Dusk fell quickly, as it usually did in autumn. The night grew stiller, softer, and the streetlights came into warm amber focus. I observed at a distance, pausing in my pacing around the house: cars zipped by, the tyres making soft shushing sounds on the road.
If I really listened, I could hear the cicadas singing and the splash of water from the neighbour’s pool.
The basement was cold, dark, a pleasant respite from the lingering summer air, and I swiped my phone’s screen to tap on the flashlight, the neon-white light dazzling my eyes as I did. Small spots danced in my vision as I blinked furiously, my eyes watery. I gathered my supplies and left as quietly as I came, swinging the door behind me and letting the latch stick. In a few months, I knew, it’d rust over, and that suited me just fine.
Upstairs, there were fairy lights strung around the doors and windows, glowing softly. A candle burned on the one table I’d bought as my token piece of furniture, and the dim lighting promised that I’d have a headache come morning.
There was the whisper of rustling fabric, as if someone else had just walked past the open door. This wasn’t unusual for this time of year; sometimes, I had visitors. Other times, I thought I had visitors.
I blew out the candle and waited.