No.4 – Part 2 – Late The Following Afternoon

It was middle class suburbia at its finest. Thousands of identical houses on thousands of identical streets filled with thousands of identical people.

As he arrived at the short street he stopped and looked around, the snow had been falling since yesterday and every house was covered in a thick blanket of it and the windows of every house, bar one, were lit with twinkling Christmas lights.

It was only a short walk and he was standing at the edge of the driveway and staring at the dark unlit house remembering what it had been like to live there and how, even after all the years that had passed, it hadn’t changed.

“Do you know the owners?”

“What, sorry?” said the man starting to reach inside his coat and then relaxing as he recognised the speaker as one of the neighbours.

“I said, do you know the owners?”

“A little.”

“You do know they moved out over twenty years ago and no one’s seen them since? All a bit peculiar if you ask me.” said the neighbour.

“Why?”

“Well,” said the neighbour settling in to a well-rehearsed and favourite story, “it all happened in the space of an afternoon. They seemed perfectly normal and everything seemed to be fine, then one afternoon there they were dashing backwards and forwards filling the car with luggage and then they drove off and we haven’t seen them since. They just, well, disappeared. But if that wasn’t strange enough, they left their nephew behind. Personally, I think they were trying to escape from him. Apparently, he was criminally insane and went to some sort of special school and everything, but the funny thing is he disappeared as well. Some strange looking people turned up that same evening and the next thing we knew he’d gone as well.”

The neighbour paused to draw breath and then launched himself into the next chapter of his saga.

“And if that wasn’t enough every once in a while, we would see the lights on and hear noises.”

“Noises? What sort of noises?” asked the man.

“Just noises, you know, sounded like well banging noises, we thought it was burglars. I called the Police the first few times, but they said there was there was no one there and it was nothing.”

“Are you certain of what you heard?”

“Erm, well yes” the neighbour was finding the strange man’s sudden and intense interest unnerving, “well you know once when I was coming home late, I saw the front door was open and I heard voices.”

“What were they saying?”

“I couldn’t really make out all of it. But one thing I know I heard was one of the voices saying, well shouting, ‘it’s not here’, ‘I can’t find the bloody thing’ and then the other voice said ‘oi, c’mon lets go, he must have hidden it somewhere else’ and then there was those funny banging noises again, the front door slammed and that was all I heard.”

“How long ago was that?”

“About ten years ago.”

“Have you heard anything since?”

“No, nothing, look, erm, it was nice to meet you and all that but its late, you understand,” and with that the neighbour turned and rushed away.

As the man stared at the house mulling over the new information; the last of the daylight faded away and he felt the temperature start to drop quite quickly and the snow started falling in earnest.

He walked up to the front door and looked at it carefully, he noticed series of scratches on the lock and he could see they were meant to look like random scratches, but he recognised the pattern of four stars. He pulled off his glove and touched all four stars at once, they glowed briefly, and he heard a click as the door opened and swung inwards.

The door closed silently behind him. Looking around he could see nothing had changed since he was last in the house. There was a quiet ‘ting’ from his watch which told him time was short, so he turned and headed up the stairs; at the top he turned automatically and entered the smallest bedroom.

It seemed very small now, he looked at the possessions he had left behind and smiled. Then he knelt down and folded back the carpet, removed the loose floorboard and reached into the hole; he felt around and eventually his fingertips brushed against something. He adjusted himself to reach a little further and caught hold of it and as he drew it from under the floor, he could see it was a long narrow box like the ones he had seen in the shop. He quickly pocketed it and as he replaced the floorboard and the carpet, he heard another quiet ‘ting that told him time was nearly up.

A few moments later checking to see that he had left no sign that he had been there he heard the third quiet ‘ting’ which told him he had run out of time and he had to leave now. He raced down the stairs and out of the front door, which closed silently behind him, and as he disappeared the scar on his forehead started to prickle.

 

Disclaimer: I don’t need to tell anyone who has read this far that the protagonist and locations used in this short story do not belong to me, they are the creation and property of JK Rowling. I am a fan of her work and simply wanted to know if I could take one of my favourite fictional characters and create a very short story.