“Hello, anyone home?” shouted Steve as he threw his keys flamboyantly into the dish by the door. There was still no reply after he had taken his coat off, so he wandered through to the kitchen.
After a brief moment of confusion he looked down and spotted the note that had been left from Becky. “Gone to Shops”, it said, underlined twice and left on the side of the granite effect work surface.
He smiled to himself and immediately opened the fridge. Pausing momentarily, to check his watch and gauge how long he roughly had left alone, he then reached for a beer. It was not as if he needed to hide the fact that he was drinking as soon as he came in from work, but it was easier to not have to justify it.
The first swig awakened his taste buds, and the second hastily spilled down his chin, as he walked through the open plan downstairs eventually setting the bottle down on a coffee table in the lounge. His day had actually been pretty good for a change and for once he had come home in high spirits.
Whistling was not usually Steve’s thing, but whistling was definitely what he was doing as he went upstairs to get changed out of his suit. It was the car radio’s fault that he was specifically whistling ‘Do you think I’m sexy?’ and in turn it was the songs fault that he then performed an unsavoury striptease in front of the bedroom mirror. He was a young man and his wiry frame, coupled with his shoulder-length hair, made him look disturbingly androgynous.
Steve had finally managed to sell their house that afternoon and this meant that they could finally move, back to where all of his friends were, instead of being stuck out in a place in the middle of nowhere.
Crime had been on the increase across the county, anyone that read the papers knew that, but Steve and Becky’s neighbourhood had declined more than most. They had only lived there a couple of years; it was Becky’s idea of course to move to the suburbs, Steve had always loved their city loft apartment and especially it’s views.
“Oh yeah, it’ll be a lovely place to bring up some kids, that will,” this is what Becky’s mum had to say when she first heard they were moving out to Blair Ridge. But after two years they had both realised that they were just not the type to want kids. Becky was a teacher, so she must have liked kids at some level, but the sleepless nights put her off. Steve, on the other hand, agreed with the principle that kids should be not seen or heard or in fact even thought about.
The only three lines he knew of ‘Do you think I’m sexy?’ were going round and round in his head as he struggled with a sock. He fell back on the bed and then sprang forward gymnastically, vaulting into his jeans. While he was practicing his Superhero look in the mirror, the doorbell suddenly rang. He watched as he dramatically changed his facial expression in to the 1940’s standard shocked look.
Leaping over to the window, which was above the front door, he looked out at the dark street. October was a depressing month and the streetlights had started to be turned on by six o’clock at the latest. When he looked out though he could see nothing in either direction. The road was empty apart from his car in its usual place at the front.
Steve hated the doorbell ringing. ‘Why do people in this day and age come round your house unexpectedly?’ he would always rant to others. ‘I just don’t understand with all the shady people there are these days why people still persist in ringing unannounced. I never answer the door unless I know who it is.”
Pulling a T-Shirt on he reluctantly walked to the top of the stairs and peered down to the front door. It was dark and it was hard to tell, from the angle he had, if there was anyone there or not. He started to walk down them but, when he reached halfway, a face suddenly pressed itself up against the window. Through the patterned glass, which runs right down the middle of the front door, he could make out a pale, contorted face.
Steve’s blood ran cold, and his heart missed a beat, nearly making him fall down the rest of the stairs. The disembodied face was still writhing around through the shapes of glass. Steve was only ten feet or so from it and could now hear voices coming from behind the ghostly apparition, although he could not make out what they were saying. The voices were deep and booming but then occasionally they would be interrupted by some high-pitched shrieks that went right through him.
The crooked head seemed to be checking for any movement and at that moment Steve realised that the light was on above him. He quickly decided that his only chance of not being discovered would be to retreat back up the stairs. So shaking with fear, he slowly started walking backwards trying not to make any obvious moves.
He made it to the top of the stairs and quickly sidestepped behind the cover of the bathroom wall. His heart was leaping about like a salmon in his throat and his skin had become clammy. He stood there waiting, jumping at every new sound he could hear, and thinking of what to do next.
The bell went again and Steve’s breathing became shallow and fast, a trickle of sweat started running down his temple. As the ring of the doorbell was still resonating it was rapidly followed by some loud thumps on the wooden door. They were slow and purposeful, filled with malice and bad intent.
He carried on waiting, the time seemed to last forever, until eventually he heard them walk away. All of a sudden he heard another noise, this time a loud crack followed by more high-pitched squeals. Steve’s senses were heightened and, certain that whatever it was had moved away from the door, he seized the moment and dived head first down the stairs. Bumping down each carpeted step on his belly, desperately trying to keep out of sight.
As soon as he made it to the front window and was able to look out on to the street, he knew they would return. There was a depraved mob that had formed around his car and were staring angrily back at the house. He knew of these groups that circled the streets at night, looking into each house, and when they found you they would terrorise you until you gave them what they wanted. But Steve did not have what they wanted and he knew that he could not satisfy their cravings.
Blair Ridge was out of control. People had just become so helpless around the estate that they gave in to it, almost advertising their homes to these thugs. His initial fear began to turn to anger, now that he was safely hidden, and he wondered what would happen if he charged at them with a chainsaw. But he did not have a chainsaw so he gave up the idea quite quickly.
The longer he stayed where he was the more he felt like a prisoner in his own home, just like that scene at the end of Goodfellas where Ray Liotta’s looking out of the window at the helicopter. He stood against the small piece of wall that was between the front door and the lounge window. From here he could hear the voices walking up and down the street, horrible manifestations of cackles and roars, gangs of them beginning to get restless.
Looking back through the house he caught sight of the bottle of beer that he opened earlier. This was just what he needed if he was going to survive this siege. He went to run over to it but, as soon as he had moved off the wall, the doorbell suddenly rang again. He threw himself to the ground and lay motionless on the lounge rug. Gradually summoning enough courage he turned his head to see yet another face, a different face, looking through the front door. This one had a light with him that made his features twist demonically through the patterned glass.
Steve quickly shuffled across the floor, like a commando, and reached up for his beer on the edge of the table where he had left it. Then just as quickly he turned around and crawled to the nearest safe spot from the table, which happened to be the wall beneath the lounge window. He was out of breath as he flipped up into a seating position with his back against the wall.
He heard the new face say something, although he could not quite make it out, and then their footsteps blended back in with the crowd. But then the doorbell rang again. Another group, no doubt, pushed forward from the pit of hell. This lot had torches with them as well. The frequency was beginning to reflect the lynch mobs frustration.
Steve sat, silently beneath the window, watching the beams from their torches shine only feet away from where his own feet ended. At least he was safe for the moment. His breathing began to deepen and return to normal, while he considered exactly how pathetic he was being for a twenty-eight year old man.
While he was looking at his lounge, from this unfamiliar perspective, he remembered a more physical friend once giving him some advice about dealing with these people. “I wouldn’t stand for it, mate. All they need is a bit of front and they’ll crap themselves. Just open the door and tell ‘em all to get lost. Easy. They’re just doing it ‘cos you’re a soft touch. I tell you what; if you did it once they’d never be back again. Word gets round you see. All their mates’d know and that’ll be that.” Steve wondered about this approach but what if he picked on the wrong ones and ended up making his house into some sort of a target from then on.
So he stayed, sat in this position for twenty-three more minutes, and endured six more groups of youths in that time each one getting more abusive and louder than the last. The remnants of his beer slid down his throat and, as he was contemplating what exactly he could do for the rest of the evening, he heard Becky’s car pull up out the back. Oh no. What if she comes in and turns the light on? He had to stop her before she lit them up like a Christmas tree.
He made a sudden dash for it, lunging in to the kitchen, rolling over on his shoulder, and landing behind the backdoor just as Becky was turning the handle.
“What are you doing?” she asked impatiently as she saw Steve crouched like a dog on the floor.
“Sshh, sshh,”he whispered, gesturing with his hands that the house was surrounded.
“Oh get up, you fool,” she pushed past him, noticing the beer bottle still in his hand. “Started drinking already, have you?” she said in that patronising way that Steve was trying to avoid. “Come on, get up. What are you doing in the dark?” She put her keys down and automatically went to switch on the kitchen light. Instantly, as if someone was waiting for that specific light to go on, the doorbell went again.
Steve hurled himself in the way of Becky as she went to answer the door. She fell down from the weight of the tackle and for a moment they grappled with each other on the floor. Steve was desperately trying to communicate who it was at the door through the medium of mime, while Becky’s expression turned from surprise to one of fury within seconds.
Fury beats desperation most times, and Becky walked over to the front door after eventually breaking free. Steve watched, almost in slow motion, as she turned the latch and pulled it towards her. His hands reached up to his face and although his mouth opened wide, no noise could be heard.
“Oh, hello, you lot,” she said smiling.
“Hello, Miss. Trick or Treat?” they all said together.
“I’ve got some bags in the car, I’ll just go and get them. You wait here like good boys and girls.”
Becky walked back through the lounge, shaking her head, as she looked down at the pathetic figure of Steve lying helpless on the rug, “What’s wrong with you?”