Traces

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic


Has somebody been inside your home or is it just your imagination?

Submitted: February 01, 2018

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Submitted: February 01, 2018

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A A A


Traces

Something feels wrong. You don’t know why but the feeling is there. Everything seems to be where it should be; yes, you are sure that nothing has been moved not even by an inch. The feeling remains though, that someone has been inside your home.

Stealthy, silent, you move from one room to the next, listening hard before opening a door, peering in before turning on the light. No one is inside with you. You are all alone.

It’s not until you let out that deep breath that you realize you were holding it in, scared that the air escaping from your lungs would draw attention to you. Glad that you live alone really; you’d have appeared totally paranoid if you’d brought home company.

Even though you have reassured yourself, you leave the place lit up. So you’ll be wasting a bit of electricity, but not really. Haven’t you got little tasks to attend to in each and every room? If you hadn’t, you have now. You will not admit that you are still unnerved.

You pull the drapes as soon as the sun begins to set. It’s not that you feel you might be being watched. No, there’s nothing special about you, no secrets, no admirers, and you are certainly not making anyone jealous. You are just being careful, want to relax.

But you can’t, can you? That odd feeling is lingering; that sense that someone has intruded in your personal space. There’s an open bottle of whiskey that’s got your name on it....one won’t do any harm. Then you go to bed, after checking several times that all the locks are in place, the windows secured. You’ll read a while, something unthreatening; you fall asleep with the book open on your pillo; that’s why your lamp was left turned on.

* * * *

In the morning you feel kind of foolish. How could you have let your imagination run away with you? What would your work-mates say if they knew you’d slept with the light on all night. Well, that’s another thing about living alone; no one to tell them if you don’t.

Even though you know your fears were unfounded, you can’t stop yourself from having an extra check at that door once you’ve pulled it shut behind you. You push it hard, just making sure that the lock is firmly in place. Then, shaking your head at your irrational thoughts you make your way to work.

Getting home, though, you get that sense, even stronger this time, that someone has been inside. And they’ve been more blatant about it, haven’t they? Wasn’t that mug you left on the other side of the table? But maybe not, maybe you are remembering it wrong.

Again, you prowl around your house, just checking. Does it look like somebody has been sitting on the bottom of your bed? You’d straightened it out before you left, you can remember that. Did you sit on the bottom of it, perhaps to put your shoes on? Why is it so difficult to remember for sure?

There’s a faint smell that doesn’t belong. You sniff, trying to determine what it is of but it’s just not strong enough. You might be imagining it, or perhaps it’s been transferred to your clothes during the day and you’ve brought it in with you. Yes, that’s got to be it. Hasn’t it?

The urge to go out for the evening, to just get away, is hard to resist. There’s one problem though, one thing that stops you. If you go out, you have to return? You don’t want to have to check again, not in the dark. Better to stay home, to stay safe and secure.

The question though that is preying on your mind is are you secure? If someone really is letting them in somehow, would it not be safer to go out? Stay out? Perhaps book into a hotel for a night or two, just until you can banish this unfounded anxiety? You no longer know whether you are being rational in your fears or not.

Even with the lights on, the night drags by so slowly. Every creak from the building, every car that passes down the street, the occasional footsteps of a pedestrian....all have you wide awake and feeling totally on edge.

A bad night’s sleep means you miss your alarm, end up being late and in a real rush. There’s no time to think what you are doing. You just go through the barest of essentials, gulp down half a cup of coffee. Tossing out some rubbish from your pocket in to the bin, you make for the door, pull it shut behind you.

There’s no time for you to give in to your paranoia this morning. You are going to have to run or you’ll miss the bus. It’s only when you are sitting in your seat that you remember something odd. When you chucked that rubbish in the bin, what was lying there, near the top?

A cigarette end! And you don’t smoke.

* * * *

Your work-mates are giving you funny looks. Okay, so you’re not working anywhere near up to scratch; you are holding up the team. It’s clear that some of them are concerned about you but maybe feel it’s not their place to ask. Should you confide in someone? Should you give voice to your fears?

Half relieved and half reluctant, you decide to stay silent. Instead you spend the day mulling over possible reasons for there to be a cigarette end in your bin. Perhaps it had somehow got in your pocket with the rubbish, and it’s quite innocent. On the other hand, perhaps that would account for that strange smell. If only it had been stronger you would have recognised it as tobacco smoke, wouldn’t you? Or maybe it wasn’t even there, was nothing more than your eyes playing tricks; you’d have a look as soon as you got home.

Eager to check out the bin, you dash straight in doors. There is none of the caution of the last few days, none of the stealth. You push open the bin, stare inside. There is the rubbish that you took from your pocket, but where is that cigarette end? You can’t see it at the top, so plunge your hands deeper into the bin, dragging the trash out of it and on to the floor. It is not until it is completely empty that you accept that you were wrong. There is no cigarette end, was no cigarette end, and perhaps you are going crazy.

You pick it all up, put it back in the bin and go to the sink to wash your hands. It is only when you pick up a towel to dry them that you notice something you just know is wrong. Two cups are left on the table, not just one!

Frantically you race from room to room. Is it really you that is shouting? “Who the hell are you? And what do you want with me?” There’s no one, not a sign. You dart back to the table, creep slowly towards it and those two cups. Which one is yours? Your head is so messed up that you can’t remember which side you left it on.

It’s crazy! It has to be you doing things, forgetting. It’s not crazy, you are!

And then you here the key in the lock, see the door swing open. A voice that sounds almost like yours calls, “Honey, I’m home!”

She steps into the room, stands opposite you and it could be you standing in front of a mirror. Apart from the gun. You are not pointing a gun at your reflection but it is pointing one straight at you. A smile! You’re not smiling. No you want to run, to scream; it’s not you, is it? An imposter, an intruder, some kind of replica.

Why?” is the question that forms on your mouth when she pulls the trigger and prevents you from ever having the chance to find out.


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