The town had been cut off for two full days. The snow had come in thick and fast blocking up roads and knocking down power and telephone lines. Electricity was intermittent and with no ability to charge them up mobile phones were quickly becoming redundant and adding to the isolation.
Alicia watched the saucepan of water boil on the camping stove. She placed the small gas fuelled stove on the floor of her kitchen and sat next to it like she was camping in the Forest of Dean again like she had done that summer. It was hard for her to fathom that she was actually colder in her flat at that point than sleeping under a canvas tent in the wilderness.
There was a heavy thumping on her door that snapped her gaze away from the bubbling water. It was repeated a few seconds later. She silently swore as she turned off the stove until the flame was out leaving the boiled water to rest while she answered the caller. As she descended the flight of stairs to her front door she pondered who it was that could be visiting her. She’d had two visitors that day already. The first was John from across the street asking if she was ok. John was a few years older than Alicia but he seemed to fancy his chances despite her polite rebuttals.
Later in the afternoon a policeman from the station up the road had come to the door with a list of three names of people they were looking for. The policeman tried to reassure her that the three names on the list weren’t in trouble but rather that they were concerned for their safety. Perhaps he hoped she knew something and was covering for them but the truth was she didn’t know any of them to say anything about their whereabouts.
She reached the bottom of the stairs and flipped off the lock before pulling down the latch. The door opened with a creak to reveal the dull light of a late evening. A figure stood several yards in front of her house silhouetted almost pure black against the white backdrop of the snow covered village. She tried to focus her eyes on what she assumed was a man hoping to find some kind of identifying facial feature but there was nothing.
“Can I help you?” she asked feeling nervous; her hand slowly closing the door slightly.
The figure took a step forward. Instinctively she slammed the door shut and she put the lock back on just before she felt the thump of a heavy force landing hard against the other side of it. The violence of the impact was such that she actually felt herself bounce off it. Her heart raced so hard that the pulse in her head was banging like a drum and she waited for whatever it was outside to make its next attempt to get inside.