Exist - A thriller with an impossible Mystery

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
Martha Realing moves into her new house on her own, a week before her boyfriend is due to join her. Little did she know that going out through the front door would leave to devastating consequences...

Submitted: November 17, 2011

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Submitted: November 17, 2011

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In boxes, my life sat silently in darkness, everything which had been significant to me waiting to ensue into a new scene. I was leaving home.

 

My name is Martha Realing…

I’m 20 years old and finally taking the plunge to move into a new life with George, my absolutely miraculous boyfriend. He’s handsome, clever and I just love him. Always….

 

Chapter 1

 

The removal lorry arrived followed by a band of two rather burly looking men. “Eh up,” one of them said eyeing me in an uncomfortable manner before making his way up the stairs to collect my furniture. Looking down at the carpet, I saw a dark stain evidently made by one of the men which was strewn up the stairs and most likely into my bedroom. “And that’s how well they care about customer’s property,” said my mother harshly so that they would hear her.

They lifted the furniture down the stairs, yet not as warily as their motto said: ‘careful, reliable handling, you can trust us.’ I closed my eyes as I heard a vicious scratch - the chest of drawers painfully scraped across the wallpaper leaving an ugly tear. But they didn’t notice.

And so, taking my boxes out to the lorry was my worst nightmare. Those that said fragile were held carelessly, the sound of plates sliding around and colliding into one another vexing me. They threw the boxes into the lorry, dangerously placed on top of each other, able to fall and smash the contents. Furniture, my wardrobe looked as if it could topple and contribute to the damage of my delicate belongings.

  “Thankyou very much so,” I said enthusiastically but wanting to say it sarcastically. Part of me wondered whether to mention the damage and kindly ask them to cover the carpet at my new property with sheets, but then perhaps they would be hastier if I mentioned it. So I let it be.

“Is that everything love?” spoke one of the men. He was a pale man with long, matted, greasy hair and an unshaven face. The jumper he wore was browned and dirty, a murky stain settled underneath his collar. I shuddered.

“Erm, yes I suppose. I shall just check.” Quickly, I ran up the stairs into my bedroom with a last moment excuse to see the grim souvenir left by the men but strangely enough, there wasn’t a stain in sight. In fact, the men’s shoes were all cleanly polished and the soles were spotless as I could see as they walked.

“Yes, all my possessions are loaded. Thankyou again,” I said before they climbed into the lorry and drove off round the corner.

“Well that was, interesting,” I stammered. “If I ever move again, I am not choosing them. I hate to see the remains of my pots.”

“Hmm yes Martha, they made me feel dreadfully uncomfortable,” moaned my mother. “But hey, we better head up to your house hon. Got to decide where you’re putting everything.”

I was moving into a small terraced house in Burnley, the town I lived as a child. Small, but ample it would accommodate me and my boyfriend George who would be coming to live with me in a weeks time.

My mother drove me to the house as I had not yet learnt to drive. It frightened me to think about being out on the road alone and even with mother driving I felt clammy and withdrawn, a phobia I’d had since an accident when I was a child; one which took the life of my father.

He had taken me and my  Jennifer to the shopping mall in the summer holidays. At the time, I was 11 years old about to move into the next year at school, Jen was 13 and we were both urgently needing school shoes and uniform for going back in September. It had been a miserable day of unsuccessful shoe fitting, yet perked up by dad taking us for a meal at an Indian restaurant. That meal became the most memorable and pleasurable one I had experienced after we had become exasperated from the tiresome, long and terrible service we had been given. Our meal after 1 ½ hours  of ordering had still not arrived so when the waiter took the wrong dishes to our table, we accepted them however faced perplexed looks from the people on the opposite table.

Two hours later we left the shopping mall in the car with smiles on our faces and bags of badly fitted shoes. These smiles were soon interrupted when we discovered that dad was driving faster than the speed limit permitted.

“Dad it’s 30 miles per hour down here!” yelled Jennifer, slamming her hands against the back of his seat, but he didn’t take notice of her worrying words. I looked at the speed indicator; it showed a bold number of 80 miles per hour. Houses and trees outside the window flew past in a blur of colours.

It was at that moment my insides went numb as the car lifted like a plane and spun around 3 times before landing with a terrific crunch. I was thrown muscularly towards the passenger’s seat.  For a few seconds I lay there motionless before a sudden surge of horrific pain took hold of my body. But what met my eyes next put my awareness off the exhausting pain…

 

Blood.

 

I must have fainted as I woke up in a hospital bed to a grey looking nurse looking down at me.

“Hello Martha, how are you feeling?’

“Er, what I don’t understand. What’s happened?”

“You’ve had an accident and you’re in hospital. As you can probably feel, you’ve got severe wounds on your head and you’ve broken your wrist.’

In fact, I couldn’t feel anything let alone I couldn’t remember the cause of my accident.

“What accident was I in?”

“A car accident,” the nurse snapped. She was the type of person that didn’t like answering questions, just wanting to get on with her business.

“Your mother is here. Do you wish to see her?”

 

Mum was red faced and black shadows surrounded her tired, blood shot eyes. Her hair was tied back into a tight, messy ponytail and she wore no makeup causing her to look aged and exhausted.

“Martie, your…” My mother cried putting her hands on my shoulders.

“I’m fine mum. You can relax, be happier now!”

“That is great but he’s gone.”

“Who?” I asked curiously.

“Your father. He broke his neck in the impact and passed away in hospital.”

 

“Are you ever going to learn to drive Martha?” Mother asked suddenly. “I’m not always going to be able to transport you.”

“I’m not ready yet Mum. I don’t even feel prepared to move home.”

We arrived at the street I would be living on, only something felt very strange about it. There were no cars parked on the sides of the road and also, every house was derelict, white paint turned grey, moulding windows and large cracks upon the walls. Except my house. And although it was summer, the canopy, or what was supposed to be, of trees over the road were bare of leaves. Spindly fingers of branches, a wild maze of tangled skeletal limbs.

“Lets get started then ey?” said the man who I had just noticed his name badge. Joseph.

“I think we shall Joseph.” I went scarlet after saying his name.

 

 

 

 

 

The process was a repeat of earlier on; furniture crashing against the walls, fragile belongings getting seemingly broken however this time without an eyesore on the cream carpet.

“I don’t like the appearance of this street.” I mumbled to Mother, who was sat upon the sofa with her head in her hands. “When I came to visit this house, the street was okay, the houses were fine and there were many a people living here.”

“I know Martha. It’s a little weird but don’t let it get to you. There will be a totally logical and insignificant explanation.”

The living room was large and bright with a great fireplace. Being in such a bigger room, the sofa looked awkward and out of place and the television, which had been in my bedroom beforehand, appeared too small.

I showed the men where to put everything and made sure the lorry was empty. They seemed the sort of people to leave a box or two in there.

“All done,” said Joseph. “We hope you enjoy your new house.”

 Enjoy it? I’ll be out of this place within months, I thought.

“I’m sure I will. Thankyou for your work.”

Sitting down in the lounge, it felt uneasily quiet. I noticed my mother’s face was pale, her eyes dark with makeup.

“I didn’t think you’d be moving into this dump,” she cried unable to control the pitch of her voice. “This next week is going to be so horrible for you, alone in this house. If you have any problems, who’s going to help you?”

I hadn’t thought over this. Never had I stayed alone before and with no-one nearby to help me, the concept worried me. Mother couldn’t stay as she was working in the morning and my new job was just round the corner, starting first thing in the morning.

The local shop had advertised a Saturday assistant which I took to straight away. Being a university student, I needed a job to keep up with paying for rent, fees and food. I had never had a job before, partly because I was lethargic, but also as I parents paid for most things for me. They had a lot of money and had sent me to a private school which I actually loathed. My parents had said ‘it will enhance your educational experience’ but in fact had left me with no friends, except a snobby lad who was too clingy and always attempted to kiss me when he had the chance.

I wasn’t pretty, well, that’s what I thought. George always told me that I was the most beautiful lass he had ever met and wouldn’t know what he’d be doing in life if he hadn’t got me. Having him was such a pleasure but how I got him as a boyfriend, I don’t know.

I’d liked him for a year before he asked me out. It was when I first started college where we were both studying for A levels In music when I first started fancying him. He was tall with long, brown shoulder length hair and a muscular figure and having never been confident around guys, I was surprised to find that it was easy to talk to him.

“You like live bands Martie?” he asked one day, putting his arms around me, his hair in my face and his breath on my shoulder.

I loved live music especially rock and jazz. It was fantastic to find that he was so similar to me.

 “Indeed I do.”

 

 “It will be fine Mum. Any problems I will call you. You’re so pessimistic, come on, calm it down!”

  It was getting rather dark by now so I turned the light on; it buzzed and flickered and the bulb unexpectedly smashed. Shards of glass shattered over the floor fortunately missing my mother and me.

“Good start ey?” I laughed. “I’ll get us a drink in celebratory of my fantastic new house!”

“Indeed a good start and a great idea - that is if the glasses aren’t in pieces.”

Luckily I opened the box of glasses to find them in good condition though I was yet to look at the other glasses and plates. In the cupboard, there was a nice surprise of a bottle of lemonade left by the previous residents and a packet of biscuits.

“We’re alright Mum, glasses are good and there are biscuits. Is that good?

There was no answer.

“Is that okay Mum?” I asked nervously. “Mother?”

Taking the drinks into the lounge, I jumped. She wasn’t there.

 

Chapter 2

 

  “Mum? Where have you got to?”

A shiver was sent up my spine. There was again no answer.

I checked the front door to find it locked from the inside which relaxed me. She was in the house somewhere. But, looking round every room carefully, it frightened me to find that she was nowhere to be seen.

“Right, call her.” I said to myself.

  I dialled her number and put my ear to the phone. Her ringtone could not be heard in my house. She answered.

“Hello Mum… where are you?”

“At home Martha why? Do you need me?”

 “How did you… huh? You’re at home.”

“Yes love. What’s wrong?”

 “It’s just that… Mum stop playing about. You nerved me.’

“Martha, where are you? I’ve been calling you all afternoon.”

“No, listen to me! What is going on?”

In the background of the call, I could hear the television booming; this was a definite sign that she wasn’t in my house.

“I don’t really know what you’re getting at hon. you’re late home and have gotten me worried.”

“Okay, yeah. Is this some kind of joke Mother?”

She didn’t reply; a silence quieter than silence filled the room. I called her name. Twice. Again, no reply.

‘Mum…’ I spoke again, yet quietly into the phone. She had put the phone down in frustration, that myself she thought had gone mad.

Sitting upon the sofa, I looked out the window. The blackened windows of the desolate houses stared at me as a white moon cast an eerie glow upon the street. Opposite my house stood an old, withered tree, its gnarled fingers thin and leave-bare. A car slipped by. A sign post swayed uncontrollably in the gust.

I pulled the curtains together. They were dark grey and heavy and made the room seem uncomfortably dark. But then, something hit me.

The light bulb was back in place.

But how? I had been sitting there all along, awake, aware. There had been no-one in the room except me. Reaching up, I touched the bulb, my hand shaking to find that it was hot; I pulled my hand away immediately. In fact, there were no pieces of broken glass over the carpet or in the wicker bin in the corner of the room.

‘Give it a break Martie,’ I sighed.

  So, I decided to start unloading my boxes in the hall, the first being my decorations for the house. My photographs I had considered the most valuable of my possessions, memories left on pieces of paper satisfied me and I felt that I would feel more at home with them in view.

A burnished, silver frame held a photo of me and George on holiday. We had gone to Devon and had experienced terrible weather conditions of which when walking along a Cliffside path; I had called for emergency help after the warm, fine day had changed into a stormy, windy experience. The picture showed me and him sitting on a green bench waiting for the helicopter, the water behind us crashing against the sheer, battered cliffs. His arms around me, I had felt safe yet the winds were strong enough to pull us off and we sat legs round the bench in order to stop ourselves from slipping.

I brushed the dust off the photo. A thick, grey layer shrouded the contents of the picture. My hair was a mess in the photo, flying about in every direction it made me laugh every time I saw it. But this time I didn’t laugh. Something was wrong. Someone was missing.

 

George wasn’t there.

 

I let out a scream examining the picture closely. Was it the right one I was looking at? Hurriedly, I tipped out all the objects in the box to check that I wasn’t looking at the wrong photo. There was no other photo like it. But, my photo album awaited more disbelief. Every picture which had George on it now held the background in his place and I could see things in the photos that I had never noticed before; people and objects which were hiding behind George.

My eyes welled up with tears and whether it was my shock of seeing this or the concern that I was going mad which caused me to get upset. However hard I tried to picture George in those pictures, he never appeared back. Me and George’s experience was a lost memory.

‘But I know you were there, George.’

George was a practical joker, trying to

I turned on the television to try and take my mind of the situation then found myself watching a monotonous program about inner city housing – terraced housing which I was living in. It talked about the dilapidation of the buildings, people moving away because of the poor facilities.

“Yes, tell me about it,” I muttered in agreement still jolted by the photograph shock.

By then, I was getting rather weary and considered sleeping on the sofa. I didn’t want to go upstairs as a swelling sense of paranoia was moving around my stomach. Everything around me was watching me and so, it would be worse upstairs. Wardrobe doors would be ready to swing open, noises under the bed…

Suddenly I heard someone knock on the door; three intense, solid thumps. I froze. Slowly and carefully, I looked through the gap in the curtains keeping my body out of view; there was no-one there.

They knocked again but this time louder and stronger.

“Alright, calm down. I’m coming,” I yelled forcefully.

It’s George, I thought and hoped. He’s playing a joke on me. Bless.

I stepped into the hall and peered towards the door; a blackened figure stood before it yet I could not tell whether it was a man or a woman.

Peeking out the curtains again in the lounge, again, there was no-one stood in front of the door. The clock chimed.

I laughed which drained out into a stammering cry. Of fear.

“Now is not the time to call. Perhaps call again in the morning.”

All of a sudden, the stature twisted the door knob. Left, right, left, right, left, right. My hands crept up towards my face, over my eyes, my head turning away in fear. The shape shook the door violently causing some of the paint to fall to the floor. An aggressive sound of rattling vibrated the floor and echoed throughout the house.

“George my love. Joke is over. It has done its job. You can stop now!” I shouted so loudly that the sound bounced of the windows. My anger was effervescing inside me.

The silhouette put its hands to the window and spread its fingers out. Its nails scraped across the glass leaving 10 indents and then it turned around and walked away

It was then I decided to call George. I picked up my phone, disappointed to find that I had no messages and then searched George in my contacts. He wasn’t in my contacts.

“Buggar.”

Dialling his number quickly, I put my mobile to my ear only to find that the network said ‘incorrect number. This number has not yet been occupied.’

I felt sick.

 

I had been asleep for hours when I woke up to my phone ringing and missed it. Unfortunately enough, the missed calls said it was an unknown number and so, I couldn’t call back.

The house was overly quiet apart from the sound of a clock ticking upstairs. A strong gust rushed underneath the doors roaring and screaming. A door slammed upstairs.

“Be quiet.”

In this terrifying silence, a sound hit me.

 

Footsteps

 

They were creeping around the room above which was my bedroom and they were weighty, slapdash steps getting louder and louder. And they stopped.

I took a deep breath and thought about calling the police stating that there was someone trying the door and then there was someone in my house but in the end I decided not. Anyway, I was going mad wasn’t I?

It’s an inherited thing where people in my family experience mental illness at some stage of their life. Perhaps it was my time for that. My Mother had been experiencing hallucinations after the death of my father and I had once found her talking to a man in her bedroom.

“Harry?” I heard her say. “How did you get up here? I mean, my goodness, oh, I can’t believe I’m seeing you!”

With those words repeating in my head,  I rushed into her bedroom to find her sitting in her chair talking to her self.

“It’s all good. I mean, it’s lonely,” she muttered. “I have Martha though she helps me. Don’t you?”

“I do yes, um, Mother, I really think I should get some help from someone else. This business is making you depressed, hopeful for what will never happen…”

“I beg you pardon. Martha, I expect you to greet your father.”

“Mum, Dad is here no more,” I whispered in attempt to stay on her good side. When she was having a time like this, her mind playing tricks on her, a word, just one could confuse her.

“He is here Martie. Answer him! What is up with you?”

“Dad is not around no longer, and you know that. But you’re hoping that perhaps you were thinking it all up. Come on Mother, pull away and we talk it all out.” I sounded harsh, unwarily crude, but there was nothing worse than seeing her that state, shivering, crying.

“I can assure you I am not mental. Harry is sitting right here and all I can say is you know it really but you don’t believe it!” My mother yelled this until her voice crackled with sorrow, slamming her head purposely against the wall.

“I – AM – SEEING – THIS – AREN’T – I?” She said each word every time she hit her head against the wall. “Tell me I am Martha, tell me, and reassure me I am not going mad. Please Martha.”

“I’m sorry. Let’s talk this over with. I can help you. Please.”

 

For a moment, I stood there in thought until my mobile rang and broke the silence. An unknown number came up on the screen.

 

‘Hello,’ I said cautiously yet a reply was replaced by a faint shuffling sound in the background. Suddenly someone spoke.

‘Martha. Do not open the front door. I mean it. Just don’t do it!’ The familiar voice of a man shouted down the phone emphasising every syllable with sharpness.

‘Oh why not? And… but who is this calling?’

‘Telling you would only make the problem much worse. I can only tell you not to open the door in the hope to change fate. Yet fate is fate. We still have to move on with our life even if it runs in the wrong order.’

‘Sorry I don’t understand. You mean something is going to happen if I open the front door or is this a message from my mother as she’s worried about me keeping safe on a first night. But why would she tell you?’

‘What awaits that front door is unknown. Sent all residents away from that street. Promise me you won’t open the door until I tell you it is safe. I am sorting out the dilemma now.’

‘And what do I get for making this promise?’ I asked impatiently, annoyed by the fact that a stranger was telling me not to go outside.

‘Life.’

‘Well I’ll use my backdoor then. Is tha…’

The incongruity of having a phone call of a definite warning had given me a strong sense of perplexity. In some way, the man’s voice was trusting and as he was trying to help me I took his word. However, he had not said whether I could leave the house in daylight, a problem as to getting to work in the morning.

 

Can I leave the house in daylight? I texted him eager to get a reply in order to make plans for the following day.

Man: NO. AND THERE IS NO NEED TO CALL YOUR WORK EITHER. IT’S DIFFICULT TO EXPLAIN.

 

Martha: How do you know I work tomorrow morning?

 

Man: I know a lot about you. We’re close.

 

Martha: Why can’t you tell me who you are? If you know me, you will know my intense opinion on keeping secrets…

 

Man: Because telling you who I am would cause you to make the wrong choice. You will make the wrong choice anyway but I am trying my hardest to prevent it from happening.

 

Martha: Strange things keep happening. My boyfriend George who doesn’t exist, Mum disappearing, lights breaking and a man at the door who wasn’t even there.

 

Man: They will do.

 

***

 

The rest of the evening and night was spent laying on the sofa listening out for any chilling noises. A sleepless night it was as I thought over the evening’s events. Who was it that gave me the warning? Why couldn’t I open my front door?

I lay there throughout the night until the light slowly started to seep intensely through the gap in the curtain. It was an extremely hot day with the Met Office saying that it was the hottest August day for 5 years. My clothes were clinging to my body which was covered in a sticky film of sweat and my hair was spewing with oil as I got up to get a shower. It was then I realised that I hadn’t journeyed upstairs since I had moved in the previous day.

Having a shower gave me the first sense of normality after moving into the house. It gave me the chance to review my thoughts and feelings whilst feeling safe and away from any danger. The water was so refreshing as it trickled out of the shower and as I stood under the powerful force of the water

 

All of a sudden, the bathroom door swung open. I jumped hitting my head on the tiles causing me to yelp in pain. I concentrated on the pain in my head for a moment burying my head in my hands to relieve myself. I didn’t want to look at what awaited me, how the bathroom door had opened by itself. Nervously, I slid my hands down my face and then screamed in what was delight but equally could have been shock.

‘George!’ I slipped out the shower without putting a towel around my body throwing my arms around him and squeezing him so tightly I felt I was hurting him. He put his lips upon mine and gave me one long kiss that could never be forgotten leaving me with a strong tingly feeling.

‘What’s all the excitement for Martie?’

‘You’re home so early. A week. Oh gosh last night was awful alone!’

‘Alone? What are you talking about?’

‘First night here last night was oh so strange and scary. Oh what am I like?’

‘Crazy, nice one Martha,’ laughed George putting his hands onto my stomach. ‘And how is little one doing today?’ George leant down and spoke in a childish voice to my abdomen. My abdomen that was unsightly large.

 

I was pregnant.

 

But how? I had been perfectly minutes before or I hadn’t noticed my bulging belly that now lifted itself into my line of sight.

 

I let out a murmur of a cry running out of the bathroom in embarrassment and confusion. For about half an hour I lay on my bed, bare of sheets and lay without clothes, my tears being absorbed by the mattress. George sat beside me, attempting to hold my hands but not saying a word in case he would further sadden me.

‘Please go in the cardboard box nearest to the door and pull out my white dress,’ I finally said. The was one that would make me feel very feminine and pretty in which I was needing to feel now. Sitting there, I felt unattractive and overweight and I faced the window with my back to George to hide my ugly bump.

I slipped on my dress. It felt light and airy yet it was much tighter than the time I had last worn it.

‘How many months pregnant am I?’ My voice stammered as George looked at me in a serious way showing his concerns for my unexplainable actions.

It was a long moment before he answered. ‘8 months. Baby’s due very soon my love.’

‘And is it a boy or a girl do you know?’ The environment in the bedroom was very dreary and I felt very distant from George.

‘A little boy.’

I put my head on George’s shoulder feeling his warm breath on my shoulder as he placed his arms around my waist.

‘Strange things keep happening,’ I whispered into his ear.

‘I know Martha.’ George sighed deeply. ‘You opened the front door.’

‘No I did not! Bu…’

‘Do you know who you were speaking to that night?’

‘No?’

He looked straight into my eyes which told me that I said something that he didn’t like.

‘Think about it Martie.’

‘I d – d – don’t know at all. Wait. He did sound familiar. Oh, this is just a cruel joke!’

‘It was me.’

‘What?’

‘It was me. It’s such a long complicated story. I couldn’t tell you who I was last night in that you wouldn’t believe me.’

‘So you know what’s going on?’

‘Yes, I’ve learnt it like a play script and it’s going to be one heck of a ride. I missed you so much Martie but tell you more and I’d cause such a terrible thing.’

‘The front door. You said the front door. What about the front door?’

‘I can’t stop you opening the front door but when you do, it’s not the most pleasant of experiences.’

By now I was becoming overwhelmed with frustration, my anger bubbling up inside me.

‘But if you can’t tell me what happens then I won’t believe you, in fact I will open the front door now. You’ll stop if you care so much.’

I moved towards the door then waited for him to make a move and try to prevent me. George had no emotion set on his face. ‘You open the front door eventually Martie, so why not do it now?’

‘Because I will in fact. Then you’ll stop speaking nonsense right?’

 

***

I stood before the front door which towered over my small frame like an overly large man. The door stared back painted red. A warning. Yet, I was to ignore that warning. George didn’t care did he? This was just his idea of stirring things up a little bit, editing all my photos on an editing program, sneaking mum out the house in a very clever way and playing at the door then hiding when I looked through the window.

 

And on that note I unlocked the front door, tensely turned the handle and shoved the front door open against the friction of the wooden floor.

 

‘Don’t do it!’ A voice called from upstairs. But it was too late…

 

Chapter 3

 

Despite it being such a beautiful day before hand, on opening the door, outside showed a dull, windy scene. The sky was a grim grey and the clouds casted a dim shadow over the street. Silence hit my ears; not a sound of cars and a silent wind. I felt queasy. Then without consideration, I stepped onto the concrete path. My body felt heavy and my legs felt as if they would collapse in holding me up.

‘You see George, perfectly fine out here,’ I cried with my back turned away from the door observing the state of the hanging basket with its flowers drooping hopelessly over the edge of the fraying wicker basket. I turned around to find the front door had been shut.

 

My phone bleeped.

 

It was a text from George, the previous unknown number from the other night. It said:

 

Whatev u do, dnt be seen.

 

‘What the heck do you mean George?’ I yelled up to the open bedroom window. He didn’t shout back. ‘George, what does your text mean?’

I tried the door handle in order to get back in the house however it was locked. ‘Hey George, unlock the door for me love!’ My hand struck the door powerfully 3 times and I realised exactly what George had meant…

A figure stood in front of the door in the house and quickly turned away into another room. The figure was me.

I hid down the side of the house to allow time for my ‘past self’ to peer through the window then return back to the front door again. Crouched down beside the rose bush, I noticed a man loitering on the other side of the road. It was the same man who had driven the removal lorry and held a look of malevolence upon his pale face. His hands were shaking and I could see from his lips that he was mouthing something. Sluggishly, he stepped into the road without looking out for cars but instead had his tired, sunken eyes set on me. His pace became faster. He started to run.

‘You opened that door Martie! He was only trying to help you. It won’t affect him but for you, you will have to wait for so long!’ The man yelled at me in a low, gruff voice running across the pavement then standing behind me. ‘You evil little cow. Always like this you were.’

He pulled something out of his pocket and without taking a further look, I hit my hands on the door for someone to open it.

‘Let me in please, please!’

I turned the handle repeatedly, trying to somehow open the door. A clock chimed.

‘George, I know I should have listened to you but I need help down here!’ My voice stammered as the knife slowly started to sink through my skin, my nails scraping piercingly down the glass pane of the window. ‘George, I love you.’

My eyes closed as I was pulled into a panorama of white light. Gusts of hurrying winds were rushing around making me feel if I had been picked up off the ground. I had been. In a panic, I tried to touch the floor with my feet but no pebbles, grass, concrete or carpet met them. Blood rushed to my head whilst I spun in ‘mid-air’ causing me to become overwhelmed by a strong feeling of nausea. The stretch of area around me showed no evidence of other life. I tried to talk, to scream, to cry for help but no sound came out.

‘Is this heaven?’ I thought anxiously after what had felt like hours of floating around. ‘Or is this hell and I shall spend the rest of…Forever… The rest of life or death here alone?’

***

Dear George,

 

It’s been a long time. I was pulled into ‘nothing,’ an empty world that drained all my feelings.

 

I waited there years and years upon end and if not thankfully, I felt no normal needs like hunger, tiredness and thirst. Every minute was silent and I felt like something was going to happen. I’m sorry George, I should’ve listened but I just need the truth about the strange happenings.

 

Those 5 years of my life were spent thinking about the experiences and now I have found out what the reason is for these events. You know too but I still don’t understand why you couldn’t stop me or tell me who or what was beyond the door.

 

I’m coming home George if there is no problem. But if my understanding is correct, we may never meet again.

 

I wrote this on the 15th August 2016.

 

All my love,

 

Martha xxx

I purchased a stamp from a ‘new’ supermarket called ‘Stoltens,’ with the stamp showing a picture of Charles who had recently been crowned king I had seen  from the presence of Union Flag bunting in the reduced displays. I also bought a pack of 50 sheets of writing paper, a pack of envelopes and one individual pen.

When I had made it to the check out, I was very surprised when they gave me the price and the unit.

‘That’s 6 euros please. You okay Mit?’ said the young woman who had a very annoying tendency to speak to me like she was speaking to a young child. She was also very familiar.

‘Euros? O-o-oh, well…Right can I have a pack of stamps as well please? But euros? Oh… ’

The girl looked at me in a very impatient way, tapping her long, bright orange painted nails. How did she know my name?

‘Sorry, I’ve lived abroad for a few years and haven’t kept up with the UK’s economy. Oh buggar…’ I rummaged in my handbag for my purse. I couldn’t believe how expensive it was for a few items.

‘No you haven’t.  Now hurry up, there’s a long queue behind,’ said the young woman obnoxiously as she shook her head at the protruding queue. ‘Why don’t you just use the self check out if you want to hold everyone up Martie?’

A few people laughed behind.

I pulled out my purse and looked at my card. It was 4 years out of date.

‘Can I pay in pounds please?’ I asked so quickly that my words were difficult to understand. My face went scarlet red.

‘Er no. Just go, I’m being observed! The woman who’s name was Jennifer as stated on her name badge shouted at me standing up from her chair. She beckoned another staff member to come over, a small man with red hair, an uneven moustache and green trousers that were about 5 inches to long for him.

‘Hand all your products to me please. You can’t mess staff around like this. Is this some kind of dare or joke?’ The man came over and tried to grab the items I had placed on the till.

‘No! It’s not. Please, I’ll tell you what has happened.’

‘Right, okay then. Well let’s move away from the till first.’

I took my items from the till and placed them back into my trolley, slightly creasing the paper. The man took me to the edge of the store and stared up at me nervously.

‘I’ve been watching this, examining the woman’s first day at work and really, we cannot accept pounds as you know. Now, get out the store or pay with Euros.’

I smiled. ‘I will do.’ Quickly, I ran out the automatic doors and into the town centre and looking back, I could see staff staring in concern giving up on chasing me and using radios to communicate. Jennifer stood at the doors crying, her boss trying to comfort her.

It was quite an experience shop lifting but the need to contact George after years of not seeing him was overpowering. I had sent numerous texts but had no replies that left me wondering whether he was ignoring me in fury or had gotten a new phone number. George was constantly buying new phones and never kept the same number as he kept changing phone networks to find the optimum one for our area.

After the 5 years of being in an unknown place, I had one moment blinked and hit the floor with a strong thump. I landed in the town centre of Dartmouth where passers by gaped at me on the floor outside Boots. It was an unbelievable feeling yet when I stood up to walk, my legs quivered after not using them for years.

Families with crabbing lines and buckets walked past with great smiles set upon their faces and talking about exciting trips they were going to make on their holidays. Children dressed in eccentric clothes hobbled past in brightly coloured high heeled sandals eating ice cream. I didn’t know what to do myself.

Next to me stood a tall, slim woman wearing a long, black pencil skirt and striped blue shirt leaning against the window. Her hair was neatly straightened and her makeup highlighted her face to perfection. I pulled a pocket mirror out my handbag and froze in horror at the sight. I had aged 5 years and my first wrinkles were starting to form around my eyes. With 5 years of not being able to care about my appearance, my hair was tangled and particularly oily, my eyes were dark with black makeup but oddly enough, I didn’t smell bad at all. My abdomen had also gone back to its normal size which was a relief as I didn’t want to give birth until after I had married.

I picked up my mobile phone which looked tacky beside the woman’s next to me. Her phone was as thin as the cardboard of a cereal box. My hands shaking, I tapped a message to George into the phone ‘Such a long story. I should have listened to you. Coming home xx’ and slid my mobile back into my handbag and walked off to explore the town.

Dartmouth was a very pretty town. I had been on holiday there once before with George and Jennifer.. Jennifer had always said that she wanted to live there because she loved cream teas and the estuaries. Back when we had last been, George had come with us and it was the time when we had to be rescued from the top of the cliff.

  ‘Martie?’ A voice caused me to turn around and find the woman from the supermarket before me.

 I gasped in disbelief. The Jennifer in the supermarket was the Jennifer I knew. My sister.

‘It’s you? You’ve died your hair?’

  ‘Yes? Why didn’t you converse properly in the supermarket with me? Why have you come down to Dartmouth? Why were you ignoring me? Why were you acting so crazy?’

‘I’m confused Jen. Mad. Crazy I am.’

‘You are mad. George said that you’d improved after you gave birth to Edward and you had but you are exactly as you were before,’ said Jennifer in a gentle voice as not to insult me.

‘I’m at the beginning of all my problems Jen.’

‘Well get them sorted before we speak again!’ Jennifer shouted pointing her sharp nail into the side of my face. People turned to look at the situation. ‘Where has the real Martha Realing gone?’

Jennifer stormed off down the street as people moved out the way to allow her to carry on without stopping.

 

***

George didn’t reply that hour so I sat on a green bench to write my letter. It was difficult to write whilst positioning the paper on my lap; the pen kept piercing the poor quality paper. What also made it difficult to write was the wind; my initial letter was just about to be folded into an envelope until the wind took the letter out of my hand. Unfortunately, it landed in the hands of a rough looking teenage girl who was wearing a thick layer of orange fake tan, dense black makeup and her clothes, a ridiculously short skirt and a red bikini top. The girl took the letter, pulled it out of the envelope and read it out eyeing me humorously as her friends laughed along. After she had read it, she smirked at me, held the letter in both hands and pulled it apart.

‘I bet you thought you were lucky there. You’ll have to write it again now!’ The girl laughed, her voice low and masculine and as she walked away, I heard her mutter ‘what a tramp. She looks like she hasn’t showered in years!’

I wrote the letter once more then went on a post box hunt. Eventually after about ½ an hour of searching, I found the post box up a steep, cobbled lane. The post box was painted blue and when I walked up to it, a speaker from inside spoke.

‘Collection is 5.00pm. The time is now 3.52pm. Don’t forget to put a stamp on your letter otherwise it cannot be sent. Thank you for using the Royal Mail services.’

I slipped the letter through the mouth of the post box which was then followed by a whirring noise. Again the post box spoke.

‘Your letter will be sent to 15 Gordon Street, Burnley. The current owners of this house are Mr George Reyton and Miss Martha Realing. Are you sure you want to send this letter?’

On front of the post box was a small screen that came up with the option of pressing yes, no or discard letter. There was also a coin slot to pay for phone calls and an email option.

I couldn’t get my head round the fact that George was still living in that house after 5 years. Did he have a new girlfriend? Or was he living at his parent’s house?

On the cobbled street was a small 10 bedroom hotel. It was an old medieval building with overhanging windows and a wooden frame decoration on the outside. I went inside and rang a bell at the desk. A short, plump woman appeared from a room from behind.

‘A guest! How may I help my dear?’ The lady danced enthusiastically up to the desk then rested her wrinkled hands upon mine. They were cold.

‘Have you any room for a night’s stay?’ I asked carefully moving my hands from beneath hers.

‘Sorry about that. All 10 rooms are free. Take a pick. We’ll do it cheap.’

‘How much will that be? I’ll have to get some cash out.’

’22 pounds.’

‘Pounds? Well that’s okay then. I’m sorry, did you mean pounds?’

‘We’re used to people paying in pounds. Most people who come here only can pay in pounds.’ The lady smiled to show deep dimples in her cheeks.

‘Thanks. That will be great.’

‘Pick a room dear. 1 to 10 of course.’

‘Oh okay. Say, room 5 would be lovely.’

I walked down the dark narrow corridor and up the steep stairs up to a well lit landing. The large bay window at the end of the room filled the room with a warming light. Paintings of Dartmouth were hung on the wall with small labels on them stating the price and who had painted them. One of the paintings revealed the bench that I had been sitting on whilst writing the letter. ‘The letter bench’ by George Reyton.

George had done exactly the same thing. He had written a letter to me but I hadn’t received it as the front door to the house was a boundary between two different times; outside the front door, time skips 5 years but inside the house, time goes in a varying order.

‘That explains it all. Mum vanished because time suddenly moved backwards, George appeared because time moved forwards and so that means that George wasn’t in the photos because at that stage in time, I hadn’t met George yet.’

I put the key into the lock of room 5 and opened the door into a cosy but old fashioned room. The walls were painted a murky yellow decorated with different pictures of beaches and the cream carpet was shrouded by a fairisle style rug. However, the room looked as if it hadn’t been cleaned since the last guest had stayed there. Crumbs were settled on the walnut table and the previous guest had left a few of their belongings. A brown, weathered leather note book was positioned on the bed. In gold writing on the front the diary stated ‘2011.’ I picked up the diary opened the first page to find that the diary belonged to George.

 

 

13th April 2011/2016

 

I visited the new house today. It was nice but could do with a bit of decoration to make it mine and Martha’s humble abode. Yet, the front door to the house is mysterious and so many awful and strange things have occurred…

 

How did I get here? For what proves to be a year, I was dragged into a place where there was nothing at all. There was a man before this. He had a knife that was forced into my body and I screamed in pain. It was the worst pain anyone could imagine.

 

So is this hell? I suddenly found myself in the centre of Dartmouth where I had gone with Martha for her 17th birthday. I tried to call her but it said her number was incorrect. Then, I went to the shop where I found that the UK now pays in Euros. I begged a kind man for some money then surprised him when I placed £50 in his hands. I bought some paper, pens, envelopes and a stamp which I used to write a letter sitting on a bench over the estuary. It was so peaceful.

The talking post box helped me to send my letter. It ensured me that Martha was still around but told me she was living in our new terraced house. It was then I wanted to warn her not to open the door.

 

I visited Jen who gave me Martha’s new number. Later that evening, I found a small hotel up a big hill and decided to stay there for the night. I knew she will though. How do I know she will come here? The computer downstairs I explored this evening. After the owners had gone to bed, I sneaked downstairs and looked at the computer screen to see if I could find out more about the bizarre events. To my horror, Martha’s name was on the bookings list for the 15th of August 2016. Does this mean that she has already been here through the mix up of time or yet to come?

 

I called her earlier. I could tell she was annoyed by being told not to do something but I am glad I told her. However, I couldn’t tell her who I was because she wouldn’t believe me and will venture there anyway. Though as I told her, fate is fate and I knew she was going to open the door despite what I had said.

 

I write this in hope to aid the people who are unfortunate to experience similar events.

 

Good luck,

 

George Reyton aged 19 from Burnley

 

 

George’s diary had many other pages of writing which I spent the evening reading. It reassured me that I would manage to live normally despite being ahead of time. His thoughts and feelings intensified to despair showing his desperation in seeing me again.

The next morning I ate breakfast in the hotel restaurant. The hotel owners Mr and Mrs Dean made a good effort to impress creating delicious gourmet dishes.

‘We haven’t any guests since April. We prefer to stay unknown and not advertise our accommodation.’

‘Why is that?’ I asked tucking in to the baked grapefruit as I pulled a face from the sourness.

‘Because we want to get on with our lives without it being too hard work,’ said Mrs Dean sitting on the chair beside me. ‘Anyway, what are your plans for today?’

Mr Dean stood by the door trying to look like he was interested in the conversation.

‘Well, I was thinking that perhaps I could take to exploring the area.’

‘A nice place is Cannon Cliff. Take the west side up and it’s a lot less steep.’

‘I think I’ve been there with my boyfriend.’ I paused. The picture at home had shown me on top of the cliff without George. Was this the clue to getting home?

‘Oh yes, did you enjoy it?’

I had enjoyed it deeply with it being one of the best experiences that my life had ever taken. The feeling of love and closeness had never been stronger, building up in my chest and causing me to well up with tears. I longed now for George’s hand to slip into mine and for him to take me home. I missed the evening cuddles with a bottle of wine and a box of chocolates, sitting on his lap upon the sofa. I missed my parent’s company.

‘Damn,’ I yelled out loud. Mr and Mrs Dean looked at each other in uncertainty.

‘Everything okay Martha?’

‘Yes, yes, just haven’t called my parents in ages. Years…’ I glanced at their stern looks. ‘What will happen if I call my parents? What are you hiding from me? WHAT THE HECK DO YOU KNOW?’ I flung my fists at them both. Mr Dean pulled Mrs Dean away, pushing her towards the door. ‘Tell me how to get back. I’ve lost 5 years of my precious life!’

‘Can you leave please?’ Mr Dean pulled my half eaten grapefruit away from me.

‘Why should I go up Cannon Cliff? How do you know everything?’

‘Take your belongings from your room and leave if you please.’

‘But I don’t have…’ I realised what he meant in those words and left my chair to go and get George’s diary.

 

***

 

‘Thankyou for the accommodation,’ I said politely as they shut the door behind me. I was alone on the street again, a strong sense of being watched coming over me. I spotted a 5 euro note fluttering across the floor so I ran after it, tripping over the bumps on the path.

I purchased a coffee in a quaint café down the road. It was a strange place with the decorations being unusual objects such as stuffed animal heads, peculiar shaped mirrors and bamboo structures. On the table, a candle stood in a blue china candle holder giving off a cinnamon aroma. The floor was covered in many different patterned rugs and worked alongside the deep red painted walls creating a warming atmosphere.

As I sipped my coffee that I had already burnt my mouth on a number of times, I dialled in my mother’s number in order to get more detail about what was happening.

‘Hi Mum, you alright?’ I asked enthusiastically so that I didn’t sound like anything was going on.

‘Yes darling, how are you? And how’s  Eddie?’ My mum sounded as if she was about to cry. I had forgotten all about my ‘future’ son and now I was in conversation about him, I had to quickly think up some believable answers.

‘I’m great Mum and he’s doing well. He’s asleep at the moment. Gosh I needed a break from all his screaming!’

‘Oh that’s very strange of him. Normally he’s an absolute angel. Now, you finally see sense and ring me?’

‘Just excitement I think


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