It was 5.30 pm. The door had been too easy but then again he was skilled and people were stupid; too trusting.  A dying note of expensive perfume hung in the hallway mixed with the smell of beeswax.  He walked carefully over the amtico flooring to the kitchen.  The dried pieces of liver and sharp, steel blade had put pay to the nervous yapping that had greeted him and been silenced in the side utility room.  He stood still and looked around.  Opened wine bottles, one still a third full. A Puisseguin Saint-Emilion; one of his favourites. Two glasses, stained with finger marks and smudged lip prints. White dishes caked with terracotta reds and saffron yellows.  A curry.  The smell permeated the kitchen even though it had been last nights dinner.  A variety of pretty herbs huddled together on the windowsill, some wilting and fighting to survive in the dried, undersized pots.  His form reflected in the window and he moved across to shut the metal, venetian blinds with a gloved hand.  Coffee cups and breakfast plates, littered with toasted crumbs fought for position in the washing up bowl.  He checked the time. 5.45 pm.  Not long, hopefully.  He studied the photograph of her stuck on the fridge door with a magnetic clip. All smiles and naturalness.  Age was showing a bit on her now, even though she still looked impish. He surveyed the room.  A single green, candy striped armchair sat behind the kitchen door entrance, draped with a fleece blanket and a dish towel.  He moved them to the floor and went back into the hallway.  Opening the cupboard under the stairs, he knocked out the downstairs light circuit  and then went back to the chair where he sat waiting with the plastic bag folded neatly on his lap.  The kitchen clock ticked away the seconds in time with his breathing.  

She parked her car on the driveway and killed the lights. It was already just before 6 pm. The day had been too long, especially with a slight hangover.  All she wanted now was a long refreshing drink and a soak in the bath. Opening the door she kicked off her shoes and felt the wooden floor soak up the pain from her arches.  She shook off her coat and and threw it over the bannister before moving to switch on the light.  Nothing.  Great.  Was there a power cut again?  There was a torch in the drawer she remembered, and candles.  She padded into the kitchen in nylon covered feet.

“Bertie...Bertie!..”  She shouted for her loyal terrier but he didn’t come.  

“Bertie?”  Where the hell was he?  Maybe he’d snook up to her bedroom.  She’d find him when she went to run her bath.   The smell in the kitchen of unwashed pots made her feel nauseous.  Maybe she should do that first, she thought as she rummaged through the contents for the light. 

She sensed the warmth behind her seconds before the tight plastic obscured her already limited vision. Her hands knocking over the remnants of the full bodied red, as it spilled its last blood of joy over the counter top.  Clawing at her face, silent screams, unable to breathe. Losing the unfair fight to the monster behind her.  Fear and dizziness eventually giving way to the approaching darkness of finality.  

It was 6.09 pm.  

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