The dim, shadow filled interior of Claire's apartment was motionless until her front door swung open and she came in, stepping across her doorstep. Outline against the soft lights outside, she paused, breathing contently for a moment, listening to the quiet serenity of her home, a subtle joy exuding from her.
With a soft click, Claire sealed the door shut behind her, her form falling back into the comforting shadows. She walked further in, slipping her coat easily off her shoulders. It dropped absently from her hands onto the back of the couch. She walked past it with a smile, not even watching where it fell. Claire's face was glowing. Somehow, she finally felt completely alive. Her mind, her heart, was still a million miles away, lingering on her incredible day with Trevor. Even without him there, Claire still floated, distracted as she crossed her dark living room. Every part of her body was still swimming in the warmth and exhiliration of the past 24 hours. Her skin still seemed to tingle with hundreds of remembered touches, like phantom caresses across her form.
She could still feel Trevor's mouth on hers, and thinking of that she grazed her fingers over her lips. The day had left her flush and warm with a universe of possibilities. Without a second thought, claire walked towards her kitchen, already humming a happy tune to herself, when suddenly she stopped as an unexpected coldness hit her. She pulled her arms in tight, crossing them across her button blouse, rubbing her hands over her arms as she shuddered. STanding there alone in the dark, Claire looked across her living room. Outline against the window, the large shadow of one of her house plants... moved. Claire looked at it for a moment, wondering. Curious, she walked towards it.
Suddenly, she stopped again, her body tensing as for no reason the large plant moved again, the white sway of curtain behind moving too. Growing worried, Claire came closer, cautious, slowly reaching out. Grabbing the curtain she slid it back, blinking at what she saw.
Behind the curtain, she had left the side window open. Another icy breeze wafted through, swaying the plant and the curtain again, before washing coldly over her skin.
Shivering, Claire stepped forward. With both hands she pulle dhte window down with a loud comforting thump, sealing her home into a calm stillness again. Thinking as she clicked the locks in place, she tried to recall when she had last opened that window, not able to remember doing it. It must have slipped her mind with all that ahd happened. She turned and walked away, humming happily again, thinking about her and Trevor and not giving it a second thought.
After moving out od sight, the sound of her humming faded, growing dimmer and dimmer. Soon there was the soft sounds of her steps on the stairs, rising as she walked up in the dark. Left there in silence, the white curtain was completely still. the plant no longer swayed. Dim on the wall nearby was a closet door, the cool surface of it's doorknob reflecting the small light penetrating the window. Everything was quiet, motionless in the deep shadows, covered in night. Then, after several long moments, the unnoticed doorknob attached to the dim closet door ever so slowly began to turn.
Upstairs Claire flipped on the lights in her darkened bedroom, two lamps on nightstands driving away the shadows with a soft comforting glow. Passing by , she stepped quietly onto the floor of her tiled bathroom, another light flicking brightly on above. Her hand reached down. Without thought, her fingers moved over the silver surface of the shower water faucets, spinning them both on, water spraying suddnely down with a soft hiss. tired, claire opened a cabinet beside the shower and took out a towel, laying it down within reach as she started to unbutton her blouse, eager for a shower.
Downstairs, surrounded on all sides by darkness, a few delicate beams of monlight were angling in through a window and onto the floor of Claire's living room. In the silence, a shadow moved. WIthout warning a silver handgun lifted into the light, held as a woman's pale fingers moved over it's cold surface lovingly, the metal glinting in the glow of the moon. With a slow click, the woman's hands quielty chambered a round. The only other sound sound was the soft hiss of the shower running upstairs. Silent, the unseen form holding the hand gun disappeared again into the shadows, heading towards Claire's bedroom.
Bathed in the bright lights of her bathroom, Claire was looking at herself in the mirror over the sink, noticing blemishes on her skin, the occasional new wrinkle. Intenet on her inspection, she continued, still parially dresse in a bra and dress slacks, her button shirt set aside nearby. Behind her the shower was still running, unoticed, when suddenly Claire felt a familiar chill crawl across her shoulders like downstairs, She tensed, feeling exposed, slowly turning her head. Claire strained to hear... sure she had heard something a moment before.
Claire moved, facing the open doorway behind her. The interior of her bedroom was dim beyond, seeing only the bed and wall. The door was still open, wide and empty, nothing moving in the room. Claire blinked, waiting. Something struck her as odd, unable to put a finger on the sudden nervousness she felt, just watching, not moving. Reaching over, she quickly turned off the running water, the bathroom going quiet excpet for the slowing residual drops falling from the shower head. Claire paused, listening even more intently now in the new silence, growing more concerned. The looming open doorway to her bedroom felt menacing somehow as she carefully listened. And then, she heard it.
Claire's breath stilled, a coldness flowing over her exposed, wet skin at the sound of the dim, far off music playing in her home, inexplicable, halting, haunting music, just perceptible to the ear. She didn't move, her face going blank. Staying calm, finally she wrapped a towel around herself, stepping out of the shower. Cautiously, she stepped into the dimmer light of her bedroom, her hair still wet and dripping, comcern in her gaze, eyes steady before her. The open hallway door was dark, a shadowed portal growing larger as she slowly approached. The strange, onimous music grew louder slightly. It was still dim, coming from downstairs.
The dim shadows of the hallway walls slid slowly by on either side of her as she moved. But there was a utter silence except for the music, as if all other sound was hiding, waiting. The approaching stairwell opened like a pit before her, and she paused, looking down. There was nothing but shadows and dim light beneath. And softly rising up to her, the sounds of an orchestra, more clearly now. Gripping the rail for support, Claire took a step down into the darkness, her eyes unblinking, searching.
The obstruction of the ceiling rose away, revealing her dark living room. No one was there. Nothing moved except the shadows on her curtains of trees dancing wildly in a silent wind. And above all, music. Slow, ominous music. Her eyes moved to a small blue light glowing coldly acroos the room. She walked through the darkness and over to it. It was the display of her living room stereo, playing a cd, no other light in the room. It's blue glow lit her darkened face as her brow wrinkled, blackness behind her as she wondered why her stereo was on. She hadn't turned it on when she came in. Blinking she looked at the readout, the music playing as it scrolled a title, The Nutcracker Suite, Movement XX.
Claire blinked. She didn't even have a CD like that. What was going on? She looked around, but nothing moved in the shadows. Still, she had the strange sensation that she was being watched. Confused, she looked back at the stereo, and then something caught her eye, making her lips part in suprise. She slowly reached out, and her fingers touched the small golden statue of Eros she had never seen placed there, it's face frozen in a laugh, it's arrow pointed straight at her.
Without a sound, Claire's body froze. The sensation on her back of someone watching her grew even stronger, but she couldn't bring herself to turn around. And then somehow, she felt it. One of the shadows behind her... was moving. Claire's breath was soft, quick and shallow, her pulse quickening as the music played and she tried not to move, the stairwell a few steps behind her. Without turning her head, she could see it out of the corner of her eye, a new outline moving against the light of the windows. And then, something lifted, and the quiet click of a lever being pulled back.
The living room around her burst into dizzying motion as in that instant, Claire darted for the stairs, desperate to leave as she ran upward, her breath loud and fast as she pounded up the steps, the walls bouncing and quivering in a dizzy vista of motion. The music followed her, filling her home all around her, slow and patient. Claire plastered herself against the wall in the hallway, looking back. She could still hear pounding like someone was running up the stairs, until she realized it was the frantic sound of her heart beating in her ears. her breath was going a thousand miles per hour, as she watched, waited. There was no sound but the music.
Claire darted across the hallway and into her bedroom, quietly closing the door. She began to clear her head, thinking what to do, eyes locked onto the doorknob, watching it. She grabbed at the cordless phone, taking it with her, her mind working. She knew that statue downstairs. She knew that shadow had a gun, she had heard it click, ready to fire. Claire reached over, turning out lights quickly, not wanting to be an easy well lit target from the shadows. She rushed into her bathroom, locking the door. Quickly she dialed 911.
In the shadows downstairs Faith waited, listening calmly to the music. With a smile she watched, watching as the phone nearby suddenly came to life with a red LED light, next to the words In Use. She waited patiently, giving Claire the time she knew she needed.
A calm voice spoke throught the small phone speaker against Claire's ear.
"911. What's your emergency?"
"Hi. I'm trapped by an intruder in my house. My name is Claire Allen at--"
The interior of the cop car was silent, it's engine quiet until the dispatch radio screeched suddenly to life, grabbing the attention of the two police officers in the car.
The same female voice came blaring through, breaking the quiet as the two men leaned forward in attention.
"Unit 323, report of an armed intruder, possible mental patient at--"
The engine suddenly roared louder as the car accelerated, one of the men answeing the call as the other buckled down the compartment. The two police officers watched the reflected city lights of Chicago swivel over their dark hood as they raced around a corner, the world around turning to motion and light as their siren suddenly broke the night air and slower cars sped past on either side, a blanket red and blue flashing out over everything as they raced forward.
"Ok, Ma'am. A cruiser is on the way. Stay on the line with me. Are you in a safe location?"
Claire was crouched down, listening to the voice of the 911 operator on the phone as she tried to stay calm, eyes locked on the door. "Yes, I'm in my locked bathroom, but please, hurry! I think---"
But please, hurry!
Without warning the house went dark. Claire paused in the new silence, her breath sounding fast and loud. he bathroom was now dark, and the phone was dead against ehr ear, all the power in her house having shut off.
No sound on the stairs at all. But then she saw a shadow on the wall, caused by someone slowly, delicately coming up.