Authors: Tee Smith
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the product’s of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2016 by Tee Smith
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer quoting brief passages for review purposes only.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
To my wonderful husband
for believing in me
ASHA PULLED THE ROUGH EDGES of her cardigan further around, hugging it to herself. Her mum had always told her to dress warmer for the cold weather, but she figured that’s what mothers do. She never did enjoy the colder weather, preferred the carefree days of summer and spring, but when autumn came and the days started getting shorter and the mornings colder, she would always dread the prospect of the coming winter.
As she walked, something alerted her to a passing vehicle. It was not unusual for cars to be driving by on this road, but this one caught her attention as it slowed almost to the same pace she was walking. Asha chanced a peek out the corner of her left eye to see why the vehicle had slowed. She did not want to draw attention to herself by seeming to be looking at it.
The vehicle was a van with black matte paint, mottled, it appeared to have been sanded recently as if it was being prepared to be re-sprayed. The number plate was obscured slightly by something she could not quite make out hanging over it, but she could see 1A and maybe an F at the end, but it might have been an E. The windows were dark tinted so Asha could not make out any faces, but she could see the outline of two figures in the front of the vehicle. The sides of the van were solid with no windows, and as it cruised slowly past her she also noticed there were no rear windows either.
Something about the van, maybe it was the way it slowed to a walking pace as it went past her, sent a chill twisting up her spine and made her shiver. How odd. Asha walked this road all the time and cars going by had never bothered her before. Anyway, she wasn't far from home now. Soon she would be back in her comfort zone.
As Asha rounded the next corner she saw her roommate Joanie had left the porch light on for her. That was kind of her she thought, it was only six thirty so it was not entirely dark yet, but as the days were getting shorter it would not be long until it would be dark at this time.
Joanie was a good housemate, she and Asha got along well. She was a few years younger than Asha at twenty-four. Joanie had a regular job at the local daycare centre that she seemed to enjoy. She would often chat about the funny antics the children had got up to during the day.
Asha liked children and always thought she would have a few of her own one day. Not for a few years yet, however. Right now she was busy with her nursing career that she had worked hard to achieve. Long hours of studying had paid off when she landed her current job as a cancer care coordinator with the Reinolds Cancer Care Centre last year.
After that, everything seemed to fall into place when she had answered an ad in the local paper for a roommate. The older style home on Fare Street was just two blocks away from her work, meaning she could walk to and from work every day.
That is how she met Joanie. Joanie's parents owned the rental house they shared and the two of them were fast friends. The two of them would often go out together on a Friday night.
Joanie was an outgoing, bubbly girl, the life of the party. She was beautiful, with her slim figure she could get away with wearing what ever she wanted. Long legs, a full bust and gorgeous long blonde hair that always looked perfect, she turned heads where ever she went. Everyone liked her, Asha thought of her as the kind of person it would be difficult not to like.
The only misgivings Asha had about Joanie was her family. Her mum seemed nice, but her dad was really weird. Frank and Mary Duncan would often call in on a Sunday morning. Frank, would mow the lawn or tend to what ever home maintenance was required. Her mum would spend the morning chatting and drinking coffee with the girls.
It all seemed normal enough, but after Frank finished mowing the lawn Asha would often notice him loitering around the side of the house near her bedroom. At first, she thought he was dumping the lawn clippings there, but when she checked that did not appear to be the case.
The boundary fence on that side of the house was close to the outside wall, less than a metre. The neighbour’s house was close on that side too, about a metre away on the opposite side of their fence. The facing wall of the neighbour’s house had no windows. Asha did not know what part of the house that was.
The neighbours, Mr and Mrs Hall had two school aged children. They were not an especially friendly couple. That’s not to say they were rude, if she or Joanie saw them in the yard they would wave and say 'hello' but that is a far as the friendship went.
So it was a mystery as to why Frank felt he needed to spend so much time around the side of the house, but who knew? Asha suspected he might be sneaking in a cigarette and did not want his wife to know. Maybe Asha was reading too much into it. It just seemed odd, that on more than one occasion, she had walked into her room and seen him outside her bedroom window, as if he were peering in. When he had noticed her he had quickly looked away and carried on like he had not been doing anything unusual.
It was not like she could say, “Hey Joanie I think your dad is a pervert as I’ve seen him looking in my window.”
So she tried to put it to the back of her mind and not think too much of it. She just made sure on Sunday morning when she knew they were expecting a visit that she left nothing out that she wouldn't want Frank to see.
As Asha bungled through the door Joanie and her friend, Clare, met her in the entryway.
“Oh, Hi, Asha thought you would be home soon. Clare and I are heading out for some dinner at that new Mexican place. Do you want to come?”
“Hi Joanie, Hi Clare,” Asha smiled at the two women.
“Hey Asha,” Clare replied flatly, seemingly uninterested in her.
“No, not tonight girls, but thanks for the invite. It's been a long day, I was meant to be home an hour ago and I worked through my lunch break”
“Again?” Joanie rolled her eyes.
Clare smiled, Asha got the impression she would be intruding by going out with these two anyway.
“Maybe a rain-check yeah?” Asha asked hopefully.
“Sure,” Joanie replied. “Oh, by the way, a parcel came for you today. I left it on the table by the phone,” she called as she walked through the door.
“Thanks have a good night you two, have a tequila for me,” she called out to them with a laugh, as she walked further into the house and down the hall to where she knew the parcel would be waiting for her.
It was an old building with a long hallway; the living room was just inside the entry. The kitchen was at the opposite end with two bedrooms and a bathroom running off the hall. Joanie's bedroom was the first on the right, across from the living room. Asha's bedroom was further down the hall on the opposite side. Her room also housed an en suite bathroom.
Asha already knew what her parcel would be, it was the new book she had been waiting on from one of her favourite authors. She had been waiting for the second instalment of this book for months and whilst she could have downloaded it earlier on her e-reader she loved the feel of turning paper pages, the traditional way.
In the fridge, she found some leftover lasagne that Mary had brought them on Sunday. She quickly calculated in her head how long it had been sitting there. It was Wednesday now, it probably should go into the bin, but she really could not be bothered cooking anything for herself so it would do. She grabbed a plate from the cupboard and scooped herself a helping of Mary's lasagne, popped it into the microwave and picked up her parcel while she was waiting for it to cook.
Lasagne eaten and shower taken, Asha curled up in bed with her new book within the hour, and although she was keen to keep reading it was not long before she felt her eyelids getting heavier and heavier.
ASHA WAS WALKING ALONG THE road, on her way home from work. A light rain was starting to fall and she wished she had brought her umbrella, but it had looked like it was going to be a nice day when she left home this morning.
She could sense a vehicle coming up behind her slowly. She pulled her handbag in closer to her body. There had been a few bag snatches lately and she was not prepared to be a victim.
Asha heard the car come to a stop. Within seconds, she could hear footsteps coming from behind her and spun around to see who was there.
“Frank,” she exclaimed. “You frightened me, I thought you were a bag snatcher.”
Frank just sneered with that creepy look, the one he had given her after the last time she had caught him peering in her window.
“Frank, is everything ok?”
“No, you must come with me, get in the car now,” he demanded.
“What is it, is it Joanie? Is it Mary?” Asha asked. She felt a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach as she turned towards Frank's car. It was then she realised Frank was driving a black van with dark black tinted windows. Just like the one she had seen the day before. Asha looked back at Frank, confused.
“What’s going on Frank?” she pleaded.
“Its Mary, Mary needs you, come quickly.” He was sounding more and more desperate.
Asha slowly and apprehensively walked toward the van, she felt a push at her back and Frank was thrusting her into the van.
“No Frank, No,” she screamed out. “I will not come with you.”
Asha sat bolt upright in her bed, panting heavily, her heart thudding in her chest and skin clammy. What just happened? That was weird. She looked around, taking in her surroundings, she was alone in her room, in her bed. It must have been a dream. She slid out of bed and moved toward the window pulling the curtain back slightly and taking a look out. All she saw was the Hall's fence, she did not know what she had expected to see.
Obviously, her mind was playing tricks on her. She glanced over at the alarm clock on her bedside table which read 1:12 AM. She had not been sleeping well, she never did when she was particularly busy at work. As she lay back in her bed, her mind wandered over the busy week she had. First, there was John who had melanoma, he was only 30 years old. Not much older than her. The younger patients always made her feel sad. She guessed it made her think about her own mortality. He appeared to be coping well with his diagnosis, however his prognosis was grim. It often was for younger people with melanoma.
Asha's role was to coordinate his care and to ensure he attended all his required appointments. She had to make sure all his care professionals knew what was happening with his care. As such she had to liaise with John's oncologist, his dermatologist, his dietician and psychologist as well as his health insurance agency as needed.
What made John's case even more tragic was the fact he had a young family, a wife and two small children.