Time for the second part of the serial, cleverly entitled “Satellite Two”. You might be able to take an intuitive stab at what the other two will be called. And yes, this too has been written as part of my NaNo word count.
For those just joining us, you may want to read Satellite One before continuing…
By Nick Bryan
With a guttural grunt, Wendy staggered up the stairs and tried to lift her hands through the heavy shopping. Plastic bag handles had lashed them both below her waist, and now she couldn’t get to the key to open her own front door. Why couldn’t they fix the lights out here? It was cold, dark and unsettling; she didn’t feel safe in her own home despite living on the first floor.
Nonetheless, unless she put the stuff down, she would never get her keys out from behind the dangling frozen fish. She made one last attempt to slip a hand through, only for it to become tangled up, then crushed behind an icy mass of peas.
With an unfeminine swearword, Wendy staggered sideways, still barely able to see, and shoulder barged a wall. Finally, blackness defeating her, she let the Tesco bags thump to the floor and sifted through her pockets.
The keys eventually came free, her heart pounding. She squeezed the bridge of her nose with two fingers and told herself everything would be fine soon enough. Soon she’d be on the other side of that door enjoying a delightful evening of stew, whilst ignoring calls from insurance call centres.
There were four flats in that entire building, two on each floor, and the one opposite contained a couple. Wendy could hear them giggling as she reached for the keyhole, and shook her head sadly. She could afford this flat on her own, she told herself, so was higher on the economic scale than they were. Either that or they were richer as well, just taking a cheaper place to be sensible and save. That would be typical.
At long last, she slipped the keys into the door, desperate to feel the gears crunch open so she could flop into her armchair and take a well-earned deep sigh. And maybe after that, she’d consider unpacking the bloody shopping.
The proper deadlock came first, before she could turn the latch. Except it didn’t, because when she tried, it didn’t move. After a couple of grunts, she nervously twisted in the opposite direction. Maybe it was broken, she thought, until she felt a huge bolt crunch into place and lock her door.
To be honest, she’d rather it had been locksmith time. Wendy was usually meticulous about these things, so had someone been inside her flat? And somehow been able to open the lock? And then been too stupid to lock it on their way out?
Which meant either she had left the door unlocked by accident, or someone was still inside. She really hoped it wasn’t the stoners downstairs pissing around; she refused to feel terror over those two.
The latch opened normally; Wendy pushed the door open just wide enough to fit through and stepped inside. The flat was in darkness, the few things she could see appeared undisturbed. She heard a crash, but it was only the door falling shut behind her.
Shopping all but forgotten, she reached the living room, dominated by a huge window facing the suburbs. She was upstairs, and all the buildings nearby were the same height or smaller. The moonlight illuminated the room, showing up no-one in the flat, and this was swiftly getting eerie. Finally, she hit the lights.
She glanced into the kitchen, in case someone was rooting through her cupboards, then checked the bathroom as well, because there are some perverts out there, then swore and ran back into the corridor to get her shopping.
As she put the stuff away, she flicked the television on, in the hope that background chatter from the news channel might put her at ease. Yes, this was a step closer to becoming a lonely old woman, but these things are classics for a reason.
She slid a row of baked bean cans into a cupboard, as the man in the suit rambled. ‘… and reports of odd behaviour across the south west today, as it looks increasingly certain that an old Russian satellite will crash in the area.’
‘Most falling space debris burns up rather than striking the earth or lands at sea, but apparently NASA are almost certain that the remains will fall in the south west London region, probably within the next hour.’
Wendy put her corn flakes back down in the kitchen and edged slowly towards the voice. The TV, the moon and her cheap light bulb were now competing to provide a glow.
‘Experts say the odds of serious damage are small unless it lands directly on someone, but nonetheless, there have been selected outbreaks…’
Suddenly, as Wendy stared in bare feet, there was a broken scream from across the corridor. Loud, high-pitched, female, and hadn’t those two been giggling twenty minutes ago?
‘…of violence and mania across the region…’
And then her door swung open. Had she left it on latch after bringing in the shopping?
‘… but police suggest, as a precaution…’
Finally, a figure wearing some kind of overall staggered into her room, trailing red and brown goo that smelt like death. Her eyes followed the mess back to the open door of the couple’s flat across the way. It occurred to her that she’d never bothered to find out their names. On that thought, Wendy turned around and vomited on her carpet.
‘… local residents lock their doors and stay inside.’
Copyright Nick Bryan 2011, please don’t steal, or at least email me before you do. And yes, it looks like I’m lurching from stoner comedy towards horror here. Or am I? Well, click through to Satellite Three to find out…