The Lurkers

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Janie Fogg had the feeling that there was something out there. A kind of intuition that sent a tingling feeling up and down her spine and made her constantly glance out of the grimy latticed windows towards the dark fir woods that lined the horizon.

Another half-hour and it would be dark. That wouldn't help, because if there was anything lurking outside, whatever or whoever it was would be able to creep right up to this tumbledown cottage. She shuddered, felt the urge to flee now whilst it was still light, whilst there was time. Before . . .

She closed her eyes, hoping that when she opened them again she would find herself back in the modern characterless semi-detached house that looked across on dozens of identical dwellings. The Perrycroft Estate, mundane�but safe. It didn't happen that way, though. Oh God, the desolation, the fear was still here. And as if to increase her uneasiness the dusk was turning the distant mountains into a grey unfriendly land mass that seemed to hem her in.

Janie carried on drying the dishes. A cup and saucer rattled in her trembling hand as she carried it from the table. She was forced to look out of the window again, searching the rough grass fields that led up to the forest, endeavouring to spot the object of her mounting terror. But there was nothing, just a few sheep and a smaller creature that could have been either a hare or a rabbit by the furthermost hedgerow.

All this was sheer madness, coming to a place like this at this time of the year. In summer it would not have been so bad; she might even have enjoyed it for a week. But it was November and the desolate landscape was shrouded in low cloud for most of the time, a perpetual atmosphere of damp and cold. Hodre was a typical dilapidated Welsh country cottage, the kind of place unscrupulous owners could charge a hundred pounds a week for in the holiday season simply because escapist urban dwellers thought they were 'getting away from it all'. That was fine when the sun shone and bees worked diligently gathering pollen amongst the masses of wild flowers; now the flowers and the bees were gone and she faced stark reality.

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