“Mirror, mirror, on the wall,
Who is the sexiest of them all?’
Diane Stone pouted, then smiled at her reflection. It had taken her an hour to get herself looking like that, but it would be worth it. Roy wouldn’t be able to keep his hands off her – and she wasn’t planning on keeping her hands off him.
They had met only four days before, but already Diane knew that he was the one for her – tall, dark and handsome might be cliched, but there was nothing hackneyed about Roy. That last night, in the car on the way home from the theatre….she shivered with anticipation.
Her thoughts were disturbed by the ring of the telephone. She welcomed the interruption – it would help pass the time until Roy arrived. As she glided towards the ‘phone, the picture of elegance on her six-inch heels, the horrible thought occurred to her – maybe it was Roy, trying to break the date.
She snatched up the receiver.
“Hello, darling.” The words were faint, as if they were being whispered.
“Roy? Where are you?”
“I can see you. Oh my god, you’re so beautiful. I just want to run my tongue all over your body. You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”
“Roy?” No, it couldn’t be. He would never resort to something like this. “Who is this?”
“Then I could slide my hand up your skirt, slowly, gently, stroking your trembling thighs, until – “
“Who is this, please?”
“Then, when I reached the top, my fingers would caress your mound, exciting you, and you w-“
Diane replaced the receiver. Just a crank call. Nothing to worry about. She would probably laugh about it in the morning. She started to walk back to the dressing table. The ‘phone rang again.
Slowly, she retraced her steps. This time, it could be Roy.
“Don’t hang up on me, bitch! I know what you want – you want to crawl on top of me and spread yourself above my face. You – “
“Look, I don’t know who you are, and I don’t care.” Diane kept her voice calm. “If you phone me again, I’m calling the police.”
She heard a few muffled words before she broke the connection. This time, she left the receiver beside the ‘phone – let him call as much as he likes, she thought. When Roy gets here, I’ll let this guy talk to him. That should fix him, the pervert!
She lowered herself into an armchair and glanced at the time. Twenty to eight. Roy had said he would pick her up at 7:30. It wasn’t like him to be late. The movie started at eight, and Roy had reckoned on 15 minutes’ driving time. If he didn’t get there soon, they might miss the movie. But then, maybe that was what he wanted. After all, she could think of several things they could do which were more interesting than sitting in a movie house all night.
She let her mind dwell on one or two of these things. Yes, it could turn out to be an exciting night, after all. Her head turned to look at the clock on the windowsill, and she froze. There, in the corner of the window, was a face.
It was an ordinary-looking face – all the features were in the right proportion, and in the right places. Except for the tongue.
The tongue was extended, not in the cheeky, playful manner of childhood, but in a more carnal manner. It was moving back and forward, up and down, as if it were licking something.
Diane, still staring out the window, reached out blindly for something, anything, to defend herself. Her fingers closed around something large. As she debated the best course of action, the words she had heard on the ‘phone came back to her: “I can see you.”
With a shriek of rage she leapt to her feet and hurled the object in her hand. It flew straight towards the corner of the glass, but the face had vanished. The large, red object hit the window. And bounced back.
Diane realised that she had thrown a stuffed, toy octopus her brother had given her for xmas the year before. Under any other circumstances, that would have been a source of amusement. But this was no time for laughter.
Steeling herself, Diane crept towards the window. Maybe she had frightened him away. Halfway across the room, she noticed that the catch on the window was open. He had been trying to get in!
In her haste to reach the window she stumbled on the stuffed octopus. At the same time, the window shattered, throwing shards of glass across the room. Diane screamed.
Covering her head with her bare arms, she waited till the room was quiet before moving. There was a gaping, jagged hole in the centre of the window. This alarmed her, but she sought comfort in the thought that the man couldn’t climb through.
As she backed towards the opposite wall, her eyes never leaving the ruined window, something caught her eye. It was lying among the glass splinters. Turning her head slightly, Diane saw that it was a piece of material wrapped around a stone. The material had come partially undone, and she thought it looked like a pair of Y-fronts. There was writing on one side – because of the way they had landed, Diane could only make out the one word – “mouth.” There were other words, partly visible, but she had no intention of going over to read them.
By this time Diane had reached her armchair. Instructions ran through her mind, jostling for priority. “Call the police!” “Call Roy!” “Arm yourself!” “Fetch the neighbours!” She tried desperately to decide on a rational course of action.
The police were her best bet. Roy would be there any time now, so it was no use calling him. It was also no use calling the neighbours – it was mid-summer, and everyone was taking the sun down at the coast. To the best of her knowledge, she had the street to herself. Or she had had.
She decided that she needed protection until the police arrived. Slowly, not making any sudden moves, and never taking her eyes off the window, she edged around her chair and backed into the kitchen. The familiar sound of heels on linoleum told her that she was there. It didn’t take her long to find the cutlery drawer, and she opened it with a sigh of relief – she had a complete arsenal in there. Bread-knives, steak knives, cheese-cutters and skewers stared up at her, and her fingers wrapped themselves lovingly around their handles. “Which ones?” she asked herself.
Her decision was hastened by a knock at the door. Roy! It had to be! Lifting a vicious twelve-inch bread-knife, she raced into the living room.
“Who is it?” Her voice shook slightly, but now wasn’t the time to worry about appearances.
Diane let out her breath and almost skipped the last few yards to the door. Roy had sounded hurt; in pain. She thought about this as she drew back the bolt and turned the key. As her fingers began to turn the handle, she saw that, in her hurry to let him in, she had forgotten about the security chain. The chain which he had bought for her. With a nervous giggle, she reached up to undo it.
The door crashed inwards, as if a great weight had landed on it. Diane was thrown to her knees. Again the door shuddered under the impact. It jerked open a few inches, but the chain held it fast. Then a hand appeared and began running up the side of the door. Diane was puzzled. That wasn’t Roy’s hand. It had no rings, and it was far too coarse, too rough. Roy was a journalist, not a manual labourer.
The hand reached the chain and fumbled at it for a moment. Diane leapt to her feet and threw herself against the door. She heard a gasp of pain from the other side, and the hand jerked spasmodically. But it still reached for the chain.
Tears filled Diane’s eyes – tears of rage. For the first time in years, she saw red. Here was a stranger, a pervert, trying to violate the privacy of her home! Here was someone who had pretended to be Roy!
Diane lashed out with the bread-knife. This time there was no gasp of pain. The man let out a yell of agony. Blood flowed from the gash, staining the carpet, and Diane, sickened at the sight, nevertheless drew back for another blow.
She was too slow. The door was forced forward, and the hand withdrawn. Surprised by her easy victory, Diane didn’t know what to do next. It took her a few seconds before she realised she had better shut the door. Once the bolt was back in its slot, and the key had been turned, she walked across the room. Laying the crimson-bladed knife on the table, she picked up the telephone receiver and dialled nine-one-one. There was no response. No ringing. Not even the engaged tone. She replaced the receiver, then lifted it, and was about to dial again when she noticed that there was no dialling tone. The ‘phone was completely dead. She had been cut off!
Her trance was broken by the sound of glass breaking. It came from the kitchen. The window? No! The glass panels in the back door! Diane heard the back door key being turned from the inside!
That was the last straw. She dropped the receiver and ran to the front door. It took her three seconds to open it, then she was outside, sprinting down the path. Behind her she heard the familiar creak of the back door being opened. It was then she realised she had left the knife on the table. It didn’t matter – she was sure to meet someone who could protect her. In fact, if she wasn’t mistaken, there was someone at the bottom of the path, leaning against the wall. It had to be Roy!
Breathing heavily, she came to a stop a few feet in front of the figure. Now she could see that it was Roy, at last! She threw her arms around him.
There was something not right about the embrace. For one thing, he didn’t return it – he felt stiff, aloof. Diane let her fingers caress the back of his neck. They found something damp and sticky.
Diane drew back. Without her body to support him, Roy fell forward, striking his face on the concrete path. He had made no move to save himself, and now he made no move at all.
Shocked, Diane knelt beside her lover. The first thing she saw was the gaping hole in the back of his skull. It wasn’t like those bullet-holes she had seen on television – this looked like it had been made by repeated blows from a heavy, blunt object. The entire back of Roy’s head had collapsed. Pieces of bone glistened white in the moonlight, contrasting sharply with the black gleam of brain matter and dried blood.
Diane knew that this thing before her wasn’t Roy. Roy was a healthy, vibrant human being, and he was coming to pick her up. This monstrosity with half a skull was completely alien to her.
She heard the front door slam. He was coming after her! She managed to tear herself away from the stranger lying on the path and set off down the street, running in the middle of the road. Images and shapes drifted past one another in her mind. She remembered Roy, the previous night – he was so handsome in his tuxedo, his hair slicked back, exposing his rugged profile. She heard herself ask who was at the door, heard the muffled reply. She saw the battered mannequin lying at the bottom of the garden. So many imposters, but none could come near her Roy.
She stumbled, falling and skinning her knees. With a glance over her shoulder, she slid her shoes off before leaping to her feet. The road was cold and hard through her stockings, and occasionally she trod on a stone or a bottle-top, but she had to keep going. She had to reach safety. She had to –
She had to stop. She had collided with something, a figure that had loomed up out of the darkness. Now it had its arms around her, drawing her closer, crushing her. Sobbing hysterically, she struck out, her open hands making no impression on the dark giant. As a last resort, she braced her hands on its shoulders and tried to push it away.
“Easy, miss. What’s the matter?”
She froze. It had spoken! It was human!
Now she could see the shining badge, the black uniform cap, the gleaming silver buttons. It was a policeman! Her arms flew around his neck and she held her head against his chest, sobbing with relief. The man put an arm around her shoulders, trying to comfort her.
“Now, now, miss. What seems to be the problem?”
“There’s a man…a killer…he – he broke in….he – “
“Steady, there, miss. A man, you say? Let’s go have a look, shall we?”
Diane drew back.
“No! No, please! Please, I don’t want to go back! Not now!”
“Alright, miss. We’ll get you down to the station, then. I’ll come back, after you’ve been taken care of.”
They started off down the street, Diane’s head leaning against his shoulder. After what she had been through, she was quite content to leave everything in the hands of this strong defender of justice. With a sigh, she wrapped her arms tighter around his chest. His right arm encircled her shoulders, protecting her from the dangers of the night. She was too relieved to notice that his other hand, which he held behind his back, was wrapped in a bloodstained handkerchief. Or that they weren’t going towards the police station.