It’s a dark and stormy night. The howling winds shake the windows in their panes; the pat-pat-pat of raindrops on the roof echo through the house. The glow of a solitary lamp illuminates an empty living room. No television flickering, no music drifting… just the sound of intermittent raindrops against shingles.
A crack of lightning and the boom of thunder, followed by a tinny, haunting laugh. A figure, shuffles into the dull glow of the lamp, draped in fabric. Is it a sweater? Or a blanket… several blankets maybe? you wonder. The laughter increases in both volume and shrillness. Then you hear it: a tapping sound.. furiously fast and punctuated by cackles of laughter.
The lamplight flickers out as another bolt of lightning shoots across the night sky.
All is silent and still in the house. You watch for signs of the mysterious cloaked figure but it’s too dark to make out the shapes and shadows of the living room. Suddenly the lights come on, and you blink rapidly to adjust to the brightness. The shadowy figure is gone, and now a petite woman with long red hair sits cross-legged on the couch. A bundle of yarn in her lap, she takes a sip from a steaming mug and flicks on the television.
“Hi, we’re Alison and Mark from New England, and we’re looking for a house! We want a new build (but with tons character!) and a enough room for our 7 kids and 3 dogs. Alison is a freelance candle-maker and Mark is in finance, and we would just love/hate to be near the city/country. We need a large kitchen with plenty of room to entertain, but with a cozy, country feel, and we need to be steps away from the city, with enough outdoor space for the kids to run around. And it would be fantastic if we could get all that for half the budget that would be reasonable for this city!” The woman snorts at her own narration of House Hunters and begins to crochet.
What happened to the shadowy figure? Surely it couldn’t be this, albeit quite strange, woman. You watch her as she continues to laugh at her own jokes. You are about to turn away when a flicker of the lamplight catches your eye.
You turn back to see the spot on the couch vacant, steam slowing curling up from the forgotten mug. The tap-tap-tapping returns, the eerie laughter drowning out the TV show. Thunder booms, lightning cracks across the sky and the door of the house flies open. You stumble back on the rain slicked street as the shuffling figure advance, lurching down the stairs towards you. You can see now that a high-drawn cowl shades the figures face from view.
Moonlight reflects off of its face, shining orbs where the eyes should be. Not eyes… goggles? You wonder, skittering back away from this creature. A flash of teeth, and a cackle of laughter rises up over the howling winds.
“Wh-what…” you stammer, somehow frozen in place, unable to put any more distance between you and it. The wind shifts the hood back, revealing a shock of copper hair, and a hint of delicate facial features. It can’t be… Your breath catches in your throat. “Wh-who are y-ou?” you stammer out. Lightning lights up the sky once more, just as a gust of wind takes the cowl down to the woman’s neck. In a sweet, girlish voice, and with a grin so wide it looks as though her face may split in two.
“You may call me… Doctor Author.”