Away from Prying Eyes by Sheena Billett

“Never open that door,” my landlord said to me the day I moved into 22 New Street. He never gave an explanation, and I was too excited about moving into my first house to ask. Absorbed in unpacking and setting up my new home, I didn’t give it a thought until a few weeks later. 

The ticking started one evening just after EastEnders. I muted the TV and listened – the noise was definitely coming from the hallway. Heart pounding, I approached the forbidden door. The ticking was rhythmic – like a clock…or a bomb. As I put my ear to the stripped pine the sound stopped. 

Shaking my head, I returned to Holby City where the love-life of one of the consultants soon put any thoughts of what was behind the door to the back of my mind. After all, it wasn’t anything to do with me, was it? 

The ticking started again the following Saturday afternoon, louder this time. I abandoned the cake mix in the kitchen and approached the door with day-time confidence. Disobeying, I turned the handle and was surprised when the catch was released. I jumped back in shock, hurriedly pushing the door closed as an incoming text alert recalled me to the kitchen. 

I said to never open that door! 

I froze, still holding the phone, the implications swirling in my head. When I dared to move my head, I scanned the kitchen – there were no cameras I could see. Then I summoned up the courage to approach the door again, phone in hand. Looking around the hall, I could see no evidence of any surveillance. 

Another text: You won’t find anything, but it’s not just you who has prying eyes.

Published in Issue #21

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