming through a crack in the front door. I moved quickly and confirmed that the door was open, Kate’s keys still in the lock. Was she drunk? It was a bit early for that, but it would explain why she was acting so strangely. I pulled her keys from the lock, closed the door and locked it from the inside. I flicked on the hall light. Turning away from the front door I noticed that there was something lying in the middle of the hall. It was small. I was hoping that the neighbours’ cat hadn’t slipped in and left us a little dead thing as a present. I winced as I edged closer. I sighed and smiled as the little dead thing was actually a small teddy bear. Grabbing it, I noticed a small tag. It had a note, ‘Just wanted to see you’ scribbled in marker. A bit cutesy for Kate but it was nice. I went to put it in my bedroom when I heard my phone chirp again from the bathroom. The harsh light of the phone screen contrasted with the soft light of the candles as I grabbed the phone. I blew out the candles and checked my phone as I walked to my room. Two messages from Kate. The one from two seconds ago read “Train’s delayed. I don’t want to keep you up. Gonna crash at my sisters. Cya tomorrow :D” The other “Can you see if my keys are in my room? I’m sure I had them. Brainfart. Keep the door unlocked for me? I’ll be home soon x.”
I looked down at the Teddy bear in my other hand as I heard the kitchen door creak open.