One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Chapter 1

‘It’s the one after the next lamp-post.’ Sam instructed the taxi-driver as she scrabbled in her handbag for her keys and purse.

‘Here, here,’ she said impatiently as he continued past her house and pulled to a stop three doors further down.

Muttering under her breath Sam settled the fare then clambered out and looking nervously around walked as briskly as she could up her driveway. As she turned the key in the door she could already hear the phone ringing.

Her initial reaction was to hurry up the hall to answer it, but she pushed the door firmly shut and looped the recently fixed safety chain securely in place.

Dropping her handbag, she wearily leant back against the door and slid slowly to the floor. The phone continued to ring but this time she was too tired to even attempt to answer it and let it continue for what seemed like many minutes.

It eventually stopped, making the resultant quietness even more eerie than the previous intrusive ringing.

Resting her head on her knees, Sam heaved a huge sigh.

What a night!

She eased off her bright blue, shiny stilettos, almost spiking herself in the process. They’d seemed a bargain purchase at the time and had perfectly complemented her latest outfit. Now, several hours later her feet were telling a different tale and she tried to flex her now sore and throbbing toes. Her back hurt, her knees ached, she was getting too old for this!

The night had started fairly well – Matt, one of the accountants in Sam’s department was leaving the company – he’d bought a vineyard in France and was uprooting his family and flying them off to sunnier climes.

How she wished she could make some major life changes. Instead she’d spent yet another Friday evening wandering from one wine bar to another. She’d initially enjoyed a bit of networking with her workmates and they’d had a few laughs, but as the evening progressed and the wine continued to flow, she’d started to notice how the clientele at every bar they frequented appeared to get younger and younger. Leggy, fake-tanned twenty year olds, who looked as fresh as daisies, had dominated the last place they’d been to and when even old faithful Gareth from Accounts, (who’d always had a thing for Sam) had abandoned her for one of the more svelte-like individuals (who couldn’t have been much older than seventeen) Sam had decided she’d had enough and after what seemed an interminable wait had caught a taxi-cab home.

What had made matters worse, whilst queuing in the nearest cab office she could find, she’d been chatted up by the owner who must have been at least seventy-five and had never lifted his eyes further than her chest. Is this as good as it was going to get?

Before she could deliberate further the phone began ringing again and with an energy she hadn’t realised she still possessed Sam forced herself from her position on the floor and raced into the lounge where the phone was ringing out. She picked up the cordless handset and breathlessly yelled “Hello“

Silence.

“Who is it?”

Nothing.  Again “Who’s there?” Her heart was pounding in her chest as the familiar silence echoed down the phone-line. Flicking the button to off, Sam slammed the phone back onto its cradle. This was getting to be ridiculous. How long had these nuisance phone calls been going on for?

Long enough, Sam thought. Only last week Mary her elderly next door neighbour had politely asked Sam if she could get her friends to ring her during the day rather than in the middle of the night. And who could blame her? Sam thought. She could hear quite clearly through the walls when Mary had her latest grandchild round and whilst she had felt as if she’d scream if she heard Mary’s husband chanting one more time “The wheels on the bus go round and round” – at least it wasn’t waking her in the middle of the night!

She’d just have to get her number changed or have the phone-line cancelled and get all her friends and family to ring her on her mobile.

The one thing she did intend to find out from Mary was how often the phone rang when she was out for the whole evening.

Making her way now wearily up the stairs to bed Sam shuddered, what if the phone only rang as she arrived home? Did that mean she was being watched?

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