This is the DaybyDr_Vril©
The man (she presumed it was a man because of its height, build and dress, being tall, bulky and masculine) had been out there, she was sure, clad in his uniform of crumpled black fedora and long dark grey overcoat. He, or it, had been there for the last six nights, a phantasmal attendant, stood at the end of the lane in a pouch of darkness where the street light had expired a week ago.
It was a quiet street composed of handsome detached properties in a semi-rural area safely out the reach of the dysfunctional tentacles of social housing. You didn't get people mooching about and there was little low level crime. It was so out the way the couple of robberies that had happened over the half a decade Julia had lived there had been carefully targeted ones with well organised gangs from the city ransacking the wealthier inhabitants.
So if you saw someone it was natural to be nervous, especially if you'd seen this one, the 'man', this thing at the end of the street. Julia had seem him for the first time the last Sunday evening when it had gone dark and she was dragging the waste bins down the front path to leave on the pavement for emptying the following morning. She had moved the bins in something of a fugue. Before the dull call of domestic duty Julia had masturbated for the first time since her husband Carl had gone back to Dubai three weeks ago, leaving her to share the house with their only child, her fifteen year old son Jason. She had been shocked by the sudden onset of sexual hunger.
Julia enjoyed a good sex life with her husband but when he was away she threw her energies into work, the upkeep of the house and anything she had left over she spent at the gym. Her friends had half jokingly bought her a selection of sex toys when Carl had first left for the Middle East which had embarrassed her despite the bottles of red wine she had sunk before receiving the gift. They said she was repressed and Julia guessed she was a little uptight. She said it was like jail time, a deliberate attempt to wind down her sexual needs until Carl returned home.
One of her friends, a nurse at a high security psychiatric hospital, laughed at this assertion and said that in jail people were hornier than ever and would do crazy things to get themselves off, you'd get tough guys sucking each other off, or sticking things up their arses and wanking off, just about anything to relieve the monotony and sexual dissatisfaction, and they'd go crazy with the knowledge of what they'd done. She'd met a few referrals at the hospital like that.
That Sunday afternoon, before the first sighting, she had been absently hoovering the upstairs landing and taking advantage of her son's absence to try and restore a semblance of order to his room, when out of nowhere her head was full of images of her and this cute young guy she had sort of been flirting with at the gym, thoughts of them tasting each other, him being deep inside her. The guy had been her type, muscular and neat, and she put him in his late twenties.
Julia had been flattered by the attention but no more, and now he was in her head, driving hard into her from behind. Then she had been on the marital bed, hand on her sex, desperate to bring herself off. She had also been overcome by a desperate exhibitionist need to strip off and look at her body in the mirror, performing for unseen cameras, slapping her arse and perking her tits up. After orgasm she was left confused and empty, hurrying to put her gym sweats on and get back to her chores to blank it all out. So it was out with the bins. And there he was.
Motionless, stood resolutely upright with his hands stuffed in his overcoat pockets. Just there. When Julia looked at him he just kind of disappeared from sight. His presence, along with worries about her husband, had deeply unsettled her. The worst thing about the man was his face, or the lack of it. The face was white and featureless, like he was wearing a waxen mask. You could just make the contours of his nose and cheeks but that was it. No eyes, no mouth, no suggestion of humanity. Julia hadn't told her son when he returned home from the cinema she didn't want to sound crazy. To add to her unease when she was ready to leave for work the following morning Julia noticed there was a post it note on the doormat, which she presumed had been pushed through the letterbox by her spectral observer. On it scrawled in red crayon where the words 'Come and see'.
Monday to Friday she always arrived home from her job as a human resources manager at a sportswear company between six and eight in the evening, her arrival home dictated by the traffic and whether or not she'd been to the gym. Every night he had been there. Once she had seen him he was always gone. As soon as Julia had registered his presence it was like he had never been there. On this seventh night she had not seen him for the simple fact she had not looked for him. Julia had kept her head down from the moment she turned the corner onto the street and stared at her feet once she had got out of the car and stumbled into the house. So here she was. Julia had tried to exhaust herself at the gym; to bleed her anxiety out on the treadmill so she wouldn't need to sedate
herself with alcohol but it hadn't been enough.
She drank the bottle of red wine and took a Citalopram and only then did she shower. Julia had been prescribed the anti-depressant when her mother was eaten rapidly by throat cancer and had remained on the drug twelve months after her death in the hospice. Her mother had suffered a relatively quick but savage crossing through disease into extinction. Julia had watched as her mother had tortuously attempted to draw a final breath but ended up gagging on her tongue before death tired of the futility and took her. After dressing quickly, Julia gingerly made her way back downstairs. She had asked her son to draw the living rooms curtains. Shut out the journey into night, close out the man. Jason was upstairs in his bedroom by himself playing video games at what, for Julia, was a reassuringly loud volume. As much as Julia loved Jason if she was honest he wasn't quite enough. She had wanted a larger family but a year or so after having Jason she had suffered a miscarriage and complications meant any further attempts to provide her son with a brother or sister were redundant. Julia tried to settle at the kitchen table and read a magazine about celebrity froth but she couldn't relax sufficiently to do so. She was drawn to the curtains. Why sit in a state of disquiet when there may be nothing there? The man's aimless vigil may have ended. Come and see.
Julia went into the living room and peered through the curtains at his spot at the end of the street. He wasn't there. Momentarily she experienced a feeling of liberation, her body lifted clear from the anxiety and fear, but it soon returned when she saw him in the front garden. A hot burst of urine trickled down her thigh and she let out a muted cry. She went upstairs to shower again. The soundtrack to Black Ops 2 blaring across the landing was oddly comforting, the noise something of a constant when her son was home and she found it a normalising influence. She knocked on his door. Are you alright Jason? Julia asks. He grunted in affirmation.
In the bathroom she strips again, embarrassed by her incontinence. Spooked she locked the bathroom door. Julia gets under the shower for the second time that evening. She runs it piping hot, enjoying the painful sensation of the heat, feeling it has cleansing properties. Julia had been told on a few occasions she's a MILF and she'd always blushed and been secretly pleased by what she perceived to be a compliment. She's tall and skinny with toned legs and good tits for her age, pert and relatively firm still. Julia had always envied the girls with big bosoms she grew up with and felt herself flat chested but when she saw them now their tits were moribund appendages while her modest cleavage had up to now escaped gravity's disdain.
Julia enjoyed soaping up her body, again feeling like she was performing for an invisible audience of webcam voyeurs. The sex worm was in her head making her act delirious. It was like there was a home made gonzo porn video playing in her mind. All shaky camera work and close up shit. The guy at the gym and her husband both taking at the same time, one at each end and spectacular money shots. Julia climaxed quickly without touching herself there and bit her hand as she didn't want her son to hear her ecstatic squeals. Julia got out of the shower and grabbed a towel to dry her. As the steam cleared she saw a message written in lipstick on the bathroom mirror.
She recognises the handwriting, the extravagant tail on the Y and the excessively looped Es. Also, the shade of lipstick was familiar to her, one she wears often, salsa red. In a state approaching a trance she dresses and gets her cosmetic bag from the bedroom. Her lipstick is untouched. She writes underneath the message on the mirror.
It is identical. That night she takes a bottle of brandy to bed.
Saturday morning, when Julia is normally free of the tyranny of the seven o'clock alarm waking up her smart phone. However she didn't wake up this morning because she had spent the night watching the whites of her eyes turn red. She had planned to meet her friend in town to go shopping and have lunch, maybe also a couple of drinks. Julia was going to be forty soon but so many things were puzzling her head the milestone held no dread for her. Well, not much considering. Anyway, she'd kept her figure and still looked good. She needed her roots doing though. Jason was clunking about, getting his rugby gear together for his match that morning. He was a loose forward of some promise, fast and strong and good at unloading the ball in the tackle. Jason knocked on the bedroom door. Will she give him a lift as his friend's dad has cried off. Normally Julia would have assented but groaned inwardly at the thought of losing a languorous morning but this day she is glad of the distraction. Julia got up and dressed quickly, putting her peroxide blonde hair into a bun and pouring herself into a leisure suit. She'd get dressed properly later.
Are you Skyping dad after? asked Jason in the car. Yes, said Julia. About tea time. I'm going into town after the match so I'll have tea out I'll be back about six, Jason told her. Alone in the car Julia thought about her husband. Carl is working on a building project in Abu Dhabi. It's meant to be the thing that will make them financially secure but he is always complaining about hidden costs and how they're trying to rip him off. They'll still do alright out of it though, should get them through the recession. Last time she spoke to him he seemed troubled and depressed, weary of banging heads with recalcitrant contractors , tardy suppliers and sluggish builders.
The project was due for completion in a fortnight but he reckons it will be at least a month. She has begged him to come home. When she spoke to him Julia always told him she misses his company and the sex and feels lonely and how she is grateful for Jason's company, and how he's a good boy, tall and handsome like his father. Carl had worked away before. He did a stint in Iraq that paid for the nice house in a desirable location. The experience changed him though. Julia felt she was now married to a posthumous version of her husband's former self.
Returning to the house after dropping Jason off, she looked down the street before going into the house. The man was not there. She flopped on the couch with a cup of coffee and watched a soap opera on the huge plasma screen television that was Carl's rapture. Julia felt like cancelling her meeting with her friend, she feels wiped out and tranquilised by the cumulative effects of the brandy and insomnia. Browsing idly through a tabloid newspaper she felt herself finally drifting into sleep when the door bell rang. She felt a little disquiet but the daylight saved her from full blown fear. At the front door was a crumpled man who somehow managed to look old and ageless at the same time, dragging his leg behind him, like it was dislocated at the joint. He looked desiccated and seedy. She didn't want him in the house. His left eye was milky while the right one was bulging out the socket. He was a regular sideshow grotesque, hair flattened down with spittle, skin grey and mottled, his shrunken frame hiding in a faded blue tracksuit.
"Is Carl home?" The man's voice was hesitant and reedy and fed through ill fitting dentures.
"No he's working away," said Julia like an automaton. She wanted to tell the old man to go away or challenge his temerity for turning up unannounced but felt as if she was frozen into playing a part, reciting her lines by rote.
"Dubai," she added, not knowing why.
"Oh," says the man.
"What's your name? I'm speaking to him later, I can pass a message on."
The man ignored the offer, his protuberant eyeball regarding her balefully.
"How do you know him?" pressed Julia.
"We did a job together once, years ago. He's a good man your Carl, you know. One of the best project managers. Good at correcting things."
Yielding to a coughing fit that made his abject body shudder, the man finally succeeded in depositing a globule of phlegm on the path.
Composing himself, and oblivious to Julia's evident revulsion, he spoke in an affected manner.
"I've been asked to submit a tender for a very special job. I wanted Carl on board."
"Well he'll be out there another month probably. He came home for a few days last month but he's staying out there now till it's all signed off."
The wretched creature looked incapable of anything never mind a building project. Let me know your contact details, said Julia. I'll let Carl know.
"We did a job together it made him. That was a very special job, " digressed the man.
"What was it?"
The man laughed. "Before your time love. Before your time. It was good but it's good its over. Anyway, I better be off."
The man gave a half hearted wave and started to scrape his legs down the path. Julia felt she should say something but didn't know what.
"I was the man who made things happen then...I'm just the caretaker now..." said the man, out of nowhere.
"Well, if I'm honest that's all I've really been."
"Won't you come in?" She wanted him to explain himself.
"I'd love to but I've other visits to make..."
"Why don't you call back in a few weeks or so?"
"I'll see..." said the man.
A wave of depression washed over her as she watched him scuttle down the path. Julia wanted to call out and confront him, to make him explicate himself but her head was full of white noise and her chest was tight and she couldn't breathe. She watched absently as he made his way to the street lamp where the man had stood every night for the last week. When he was under it he turned to smile at her. Light headed Julia could see nothing but blackness for a moment like the sun was blocked out or something and when she could see alright again the old man was gone. I'll see.
Julia went inside and gently closed the front door behind her and pressed her back tight against it. She was like that for what seemed a long time. When she finally managed to compelled herself to move Julia went straight to the spare room where Carl kept his tools and a random assortment of building materials. He always had cigarettes stashed somewhere. Julia's instinct proved correct, half a pack of Benson and Hedges in his blue work overalls. She hadn't smoked for almost two years, apart from a relapse of about a fortnight when her mother died.
The breaking of her abstinence seemed trivial to her, when her mind was apparently becoming unglued, making all the memories that preserved her sense of self and held her life together become disconnected. At the kitchen table she smoked four cigarettes in quick succession and finishes off the brandy she had begun the night before. Queasy and exhausted, she sent her friend an apologetic text canceling their arrangement. She is sorry it is all so short notice and blames a migraine. Please don't ring I'm going to bed I'll text you later. Julia finally slept deeply on the living room couch.
Jason arrived home earlier than he expected. He'd been stood up by a girl but she was a bit of a skank and he had not been too bothered. A little stoned, he's stocked up for an evening on his Xbox 360 with a bag full of crisps, chocolate and diet coke. Jason had eaten a pizza before getting the bus home so he's not really hungry just got the munchies. He was alarmed to find his mother passed out on the couch in late afternoon gloom with the living room shrouded in smoke. After turning the lights on he shakes her awake. Bleary eyed and disorientated Julia sits up on the couch. Jason is shocked by her demeanor and the fact she has been smoking and drinking. Feeling dehydrated and with a throbbing head, Julia asked her son to get her a bottle of water and some pain killers. She washed the ibuprofen tablets down and tried to think of a cover story. Just a one off. Things had come to a head. Worrying about dad. Pressures at work. Only a couple of drinks and fags but she was knocked straight out she was so tired. Jason was feeling a little paranoid off the weed he had smoked earlier so he accepted the explanation and fled to his room.
In the kitchen Julia drinks a pint of water and freshens up. She could hear the soundtrack to the shooter game Jason was playing and knew he would be ensconced in his room for the evening. Carl had even made his son's bedroom en suite so his son didn't even have to venture across the landing to use the main bathroom. Julia knew her son smoked weed and had a few beers every Saturday afternoon at his friend's house but she willfully disregarded this as this was his only vice she had detected so far and compared to the horror stories she heard off her friends with children of a similar age he was practically monastic. Also, the weed seemed to make him insular and compelled him to stay at home on a Saturday night, not out in town binge drinking or fighting like some of his contemporaries, so it seemed a worthwhile compromise.
Julia seated herself and plugged the laptop in. It had just gone four o'clock. Now it was time to Skype her husband. Carl had sent her an e-mail yesterday stipulating she call him at 20:15, his time. It had struck her as oddly pedantic, normally Carl was more relaxed, happy for her to ring any time in the early evening, yet he had stressed the time three times in his message: It must be 20:15. And in the twenty four hour clock as well. Normally he would just say call me between 6 and 8 yet here he was terse and exact in his instruction. Yet so much about her husband now puzzled her. Julia clutched her forehead. Her head was still creased from the effects of the brandy and cigarettes but she actually craved more, the thought of speaking to her husband filling her with a sense of foreboding, but she genuinely feared she would vomit if she indulged further so she stuck to a cup of espresso to fortify herself ahead of the call. It was nearly a quarter past four, so allowing for the four hour time difference it would be nearly time. 20:15. Julia clicked on the Skype logo on the bottom toolbar.
The weird thing is that when Carl looms into shot, all craggy and dirty, the image looks HD quality, all high resolution, something she didn't think her aging lap top was capable of transmitting (Jason was always exhorting her to upgrade to an Ultrabook). He is gaunt and tanned with his shaven black hair flecked with grey, wearing a white t-shirt and it appears he is coated in sand. The time in the bottom right hand corner of the screen reads 16:15. Dead on, thinks Julia. Carl is smoking, a cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth and he seems hollowed out like something has annihilated him inside. He is peering intently into the webcam, freaking her out.