It will happen like this.
You will walk down a street late one night. Alone. Your home will come into view along this street—three levels, terraced, and sandwiched between two identical abodes. You’ll slow your pace as you walk along your street. There’s no reason to rush, you’ll tell yourself. It’s safe here. With hundred-year-old row homes watching over you, and streetlights guiding the way, what could go wrong along an ordinary street like this? You’ll even stop to crouch down and retie your shoelaces.
You’ll spin around, still crouched and shoelaces forgotten, heart thumping in your chest. Your eyes will scan the street, darting between parked cars and dark windows.
You’ll approach a rubbish bin that’s fallen on its side, contents spewing out and tarnishing your perfect street. A cat will screech and hiss from the bin when you try to clean the mess. It’ll scratch at your arm before running off, and you’ll swear and curse the damn thing for ruining your favourite coat. You’ll fix the bin and carry on towards your home.
Your walk will take you past a small park fitted between two homes. The soft glow from the streetlights won’t quite reach the play area. The swings will rock back and forth in the wind, and the roundabout will slowly spin. A gentle creak will echo through the otherwise silent street.
The trees will be bare and damp, and droplets of water will plummet from the branches to the ground, creating puddles along the path. You will walk through some of these puddles, and water will seep into your shoe through a small hole in your shoe, dampening your sock and sending a shiver up your spin. At least, that’s what you’ll tell yourself the shiver is from.
It’s cold, you’ll decide. That’s why the hairs on the back of your neck will stand straight and why you’ll decide to quicken your pace.
You’ll scold yourself for being so childish. There’s no reason to rush along your street. It’s a safe street. An ordinary street. Nothing ever happens on your street. You’ll even look over your shoulder just to prove yourself right.
There will be a dark figure standing at the end of the street, arms crossed behind their back, and feet planted into the ground. Your breath will catch in your throat.
You’ll turn around and continue to walk towards your home. Your thoughts will start to race, but you’ll be closer—only forty meters to go.
You will feel eyes on you, digging into you, and you won’t be able to shake them. You won’t be able to resist the temptation to glance back, and when you do, you’ll wish that you had. The dark figure will be closer, their pose unchanged. You’ll keep your gaze on the figure and take a step back. The figure will take a step forward, careful and measured, as though they know how this will go.
You’ll continue to step backwards, and the figure will follow. Your breathing will quicken, heart rate climb, and palms grow sweaty despite the icy chill.
‘What do you want?’ You’ll shout, hoping the figure won’t be able to hear the shakiness to your voice.
You’ll get no response. The figure will move forward, arms still behind their back.
Fuck this, you’ll think before turning around and running towards your home.
You’ll hear footfalls behind you, quick and loud and unstoppable. You’ll run and run, breathing in the icy air, and your throat will begin to burn, screaming for you to stop. You’ll be so close; you won’t be able to stop.
And then the footsteps will stop. A silence will fill the street; it will consume like fire. You’ll spin around and search the street with desperate eyes and a laboured breath. It will be empty, the figure nowhere to be seen. You’ll stand alone in the street, confused, and wonder where the figure went.
A gentle breeze will whistle through the street, a warning for you to leave. Don’t stay, the breeze will warn. Run and don’t look back.
You’ll heed the warning and spin your heels, quickly walking towards your home. You’ll feel a prickle on the back of your neck, a tingle zapping up and down your spine, sending jolts out to your fingers and toes. You’ll know that something won’t be right. You’ll keep your head low as you walk towards your home, eyes glancing to the side every so often lest the figure return.
A dark blur will dash along the street, and you’ll stop dead in your tracks as your eyes dart around the street. But there will be nothing. You’ll feel a puff of air on the back of your neck and an almost silent shriek will slip through your lips. You’ll spin around, expecting to meet your end, except there will be nothing. The street will still be empty. You will still be alone.
There will be another gust of wind, this one far more sinister than the last. It will cut through the street and slice at your exposed skin.
Ba-dum, ba-dum, your heart will go, begging for you to run.
The wind will howl and moan, shaking trees and pushing you to the ground. Your coat will fly open, and the wind will snake itself around you, wrapping you in a near suffocating embrace.
A flash of lightning will illuminate the sky and a crack of thunder will follow. It’ll be enough of a distraction for the wind to loosen its hold, so you’ll scramble to your feet as the sky splits open and rain starts to fall in sheets. You’ll pull your coat up over your head as you run towards your abode, and then take the stairs two at a time before stopping at your front door.
The porch light will flicker, and you’ll feel those eyes on your back again, watching you steep in fear. Your stomach will sink, chest tighten, and throat go dry when you turn around and spot the figure waiting at the bottom of your steps.
The figure will climb the stairs, taking each step with ease and care, and unfazed by the violent storm.
Your heart will pound against your ribs, trying to break free. You’ll dig your keys from your pocket and try too quickly to unlock your door. There will be too many keys. You won’t know which unlocks your door. You’ll have to try them all.
You’ll force each key into the lock and turn, desperate to hear that click, and then all you’ll have is one. Your hands will shake as you try to push the last one in, and a quick glance over your shoulder will tell you that the figure will be on the final step.
You’ll hold your breath, slide the last key into the lock, and turn it.
You’ll release a shaky breath, and a smile will creep across your face.
You’ll push the door open and that’s when you’ll feel a hand grab your arm. Your muscles will go stiff as you slowly turn around, and the safety of your home will go forgotten when you see the figure looming over you.
You’ll scream louder than you ever have before—a futile plea for help and you’ll know it too. The wind and rain will drown out your screams. You’ll kick and claw at the figure, but it’ll be like catching smoke. The figure’s ever tightening grip will be the only solid thing about it. They’ll drag you into your home and then the front door will close with a soft click as the lock falls into place.
The wind will stop its howling, the rain will cease to fall, and the cat that knocked the bin over will sit in an open window frame of a home across from yours. The homeowner—a young widow with two children of her own—will come up to the window when she feels a draught sneaking in. She’ll gently scratch behind her cat’s ears as she looks across the way, and she’ll wonder what her neighbour did to anger the forces of the street.
Melissa is an emerging Brisbane based writer currently studying a BFA in creative writing. She often writes short stories and enjoys exploring the horror and psychological thriller genres.