I Was Scared

Entry by: EmmaCLP

2nd January 2015
The broken window pane rattled menacingly. She'd complained to the caretaker countless times that it was going to smash into smithereens one day but nothing ever got done in this place. Why should a solitary window pane be any exception? Over the weeks she'd watched the crack grow from a tiny, silver splinter into a spider's web that stretched from the top left hand corner of the pane to the bottom right. As she stared out over the darkness of the city, it looked beautiful in a way. Beautiful but menacing.
She hated being on nights. But then again she only had herself to blame. If she hadn't taken umbrage about women reporters being excused from the night shift, if she hadn't insisted on being treated the same as the men, then she could have been tucked up in bed right now. Not sitting in this cold, dank office drinking tepid tea from a flask and perusing the first editions of the morning papers by herself.
The truth was, she was scared. She told herself she wasn't but every time the ancient office radiator clanked or the news desk phone rang in the empty silence her heart jumped with fear. She tried to concentrate on the steady ticking of the vast station clock on the far wall and instructed herself not to be ridiculous but it didn't help much. She was alone on the fifth floor of this unprepossessing office block in downtown Lewisham. Apart from her boss, she was pretty sure that no one knew she was there. And even if they did know she doubted anyone would care very much.
She glanced at the front page of the Daily Red. A story about an errant MP was splashed across the tabloid in furious letters. Below it were a couple of paragraphs about a killer who had escaped from a prison van while he was being taken to his mother's funeral. As she stared at his picture she couldn't help thinking how kindly and benign he looked with his smiling eyes and lopsided grin.
The window pane shook again and she shuddered uncontrollably, then forced herself to concentrate on the matter in hand. The prison escape might make a page lead in the morning, she thought, and scribbled a note to herself to ring the crime correspondent at six.
She got up and walked across to the window. London looked surprisingly dark at three in the morning. The street lamps were few and far between and even those that were lit were dim, the victim of the council's savage cuts. She grabbed hold of the cord dangling down the window and made to pull the grubby Venetian blind. If she could shut out the city she could shut out her fear. The blind clattered down, expelling years of dust and grime, but it was oddly reassuring. She'd shielded herself from the outside world and felt stronger for it. As though she had taken preemptive action against an unknown enemy and won.
"You all right in there?"
She swung round at the male voice, her heart beating wildly. She knew it was a cliche but her heart felt as thought it had gone into overdrive. Her limbs were cold and her feet felt like blocks of ice welded to the floor.
Actually, there was no one there. The office door was ajar and she could hear the old-fashioned lift doors clanking shut but there was no sign of who the voice belonged to.
She stood and stared at the doorway - perhaps for a second or two, perhaps for several minutes. All time seemed suspended as she ran through her options over and over again. Make a dash for the back stairs. Call the police. Call her boss. Slump at her desk and pretend that everything was fine. Just fine.
Five minutes passed and nothing happened so she walked back to her chair and sat down. Her mind was playing tricks on her, she thought. She hadn't been sleeping properly and her imagination was running riot. She glanced down at the Daily Red again and turned over the page.
The office door banged behind her and suddenly there he was – the man she'd known all along would be there.